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My Story of (and how you can avoid) Exercise Addiction

October 29, 2014


Finding and living with a balance in regards to weight loss, no matter how much or little, is what my blog and mission is all about. Since I have battled such extensive self-esteem and weight issues all of my life, I have been at the end of both extremes: exercising way too much or not much at all. 

When I first started exercising at 13 years old, my step-mom told me that if I stuck with it, I would hate not exercising -- that it would feel odd and not right to miss days. Initially, I thought she was crazy and there way no way that could happen.

However, it absolutely did. Two weeks into regular exercise, I was in love and a brand new hobby that I enjoyed immensely was developed. Being that young though, I did not understand the importance of resting my body and switching up workouts. I battled this problem until I was about 22 years old. 

If I missed a scheduled workout, my world crumbled. If I was sick and I had a workout planned, I would still go. If I was invited to a party, event, festival, etc. and it interfered with the gym and working out, I would never go. If I planned a rest day because I was very store and/or tired, a few hours into the afternoon and evening, I would be driving myself crazy, then end up going to the gym. I had to exercise; if I didn't, all of my hard work would come undone by missing that single workout. 

That is unbelievably dramatic and most of all false, but that was how my mind worked. I was an extremist, and I am still fighting that to this day. I was either all in at 120% or at negative 120%. If I missed that planned workout for some reason, I would cry and refuse to go out or be seen because of how disgusting I felt. At times, I would cancel plans to go with my friends because I had missed my workout and felt I did not deserve to go out. I felt by missing that workout, I had put on 20 pounds. 

When I put on the significant amount of weight at end of 2012 and throughout most of 2013, I knew when I lost weight for the second time, I had to dig exceptionally deep inside of myself and tackle all of my food, exercise, and self-esteem issues that I had been suppressing for so long; not resolving. 

If you feel yourself  or you know someone feeling this way about exercise and working out, this post is for you. 

The first thing I had to realize is that I did not put all of my weight on overnight and I was definitely not going to lose it that soon. It is much easier to gain weight than lose weight; which is why so much of the United States is obese. Fat loss is achieved by being consistent. You are still consistent if a workout is missed. Learning your body is the best thing you can do for yourself. You may have your workouts scheduled for the entire week, then after a couple of them, you are more sore than you thought. When it is a hurting kind of sore, you absolutely need to rest your body so the muscles can repair. Another extremely important thing to teach yourself is the difference between "tired" and "fatigued". The days where you feel "ugh, I so don't feel like working out, I'm tired", you absolutely should still exercise. However, if you are chronically tired, feeling overly sluggish throughout the day, and having a hard time staying focused or motivated, that is usually your body begging for rest to recover. 

Below could be signs of over-exercise: 
  • excessive weight loss -- this is usually muscle, not fat
  • undernourishment
  • menstruation problems in women
  • fatigue
  • isolation and weakened social relationships
  • irritability
  • frequent injuries

There are consequences to over exercising. The body can enter a catabolic state, in which muscle (NOT fat) tissues are broken down to fuel immediate needs. In short: muscle is burned and the fat is stored. Additionally, one can develop microscopic tears in muscle fibers,; which if unable to repair because of extreme exercise is still being continued, could lead to permanent injuries. Immune systems are actually weakened from over-exercise, which is why when I would still workout when I was sick, I would take significantly longer to heal. Other issues are bone problems, especially in women, and insomnia. 

Weight loss is hard. It is simple, but very hard. It requires dedication and consistency, but it is also absolutely imperative that someone have a balance while trying. You can drive yourself crazy if you don't. You can miss out so much in life if you don't. Being fit and healthy should be lifestyle; not your entire life. As I always like to say and remember, and what helps me often times is that yes I may mess up - especially lately, but every second I am alive, it's a chance for me to get it right. If I had a cupcake yesterday after having my cheat meal the day before, there is nothing I can do it about now. It's done. But I can make a healthy choice today. I can push harder on my training. I can ensure I eat enough to fight cravings.

This journey is all about learning to believe in yourself and know that if you just keep going and trying, the results you want will happen. 

I am now 11 months into my weight loss journey. I wanted to be at a 90 pound loss at this time, however, I am at 65 pounds. I am disappointed, I will not lie and say that I am not, but I know the journey can still be continued. I am alive today, I am healthy today, and that means I can keep going and pushing myself and my 100 pound weight loss goal will absolutely be achieved. 

These posts may also help and are closely related to this issue:

16 comments

  1. 65 pounds is definitely something to be proud of! You'll get to your goal weight eventually... slow and steady is the best way in my opinion - nothing else is maintainable!

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  2. I do this....ugh. If I miss a workout I don't go out or have any fun because I feel so bad about myself. I also feel like I instantly gained weight because of it...even though that's not logical. It's definitely tough to break that mindset sometimes!

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  3. You have come a long way and you should be proud of those 65 pounds. It can be difficult to miss a workout here or there but your body does need to rest.

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  4. Thanks for sharing the nice article of avoiding the excessive exercise .
    Meditation in India

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  5. This is excellent, thanks for sharing! I tend to be pretty all or nothing too, I think the biggest challenge for me has been figuring out a lifestyle of balance and maintaining what I have lost. I do have more I want to lose, but right now I think it's good for me to just maintain where I am at and find the happy medium. Amazing job on your weight loss, 65 pounds is incredible!

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  6. An amazing REAL post - I, too, am an extremist - It's something that I am battling myself. All or Nothing - no middle ground - I need to realize that LIFE is in the middle ground. And that the middle ground is also PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE.

    65 pounds is amazing - and even though you are disappointed, you are being REAL about it - You know you are going to get there. You know it's on the horizon. Keep pushing!!! You are a ROCK STAR!

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  7. You look beautiful, girl! Keep up the good work!

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  8. Well done!!! I am so inspired and really, really proud of you! Your results are incredible and you are doing amazingly. Keep up the good work ladybug!!

    As for me.. I don't think I have any issue with an exercise addiction... rather a problem with exercise avoiding...... I feel awful and really need to start doing something because I am starting to gain weight and notice a change in my body that I really don't like and it actually scares me. This post really inspired me, thank you!!

    www.bohemianmuses.blogspot.com

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  9. I understand that you are disappointed, it's easy to do to ourselves when we've set goals. There are MANY people that are proud of you & you've come a long way. You encourage others & you show you are REAL. :)

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  10. I *used* to do this. I am a true addict but, unfortunately, my addictions have gone above and beyond working out and food. I have traded one addiction for another-what a journey. I love that you have already realized that life is imperfect and it is all a learning lesson to experience along the way. Most people do not figure that out in their 20s... or ever!

    Congrats to you and thanks for sharing. Also, you have made an amazing change in your health and that is the MOST important part of where you are today. You have accomplished a lot!

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  11. Great post (as usual)! I think this is an issue that, while it may not happen to a large population of ppl, it's still a real thing that needs to be taken seriously. You're definitely giving a voice to others that may not be brave enough to share, or even know they'r e in this cycle. Hugs from KY :)

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  12. 65 pounds is huge! and you are still working. Girlfriend you have to be kind to yourself sometimes. You will get there, I have every ounce of faith in you!

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  13. 65 pounds is awesome! Try not to be too hard on yourself. Weight loss can stall. Usually due to not changing up exercise like you said or even over exercise. Also sometimes changing up the calories you consume works as well. I noticed if I ate a little more once a week it actually helped me to lose weight. Our bodies can get stuck in a rut sometimes. I used to be addicted to exercise as well. Now, I'm the opposite mostly due to health issues. I would love to get back into a regular exercise routine.

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