By Phoebe Henige. Phoebe is a current second year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She is studying Applied-Nutrition and will be minoring in Psychology. She grew up in San Carlos, CA. Phoebe aspires to become a Registered Dietitian and work with clients either in the Foodservice industry or eating disorders. Phoebe loves baking, cooking, and trying new recipes to share with her family and friends. Phoebe is also involved with Delta Gamma sorority and volunteers every week at the Cal Poly Cat Shelter on campus. Phoebe can’t wait to gain more hands-on experience in the Nutrition and Registered Dietitian industry.
With the year 2021 past and 2022 just being newly established, people may feel eager to implement new goals and create healthy routines and habits for themselves. It is easy to get caught up in the diet culture around New Year’s Resolutions, setting goals specific to exercise and food. People may feel pressure to start out the year with an intense exercise regimen or extreme eating restrictions in attempts to finally achieve the body or healthy lifestyle they have been wanting. However, these types of unrealistic goals are unhealthy and only foster an unsustainable routine for the year. The diet-culture around New Year’s resolutions only leads to more shame and guilt, as it is impossible to keep up with and follow for an entire year.
Many people may feel the urge to set resolutions regarding intense exercise routines – pushing their bodies past their limits. Individuals may feel like they have to work out every day of the week for hours every session to be deemed ‘fit’ or ‘in shape’. However, it is essential for people to listen to their bodies and what they are capable of before jumping into intense workouts.
Overexercising is a dangerous concept people should be aware of in order to avoid. Overexercising can be defined as exercising too frequently, too intensely, or for too long. Individuals may fall into routines of overexercising without even realizing it, thinking they are just following their New Year’s Resolutions of becoming more healthy or working out more. However, working out too much can actually be extremely detrimental for the human body. In fact, most health experts recommend moderate-intensity most (not all) days of the week. Rest is just as much of a significant part as pushing your body to become stronger.
Overexercising can be dangerous not only physically but mentally, emotionally, and socially. It is crucial people set safe and healthy limits for their exercising. For example, exercising for longer than 90 minutes at a time can lead to worse mental health. People exhibiting obsessive behavior where they exercise so frequently and for hours at a time can be associated with negative psychological and emotional outcomes. Obsessing over exercising can be socially isolating and ultimately take over someone’s life. All people begin to fixate on is when they’ll be exercising, how much they’ll be exercising, how many calories they need to burn based on what they just ate, etc. The New Year especially creates a toxic culture for people believing they need to start out right away doing the most they can to be the best they can, instead of a gradual transition into new habits and routines.
There are many safe ways to slowly increase exercise rather than jumping into very intense routines from doing little to no exercise beforehand. With busy schedules, finding time for exercise can seem very difficult. However, it’s as easy as choosing to take the stairs instead of the elevator or riding your bike to work instead of driving. It is important to find types of exercise that you enjoy and will increase your heart rate; whether that be walking, running, swimming, biking, boxing, dancing, etc. It is essential that people don’t try and take on too much too soon, or else it will lead to injury. People should start with an activity they enjoy, and gradually increase the amount of time and intensity per week spent doing that activity. Another easy way to keep exercise fun and healthy is adding a social element to it. Inviting a friend or two to different workout routines can help keep exercise fresh and interesting, while still achieving your goals and making exercise seem like less of a burden.
The New Year can be an exciting way to motivate people to have a fresh start and implement new changes into their lives. How can you use that motivation for actual health behaviors, and not something that is making you feel worse about yourself (or actually physically hurt you)?
The Dietitians at Not Your Average Nutritionist encourage an anti-diet culture around New Year’s Resolutions; advocating for individuals to not be so hard on their bodies and set realistic goals to slowly create a sustaining, healthy lifestyle. We’re here to support you!