Finding yourself in a really bad mood after having to miss an exercise session or feeling that a missed workout will ruin your day completely could be a warning sign that things are starting to get a little out of hand. If you notice yourself feeling this way then it may be time to take a step back. It can be helpful for you to count things such as walking up the stairs at home or at work as part of your regime. This way, you can still feel like you have got the workout without going overboard.
We all have our priorities in life and most people’s top priority has usually to do with family or work but a person who has an exercise addiction will put workouts absolutely above everything else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a work appointment, social engagement or in severe cases even an emergency. If it can affect the workout schedule of an exercise addict, he will make excuses and try to avoid it at all costs. A person suffering from this addiction will also spend every spare minute he has exercising in some way or form. You may find them telling you that “things have been hectic”, they “never have a spare moment” or that they “have been rushed off their feet”. These are all excuses as they feel that any extra time should be spent working out in order for them to feel happy. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way and they tend to find that the more exercise and fitness activities they take part in, the more unhappy they feel.
Working Through The Pain
Excessive amounts of working out are not going to be good for the body and before long you will start to show signs of fatigue. Pain is often experienced in muscles and joints and this is a sign that you should be taking it easy. Most of us will take a couple of rest days if we feel this way. However, a person suffering from “exercise bulimia” will work through the pain often using it as an indication of triumph; the more pain the bigger the sense of achievement. Obviously, treating your body this way can many negative effects. It is not unheard of for a person to experience severe ligament injury or a stress fracture, yet they will not stop, finding any possible way to get in some of their workout.
Instead of boosting your energy level and leaving you with a fresh sense of accomplishment, over-exercise can start you down the dangerous path to injury and fatigue that can, in time, become a chronic condition.
Those are just 3 of the warning signs of a person developing an exercise disorder. It is actually more common than you might think although many people do not seek treatment so the exact numbers are hard to come by. Generally, an addiction such as this is caused by deep seated feelings of depression and sadness. Typically, a sufferer will have low self esteem and maybe has some weight-related issues or an eating disorder. Having excessive exercise is about gaining back some control in the same way that an addict may feel that certain other areas of his life is out of control.
Many people with an exercise problem do not seek treatment and in some cases it is not needed. It is just something that will go away on its own. However, in some cases, treatments, such as counseling sessions, anti-depressants, and even rehabilitation may be helpful. As there is often an underlying mental health condition which causes exercise bulimia, it is important to find the root cause of the problem. To do this, there needs to be a referral to a mental health specialist who can go through everything and find the right diagnosis and treatment. Recovery is not instant and can often take many months or years with relapses possible. While not as deadly it really can be very similar to a drug or alcohol addiction and as such should be treated the same way.
While people can be treated on an outpatient basis, inpatient treatment programs may be better. Inpatient treatment programs require patients to live at the facility while they are being treated. This allows the staff to monitor the patients and help them avoid engaging in the harmful behavior fueling the addiction.
Never look poorly on a person who has developed an addiction to exercise. It is not his fault and he should not be made to feel ashamed of it. Instead, you should offer support and advice. Let him know that you are there for him and will be there throughout the whole recovery period. It can be hard for anyone to see their loved one go through something like this and it is likely to put a strain on even the strongest of relationships but stay strong and you will get there in the end.