Exercise is probably one of the most important things you can do to keep your body healthy. It builds endurance, strengthens your heart, keeps your weight in check, builds lean muscles, and boosts healthy cholesterol levels. It is so highly encouraged by doctors, dietitians, and other health professionals, that it is hard to diagnose when someone is exercising TOO much.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, each year up to 11 million Americans suffer from an eating disorder. Today, the new emerging eating disorder concept among physicians and dietitians is termed exercise bulimia.
While we may all be familiar with bulimia, a form of eating disorder that involves a binge/purge cycle through vomiting, exercise bulimia is slightly different.
Exercise bulimia is a similar concept, but instead of vomiting as a purge, one will exercise excessive and compulsively. Exercise bulimia is a condition not to be taken lightly. It can lead to serious health consequences; fatigue, depression, anxiety, reproductive problems, amenorrhea, arthritis, stress fractures, sprains, dehydration, and bone loss. Also, if you are not providing your body with adequate nutrition, it can lead to heart failure.
Unfortunately, this form of mental disorder often goes unnoticed because exercise is so highly acclaimed amongst our society. A person is often praised for their excessive exercise efforts and typically the object of envy among family and friends.
I decided to bring this topic up today, not only because I have suffered from this disorder myself, but because I have noticed certain bloggers who may be suffering as well. With so many people blogging about their daily marathon runs and morning and evening workout routines, there are influential readers who may begin to feel their own personal work out effort is inferior. Mimicking their favorite blogger’s exercise routines could soon bring on the disorder in the reader as well. I began feeling this way myself and decided it was healthier for me to stop reading blogs who solely discussed their personal eating and exercise habits. I did not need the comparisons. I found bloggers who promoted healthy body image and wrote about important nutritional topics: Tina from Faith, Fitness, and Fun, Laury from The Fitness Dish, and Nichole from Live For the Run (just to name a few)!!!
So, in light of this information, I wanted to share some signs that may indicate you or someone you know, may be suffering from exercise bulimia.
- Afraid to skip a workout with fear of gaining weight or losing physical fitness.
- Exercising day after day with no rest days.
- Missing work, parties, or other social activities in order to workout.
- Exercising for multiple hours each day: how many bloggers run 13 + miles daily and blog about how great it is? Is this really normal?
- Working out even when injured or feeling sick.
- Guilt when forced to stray from usual workout routine.
- Having the urge to workout after each meal in order to burn off those calories.
- Intense fear at states of rest.
- Feeling depressed when unable to work out.
- Refusal to eat if unable to exercise.
If these signs seem familiar to you, ask yourself:
- Am I really happy?
- Is all the exercise I am getting really benefiting my body?
- Do I really want to skip dinner with my girl friends so I can be alone at the gym?
- What else am I neglecting so that I can get 2-3 hours of exercise in daily?
When you begin allowing exercise to disproportionately occupy time and space throughout your day, you are probably suffering the consequences of exercising too much.
While it is true that regular exercise is a key component of health, it is important to distinguish the motivation behind the drive to work out. There is so much more to life than being a slave to your heart rate monitor! Exercise because it makes you feel GOOD and look for activities that you enjoy! Exercise should make you feel alive and limber, not achy, painful, guilty, or depressed. Being healthy is about loving who you are and caring and nourishing your body. Punishing it is detrimental to your mind, body, and soul.
Like other eating disorders, there are other psychological and emotional elements that are feeding the condition. For more information and resources visit: www.nationaleatingdisorders.org
Question: Have you ever felt your workouts were inferior compared to other bloggers?Print