Exercise is one of the key ingredients to keeping fit and healthy as well as eating a healthy diet, all the known benefits of it are healthy heart function, lower cholesterol levels a general overall feeling of well-being and more energy than if you didn’t do any.
But what if it goes the other way and starts to work against you rather than for you. If this is the case, then you may be heading towards an addiction to exercise, there is nothing wrong with being enthusiastic about what you’re doing.
It’s just when it goes the other way, this is where things can and do start to go wrong. If you’re a devout follower of the media you may have seen some pictures of, Madonna and her arms. In case you haven’t seen the picture it shows her with quite thin looking arms and you are able to see her veins quite clearly.
The reasons given for this happening are that she does a two hour grueling workout six days per week. Quite some years ago Madonna looked very toned. Where now she has gone the other way and some people say to extremities, her body fat now is far lower, than it was before so this is the reason that she looks the way that she does now.
The problem with anybody who is in the media eye is that we can tend to look at them as role models, no matter how they look. This has been the case with people who have anorexia they have a saying that is called “thinspiration” which means they look up to people who are thin and famous but that is a entirely different subject matter to what we are discussing here.
One particular woman who was featured recently in a article in the Sunday Express Newspaper, spoke about her particular addiction to exercise and what it means to her.
Rachel Evans who is aged 39, and weighs eight stone is now quite concerned about seeing the particular photos of Madonna, because if she keeps up her exercise routine which she does by going to the gym. She also may end up looking like that as well with veins popping out all over her arms.
Rachel says that she’s a great fan of Madonna’s, but was quite surprised when she saw those particular photos of her arms and how she looked. It struck quite a raw nerve with her.
Rachel confesses that she does have an addiction problem with her exercise, which is a hour-long, not quite in the same league as Madonna. But depending on how hard you push yourself it’s quite, possible that you could do some injury or overdo your exercise routine and cause yourself unnecessary suffering. Which isn’t the overall objective.
She wishes that she had never got addicted to exercise in the first place, it does start to become an obsession and once you are in the mindset of building the body beautiful, it can be quite hard to veer away from it. Rachel says that it became very empowering to her being in control of her own body and how it looks.
She says that her body keeps telling her now to build muscle, this is what happens when something that you do becomes an obsession. There will be one particular part of it that drives you and it becomes a big focus. Although it can have its drawbacks, Rachel now has a body fat percentage of 10 percent one particular result of the she says is now that after having a workout you can see her veins protruding in her hands, she noticed that one day after she had been doing some decorating at home and could see them in her arms also, and will wear a pair of gloves in order to hide her veins.
The actual story of how she became addicted, was when she had whiplash, and was advised by her doctor to do some muscle building exercises, she followed a plan by someone called Bill Phillips, which is called Body For Life this is a book for people who want to get into good shape. She loved the fact that of how her body started to look once she was building muscle.
Now in order to keep how she wants to look, she keeps having to push herself all the time in her exercise routines, she goes on to say that there is no room for a man in her life unless that person was willing to put up with her obsession, she gets her own “self worthiness” from it she says.
“Going for a run like normal people do” would be better Rachel says but that forgoes any of the after affects she tends to get from going to the gym, and absolutely loves the feeling she gets from it after her workout.
An addiction therapist said one of the problems with exercise addiction is as with any other addiction, you have to keep doing more and more to get the same feeling or effect from the workout. This can apply to any addiction really from eating food, drugs etc.
The Warning Signs
If you do think that you may have a addiction to exercise here are some things that you need to be aware of just in case you think you may be addicted. The above information is based solely on one particular person and how it affected them, but yourself may not recognize the particular signs so here is what to look out for.
- Runners can be high on the list of people who become addicted to exercise, so if you do running be aware that you could be one of those people who are addicted to it
- You may start to distance yourself from relatives and friends and may cancel social engagements in favour of doing a workout instead
- The only things that may stop you from doing a workout are being ill, having some kind of injury or merely being tired, you may spend a good percentage of your spare time working out even they you don’t necessarily need to it’s just something that you feel that you need to do
- If you are unable to do your workout, feelings of anxiety, frustration and depression won’t be far behind
- There is only one train of thought as regards what you want to do more is better and less is not enough, and anything that stops you from doing it is a very bad thing and you resent it like crazy
- Your boundaries may seem a little bit less clear between what is healthy and isn’t you may even tend to work through pain, in order to get what you want we tend to idolise people who may have better bodies than ours and see them as more athletic, so we tend to build up this image of how we want to be and focus our energies into becoming that person because we ourselves don’t feel as though we are there yet
- When you are an addict poor performance not see may not seem very acceptable to yourself so you keep pushing yourself more and more, whereas somebody who is in control of their routine will take rest periods regularly so there body can recover sufficiently
- The people who are most vulnerable to this type of particular addiction are those people who look for something called runners high, this is normally experienced by people who push themselves in their workout routine whether it be resistance training or any other type of high intensity training
- As with all types of addictive behaviours there will be some kind of underlying reason why this is happening psychologists, seem to think that it can be due to the fact of someone having a low self-esteem, which would make sense in today’s modern world there is more pressure to have a fit body than there ever has been
- · Denial can play a big part in the addicts mindset so even though you think you may be just working out quite normally, to other people it might not seem to be the case
- In order to stop yourself from going down this particular route write down your schedule so you know exactly how much you are or aren’t doing, if you have no record then what you are doing may seem quite normal but you could be overdoing it with out even realising
- If you have some spare time within your day don’t necessarily think that you should be exercising, do something else instead to break the habit pattern, just in case you are actually doing this
- The main key factor is balance if you have a history of anxiety, stress related problems or depression then you may be one of those people that becomes an obsessive exerciser, in order to make yourself feel better, if that is the case please do visit your Doctor to be assessed properly otherwise you might do yourself more harm than good.
On a closing note exercise should be something that we do for improving our health and it should be fun also.
Not something that becomes a compulsion to fix some other underlying problem, all you need to do is exercise say 3-4 times a week for a hour a day or less and get out of breath while you are doing it. And do it for you not because some media icon is giving the message of how they look.
Be more at home with yourself and happy with the way you look and don’t worry to much about having bulging biceps
Sources and references
Sunday Express Newspaper
Volume 18, Number 6, Running & FitNews
The American Running Association