Leading a healthy lifestyle is not easy, and lifestyle changes that you’d originally meant to be helpful can end up being really dangerous if you don’t keep up the right mind set. When choosing to eat healthy and be active, it is super important that you aren’t becoming so immersed in it that you lose track of the rest of your life, because the moment you allow it to consume you is the moment when a “healthy” lifestyle can become harmful.

Now, I’m not saying you should avoid the path altogether; in fact, I owe a lot of my happiness and success to the fitness world. However, I also can thank it for so many health problems and mental struggles I’ve faced over the past few years.

I dedicated countless hours to rigidly monitoring everything that I ate. It got more and more restrictive, until soon I was cutting out more than just food—I cut out people, too. I hated going out to eat, and dreaded any special occasion because it would surely involve unhealthy food. Food literally controlled my life. I had incredible self-control, true, but I missed out on attending a lot of fun events because I “couldn’t” eat the food. Holidays were some of the most stressful times for me, and I would tear myself apart for indulging in dessert or even a small dinner roll. I followed this path with blinders on, in full blown denial that I even had a problem at all. I would get so frustrated when people would say things like, “Kailey it’s just one cookie, it won’t kill you!” They just didn’t understand…or so I told myself.

When I went off to college, reality hit me hard. Suddenly I had to eat whatever food was available in my school’s dining hall, and I wanted to fit in so badly! Going to campus events was important for meeting new people and making friends. Slowly, I began to “cheat”. I would have a cookie here, or a frozen yogurt there… But I still worked out religiously, mostly because I was punishing myself for eating badly.

Months passed and I fell farther from healthy eating than I ever had before. Over Christmas break I decided to try to get back on track and I finally stepped on that dreaded scale to assess what had happened to my body. Despite being a firm believer that the scale doesn’t measure a person’s worth, I am still human and I still struggle not to attribute some importance to the ugly number that glaredback at me that day. I cried when I saw just how much this “little” break had set me back.

Returning to school, I reverted back to my old self and restricted my diet once again. Slowly though, I noticed something besides the extra weight that was different about my physique. Increased calories had lead to increased muscle growth and that was extremely exciting to me. The whole time, I had been lifting and reaching new PRs, but in the moment I didn’t really think much of it. I soon realized the slight derail of progress was not the detrimental loss I’d thought it was, but was actually helpful to both my physical and mental health. I proved to myself I could recover, I could pick myself back up and put myself back on track.

I learned that slip-ups are nothing more than a chance for an even better comeback, and most importantly I realized just how essential breaks are.

I no longer feel anxious about eating out, and I splurge far more than I did before. Knowing I can eat something “bad” without it being the end of the world makes keeping 80% of my diet clean so much easier. I am not prepping for a competition, nor do I need to prove anything, but I do need to live a little.

I need to enjoy celebrating the holidays, while I can, with those I love. I need to eat to fuel my workouts and I need to forgive myself for being human.

I was so sad when I looked back and realized just how much this lifestyle had changed the person I really am. Do I love lifting weights and eating healthy? Absolutely! However, I also love eating cookies and going out for family dinners. Looking back now, I am so glad I fell off that bandwagon of healthy eating when I went to college and I thank God for my slip-ups. I’ve made some of the best memories, ate some amazing food and my eyes have opened so much since then.

If you are like I was, and you no longer enjoy the simple blessings in life because you are afraid of falling off track, I recommend taking a break. Easier said than done, I know; but give it a try. Step back, enjoy what you used to, and when you’re ready, take on a new approach. Living a healthy lifestyle needs to be more about overall happiness and less about an ideal physique. Otherwise, what’s the point?

About The Author

Kailey Haight is a small town girl that has a passion for food, fitness and travel. She loves weightlifting and being active but also has a passion for reading and writing. Kailey is currently a Sophomore in college, she is studying Forensic Psychology and hopes to work with the judicial system in the future. Kailey is originally from Colorado where she has a small dog named Bella and an incredible family supporting her as she chases her dreams.

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