An exercise addiction typically results in an unhealthy obsession with exercise and fitness. Learn the signs of an exercise addiction and get helpful tips on how to help yourself heal your relationship to yourself and to fitness.
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Are you struggling with compulsive exercise, exercise addiction, over-exercise? YOU ARE NOT ALONE. In this video I share my story and things that helped me find a balanced relationship to exercise. The information in this video is based off of my own personal experience and does not replace medical advice. If you are struggling with an eating disorder or exercise addiction please seek help. Here’s a good place to start.
When good things go wrong: from a healthy to unhealthy relationship to exercise.
Exercise is a beautiful healthy thing. But it is possible that something healthy can turn unhealthy. If you have struggled with a disordered relationship to fitness, this video is for you. If you feel anxious when you don’t exercise or feel like exercise controls your life, this video is for you.
I wanted to film this video because more and more I see people struggle with this issue. Its pretty sad that MOST people I know struggle with a disordered relationship to fitness and their bodies. Its time we talk about this subject. GET IT OUT IN THE OPEN. And support each other in bravely moving forward towards a healthier relationship with ourselves, our bodies, and exercise. We are so amazing and capable of doing incredible things. But if our brains are too wrapped up in how much we workout, we miss our chance to live our fullest life. If your workouts have BECOME YOUR LIFE, something is up. You are meant for more than sweat sweat sweat repeat.
How do you know if you have an exercise addiction or over exercise habit? Here are a few signs to look out for:
1). Missing a workout makes you/them irritable, anxious or depressed.
2). You work out when sick, injured or exhausted. You push yourself through a pulled muscle, the flu or even a stress fracture, failing to rest when it’s clearly needed.
3). Exercise becomes a way to “escape”. Exercise becomes a way to withdraw from certain life situations or hard emotions.
4). Workouts start to impact relationships. When you notice that you spend more time training than with a spouse, or opt to stay at the gym instead of attending get togethers with friends, it could be indicative of an unhealthy relationship with exercise. People who struggle with exercise addiction tend to withdraw and isolate from their friends and family in order to continue unhealthy behaviors.
5). Other priorities suffer. Exercise becomes more important than everything else in your life. You miss deadlines or other events due to training.
6). Your mood and happiness depends on your workout. When your mood is dictated by if your workout was “good” or not or how your body looks that given day or how “fit” you currently perceive yourself.
7). You continually extend workouts. You are always adding extra sets, reps, or miles. It never feels like its enough.
8). You excessively work out. Some marathon training programs call for “two-a-days” to build mileage, but consistently doing this – without any specific training goal and without being monitored by a medical professional – could result in further mental and physical ramifications, LIKE INJURIES, ILLNESS, AND OSTEOPOROSIS. NOT FUN.
9) Exercise loses the element of play and fun. You do it because you feel like you have too. Not because you want to.
Do any of the above signs resonate with you? In our “crazy to workout culture” its ALL TOO COMMON to become an exercise addict and develop an unhealthy need to workout. This addiction has serious health consequences for both your mind and body. Not only can you struggle with a lifetime of injury, illness, and chronic pain but your MIND also suffers with anxiety, compulsive thoughts, and depression. The only way to help yourself in HEALING is to change the BEHAVIORS and THOUGHTS that keep you addicted to fitness. Here are some of the ways Ive helped myself recover from exercise addiction to find balance:
Exercise Addiction / Over Exercise. Recovery Tips.
- Figure out if you struggle with exercise addiction or over exercise. Chances are if you are reading this post and nodding your head, you might have fallen prey to a disordered relationship to fitness. If you feel scared at the thought of a rest day or have been physically struggling with chronic injuries, illness, or pain due to constant training, its time to FACE YOUR FEARS and HELP YOURSELF HEAL. The thing is, you have to be READY to change. No one can do it for you. No one is coming to save you. You can choose to stay stuck in a cycle that keeps you hurting OR choose a different path, one that moves you forward. Its not going to be easy. Its not going to happen overnight. You will mess up. BUT as long as you keep moving forward in the right direction YOU CAN help yourself drop a disordered relationship to exercise and heal your body and mind.
