An Atlanta woman who was so obsessed with calorie counting and fitness tracking that it hospitalized her is now speaking out to warn others of their downsides.
Dani Fernandez, now 25, had been battling an eating disorder for years since she was a young teen.
It had reached a point where she would feel “guilty” for not constantly moving and boosting metrics on her fitness tracker, South West News Service reported.
“My identity was in how much I was working out … I felt I had to deserve food by burning as many calories as I could,” said Fernandez, who first developed the disorder after being told she lost too much weight to play soccer at age 15.
She would force herself to walk 45 minutes a day along with other workouts despite being in pain.
“My feet hurt so bad because I was walking so much,” she said.
Fernandez would even avoid going away with family so she wouldn’t break the aggressive “calculated” routine.
“You isolate yourself … I’d cancel plans with friends. Like road trips or going to the cinema.”
Soon enough, her obsessive ways landed her in the hospital nearly 10 years ago.
“My heart started struggling. I had chest pains,” she recalled.
Fernandez was suffering from bradycardia, a slower-than-normal heart rate that can cause sudden death, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The cardiovascular condition soon served as a wake-up call to the young woman, who is currently a content creator.
“I wanted to change. I was miserable,” she said. “I thought if I don’t gain weight and recover and heal, you’re going to die.”
In 2017, she traveled up the East Coast to New York for a clinic that helped “retrain” her mindset over a six-month span.
Fernandez returned to Atlanta with a much healthier and more positive mindset toward her weight, working out and eating.
“They saved my life,” she said. “Now I spend a few hours reading without feeling guilty about it or feeling I need to constantly move.”
In her much “better place,” Fernandez uses fitness for herself instead of living in fear.
“I want to move to feel better rather than to lose calories,” Fernandez said. “I don’t body check. I don’t fixate … I feel free.”