Tag Archives: Running

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?

11 Comments

Filed under Confession, Disorded Thoughts, Disordered Eating, Exercise, Friends, Recovery, Serious Stuff, Uncategorized, Weight

Summer Lovin

I wish I could say I am still up because I just returned after going out or something else of interest. However, my RA status requires me to be on duty tonight, but it’s always a great time to do homework, catch up on blogs, and relax. Looking at the positives! <– I just figured out how to do colors on WordPress, accomplishment for the night! 🙂 I am one of the most technically challenged people you will meet, so creating this website has been quite a struggle, a fun one though!

Since it SNOWED this morning,

I wanted to brighten up night by showing some pictures taken from last summer and reminding myself of all the things we have to look forward to with the warmer temps.

Pool shenanigans

Tubing and water skiing in the ocean

Rock jumping! (or at least thinking about it 🙂 )

Road races in shorts and tanks!

Relaxing on the beach with friends (I live right next to the ocean btw!)

Heart-pumping Triathlons

Intense Mud-Fun Races!

An entire summer to look forward to and embrace all the positive changes that will come with it!

What are you looking forward to this summer?

4 Comments

Filed under Running

Product Reviews and Below The Surface- Fear Food: Cereal

Good morning readers!

I got in a nice run this morning, it was about 6.3 miles at a 7:45 pace, which seems to be my usual pace for runs these days. It used to be around 8:30 so diligence towards the sport really shows how much it is possible to improve. I ended the run at the Rec Center where I took a core class for 35 minutes. I am definitely feeling the effects of the routine now, I really need to work on my core strength, which has been proven to make you faster and more efficient while running. Fit Sugar explains this idea really well, check it out!

After I got back I showered and had a quick breakfast before my first class at 11:15. I had a big bowl of cereal:

  • 1/2 cup Blueberry Muffin Mini Wheats= one of my all time favorite cereals. This is a new-ish discovery and it tastes like a delicious blueberry muffin in a crunchy, wheaty, sweet form…yum 🙂
  • 1/2 cup Quaker Oat Squares (Cinnamon)= also amazing! I first saw these from Allie’s Blog, and have seen them appear more and more across the Blog world. Another example of its crazy influence!
  • 1/2 cup Almond Milk
  • Trader Joe’s Berry Greek Yogurt= this was really tasty! I have tried several different types of Greek Yogurt and this has been deemed one of my new favorites. It was pretty think, not too sweet, with a subtle fruit taste, and not too much $$, always something to consider, as I am a bit poor at the moment.
  • A sprinkle of slivered almonds
  • Apple

After finishing this breakfast, it made me realize how much my eating and refueling has improved on my road to recovery, but also reminds me of foods I once truly feared and am working to incorporate them on daily basis.

There are several I can think of, today I will talk about cereal.

I used to be a cereal FANATIC. I literally loved every kind of sugary, fake kinds you could think of; Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cocoa Krispies, Frosted Flakes, Golden Grahams, Cap’n Crunch, Crunch Berries, oh my I could go on. I would have 2-3 bowls (not measured) every morning before school and then 1-2 when I got home and perhaps one for dinner 🙂

When I started Weight Watchers however, the point system helped to teach portion sizes and made me realize I was using about half of my daily points on cereal in the morning. Although portions are good to learn, WW once again made me obsessed with this and led to habit changes. I found healthier cereals, such as Fiber One, Kashi, and other Organic cereals, that I could have for much less points and were more satisfying. I eventually cut down to one, pre-measured bowl of cereal in the morning and none for the rest of the day.

As my obsession around WW, food and weight became more intense, I took a look at my breakfast and irrationality reared its ugly head. This small bowl of cereal was not satisfying me at all, leaving me hungry almost immediately after I had finished it. Instead of adding more cereal, healthy fats, or protein, I thought this food was just going to make me fat because it made me hungry. I then started to consume fruit for breakfast instead, as a way to fill me up for the lower calories (in my mind). Eventually I stopped having breakfast all together, but that’s for another post 🙂

I had this idea that the Carbs from cereal were the ones that caused people to gain weight, and fruit would prevent this. What I didn’t understand at the time that I was simply not eating enough and a balance of nutrients in the morning to sustain me.

Cereal is not the enemy and never has been, and it’s now once again, it is among my favorite foods! Any kind still: though I try to pick the ones with ingredients I can actually pronounce and that have a good amount of fiber and protein. Also, coupling cereal with fruit and a healthy fat, such as a bowl with a sliced banana, skim milk, and nuts sprinkled on top, will really help to keep me full.

I have so many other fear foods I am overcoming, including pasta, FATS, pizza, sweet treats, pastries, cakes, okay so alot. I will discuss these soon as well!

Has anyone experienced fears around certain foods? What have you done to overcome this?

10 Comments

Filed under Below The Surface, Breakfast, Disorded Thoughts, Favorite Foods, Fitness, Fuel, Product Review, Running, Trader Joes, Weight Watchers

Monday Morning Workout

So another week begins! And it’s snowing here in the Northeast! I know I am stating the obvious here, but this whole New England weather thing is getting a tad old 😉 On my run yesterday, I was in shorts, and today I busted out the rubber boots and long coat for my (wet/cold) walk to class. Ahh well, things could be worse!

