Getting into that dress for your sister’s wedding, or flaunting a bikini body at the beach might be your goal. So you do what anyone who understands the formula to weight loss does, you watch what you eat and then you start moving your body.
Congratulations! That is usually the hardest part. Making a decision to exercise is very challenging for many people. Once they start the habit, they find it easier to maintain. This leads to greater satisfaction overall.
But there is a small percentage of people who exercise who manage to move from the healthy approach to exercising to the point where it is an addiction. At this point, it becomes harmful.
How do you know if you’re exercising too much?
I watched my sister-in-law fluctuate from her normal weight of 120 to more than double that, then back down, and up again. She has returned to about 120 pounds for the third time in her adult life and is determined to stay there. When she was younger, 120 pounds looked good on her. Today, she is gaunt, the tendons on her neck protrude. She has no softness to her face. And she talks of nothing but exercise. She gets up at four in the morning to go for a hike before work. During lunch she walks with weights on her ankles. After work she spends two to three hours doing Zumba, spin class, kickboxing, and weight lifting. After dinner she takes the dog for an hour-long walk.
I would venture to say that my sister-in-law is overexercising. She has gone way beyond a healthy relationship to food and exercise. She feels that she has had a bad day if she hasn’t exercised for at least three hours. Even when she is sick she still heads to the gym. We’ve even had arguments because I tell her she is spreading infection to other people. She won’t listen.
And now, it seems that she is always sick. Her immune system appears to be greatly challenged. Her husband worries about her, feels that she is far too thin. And I agree with him. Most people agree with him.
Exercise has become my sister-in-law’s constant companion. We no longer go on long walks together because she wants to walk longer, further, faster than I do.
It seems that no matter what anyone says to her, she believes that without exercising to this degree, she will rebound as she has in the past. I can appreciate her frustration. No one should gain enough weight to virtually double their weight, lose it, then gain it back again. Now that she’s finally lost it once again, she’s holding onto the only tool that seems to have worked for her.
But it is coming at the expense of her friends and family. Her social life has ground to a screeching halt and she doesn’t even notice it. I worry that she will never exercise enough to be satisfied. Perhaps, in time, she will be able to revel in the fact that she is once again slender, and feel confident enough to know that she doesn’t have to work as hard as she is to maintain it.