Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fitness Obsession: Crossing the Line

I'd like to pose a question? At what point does being fit and in shape cross the line into the territory of unhealthy behavior? I see some people with very impressive physiques, but some of them spend so much energy on counting calories, working out, and obsessing over what they eat and how they look. Others are so into themselves that they are out of balance in other areas of their life.

Some people do things that are very unhealthy in an effort to improve their appearance like abusing steroids and drugs, starving themselves, or developing eating disorders. Years ago I overheard a body builder talking about how he was totally into the sport and how it consumed his life. He said he finally got to the point where he won a contest. He came home with the trophy and when he saw his wife and young son, he realized that he had been blowing his money on steroids and supplements and spending all day at the gym. He had been neglecting his family and focusing all of his efforts on himself. He said he gave up the competitive aspect of the sport that same day because he didn't like what he was turning into.

Maybe you don't abuse your body, but you just spend too much time working out. There are a few people I always see at the gym no matter when I go there. They must live there! Unless you are an employee of the gym or training for Mr. Olympia or the Olympics, you probably don't need to spend hours there every day. You can get a killer workout in half an hour.

Exercise is a healthy activity, but some people can get addicted to it. I don't think that I'm addicted to exercise, but there have been many times when I've gone to the gym to play basketball and I didn't have a lot of time so I'd tell myself I was just going to play for 30-40 minutes. Two and a half hours later I'd finally leave and would be angry with myself because I couldn't stop playing when I told myself I would. By the way, that's also a great recipe for getting yourself in the dog house.

I think exercise, proper nutrition, and being physically fit are crucial to one's quality of life, but there comes a point of diminishing returns. Training too much without scheduling time to rest can cause fatigue, burnout, and set you up for injury. Does your life evolve around the food you eat or a diet or any particular fitness philosophy? If you feel like your fitness quest has turned into an unhealthy obsession or if your life is out of balance, then it might be a good thing to take an inventory and see if you are really headed where you want to go.

Most Americans need to be pushed to get off their butts and do more for their health, but there are some out there who need to relax a little in order to overcome their obsession with fitness. Remember that physical fitness is only one aspect of overall good health.


Kelly said...

There is a woman in my neighborhood who we constantly see out walk/running. She is very very thin and looks like she will snap in half. I'm afraid she is overdoing it more than just a little bit. If she only knew how awful she really looks. It's sad.

Heather Kelley Pinegar said...

I would like to get to the point where I actually just want to exercise...over doing it will never be a problem for me.
I had a dentist once that was a marathon runner and we were talking on one of my visits and he said that he actually let running become so important in his life he literally lost his family to it (i am certain other elements played a part too) but he was at that time doing all he could to control his appetite to run and run and run and find other things in life that brought hiim the same joy....I have no idea what that would be like as I find no joy in exercise at this time.

Tom said...
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Anonymous said...

I liked your article. I believe balance is important to have in all aspects of life, physically, socially, spiritually. The challenge with getting older is trying to keep these things in balance and realizing that somethings just won't be the same and to accept that as we age. I for one like the challenge of trying to be smarter even though physically I can't play like I could when I was 18 years old. It is amazing how a team of 40 year old guys can beat a team of 20 year olds, by team play and just playing smart- Lynn

Jess @ Blonde Ponytail said...

Such a fine line, isn't there?! When working out begins to impact relationships, there appears to be a trend towards distruction.

Dave said...

This is always a tough one. A lot of people like to constantly improve their performance and often train too hard or too often. That's when it becomes unhealthy. However, people can't use fear of obsession as an excuse for not exercising or following a diet program.

Find a Fitness Trainer said...

The challenge with getting older is trying to keep these things in balance and realizing that somethings just won't be the same and to accept that as we age.