Exercising is very good for your body as you are strengthening the bones in your body, getting your heart pumping, and releasing all of those feel-good endorphins to keep you on an all-day high. But too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing if you lose control of what makes you feel good. By realizing when you have lost control of your exercise addiction, you have a better chance of not contracting serious health problems and learning healthy habits to still get the exercise you need.
One way that you know you have no control of your constant exercise is by over-exercising out of guilt for what you ate. You could have eaten a big meal and wondered what made you do something like that. You keep thinking that you wish you can take back eating that big meal knowing all of the calories that you gained from it. This can cause you to exercise excessively to either punish yourself for your food intake or as an attempt to burn all of the calories that you consumed. You may feel like you cannot afford to take a vacation from your daily caloric intake so you feel the need to get rid of the excess calories to maintain your weight. This can end up being an obsessive and unhealthy habit in never being able to enjoy your food without feeling the need to rush to the gym to burn all that you ate.
You also know that you are at the gym too much if the staff at the gym are more familiar with you than those around you like your co-workers, friends, and family. Most people who go to the gym may spend an hour a day a few days a week. Those who are addicted to exercise may be at the gym for three or four hours a day and multiple times a week. They may feel like their day is not complete without the gym that they can feel withdrawal just like when someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol. The only thing on their mind is exercise and they feel they cannot function without it.
While exercising can do wonders for your physical and mental health, over-exercising can lead to fatigue and exhaustion. If you are spending too much time working out, you are not focusing on taking care of other parts of your body such as eating and sleeping right. You could be feeling sore for most of the day or feeling sick as too much exercise can put stress on your body. You should be able to have the energy to enjoy the rest of the day instead of putting all of your energy and focus into solely exercising.
If going to the gym is a huge priority to you, that may mean that you create your schedule based on when you go to the gym and for how long. You might have cancelled plans at last minute when you realized it interferes with the time you normally exercise. Your friends may have asked to have dinner with you but you turned them down because you know you go to the gym in the evenings for a few hours. You know that you have fun whenever you are around your friends but the gym has become more important to you than any other activity you have done in the past.
You also know that you have an addiction to exercise if you are willing to workout despite the negative consequences it may bring on you. The weather may be horrible outside to drive in or you could be in a bad place with your physical or mental health. It does not mean that you will stop your rigorous exercise regimen. You may have a strong goal to lose weight or burn all of the calories you eat and will do whatever it takes to stick with it. The idea of not being able to exercise for just one day will set you on edge and heighten your anxiety. You will feel guilty if you eat all of your meals and do not do anything to burn off the calories.
It is also possible that you are exercising too much because you have a negative body image of yourself. You have probably seen magazines or fitness buffs on television with muscles, popping abs, and a firm-looking body. This can bring about an unrealistic theory of what you need to do to look just like that. This can lead to eating disorders if you spend more time burning calories than getting any food in your system. It is important to remember that with special effects, it is easy to make anyone’s body look perfect but there is no such thing as the perfect look.
Just because you should not overdo it when you exercise does not mean that you should never exercise. It just means that you need to be safe while working out. You can make a workout journal recording the days you exercise, what activities you do, how you feel exercising, how much time you exercise a day, and how you feel when you do not work out. Change up your activities with less rigorous ones like yoga, swimming, or walking. By understanding the root causes of your exercise addiction, you will learn how to exercise without it impacting your health.
Established in 1939, High Watch is the world’s first 12-Step treatment center. Every individual who walks through our doors joins a definitive culture of compassion, dignity, and respect from a genuinely caring staff dedicated to seeing the disease of addiction find remission. Providing proven therapeutic approaches and comprehensive 12-Step education, patients leave High Watch with the confidence to maintain abstinence and live a healthy, happy, sober life. Start your journey today by calling 860.927.3772.