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Addicted to Exercise?

Good afternoon! My attempts at doing homework today have been a large fail. After lunch, I drove my car to my favorite location to do work, Barnes and Noble, and managed to take fall asleep in my car for a half hour before waking up to the sound of someone’s car alarm going off next to me.

I have finally moved my bum into Barnes and Noble to do work, but I am writing this post instead because it is a topic that I need to talk about, especially after I am feeling today! This is my story of compulsive exercising and is on my mind right now. I am taking a “rest” from working out today and I am flooded with anxiety.

I like to think of myself as an athlete. What defines someone as an “athlete” depends on the opinion of the person you are asking. I consider myself one because I work very hard to stay in shape, usually have a specific fitness goal in mind, and participate in running races and triathlons to prove the physical ability I have worked so hard to attain.

There are days that training is exhausting. Tempo runs and interval work, difficult strength training day, and even those that are both mentally and physically tiring because your mind is simply not into the workout and need to recover. These are the days where listening to your body is vital, it asking you to take a break. Recovery and rest days are the major component to a successful, healthy performance.

During recovery, our bodies replenish energy stores and repair tissues that have been damaged during physical activity. This is how muscles are built up and toned, and how a person’s endurance is improved. Without sufficient time to repair, the body will continue to breakdown from intensive exercise and can lead you very susceptible to injuries. This seems pretty obvious; if you feel a twinge of pain in your knee and continue to run on it, the pain will get much worse and could leave you with an even worse injury.

It doesn’t matter if you are a professional athlete, a person who workouts out every so often, a casual runner with no specific goal in mind, everyone needs to rest once in awhile! Makes sense right? Well, I need to listen to my own preaching on this!

This morning I woke up around 9:15 after getting about 10 glorious hours of sleep. After that amount of time I should have felt refreshed and roaring to get my day started. Instead, my alarm went off and I felt as I often do, sleepy and my whole body is exhausted from the workout the day before. Despite this physical feeling, I did my usual routine of coffee and breakfast and was getting ready for a run. Knowing the importance of a rest day and fighting against my own thoughts, allowed me to realize how much I didn’t want to run. It would have been “junk” miles, a distance pounded out with no benefit physically or mentally. I texted my friend Danielle instead and we went for an “easy” walk, which turned out to be 5 miles up and down hills. This is what I consider a rest day.

Getting what I consider to be enough exercise is something I achieve most days of the week. In my crazy mind, doing some kind of physical work for at least 60 minutes is necessary and 80 minutes is even better. Sometimes I will do a combination of things to meet this time criteria, running, spinning, elliptical, plyometrics, strength training, fitness classes, etc. For example during cross-country season, I would do about 40-50 minutes on the elliptical in the morning, and then practice later that day.

I have felt that it is no longer a choice, but an obligation. What is the fear behind this? Gaining weight of course! Without this exhausting amount of hard-core exercise every day, I will balloon, and lose everything I have worked so hard to achieve! For example, during last summer, the peak of my disordered eating, it was easy to mask my long runs, and two-a-day workouts with the excuse that I was training for the upcoming cross-country season. Although partly true, I was trying to keep my weight down/lose some. Here is the irrational side of my brain taking over the part I know that is not true. I have become addicted to exercise and become very anxious, uncomfortable and upset if I do not complete the “necessary” amount of exercise per day, at least 60 minutes of strenuous activity.

I know I meet the criteria of a compulsive exerciser, someone who feels they need exercise to maintain a peace of mind.

Warning Signs of a Compulsive Exerciser (Source)

  • You force yourself to exercise even if you don’t feel well- Check.
  • You almost never exercise for fun- Check.
  • Every time you exercise, you go as fast or hard as you can- Check.
  • You experience severe stress and anxiety if you miss a workout- Check.
  • You miss family obligations because you have to exercise- Check.
  • You calculate how much to exercise based on how much you eat- Check.
  • You can’t relax because you think you’re not burning calories- Check.
  • You worry that you’ll gain weight if you skip exercising for one day- Check!

Back to this morning, I took a 5-mile walk with my friend and was earlier contemplating going to the gym because I didn’t think a walk was enough. It is and it was a fabulous walk with my friend! But I can honestly say I cannot remember the last time I have not exercised, but it’s been YEARS.

Realizing how compulsive/messed up this is, I have forced myself to do no more activity the rest of the day. However, now the thoughts that I don’t need to eat as much food are creeping in. I mean why not just restrict a bit, then I will feel better, some of the suffocating exhausting will lessen. I mean obviously if I eat the same way as other days, I will gain weight. NO, this is not true! I must fight this, as backing off once in a while is NECESSARY. I need to scream this to myself to get it through my sometimes-thick head!

So how can I recover from this? It is a process, and “practicing what I preach” is certainly necessary. If I want to be the best athlete I can be, I need to rest, but can this be done with the suffocating anxiety that comes along with it?

One thing during the walk that did brighten my day was the first flowers I have seen of the season! Warm weather is on it’s way 🙂

I would love to hear suggestions, hints, and help from anyone on this subject! Can people relate, or perhaps once were able to?

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>Crazy Saturday!

>Today was a umm…interesting day!
Because St. Patrick’s Day usually occurs when our school is on spring break, UMASS has developed a tradition of opening the bars uptown at 9am, and yes thousands of students attend! You have to be 21 though, which does keep the crowds somewhat down.

