addicted to the gym

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by satchya, Feb 20, 2009.

  1. satchya

    satchya New Member

    This is probably an odd question, but surely I'm not the only one out there that is dealing with this problem. My husband says I am addicted to the gym, and that I'm making myself worse because of my addiction.

    I was diagnosed with fibro in October of this year, but I've probably had it my whole life (specifically since a really bad flare Winter of my freshman year of University). After all the xrays and blood tests it was a relief to find out I didn't have RA or MS, but it also took away my feeling of hope that I could start on some kind of treatment program and make all of these symptoms go away.

    I have a great YMCA up the road, and they have a fantastic childwatch center with art, and music, and exercise classes that my youngest daughter just loves (my two older are in elementary school all day, so she gets bored by herself at home). They also have lots of classes that I love to take (Pilates, Cardio Funk, Zumba, etc.). I go every chance I get, even when I'm feeling like crap. I like to do dance aerobics followed by a pilates class. The best I feel all day is when I'm on an exercise high during and right after the gym. But by late afternoon/evening when my poor husband comes home from work, and older kids are home from school, I am in massive pain and exhaustion and can barely crawl into bed once the kids are put down for the night.

    My husband feels like it's not fair for me to keep doing this to myself, and then complain about the consequences. (Kind of the whole "the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result"). He is a super-empathatic individual, and it hurts him to see me hurt. He is tired (and rightly so) of dealing with the consequences of my actions when he knows I could change my actions and help alleviate the consequences.

    But the gym is my social lifeline (I'm a SAHM of 3), it's my daughter's social lifeline, it's the time of day I feel truly "normal", and I can't seem to make myself stop going. It truly feels like a drug addiction. I know I shouldn't, I mean to do better, to do "less" , but the minute no-one's looking I'm off like a shot to the gym again. I have been lying in bed in agony at night, and planning in my head which classes I'm going to take the next morning and what I'm going to wear.

    I have even tried to go and "just walk on the treadmill or elliptical", but after half an hour of walking, I find myself trying to add in a little jogging, then a little running, and pretty soon I'm pushing myself to the max chasing that runner's high.

    I had to see a physical therapist last month because I also have myofascial pain syndrome, and my rheumy wanted me to learn some stretches and exercises to help with that. The physical therapist has a best friend with fibro, so we talked about it a little. She said that "endorphins evolved to help you push through the pain in a life or death situation, the way you feel WHILE you're exercising is not a good indication of how you're going to feel AFTER you're done." That makes perfect sense to me. But if the only time all day I feel fantastic is when I'm high on endorphins, it's very hard to think of giving that up.

    Is anyone else in this situation??
  2. AuntTammie

    AuntTammie New Member

    On the one hand, I commend you for wanting to exercise, bc it can definitely help if you do it in moderate amounts. On the other hand, it is definitely possible to be addicted to exercise, and it sounds like you have reached that point. That can be unhealthy even for those who do not have other health issues. For someone with fibro, though, it will make things worse. People use addictions to cope with other things that they don't want to deal with. For you, that could be the fibro, or it could be other things. Being aware that it is a problem is the first step towards changing, and it is often the hardest one to take. So, congratulations on posting about this. That shows that at least part of you does want to slow down.

    As far as what to do about it, it might be good for you to talk to a counselor, if you can. He/she can help you figure out what you are struggling with that is making you want to exercise so much (if it's something that you can't figure out on your own), and he/she can help you find new ways to cope with it. If it is the fibro, he/she should be able to help you find ways to cope with that, too.

    As far as the gym being your social life, see if you can come up with any other ways to socialize. I know with three children that could be hard, but if you had some other way to get out and something else to look forward to, it might help a lot. Could you get together with some of your gym friends outside of the gym? Or could you sign up for a fun class or some other thing related to a hobby or something? Or do you go to church or the PTA or something else where you know some people and could get together with them socially? (Or would you want to start going to something like that?) Would your husband be willing to watch the kids maybe one night/week if it meant that you were finding something other than the gym to do and enjoy? In the long run, it might mean more energy for him, too. Or what about even going to a fibro support group? Or volunteering? (& no, I don't mean to rush out and try all of these things - that will only make you more exhausted).

    I am just throwing out some suggestions, bc if you had something else to look forward to and to add to the gym as a way to socialize, then maybe it would help you to cut back at the gym a bit. It would also give you something else to want to conserve your energy for later on, so that maybe that part would also help with cutting back at the gym. I wouldn't suggest stopping going to the gym altogether, bc exercise can help. Also what about setting smaller goals (back off goals) for yourself and finding some way of rewarding yourself when you meet them?

    Another thing is that I would be remiss (as both a former counselor and someone who has had some personal experience with these things) if I did not mention that exercise addiction and eating disorders often go hand in do any kind of addictions and depression. I am definitely not saying that you have these problems, but if you do, it is really, really important that you address them, too. Even if it is "just" the exercise, it is important that you try to address it, as well. Your health truly does depend on it, and it sounds like ti would help your marriage as well if your husband saw that you were backing off on the exercise. This is just a guess, but he probably feels like he takes a backseat to the exercise in importance, and you probably feel like he doesn't understand the fibro and the need to exercise. Even if everything else in your marriage is perfect, those could be tough things to deal with.

