In the pursuit of optimal health and wellness, it’s easy to get lost in the exhausting trap of extremism.
“healthy or not healthy.”
“success or failure.”
“good or bad.”
The problem with extremism is that it almost always guarantees failure. It is rooted in the adaptation of rigid beliefs and practices that can have detrimental effects on both ones physical and mental well-being. This all-or-nothing approach is limited, not sustainable and often encourages negative self talk, guilt and shame… which creates a vicious cycle of unhappiness and frustration.
I help people break free from rigidity and invite a more centered, balance approach to their physical, mental and energetic wellbeing. Below I’ll share the problems with extremism, how to spot if you’re leaning towards unhealthy extremist tendencies, and tips for how to approach health, wellness and life with more BALANCE.
The Problems With Extremism in Health and Wellness
Obsessive Behavior is Unhealthy
Extremism in health and wellness often leads to obsessive behaviors and an unhealthy fixation on attaining unrealistic ideals. Whether it’s obsessing over a specific diet, exercise routine, or body image, the relentless pursuit of perfection can result in anxiety, disordered eating, and a negative self-image. The pendulum swings too dramatically – from being “good and disciplined” to being “a total mess and failure” breeds an unhealthy (and unhappy) approach to life. Emphasizing balance and self-acceptance is key to maintaining a healthy relationship with our bodies and overall well-being.
Physical Consequences of Extremism
Engaging in extreme practices, such as extreme dieting or excessive exercise, can have serious physical consequences. Restrictive diets devoid of essential nutrients can lead to nutrient deficiencies, weakened immune systems, hormonal imbalances and digestive issues (which plagued me in my 20s as a result of disordered eating). Pushing our bodies to the extreme without adequate rest and recovery can result in injuries, chronic fatigue, and burnout.
Case in point, I ran a half marathon in February 2023 without training, which resulted in me on crutches for the next 4 weeks with an incredibly painful strained tendon. Our bodies need moderation and rest. It is essential to listen to our bodies, prioritize self-care, and adopt sustainable habits that support long-term well-being.
Mental Health Implications
Constantly striving for unattainable goals, comparing oneself to others, and feeling guilt or shame for not adhering to strict regimens can contribute to increased stress, anxiety, and poor self-esteem. The pressure to conform to extreme standards can create a toxic relationship with our bodies and negatively affect our mental well-being. Instead, we must learn to promote self-compassion, balance, and realistic expectations.
Social Isolation and Disconnect
Adopting extreme health and wellness practices often leads to social isolation and a disconnect from others. Restrictive diets breed a fear of social gatherings and shared meals, and obsessive exercise habits can impact socialization and healthy connections.
Neglecting Other Aspects of Life
The relentless pursuit of physical perfection may result in neglecting relationships, hobbies, passions, career development, and personal fulfillment. Health and wellness are meant to support a well-rounded, fulfilling and energized life – not drain it. Striving for a well-balanced life involves finding a balance between your health and other meaningful pursuits.
How to Change Your Habits, Routines and Goals to be More Balanced
Do you find yourself resonating with any of the above? Take a breath and know you’re not alone – so many of my new clients come to me feeling this exact same way. Inundated with images, fad-diets, and confusing rhetoric in the health and wellness industry, it can be extremely hard for us, as individuals, to navigate what is “healthy,” to establish habits that work for us and find balance in our routines and self care.
Be Mindful of your Community
Take note of the habits and beliefs of those around you, including your parents, friends and workplace. Does the conversation around food and fitness feel positive and uplifting or negative and self deprecating? Consciously surround yourself with a supportive network of individuals who share similar goals of healthy, balanced living.
Set Realistic and Sustainable Goals
Instead of aiming for drastic changes overnight, set realistic and achievable goals. Break them down into smaller, manageable steps that align with your lifestyle and preferences. Gradual progress allows for sustainable habits and reduces the likelihood of feeling overwhelmed or giving up. Hiring a coach is an incredible investment to make healthy, sustainable progress towards your goals. If you’re interested in working with me, reserve a free consultation call here.
Embrace a Holistic Approach
Focus on all dimensions of well-being, including physical, mental, emotional, energetic and social aspects. Consider incorporating activities that nurture every area, including regularly moving your body, mindfulness practices, maintaining healthy relationships and open communication, and engaging in hobbies or activities that bring you joy and fulfillment.
Listen to Your Body
Pay attention to your body’s signals and needs. Rest when you’re tired, eat when you’re hungry, avoid pushing yourself beyond your limits. Honor your body’s natural rhythms and give it the care and attention it deserves.
Practice Mindful Eating
Slow down. Cultivate a healthy relationship with food by practicing mindful eating. Pay attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues, savor the flavors and textures of your meals, and choose nourishing foods that provide energy and support your well-being. Avoid restrictive diets and instead opt for balanced and varied nutrition.
Find Joy in Movement
Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore! Find joy in movement. Discover movement that you enjoy and brings you pleasure. It could be swimming, yoga, pilates, dance, running, biking, ju-jitzu, fencing, team sports … anything! Explore different forms and find what you enjoy… if you hate going to the gym, don’t. Find something else you DO enjoy and do that.
Prioritize Self-Care and Self Compassion
Dedicate time for self-care activities that recharge and rejuvenate you. Get enough sleep, relax, spend time in nature, journal, practice yoga or meditation, or spend time doing things that really bring you joy. Self-care is essential for reducing stress, maintaining balance and living a well-integrated life.
Create a Balanced Daily Routine
Structure your daily routine in a way that promotes balance. Allocate time for work, exercise, self-care, social connections, and relaxation. By consciously designing a balanced routine, you create space for all aspects of your life and avoid excessive focus on a single area.
Cultivate gratitude by focusing on the positive aspects of your health and well-being journey and celebrate small wins. Regularly express appreciation for your body, the progress you’ve made, and the support you receive. Gratitude helps shift your perspective and fosters a sense of contentment and balance.
Remember, finding balance is a continuous process, and it may vary from person to person and change at different times in your life. Be patient, be flexible, and allow yourself room for growth and adjustment as you navigate your health and wellness goals. Make a choice today to refrain from extremism. By cultivating self-compassion, embracing diversity in health practices, and prioritizing overall well-being, we can lead fulfilling lives that encompass all aspects of our being.
If you’re ready to work with a coach to help find more balance in all aspects of your life, this is your sign! Working with me will invite more balance into your routines, help you set realistic goals and hold accountable to your goals, reframe limiting beliefs, prioritize your time, discover new things about yourself and create positive changes in your overall well-being. Reserve an introductory call here.