Now, I am really not a big drinker. I think a lot of it stems from wanting to “save” my calories for food, rather than wasting it on alcohol, but usually don’t like the way it makes me feel, act, and so on. However, I thrive on routine and order, yet challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone as often as I can, and I took this day to do just that!

Breakfast Item: Cinnamon rolls with green icing, nom?!

At 9 am this morning, I went to a friends house meet up, have St. Patty’s day related food
first then head to the bars uptown. I could not bring myself to start drinking until at least 11 am, 9 is just too darn early! Once we arrived in town via bus, it turned out to be a great time! It was nice spending time with people I do not normally hang out with, and to be part of a social event that is oh-so-college :p

Although I do have a few close friends, I much too often prefer spending time on my own. It is comfortable when I can do my own thing, but still know the importance of keeping friendships. I am sick of being the fact that I prefer to spend the majority of my time alone, and hope this changes as I bust of my comfort zone more often!
Did anyone else do anything of interest today? Please share!

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>Direction of the Blog

>I have so many ideas for this blog, yet am unsure of the exact direction I hope to go in!

Some things that you will be seeing:
1) I will be posting my daily life on occasion, the whole routine, so you can see a typical day of a college student!
2) Although I struggle with disordered eating, I still know how to stay healthy and fit in college. So I will be offering my own personal experiences, tips/tricks for eating in the dining halls and other areas of campus, how to get pumped for exercising and making it part of your routine, and how to enjoy a social life while still maintaining health. This is all while keeping grades up!
3) RA Chronicles- I am a resident adviser living in a first-year hall and have so many stories to tell, it can be alarming at times! My residents never cease to amaze me.
4) Reviews of products I personally I love and use on a daily products, ranging from food, running gear, clothing, among other utilities
5) Race recaps, running tips and other races I plan to compete in this upcoming spring and summer.
6) Training logs- my workouts and track/running workouts I do with my team.
7) My journey toward recovery and how I am making changes to better myself on a daily basis and finally obtain a peace of mind
8) Current Public Health issues, it’s my major!
9) At this point I don’t think this is going to be a strict “food blog” but I will be photographing and publishing some of my daily eats
10) Recipes that I have personally created, and others I have found that have turned out delicious!

Is there anything else people would like to see? I am a college student that is ready to answer any questions or share any stories that people would like to hear or know about.

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>My major- Public Health

>Hello readers!

I wanted to give a better explanation of my major at school and why I chose to invest in this route. As mentioned in my “about me” page, I have serious interest in all things related to nutrition, fitness, and general well-being. This not only includes the physical aspects, but the mental part as well.

I also discuss in my “about me” page, is the fact that I am recovering from years of obsessive, disordered eating habits that have seriously corrupted my life. I am willing to be public about this because I feel dicussing and sharing it with others is another part of the healing process. If anyone is reading this, I would love to hear if you are struggling with possible eating issues as well! I am going to dedicate another post to how this issue developed and the ways I am working through it.

I am mentioning the disordered eating now because it has a lot to do with my passion for Public Health. As much as I would like to claim I above media influence, it is say to say magazines, shows, pictures, etc, have a lot to do with why I have irrational thoughts concerning eating, fitness and my body. I do understand that these photos are often quite photo shopped, yet there is still some part of me that works toward looking like them. I’m talkin Victoria’s Secret models here, just got the bathing suit issue in the mail, curses!

In addition, even health magazines that promote “women power,” can be triggering- Shape, Women’s Fitness, Self, that have monthly articles claiming the best diet ever, the fastest way to drop pounds, fitness and workout tips to mold your body into something a man would love to see, and so many more.

Public Health is a broad subject and along with focusing on nutrition, I am also studying advertising and how it influences decisions and behaviors we partake in. I am taking a few communication classes right now that have certainly opened my eyes to the power of advertising. On this blog, I plan to bring post articles involving advertising, and other Public Health issues every so often. I hope they will be interesting enough to discuss!

Question for anyone reading this, even if you feel you are above media influence, do you think there is even a small part of you that reads certain articles, sees pictures, etc, that play a role in behaviors you make?

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>First Post!

>Woo, my first post! This is very exciting as I have been debating starting a blog for a very long time. I have been reading healthy living blogs for quite some time now, and they continue to inspire me each and every day. These blogs have become part of my daily life, as I look forward to reading their posts that offer tips, daily life activities, meals, recipes, exercises, among so many other topics.
I hope to become part of the blogging community by sharing my daily life, which involves balancing classes, my RA job, a varsity sport, other fitness, and a social life, all while battling internal struggles, and making my journey to a full recovery.

Even though I am in college, I am unusual in the fact that I love going to sleep early and getting before the rest of campus does. So you may be wondering why I am writing this post at almost 1 am? Well I am a resident adviser for first-year students, and part of the job requires being “on-duty” until 2 am on weekends. This basically entails making sure no one that is living in the building is hurt, too intoxicated, or in a dangerous situation. And let me tell you, this job has its moments, ones I am looking forward to sharing as this blog gets underway! Get Pumped 🙂

For example, my co-worker and I found that a resident was growing marijuna in their room. Delightful. I am sure I will come across other wonderful things, the night is still young!

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