Are you addicted to working out?
It was a simple question. He simply asked me, “Are you addicted to working out”. A yes or no response would have been fine, but yet I struggled to answer the question. Why was it so hard for me to answer that question? Why did it feel so heavy? Maybe even a little gross. My initial response was a hard no. But then I sat back and thought for a minute…am I?
The word “addiction” has such a negative feel to it when I say it, so I googled it. According to google (screen shot from HERE):
So whats the difference in “addicted” and “obsession“? So I asked google (again) and this is what it said (screen shot from HERE).
Both of these words feel so heavy and gross and thats not what I get when I workout; so using these words to describe something I love seem so…wrong. I never game him a straight answer and there is a good chance I danced around having to answer the question directly, but clearly it has lingered.
Exercise came into my life like most of you, through P.E. I loved PE no matter what grade level. It was my favorite! In the summers I swam on local swim teams and rode bikes around neighborhoods. As I got older I got involved in city league sports. Middle & High school it was school sports with club volleyball in the spring of my junior and senior high school years. I can remember during off seasons in high school we would have a free last period, but I would put on workout clothes and go run bleachers on the track or on this little trail alone. I throughly enjoyed it. Within days of graduating high school I took a job (my first job) at a local gym in a Women’s Only facility working the front desk. I did a little bit of everything. I sold memberships, gave tours, helped people write workout programs, showed them how to use the machines, etc. The best part was it came with a free membership to the women’s only facility, 24 hour co-ed version and later on what they called “The Pit” (where the local bodybuilders hung out and sometimes lifted heavy things). I took all kinds of group fitness classes there in addition to a “make it up as I go” weight program working out in all the facility. I never felt like I had to workout or that I was “getting fat” I just loved working out. I liked the people that would teach the class, I liked the members that attended the gym, I liked the atmosphere…I liked everything about it.
That August I went off to college and continued my powerlifting career in club sports. (When I would return home for summers and holidays I would always pick up a few shifts at the gym). We worked out in one of the school’s weight room and when that wasn’t available we went to SMAC (San Marcos Athletic Club)…it was the best! They had machines, free weights and platforms all crammed into this tiny space run by a guy named Bobby. Powerlifters are special. They wear funny suits. They pick up and drop heavy things. They are horrible at math. But they were my people and Bobby alway accepted us as we were. After 3 years of powerlifting in college I some how made the shift from powerlifting to what I call “gen-pop” training and now I call it “curls for the girls” training. This just means it was a lot of machines, bicep curls and tricep press downs and whatever else people challenged me to do. One day I got on a treadmill (at SMAC) and attempted to run. I prob ran 3 miles and was pretty proud of myself, so I tried to go further the next day…and the next and the next. Next thing I knew I seeing how far I could run down certain backroads in San Marcos. I can remember running 9 miles and feeling so proud! This new found love lead me to signing up for my first marathon as well as completing 6 more after that with many triathlons and half marathons in the mix.
After graduating college, what did I do with my four year degree? I found a job at a gym and worked as Group X Director, Personal Trainer and later on Fitness Director. I met some fantastic people doing that, some I still talk to. I slowed down on the marathon/triathlon side and went back to “curls for the girls” till discovering CrossFit in 2009. I started out in a bootcamp that used the CrossFit methodology and 7 years later I have competed at the regional level 7 times and in the CrossFit Games twice. I have met some FANTASTIC people through this sport. We have bonded over some rough times and some how survived some crazy training days. Anyone that has done CrossFit knows it teaches you more than just how to lift weights. You learn a lot about your self when you dive into an uplifting community. I loved every rough moment I had during that time.
You will not find me on the competition floor now days, but I am still exercising (sometimes for time but no strict program or plan). I attend about 5-6 CrossFit classes during the week and 1 on the weekend. I do cardio with my friend 2x/wk and then I hike as much as I can with my dog and friends. If someone wants to do something fitnessey (made up that word) or needs a buddy for a workout..I’m game. To the normal person this seems like A LOT….maybe obsessive, or addicted? But I believe I have a healthy relationship with exercise. If I want to sleep in or go see my God-Kiddos and not workout I’m 100% okay with that if you were addicted or obsessed you couldn’t do that…mentally. With the words “addiction” or “obsessive” I feel there is an over powering negative mindset that goes along with it. Don’t get me wrong most girls have a sliver of body images “issues”, but I don’t workout this much because I feel fat or depressed or someone isn’t going to like me because I don’t look a certain way. I don’t have the mental space to waste on that behavior.
I think it becomes an “addiction” when it becomes unhealthy. When your body can’t recover and you are constantly injured. When you cannot see the world outside of the gym. When you start to miss important things in life because of working out. When you don’t want to acknowledge actions that need to be taken to heal. When you your body can’t physically keep up and you push it anyways. Then it becomes an “addiction”.
To come full circle and answer his question “Are you addicted to working out”…”addiction” and “obsessed” are a little too heavy even for me, but “in love with” is something I could stand behind. Because the love I have for working out goes far beyond the actual workout. I love the people I workout with. I love my coaches. I love to bond over the fact that we sometimes think our coach hates us. I love the challenge it brings. I love the strategies you have to create and try and fail at. I love the mindset it puts me in. I love to run my mouth in a friendly banter. I love the way it makes me feel. I love the connections and bonds it creates. I love the confidence it creates. And it goes on and on. This list of “loves” far out weighs the cons.
No, I’m NOT addicted to working out, but I’m in love with it.