According to the American Running Association, the slide from commitment to compulsion can be slow, but one of the first signs is when exercising wins out over sharing time with family, work, interacting with others, or just plain resting and sleeping. The exercise addict does not acknowledge injury from workouts, and fatigue from pushing their bodies beyond what is healthy. In truth they are no longer exercising for health, but for the “fix” they get when they exercise. For them there is no benchmark or goal that is reached, the only motivator for them is the word “more”. In true addictive behavior, they overlook the warning signs their bodies are giving them; they become irritable and anxious, suspicious that someone will interfere and pull them away from the source of their fleeting but consuming satisfaction. There is denial about the reasons why they are really exercising. There is a total blind spot about how unbalanced their lifestyle has become even though they are engaged in what is supposed to be such a “healthy habit”.
If you recognize yourself in this brief description, especially if you then deny that it applies to you, go through the following checklist developed by Dr. Sharon Stoliaroff. Honesty is key when reviewing this list, and if you answer yes to three or more of these scenarios, then your next move should be to seek a qualified mental health practitioner to help you restore balance to your life. Hypnosis as an adjunct to therapy can provide stress relief, and aid in maintaining an accurate perspective on just how much exercise you truly need.
- I have missed important social obligations and family events in order to exercise.
- I have given up other interests, including time with friends, in order to make more time to work out.
- Missing a workout makes me irritable and depressed.
- I only feel content when I am exercising or within the hour after exercising.
- I like exercise better than sex, good food, or a movie -- in fact there's almost nothing I'd rather do.
- I work out even if I'm sick, injured, or exhausted. I'll feel better when I get moving anyway.
- In addition to my regular schedule, I'll exercise more if I find extra time.
- Family and friends have told me I'm too involved in exercise.
- I have a history (or a family history) of anxiety or depression.
Volume 18, Number 6, Running & FitNews. The American Running Association