Is it time to re-address your fitness balance?
I had a real revelation this past month; I’d almost go so far as to say life-changing. Before I reveal what it was I should probably make a quick confession, one that may or may not surprise you.
Like many people who train and lead a healthy life, I often slip into the dangerous habit of guilt-tripping myself when I go out, miss a few days at the gym, or over-indulge in food, drink and mega-fun party times. This guilt-trip will usually lead to an increase in training and a decrease in calories prior to said party times, trying to ‘offset’ the ‘damage’ that I did to my body during the ‘blip’ in my ‘routine’. This set of actions probably isn’t alien to you – come Mondays you’ll no doubt hear conversations in the office, on social media, amongst friends etc of people’s plans to get ‘back to normal’ or how they feel bigger/out of shape as the result of a weekend having fun. Sound familiar?
If it does, you’re not alone. In 1997, the term ‘orthorexia’ was coined, a label to describe those with an obsession to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Symptoms include strict adherence to a ‘clean’ diet, excessive exercise, avoiding social situations so as not to miss workouts, continuing to exercise when injured or ill, etc. Orthorexia is now thought to be as prevalent as anorexia and bulimia in the world of eating disorders, maybe even more so because it is not currently recognised as a clinical diagnosis. I don’t consider myself ‘orthorexic’, but I certainly display some of these habits at the lighter end of the scale.
So – back to my revelation. A few weeks ago we had a wedding out of London, then I flew to Ibiza for 4 days, had one night at home then travelled to Brighton for another wedding which I was bridesmaid at. Apart from a few runs, I didn’t exercise, and I didn’t want to – there was too much going on and too much fun to be had. I forgot about the gym and eating healthily, didn’t worry about how little sleep I was getting and drank to my hearts content. On the Sunday we got back from the second wedding, we ordered a curry and as we waited for it on the sofa I prepared myself for the onslaught of thoughts I would soon start having about how hard I was going to work in the gym that week and what kind of foods I’d be omitting from my diet. But they didn’t come – and here’s why:
Whilst I was away I had so, SO much fun and it made me realise something; exercise isn’t the first or most important item on the list that comprises my ‘routine’ anymore. I didn’t view the week as a ‘break from the norm’ or something that I needed to try and erase the memory (physical and mental) of. I didn’t want to go ‘back to normal’ – I want the fun times, the times with friends, the time enjoying myself, to be a bigger part of what makes up the ‘normal’ part of my life. Yes exercise is great; it makes me feel better, it benefits my body and it’s an essential part of my career. But I don’t ever want it to be more important than me, my friends or my family. Props to those who prioritise exercise above and beyond everything else – but there’s no harm in asking yourself if it might be time to re-address that balance and give the rest of your life the chance to come first for a change!