Health Obsession

For the better part of the week, I’ve been obsessed with reading “healthy living” blogs and online articles for women. A friend called me out on my preoccupation with sharpness: “that’s NOT healthy. You’re binging”

And she’s right. The urges to adopt a balanced diet do not satisfy (eat proteins for snacks), the advice to ask for dressing on the side, the insistence to swap applesauce for butter…then, strategies for squeezing in time at the gym—or tales of using canned chickpeas for weights for a turbo set, and methods to increase metabolism by doing intervals….and let’s not forget that quasi self care rituals of “me time” reading yoga manicures sitting by the pool….all of these things apparitions of the “perfect healthy life.”

It’s the same stuff over and over again, repackaged with sparkles of individualism. We all want to be unique, but we all fall back to same old patterns.

Research shows that we already know what behaviors are healthy, it’s the DOING them that’s hard.

And sometimes, following health blogs IS NOT. I think our obsessions to “be healthy” CAN be a flawed means to earn a sense of worth. We compete with others (her food blog gets more hits/comments, she ran better today than me) and we compete with ourselves (I didn’t get to the gym as planned today, my calories are higher today).

But we don’t get badges for being “healthiest”

I want to be honest…I am not balanced most days. In fact, I have a propensity for clumsy alignment. I want to run when I should rest, and I want to eat or starve when I am stressed. But knowing this, makes me healthy. Sharing that struggle with you makes me healthy.

There will be a day when your kid/dog/roommate is up all night puking and the next morning in the office you have (GASP) a manufactured muffin. And you might feel less-than-a-healthy-person because of it as you read a blog where she sucked down a GM. Your sense of “not being good” is bullocks. 

And yet…it’s been a long time since I’ve eaten a store muffin, although “it’s okay” “it follows health blog code” to eat a homemade one…It’s not that it doesn’t taste good, it’s just not worth the calories…oh, did I write calories…I meant guilt.


26 thoughts on “Health Obsession

  1. wow girl, this is on point!

    you finely articulated each and every thought that I was trying to convey in my post. I definitely agree that blog reading can completely lead to obsessive behavior and comparitive tendencies. I’m not going to pretend that I’m not guilty of this myself. After reading blogs of woman who claimed splenda was awful for you and they weren’t going to use it anymore, i myself bought a package of much more expensive Stevia that I honestly didn’t like the taste of at all, but i drank it because i wanted to be the “perfect healthy blogger” So crazy, right?! Though I do think that the health blogger community is a positive one in some sense I definitely agree that it can become addictive and unhealthy in turn. Thank you so much for sharing this post!!

    • So true! That’s what I think we all do naturally (think DIET!) I think obsessions by definition cause dsyfunction…so when we are spending more time in “shoulds” than natural, intuitive behavior.

  2. Hey girl!!!! I completely agree with everything you’re saying. I actually got so far into my obsessive ways due to all those health websites and the food blogs. Now that i’m at a healthier place, I know what to look for and NOT look into when reading other blogs! I love checking out new meal combos and hearing about people’s days, but I do NOT care to read how many calories were burned in a workout, or that this or that meal was super unhealthy and indulgent. We’re aloud to indulge, and eat some junk every now and then….that’s actually what makes us HEALTHY (in my opinion).

    When I started focusing too much on all those points you brought up in the beginning (proteins for snacks, gym time, intervals…), I became OBSESSIVE, and couldn’t stray. It’s that healthy diet and lifestyle with the occasional (or common, whatever we please) splurge that keeps us happy and in a healthy place in our life’s. Too many rules and restrictions cause us to be paranoid, obsessive, etc….and it’s hard to get out from it!!

    Thanks for posting this, i’m sure many people are with you on the topic. It’s all about finding a balance, and NOT comparing yourself to others (workouts, meals, etc)….different things work for different people, and we gotta remember that!

    Have a good Saturday! 🙂

  3. You’re so right! We need balance in our lives. Although I do admit that following healthy blogs isn’t the worst obsession I could have. 😀 It’s all about things in moderation in my opinion. And I’ve actually never compared myself to other bloggers… I think of blogging and reading other blogs as a hobby that’s good for me.

  4. I don’t think being extreme is every unhealthy, but I don’t think reading food blogs makes you unhealthy… it just depends on how far you take it.

    • That’s what I was trying to convey…it is the comparison mentality of after reading articles (from magazines or blogs) that you are “less than” or de-empowered than before you read it. If after reading a blog you think “I am not good enough” that’s not going to motivate you towards health…

  5. It is all about perspective. Some people feel de-empowered but others make EMPOWERED because they have no other healthy influences in their life and blogs provide that (some blogs). I just hate it when people give all blogs a bad rap because they aren’t all de-empowering.

