Obsession is a weird state of mind.
It can cause you to do things you don’t normally do to reach your desired goals.
Here’s the thing: obsession is dangerous.
In my opinion, there are too many people who become completely entrenched and obsessive over certain aspects of their life, and nowhere is this more prevalent than in the world of dieting and nutrition.
Because of all the confusion propagated by the food industry and zealous diet gurus, people become overwhelmed by information to the point of obsession. While the motives are almost always good (trying to get healthy, trying to lean down, build muscle, etc.), obsession over any aspect of life often leads to unfavorable outcomes.
I know, because I’ve been there. There was a point in time when I wouldn’t even chew gum or pop a mint or drink a diet soda because I thought they were going to cause an insulin spike and spontaneously make me fat. This obsession was a byproduct of being a former fat boy (scared shitless of becoming fat again), but it was also the result of information overload and becoming obsessive over one tiny aspect of my life.
The purpose of this post is to give you some practical reasons why should stop obsessing over your diet, and why ending your obsession could help you get in the best shape of your life.
1. Obsession Takes Away From the Things That Matter Most.
“It is not that we have so little time but that we lose so much. … The life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Not to get all philosophical on you here, but there are so many people that waste the time we have here on this planet. Everyone is guilty of this, and it’s not something to fret over, but it deserves some thought.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asserting that diet is unimportant and shouldn’t be an area of focus in your life. I’m saying that it should never take priority over aspects of life such as healthy relationships with family and close friends.
This is a sensitive topic for me because I’ve ruined plenty of relationships due to a growing obsession with my diet. I wouldn’t go out on Fridays because I knew that I would miss a meal or that I wouldn’t eat ‘healthy’, and I wouldn’t eat dinner with my family because the food was on my ‘banned’ list.
I like to say that I have no regrets, but this is definitely something I wish I would have handled differently. I can count the number of friends I had in high school on one hand, and it’s because I became an obsessive recluse, shying away from anything that I felt would hurt my dieting and training progress.
Of course, this is an extreme example, but it is becoming increasingly common. Don’t let an obsession with your diet get in the way of healthy relationships. Eat mama’s cooking, go out with friends, enjoy the little things.
2. Obsession Causes Undue Stress
Recent research has shown that diet-induced obsession leads to overall systemic stress, which can have negative effects on metabolism and insulin/blood sugar levels; further showing how powerful the mind is. An article I read recently showed that simple relaxation techniques can improve “expression of genes involved in immune function, energy metabolism and insulin secretion.” (You can check out the full article here.)
It’s no secret that constantly stressing about any aspect of life is damaging to both physical and psychological health.
If you spend half of your day thinking about your next meal or worrying about eating carbohydrates because you don’t want to spike insulin levels, you’re doing more than just wasting time.
Chill. Don’t over-complicate and stress the minutiae.
3. Obsession Leads to Sub-Par Results in the Long-Term
Will obsessing over everything that you put in your mouth lead to results in the short-term? Of course. This causes you to be conscious of your food choices and control your calorie and macronutrient intake.
However, this approach simply isn’t sustainable.
You often see these obsessive diets pushed by supplement companies and professional bodybuilders looking to sell a product. The “eat eight times per day to keep your metabolism going” diet is not practical unless you are a professional bodybuilder who does this for a living (that myth has been destroyed multiple times, by the way).
The same can be said of diets that impose the unnecessary restriction of entire food groups, such as Paleo and low carb.
It’s simply an unnecessary stressor to have to prepare eight meals, precisely measure your food intake down to the last decimal, and avoid foods that you enjoy. I’m not saying eat crap all the time, but I am saying that you should have a flexible approach to dieting (which can lead to results that are just as good, if not better than, the overly-restrictive diets).
If you’re always flexible, you greatly reduce the risk of a huge splurge, which will lead to long-term, sustainable results.
If you’re always obsessive and unnecessarily restrictive, you will crack . Be flexible, be aware of your calorie intake, and enjoy your food.
4. Ending Obsession Allows You to Enjoy the Process.
“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” – Greg Anderson
‘Bout to get all philosophical again (sorry…), this is important. Too many people are so caught up in regrets of the past and thoughts of the future that they completely ignore the present moment.
“True happiness is… to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future.” -Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Becoming so obsessed with the desired end result is a great way to neglect the process that gets you there. Enjoy the present moment. Don’t obsess over diet to the point of discomfort and disdain. Enjoy the long, crazy process of getting in the best shape of your life. Don’t obsess in anxious anticipation of what the future holds.
This was a post about diet, but it can be applied to any aspect of life. Again, obsession is dangerous and blinding, and it can cause your priorities to shift unfavorably.
Be positive with your habits, don’t make them obsessive, and enjoy the process. This is the true joy of living a stronger life.
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