I have been thinking about this topic for a little while and I know that when that happens I should write about it.
People often joke and say that they are “addicted to the gym.” For me, this isn’t really a joke. As an addict, I can very easily take something to the extreme and abuse it. I have done this with exercise on more than one occasion in my life. So what I have been wondering is am I purposely making it less of a priority because of my fear that I will abuse it again?
I have abused exercise both while I was using and after I got clean. Both times my motivation was to improve the external in order to make the internal feel better. I have learned that that is not the answer to self acceptance and self esteem. In fact, it was during those times that I actually felt the worst about myself on the inside. If I prettied up the outside, though, you would never know.
It has taken a lot of work to break those patterns and I would like to think that they won’t happen again now that I am aware of them. That is not a guarantee, however, and I think I may be holding myself back because of that fear. I exercise about 3 times a week because I feel like it is a good middle ground. When I consider increasing the amount of exercise I do, I question what my motivation is for doing it. The aesthetic part is a bonus, but I can say today that it is not the sole reason that I go anymore.
I enjoy running for it’s meditative aspects and the relationship I can have with myself and with nature. I enjoy strength training because I like to feel strong and capable. I enjoy the thought of improving my body from the inside out. I don’t constantly obsess over the next time I will go or if I did “enough” or how many calories I’ve burned. I don’t wake up and inspect myself in the mirror every morning as if whatever I did the day before had magically turned my body to what I wanted it to be.
I enjoy writing things like this because it is a way to work out how I feel about something. Often I will start confused and will come to a conclusion by the end. I like to have my readers be a part of that journey because I don’t only want to share the good things in life. I feel that I can come across insincere and disingenuous by sharing so one dimensionally (I don’t think that’s a word but I just created it).
So in conclusion, I do think that I haven’t put the extra effort into exercising more because of that fear that I could end up abusing it again. Drugs and alcohol are easier (not for everyone) to give up because there is no NEED to ingest them. Exercise and food are a different story because they are essential to living a healthy lifestyle. If I were to drink or use again, I can tell you that I would do so to the point of extreme detriment to myself and others. I do exercise, however, and it is possible for me to treat it the same way. The key for me is to always be vigilant about my motivations and frequency.
My lesson to myself today is that I don’t have to tell myself no if I feel like throwing in an extra workout sometime or run a few extra miles (when my knee is not rudely complaining to me). As long as my reasons aren’t detrimental as they have been in the past, I’m going to sweat it out. Sometimes you just have to run!
Question of the day: What’s your take on being addicted to exercise? Have you ever had a problem with it?