It’s safe to say that just about everyone living in America today has tested out some type of diet at some point. Dieting is all the rage, and has been since the 1950’s. We’ve set the goals, done the work and never got the full pay off. If diets were something that stuck, they would have become obsolete at some point in the last (almost) 70 years, right?
With all the diets, weight loss strategies and gyms; fitness clubs are still pulling in over $84 billion a year. This money is coming from people striving to better themselves.
This constant seeking of fitness perfection now has earned itself a name, Orthorexia. Similar to Anorexia or Bulimia, Orthorexia is a disease that is almost disguised as good intentions. What starts as wanting to be healthy and fit turns to an obsession with healthy eating and working out. This can leave it’s patients with eating OCD, anxiety and even bodily harm.
Personally, I have teetered very closely on this when I was eating a vegan diet. The most stressful part; remaining in a constant state of striving. Orthorexia leaves its victims searching for a perfection that they will never obtain.
How do you avoid these pitfalls when it comes to your own weight loss journey?
I have compiled a list of some of the top issues I myself have faced when trying to diet, lose weight or get that perfect body. Broken down into 11 different issues, each one will discuss just how they could very well be robbing you of happiness.
We’ve all heard it, yet still ignore all the warnings. That dreaded scale.
Sure, it feels great to step on the scale and find that we are down another 5 pounds. What about those days when the number has climbed up? What does this do to your happiness? Chances are, it plummets. You feel like a failure. Like all your efforts, your striving, your treadmill struggles, were all for nothing.
When your joy, and self esteem start you drop, you start to lose track of those goals you originally set. You can forget in almost an instant how great you were feeling the split second before your feet touched that scale. You don’t think about muscle gain (maybe you do) or water weight. More often than not a higher number is a sign of ultimate failure and distress.
This is a crucial mistake that so many of us our guilty of. Allowing a scale, an inanimate object, to determine our joy. Determine our worth. How we value ourselves. The more we allow our happiness to be dictated by external factors, the harder it will be to find true happiness.
I know it’s a struggle, especially if you’re already feeling challenged enough, but let me highly suggest you stay off that scale.
For my New Year’s resolution I decided to stop letting those three numbers dictate my day. These three numbers in no way determine my over-all health. My happiness shouldn’t be any different.
So what happened after only 2 months of avoiding the scale? After solely focusing on my feelings and avoiding the other unnecessary pitfalls, I lost weight! Effortlessly, I lost weight. Those pesky pounds that were bothering me so much for months were gone!
More important than my minor weight loss was the confidence I gained without the scale. I started to feel better in my own skin. I started to make healthier choices just so I could enjoy the results of them immediately. Had I continued focusing on a far off goal, this shift in my happiness may never have happened.
Weight is something we too often use to compare ourselves to a standard for health that has been laid out for us. Doing this is robbing you of joy, my friend. Do yourself a favor and avoid that scale at all costs. Your happiness really depends on it.
Yes, I am talking about those moments of “weakness.” Those times when you find yourself being human. That dreaded moment when you ate an off limit food like pizza or a donut.
I’m here to save you from this guilt by letting you know, these foods are okay. Uh huh, yup, I said it, these terrible, greasy, sugar filled foods are okay. As long as they are kept as an occasional treat and not a way of life, your health is going to be A-OK.
More than any other no no, this is the one I find myself being the most guilty of. The reason being, I often over indulge in these decadent foods. When I do that it causes me to stop feeling good. If I could stick to 2 pieces of pizza and avoid that 3rd or 4th…or 8th, I would have a lot less trouble with regret.
Avoiding those extra pieces; it’s easy to say when they aren’t oozing with cheese right in front of your face.
What I suggest? Letting go of what has been done. If you stick to one donut, or one cookie, celebrate yourself for your strength! Sugar is the toughest one to quit. Don’t get down on yourself for one treat. That way of thinking can lead to a long line of more treats. Which will ultimately lead you away from your goals.
Should you over do it and find yourself clenching your stomach all night; let it go. At this point, that’s all you can do. What is done is done. There is no un-changing your choices. Take a look at what you can control at this point. You can control tomorrow.
After making a regrettable mistake, remind yourself that tomorrow does not have to follow the same path. You did not fail today. One set back, doesn’t stop you from success unless you let it. Hell, 18,000 set backs doesn’t stop you from success.
Learn your lesson and move on. You have to move on either way. Do it with either regret and anger or a lesson to learn from.
Over eating and over reading. Both common mistakes in this weight loss game.
