Exercise and Dieting can be bad for your health
Exercise and dieting can be harmful to your health. I fear that it can even kill you. And I am quite likely the only person in health care that will tell you that, but I believe very much that it is the truth.
I am going to give you some “real-life” examples to illustrate my point (all names have been changed to protect the privacy of my clients). I think that by the end of this article, you will agree that there are dangers to consider, and I hope it will cause you to reevaluate your own approach to exercise and diet!
Maria came to see me as she and her husband were having trouble getting pregnant. All of their test results were normal, and they had been diagnosed with idiopathic primary infertility, meaning that no one could really say why they weren’t getting pregnant…it was anyone’s guess, really. I asked Maria all the questions I usually ask about emotional state, stress, hormonal shifts, lifestyle, and more. Maria reported that she ran or worked out every day religiously and she was very careful about what she ate. In fact, she was up at 5 am every morning to exercise, then worked a full day, then spent the entire evening preparing food for that night and the next day. She fell into bed exhausted at the end of the night, only to do it all again the next day.
I gave Maria the most bizarre advice she had ever been given: stop exercising so much! Eat a cookie or two! In my opinion, she was being so hard on her body by sticking to this exercise and diet regime, that it was exhausting her to the point where there was no way she could get pregnant. It takes a lot of energy for the body to get pregnant. As long as she was wiping herself out with this routine, she would never conceive.
Three months later…she was pregnant! And she was well-rested and ready to have a fabulous pregnancy.
Aaron had been told that he needed to lose weight. He was a “heart attack waiting to happen” according to his doctor. So he began the exercise program at the gym and he attacked that program like he attacked everything in his life – with zeal. He became obsessed with his workouts, he would stress if he had to miss even one a week, and he would rant and rave if anything stood in the way of his success in the gym.
Well, guess how well that turned out? Aaron’s blood pressure sky-rocketed. His resting heart rate increased (!), and his reported level of stress went through the roof. If he had been heading for a heart attack before, he had, in my mind, just quadrupled his risk! Exercise was actually causing him more heart problems!
My solution for Aaron? Get out of the gym! It was too competitive, too easy for him to obsess about. Instead, I recommended he try a more gentle form of exercise. Yup, Aaron started yoga. In yoga, he found an exercise regimen that he could use to build his strength and stamina, but also to decompress from his long hours at work. Yoga does not inherently breed a sense of competition, and he was able to exercise and relax all at once. The results? He is healthier than ever before…and happier, too!
Finally, consider Dana. Dana was so diet-conscious that she packed her own lunch to eat even when joining friends at a restaurant for a social meal. She would hide her lunch bag in her purse, order a glass of water, and surreptitiously eat her home-made meal while her friends dined.
If anyone offered Dana a treat of any kind to eat, she would berate herself verbally with comments such as, “Oh, I couldn’t possibly eat that! Do you know how many calories are in that much less the fat content? I’d be a blimp if I even had one bite!”
Not only was her behavior socially off-putting, it was self-deprecating and self-denying. She was denying herself the pleasure of a meal with friends or a treat now and again. That type of behavior is not healthy! Dana wondered why, despite all her “efforts,” she never lost weight.
The answer? She was so stressed about watching what she ate, and so hard on herself, that her controlling behavior around food was causing her adrenal glands to function in over drive. You cannot lose weight if your stress is so high that your adrenals are firing like mad…it’s not possible!
The solution? Dana needed to allow herself to relax about food. She needed to breathe and take time to enjoy food again. In turn, her system in general and her adrenal glands in particular, could also relax and begin to function normally, leading to natural weight loss and increased health.
I hope these examples give you some food for thought about exercise and diet. Be aware of what you are doing to your body. Make “smart” choices that benefit all of who you are. You’ll be happier and healthier as a result!