Exercise Addiction: The Dark Side of Fitness

With my hands covered in blisters and talcum powder, achy joints despite being aged fifteen, and thought racing through my head, I sit and cry in the gym changing rooms. The world is ending. Despite exercising for two hours straight, I didn’t work hard enough. Not enough sweat, not enough calories burnt. Now, my mum is offering to pick me up from the gym so we can stop by Pizza Express on the way home, which implies walking 8.75km instead of the minimum daily goal of 10.9, and eating unknown calories. ‘I can’t, I have homework,’ I text back, despite knowing the evening will be spent doing jumping squats in my room, not preparing for an upcoming Physics test.

This was the reality of exercise addiction for me, a disorder which isn’t recognised by the DSM5 but impacts around 3% of those who exercise on a daily basis. Prior to acquiring a positive relationship with fitness, it overwhelmed my life and nearly ended it. I want to speak about this issue because while anorexia is frequently discussed on the internet and in the media, exercise addiction (which often, though not always, accompanies another eating disorder) is seldom mentioned. The obesity epidemic, and the tendency of the majority of the population to neglect exercise rather than overdo it, explains this yet countless anecdotes emphasise the relevance of excessive exercise in our society.

Exercise Addiction recovery
It has taken a lot of effort to find balance, but every ounce was worth it.

Honestly, I struggled with starting this blog post without tearing up. Overcoming the addiction was perhaps the hardest thing I had to do, and back then I believed it would kill me before I’d scrambled back to balance. I will attempt to keep this coherent, ensuring the post raises awareness, outlines my story, and helps anyone whose relationship with exercise is less than optimal, but I cannot promise the absence of garble due to the emotive nature of the topic involved!

So, what is exercise addiction?  Continue reading “Exercise Addiction: The Dark Side of Fitness”

Comparing Your Diet to That of Others: a Habit That Needs Breaking

They say comparison is the thief of joy, and this is particularly applicable to food. As someone who’s coming from a background of anorexia, I admit I still struggle with comparing my food intake to other people’s. Difference is, now that I am recovered, I don’t let my perception of their portion sizes influence my own as I would have in the past. However, I know plenty of people who have no experience with eating disorders, but are still wary of what they eat and experience negative emotions whenever they perceive their choice of food to be in some way inferior: they will stick to salads when eating out, refrain from going for seconds at buffets and avoid ordering desert if the people they’re with don’t do the same.

I don’t blame anyone for this, as a pressure to eat in a certain way (ie a 1200 calorie, no carbs, some spinach for breakfast sort of diet which is actually counterproductive and doesn’t deliver the weight loss it promises) is very prevalent in our society. Hence, it’s easy to feel guilty when others seem to be eating ‘healthier’, or less, than you are. YouTube is riddled with that I eat in a day videos. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy watching and making them as I’m quite curious and always on the lookout for recipe ideas, but certain ones just call for comparison (e.g. The videos conveniently named ‘what I eat in a day as a model/actress/any sort of role which insinuates success’). Some of these do a great job at reassuring me that I’m not the only girl out there with a hefty appetite, but others, even if we logically know the person is starving themselves and their behaviour is unhealthy, can make anyone feel ‘insatiable’.

Vegan buffet
I never hold back at the all-you-can-eat-buffet

Continue reading “Comparing Your Diet to That of Others: a Habit That Needs Breaking”

Russian-style Hash Browns (‘Draniki’) Recipe: Vegan and Healthy

Hi everyone! I am back, with my first ever recipe post. I’ve been wanting to write one for a while, and I thought: why not sprinkle some cultural heritage into my debut, and veganise a childhood favourite? When I was making these, I realised just how similar they are to your average hash browns, but throughout my 18 years on this planet I’ve been calling them draniki so let’s stick with that nickname for the purposes of this post! This is a super popular dinner/ special occasion food in Russia and in the Ukraine and is usually made with eggs and a whole load of non-vegan ingredients, but as I mentioned in an Instagram post a few days ago, making plant based versions of such recipes brings me immense joy. These are delicious, light and versatile – have them with ketchup, salsa, baked beans. So, stay tuned for the recipe and if you end up trying it, be sure to let me know and leave your feedback (but don’t be too mean, I can be brought to tears much easier than I like to admit).

