Slave to exercise
Written by Jess Sheargold
Food fitness & lifestyle coach. Food Fix 4 life Franchisee – Sydney Australia.
I first began a structured exercise routine about 10 years ago.
My lifestyle was lacking movement, so including daily exercises was a choice for my health; to be a healthy body weight, have energy for daily life and activities, and have less pain by gaining strength in the areas I needed.
When starting out I enjoyed exercise and how it made me feel and I liked the changes I saw in my body. I saw progress and continued to increase intensity, becoming capable of things I didn’t think possible.
At some point though I became a slave to exercise… something I had to do rather than chose to. I don’t know specifically when this happened, but reflecting back I have realised some of the things that identified this switch;
- Worrying what would happen even if I missed one session. Feeling guilty if I did.
- Continuing even when injured or knowing it could cause injury.
- Always having to increase my intensity and abilities (even when I had reached a sufficient level of fitness for what I needed)
- Letting my fitness, abilities and discipline define my identity.
- Prioritizing time to go to the gym or a class over anything else in my life.
- If I wasn’t sweating, then it wasn’t a workout.
- I allowed others to dictate my beliefs. When I was doing enough, what I should be wanting, and comparing with others to find satisfaction.
I know you may look at this list and think, “there wasn’t anything wrong”, but for me there was. It took a diagnosis of borderline Adrenal Fatigue to finally realize I was doing too much, and facing serious health consequences before I could give myself permission to change. The exercise routine that had started out for improving my health, was now doing the exact opposite.
Over the last year I have made changes and enjoyed exploring new forms of movement.
Understanding that changes to my routine are needed at different stages of life.
Of course, there has been changes in my body’s appearance and ability. But is that really a bad thing? My body doesn’t need to be able perform at the level it was, or look the way it did to be healthy.
- I still feel strong and have less pain, even if I can’t do as many push ups on my toes as I used to, or ‘keep up with the boys’.
- I am a few kg heavier, a size larger in clothing and less toned than I once was. But the internal health of my body is recovering.
- I am learning to enjoy walking instead of running, Pilates instead of a HIIT class, and feeling replenished instead of ‘smashed’ after a workout.
- I can sleep in some morning’s if that is what I need and have rest days without a structured workout.
- I can go on holiday and not worry about ‘fitting in my workouts’.
It’s a continual work in progress but I am finding more balance and choosing not to be a slave to exercise. We were created for freedom, with the power to choose instead of “being forced”. Even when it’s often only our own mind enslaving us.