- Reach out for support. This process IS NOT EASY. Don’t go at it alone. Hire a coach, a therapist, a support group. GET AS MUCH HELP AS YOU CAN. Trying to change negative thoughts or behaviors that have been with you for a long time will take a lot of work. You can find help on the NEDA website or the Recovery Warriors website.
- Identify what you want and don’t want. Have a vision for your recovery from exercise addiction. Write out a list of everything you DO want and everything you DONT. Keep this list around you all the time to look at and remind you WHY and WHAT you are working towards. I know I don’t want to feel EXHAUSTED or beat up from my workouts. I want to feel uplifted and energized. So if my actions don’t let me feel GOOD, then I choose to change my actions for a different outcome.
- Follow a plan. Stick to it. If you’ve been struggling with an exercise addiction or compulsive exercise, you may need to cut out workouts entirely for a period of time until you can participate in them in a healthy, balanced way. ASK YOUR THERAPIST or doctor for recommendations that are right for you. Once you’ve been cleared to exercise, hire a coach to put together a BALANCED and MODERATE fitness plan for you. Tell them about your struggles with exercise addiction so that they can create a fitness regimen that keeps you from going too far. Then COMMIT to and follow their guidance. Don’t go past what they prescribe for you. I find this is helpful because when left to your own devices you will be tempted to fall back into negative behaviors with exercise. This is one of the reasons I created the Strong Body fitness program, to help women find BALANCE with their workouts and within themselves.
- Know that it will feel uncomfortable and HARD. Practice self compassion as you move forward. Be kind to your body and mind. Its not easy to change but it IS worth it. YOU ARE WORTH IT. Love yourself through this hard process to help yourself through it.
- Develop different coping mechanisms for anxiety. Write out a list of different ways you can cope with hard feelings and emotions. Some of my favorites include journaling, reading, meditation, going to the beach/park, or calling a good friend. If you don’t know what your alternative coping mechanisms are use this time to FIGURE OUT SOME. Its going to feel weird to not use exercise as your “coping” mechanism. But the more you practice alternative actions, the easier it becomes.
- Follow people who inspire you, unfollow people who don’t. In todays social media world, its all too common to feel “not good enough” when following “picture perfect” instagram workout models. UN FOLLOW. There are so many positive role models out there for exercise addiction recovery and health. Some of my favorites if you are trying to change your relationship to fitness include : This Girl Audra, What Mia Did Next, and A Case of the Jills. FIND THEM ON YOUTUBE. WATCH ALL OF THEIR VIDEOS. I promise if you fertilize your brain with their positive, uplifting messages it will help.
- Have a mantra “Balanced, bold beautiful” “Healthy Strong and Energized”. Use this mantra when you are feeling uncomfortable or needing support making choices that help you change your behaviors and see a different outcome in your relationship to fitness.
I go into greater detail on all of these tips in the video below. Watch.
Exercise Addiction / Over Exercise. Recovery Tips Video.
Balance is harder than extremes. But it is possible if you practice and keep practicing.
Please know that nonpart of this process will be easy. But it’s so worth it. You are so worth it. And you are brave enough, smart enough and strong enough to do it. You deserve to feel good. And life changes every second. So can you.
Mental health is the essential element to success. Your relationship to fitness mirrors your relationship to yourself.
Your body wants to be loved and accepted. Not manipulated and controlled. JUST LIKE YOU WANT TO BE LOVED AND ACCEPTED NOT MANIPULATED AND CONTROLLED. I hope this post and video served you in some way in looking at your relationship to yourself, to fitness, and to your world. Please know that you are not alone and YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS. Im here for you and cheering for you. Be good to yourself my friend.