Continue reading “Russian-style Hash Browns (‘Draniki’) Recipe: Vegan and Healthy”

Ten simple hacks for a healthier lifestyle

Hi. I am back, ready to try and be helpful and informative once again (hopefully with some success). When you’re new to eating and living healthily, your first steps may be to consult Mr. Google. Before you know it, you’re completely overwhelmed by ‘tips’ similar to ‘go to the gym six times a week’, ‘start running five miles a day’, ‘start a 1200 calorie green smoothie diet’. My post ain’t about that (especially not the last example – my breakfast in itself is 1200 calories and I am proud). These are ten things everyone can incorporate into their daily routines to either kickstart a healthy lifestyle or substantiate an already Instagram worthy, vegan, HIIT-on-a-daily-basis existence. Aka, healthy living simplified. And made less intimidating . Without further rambling, I hope you find these little tips useful – and don’t feel like you have to do all of them all the time. I certainly don’t #somuchforpracticingwhatIpreach. Also a quick disclaimer: I am not a dietician, or a personal trainer, these are just things I’ve come across myself and in many instances, implemented, so do take what I say with a pinch of salt!

1. Wake up earlier

I don’t mean set your alarm for six am when your body clock is screaming 9.30, but marginal changes. Fifteen minutes is a start. Then thirty, then forty five, and before you know it, you’re making a YouTube video titled ‘my 3 a.m. morning routine’. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but I feel like people don’t recognise the benefits of earlier mornings until they test it for themselves. The first few tries may be painful, but I promise – adjustment is possible. I don’t know the exact science, but there’s something quite satisfying about waking up with the sun, and of course, extra time is acquired for productivity: going for a run, finally sticking to your ‘get into yoga’ New Year’s resolution, even starting a business. I’m all about ending the stigma surrounding early risers, as I’ve experienced the benefits myself!

2. Follow the right social media accounts

Okay, tapping the follow button on Instagram won’t give you your dream body or turn you into a Triathlon athlete, but it can give you that little extra subconscious push. I spend 10-15 minutes a day browsing recipe accounts on Instagram, reading fitness blogs and watching people with physiques I can only dream about lift 3x their bodyweight, and it certainly makes a difference to my motivation levels. Significantly, when you’re just getting into healthy eating and working out without knowing where to begin, Instagram is the best place to stock up on recipes and workout videos: yuminthetum, bestofvegan and gymgirlvids are some of my faves. And of course, nothing beats whatismaria (okay, that was a total shameless self promo but I love the idea of people being inspired by my account).

Learn how to eat healthy through Instagram
Instagram makes finding recipe ideas a lot easier – let’s utilise the joys of the modern world!

Continue reading “Ten simple hacks for a healthier lifestyle”

Fitness – what are my current goals?

Hi guys! I hope you’re having a great whatever time of day it happens to be in your time zone. Before we get started, I’d just like to announce that I’ve recently started a new Instagram account – @whatismaria – so if you haven’t already, please give me a follow and I will follow you back!

Anyway, I wanted to talk briefly about fitness goals. I believe setting obectives of all sorts – physical, mental, academic – is central to a fullfilling existence, and a fullfilling existence is what most of us pursue. I do, anyway. Health and fitness are hugely important to me. Working out aids my mental clarity, releases endorphins, temporarily restrains overthinking patterns of self doubt. Building a healthy lifestyle has helped me overcome many obstacles, such as my eating disorder, and after taking a couple of weeks ‘off’ prioritising fitness due to travelling, I decided to once again pursue improvement in this department.

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Continue reading “Fitness – what are my current goals?”