There is a ton of information about the benefits of exercise and weight loss. It is undeniable that having an active lifestyle and striving to consume ethically farmed nutrient dense food is a paramount step towards achieving a healthy lifestyle. I have however noticed that a lot of information about this topic is centred almost entirely around the physical benefits of being healthy. Very little information is shared about the mental and emotional impacts of undertaking a lifestyle transformation journey. More so the information that is shared tends to highlight only positives and rarely explores the complex feelings that come with undertaking such a drastic change. I have personally experienced a lot of benefits of overhauling my lifestyle. I am happier, I have more energy, my mind is clearer, I enjoy food more, I sleep better, I have less anxiety, I am stronger, I am so much more confident, etc. I cannot stress enough how great this journey has been overall. Even so, it has come with some unexpected hiccups and road blocks that I was completely unaware of. The issues that I have faced and continue to face as I evolve reveal to just how complicated the human experience is, and how little information is given about the emotional toll of any change. It also shows how quick we are to place life experiences into either good or bad categories, rather than accepting moral ambiguities. So even though becoming healthier is an objectively good thing to do, it can have significant negative impacts on your mental and emotional well being. Below details the five main emotional side effects I have or am currently experiencing whilst I endeavour to better myself.
When I was starting my health journey 2+ years ago, I decided to begin by changing my diet. Since I was 14, I adopted a high carb diet that saw me often go through extreme restriction followed by extreme binging. This decimated my metabolism. Aside from that, I was also increasingly anxious about my overall health and no longer wanted to take a backseat approach to my personal nutrition. I really wanted to change my life, and I wanted to do it in a sustainable way that was also healthy for my body and mind. In 2019, the Ketogenic Diet gained a lot of traction amongst the circles I was interacting with. This diet is a high fat low carb diet that switches your body from using glucose as your main fuel source to using fats which are converted to ketones for energy. With this switch, your body utilises a more stable supply of energy because once it uses up the fat you consume, it turns to using the fat that you have stored- hence enabling you to lose weight. To be frank, the major appeal of this diet was that it promised weight loss with minimal effort. This is the exact same strategy that all other quick fix programmes utilise. Though I was attracted to the idea of instant fat loss, I decided to dedicate the first month to research only. I did so because though I was drawn to the idea of easy weight loss, I was 1000% sure that this would not be the case. Even so, I was still eager to try this diet, but wanted to do so in a healthy way. To bolster my new food lifestyle, I read lots of articles and watched tons of videos analysing the current nutritional values globally, why the ketogenic diet works, how it works and what to expect along the way when embarking on this process. The information I got was key to me understanding how I could best navigate this diet, how to avoid the trappings of instant gratification and really reframed my understanding of food and its impact on my body and mind. This post therefore details how I approached the ketogenic diet, examines the pros and cons of being keto and gives some advice to those interested in embarking on a new diet or lifestyle approach.
It has been about 1.5 years since I managed to successfully drop about 17kgs and completely alter my relationship to food and my overall health and lifestyle. I started this journey because I felt I had to. I was deeply disgusted with my entire life at the time. I was sad, unmotivated, depressed, afraid, insecure and overweight. Post graduation, I filled my days with meaningless work and most of my nights with alcohol and/fast food. I was essentially numbing myself to life and at intervals having panic attacks about potentially getting cancer due to my unhealthy lifestyle. I did not recognise myself when I stood in front the mirror. I hated how heavy I felt when I moved and how quickly breathless I became when I attempted most physical activities. I did not like myself and I felt truly hopeless for the first time in my life. This post details the key stages marking my descent into this state and what finally prompted me to change it.