By Kristen Houghton
Are you an Exercise Junkie?
You don’t have to take drugs to become an addict. Some people are exercise junkies. I discovered this when I met a friend for lunch, a woman I hadn’t seen in a year.
“Wait until you see me. I’ve completely changed my body through exercise,” said my friend over the phone.
A t the restaurant we had chosen, I sat looking out a window while waiting for my friend and I thought I saw a woman who resembled her. I say resembled because the woman walking towards the restaurant was thin and haggard-looking. My friend Michelle had always had an enviable figure that turned heads.
But as the woman came closer to the window, she began waving and smiling. It was most definitely Michelle but with a twisted difference. Her pretty face looked almost skeletal.
Inside the restaurant, after hugs and kisses, Michelle asked me what I thought.
“About what?” I asked.
“The new me!!” she laughed.
I was stunned. She went on to tell me about a regimen that only a prize-winning boxer could endure.
She was up at four every morning and worked out for two hours. At work, during her breaks, she exercised again with weights she kept in a file cabinet. During her lunch, she ran for an hour. After work she hit the gym for an aerobics class, then went home, had a salad, and worked out again from seven-thirty to nine. I was exhausted just listening to her.
“How does Stan feel about all this?” I asked her, referring to her fiancé of two years.
“Oh, I rarely see him. We might not be right for each other anymore.”
She went on to tell me that she had dropped a lot of activities that she had once enjoyed because they took too much of her time.
The lunch she ordered was so minimal it made my chicken fajita wrap look enormous by comparison. While we ate, she did knee lifts under the table. After lunch, and a thirty minute walk, we went shopping at a department store where instead of taking the escalator, we walked up one flight after another, she taking the stairs two at a time to “keep the legs toned.”
We said good-bye early because she had to get to the gym and as she drove away it hit me that my beautiful friend had become an exercise junkie.
As with anything else that is addictive, exercise junkies need the high they get from constant exercising. They can’t live without it because their brain and body crave it. The problem with too much exercise is that, the very same physical activity that is good for us in moderation becomes dangerous when abused.
A few months later Michelle’s fiancé called and told me that she had been hospitalized due to malnutrition and exhaustion. Her doctor had recommended she get therapy to help her deal with her obsessive need to exercise. I was glad to hear it.
Addiction isn’t just substance abuse; it is anything or any activity that starts to take over your life. If you feel something you do is controlling you, seek help. Drugs, alcohol, food, exercise; it doesn’t matter. Addiction is addiction.
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