So you’ve made some serious changes to your lifestyle and have adopted a routine that includes more exercise and less late-night snacking. You’ve discovered the beautiful worlds of #fitspo and #mealprep and have started following women who, like you, are working hard to achieve their fitness goals. In between scrolling through your Insta feed and increasing your planking time, did you realize that some elements of this new lifestyle could become obsessive and could end up having a negative impact on your overall wellbeing?
First up, meal prep
Preparing food in large batches and using it for several meals definitely saves time and costs. It allows for remaining in control of what you eat, limiting impulsive decisions (ex. salad bar or pizza for lunch..? Decisions, decisions…), and ensuring that you eat well amidst a busy schedule. What could go wrong? It turns out that it is possible to think too much about food. It is good to spend some time planning out your trips to the supermarket and thinking ahead so that you do not get caught off guard when you snooze one too many times or your meeting takes twice as long as you expected it to. The problem begins when you lose flexibility in your eating routine, meaning that you might be unable to enjoy an extra cookie at a party or a spontaneous lunch outing with your BFF because you are stressed about missing out on your scheduled meal. Nutrition consultant Cristin Harris, Ph.D, R.D.N., advises that food should only be on your mind 25% of the time. If food is constantly on your mind and you are restricting yourself, you are more likely to spend time daydreaming about those double chocolate fudge brownies that you promised yourself you wouldn’t ever eat again. As you can imagine, this can end up being more harmful to your mental health than eating the brownie would have been for your bikini body.
Is there such a thing as too much #fitspiration?
Instagram is full of success stories from women who have worked their booties off to build a body they are proud of. Following and connecting with women that inspire and motivate you to go for that early morning run or sign up for an extra yoga class can be very beneficial (take the example of the powerful #kaylasarmy community) and can remind you that you are not alone on your journey. Unfortunately, many photos posted by women who have extreme ab definition or larger-than-life thigh gaps should simply not be perceived as realistic goals for all of us and can easily go from motivation to obsession. Let’s not forget that there are a multitude of ways to be beautiful and strong! The more we look at images of sculpted, airbrushed figures, the more we might be caught comparing ourselves to them and becoming unsatisfied with our own progress. This issue has been addressed by some in the industry, such as personal trainer Mel V’s “15-minute transformation” where she brings to light the way many “before” and “after” photos can and are often enhanced through artificial tactics (check it out here). Let’s be real, we can all look great in our new sports bra after taking 54 selfies and using 7 different editing applications. The frequent over-sexualization of some #fitspo photos also alters the focus of the entire premise of becoming fitter and stronger. Remember that you are doing this to become the best version of yourself, not the best version of someone else!
Fit Girl Tips
If you find yourself having some of these common obsessive thoughts, remember that the changes you want to see will not happen overnight. Learn to enjoy every step of the way by focusing on how you feel both on the inside and on the outside, because not all important changes can be seen in the mirror. Plus, if you spend your time obsessing about your workout and eating schedules, you might not have any time left to enjoy all of the progress you have already made! Make sure to log out of Instagram and turn off your internal calorie counter every once in awhile, breathe, and take a moment to appreciate yourself for being brave enough to embark on this journey by having a brownie or one (or two, or three…) glasses of wine.
Sources: www.shape.com, www.gawker.com
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