. what happened when i stopped exercising .

by Amanda @ .running with spoons. on May 3, 2013

There’s a little old lady in my building that walks her dog approximately four times a day. And yes, she really is a little old lady. She’s maybe 5 feet tall and probably somewhere in the vicinity of 80 years old. Not the point. The point is that she never misses a beat. Rain. Shine. Snow. Wind. Doesn’t matter – she’s out there. It’s pretty admirable, actually; and it makes me feel like a wimp for refusing to go outside when the wind blows. But again, not the point.

I don’t spend a lot of time talking about fitness here on Spoons, and it’s not because I don’t think exercise is important, but because I really don’t have a lot to say on the subject. I wrote a post about my current “routine” waaaaay back when I first returned to blogging after my hiatus, and not much has changed since then. I still haven’t committed to any real workouts and I’m assuming that telling you guys that “I went for a nice 45 minute walk today” would start sounding redundant after a little while. Yep, I’m still keeping it to a walk a day, and sometimes I don’t even get one of those in. It really depends on how busy life gets.

Headless Chicken

Those busy days where you end up running around like a headless chicken. I didn’t want to traumatize you guys by showing you an actual headless chicken, so hopefully this gets the point across.

So it’s been well over a year and a half since I gave up on formal workouts. Before that, I was working out 5 or 6 days a week for about an hour a day, alternating between lifting and cardio. I go into a little bit of detail about why I cut back on exercise here, but basically I just started feeling really run down all the time and I experienced what I believe were the symptoms of overtraining on a pretty regular basis. I’m still not entirely sure why, since I didn’t feel like I was overdoing it at the gym and I did my best to make sure I was eating enough, but maybe my body just didn’t have enough time to heal after the whole eating disorder fiasco – after all, five years of starvation is a lot of damage done.

But I digress. I have no idea why my workouts were having such a negative effect on me, but I do know that I experienced a world of good when I gave them up. It sounds horrible, doesn’t it? Praising the benefits of not exercising in a world that’s trying to get people off the couch? But I don’t really think that motivation to exercise is an issue in the blog world; exercise addiction seems to be a much bigger problem.

Exercise Addiction

[source]

I get quite a few e-mails from girls struggling with exercise addiction – girls who want to cut back on their workouts, but continue to slave away at the gym because they’re afraid of what might happen if they don’t. I get it – I was the same way. Words like unhealthy, lazy, and fat plagued me constantly in those early stages; but after a year and a half, I feel like I can confidently tell you guys what does happen when you stop exercising…

Nothing. 

Or at least, nothing bad. I did go through a lot of changes, but none of them were what I was expecting.

Never Happens

Physical Changes

Weight. A fear of weight gain seems to be what holds most people back from cutting back on exercise – at least that was definitely the case for me. But as counterintuitive as it may seem, I actually ended up losing weight and leaning out, despite not making any huge changes to my diet. Before I stopped, I was working out regularly and eating clean, but in spite of my best efforts, I was slowly putting on weight that was not muscle. This is all speculation, but I think what wound up happening was that the physical stress from exercise just ended up being too much for my body, exhausting my adrenal system, screwing with my hormones, and causing my my body to hold on to fat. Not good. After I stopped, that extra weight dropped off, and I’ve been easily maintaining ever since.

Sleep. Big improvements here. I have a way easier time falling asleep and actually staying asleep. Before, it would take me forever to drift off to sleep, and I’d constantly be waking up during the night. And if you think my current 5:30-6 mornings are bad, they’re nothing compared to my 4-4:30 mornings from before. Oi.

Energy. Obviously, more sleep means I have a lot more energy, but in addition to that, I don’t feel nearly so fatigued all the time. Back in the day, I was constantly dealing with limbs that felt like they were made of lead, and always fighting the “I-don’t-want-to-get-up-from-the-couch” feeling. I would get my workout in and then just want to be lazy for the rest of the day.

Digestion. As with sleep, huge improvements here. Less bloating, less cramping, less stomach problems in general. It may have been the increased amounts of protein that I was trying to eat, but my stomach seemed to be in a constant state of unrest back in the day. It still acts up occasionally, but usually only when I eat something that doesn’t agree with me or I get overly stressed out.

Mental Changes

Less stress. This might just be the best change I experienced. I know people use exercise as a way to deal with stress, but for me it became a huge source of stress. Back in the day, my life revolved around exercise and I would basically plan my entire day around when I could get to the gym. All of my meals and snacks had to be perfectly timed and planned (pre workout/post workout macros), I would turn down opportunities that clashed with my planned gym time, and I would freak out if something spontaneously came up and prevented me from going to the gym. Stress, stress, stress. The constant planning and rigidity got to be way too much. Now? No plan, no stress. Sometimes I walk in the morning, sometimes at lunch, sometimes in the evening – sometimes I don’t get a walk in at all. If the opportunity presents itself, I take it. If not, I don’t worry.

