The desire to lead a healthy lifestyle becomes a menacingly dangerous disease, – says the clinical psychologist, author of the training “Stand Up and Go,” Lucia Suleimanova and explains why.
Being fat is bad, having extra pounds is shameful, not participating in marathons – a secular crime, and the slightest hint of cellulite on beach photos is a sure way to get a lot of caustic comments on Instagram. Restless athlete Polina Kitsenko, perfectly thin in her swimsuits Natalya Yakimchik, almost melted Nika Belotserkovskaya and Ksenia Sobchak on the cover of Yoga magazine – against their background it becomes clear that Just for You and ProTrener should become your best friends. Not to mention Dasha Lisichenko and her City-Garden supermarkets with eco-friendly products and gluten-free low-calorie cookies.
We are a generation of perfectionist girls: if we manage to juggle with our family and career, practically not dropping anything along the way, then in the struggle for a healthy lifestyle we will definitely get into the race leaders. And, most importantly, it is impossible to go too far here – how can one lead a too healthy lifestyle? The most severe regime, sports on the verge of opportunities, constant monitoring of products on the principle of “healthy / unhealthy” – this is good, right? And do not forget about “doing good and doing good” to loved ones, since they don’t understand how to live. Well, those around them who are unable to control themselves deserve nothing but contempt.
And then the surprising thing is revealed: it turns out that a deviation is always a deviation, with a minus sign or with a plus sign. And the desire to be healthy becomes completely unhealthy when there is a panic fear of eating “unlawful”, an aversion to “wrong” foods, sports to trauma. … But at first no one around is sounding the alarm, unless they tease with a “maniac”. Although the person is really in the grip of deviation, which already has an official name: orthorexia is an eating disorder associated with a pathological desire for proper nutrition and too persistent adherence to a healthy lifestyle. Orthorexia is recognized by Gwyneth Paltrow, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Victoria Beckham, Angelina Jolie and Keira Knightley. And one of the key problems is that it is painfully tempting to be in their company.
I can tell you how to achieve this – exercise at least four hours a day. Completely suppress spontaneous desires in food – usefulness is now becoming the main criterion, each product is checked for compliance with the principles of a healthy diet. Feel guilty sharply, breaking the rules (up to artificial vomiting after a piece of “wrong” food). Develop a system of penalties for violations. Rigidly divide people into “friends” and “strangers,” and experience superiority over those who are not with you. And don't talk about anything else.
Be that as it may, this is no longer self-care, but a sign of a change in the psyche, an obsessive fixation caused by deeper reasons. Perhaps in it are the demands of society and the desire to conform to a certain "group of comrades." In this situation, you are a hostage of status and social requirements, your main fear is the fear of defeat, your main "trump card" is super achievements in healthy lifestyle. It is these achievements that seem to you the main competitive advantage among women, as to the selection that meets the "gold standard". Family, work – everything recedes into the background, you participate in competitions, but not for the Olympic Cup, but for a high place in society.
Or maybe you are a man of achievement, and daily overcoming is your challenge to yourself, even a deterioration in well-being is perceived by you as an occasion to limit yourself even more. No matter what height you reach, you are always few. This is often associated with a family scenario, according to which, only people who have overcome serious obstacles are worthy of respect. You are a hero, if you have once again proven your strength, and in any difficult situation you will deliberately look for the most difficult way out.
It is also often found that constant overcoming of oneself is perceived as the only opportunity to prove one's worth in comparison with others. Such a look at oneself is often accompanied by the so-called bodily dysmorphobia – the rejection of one’s body and the inability to objectively evaluate it. And so, in the pursuit of physical perfection, you devote all your free time to working on the figure, setting yourself the burden of professional athletes. Here we are talking about bigorexia – an obsessive passion for fitness, non-stop work on proportions and a painful reaction to everything related to the aesthetics of the body. What is the result? “Healthy body” is added to “healthy food”, but the spirit in it is far from health.
For each such reason, you must work separately. But for starters, addiction generally needs to be recognized. The problem is that a society that does not go into details, sincerely applauds orthorexics: from the side, his life looks amazingly purposeful. He carries measuring instruments with him, keeps a table of harmful ingredients in his head, grows his own vegetables, sets sports records – and it seems to people that they are watching a unique personality. Meanwhile, a man sets himself up for a dangerous experiment and is already very far from the norm. He is sincerely convinced that he controls his life and keeps everything under control. In fact, he is a slave to his own obsession, and a “healthy” passion drives him. He cannot stop, if only because he has completely lost contact with his body – he does not trust him and he does not hear desperate signals. The worse – the better, the harder – the greater the temptation to overcome. And it’s also very scary to admit your mistake: if you’re wrong, then all this battle, work, efforts and limitations were useless. No, no, of course, it's better to squint and believe.
How can this end? Stomach problems, serious sports injuries, psychological breakdowns. And a complete separation from friends and relatives. They didn’t take on increased obligations and do not plan to live by your rules. In the fever of his innocence, at some point, you may not notice that your husband or closest friends have long lost their distance … However, now you are uncomfortable with everyone – no one will want to be in the presence of a person who, with all his appearance, condemns "debauchery." Yes, there are not many joys available to you and yourself: if you constantly suppress desires and deny yourself everything, the feeling of shame and guilt for any violation of the regime will become eternal companions.
God forbid you to think at the same time that I at least speak out against a healthy lifestyle. Proper nutrition and sport is wonderful, important and necessary, who will argue here. The main thing – do not overdo it. If you sometimes allow yourself with a light heart an evening with a glass of wine and a delicious dinner, not paying attention to calories, you are within the normal range. If loved ones respect your passion, and are not afraid for you, I’m calm for you. Do not forget to enjoy life, and then it does not occur to you to destroy yourself in the name of other people's ideas about health, no matter how attractive they may appear in the Instagram feed.
About the author:
Lucia Suleimanova – clinical psychologist, candidate of psychological sciences, managing partner of the Center for Educational Kinesiology, author of the training “Stand up and go.” Personal website of the author luciapsycho.su