When most people hear the word addiction, one of two things automatically spring to mind: drugs or alcohol. It’s easy to associate the word addiction with a substance because when we look at the top most common addictions, both drugs and alcohol rank quite high up in the echelon.
Due to the high-tech age we are currently living in, social media addiction would probably cross your mind also. As would gambling, sex, food, the list goes on really. But very much to my surprise, only a small pocket of society would even think of the prospect of exercise addiction.
I personally find it quite troubling because as a regular gym goer, I see the same faces time after time working their absolute socks off on the gym floor to achieve their fitness goals. It often makes me question whether they too are like me, and get agitated if for some reason they miss a workout.
So I’ve decided to compile a list of some indicators that you may be addicted to exercise and going to the gym.
1. You feel like it’s never enough
No matter how intense your workout is or what milestone you hit, you never feel fully satisfied. You always crave more and you’re always hungry for more. Even seconds after completing an intense workout you are already thinking about your next one – you just feel like it’s never enough!
Solution: Your body eventually adapts to the pressure you put on it, so that desired feeling you are searching for may be unattainable. Instead of using your feelings to measure your success, measure your progress by looking at the numbers – can you carry more weights then this time last month? Can you do more cardio now? etc…
2. You’re guilt-ridden after eating ‘bad foods’
Consuming something as little as a bar of chocolate triggers waves of guilt because you feel as though you are cheating on the gym, your diet and your workout. As a result, you end up over-training in your next session, exercising longer and harder, yet still beating yourself up over spilled milk (or spilled frappe!)
Solution: Prescribe times during the week for when you’ll allow yourself to have a cheat treat so this way you will avoid ‘falling off track.’ If going back to processed junk is a complete no for you, then why not try making your own? I have loads of recipes here.
3. You exercise more than once a day
Asking the trainers at your gym for a weigh in and measurements every two weeks is slightly obsessive for a non athlete, since exercising isn’t something that you are being paid to do. This is probably one of the biggest tell-tale signs that you may have an addiction to working out, especially if your personal relationships are suffering from it.
Solution: Spending excessive hours in the day exercising with no rest is actually more counterproductive than you think, your body needs to recover in order for you to build muscle and have the strength that is required for you to go that extra mile during your next workout.
4. You suffer from withdrawal symptoms
You’re either at the gym or thinking about the gym. You invest so much time and energy into getting a workout done – even when you’re exhausted – that going a few days without exercise makes you agitated, moody and incredibly tense. Such extreme reactions from a lack of exercise can indicate that your body is hooked on that euphoric feeling that comes from high levels of physical activity.
Solution: Find a hobby that will not require you to move physically in order to feel accomplished or satisfied with yourself. Creative activities such as baking or writing might help keep your anxiety at bay.
5. Your social life is suffering
Your gym schedule in causing you to miss out on social gatherings and even when you do get the chance to have a human interaction with someone who isn’t part of your gym life, you find a way to turn it down because you’d rather spend the evening using the row machine than talking to actual living people outside of the gym.
Solution: Your mind and body need a break from all the hours you put into the gym. Balance and moderation is key in life. Taking some time out to spend with your loved ones will not only be good for your body, but it will give you the peace of mind you didn’t even know you needed.
While there are other behaviours that may indicate a definite addiction to exercise, I can say from experience that if you are exhibiting even one of these symptoms, then it is time to re-evaluate things.
Only a mental health care provider can truly tell you whether or you have an addiction, but these habits are still pretty self-destructive and could have some damaging effects in the long run.
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