4 Signs You’re Overdoing That ‘Positive’ Lifestyle Change
posted on September 18, 2019 | by Sanhita Mukherjee
New year’s resolutions, monthly goals, weekly intentions — no matter how we go about it, all of us are trying to improve ourselves in some way or the other. After all, who doesn’t want to be a little bit happier, healthier or more successful?
But (as I’m sure most of us grew up hearing) too much of anything is bad for you, and that includes the positive changes you make in your life. Sure, exercise is good for you. But overdo it and you may cause serious injury to your muscles. Yes, staying hydrated is a great idea. But drink too much water, and you may suffer from water intoxication — that’s when the electrolytes in your body get way too diluted.
So how do you know when a lifestyle change stops being positive and starts having a detrimental impact on your life? Here are some signs.
You start thinking in ‘all or nothing’ terms
You’ve decided to eat healthy – that means you can never have a donut again. You’ve resolved to become a morning person – so you can never enjoy a lie-in (not even while on vacation). Thinking in such extreme terms may be a sign that you are overdoing it.
Moreover, such drastic changes tend to be unsustainable sometimes. Even if you are motivated enough not to give up after a few days, you are making things unnecessarily difficult for yourself. Just imagine these scenarios. You wake up feeling awful after having worked late the night before. Instead of sleeping in an extra hour and giving your body the rest it desperately needs, you wake up at 5 am as promised. You feel like you’re coming down with something, but instead of wrapping yourself up in your comfiest blanket and ordering in some soup, you drag your aching body to the kitchen to cook a healthy meal from scratch. You technically made the ‘right’ decisions each time – but did they make you feel any better?
There’s a lot of guilt associated with it
I firmly believe that a positive lifestyle change should make you feel good about yourself, not just when you are practicing it, but also during the times when you’re not. For instance, if you’ve decided to work out every day, that should make you feel healthier and more confident overall. But if missing one morning run makes you feel incredibly bad about yourself, that may be a sign you are attaching way too much importance to your resolution.
After all, logically, you know that if you’ve generally been pretty consistent, missing one run is not going to undo all your efforts. It doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. You are probably still a lot fitter and healthier than when you started off. Give yourself credit for that, rather than beating yourself up over the occasional miss. And definitely don’t ‘punish’ yourself by pushing your body beyond limits the next day to make up for a one-time slip-up.
You constantly feel sick or tired
Food and lifestyle trends can be fleeting. Something that’s considered a superfood today may be found to be toxic in large quantities tomorrow! Not to mention the fact that the same diets, workout plans and sleep schedules have different effects on different people. So if you have adopted a lifestyle change that everyone seems to swear by, but you continue feeling horrible even after a few months, that could be your body’s way of telling you that it’s not your thing.
Rather than forcing yourself to go down that path, take some time to review the changes you’ve made. Have you cut out something from your diet completely? Are you getting adequate amounts of the same nutrients from other sources? Have you stepped up your workout routine without making subsequent changes in your diet? Listen to your body and try to strike a balance that works for you. This is also where you may want to consult a nutritionist or a health professional, who will be able to help you achieve that balance.
It becomes a divisive issue between you and your friends
You have decided to go vegetarian, you’ve given up drinking alcohol, and you are trying to be more mindful about staying away from fast fashion. You’re feeling really great about these changes and you cannot imagine why you didn’t do this years ago. In fact, you cannot imagine why others don’t do this too! So you lecture your friend who’s shopping the sales or hitting up happy hours. Or you feel like you just cannot hang out with anyone who still thinks it’s ok to eat meat. Soon you start feeling like you simply don’t have much in common with these people anymore.
If your lifestyle change is slowly creating a rift between you and those you love, then that’s another sign that you’re not maintaining a balanced outlook. It’s great if a positive lifestyle change is making you happier, and it is only natural that you’d be excited to tell your friends all about it. But it is unfair and unrealistic to expect them to embrace the change too. And it’s certainly not ok to judge them for not choosing your way of life.
At the end of the day, you don’t want to alienate yourself or others, so don’t let something positive turn into a negative.
I’d love to hear any other examples or tips from your own experiences!