Around the start of a new year, many people try to slim down in order to fulfill resolutions. The problem is, some people are not losing weight in a healthy way. While making changes to your diet can lead to healthy weight loss, extreme dieting and exercise will result in a variety of unhealthy consequences, both physically and mentally. If you are questioning whether your methods of weight loss are healthy or not, read on to discover the difference.
Healthy: Exercise is meant to be used as a way to get healthier physically. This includes strengthening your cardiovascular system and strengthening your muscles. Exercise can result in changes in appearance through weight loss and muscle tone. However, it’s important to exercise with the intention to become healthier as opposed to strictly becoming thinner.
Unhealthy: People with eating disorders usually focus on cardio activities because they believe it will help them lose weight through burning calories. High intensity cardio activities coupled with an empty stomach can create serious health risks including fainting and exhaustion. Additionally, using exercise as a form of punishment or compensation for eating something people feel they “shouldn’t” have is not healthy.
Healthy: Healthy dieting may include the limiting or removal of certain foods in order to feel better physically and mentally. People will often work to limit their intake of sugars, carbohydrates, caffeine, salts, or gluten in order to be healthier. A healthy diet includes well balanced meals that incorporate protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats.
Unhealthy: Unhealthy diets are typically extreme in that they either totally eliminate certain foods, or restrict the amount of food a person is consuming to an unhealthy and unrealistic amount. Eliminating certain foods is unhealthy in that it can cause vitamin deficiencies that can result in side effects like low energy and fatigue. For example, a person who decides they are going to lose weight by only eating vegetables for two weeks will experience a lack of energy because they are no longer taking in carbohydrates and healthy fats. Eliminating food altogether can also cause low energy and fatigue, in addition to many more serious side effects. Unhealthy diets go hand in hand with rigid thinking patterns surrounding “good” and “bad” foods.
Healthy: A healthy mindset surrounding exercise and diet includes having attainable goals in mind. Once a person reaches these goals, they are able to feel satisfied and adapt their exercise and diet regimens to maintain their results. A healthy mindset is flexible and allows for changes in one’s schedule or plan. For example, people with a healthy mindset surrounding exercise and diet will not miss a family event because it interferes with their workout schedule, nor will they decline lunch plans with a friend because it will mess up their meal plan.
Unhealthy: An unhealthy mindset surrounding exercise and diet is very rigid. It does not leave any room to accommodate changes in plans. It also uses absolute and extreme thinking that includes words like “should” and “must”. An unhealthy mindset surrounding exercise and diet also places judgement on how you exercise and what you eat, for example “good” foods and “bad” foods.
If you have been engaging in some unhealthy diet and exercise behaviors in order to lose weight, or are concerned that you may have an eating disorder, consider working with a therapist. A therapist can help you develop a healthy mindset around food and exercise. To explore this option, get in touch with Seeds of Hope.