I freely admit to anyone that I have an addictive personality. If you know me you already know of my famous workaholic habits. Luckily for me, my family and friends, I have addressed my "challenging" addictions (over 20 years ago) and channelled them into "appropriate" addictions as well as striving for balance.
And yes, I am a long term recovering work-out addict who has learned to step away from the machines.
How did I do it? A combination of long term talk therapy, twelve step programs, meditation and lots of body work.
Like most addicts I come from a family of addictive personalities including a father who like me was a work-a-holic and a mother with a garden variety of eating disorders - which I also inherited. For many years I cycled through periods of anorexia, non-purging bulimia, compulsive eating and yes, exercise addiction.
It's a common occurrence for addicts to switch their addictions. An alcoholic might get sober but develop an addiction to nicotine, caffeine, food or other substances. A food addict might switch to exercise, people or work addiction.
My own workout addiction manifested into an every increasing manic workout schedule. It got pretty crazy but back then the cool rehab facilities like Mary Kate Olson signed into didn't exist. Thankfully 12 steps did and I managed to amass a drawer full of chips to help me overcome my primary addictions and serenity and balance.
Work Out Addiction Triggers
A lot of therapists believe exercise addition can be triggered due to low self esteem. Others believe it may be triggered through an eating disorder cycle, which was my case. Regardless, it is usually tied to some form of gratification such taking control or seeing body changes.
Some therapists believe that Type A, high-achieving perfectionists are more vulnerable to this addiction than others. Since I am a classic Type A, I was a perfect candidate.
One of the biggest issues with addiction of any kind is denial. Overcoming that and looking at your behavior is often the hardest step.
Are You Addicted To Working Out?
The first step towards dealing with any addiction is being willing to acknowledge your problem which the following list of questions may do for any potential workout addicts.
If you answer "Yes" to the majority of questions you may wish to discuss your workout program with a therapist.
1. Is working out the number one source of gratification in your life?2. Does working out allow you to disconnect from all of your life problems?
3. Do you get visibly agitated or upset if you are not allowed to workout for some reason?4. Are you constantly thinking about working out to the exclusion of other activities?
5. When you aren't working out do you spend your time talking about it, obsessing about it or researching it?5. Have friends or family members suggested you exercise too much or have they talked to you about having an unhealthy attachment to working out?
6. Do you feel you can't function properly unless you have worked out?7. Has excessive exercise resulted in health problems (sprains, strains or other workout related issues)?
8. Do you workout even if you are ill or injured?9. Have you developed a tolerance to exercise constantly needing more and more time at the health club to achieve the results you desire?
10. Is your work out regime ritualistic.
What To Do If You Think You Have An Exercise Addiction
If you answered Yes to the majority of the questions about you may want to consider seeking the help of a licensed therapist to help you evaluate your current exercise plan and determine if there is any type of addiction in play.
For more information consider the following links:
Exercise Addiction And Dependence
Mental Workout to Fight AddictionKnow the signs of unhealthy exercise addiction
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