In the realm of mental health issues linked to exercise, we often find these intricately woven with the fabric of eating disorders, disordered eating, and body dysmorphia. Anorexia athletica, a condition marked by compulsive exercise, sees individuals shaping their lives around workouts and consistently pushing their limits to maximize their time spent exercising. Then there's exercise bulimia, a disorder where frequent binge-eating episodes are followed by lengthy bouts of compensatory exercise.
Yet, nestled beyond the confines of these defined disorders lies a vast and intricate gray area of exercise behavior. This space, often slipping under the radar, is a domain that doesn't contribute to our mental or physical well-being. To explore whether your relationship with exercise might be tiptoeing into this unhealthy territory, here are some questions to ponder:
The common features we look for when assessing for exercise compulsivity include: exercise compulsion, preoccupation with exercise, social isolation due to exercise, lack of enjoyment of exercise, exercise rigidity, over focus on appearance-based exercise, manipulating food and exercise to control calories, guilt over missed workouts, anxiety and irritability around not being able to exercise, lack of rest between exercise sessions, exercising despite sickness or injury, and depression over performance.
Only you can know whether your perspective on exercise is healthy or not. Listening to your body is ultimately freeing and empowering, it can be tough to do when you’re used to pushing your body to its limits and ignoring your internal cues.
Within this conversation, I honor and recognize the autonomy we hold over our own bodies, granting us the power to discern what truly serves our well-being. However, if you find that exercise is becoming more of a source of challenges than solutions, it's an invitation to engage in some courageous self-reflection. Ask yourself those tough questions and be open to shifting your perspective – a transformative journey towards a healthier relationship with both your body and exercise awaits.