Leisha Mulvey has written a very personal piece about mental wellbeing after recovering from anorexia a few years ago. The following summarises her long journey towards creating a healthier mindset about food and fitness, as well as overcoming fears that can hinder the recovery process.
Creating a healthier mindset towards fitness and food.
Sometimes we get confused between dedication and obsession. Is it that we are determined to reach our goals or that we have a disordered mindset and think we must do everything to the absolute extreme to be successful? I suffered from anorexia for a few years and what I saw as a healthy lifestyle was a crippling obsession that was leading me further and further into ill health.
Hopefully you can recognize if it’s gone too far and now you want to create balance again. If you think you have developed an eating disorder be it anorexia, bulimia, Orthorexia or another kind, then I suggest you seek professional help; there are lots of great charities such as BEAT that can be really helpful, alternatively Child or Adult mental health services are available.
So how can we overcome those mental fears and create a healthier mindset? Knowledge, understanding our bodies is key to a better outlook this is because we are not just going along with what we are told in the media or the latest fad but we actually understand what we are doing. Next time you think that you can only consume 1000 calories and only 10g of carbs ask yourself why? The latest juice diet? When in mans history did we only require a strictly liquid diet? Simple questions that you need to start asking yourself.
If you have created ‘fear foods’ in your mind these need to be overcome. If a pizza makes you want to cry then you need to push your mental boundaries and have a slice, the next day you will wake up and realize that the pizza has made no difference to your body and slowly you will overcome these hurdles. I’m not saying go and eat a huge pizza everyday until you feel better because that’s not going to work; it’s about establishing a healthier relationship with food. I am a huge advocate of balance; the 80:20 rule is what I abide to. 80% of my diet is whole foods, unprocessed and natural, the other 20% are for the occasional treats, outings and enjoyment purposes. Therefore, I have no cravings, no need to binge, no need to purge, I am not restricted and I can enjoy my diet.
Now that we’ve dealt with nutrition, lets talk about fitness. Overtraining? Spending hours in the gym? Going to the gym and working out at home? We may think that going to the gym, running, doing some circuits, swimming, ab training or doing every other physical pursuit possible is all part of being active but is it really going to help us? Rest and recovery is so important for performance. From lifting weights to running our muscles need to recover so that they can react to the stimulus they have been given and adapt to make us stronger or faster. If we just keep breaking the muscle down they will never fully recover and our performance won’t improve. Striking a balance between training and rest is vital for progression, which is ultimately why we’re being active.
So ultimately educate yourself, and give yourself a break! Don’t just do something because everyone else is doing it, question it and look for some actual scientific evidence behind claims before you implement them in your life. Don’t obsess over the small things and get the basics right, combat your fear foods, take your rest days an start learning to love yourself.
Ultimately we should strengthen, nourish ourselves and desire to be healthy because we love our bodies, not because we hate them.