A Healthy Obsession

Would you know if you or someone in your life is actually addicted to working out?  I mean, what would the signs be? Believe it or not, you can Google it and find out the “Signs of Obsessed with Exercise.”   I find it kind of sad that this actually exists in the first place.  How the heck did we get to a place in our lives where being obsessed with being healthy is actually a thing??

I recall one of my first clients as a Personal Trainer was a woman who clearly wanted nothing to do with exercising.  She had weight loss goals yes but she wanted the quick fix.  This became obvious after just a few sessions with her.

But I remember one thing that she said that stuck with me and made me pause. “Look at all these people working out…look at them sweating and jogging and lifting weights.  Who would have thought we’d ever have to have gyms!  That people would actually want to come here and exercise!”

She seemed flabbergasted at the thought of working out…for fun!  I also remember a client of mind looked me right in the eye and said “Your job must be so boring!”  Ummm…gee thanks!  Almost like “Oh look at all of us having to do this to ourselves because we couldn’t put the Twinkie down.”  It did make me think for awhile.  Yes, we have come to a point in our lives on this planet that we make machines that help us run and walk and bike.  And we have classes that force us to move our butts because yes, we are a sedentary society.  This is our reality.

It’s a potato..on a couch…get it??

But when does it go overboard?  Is it really possible to become obsessed with being a healthy person?  Why yes! It is!  In fact the medical term for it is Orthorexia.

Wikipedia defines it as a term to describe “people who develop an obsession with avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthy.”

Basically, an unhealthy obsession to eat as healthy as possible.  Who knew this was even possible?  But it is.  I would lecture to groups of women and men at my former place of employment and I’d get all kinds of questions about food and health.  People were OBSESSED with finding out how they could eat right and would get very animated and almost aggressive as they begged to find out what was right.

“What’s better, eggs or just egg whites?  What do you mean Egg beaters aren’t so great? Wait, I thought Soy Milk was good for me? What do you mean I shouldn’t drink it?”  

I literally would have to calm people down and say “It’s so simple…just eat what is whole and natural! Don’t eat anything with a barcode and you’ll be all good!”  But no one wants the easy answer.  They almost WANTED to make it complicated.  Like, that’s too easy of an answer.  It couldn’t possibly be that simple.   Ummm guess what? It is.    It’s implementing it that’s the difficult part.

As for exercising, people can’t become addicted to exercise right?   If they do, is that such a bad thing?

At least give the model 10 pound weights…geez.

Well, let me look at my own workout habits.  Am I addicted?  Here are some truths that I think could be seen as an “Exercise-aholic.”

  • I have been known to turn down social activities opting to go to the gym. I’m really broke and my membership is paid for already so I’m just trying to get my money’s worth!
  • I have also worked out while I’ve been slightly under the weather.  But working up a sweat helps, I swear!  I’m getting the toxins out!
  • I have stayed at the gym until my heart rate monitor read “1,000 calories burned” just so I could see that number.  It took me over 2 hours.  Was it worth it?  Ummmm duh!  Of course it was!!  Besides, I had nothing going on that day so who does it harm?
  • I planned my very short trip to Chicago this Christmas and have already gotten my 2 day pass to one of the gyms closest to where I’m staying.  I even contacted them to see what time they open on the 26th….of DECEMBER.  Well…you know that’s just called being super organized.  Or planning…super planning. Something like that.  

Okay I might be a tad obsessed.  But it’s not like I’ve skipped family gatherings or cut out of work early to get my workout on.  (Well, yes I work at a gym, but that’s just convenience).

My point is that it seems the ones that are obsessed with working out, aren’t the ones that SHOULD be obsessed.  Why do some of us live for working up a sweat on the stairmaster while others LOATHE the gym itself and won’t do anything that remotely resembles physical activity?

No really I’m looking for an answer, I actually don’t know the answer to this question.

Chime in in the comments section, I eagerly await your insight! 🙂



6 thoughts on “A Healthy Obsession

  1. I most def do not have that disorder!! Lol!! My mother is a very physically active, fit woman so I don’t know why she loves working out and I don’t. I think most people don’t give themselves a chance to get to the point where they enjoy it. I have to get used to the work outs, then think about it positively in order to enjoy it. Most think its a chore, therefore unpleasant and painful. We just need to make up our minds to see it differently I guess.

    Love the couch potato btw, cute!

    • That’s a good point~ I know alot of people think I’m nuts for working out so much but I truly do enjoy it…maybe they just haven’t found that enjoyment part yet. I always used to hear from consultations “Once I start seeing results, then I’ll get here more and I’ll become addicted.” Guess what; most of those peeps never came back. They really never gave it a fair shot. But you’re right for the most part I think people WANT to love it and once they see it as something to be enjoyed as a positive experience and not a painful, arduous (sp?) task, then perhaps they are more likely to do it more and see results and hence, love the process of seeing their body change. Hmmm….

  2. I think it’s just a matter of everyone being “addicted to” that escape–whatever that escape from stress, daily life may be! And what one person enjoys isn’t what another will like–I mean, just among gym people, look at cardio vs. weights! I hate cardio, but I know others live to run miles and miles. And others may like video games and not understand loving the gym at all–while video games just make my head hurt. We all have our obsessions and interests, and, as long as we don’t go overboard with them (yes, that definitely happens in the fitness community), that’s what being an individual is all about!

  3. Michelle, I’m not yet at the “obsession” or “addiction” stage, but my motivation to work out has shifted from extrinsic (my wife said to me “we are joining a gym, and you are going to work out”) to intrinsic (my weeks do not feel proper if I do not visit the gym, I am VERY conscious of what I eat and can notice the effects daily, I enjoy the fact that I can do more reps with more weight than before). I see (or at least FEEL) results because from practice I am now attuned to them.

    I think this obsession may simply be the natural shift from unconscious incompetence through conscious incompetence, on to conscious competence and finally unconscious competence. The normal development of a good habit.

    Oh, and btw I love what you are doing here! Lina and I are excited for you!

    • Awww I miss you guys!! I like how you defined your motivation going from extrinsic to intrinsic. Very insightful. I must say the responses are really making me look at this topic in a whole new light. By the way, kind of along the same lines, your unconscious comment made me think of something I used to tell a former client: It’s a matter of being constantly conscious of what you’re eating (as far as dieting). She gave me a look that said “You just blew my mind!” But I like you’re Unconscious Competence term better so I’m probably going to steal that. ha! 🙂

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