Remember back in the day when you had recess in elementary school? It was always the highlight of the day, the time where you could run free outside, swing on the swings, play tag, or climb the monkey bars. Then after school, if you were lucky, you were allowed to play kickball outside with your friends until it got dark. Before you ever thought about being active or needing to exercise to be healthy, you were already doing it. But you were having fun!!
Things have changed. It seems to me there are few adults that I know who do fun active things because, well, they are just FUN. Most adults, especially those with body image or weight concerns appear to be “forcing” themselves to “exercise” with the intention of losing weight and/or changing their body. Not to be stronger, feel better or have more energy. This typically organized movement (aka exercise) sometimes involves a gym, a treadmill, a video or some other activity that the person does not look forward to (not like the monkey bars back in the day). Yes, there are many people who actually really love to going to the gym and actually have a blast doing their Zumba class. These are not the people I am referring to.
In her book “Body Wars: Making Peace with Women’s Bodies”, Dr. Margo Maine explains that particularly if you exercise excessively it could be a symptom of an underlying psychological condition. If you are not able to solve the issue yourself you may need the support of a therapist. She describes the following behaviors that may indicate a problem:
- you judge a day as “good” or “bad” based on how much you exercised
- you base your self-worth on how much you exercise
- you never take a break from exercise no matter how you feel or how inconvenient it is
- you exercise even though you are injured
- you arrange work or social obligations around exercise
- you cancel family or social engagements to exercise
- you become angry, anxious or agitated when something interferes with your exercise
- you sometimes wish you could stop but are unable to
- you know others are worried about how much you exercise but don’t listen to them
- you always have to do more (laps, miles, weights) and rarely feel satisfied with what you have done
- you count how many calories you burn while exercising
- you exercise to compensate from overeating
So, if any of these description ring true for you, just being aware is the first step. For more information on Dr. Maine’s book which includes many great resources for those struggling with body image concerns, check out this link:Body Wars
And remember, it is never too late to start going to the playground again!!!