5 Signs You’re Too Obsessed With Your Weight
You’re trying to drop pounds, so you’re running more, laying off pizza, and even wearing a fitness tracker to chart your progress. But then the mission starts taking over your life. It’s easy, especially for people with perfectionist tendencies or a genetic predisposition, to slide across the spectrum from ‘normal eating’ to ‘disordered eating’ to ‘eating disordered.'” Be careful not to become obsessed with your weight.
And if you thought eating disorders were limited to teenage girls, you’re wrong. There is a great increase in mid-life women in their 30s and above who may have disordered eating.
Check the following signs that your healthy habits may be swerving into unhealthy territory.
You count every calorie
Journaling meals and snacks is a good way to avoid mindless munching, but at the same time it discourages intuitive eating, so you begin choosing foods based solely on their caloric value, ignoring important vitamins and nutrients and your own sense of satisfaction. There’s a fine line between calorie counting and the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors associated with an eating disorder. If you already struggle with regulating your eating habits or thoughts, it’s a good idea to lift your focus off calories. To eat healthfully without obsessing, focus on filling half your plate with veggies and whole fruits, one-quarter with lean protein like chicken or fish, and one-quarter with a whole grain, like quinoa or brown rice.
You weigh yourself multiple times a day
If you’re stepping on the scale before and after meals, or if you adjust the way you stand on the scale to tweak the numbers, this is a compulsive behavior that will only get worse over time. Unless you have a physician-prescribed reason to get on a scale, weighing yourself once a week is enough. A 2012 study from the University of Minnesota found that frequent self-weighing was linked to more weight-control behaviors (both healthy and unhealthy), more depressive symptoms and lower self-esteem in women. Weight naturally fluctuates throughout the day, so if you’re inclined to step on the scale daily, I recommend doing it first thing in the morning, after hitting the bathroom and before breakfast for the most reliable data.
You’re adding more and more foods to your forbidden list
Our bodies are designed to run on a variety of nutrients, and this includes carbohydrates and fats as well as protein and fiber. You may believe that swearing off sugar or gluten will improve your health, but it’s really just a way to restrict calories—and it’s easy for this pattern to get out of hand. Often restriction begets restrictions, with diets becoming more and more limited over time. Having “forbidden foods” sets you up for disordered eating and can even trigger binges, as you start to crave the nutrients your body lacks.
Your workout is always your top priority
Every doctor will tell you that regular exercise is essential for just about every aspect of your physical and mental wellbeing. But it really can go too far. People can develop a compulsive or addictive relationship with exercise in which they struggle to maintain a rigid routine and they’ll land in a sea of negative emotions when they’re unable to work out. Compulsive exercisers will squeeze in a sweat session no matter what—even if they have to miss family or work obligations or ignore an injury or illness. They routinely push themselves too hard and suffer overuse injuries, burnout, and exhaustion. If you’re putting exercise ahead of everything else, especially sleep, and if the thought of missing a workout makes you sweat, signs point to obsession.
You’re a slave to Fitbit
Getting feedback on your food and activity can help keep you honest—if you’ve taken only 1,200 steps today, you didn’t move enough (experts recommend about 10,000). Trouble comes from tracking too religiously or in multiple ways. Food-tracking apps such as MyFitnessPal can trigger disordered eating because it encourages a hyperawareness of the data. Using devices to track workouts, steps, and calories can contribute to developing a disordered, un-intuitive relationship with exercise. Activity becomes about the numbers, and you can always choose to do more. In fact, a 2016 Duke University study published in the Journal of Consumer Research shows that Fitbits and other tracking gizmos, in quantifying your every move, can actually suck the joy out of the activity. Instead, I recommend finding an activity that you like doing for its own sake, so you can leave the trackers at home and just move for the love of the activity.
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