Less obsession. I’m not quite sure how this one came about, or if it’s even directly related, but I became a lot more relaxed after giving up formal workouts. There’s no longer that mentality that I have to get a certain amount of exercise in or that I have to eat 100% clean. Lazy days don’t bother me and neither does enjoying the occasional slice of cake or serving of McDonald’s fries. Even without my constant planning and stressing, my body seems to be managing just fine. Better, in fact.

. – . – . – .

These changes definitely didn’t happen overnight. I was one big ball of anxiety when I first gave up exercising, but as the benefits became more and more apparent over time, my anxieties slowly eased up.

I should probably end this with a disclaimer that I don’t think exercise is a bad thing at all. In fact, I think being physically active is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle… but what that means is different for everyone. Going to the gym and following a structured workout plan isn’t the only way to be healthy. It may work for some, but it’s not the only way to go about it. I recently came across a pretty interesting article that claims that normal, every day lifestyle activity is as healthy as going to the gym. I believe it. I don’t exercise but I do my best to stay active, and I can honestly say that feel and look the best that I ever have.

No questions today. I would just love to hear your thoughts.

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{ 103 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers May 3, 2013 at 7:24 am

So true! Exercise is addicting. I’m an addict, but I know not to push myself too hard. Some days are ovaries-to-the-wall, but other days are a neighborhood walk. I’m okay with that.

It’s great that you noticed your over-training when you did. That’s serious stuff.

Happy Friday!
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2 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 3, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Ovaries to the wall :lol: That just reminds me of the good news you shared this morning. Congrats again, girl!! <3

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3 Khushboo May 3, 2013 at 7:28 am

Oh man this post couldn’t have cut at a more ideal time! I’ve recently cut back the intensity of my workouts A LOT and initially i was worried about the negative effects of doing so. Fortunately it’s going well and I’m working out according to what I feel like. I realised that I started to hate weight lifting and have instead been opting more for yoga & swimming which have done me a world of good. And on the days I don’t get a workout in, I don’t feel like I need to eat less to compensate or wake up extra early to get it done. If it happens, great otherwise there is always tomorrow!

Glad to see that this shift in your workout approach has only had a positive effect on you :)!
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4 Charlotte @ Commitness to Fitness May 3, 2013 at 7:35 am

This is such a great post. I’ve gone through phases over my lifetime with over-exercise, no exercise, and everything in between. and now i am all about the benefits of walking! i walk to and from work every day (a mile each way) and i think the health benefits are better than running. i really do. and I think you’re right- everybody just needs to find their own sweet spot that makes them their best selves. for some that might be daily runs, for others that might be walks, etc.

personally i like getting up early 3-4 days a week and doing bar method. more than that i feel stressed and tired, less than that i start feeling sluggish. my cardio changes on a weekly basis, but if i run too much i swear i start gaining weight.
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5 Karey @ Nutty About Health May 3, 2013 at 7:37 am

Great post Amanda! I think this is a huge wake-up call to so many. I am definitely trying to listen to my body more lately, which is a great thing. For example, it’s rainy out & I’m so tired… thinking that’ll mean a rest day for this girl. My body isn’t feel’in it today.
Good for you on making changes & listening to your body. I think the main thing that matters is that people get their HR up at least 20-30 mins/day somehow (for heart health), whether it be by walking, cleaning, whatever. I’m sure your walk or just life does that for you. ;)
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6 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 3, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Enjoy your rest day, girl! And if walking doesn’t get my heart rate up, then I know dancing around my apartment like a fool whenever a good song comes on probably does :lol: Happy Friday, Karey!

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7 Ari May 3, 2013 at 7:50 am

Thanks for sharing this, I think this is what I needed to hear. I’ve been working at making myself healthier, running a few times a week… and sometimes I look at what other people do and think, maybe I should be going to the gym as well, maybe I’m a slacker because I only run 3 times a week and other people work out almost every single day, multiple times a day. But what works for some people may not work for others.