We live in a world where technology is right at our finger tips at al times. Which means we are living in an information overload world. Just like new gyms, new diets are popping up all the time. If it’s not a new weight loss shake it’s some new craze raving to be the best. These usually require cutting a food of some sort out of your diet. If it’s not cutting, it’s counting. Counting calories, counting macros, counting proteins, carbs or fats.
Math was not my strong suit, which maybe makes me bias when it comes to all this counting. Eating also just so happens to be something that I love to do. Once you start involving math, I start to lose the pleasure in how my food actually tastes.
Eating is something you are allowed to enjoy; it’s something you should enjoy. There is nothing wrong with making a healthy meal a pleasurable experience.
Eat a heavily plant based diet and enjoy every bite. Taking the time to count those numbers that go along with your food can be as stressful as watching the numbers on the scale.
All this math, all these numbers get in your head and distract you from your senses.
When eating, it should start with your eyes. Beautiful colors popping right off the plate.
Next to your sense of smell. Breath in deep and let your saliva get to work.
Pick it up (unless it requires a fork…let’s keep it classy people) enjoy the textures.
Taste! Hooray for taste. Savor every single flavor. Then, enjoy those “MMMM” sounds from all around you.
Eating can be a full sensory experience! Keep these experiences all around enjoyable rather than seeing it as one more way to prevent yourself from full enjoyment.
Let’s talk exception to the rule: I have cut gluten from my diet.
I did not cut gluten in hopes of losing weight or because of the new fame gluten free has. I did read about it and realized it was actually preventing me from enjoying total happiness. Yes, a Red Lobster biscuit brings joy. In my case very brief joy. The way gluten affects my body, the damage being done is not worth it. I experience pain in my muscles, stomach and brain. I chose to let go of this group of food in order to help keep my joy.
If you can read in order to learn about your body and how to treat it better, by all means, soak up all that information. Yes, a blogger telling you read, shocking!
However, if you find yourself reading and changing your diet, reading and counting and changing your diet again; you are not doing yourself any favors. It’s easy to feel not good enough when you have 800 different diets telling you you’re doing it wrong.
Read and learn about how your body works, what foods are helpful. Read about portion sizes and then stop reading. Eat what you know will help you and eat less of what you know doesn’t. It really can be as simple as that.
Whenever it comes to setting goals, it’s hard to put the motivation to rest. That compelling pull to keep at it is great and can be totally helpful. It’s when it starts to control you that it can be a real bummer.
Just as important as healthy foods and exercise, your body requires rest. Sleep is crucial. If you are a full grown adult, you should be getting around 8 hours every night.
There is a lot to do in a day, and you are ensuring that you get that workout in. At the end of the day, you may find yourself with a ton of things you need to do, or shows you want to catch up on. I hear that! As hard as it is to put the work away, or turn Netflix off, just think about how great you’ll feel after a full, knocked out, night’s rest.
Quality sleep helps your brain function, it helps your body function, including your metabolism. Not getting enough ZZZs at night can actually cause you to make poor eating choices during your waking hours. Sleep deprivation will throw your metabolic system out of balance and can drastically decrease the production of leptin. Leptin is a hormone that controls your appetite and boosts energy levels. We all can benefit from more of that.
Besides just taking an extra hour of sleep, remember to take a day off at the gym. If your main gym routine is a mild 30 minute walk on the treadmill, then you should be just fine making your way there every day. However, if you are putting in some grueling workouts, make sure to give your muscles a break.
Especially during weight training, your muscles will break in order to build. Give them that precious time to build. Let them recuperate before heading back for round two.
If you are trying to create healthy habits, stick with your workouts by having a day of gentle stretching or a long walk. If you are putting in hard core workouts, slowing it down for a day is still considered taking a break without breaking your habit.
Especially after a night of bad eating choices, there might be that strong desire to skip your next meal. I promise, this won’t do you any favors. If you are struggling with some stomach discomfort, consider trying mono meals. Eating this way for a few days will give your tummy the break it needs but still keep your energy levels sustained and your body functioning properly.
Skipping meals can cause your body to react in some pretty un-cool ways. One meal, really, it won’t kill you. If this becomes a habit, that’s when you can start seeing some hormone changes. Elevation of the stress hormone cortisol, appetite hormones, and even sex hormones can be affected.
For cases that don’t lead to starvation, the major concern can be the feeling of deprivation. If anything can lead you to flipping out and binge eating, it’s meal skipping. Even that dreaded calorie counting can lead to this. If you allow yourself to feel like you are lacking something, it increases your chances of bailing on clean eating all together.
This is all around good news. I’m officially giving you permission to eat.