    I hope that it doesn't seem like I am overstepping here. As a counselor (even though a no longer working one due to disability), I really want to offer so much more than this, and I feel like online advice can only go so far, and can often get misinterpreted. It's hard to know what to say when you can't see the person's reactions and hear their tone of voice, etc. So, again, I really hope that nothing I wrote comes across as offensive or like I don't understand, or anything like that. I do understand a lot from a counseling and a personal perspective, but at the same time, I'm not you and I don't really know you, so there is probably a lot that I don't know about what it going on. I do know that I care and I don't want you to keep hurting yourself and making your fibro worse.

    If nothing else, here's one more thing to think about....if you keep going the way you are, you will in all likelihood, wind up making the fibro get bad enough you will not be able to exercise at all. Wouldn't you rather cut back some now and be able to keep exercising, than not cut back and wind up unable to exercise at all?
  3. TigerLilea

    TigerLilea Active Member

    however, I really enjoy getting my 22 minute workout each day. I have CFS and am at the point where I am totally exhausted from working out at least five days a week. Some weeks I workout all seven days. When I get up in the mornings I feel like I won't make it through the day. Once I've been up for a while and had breakfast I feel slightly better, though not much. Because I work out, I sleep much better than most people with CFS. I know that if I were to stop that my sleep would suffer.

    Currently, I do limit myself to 22 minutes per day. I do 11 minutes in the morning or afternoon, and then another 11 minutes in the early evening. When I do one 22 minute workout, I find it too exhausting.

    You might want to consider alternating aerobic dance one day, and pilates the next day, rather than doing both on the same day. I can understand you feeling like you want to do more, however, you need to remember that you can a chronic illness and sometimes you just have to slow down even though you feel at the time that you can keep on going.

  4. gapsych

    gapsych New Member

    I ran across this article which may be helpful. I have a sister who I believe is addicted to exercise. After having her children she gained a lot of weight. It took her two years to lose the weight. I think it is also a way to purge which is not mentioned in this article.


    Are you addicted to exercise? Take this quiz.
    July 26, 2007 — fitnesspro

    Lately, I’ve run across several women who seem controlled by eating and exercising. I must confess… I have been there, and I have to keep myself in check to make sure I stay balanced.

    It really is a fine line between exercising enough and becoming obsessive about it to the point of over-exercising. For me, I monitor this by keeping close tabs on both my inner attitude toward my workouts, as well as the physical signs of over-training.

    Again, I confess that recently I’ve caught myself leaning toward a NEED to exercise and a general anxiety at the thought of missing workouts. This is coming dangerously close to an exercise addiction.

    Every 12 weeks, I force myself to take a break from weights in order to give my muscles and joints time to rest and recover. I hardly ever take time off from cardio, though. So, I need to be very careful not to allow the desire to exercise to become a need to exercise. It’s such a fine line.

    I found a very helpful quiz in a book called Appearance Obsession: Learning to Love the Way You Look by Joni E. Johnston, Psy. D. I’m quoting this verbatim, so I hope I’m not breaking any copyright laws!

    When Exercise Takes Control

    Who’s in control, you or your exercise routine? The following questions will help you assess the degree to which your exercise may be getting out of control.

    Are You at Risk For Overexercise?

    Answer True or False to the following questions.

    The way my body looks to me depends on whether I have exercised that day or not.

    I often exercise when I have an injury or don’t feel well.

    For one year or longer, I have exercised five or more times a week for one hour or more.

    I feel depressed and/or irritable if I miss exercising for three days or more.

    I find myself continually adding newer and stricter goals to my exercise routine.

    I will dramatically alter my schedule in order to work out.

    I feel anxious if I miss even one workout.

    At times I have used exercise to avoid dealing with work or relationship problems.

    I often feel like I hate my exercise routine, but feel unable to stop it.

    I exercise primarily for weight control and muscle tone.

    I keep detailed records or logs of my workout sessions.

    It would be very difficult for me to change my exercise. (For example, if you are a runner, you would be unwilling to switch or alternate with aerobic dance or bicycling.)

    I frequently find myself thinking about exercising in between workouts.

    While I am exercising, I often find myself daydreaming about the possibility of a “new, improved” physique.

    Scoring: Give yourself one point for every true response. Add up your total points and see where you fall on the exercise continuum as follows.

    0-3: You are normally in control of your exercise schedule. Like many of us, you may at times have mixed feelings about your exercise schedule - sometimes enjoying it, sometimes not. It may be helpful to assess your exercise motivation to see how “looking good” fits in. However, your answers suggest that you are not presently at risk for overexercising.

    4-6: You are in the borderline range of overexercise. It will be important to assess your exercise behavior to see how it may be affecting other areas of your life. Even if it is not, your pattern of responses suggests that you are not getting a lot of enjoyment out of your current exercise pattern.

    7 or more: You are likely to depend on exercise for a sense of self-worth. This dependency may cause problems in other areas of your life, or you may be feeling like exercise is controlling you rather than the other way around.

    If you found that you are over-exercising, she gives helpful suggestions in her book in order to help you have a healthier mental outlook regarding your exercise routine. Remember, life is not about exercise, eating, or your appearance! You want to take care of yourself physically through proper nutrition and exercise so that you can maintain a healthy lifestyle in order to accomplish whatever it is you were put on this earth to do. I have to remind myself of this all the time!

    [This Message was Edited on 02/21/2009]