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How to avoid 'the dark side' of fitness

I've spoken before about my time as a dancer. I danced for about 20 years of my life so it was everything I knew for a long time. Body image and eating disorders were the norm in that world where it was admirable to lose weight and having laxatives in the bathroom cupboard was not unusual. When I stepped away from that life and moved into health and fitness, I couldn't help but feel like it came with a whole new set of expectations.

I looked at people around me that reprimanded themselves for having two days off training or putting on a kilo after a weekend away and I realised that I didn't want to be like that. I didn't want to eat a donut and feel bad about it for the rest of the day.

Don't get me wrong, I've done all the diets from calorie counting to weighing out 100grams of chicken and broccoli for every meal but to be honest, I never felt that good. I was usually bloated from too much protein and I was always hoping that people would notice how skinny I looked. Eventually I got tired of living that way and I started to eat foods because they were good for me, not because they were low calorie. My body started feeling better and I actually lost weight!

Being fit and healthy is great and it's good to take pride in your body but how can you avoid the 'dark side' of fitness? It's not easy. Very few people can go through life without caring what people think or say about them and let's face it, people have a lot of opinions! So here are my five tips on making sure that you are looking after yourself for the right reasons.

  • Exercise regularly but don't let it dominate your life. Sometimes you are doing yourself more harm than good by doing that extra training session. Train smarter, not harder.

  • Avoid restrictive diets. Yes, eating healthy is important because food is more powerful than just causing weight gain. However the more you deprive yourself of anything 'bad', the more likely you'll be to end up throwing the towel in. Eat healthy, not less.

  • Choose exercise you enjoy. I do Crossfit. To a lot of people this would be their worst nightmare but I love it! I feel strong and fit when I'm doing it and I love that style of training. Everyone is different but training to feel good is so much better and more sustainable then doing something because you feel like you 'should'.

  • Exercise and eat well to feel good, not just to look good. If you have a balanced diet and exercise regularly, looking good is just a side effect of feeling fitter, stronger and happier.

  • All or nothing doesn't work. Gradual changes are the key to success when changing your lifestyle. Start small and you are more likely to stick to it.

Good mental health is a huge part of sticking to a healthy routine so find something that makes you happy. Happy people are the most beautiful anyway <3

Alyssa x

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