WHEN GOOD HABITS TURN BAD!
Is your diet and exercise routine really healthy? I’m guessing if you are reading this you are probably in your 20’s, a time when you feel appearance is all important. You may even now be in the midst of carb cycling, quitting sugar, no carbs, clean eating, HIIT training, Cross-Fit, Bodypump or one of the many other promised routes to a better body. Congratulations you are motivated and committed to a healthy lifestyle; you have created good habits, making you stick to your routines which in turn will lead to you reaching your goals. What happens though if those habits are not so good after all and have quietly turned into an unhealthy obsession. They have started to intrude more and more into your day and are actually now starting to interfere with how you live your life because you are mentally/emotionally or physically being held prisoner to act on the obsession to carry out the habit you have created.
Hobby/Habit/Obsession – surely they are all the same thing? Well yes you could say they are, but to varying degrees, it’s very easy to disguise an unhealthy obsession as a healthy habit. The difference lies in if we feel anxious or maybe even angry if we fail to make the habit part of our day.
Hobby: something we do for pleasure in our spare time which is not detrimental to our wellbeing.
Habit: something we do on a regular basis with very little conscious thought, like brushing your teeth or locking the front door. Good or bad habits are made through repetition of a task, they take a while to form and can take equally as long to break.
Obsession: A pressure to carry out a habit that might not necessarily be good for us, but with no way to stop yourself from carrying on, often leading to anger or anxiety if the habit cannot be acted upon.
Speaking from experience. I have stepped over the line myself and know how quickly something that started as a healthy habit can get out of hand. My unhealthy obsession with food and exercise began at a young age with a throwaway comment that lead to me thinking I needed to lose some weight. It all started well and I liked the results that it was having on my body, I’m not even sure when it became an obsession, but I began to worry more and more that I would put on weight, so restricted food even more. I was at a dangerously low weight, it was a very worrying time for my mum who tried everything to convince me to eat, I would become angry and defensive every time good was mentioned. I consider myself lucky in that life in my late teens life suddenly became more interesting than my obsession, unfortunately it did leave me with very disordered eating patterns which meant for years I had no real idea of how to eat a healthy diet and it became very much an all or nothing approach leading to me experiencing varying sizes.
You would think I had learned my lesson, but no unfortunately I hadn’t, I then discovered the gym, it quickly became an obsession to the extent I was working out seven days a week and sometimes twice a day, with no rest. it was exhausting and took over my life to such an extent that I started to become ill physically and mentally. The toll it took on my body was immense, so rather than creating a healthy toned body I was creating a body that was letting me down, I had constant colds, my body couldn’t perform the workouts I wanted to do, so ultimately something that was supposed to be doing me good was having the opposite effect. Again want stopped this vicious circle was life, thankfully I met my husband and suddenly I didn’t have the time or inclination to carry on with my obsession. I honestly cannot tell you if my obsessions are a coping mechanism linked to my turbulent teenage years or if it’s just the way I am made, maybe I will always have to keep a check on myself with regards to habits that I create.
How to recognise if your healthy habit has turned bad. So has your healthy habit turned into an unhealthy obsession, it can be hard to recognise when it’s cloaked in being good for you, you can tell the difference between the two by recognising how easy it is to stop or skip the habit.
So if you find yourself doing any of the following, you might want to reconsider if what you are doing is actually healthy after all….
1.If you’re stuck for time and the choice between a coffee with friends or an hour on the gym? You choose the gym.
2.If you get stressed if you don’t do your usual exercise routine. You have to burn a certain number of calories before you leave the gym.
3. You know that you have a slight obsession with the scales, you are on them every day
This list is by no means exhaustive and is actually based on some of my past personal obsessions,
Road to Recovery……
If you have realised that maybe you are in the grips of an obsession there is no easy answer to break the cycle, I did manage it on my own, for others it takes the help of professionals. I now look back with regret at the hours wasted in the gym or worrying about maintaining a ridiculous exercise regime. It was all such a waste of time, now with a more relaxed approach I am fitter and healthier than I was in my twenties. The lack of food and extreme exercise did not result in me having a better body, what has helped is gaining knowledge about how to eat well and exercise efficiently.
There is so much misinformation surrounding diets and exercise that it’s no wonder people get sucked into the latest fad, especially if it offers a quick fix. Sadly a quick fix doesn’t always lead to long term results and can start a horrible cycle of looking for the next wonder idea that promises miracles. This can lead to all sorts of problems, setting you up with an unhealthy mind set of believing you need to be following hard, possibly damaging routines to maintain your size and shape.
Some of the things I wish I had known……
Food – you can’t go too wrong with three well balanced meals a day, skipping meals will lead to you reaching for something to fill the gap – setting you up for a disordered eating pattern.
Drinking more water and getting more sleep will really help with maintaining a healthy weight.
Alcohol and smoking will not only impact on your health, even if you don’t feel the effects now, it will catch up with you. It also shows in your face and will definitely have an effect on how your skin ages.
Don’t compare yourself to others, we are all unique, have different attributes, body shapes and abilities, chances are the part of you that you have hang ups about, no has even noticed until you point them out, instead point out your good bits and appreciate what your mind and body is capable of. It’s not until maybe illness strikes that we realise how amazing it feels to be well and healthy and how fantastic our bodies really are.
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