Gina awoke to the sun shining through her room, casting a pinkish hue on her face. She immediately noticed that her shins were sore from the 8-mile run she did last night, but felt that she needed to run again today. She felt compelled to exercise every day, sometimes all day, so that she could at least fit into her jeans from last year. A huge butterfly was fluttering in her stomach just thinking about going to her best friend’s birthday party tonight. “A POOL party” she thought – “ugh! What am I going to wear that would make me begin to look decent?!?” She was obligated to go, but there was absolutely no way that she would even think about wearing a swimsuit or anything that resembled her figure at all. There was nothing about her body that she liked, except maybe her hair, despite the rigid food and workout schedule she’d maintained this summer.
Gina, a 5’4” blonde in the 9th grade, struggles with Orthorexia. Orthorexia occurs when an individual is preoccupied with maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine, experiences high anxiety when they cannot engage in “healthy” behaviors, and typically only eats “organic” foods and/or engages in juicing to an extreme. In general, these individuals have the mindset of someone with anorexia, but do not meet the underweight requirements to be diagnosed with anorexia.
I believe that the health industry, in trying to address the obesity issue, is a big proponent in encouraging this mindset. If you have been an adult for the last few decades, you can trace how the media pushes different “healthy” diets, and then how the experts “change their minds” after researching their claims, and push society on towards other truly healthy diet/exercise/supplement regimes.
The bottom line in being “healthy” is that it’s all about balance, and it needs to be tailored to your body. If you have a medically confirmed disease, PLEASE see your physician and a registered dietitian for follow up and recommendations for your diet and exercise regime. If you have no health concerns, please don’t create problems for yourself by taking the latest fad pill or shake regime. Don’t overdo it. The real key, as I see it, is
Balance your life with healthy foods, activities, and relationships. Get therapy if you need to, & talk out what you fear. Countless studies have shown that people can and do beat life-threatening diseases with positive, life-generating thoughts. Those who learn to truly accept the gift of their body – no matter how functional it is – are happier and more peaceful people. One of my personal heroes, Mr. Scott Rigsby, has become more of a healthy individual after losing both of his legs from the knees down. I’ve been fortunate enough to watch him grow into a national hero, because he overcame the loss of his legs and completed two Ironmans! See his story at www.scottrigsby.com.
So please, all of you health-nut/orthorexic people out there…please take time to accept that your life is more than what your body looks like or what pain it may be holding. You can overcome the obstacles that you see in front of you. You have an amazing message. Please share it, because I want to hear it!