Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Addicted to Exercise | Why I Grew to hate Weights!

Dumbbells this, barbells that, have I had enough protein? Am I going to hit the one rep max? What's my session going to look like? Maybe I should run today? Arms today, legs tomorrow, must get back day in. I need to make sure I've had enough carbs. I didn't sweat that much was the workout good enough? I just walked this morning, I need a much more intense session this afternoon. Let's make sure I get my nightly sit ups in!When was the last time I rested? What rest? 

I'm in pain, exhausted, but each rep must count. I must finish this hour. I must sweat. I cannot miss a day. I loved exercise and I hated it. I found a passion for weight lifting. The endorphin's still filled my veins but not as much as before, why was I slowly beginning to hate something I thought I once loved.

Let me tell you exercising a few days a week and enjoying it, isn't the same as addiction and resenting it.  

I got into lifting weights over 3 years ago which began as one of the most exciting journey's I had been on. I'd never set foot in a gym but had recently got into running (which at the time I didn't realise I was addicted to) I would run most days a week, pounding the floor, hating myself and usually after eating something 'bad'. Never the less I joined the gym and got a personal trainer, at the time it was a way to try and get through my eating disorder. I'd seen so many other women in magazines and online claim they 'used weights' to get better. I thought it was going to work for me to.

Kinda, kinda not.

At first it was all great, I loved lifting weights and didn't want to do much else. At the time I actually had a balanced routine and life of lifting 3 to 4 days a week, I began to eat more and fuelled my body to do the exercise. So my body was starting to become a lot healthier as I gained some muscle and was feeling a lot more energised. Sadly I had fallen into the trap of believing 'protein this, protein that', that you need a protein shake after every workout etc. It wasn't long before I fell into the whole 'fitness world' started to learn more and more, researched more into body building. strength training and macros. Not actually realising I was actually still very under educated with what exercise actually is and does tot he body.

Before I knew it I was lifting weights 6 to 7 days a week, a very detailed split of legs, back, shoulders, chest, arms, abs. I spent most time before my workouts planning them to a T, worrying about whether it was enough or should I superset this and dropset that. I was all so good at the start, I saw massive changes during my session and my body. However it soon got out of hand, I didn't want to miss a single session, cancelled family or social events, planned everything else around the gym, was shovelling down a typical (boring) 'body building diet' usually consisting of broccoli, chicken and rice and oh yep, protein shakes!

Now coming to my lack of knowledge even more, I thought the only way of 'efficient' exercising or a good workout was to absolutely kill yourself for an hour or more, a big sweat, heavy weights. I was doing no cardio, no stretching, didn't even see walking as 'exercise'. I rarely took rest days and each session was intense. I was clueless and slowly but surely becoming bored of my typical split and finding myself resenting something I enjoyed and was meant for good health.

Getting to the gym became just as much as a challenge than lifting the barbell. I'd stare in the mirrors knowing I had to be there, knowing I had to do it. Yet inside, my heart wasn't in it anymore. My muscles were tired and I wanted to do anything but heavy squats or trying to get a new personal best for benching a barbell.

But in my head exercise had become something it should never become - A punishment. 

This so something I know I am NOT alone with. So so so many people, male and female, actually view exercises or 'going to a gym' as some form of punishment for their self hate or for food they've eaten. It's something I so desperately want to try and change.

Anyway not longer after I hit a very strong breaking point where I gave up weight lifting for months. This was partly due to a relapse in my Eating Disorder which resulted in me stopping going to the gym all together however I discovered  HIIT workouts which I continued to do in secret to again... Punish my body.

 Whatever I did, I just couldn't find a balance. I still hadn't got the knowledge in what exercise did to my body and was simply focused on not now building muscle but watching my weight drop and having visible, prominent abs.

It wasn't until I found my love for yoga, I properly learned what exercise actually does to your body and changed my mindset towards exercise completely that I was able to begin and overcome my addiction.

So how did I get through it? How did I overcome it?

First realising it's not stupid or uncommon.

Find what works for you. We all enjoy and like different things and 'exercise' isn't just one shoe that fits all. Once I ventured into the world of yoga, I learned so much about my body and self than I ever had. I learned the importance of movement and breath, I learned the importance of caring for our bodies and what it's like to find something you truly enjoy. I also realised that a typical body building split was NOT for me.

Now love weights I really do but I had to rediscover my love for them in a whole new way. When I know I have the energy and the right mindset, ready to hit the gym, I now love circuits including weights, body weight moves and pylometric moves. This helps my strength, power and endurance all in one. I get the biggest buzz from it, more than just simply weight lifting ever did.

Knowing the why. Why and what certain types of exercise does for your body in terms of strength, endurance, body and mind. Knowing the benefits of cardiovascular training, the importance of mobility and stretching, walking is a brilliant form of exercise for your body and mind, the impact HIIT & weights has on our bodies and so on. Learning these things helps you release the importance of a balanced routine.

Missing a workout isn't the end of the world. Life happens and if I cannot fit in a full hour workout but simply a 10 minute stretch, then so be it. Make sure you're not fitting the rest of your life because you need to fit in your 6th workout already this week. If you've trained hard all week, you're allowed a day off to go shopping with your mum or pizza with friends.

Rest days are essential. Even if you have to set a specific day for them or take a usual day off from the gym and try new things. Just make sure you get your rest. Find something else you love to do, write, read, shop, bake, you name it! No doubt you'll then come back to your workout the next day, ready and raring to go.

Exercise is NOT a punishment and food isn't a reward. Change this mindset! It's one of the biggest things that helped me. Exercise is so much more than burning calories and changing the way you look. It should never be used for excuses of what we ate or are going to eat. Exercise is something we should cherish, it gives us so many health benefits, positive endorphin's. Focus on how it makes you feel, the enjoyment you get from it rather than continuously weight loss, weight gain etc.

Moving your body, in what ever form, running, walking, dancing, skipping, jumping, leaping is a complete celebration. It's nothing we should dread or hate. If you know you're getting addicted to exercise in a unhealthy manner, a way you're not enjoying anymore, pushing yourself through a workout even when you're tired and aching, then take a step back. Re-evaluate the situation, take a look at what you want to get out of exercise, educate yourself and talk to someone or a professional. It sometimes seems so daft in our heads but talking to someone could really help.

I value exercise and moving my body so much more than I ever have done now. It's no longer a negative outlook to my life yet something I'm so grateful for! It benefits my mind, healthy and body and I very rarely feel in that 'trap' anymore. If I want to lift weight, I'll lift weights. If I want to hoola-hoop, I'll do so. If I want a long walk, I'll take a long walk. There are no rules!