*Potential trigger warning. Discussion of suppressed dark thoughts and beliefs behind disordered fitness and diet behaviours*
In my role life coaching fitness enthusiasts struggling with food, their bodies and compulsive exercise I’ve heard everything. I once had the most extreme case of orthorexia imaginable myself and I understand introspectively the pain beneath disordered fitness and diet behaviours. When I observe the trends within the fitness and diet industries, I analyze a person’s general emotional/spiritual susceptibility to them. I may not know the background story of each individual participating in these trends, but I understand the general emotions and self issues one is struggling with.
The fitness industry is quite confusing to those pursuing health. Often we see influencers showing up with their “positive vibes only” posts showcasing really disordered behaviours. “But they look so happy?” you might question. There is a big difference between authentic and inauthentic positivity. When we are connected to our innate intuition, we are able to see this more clearly.
So in no particular order here are the most disordered fitness and diet trends of 2018 and my emotional/spiritual health analysis of each one. Note: Typically negative body image and low self esteem are prevalent in all the trends I am presenting which links back to denial of the self. Disordered eating and/or overexercising in general display control issues, deep rooted shame and resistance toward uncertainty and flow.
Waist Sweat Bands
I received a lot of support along with some resistance when I discussed the truth of this trend on instagram. The resistance coming from those who claim they “just like the feeling of sweating a lot.” Seeing all these people (usually women) on social media showcasing the waterfalls that pour from their waist sweat bands as they unwrap them is very disempowering. Forced perspiration is a form of purging. Read: this is a bulimic behaviour. I used saran wrap when I was battling binge/purge episodes as a teenager to create the same effect. Unfortunately you can buy these waist sweat bands pretty much anywhere now. This really shows us how many people are struggling when store owners and online merchants willingly allow this product into their inventory.
Emotional/Spiritual Analysis: Those sporting and advocating waist sweat bands are struggling with guilt and personal power. Bulimia in the spiritual health world is rooted in self hatred. One struggling with any form of purging is desperately looking for a quick way to rid themselves of the emotions they struggle with, only to further accumulate and bury those emotions deeper beneath the surface (and fake smiles).
Corset Waist Trainers
What could be worse than waist sweat bands? Oh you know, a corset waist trainer that crushes and misaligns your internal organs. Our organs are meant to move and when they become stuck they will malfunction and accumulate scar tissue. This is completely counterproductive to developing a strong stable core for the abs obsessed individual.
Emotional/Spiritual Analysis: Each of our organs represents a different area of emotional wellness according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. Not only do rigid stuck organs face negative physical consequences. This also disrupts our emotional flow and expression. One using a waist trainer is suffocating their ability to feel the process of life by crushing their soul. I would suggest one struggling with this form of rigid body manipulation is battling deeper issues such as self hatred, impatience, a lack of joy for life, and a deep rooted belief of deserving self punishment.
10K Calorie Challenges
This has become a popular YouTube video concept. Fitspos go out of their way to plan the “perfect” 10K calorie day for themselves, log it all into their food tracking app (because who would want to miss a single calorie?) and document the entire thing. We observe people feeling sick and sluggish in the process but continuing to push through anyway. This is nothing but a glorified binge made socially acceptable due to being called a “challenge.” This is particularly disturbing when coming from fitness influencers who say they are eating disorder recovered as this suggests to those in recovery watching that binge eating is “normal” eating behaviour.
Emotional/Spiritual Analysis: Those participating in this glorified binge are struggling with expressing their emotions as well as searching for a way to feed their egos. Binge eating is an act of stuffing down our emotions as opposed to facing them and dealing with them. The ego shows up wanting to be defined by “how much I have.” Ego then takes on the role of bragging about the perceived accomplishment of taking down more calories than the true self actually desires.
Carb Blocker Supplements
I’m sure you’ve seen these posts on the gram. An influencer announces they’re about the eat a bunch of carbs, but wait! First they must take down a handful of giant horse pills that they claim shuttle the carbs to the “right” places. Fact: your body already knows how to process carbohydrate synthesis. Fact: Carbs are the main energy source of the body. Carb calories (as well as calories from protein or fat) will store as excess fat in the body when you’re consistently eating a surplus. A surplus can easily be created through yoyo dieting when a person restricts all week then jumps into a cheat meal weekend. I do not advocate the concept of cheat meals for an abundance of reasons. It’s also important to note that weight gain is necessary for those who are underweight and recovering from a restrictive eating disorder or transitioning out of a bodybuilding show. Generally speaking we need a reasonable amount of body fat to function optimally. Funny, biochemistry hasn’t changed. But with some phoney positive vibes and clever marketing, many will believe we’ve hit new breakthroughs in “carb blocking.”
Emotional/Spiritual Analysis: The only breakthrough that would be beneficial in this scenario is if those using these carb blockers would accept they struggle with fear. Believing something that nutritional science doesn’t support for the sake of overthinking a macronutrient shows a lack of trust. I would suggest that those attached to carb blockers struggle with deeper issues such as betrayal and a lack of spiritual security.
