The dark side of fitness obsession

Posted on Mar 17, 2017

Like many people, Rachel believed that exercise and healthy food are the key to a healthy life. Little did she notice that her drive to stay fit slowly turned into an obsession. Rachel blogged about her experiences as part of the Be Real Guest Blog series.

I spent my 20s living in a miserable state of self-imposed control and restraint under the pretext of living a ‘healthy’ lifestyle.

I severely restricted my food choices to a prescribed list of what I considered ‘safe’ options. I tried every fad diet trying to maintain a low weight- from slim fast shakes for dinner to only eating grapefruits and eggs. I spent three weeks religiously following a ridiculous ‘Elimination Diet’ after enlisting the help of someone branded the UK’s Number 1 Personal Trainer. Despite knowing my eating issues, he still prescribed a ‘detox’ and a list of ‘good’ foods.

I didn’t enjoy food I FEARED it.

Back to back classes, getting up for 5.30am runs around random backstreets when I was abroad with work. I punished myself to try and retain control and pursue an ‘ideal’ weight that I couldn’t even define.

I didn’t exercise because I enjoyed it. I exercised because I FEARED what might happen if I stopped. I was obsessed by the feeling of pushing my body, even when it was clearly screaming at me to stop and rest.

None of that was ‘healthy’ behaviour. None of that was ‘good’.

I’m 5ft 7inches and weighed less than 8.7 stone but, I genuinely thought I needed to lose more weight. I didn’t realise that my perception of reality was completely disordered.

Aspiring to fuel your body with food that makes you feel good, learning how to move with confidence and feel fit and strong is a positive thing. But even ‘good’ and ‘healthy’ things have the potential to become dangerous.

From walking around your living room late at night to up your step count on Fit Bit, foregoing social events because you don’t want to risk ‘ruining’ your new diet plan – it’s easy to slip into disordered patterns of behaviour without even noticing.

Despite what the fitness mafia has us believe, obsession is not what ‘lazy’ people call ‘dedication’. Obsession can be an all-consuming state of intolerance for yourself that places you in an unrealistic ‘all or nothing’ scenario.

The turning point for change came when I realised I could no longer define the 'ideal' shape or weight I was so desperately seeking. So I sought professional help, abandoned the scales and focused instead on being my strongest, and happiest self.

I set up Strength In Motion Fitness® in 2014 to help others exercise in a healthy and balanced way.


Ranging from two to 72 years old, the people I work with are real people with busy lives, juggling their commitment to live a healthier lifestyle with work, family, relationship and other external stresses. This is why my new website will show my wonderful, real clients. Their realness and authenticity is something I wanted to celebrate not photoshop, filter or replace with stock photos of ripped fitness models. I want people to know that there will always be days when you want to have birthday cake, go out for a drink with friends, have a lazy duvet day and none of that is wrong. Bread is not evil, sugar is not hell. Food is more than just fuel and there is nothing on our plate we should be scared of.

Rachel is the founder of Strength In Motion Fitness®. Her new website featuring real un-photoshoped and unfiltered clients was launched this week. Find out more at

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