For some, it’s hard to get into the gym. For others, it’s hard to stay out.
I once fell at the former end of the spectrum. I now fall at the latter.
I tend to have an all-or-nothing mentality when it comes to the gym and it isn’t necessarily healthy. Going to the gym is a great way to release endorphins, increase energy and brain focus, and just feel awesome overall.
I mean really…. this is what I feel like leaving the gym.
But where does exercising for enjoyment cross the line into an unhealthy exercise addiction?
Those that have been reading the blog for a while know that I’ve pretty much settled my issues with food (FINALLY) and I’m becoming more and more comfortable in my own skin with each day that passes. However, what was once an obsession with food (or lack thereof) has now become an obsession with the gym.
Here’s where the lightbulb went off.
Last week was a constant cycle of not sleeping enough –> eating more because my body was looking for calories for energy –> feeling the need to exercise more because I “ate more than I should.” Sounds kind of disordered, doesn’t it?
I’ve gone through cycles with exercise addiction. I used to refrain from going out with friends because I didn’t want to “drink” my calories. Obviously this shouldn’t be a regular thing, but a little fun never hurt anyone. I would also stay in while my friends were going out if I had an early morning workout planned. Again, this is great! But in ten years will I remember that 7 a.m. spin class or the night I spent laughing with my girlfriends over wine at dinner?
I would bet on the latter.
How did I know my exercise habits turned into an addiction?
Last week in particular:
- I was exhausted.
- I continued to exercise despite having knee pain.
- I lost interest in working out.
- I was merely going through the motions of my workouts without actually enjoying them.
- Hello, mood swings. One minute I was laughing and the next I was crying, literally. Remember that “funk” I was in last week? Yep.
In the past:
- I felt guilty when I missed a workout.
- I missed a night out with the girls because I didn’t want to be too tired for tomorrow’s workout.
- I thought I would magically wake up 15 pounds heavier if I missed a day.
- I would constantly be thinking about exercise: reading about it, doing it, planning my next workout. It took over my life.
- I developed anxiety problems stemming from my food and exercise addiction.
- It would throw me off if I had to eat or exercise outside of my regular routine.
I’m proud of myself, in all honesty. One year ago, I wasn’t able to look at my life from an outsider’s perspective like I am today. I’m learning to take notice of my addictions and weaknesses before they officially take over my life.
So, whats on the agenda? Am I going to completely give up exercise?
Of course not! But I am going to listen to my body and my heart. I’m not going to push my body through pain just because I had a workout planned for the day. I’m not going to pass up a night out with my friends because it will throw me off my gym schedule.
As always, life is about BALANCE. I need to take care of myself, first and foremost. In the grander scheme of things, there is NO reason I need to be spending six days a week in the gym if I’m not enjoying it. I’m not training for anything specific, I’m not trying to be the next up and coming bikini model… I’m just a regular Jane Doe trying to live a healthy, balanced life while helping others do the same.
Everything in moderation, including exercise!
[Of Possible Interest:]
A Doctor’s Advice on Identifying Exercise Addiction Symptoms via FitSugar
When Training Backfires: Hard Work That’s Too Hard via NYTimes
12 Signs You’re Overtraining via Men’s Fitness <– More than just physical symptoms. Insomnia & depression are included!