Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Ritual

Exercise hasn't always been tainted by anorexia-fueled motivations for me. I was always an active kid; I played a ton of sports, primarily soccer and lacrosse. In high school, I got hooked on cross country and track, and now long-distance running is still my exercise of choice. I get really antsy after sitting still for too long on any given day, regardless of what my eating habits were like on said day. I genuinely believe that I need a daily (or almost daily) sweat-sesh to maintain a happy, productive, sane state of mind.

THAT BEING SAID... I'm having a bit of a problem. Lately, my workouts aren't excessive, per se, but they aren't exactly healthy either. I don't spend insane amounts of time at the gym, but I go every. single. day. At the exact same time, too. The gym employees could set their clocks by me. I rearrange my schedule to accomodate my exercise time. I freak out if something gets changed, and I immediately go into damage-control mode to make up for the moved/shortened/altered workout.

I have gone through periods of working out much, much, much more than I do now. Over the summer, it was bordering on the extreme (although I was eating much more then, too). But that's not really the problem anymore. Recently, it's just been all about the ritual. Wake up. Drink coffee. Work out. Shower. Start day.

I feel like I can't miss a workout or everything would collapse. Actually, I don't think much about what would happen, because I wouldn't even consider skipping a workout. It isn't a decision anymore. It just happens. It's just what I do.

I'm not sure what my rationale is, either, because I don't pay attention to the calories I burn or adjust my intake based on expenditure. (Still wary of the BMR issue.) It just doesn't connect in my head. There's a vague sense of Maybe I should eat a little less since my run was a little shorter today, but I don't do any calculations or anything. My thinking is more like: I will feel so gross and lazy and awful if I don't work out today, so why skip it? What is so special about today that should merit a day off?

I feel like I wouldn't be able to function after skipping the gym because I'd be so preoccupied by guilt and disgust with myself. Even knowing that one day off wouldn't affect my weight, and that it would in fact probably be beneficial to give my muscles a break, I just can't justify it. So I guess I'm more scared of feeling fat than actually getting fat?

Yet again, my brain's lack of logic astounds me.


  1. i totally know what you mean. but taking a day off really is good! it took me a long long longgg time to figure out that exercise does not have to be the center of my life. not gonna lie, there are still days that i struggle with this but it's better now

  2. I feel like I say this on too many of your posts, but definitely feel you on this issue. Once my gym sent a police officer to my house to check on me when I went more than 2 days in a row without coming to work out, because I was usually so obsessively consistent. The reason to be concerned if your exercise is rigid but not technically excessive is that it's *really* easy for it to become a problem again if you have a hard time doing less than the norm, since the norm can be so easily inflated if you go through a stressful time, a break where you have more free time than usual, etc.

    You also hit on an issue I think is often overlooked: exercise isn't always all about burning calories, a lot of times it's a bit of an endorphin addiction or just obsessive compulsive type thing (not diagnosing you with either one of course!). It does serve an anti-anxiety function; but it gets dangerous when it becomes ritualized to the point that other things are planned around it or sacrificed for it instead of vice versa.

    What has your new treatment team had to say about this issue?