Sunday, October 12, 2014

.. An Unhealthy Obsession...

I have a confession..

The last few weeks were tough. The recovery phase was/is difficult and my level of fitness is not what it used to be. I am working towards my fitness and getting back on track is slower than expected. I should be a little patient, I should recover first and then workout, I should eat all the nutrients.. I know it all. Trust me when I say so, I can talk about these things in my sleep also.
The possibility of losing my fitness was really scary and I thought controlling calories would be helpful.

All this turned me in to a calorie fighting monster. Looking at the labels before eating slowly turned in to a ritual. Every choice, every nutrient, every morsel was governed by the number of calories it contained. I wanted to maintain my "calorie deficit" every day. Day after day.
I know how this game works but it was just easy going down that road. I wanted to control whatever I could from my end.

On Thursday I couldn't get myself up for a workout. I thought hard and long. Finally, I had to admit that I was low on energy and wasn't in a shape to run. I realized that this healthy eating business was causing me more harm. I had gone too far with it. I needed to cut some slack.

The food intake was governing me and I finally figured that I was busy counting the calories all this while. I forgot the basic principle of nutrition - It is the nutrient density that matters and not all calories are equal. A label may sound great with "Fat Free" / "Skinny" splashed over it but in the end it is all about how many nutrients it carries.

I ate that night without looking at the calories but simply with the judgement of what and how many macro nutrients it contained. The next day I didn't look at the labels either. My meals were picked on the basis of  what it carried ( proteins, carbs, fats and vitamins).. I had Spanish brown rice with chicken and vegetables. The next run was great, my longest in a while - 11+ KMs.

I realized how I was playing the game all wrong. I thanked the stars for the realization before it turned in to an obsession. I am done reading the digits on those labels . I am done picking the greens from the shelves obsessively. I have stopped this mission of counting numbers. It almost killed my joy of eating.

When I say that I am not reading the numbers I don't mean that I am eating the junk/ processed food. All I want to convey here is that I am paying attention to the protein and sugar that it carries. I am trying to eat healthy without counting any calories. No artificial sweeteners, No too much of sugar, no chemicals, no "seemingly" healthy foods - Fat free flavored yogurts, granola bars and the list goes on.

I don't want the stress of eating healthy. This business is not for me. I enjoy my cheat days and I like my balanced meals. There will be days when I will go past my "ideal calories" but then there will be stressful and exhaustive runs. I like the balance and what it offers - The sense of well being.

I am not sure why I shared this here. The eating disorders are on a rise and we need to help the others around us. The idea of that "perfect image" is too appealing but it comes with a price. Personally, I know people who are suffering from some or the other form of eating disorder and it feels awful.

I could have gone down that path easily but luckily fitness ranks higher in my life priorities. The moment I realized my fitness level wasn't getting any better I decided to introspect.

Needless to say that I am lucky to have people who give me a constant reality check..


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