  6. That’s my point too, IT IS NOT ABOUT CONTENT! It is what we 1) are looking for 2) are taking away. I think health is hard! I think “balance” is hard. Which is why we should all support each other…it obsessions and healthy behaviors and all!

  7. Very true this….we still tend to seek outside the wisdom and direction of our own bodies, looking for what “health” looks and feels like. It feels like having enough energy to do what we want and need to do. It looks like glowing skin, bright eyes, a wide smile, and a zest for life. And it lives like it doesn’t need to know what the latest health blog or newsletter has to say about what is healthy and what is not. Well said!

  8. Such a good post.

    I’ve learned so much from food blogs and don’t for one minute regret ‘discovering’ them or starting my own.

    But there are days when they make me feel inadequate, either for not exercising enough or for not eating well enough.

    I think as long as we keep in mind that no-one (not even bloggers) is perfect, and that balance is key, then food blogs are really good things.

  9. Excellent post. I am going to link to this today.

    I’ve been reading fewer and fewer food blogs because a lot of them seem really disordered and competitive to me — even if they don’t intend to be. As a recovering disordered eater, I don’t want to engage in those spaces any more … I just can’t.

  10. Well-stated. To put it simply, I usually read certain food blogs for the personalities of the writers. I like being entertained, no matter what’s on the plate.

    Like you, I also don’t think it’s useful to post calories burned from a workout – so I don’t post that anymore. It’s going to be different for everyone, so why does it matter?

    I think more food blogs should focus on real, creative story-telling. After all, food is a part of our lives. It’s only one component.

  11. Very thought provoking post. I know I would not be the person I am today if I hadn’t started reading food blogs. They’ve definitely helped me in so many good ways, and I’ve developed many strong friendships with many of these girls.

    That being said, I do tend to obsess over food and exercise, but I’ve been doing that for years…I don’t blame it on the blogs I read. It’s just who I am. However, I know for others, blogs only fuel disordered thinking…just depends on where the reader is at in life. We all take different things away from blog reading, and I’m grateful for the positive experience it has been for me.

  12. From this conversation, I’ve taken away a few nuggets: Be aware and honest with your own struggles. If you find yourself being more critical after reading blogs or articles (I CAN’T/Won’t DO magazines anymore) question what you are looking for, and perhaps be more selective…DON’T COMPARE!
    Thanks so much for the validation that we all struggle to be balanced. It is a day by day thing, and I hope that we as bloggers support each other by being honest with our weakness as well as our strengths!

  13. Pingback: Obsessing About Health « Tales of a (Recovering) Disordered Eater

  14. Great post. I talked about this myself a bit and often question the reasons for visiting this blog or that blog. Is it really for health or is it really for comparison?

    I know that even though I’m new to the blog world and do it just for myself, I still feel crappy and competitive at times (why does no one comment? If she’s eliminating that, maybe I should too? Etc.)

    Knowing that I have a slightly obsessive personality, I know that I have to limit it to blogs that I find truly helpful and healthy for me. Not to compare, not to obsess, but to get new ideas and support if needed.

    Glad I ran across your blog and I will stop back in the future!

  15. sorry it took me long to make it over here! It’s so true and it’s so frustrating when people complain that your choices aren’t right… what is right is going to be different for everyone! If someone ate exactly what I do and exercised the same way… they aren’t going to have the same body as me, for better or worse! I’m all about living life and enjoying it, everything in moderation, and not stressing the small stuff. Who cares what others are doing. I read blogs for inspiration and have met a ton of great people… but there will always be those others who rain on your parade… you just need to ignore them and stand up happy on your own for who you are 😀

    • “You just need to ignore them and stand up happy on your own for who you are…” I think this is my life long lesson, here. Thanks for your encouragement, in helping me be a better, more balanced, me.

  16. I love this, and love your blog. 🙂 I go through phases where I feel as though certain bloggers are leading me in a very healthy direction (I’ve tried SO many great new foods, recipes, and gotten great exercise tips), and then I’ll go through a phase where some of the blogs really get me down on myself. I don’t think it’s intentional by the writers, but I wish I had the balls to tell them how they make me (and I’m sure others) feel. 🙂

    I know I have to be careful since I struggled with an ED for 8+ years, but it’s a wonderful community and hard to let go. Thanks for the thought provoking post!

  17. This is amazing. I think you’ve REALLY hit something here… there have been times when I’ve gone overboard and started down the road towards being unhealthy about my healthiness. Luckily I reigned myself in. But it IS dangerous, orthorexia. I’m really glad that you wrote this. Thank you.

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