There is no shortage of extreme exercises, diets or belief systems in the world.
The health and fitness industry seems to crank them out faster than you can say “F-A-D”. Some seem pretty reasonable, and play into our pre-existing experiences while others are downright dangerous in their restrictions. The length of time it can take for an extreme lifestyle to catch up to us may be several months or years—our symptoms could be so far down the line that we initially can’t spot what caused our adrenal exhaustion to begin with.
In this article we will uncover some basic warning signs that we are not on the road to harmony/bliss but are instead headed toward stress/depletion.
We all have had that friend (or maybe we were this person at some point) who has found this great new thing—it has somehow answered so many questions. We see how high they look—what kind of happy pills are they taking? Their speech is fast, so positive, and they exclaim (over and over again), “I am feeling so blissed-out!”
They try to get us to try whatever it is that is causing this ecstatic state. It is all so simple they say I took out <insert blank> I started doing <insert blank> every day and I am feeling so great! You want to believe them. They definitely appear to be looking like they are doing better than before. However, so many extreme fads are setting us up for long-term health issues.
The major health issue in extreme lifestyles and diet is adrenal fatigue and hormonal imbalance.
These are often the biggest culprits in what many experience as burn-out in their life. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) adrenal fatigue correlates to kidney chi deficiency and loss of jing. Jing like chi can be understood as our basic life essence. A loss of jing or chi can be responsible for premature aging, hormonal imbalance, infertility and chronic health problems.
We all want to feel good, look good, and be happy. Long-term, gentle and consistent changes in patterns and behavior can be easier on the body, mind, emotions and spirit. The trouble with so many fads is that they overwrite our bodies’ natural responses and confuse signals in our brain. If our health obsession is not the result of our body’s needs but is instead mentally imposed or forced, we are probably not listening to the actual state our body is in. Our body is a complex and intelligent system. Listening to its queues and feedback is important for its upkeep and radiant health.
Here are some indicators that we may be stuck in a fad and not listening to what our body actually needs:
1) We are going down the road of extreme restrictions.
In fact, our restrictions seem to be getting more and more specific. We become almost fundamentalist in our belief system about what we are doing. “Everyone needs to be doing it.” “I have seen the light and the way to the promised land.” We believe that it is so amazing that we don’t question whether it is appropriate for every situation or person because, surely it is, “it can do no wrong.”
2) As time goes on we continue to hold tight to “this being the way” even when there is counter-evidence in our body, mind, or emotional state.
Perhaps we are gaining weight, losing weight excessively, or are unable to talk about anything but our extreme lifestyle—in fact the fad as replaced our personality. We have become walk-talking advertisements for it. We bring it up in every conversation. This freaks most people out and causes some to follow us.
3) We become attached to being “clean and clear.”
If we don’t continue we will be toxic. That other food is toxic. Those belief systems are toxic. We seem really invested in pointing out what is toxic but we do not question our own involvement in our extreme lifestyle. Perhaps, that is actually, what is toxic?
4) We begin to sleep less, don’t eat as much, and if we are a woman we lose our period.
Somehow we have convinced ourselves that all of this is a good thing. We actually have a certain amount of apathy or hyper-mania that we seem to be courting on a regular basis. Our extreme lifestyle has thrown us into what looks like some kind of exercise, or diet induced bipolar. Somehow, we think this is normal. We have forgotten what harmony.
The important thing to remember about the body is that it seeks homeostasis at all costs. We can’t function (or survive) if there isn’t a certain amount of equilibrium. Often times that high we experience when we engage in extreme lifestyles is due to a stress response that will inevitably deplete us. In any new endeavor or radically different lifestyle, or diet it is important to look at what the body is saying to us. Are we feeling a sense of harmony or do we feel an addictive craving for whatever it is that is making us feel better? Do we feel like horrible, wretched humans if we don’t do XYZ?
A healthy lifestyle is one that is not dependent on extremes but enhances well-being. Have we found a sense of balance and harmony that causes our moods to be stable, sleep to be good and productive?
Are our mind’s creative and able to be critical in our thinking? Unfortunately, there are no easy answers in our lives. If we have found something that we believe answers all of life’s complexities—it is time to question why we think that that is true.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Kathryn Muyskens / Editor: Renée Picard
Photo Credit: Flickr