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What Made One Woman Obsess Over—Then Quit—the Biggest Wellness Fads

Ive never really been one for making, or, more accurately, sticking to, New Years resolutions, yet in 2015 I made it happen for the first time; if only for a few months. Predictably, my goal was to “get fit,” whatever that meant. There were no set specifications; no pin-pointed end goal nor method of measuring progress (error number one), but having never previously considered myself anything other than mostly sedentary, bar my weekly dance lesson, I figured that “get fit” meant any additional movement whatsoever.A year prior I had taken on a new challenge; Irish dancing, and, boy, was it a challenge. In my naivety, I had imagined it would be a breeze, and Id be a natural Flatley. Not quite the case. I had a hard time keeping up with my classmates and left each lesson feeling defeated. The only way to catch up, I decided, was to get fit. If I improve my diet and increase my movement, I thought, the Flatley thing would surely happen.

Restrictive living

Motivated, I made changes I genuinely thought to be healthy. I stopped eating gluten. And most carbs. And most meat. And most things containing sugar. And dairy.I was surviving on oats, fruit and a lot of vegetables. Sometimes I ate a square of dark chocolate. But only sometimes. I drank water, almond milk and green tea only, and allowed very few “indulgences.” I felt nauseous every morning, and also very confused, because I couldnt understand why I felt nauseous whilst eating so “healthily.”I spent every Sunday prepping my meals for the week and would eat every meal cold, straight from the fridge, for the sake of saving time and avoiding any potential “slip-ups.” I lost weight quickly and considered that to be my cue that I was on the right track.A couple of months in, I joined a gym. I rose at 5 AM every weekday to squeeze a session in before work, and soon I started to see a change in my physique; I had visible muscle for the first time ever. But, more and more my goal was shifting from being my performance-focussed aim of simply bettering my dancing skills, to further altering my physical appearance, and it was taking its toll.

Diet disillusions

I struggled to be social because restaurant menus (and eating anything in, what I considered to be, excess), made me anxious. (Sound familiar? See the signs you’re suffering from disordered eating). I felt so fatigued I had to nap in the back seat of my car on my lunch break. My work, that I cared so much about, suffered. I spent all my time Googling recipes and gimmicky exercises, and I spent all my money on superfood ingredients to make healthy, gluten-free, fun-free loaves of bread that cost upwards of $15 and took up an entire evening (and tasted like a cereal box). Some friends would jibe that I needed to eat a burger or two. Others would compliment my smaller shape, and so, hungry for more, I continued on.In my mind, my size and my self-worth were directly linked, and the new, smaller me was of higher value than the softer-round-the-edges me from a few months prior. It was an obsession, no doubt, but one that I had somehow convinced myself was beneficial to my wellbeing. I wasnt skipping meals or drinking gallons of water to suppress my appetite like I had done as a teen, nor was I bingeing. I thought I had the whole balance thing nailed down.

Reeducating

I dont recall there ever being a big turning point; no “What have I been doing?” lightbulb moment, but the month I skipped a period due to overtraining and undernourishing was, understandably, a big red flag. Luckily, my obsession, whilst still potentially detrimental to my health, was with improving my strength and performance, not with shrinking my size. So, the more I read up on how to better my abilities, the more I learnt how mistaken I had been, and how to adapt my approach. I increased my food intake and loosened the reigns. I ditched flirting with fad dieting trends, and stopped splurging on unnecessary smoothie ingredients. I scheduled rest and prioritized recovery. I stopped giving myself a hard time for taking a day off, or eating dessert, and instead considered it to be part of the process. (Find yourself demonizing food? It could be a sign of orthorexia.)Now, I eat intuitively. I move because it makes my body, and my mind, feel good, and I pass up the unnecessary workouts I used to guilt myself into doing. I focus on other areas of my wellbeing; sleep quality, social interaction, stress management, and I feel happier for it.I did improve somewhat at dancing but, spoiler alert, didnt become the next female Flatley. I did, however, become stronger both physically and mentally, and I found a career in educating othersthrough written wordon the best ways they can support their bodies. So, it turns out, I achieved a goal far more advantageous than the original. And its one that I continue chipping away at every day.Next, learn the trick to having a good relationship with junk food.

The post What Made One Woman Obsess Over—Then Quit—the Biggest Wellness Fads appeared first on Best Health Magazine Canada.

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