Are you particular about fitness and health? Do you watch what you eat and ensure you play by the rules to ensure good health?
Unfortunately, even the best-laid plans can go awry. Some habits that might seem like a really good idea may actually be causing your body more harm. Here’s a closer look at healthy habits that come dangerously close to going too far.
Exercising A Lot
Fitness and active lifestyles are being touted as the way to beat everything from cardiovascular disease to metabolic disorders. Even Ayurveda suggests you get some exercise every day. But if you become obsessed with fitness it is possible to go too far. Exercise addiction has been recognized as a genuine problem. Here’s how you can spot the signs:1
- Exercising more and more to get the same “rush”.
- Anxiety, sleep issues, and negative emotions when you don’t exercise – a sign of withdrawal.
- Inability to cut down on exercise.
- Seeing this excessive exercise affect other facets of your life – personal, social, and even work.
But even if you aren’t someone who fits that clinical description, you may be overdoing it. If you push your body too far and don’t fuel it or rest it adequately, it may actually start conserving fat to use as energy. This energy then keeps your body running the rest of the day. What’s more worrying is that you can tear or strain your muscles from overuse. Studies have hinted at a connection between long-term endurance training and cardiac arrhythmias, and also arrhythmogenic cardiac remodeling in the right ventricle of endurance athletes.2
Drinking Plenty Of Water
Getting in your daily 6 to 8 glasses or 2 liters of water and other fluids is fine, but it is possible to go overboard with hydration too. If you’re chugging down bottles of water in a valiant attempt to ensure your body is supplied with enough water to function normally, you do run the risk of overdoing it. And when you do, your body may experience hyponatremia where the sodium level in the body goes out of balance to the water levels and causes cells to swell. Left untreated, it can even be fatal.
Experts suggest that you drink only when you feel thirsty, the body’s signal to you that it needs water. Special guidelines have been suggested by a panel at the International Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia Consensus Development Conference in 2015. Since athletes and runners are more to prone to this problem, a static fluid calculator is also suggested. While you may not need that, do watch out for bloating, weight gain, an increased need to urinate as signs that you may be drinking too much.3
Breakfasting Like A King
You’ve probably heard of the whole “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper” tip. We’ve all been conditioned for years to never skip breakfast and eat hearty at this meal. So we often stock up on healthy but calorie-laden meals for starting off our day well. Unfortunately, we can go a little too far with that. Have you made breakfast your biggest meal of the day? While eating light at night may be good for weight loss, tanking up for the day with a giant breakfast may not be that good.
According to Ayurveda, your body can’t cope with the huge load of a heavy breakfast since its levels of agni, the force that is responsible for metabolism and digestion, are low. The ideal breakfast, eaten between 6 am and 10 am, should be something that’s easily digested and not too heavy. You’ll then feel more energetic through the day and less lethargic than if you had a very heavy meal. Have something gently spiced and warm like a hot cereal or some cooked fruit instead of syrup-laden pancakes and bacon, or cold milk and cereal from a packet. Herbal teas infused with some warming spices like ginger and pepper can also help.4
Cutting Fats Out Of Your Life (Or Going Low Fat)
Fats may seem like your mortal enemy if you’re trying to lose weight or stay lean and fit. But the truth is your body does need some amount of fats – the good kind. By cutting fats out, you run the risk of developing a vitamin deficiency and also deprive of nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids that are good for you. For instance, omega-3 fatty acids are needed for normal brain function and mood regulation, and also to cut inflammation in the body, making them important for lowering the risk of arthritis and even heart disease or cancer.5
Not taking in enough fat can also make it hard for your body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins D, K, A, and E. Vitamin D in particular has a central role not just in bone health and cardiovascular health, but also in reducing inflammation and maintaining healthy neuromuscular and immune function.6 Vitamin A is needed for good eyesight, immune function, and even good reproductive health.7 Vitamin K is vital for helping with clotting of your blood and prevents excessive bleeding and bruising.8
Switching to low-fat foods isn’t the answer either. Most low-fat foods replace the fat in the product with sugar or starch or refined grain, which your body burns through very quickly. This in turn wreaks havoc on the levels of blood sugar and insulin and may cause weight gain over time. It could even increase your risk of diabetes. The key is to find the right sources to get your fats and know what to avoid. Pass on the butter and red meats which are saturated fats, and definitely avoid the trans fats in many processed foods and fast food. What you can indulge in and your body needs are healthy unsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fatty acids like olive oil or avocado, sources of omega-3 fatty acids like fatty fish, and nuts can be eaten as part of a balanced diet to provide a range of benefits. 9
“Catching Up” On Your Sleep
Your body needs it share of sleep every day. Going with less sleep all through the week and then trying to catch up on the weekend can mess with your circadian rhythm. You need to ensure you get between 7 and 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.10 Not doing this could put you at risk of higher stress levels and negatively impact cognitive performance and alertness.11
Studies have also found that chronic sleep deprivation on a daily basis can lead to issues with glucose tolerance. Even missing out on that half an hour of sleep a day, by sleeping for less than 6.5 hours a night, regularly can result in a drop of 40 percent in your glucose tolerance, affecting glucose metabolism and your appetite.12
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Freimuth, Marilyn, Sandy Moniz, and Shari R. Kim. “Clarifying exercise addiction: differential diagnosis, co-occurring disorders, and phases of addiction.” International journal of environmental research and public health 8, no. 10 (2011): 4069-4081.|
|2.||↑||La Gerche, André, Andrew T. Burns, Don J. Mooney, Warrick J. Inder, Andrew J. Taylor, Jan Bogaert, Andrew I. MacIsaac, Hein Heidbüchel, and David L. Prior. “Exercise-induced right ventricular dysfunction and structural remodelling in endurance athletes.” European heart journal (2011): ehr397.|
|3.||↑||Hew-Butler, Tamara, Joseph G. Verbalis, and Timothy D. Noakes. “Updated fluid recommendation: position statement from the International Marathon Medical Directors Association (IMMDA).” Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine 16, no. 4 (2006): 283-292.|
|4.||↑||Breakfast Ideas for Yogis, Yoga Journal.|
|5.||↑||Omega-3 Fatty Acids, University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|6.||↑||Vitamin D, National Institutes of Health.|
|7.||↑||Vitamin A, National Institutes of Health.|
|8.||↑||Vitamin K, US National Library of Medicine.|
|9.||↑||Fats and Cholesterol, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.|
|10.||↑||National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Durations, National Sleep Foundation.|
|11.||↑||Thomas, Maria, Helen Sing, Gregory Belenky, Henry Holcomb, Helen Mayberg, Robert Dannals, J. R. Wagner et al. “Neural basis of alertness and cognitive performance impairments during sleepiness. I. Effects of 24 h of sleep deprivation on waking human regional brain activity.” Journal of sleep research 9, no. 4 (2000): 335-352.|
|12.||↑||Knutson, Kristen L. “Impact of sleep and sleep loss on glucose homeostasis and appetite regulation.” Sleep medicine clinics 2, no. 2 (2007): 187-197.|