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The Fit Fem Blog
Obsessed with Exercise?
Posted on 11/07/2011 at 12:59 AM to Reality Check
Today’s post is a bit more serious but felt that it was too important to ignore.
Have you ever looked into the mirror and started criticizing, telling yourself how much weight you need to lose? Or do you happen to say “Jeez I really am fat, I hate myself” more than twice or three times a day? Or maybe you’ve felt so insecure with your own body , you look at others and compare yourself and tell yourself that you have no choice but to burn fat, when in real life you’re not even that fat? No one likes to talk about it, no one likes to admit it. It may seem to be a bit taboo coming from a trainer and fitness expert…but I’m here to warn you! If you answered “yes” in any of the three questions stated, better watch out. Reality check: ya might be obsessed so much that it may lead to a risky disorder.
Obsessive exercise disorder (OED) is best defined as the condition wherein a person develops an addiction for workouts. A person with OED feels the need to exercise for many hours every day, and struggles with depression, guilt and anxiety when not able to. These people control their bodies, alter their moods, and define themselves through too much involvement in physical activity. Exercise becomes the most important property in their life that the other aspects, obligations, responsibilities such as families, careers and social engagement are left to suffer. Other than this, there are also health risks that consequence the addiction. Actually, it’s women’s fitness that is at stake here. Active females are particularly vulnerable to fitness issues such as eating disorders and excessive workouts.
Today, exercise is being sought less for the pursuit of fitness or pleasure, and more for the means to a slimmer body and sense of accomplishment. Our unfair society has instilled in us standards that challenged a lot of people, particularly teen girls. Look at all the magazine covers and gossip magazines…rail thin models and celebrities. Because of the concept of “skinny being hot,” teens struggle to change their bodies and “fix” whatever they thought was wrong.
Working out alone and isolated from others; exercising for more than two hours daily with a hard and truly exhausting exercise pattern; fixation on weight loss and calories burned; exercising until pain or even when sick or injured and sacrificing other responsibilities just for workouts are some of the signs that a person has OED. They intoxicate themselves with exercising thinking that they’d come up with a favorable result after. What’s distressing is the fact that this is already a risk to their health. Regardless of the reason behind the excessive exercise, the effects are harmful to the individuals on different levels. It can cause problems such as fatigue, exhaustion, defect in hormones and permanent physical injury like muscle sprain or cramps.
As a trainer, I see it all the time. Ladies on the treadmill for an hour, then hit the elliptical for another hour, then take a cardio class for an hour, and then stick around for a total body conditioning class for an hour. Yup, four hours at the gym, and that’s nothing. Sometimes I see repeat gymers twice a day. Seriously, this condition is more common than you think!
Here’s a little kept secret. I may have been on the brink of OED. Sad, but true. There were days when I knew I couldn’t make the gym and I felt so damn guilty to the point I made sure I made that time up the next day. So instead of working out for maybe an hour, I’d hit my routines hard for 2-3 hours a time. There were some days I wouldn’t miss not even one day of the week….if wasn’t teaching fitness, I was working out. There were weeks I worked out consecutively without a day off, and you know you need proper rest and recover to see results. I remember I was so fixated on losing 3500 (because you know that when you lose 1 lb fat you need to burn 3500 calories), I would make sure I’d burn at least 1000 calories every workout. I was obsessed with my calorie counter on my heart rate monitor. What I didn’t take into account that all this exercise was counteractive. I became irritable and anxious, experienced some insomnia, and stopped losing the weight I was so desperately seeking to lose.
There’s hope after all! OED may be prevented if a healthy fitness plan is maintained. It will be better if you admit to yourself that you are too obsessed and to seek help of a professional weight loss expert who will teach you the right exercise habits. Also, developing a healthy image contributes to self-confidence and security – two important psychological factors that are involved in EODs.
My advice to you - stop being “perfect” and just start being yourself. No body is perfect. Exercise because it’s healthy for you not because you want to get to model size 0.
Keeping the fun in fitness!
Your fit fem personal trainer and expert in women's only fitness,