A New Year with old resolutions is here. Improving health through exercise and diet, or some variation of that, is an old stand by and always makes the top ten list of New Year’s resolutions. Of course, anyone can make a resolution. The key is to actually follow through. For most of us, improving health requires a balanced approach versus an “all-in” approach. Going to extremes can result in obsessive behavior, contradicting the resolution’s sole purpose. Be aware of signs to avoid a bad obsession in improving health.
Restrictive Behavior: Completely restricting yourself from things you enjoy, but are considered unhealthy, is draining. This is primarily in the form of diet. We all know the good and bad foods. Unfortunately, much of the “bad” food tastes sooooo good. Desserts, fried foods, gas station snacks, or whatever your food vice, completely eliminating them can be difficult to maintain. Being able to recognize a bad pattern of eating and making these vices occasional treats for yourself may be more realistic.
Feeling Panic or Guilt: This feeling is one result of restrictive behavior. If you have feelings of shame and remorse for having that cookie at the office party, take note. If you miss a workout (or two) and beat yourself up over it, heed those feelings and remember your ultimate goal is still in reach. Bringing an extreme approach toward health and wellness very well may give you a feeling of complete control over your health. However, it can also amplify the feeling of failure if you veer only slightly from your plan to better health. Don’t panic, take a deep breath, and know you are still on track and in control.
Equating Healthy Behavior with Morality: This is another way to undermine your journey to better health. If you are starting or restarting your road to better health, it’s important not to put perfect behavior on a moral pedestal. It will, again, only amplify feelings of failure when you don’t meet that expectation. Another self-check to recognize is when you reach and maintain a healthy lifestyle. You may see this in others that walk that health and wellness moral high ground. Yes, it is important to take pride in yourself, but not at the detriment to another’s journey. Once you reach a balanced, healthy lifestyle, you can then help others do the same versus adding to their struggle or reluctance to achieve.
Excessive Exercise: This is an easy one in concept. When you jump into your new, healthy behavior, exercise must be part of it. When you find yourself working out through injuries or if there are obvious, unhealthy changes in your body’s function, it’s time to take note. The problem is that those that fall into this, usually don’t know it. They are so fixated on working out and the fear of skipping a session blinds them to the harm they are causing.
Defensive Attitude: Whether it’s excessive exercise or extreme diet restrictions, you may become defensive when a friend brings it to your attention. Be mindful of this potential reaction, particularly if more than one person comments or confronts you. Be open to a discussion about potentially taking things too far versus shutting down the conversation immediately.
The person that becomes obsessive is usually the last to know. Like most things, to avoid unhealthy results, preventing it before it is a problem is ideal. If you take on improved health this year, keep a balanced approach and note the above signs to prevent a bad obsession.