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Everything in moderation: Including exercise.

Exercise

 

So, as you may have heard, some of the members of the MM team are doing the Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation.

It’s been challenging at times – especially when we have to remind each other that we’re not *technically* supposed to be having two coffees before it’s even 10am… but still. We’ve been getting way back into exercise – surfing, doing weights, running.

The tailored program means that we know exactly how long we’re meant to work out for, and what we’re supposed to be doing, on each day. But I know that’s not the same for everyone out there who exercise.

And it it got me thinking – is there such a thing as working out too much?

Because surely, if you don’t quite have any guidance, it’s safe to assume that working out for two hours a day will make you four times fitter than the person that only works out for half an hour per day?Well… no. There’s a reason elite athletes have such strictly regulated, and varied, workout plans.
Too much exercise can lead to injuries and exhaustion, that may then result in lasting physical harm. Even worse – it can lead to mental health issues, which we definitely don’t want, considering that so many people work out to maintain their mental health in the first place.So – here’s when exercise becomes too much exercise:1. When it’s hurting you.This one’s pretty obvious; if you have shin splints, or a sore ankle, or a sprained wrist… there is absolutely no way you should continue to push yourself through workouts. Best case scenario: You’ll just end up taking longer to heal. Worst case scenario: You’ll do yourself permanent damage.Best thing to do is to chat to a physio about your injury and see what they recommend. Many personal trainers will also be able to recommend workouts that work around your injury. And if you’re generally feeling aches and pains – go here for a list of low-impact exercises that won’t have your knees and ankles crying.2. When you are constantly trying to kill it.

I know there’s nothing more satisfying than a workout that really makes you sweat. Where you wake up the next morning and you’re hurting all over – but it’s the good kind of hurt. The hurt that makes you feel like you TOTALLY have abs.

But you shouldn’t be doing these workouts every single day – after all, you’re stressing out and potentially damaging your body if you’re running every single day, and following that up with other high-impact workouts. Your muscles aren’t designed to be working out 24/7 and they have to be given a chance to heal.

The best option? Cross-training and shaking up your workouts across cardio, weights training, and something like yoga or pilates or paddleboarding. Have some rest days where your only workout is your arms holding up a book/iPad. Your body will have a chance to recover and get stronger.

3. When it’s become an obsession.

Know the difference between a good kind of hurt and an injury.

So it’s good to schedule workouts into your diary and not talk yourself out of them every day. But it’s not good when you miss a workout and spend the next 24 hours beating yourself up about it.

Believe it or not – there’s absolutely nothing to worry about if you miss a day of working out. And if you believe otherwise, if you’re paralysed by guilt, if you become absolutely obsessed, if it’s stressing you out completely, if you build your entire life around workouts – you should chat to a professional psychologist.

Louise Adams, clinical psychologist at www.self.net.au, points out that taking this step might seem scary. “But the line between passion and obsession can easily become blurred, especially when it comes to eating and exercise,” she told me.

“Psychologists won’t make you stop exercising, they will help you get the balance (and enjoyment)back. Getting help sooner rather than later will mean the difference between recovery and getting more deeply obsessed.”

4. When you’re only exercising to burn off the calories you’ve consumed.

That’s called exercise bulimia and yes, it is a form of eating disorder. Often, those who suffer from exercise bulimia will binge on food and then obsessively exercise to get rid of all the calories they’ve consumed; they won’t stop until they’ve burned off all 1812 calories’ worth of chips, or whatever it is.

Exercise bulimics might be obsessive; they might get incredibly frustrated, angry and agitated if they’re not able to exercise; and they might build their entire lives around working out, so that they know all the food they eat can be burned off.

Louise Adams says that eating disorders are serious conditions, and tend to stick around once they’ve developed. “Professional help is necessary, and the good news is that psychological treatments for eating disorders of this type are really effective,” she said. “Please don’t feel that you need to battle this demon alone, ask for help. You deserve to look after yourself and learn to once again exercise to feel good rather than feeling like you’re in exercise prison.”

In the end, it all comes down to the oldest saying in the history of the whole world… everything in moderation. Take care of yourself and listen to your body when it’s trying to tell you something. And have fun with exercise. After all – unless you’re doing burpees – it’s supposed to be fun, and make you feel good.

Have you had an experience with exercise obsession?Have you ever pushed yourself past the pain to injury?

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