Eating well and taking care of yourself is so important. We all know that, right? What we put into our bodies can have such an impact on how we feel, how we perform, and our overall health. It's so hard to strike a balance between eating well, exercising, and still treating your body with love and respect. Sure, we want to be healthy, but we also want to enjoy life and all it has to offer! It's all about moderation and balance. But going too far in either direction can be detrimental to our health. We focus a lot on overeating and obesity or eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. But there are other extremes to be aware of: exercise addiction and orthorexia. In your quest to live healthily, it's possible to go too far, and do a lot of damage to your body and psyche. Christina Rice, who has a healthy living blog and consultation business called Christina Rice Wellness, shares her story of how her pursuit of health nearly killed her. It's an important cautionary tale for us all.
When Christina was a student at UCLA, working out helped her manage some of the anxiety and stress she experienced as she tried to juggle everything. She had a magic number: 75 minutes of exercise, at least six days a week. She clung to that number everyday, and it wasn't long until it spiraled out of control. Around the same time, Christina jumped on the clean eating train - a food movement based on eating only whole, unprocessed foods. After suffering from some digestive issues, she removed "bad foods" from her diet, like sugar, fats, and carbs. She cut out all sweets, food starches, and most fats, and soon she was dropping weight at a scary pace. She lost 40 pounds in less than three months.
View this post on Instagram
From during my health struggle^ I am no stranger to “mean” emails, messages, or comments - it comes with the territory when you put yourself out there on social media. If one person benefits from what I share, it’s worth it. But yesterday, on a day when I was already extremely stressed out and overwhelmed, I saw a message that completely broke my heart. This message struck a chord because it implied that I am spreading a message completely opposite of that which I hope to convey. It is #NEDAwareness week, a week that is incredibly important to me. One thing I feel very sure of is that my purpose, corny as it sounds, is to help other people, to spread awareness about invisible illnesses, mental health, eating disorders, the importance of being your own health advocate, that you have the power to take control of your health, and that all of the BS in the media is just noise. I have struggled with binge eating disorder, orthorexia, exercise addiction, major depressive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. Let me be very clear - mental health and eating disorders are VERY real, very serious, and deserve much more attention than they currently get. I almost died because of my totally compromised gut health wrapped up in multiple eating disorders tied together with mental health issues. During that time, many people did not take me seriously and told me I was making it up. People told me they wish I died. I didn’t know how to respond to that. I thought about taking my life. But then I decided that I loved myself more. This week’s theme is “Let’s Get Real.” I hope you know that I strive to be as real as I can. That’s all I can do to express how serious I am about my message. I am grateful for everyone I have connected with, every client, every supportive message and comment and email. Your stories inspire me. I truly appreciate every piece of love and support, and I hope you know that I am sending it right back your way. If you ever feel like no one understands or like no one has your back, I hope you know that the community I strive to create is one where we all fight FOR each other, not against, and that we empower each other to never give up on ourselves. 💕
It became clear to Christina that she was struggling with an addiction to exercise and an obsession with healthy eating called orthorexia. But a diagnosis was elusive - the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders doesn't recognize the latter as an actual mental illness. However, Christina realized that it was affecting her life in very negative ways. She stopped socializing with her friends because it cut into her exercise time, and she didn't eat out with them because restaurants didn't meet her very strict dietary guidelines. She met with dietitians and was continuously brushed off. After all, her plan was healthy! But eventually, her weight dropped to a dangerous 73 pounds, and people began to take notice. A nutritionist sat her down and leveled with her: she was on a deadly path, and was in danger of suffering a heart attack at any moment.
With the help of a psychologist, Christina created a plan to address her clean-eating obsession and change her mindset of what it meant to be healthy. She realized, while undergoing treatment, that she had to stop working out and eat foods she was afraid of. She started small at first; she would cook with oil, or skip a workout. Her nutritionist designed a meal plan for her, which included healthy fats and complex carbs. She maintained a daily food diet, writing down her fears with each new food she ate.
View this post on Instagram
Potato diet? Just kidding. #GirlsWhoFeast . . Yesterday I had a FUN DAY. I was feeling off earlier this week due to some personal things and also the general low vibrations in the world that I think many people are picking up on (consciously or unconsciously), and sometimes that means ignoring your ego and taking time to raise those vibrations again, despite deadlines and to-do’s that seem to never end. My heart is broken for recent tragedies, and so much more, but what I can do is make the most of the time I have with people who also light me up. So I spent the day with @glutenfree.followme at @eatbychloe and @yoga_urt (perks of having a bestie who reviews restaurants for a living!!), and later went on a walk and trip to @erewhonmarket with @zincnutrition ! And my stomach was definitely full 😂 but my heart moreso, because spending time with good friends does that. It felt like a Friday, even though it was Thursday, you know? . . Yesterday a few of my friends also texted me about the low energy happening right now... so this weekend make a point to do something for yourself. Self-care can be a nice evening walk or a phone call with a friend. It can also be a social media break. Watching Netflix. Making tea. Going on a date 😉 whatever you want! But I want to know what you’re going to do this weekend for yourself to lift your vibrations ✨ anything that makes you smile! Comment below and share — it’ll hold you accountable! Oh, and if you expected my caption to be a rant about how too many women are afraid of eating food... that’s for another time 😂😂
It's been a long road, but these days, Christina is doing much better. She discovered she doesn't process gluten very well, and has transitioned to a whole-foods Paleo diet that she developed with the help of her nutritionist. She doesn't feel the need to exercise everyday, and has a much healthier relationship with food and her own body. We're so glad Christina was able to find that balance, and is on the road to recovery and health!