No, I didn’t just turn this into a blog about committed relationships. I’m talking about those people you oogle at in fitness magazines or at the gym. Those people with the butt you wish you had or the toned arms that only happen in dreams. Those are the people I’m talking about.
Being motivated or supported by people who know what they are doing is great! Everyone needs a support system. If you find that you are cutting yourself down, that’s when this stops being helpful.
The biggest loss of happiness, no matter who you are is when you compare yourself to another person. Truth is, you will never be another person. You can only be you and that is one fabulous person to be!
If fitness magazines are your guilty pleasure sucker, toss them out! They may have great articles and tips, but if the model on the front makes you feel inadequate, be done with ’em. No articles on the inside are going to be beneficial if you feel bad about yourself before even cracking it open.
I know I am quick to see the magazines that read: “See how she lost all that baby weight!” All I really see is a woman with abs, no stretch marks and no flab and I can’t understand how she got so lucky. It’s terrible. No matter how much I tell myself it’s all Photoshopped, I don’t care. I still hate how they make me feel.
Unfortunately, these feelings all too often carry over into the gym. When you are bent over panting and sweating like a dog, your eye tends to gravitate toward the chick who isn’t sweating at all. Men can see a tiny guy, or even woman benching way more than them and immediately feel unworthy. This is when at home workouts can come in handy.
Learning from other’s is great. You should always surround yourself with people you can learn something from. Just be careful not to start comparing.
Try encouraging these people in your mind. That might sound silly, but when I feel my negative thoughts start spinning, I quickly try to flip em on their back.
Even though that woman with the perfectly fit hourglass figure is having an effortless workout, chances are, there is some area in her life she’s doubting herself on. So send encouragement. We are all simply human and we’re in this game of life together. What would make life easier? Building each other up, or knocking ourselves down and being jealous of everyone else? It’s a no brainer.
I know, I’m such a Debbie Downer. Can’t check out other people, can’t check yourself out. When will it end?
What I’m saying here is don’t stand in front of a mirror and just stare at all of your “flaws.” I know I’m not the only person who bends over and notices that flap of inevitable stomach sag.
We spin around, pull things up, smoosh things down and just all around have a no-good time. Now, mirrors are unavoidable, I get that. You gotta make sure you’re looking presentable before you head off to work. So before you go covering all your mirrors with cardboard, just hear me out. The next time you step in front of a mirror, especially if you’re in your undies; don’t you dare say anything bad.
If your eyes start gravitating toward your cellulite, bring em back and focus. Take this moment to say exactly what it is that you already love about yourself.
Anyone can find faults, but taking the time to appreciate every ounce of beauty is a talent worth working on.
I grew up being told not to be conceited. Good advice, for sure. This went a little too far for most of my life to the point that I tried to never say anything nice about myself. Don’t go making that same mistake. Love yourself and do it out loud and be proud.
When you are working on self improvement, it’s very important to remember to already love the person you’re improving. So, go ahead, check yourself out as long as you are also getting a shower of compliments.
Going hand in hand with watching that number on the scale, take your eyes off all those other numbers too. Calories. Inches. Size. They are all relatively irrelevant.
If your goal is to drop your dress size, lose 5 inches, or 20 pounds; change your goals. These aren’t bad goals, but they can lead you away from what you want to accomplish.
Try setting goals that focus more on what you add instead of what you take away. If you tell yourself want to lose, you need less it can end up making you feel incredibly deprived. No one wants to walk around all day feeling like they lost something. But gaining something? Thats a whole other story.
So a goal to give yourself more would be making sure you get 3 servings of vegetables in each day. Set a plan for 6 glasses of water. These are both things you can give to yourself and use to nourish your body as well. Setting goals like these give you that feeling of receiving rather than removing. This can be an easy flip for the mind in which you give to yourself instead of deprive yourself.
Like all these, you will still find that you are reaching the goals you want but you will reach them with far less stress.
Along with all of these fad diets, are those pills and shakes claiming instant results. Infomercials insisting that their machines will yield a 6 pack in no time.
The reality of it all is that, if you have created unhealthy habits, it’s going to take a while to make some new, healthier ones. Fat put on takes a while to get off. This is why it’s so important to take it easy on yourself during this process. Obsessing over the numbers, comparing yourself to others or allowing yourself
to feel deprived will make this long process seem a lot longer. Either that, or you will just toss in the towel after a short time. That means never getting the health you seek.
Remind yourself that if quick fixes worked, no one would be struggling with obesity. Everyone would be at their perfect, healthy weight. It’s never that easy, but it is always that worth it.