If there’s anyone who knows the importance of eating a healthy diet, it’s a person who spends the majority of their day weight lifting, lunging, running and star-jumping their way to an ever increasing level of fitness.
Good nutrition is essential for stamina, muscle growth and the efficiency of oxygen flow around the body and yet, according to fitness instructor Nisha Obaidulla, eating disorders run rife in the fitness industry.
“It’s a very secretive disease,” she said. “You would not believe the number of fitness professionals who suffer. I want to spread awareness so people are not afraid to come forward for help.”
Part of being an instructor is being a role model for your client. When you’re telling someone to do a certain number of chin-ups, or squats, you have to be able to do 10 times what they manage. Fitness instructors need to be walking advertisements for the services they offer, meaning the pressure is on to be as chiselled, fat-free and fit as possible.
Ms Obaidulla said her eating disorder began when she was very young, long before she became a fitness instructor. She spent a whole year just eating two bread rolls and a cheese spread triangle per day and as a teenager, took up to 30 laxatives a day to purge her body of nutrients.
It wasn’t until she was 21 that she realised she had coeliac disease, which meant gluten was causing her tummy to bloat.
Eventually, and with the help of therapy, Ms Obaidulla began to develop a better relationship with food. She now believes that fitness is more than just training and healthy eating. It’s about being happy in your life, it’s about keeping a positive state of mind and looking after your body.
Now the 34-year-old wants to expose eating disorders in the fitness industry, and show professionals that help is available.
When your livelihood rests on the look and effectiveness of your body, it can be very easy to slip into bad eating habits. Competitiveness and the desire to be the best means fitness professionals often impose strict diets on themselves. Learning to maintain a positive relationship with food is essential.
Some hypnotherapists specialise in treating eating disorders. Hypnotherapy can help reinforce those positive relationships and subtly alter any negative thought processes. To find out more, please visit our page about Eating Disorders.
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