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Exercise addiction

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 03, 2011 at 3:48 AM

What are your experiences with exercise addiction and how has the paleo lifestyle made an impact?

7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on August 04, 2011
at 02:42 AM

I'm really not sure and obviously I'm not expert, but just from my experience, it was the ridiculous anxiety and panic that came from not fulfilling the compulsion that led to the feeling of "not being in control" rather than the other way around. But who knows how these things work. Either way I'm just happy that things are much better now :)

9adbf19e76ac38da796f29302c4be90a

(209)

on August 03, 2011
at 09:56 PM

I am sorry your had this issue and am happy things are better. My point above is that compulsion is related to control, specifically the lack of it. So I must disagree

7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on August 03, 2011
at 04:29 PM

yeah it's crazy. it's even worse because doing huge amounts of exercise is pretty much ubiquitously considered a positive thing by other people. that didn't help.

1f8384be58052b6b96f476e475abdc74

(2231)

on August 03, 2011
at 03:40 PM

i have been there exactly, and would offer the same advice, especially about forcibly spending time with family. the anxiety is ridiculous, gee i was a mental nutjob when i had to give up exercise

9adbf19e76ac38da796f29302c4be90a

(209)

on August 03, 2011
at 03:36 PM

http://addictions.about.com/od/lesserknownaddictions/a/exerciseadd.htm snip- A central function of exercise addiction is the sense of control -– over mood, the body, the environment -- that exercise provides. It also provides a sense of structure. Ironically, as with other addictions, the attempt to exert control eventually leads to a loss of control over the ability to balance the activity with other priorities in life.

7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on August 03, 2011
at 02:53 PM

I used to have this problem (much better now, I guess it's not fully gone but whatever) and control had nothing do to with it at all. It was just a compulsive need to move, and extreme anxiety if I had to deviate from my normal exercise routine. Kind of an OCD type thing, not a conscious decision on my part.

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6 Answers

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7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on August 03, 2011
at 03:07 PM

I'm a little nervous about posting this but: in high school I was doing a level of exercise that I guess was excessive (hours each day) and compulsive, because I felt I HAD to do it, wouldn't skip even if I was sick or in pain, and always did the same thing. I do genuinely enjoy pushing myself and being active but this was different. I didn't discover Paleo until later so that's not what helped me get it under control. What did was:

  • Being forcibly put in situations where I couldn't adhere to my regular routine (i.e. staying with family for 3 weeks, no way to spend 3 hours at the gym and 2 hours walking because they'd ask where the hell I was. No way to exercise in my room because I had to spend time with them.)

  • Enduring the incredible anxiety because I had no choice, and realising the world wouldn't end if I had to skip exercise for a day.

  • The end of high school sports, so there was no longer the excuse for me of "I have to go to every single coaching session ever or the coach will flip out at me"

  • Working a very physical job. Full time work= no time for 5 hours of exercise each day. Spending 10 hours on my feet rushing around a busy restaurant kitchen, lifting things and running up and down stairs= genuinely having no energy for 5 hours of exercise a day.

It was hard at first to stop thinking "I'm lazy" due to the reduced exercise but now I feel much better...and ironically, my body looks much better. Plus I no longer wake up in the morning feeling 1000 years old when I'm 18. It was worth the anxiety it took to break the routine of overexercise.

I still exercise every day and am active all day but the compulsiveness is gone and my life is so much better for it. If I'm really tired or sick I'll take it easy and just go for a nice long walk. I don't freak out and do jumping jacks in the bathroom if I'm staying at someone's house and can't get to a gym or something. I'm not constantly fighting minor injuries, which I used to think was normal.

The one thing I'm really glad I learned from Paleo is the importance of walking and just being active in day to day life. That helped a lot because even though I did used to walk quite a bit, I always considered it a "worthless" activity compared to intense cardio or real sports training.

I wonder if there is a genetic component to this kind of behaviour too. My family is full of hyperactive/fidgety exercise freaks.

7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on August 03, 2011
at 04:29 PM

yeah it's crazy. it's even worse because doing huge amounts of exercise is pretty much ubiquitously considered a positive thing by other people. that didn't help.

1f8384be58052b6b96f476e475abdc74

(2231)

on August 03, 2011
at 03:40 PM

i have been there exactly, and would offer the same advice, especially about forcibly spending time with family. the anxiety is ridiculous, gee i was a mental nutjob when i had to give up exercise

1
171e412ea3d843bcc46e6509745e5431

on August 03, 2011
at 07:50 AM

It's only an issue if it causes you to train too frequently. If you don't rest long enough to allow recovery and overcompensation you will hinder your progress and eventually your health - which chronic overtraining can do. A structured consistent routine will allow you to monitor your progress (along with good record keeping!) and adapt your frequency accordingly.

1
1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on August 03, 2011
at 06:32 AM

Exercise addiction is real. It is not a bad thing unless you take it to extremes. I have learned to reduce the length of my workouts and raise the intensity of them.

0
22424c9eef944ade83d4e4ffda907056

(1402)

on August 03, 2011
at 05:17 PM

I went from sweating my weight in water every month to almost never sweating. I suppose I went from being addicted to cardio/exercising (sweating) to just being addicted to expending energy (not sweating for the most part). I used to spend 2 or 3 hours in the gym an average of 5 nights a week. It's hard to say what I did consistently because I was consistently so out of energy it was whether a Red Bull could get me going or not to determine if I'd work out every day (that's a slight exaggeration, but you get the point).

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 03, 2011
at 04:54 PM

This happened to me during basic training for the military: had to take a layoff for the first tiem in years. Haven't taken a layoff since(years ago). Twice per day weights, 1 hour of walking--6 months without a day off.

0
9adbf19e76ac38da796f29302c4be90a

on August 03, 2011
at 01:35 PM

I know that being 39 with a job and family makes it nearly impossible to be an exercise addict.

:)

My uneducated guess is that extreme exercisers probably have a need for extreme control....like extreme dieters do. I do not consider the paleo I practice to be an extreme diet but I suppose some people could take it down that path.

7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on August 03, 2011
at 02:53 PM

I used to have this problem (much better now, I guess it's not fully gone but whatever) and control had nothing do to with it at all. It was just a compulsive need to move, and extreme anxiety if I had to deviate from my normal exercise routine. Kind of an OCD type thing, not a conscious decision on my part.

9adbf19e76ac38da796f29302c4be90a

(209)

on August 03, 2011
at 03:36 PM

http://addictions.about.com/od/lesserknownaddictions/a/exerciseadd.htm snip- A central function of exercise addiction is the sense of control -– over mood, the body, the environment -- that exercise provides. It also provides a sense of structure. Ironically, as with other addictions, the attempt to exert control eventually leads to a loss of control over the ability to balance the activity with other priorities in life.

9adbf19e76ac38da796f29302c4be90a

(209)

on August 03, 2011
at 09:56 PM

I am sorry your had this issue and am happy things are better. My point above is that compulsion is related to control, specifically the lack of it. So I must disagree

7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on August 04, 2011
at 02:42 AM

I'm really not sure and obviously I'm not expert, but just from my experience, it was the ridiculous anxiety and panic that came from not fulfilling the compulsion that led to the feeling of "not being in control" rather than the other way around. But who knows how these things work. Either way I'm just happy that things are much better now :)

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