Blog #6 Addicted to exercise? How to turn your addiction into a healthy habit
Being “addicted to exercise” may not sound like a bad thing. However, like all addictions, exercise addiction can have serious consequences on both mental and physical health. It’s still a tricky subject, in the fitness industry it is part of our job to encourage clients to reap those amazing benefits that come from being more active: more energy, better sleep, stronger bodies and overall healthier lifestyles.
Ironically, the downside of overtraining and exercise addiction is the exact opposite of the benefits: mood swings, fatigue and insomnia, as well as possibly leading to or fueling an eating disorder, body dysmorphia and an increase in stress.
But how do you know when too much is too much? Check the list of questions below, how many do you answer yes to? If you relate to 3 or more, you are probably on the lower end of the addiction scale but still on there! Relate to all of them? Don’t worry, you are in good company 😉
- Do you force yourself to exercise even despite being sick or injured?
- Do you suffer from insomnia, disturbed sleep or wake up starving in the middle of the night with body aches?
- Are you obsessed with food, meal planning or get nervous around food?
- If you take a day off from exercise do you feel weak or as though you have failed?
- Have friends or family members expressed concern or frustration with how much time you devote to exercise?
- Do you stick to your workout schedule regimentally despite fatigue or chronic muscle soreness?
- Does missing a workout cause stress, guilt or anxiety?
- Have you lied to friends, family and coworkers about going to the gym knowing that they’ll tell you you need a break?
- Are you in a vicious cycle that once you think you have a handle on it (“this week I’ll only train once a day…”) everything seems to spiral right out of control again and you find yourself pushing through burnout?
How did it feel reading that list? Did it resonate with you? Here are the things that I have found are working for me on my path to discovering balance in my life, they might work for you too.
- Slow down. Although slowing down might sound like your worst nightmare right now, trust me you need it. If you haven’t taken more then 0-1 days off in weeks, or months, go on try 3-4 days of rest or even a week depending on how burnt out you are. Trust me, you won’t believe the results. Once you have rested and feel awesome, try reducing your number of workouts in the week.
- Meditate. Just 1-4 minutes a day. I am suggesting in the morning, as it will have an immediate effect on slowing you down first thing. I switched my 6am workouts, which amped me up for the day, for a simple morning routine. Now I take time to breathe, I meditate for 4 minutes (it’s a non-negotiable) and I journal. I find this keeps me going throughout the day rather than entering the day on high-speed, which often leads to crashing in the afternoon. I am now able to get through a full day of clients, classes and meetings full of beans and get to the gym in the afternoon instead.
- Skip the morning coffee. If you are addicted to exercise and working out 1-2 times a day, then chances are you are probably wired a certain way that actually doesn’t need that coffee. You are basically constantly compounding your body with cortisol throughout the day with caffeine & exercise on repeat, putting the body under constant stress. Part of my morning ritual includes a nice warm cuppa black tea, with cardamom and liquorice root both believed to reduce stress, made with ROAR cashew milk.
- Get off social media. Stop reading the wrong things! I am pretty sure you are punishing yourself with unrealistic goals, following influences, top athletics and/or anyone skinny, strong hot know-it-all on Instagram. I suggest unfollowing and limited yourself to your time on social media. This is also a BIG morning ritual no-no!
- Get creative. There must be a part of you that wishes you had more time to draw, paint, write or read, or take a dance or art class. Guess what? Once you slow down and get off social media you will have loads of free time to get to those hobbies you wish you had. This week I’ve signed up for 3 art classes (ok, so I don’t do things in halves!) and have had enough energy in the evening to actually put some lipstick on and a dress and socialize!
- Talk to someone. For years, and I mean over 20 years, I have gone at this along, figuring I if I could DIY my own clothes, teach myself how to cook and decorate my own apartment, there I sure as hell could DIY-me out from anorexia, OCD, food obsession, overtraining, exercise addiction, etc. Two weeks ago I decided to make a real attempt to either getting to the bottom of this or at least finding a way to manage what has now become default habits of behaviour; I am now seeing a shrink. A huge weight has been lifted by the very act to just taking this first step, and I think you should too.
Just like most things in life, everything in moderation. If you have found other ways to manage this part of your uniqueness let me know. Would also love to know if any of this helps.
If you feel you might be struggling with exercise addiction, body dysmorphia or an eating disorder and want to get help please feel free to contact us directly.
Signing off for now, as always, ROAR & REAL,