We’re told over and over again to work out, eat well and get enough sleep. Having a healthy lifestyle will only lead to amazing benefits, right? Not always.
Orthorexia is considered an eating disorder, and in a nutshell, it’s having an obsession with living a healthy lifestyle; exercising constantly and compulsively eating only what one deems healthy. It may not seem like your typical eating disorder- that’s why I was in shock when it happened to me.
My freshman year of college I was terrified of the freshman 15. Because I was no longer playing sports all year round, I knew I wasn’t going to be as active as I was in high school. I became obsessed with working out. I would skip class or not study in order to make sure that I got my workout in. It was taking over my life, but it was working out, so how could it be bad for me? Everyone was always so impressed with my dedication and would say that they wished they could be the same way. I would workout twice a day sometimes just because I had drunkenly eaten pizza over the weekend.
My obsession soon then spread to what I ate. I wasn’t starving myself and I wasn’t binging and purging, I was just hyper-aware of what I was eating. I started counting calories for the first time in my life. I would go into the dining halls and only have a small salad because I deemed everything else unhealthy. This soon became a dangerous combination and would frequently cause me to pass out after working out. It was not only dangerous for my body but my mind too. It never hit me to be alarmed, because I was being “healthy.” How could exercising twice a day be bad for me? How could an apple for breakfast, before a hard workout, not be enough fuel for my body? It’s a hard mindset to accept or even recognize.
My mom soon brought what I was doing to my attention. I wasn’t helping my body, I was hurting it. Now, more than ever, there’s pressure to live a healthy lifestyle and while in some ways it’s the step in the right direction, it’s also giving people the wrong frame of mind about what a healthy lifestyle is.
Your body needs a break to allow your muscles to properly recover. Your body does, in fact, need carbs in order to carry you through a day let alone a hard workout. Being healthy is a choice, and is something we should hold important. Your body deserves to be treated in the best way possible. Being healthy isn’t something that someone else should pressure you into doing or something that society makes you feel like you have to be. Healthy looks different for everyone.
Being healthy is being able to take a step back and realize if you’re overdoing it. I now know that if I decide to have a girl’s weekend full of wine and too much pizza that I’m not going to instantly gain 10 pounds overnight. I no longer punish myself at the gym for my weekend “splurge.” Pushing your body far beyond its limits isn’t healthy. It’s important to sit down and ask yourself, am I living a healthy lifestyle because I want to or because I feel like I need to? Am I pushing my body too far and not properly fueling it in the way that it needs to be? Am I happy? Working out is a beautiful thing and something that I can never imagine not doing, but I also know that like anything in life, there’s a balance.