Not going to lie though, getting going this morning was a bit difficult! On days I do not practice with the Track team, I get my workouts done in the early morning, I’m not a fan of waiting around to do it all day. Plus the Rec Center here gets crazy crowded as the day progresses.

As my alarm was ringing before my 7 am Cardio Kick class, I thought of Julie (from PB Fingers) and her mantra for getting yourself motivated and your butt moving for a workout, “you’re just one workout away from a good mood.” That thought really helped and powered me through the class! I love this group exercise class because it is a great cardio workout, but also tones legs, arms, bum, shoulders, and back by incorporating punches and kicks with cardio intervals…i worked up a great sweat!

The class is only 40 minutes and I was feelin full of energy, so I decided to hit the treadmill for a bit. While watching Good Morning America, I ran 3.5 miles in 26 minutes and incorporated sprint intervals/HIIT. I set the incline at 1.5% and started with a warm-up for 5 minutes, then cranked up the speed to 8.8 mph for 1 minute and down to 7.6 for a 2 minute break. It’s safe to say I was dripping sweat (TMI) by the end of this and hightailed it back to my room to take a shower… twas needed 🙂

I have a midterm tomorrow for my Health Economics class that I really ought to continue studying for. The material in the class is fairly interesting, but I have a serious problem every time I go. It is right after lunch in a nice, warm and cozy classroom and I nod off/fall asleep seriously EVERYDAY. And to make it worse, there are only about 15 students in the room so the professor definitely sees me do this consistently, but I am so not trying to be rude! It’s that tired, sleepy feeling that you cannot do anything about, except maybe walk around or pass out right on the desk (yes, this has occurred! haha) Does this happen to anyone else?!

How was everyone’s weekend? Any races to report, or exciting news? Did anyone get in a good workout this morning…I would love to hear some new ideas to switch up my own routine!

Time to get my study on! Doesn’t think book sound thrilling? 😉


6 Comments

Filed under Exercise, Fitness, Group Exercise, HIIT, Public Health, Running

Below The Surface- Why Run?

Well, I am back at school, unpacked and preparing for the week ahead. It was a great trip back, I even took a detour at a favorite place of mine (and several others)

This was made even more exciting by the fact that I had never been to this one! A whole NEW Whole Foods waiting for me to be explored :D. And this location in Woburn did not disappoint, great hot food bar, a burrito station, pizza, and a trail mix bar! Exciting stuff I know. Please tell me I am not the only one that gets this elated at the thought of this darn grocery store?!

It’s actually nice to be back, I said hi to several of my residents who said they missed being here! This makes me happy, as I try to enhance their experience at school as an RA (more about this later!)

This is another post for the “Below The Surface” series, I hope you enjoy 🙂

On the drive back, I had some time to just think. I thought about what I had to do this week, my family, this blog, and something nagging me about running.

Why did I begin running? When I quit swimming in 2008, the gym quickly began to bore me and I wanted to find a substitute. I also gained a bit of weight at that time, and thought running would be the best way to lose a few pounds. This was around the same time as starting Weight Watchers, so running had been a means of weight loss. As my stamina, endurance and athletic ability increased, my obsession for running followed suit. Now there were days I could get lost in the run; observing the scenery, listening to music, thinking, and enjoying what my body was capable of.

However, as I got more fixated on my routines around food, running and exercising became a focus as well. About a year after I quit swimming and took up running, I would feel uncomfortable with missing more than two days of running in a row. But why was this? I feared of getting fat, losing everything I had built up from running in just a few days….

As I am reforming a healthy relationship with food, I am attempting to make amends with running, and find the joys and benefits it provides beyond weight loss.

After I returned to school today, unpacked and settled in a bit, I went for a run. I challenged myself to not wear my ipod, a watch, no cell phone or anything, and just jog at a comfortable pace. This helped me understand why I love running: it was just a short, 25 minute run, yet it helped me to realize that I run to:

  • Take time for myself to think
  • Get away from obligations, even if it’s just for a few minutes
  • Savor the feeling after ending your run: that you are empowered, even if it’s temporary
  • Simply enjoy the scenery, weather, or whatever else the environment is offering that day

  • A time where I can simply not think at all
  • Hear my own heart beat, and blood flowing as I test my body to its limits (during a workout)
  • Experience a flood of endorphins as the sweat trickles down from your body
  • Even if I am having a bad day, when I finish a run, everything is better
  • You never know what you can find while exploring a new path

Several of these are mental benefits, yet I also love the physical ones that come along with running, beyond WEIGHT LOSS. My quads, hamstrings and calves have become more defined, and I generally feel stronger.

Today I went from this:                                                                                                           To This! hehe.

 

 

 

 

 

Somewhere along the way I forgot how much I love running, and am seeking to find my passion for it once again. If I engage in this sport simply for appearance, what the heck is the point?!

What are your reasons for running? And if you don’t engage in this sport, why do you choose your form of exercise? I would love to hear ideas, so I can add to my list 🙂

4 Comments

Filed under Below The Surface, Confession, Disorded Thoughts, ED, Exercise, Fitness, Recovery, Running, Whole Foods