"Mental Health" Monday

Let’s Talk About It: Exercise Addiction

Workout is over

We’ve all probably heard the saying “too much of anything is a bad thing,” but does that really apply to everything? Can something like exercise fit into such a category? With the United States ranked as the most obese country in North America  it seems hard to believe that anyone goes to such extremes to exercise and workout, to the point where it is an addiction, when many of us can’t even motivate ourselves to get to the gym regularly. However, exercise addiction is a prevalent issue among avid gym-goers.

Although not classified as a DSM-5 disorder, exercise addiction goes hand-in-hand with many common classified disorders. The comfort in the habit can have the ability to transition to compulsive behavior when the desire for results outweighs the enjoyment of the actual activity.

Let’s Talk About It

I don’t mean to say that anyone who goes to the gym on a regular basis has a problem – really the opposite – more power to you if you’ve gotten into a routine of living a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Then again, there is a fine line where the balance may fall more heavily to one side of the scale and the negative effects that come with it, especially if one is trying to achieve weight loss through exercising. Living a balanced life doesn’t necessarily mean there should be an overcompensation in one area when there’s a lack in another. Just as much as exercise is an important factor in keeping this balance, proper nutrition and adequate amounts of rest also aid in achieving the results you want to see in a healthy and regulated way. Which means that sometimes, it IS better to take a nap, or even lay in your bed and watch netflix instead of trying to squeeze a workout in when your body is telling you not to.

Know When It’s Too Much

If you find yourself prioritizing your workouts over your downtime and even over your school work,  recognize that it may be time to re-prioritize. If you find yourself feeling fatigued, overly agitated, or more tense because you didn’t get to the gym, you may be experiencing a degree of withdrawal. It’s true working out is an excellent way to combat stress in your daily life because working out releases endorphins, that help you relax.  However, without the “high” many experience after completing a workout, leaving a sense of refreshment and rejuvenation, irritability can quickly replace what was once a good mood. If you define your happiness on the physical results you strive to attain, stop. There’s a lot more to who you are than how you look to other people. Workout for yourself, because it makes you feel good, not because it’ll make you look better to someone else.

Find Your Balance, and Listen to Your Instincts

Listen to your body. If it’s telling you to take a break, do it. Scheduling regular rest days not only aids in the repair of the muscles you’re working hard,  but will also help you reach your goals faster than pushing yourself beyond realistic limits. Be good to yourself! Eat the chocolate and get fries on the side because you do deserve it every once in awhile, find balance in learning to treat yourself while working towards realistic goals you set for yourself. Yes, having a plan for exactly how you want to achieve such goals is a good way of keeping on track and staying organized, but nothing in life is certain. Learn how to adjust to the challenges you may face along the way and know that one day, you’ll get there.

By: Nadine Ghantous