Hi. My name is Laura.
“I'm an addict. I didn't realize I had a problem. I do now and I am willing to admit it although I am not willing to go in for treatment.”
Well that is how the first meeting would go. I don't even know where I could get help. My friends and family will not support me. I can't find an EA meeting (Exercisers Anonymous) here on the Upper West Side of Manhattan or anywhere for that matter (and I did Google it). Not to mention my "RULES”. These are the set of strong personally held beliefs that I have (that we all have) that compel me to do the “things-I-Do”. (I believe my grandmother would have called them hang-ups.)
It was Saturday morning and I had no plan for exercise. For those of you who know me well, you know this is: A) very unlike me and: B) nearly sacrilegious. My world is a plan. The Husband plans for a living. I live by my calendar and I schedule most activities (at least diet & exercise wise, wait…ok there are dinners, golf, visits to the family vacations, ski weekends……..) for me to not know what I will be doing on Saturday morning left me feeling lost.
I woke up too late to run; besides I ran on Friday. I had no one to go play MMA with so I argued in my own head about taking the day off. I wandered into the kitchen discussing going for another run. “You can't do that you ran yesterday” I said [Editor’s note: it was out loud too]. Besides it’s so late that the park will be too crowded.
I wandered into the bedroom. I could go for a bike ride because “It’s kind of late and there is a race in the park” [Editor’s note: again, out loud and unprovoked]. It doesn't matter. I don't ride in the park.
Into the bathroom I think, “Yoga! I could do yoga at LuLu”. Too late, class is at 9 and it was way after that.
Back into the kitchen to prepare breakfast. What if I took a class at the JCC? I hate classes at the JCC. Let me look. I look. Of course the one class I could have taken has already started. It is Saturday at the JCC after all. Who do I blame for all of this anyway? If they were not closed for the damned holiday I would have been on schedule.
Monday: lift and swim. Tuesday: run Wednesday: ride Thursday: run Friday: lift & swim Saturday: ride and martial arts wherever I can fit it in.
But I digress.
I just need to burn some calories and the day is ticking away. (I am almost in a sheer panic at this point.) I finally decide to ride.
Of course now I have rituals. These series of rituals, I have put in place, allow me to get out the door with all my equipment. Without these rituals, I usually forget something, water, music...
I also make it a habit to check the pressure on my tires. In the process of checking my tires, which requires me to attach the air hose, I snap the valve stem off my tire giving me a back tire flat before I even left the apartment. Although I was pissed, it was fun watching two cats, The Dog and The Husband scatter in four different directions at the sound of the pop. Of course it was the back bike tire which now needs to be changed. Of course I have a plan for that an executed the “Flat Repair Plan” which was successful.
Dressed, ritualized and amped, I finally go.
I promise you, this was not the beautiful smooth ride that I wanted but knew it was coming. Three quarters through my ride, through a serious of gear shifts, my chain came off. Thankfully that is an easy enough fix. I finish my ride off with a trip to the dog park to catch up with The Husband and The Dog. 500 calories and one hour later, I feel satisfied and relieved that I was able to get in my calorie burn.
Exercise addiction is not something that comes up very often. More often than not the problem is lack of exercise. And although I poke fun at myself, my problem is not as serious as some others. You might know someone and not realize that they even have a problem.
There is a difference between someone training for an event i.e. triathlon, marathon, half marathon. (If you know someone training for an ultra-marathon that is a clear indication of an issue.) These are events where intense training is for a finite period of time with a very specific goal in mind. Once you hear your loved one is going for their second 18 mile run in a day, call a professional
The trouble comes when you notice that either you or someone you care about starts getting sick often. You wonder how that can be when they exercise twice a day six days a week. Therein lies the problem. Your body needs time to recover and let all the hard work you did in the gym or on the track set in. Rest is key to any fitness program and should be scheduled just like a work out (my day is Sunday).
Other warning signs that you or your significant other may have a problem:
· Sleeping too much, sleeping too little
· Irritability, depression
· Prolonged recovery
· Increased injuries, soreness that won't go away
· Chronic fatigue
On occasion, the over exerciser happens by accident. The first time exerciser starts to see results that they have never seen before and don't realize that back to back spin classes or three hours of martial arts or daily 15 mile runs is just too many. In this case a little education goes along way. But if you know someone who is experiencing any of the above symptoms you may want to engage some professional help.
I know that I am border line and could fall into the over exercise category quite easily. Thankfully, I have a wonderful support system.