The Caveman Diet
It appears that there has been an influx of people on YouTube who went from vegan dieting to caveman dieting. They glorify the caveman diet while bashing the vegan diet, but it is quite obvious to me that they haven’t done the inner work because they are still attached to dogma. Proud modern cavemen show off all the raw meat they eat in a day, talk about where to get the best blood to drink, and have no chance of fitting into social settings because their day revolves around eating raw animal products exclusively. Clearly, there is no fibre being taken in when one exists off of meat. I’ve observed those following this diet usually have an orange tinge to their skin which would lead me to believe there is a nutrient deficiency. The most unbelievable caveman diet trend I’ve come across was eating mouldy meat. Yes, you read that right. One popular YouTuber ate one week old fermented meat and when he opened the jar he kept it in, he was appalled by the smell. That right there should be a sign that this isn’t healthy seeing that part of the digestive process is the aroma of the food! Why on earth would a person truthfully want to eat stinky meat? Another popular YouTuber ate one year old rotten meat for his audience. I had to look away and concluded in that moment that I had done enough observational research about caveman dieting.
Emotional/Spiritual Analysis: Seeing that the diet itself is called Caveman, that leads me to believe that those following this trend are stuck in the past. They are likely holding on to pain from the past that they aren’t ready to confront and they spend a large amount of time obsessing about meat. I would also say that such as any diet there is a struggle with attachment and a lack of strong core values. The movement appears to look down upon all of us silly people who eat balanced diets so there is definitely a superiority struggle. This diet mentality really shows a lack of accepting change, moving forward, and I would say it’s a way for a person to socially isolate themselves while suffocating their underlying issues with meat.
Will these EVER go away? I wasn’t going to include juice cleanses until a friend pointed out it appears several people haven’t received the memo yet that this a dead end trend. Note: I’m not saying that drinking juice in your balanced diet is disordered. I’m discussing diets that consist of nothing but juice. Sadly, we all have that friend or acquaintance who jumps into a juice cleanse in an attempt to rectify their over indulgences and binge episodes, only to “reward” themselves with another food parade when it’s over. Those of us who are well versed in nutrition understand that juice cleanses are very low in protein and fibre, and often times fat unless they contain a nut milk. So in no way are these plans providing a complete nutritional profile. Those who advocate juice cleanses tell us that the cleanse allows them to “reset” their digestion, when in actuality a healthy digestive system is one that can break down and efficiently eliminate whole food.
Emotional/Spiritual Analysis: Those who flock to the juice cleanse (or any bogus cleanse for that matter) are struggling with guilt and shame. They believe they are “dirty” and as such must be made “pure.” They connect their eating behaviours to their character and as such bounce from being “bad” to “good” while dismissing what they are struggling with at the root of their yoyo dieting issues. I would say they lack a sense of clarity, trust and purpose in life.
Bulimic behaviour strikes again and this time it shows up in laxative form. If you were struggling with bowel movements prior to jumping on the skinny tea band wagon, you can expect things to malfunction even more. Playing tricks on your digestive system will confuse your bowels and they won’t get the hang of doing the job on their own. Merchants - why on earth are you selling purging products? If you are struggling with constipation, I highly recommend that you see a GI health specialist as well as seek emotional guidance. My ND Dr. John Pidutti of Springs Eternal in Vancouver did not have me using laxatives or consuming a liquid diet in the process of healing my gut.
Emotional/Spiritual Analysis: I spoke about bulimia already when I discussed waist sweat bands and much of that is relatable to skinny teas. Also, let’s talk about the deeper factors of constipation. Constipation issues are dynamic and are often partially linked to dietary behaviour. The restrict-binge-purge cycle will not support healthy digestion and elimination. However, more introspectively if you’re struggling with constipation you are stuck in the past. One battling constipation is holding on to hurt feelings, anger, fear and resentment, and they are struggling to release their feelings in a healthy way.
Appetite Suppressant Lollipop
Lastly, remember when Times Square featured a massive billboard earlier this year with appetite suppressant lollipops? So we’re all supposed to magically believe that a lollipop will remove our desire to eat? First of all, there’s nothing wrong with having an appetite. Regular hunger and satiety signals are a sign of a healthy endocrine system and functioning metabolism. Appetite is a positive thing. Second of all, what sort of team of lost souls were executing this? From the product development, to the packaging, distribution, advertising and so on. Did absolutely NO ONE stop in the process and say “Hey team. This is the worst idea anyone’s ever had”? Apparently no one objected until it was plastered right in the middle of Times Square and people spoke up.
Emotional/Spiritual Analysis: One who gravitates toward appetite suppressants is struggling to find their voice. They believe making something go away or hiding their true desires (fostered into appetite here) will make their problems disappear, only to discover they feel apathetic and lost. They feel hopeless and don’t believe in themselves. I would suggest they struggle with fear, a lack of trust, and disconnection from themselves and others.
So How Do We Overcome Disordered Eating And Exercise?
We surrender. We drop our fists, meet ourselves where we’re at with compassion, and embark on a journey of soul searching and self discovery. In order to change we must accept ourselves completely, own our problems, and heal our inner wounds. It isn’t easy to be completely honest with yourself while digging up pain from the past, I know that more than anyone. In order to change, we have to really want to change. In the process of overcoming my own eating disorder I acknowledged that I wasn’t only attached to the behaviours, I was more attached to the limiting beliefs and thoughts that shaped my actions. I became a completely different person in the process of recovery and on the other side I can finally say I know who I am. When we choose recovery we are choosing our true selves and there is no greater gift than honouring YOU.
If you’re ready to FINALLY come home to your body please reach out and schedule a BODY LOVE discovery call with me in the new year HERE. Make 2019 the year you put yourself first! You are worth it and you deserve to find freedom.
Sending You Love,