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How Trauma can Influence Your Healthy Lifestyle

If it was not for my emotions, I would have been able to eat perfectly clean every day of my life.

The amount of comfort that we get in food is powerful.  The ridiculous side of it is that the comfort only lasts for the seconds that the food is in our mouths.  Then that is followed by more aggravated and disappointing emotions.  Yet, most of us fall for it and do it all the time, including myself.

Unfortunately, certain scenarios in life where we get hurt, emotional or physical, tends to form a base for a constant struggle with food because food plays such a big role in our emotions.

I’m a victim of molestation, date rape and physical abuse. With the help of a couple of psychologists, I could successfully work through the trauma and learn skills to cope with the emotional dysfunction that situations like that create. 

The problem is, I think we underestimate how much it influences our way of dealing with our bodies physically which includes diet and training.

We all are different and react differently to trauma.

The effect on me mentally was that I needed to overcompensate and make sure that the rest of the areas in my life are perfect.  All the areas I could control and manage.  The downfall of this is that I’ve put too much pressure on myself and ‘killed’ my natural alarm in my body of when to stop pushing myself.  Which will lead to me burning out from purely training too hard for too long without breaks. 

I cannot cope with the idea that it is okay to rest and not train when my body really needs it. My dysfunctional way of dealing with this is that when I eat something “that I was not supposed to” I need to balance it out with an extra training session at the gym or I need to overcompensate in the days coming by eating less. 

If I miss a training session, no matter how legit the reason, I need to catch up… which ends up in double or even triple sessions in a day.  This is not okay; it is not a healthy way of living.

When something bad happens in our lives and we go into coping mode...  I’m talking about a fight you had with someone you love or your child that you had to take to hospital for an operation…  Then it became extremely difficult to stay in routine with training and to focus on healthy eating.  That is when we ‘fall off the wagon’ for a little bit. While eating healthy food and training would actually assist us in dealing better with the situation, it’s the first thing we stop doing. 

Here are some ideas I try to stick to, especially when life is upside down…  

The most important mind frame for me in these situations is ‘mind over matter’.  

Although I’m not going to feel like doing it, I need to stick to my commitment / framework.  That is why it is important to commit to yourself which guidelines / framework you want to follow in your healthy lifestyle for when life turns that you have that in place. 

If your commitment is part of your routine, it makes it much easier. For example, I commit to train 5 times a week, eat 1 treat meal a week, 1 chocolate and 1 drink that I love. So, when a ‘crisis' happens in my life, ‘instead of falling off the wagon’, I know my framework and can play around in it.  For example, I might need to change my training days or place where I train (it might have to be in my house instead of the gym) or I might not have another choice then having an unhealthy meal on the day I did not plan to have it.  If you have a commitment to a framework, this will not throw you off, instead it will give you space to stick to your healthy lifestyle and habits.  

What is nice about having a framework is that it is okay if things move around in your framework, it does not need to happen on the exact day you planned it on when life throws a curveball.  But the important part here is to stick to your commitment and your framework.  This is for those situations when something goes wrong but is not a fundamental change in your life. 

Then we get to much more serious situations.  That is if something happened in your life that alters the way you think and feel about yourself in a more permanent way. 

This is the situation that tends to form a ‘base’ underneath the way you deal with looking after yourself.  A lot of the time, without knowing, you will be dysfunctional in looking after yourself.  For example, when you do extremes...  You focus way too much on yourself which can lead to eating disorders, too much pressure on yourself, when you struggle to get to a point to ever feel good enough physically and emotionally.  The other extreme is that you are not trying to feel better about yourself, you let everything go and ‘‘accept’’ that you are not worth anything.  You do not take care of yourself at all because you are convinced that you are not good enough.  These situations happen more from constant dysfunctional situations in your life (especially childhood) or big trauma like rape, abuse, molestation, dysfunctional relationships…

In these situations, it is very important to seek professional help.  There is absolutely no reason for you to continue your life carrying this load. You can add weight to your life in the gym, but that is the only place.  Do not add weight emotionally or keep on holding onto the weight that is dragging you down.  

Healthy habits in the gym and in your diet is essential.  Make sure you can use it to your benefit and that it is not controlled by dysfunction.  

A very difficult, but very important place that we need to get to emotionally in life, is to BE CONTENT with where we are right now, while we are working on ourselves. Your ‘place of happiness’ is not and will not come when and only when you ‘reach your goals’ because happiness comes from contentment and contentment comes from a MIND CHANGE and not a body change.

Join me this Thursday (11 April 2024) on my live talk, where we will discuss practical ways on how to heal from your trauma through the developing a healthy lifestyle by harnessing the power of the VidaFit community. Click here to register now

Thanks for reading.

I hope to see you soon.

Annerita Maritz

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