That said, maybe I need to do what you do at take a long walk on days I don’t run. That can’t be bad for me. :)
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8 Nicole @ FruitnFitness May 3, 2013 at 7:51 am

Thanks girl, this post was just what I needed to read today! I have been stressing out about not being able to run and do my normal workouts due to an injury and it’s only been a week. I have been really stressed about gaining weight and losing muscle while my workouts go from running 20+ miles weekly to zero. This helps to bring into perspective that it’s okay, and sometimes best to not exercise too hard. I hope my stress and anxiety with not being able to run goes away sooner than later, and reading this post def helped!
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9 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 3, 2013 at 2:00 pm

The rest will definitely do you good, girl! Better to let yourself heal properly than push and risk aggravating your injury even more. And when you get back at it, you’ll have even more energy than before :)

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10 Sarah @ Blonde Bostonian May 3, 2013 at 7:51 am

thank you for sharing your story. I think it’s really important for people to realize that overtraining is really not that uncommon, especially for women. I’ve been there, done that. I’ve had the shake, light-headed feeling after a workout only to realize it was because I wasn’t fueling my body properly. We’re all different, and what works for some may not work for all. Glad that you’ve found out what works for you.
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11 Heather @fitncookies May 3, 2013 at 7:51 am

This is really interesting! I started reading your blog only within the past few months, so I missed a lot of this. I am interested to go back and re-read. I have had to cut back on exercise and take away the addiction because I was relying on it too much. I love your thoughts, though, on what happened when you stopped. I have felt like I was overtraining numerous times and take rest days, and I usually know this happens when I am so tired and haven’t done anything!
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12 Lisa May 3, 2013 at 7:54 am

Glad you posted about this, as you know I’ve been struggling through some of these thoughts and steps. Unfortunately, with pilates training I can’t completely halt fitness for now…but after, you better bet I’m doing it.
I’m pretty tired already hah.
Thank you for being so honest about your story and how far you’ve come. Always appreciated! You rock.
Happy Friday loveee! Enjoy the weekend:)
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13 Meg @ A Dash of Meg May 3, 2013 at 7:54 am

Great post, sweetie! Love you and your views!

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14 Alex @ therunwithin May 3, 2013 at 7:55 am

I am glad you addressed this mostly because I k now a ton of females in the blog world read you religiously and look up to you. You really nailed it with this. The big thing about exercising is that you shouldn’t have to exercise. I took a huge break from all forms of exercise when I was in recovery. At first it was tough but that just meant I needed the break more than I thought. I ended up taking a full six months off just because i wanted my body and mind to find exercise for what it was, an enjoyment rather than a have to. The thing with exercise is people think – oh you gain all this weight. So false. like you said the over exercising bit will actually add on weight from all the body stress. Thanks for addressing this issue head on, I think a lot of people need to read this. Even i like to go back and evaluate my ideas around exercising every once and a while.
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15 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 3, 2013 at 2:06 pm

It’s definitely a good idea to take a step back every once in a while and reevaluate things. I remember being absolutely convinced at one point that I loved what I was doing, and not realizing that definitely wasn’t the case until after I stopped.

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16 Taryn May 3, 2013 at 8:09 am

I make sure I am active in some way every day, but I agree that there’s no reason to overdo it. As soon as working out becomes a “job,” it’s not worth it in my mind. The thing is, though, so many people don’t eat well and that’s why they gain weight when they stop working out. If you maintain a healthy diet, bringing the intensity of your workouts down should not negatively effect your weight.

Great post, girl!
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17 Alyssa @ Road to RD May 3, 2013 at 8:23 am

Great post. This is a topic that I feel gets brushed over quite often because people aren’t sure how to deal with it, and other’s don’t think it’s actually a real thing. Thanks for bringing this up!
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18 agirlcalledhoward May 3, 2013 at 8:27 am

Interesting post. :-) In the depths of my ED and early recovery I would compulsively walk for hours every day, but I slowly cut that out (with difficulty). I’ve taken up running recently (actually almost a year ago now, eek!) and more recently started trying to get into weight lifting. I absolutely love it and I really feel it’s helped me in recovery in a lot of ways. I love how free and how strong it makes me feel, and I love my body (which for years I hated) for letting me feel that way. When I go without exercise for a while then my mood plummets.

That said, I do sometimes worry about some of the ‘side effects’ of exercise: I often find that when I’m exercising I start to worry more about ‘eating clean’. Weight lifting is particularly bad in this respect- maybe because it makes my appetite go crazy, or maybe because it feels like something to do for a given aesthetic than for fun. I’m aware of it and make sure I eat enough, but it is something I need to work on!

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19 Ashley @ OurPersonalRecords May 3, 2013 at 8:28 am

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’ve been without exercise for 5 weeks due to a stress fracture. I think you’re spot on with your commentary about obsessing and stress. I get really frustrated if I have to stay late at work and miss my spin class, or if a family function pops up and I can’t get my workout in. Working out is PART of a healthy lifestyle, but it is not the end-all-be-all of healthy living. I think finding a balance is the most important thing. I still struggle with this and have to put myself in check from time to time. I’m not sure how my time off will impact me when I get started again, only time will tell.
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20 Sara @ fitcupcaker May 3, 2013 at 8:41 am

Its nice to hear your stuggles and how you have changed them. What works for one person may not work for another, but I do agree that working out is an addiciton. I can admit I am addicted to crossfit. Its so new to me so I am loving it but I hope that it doesnt cause me problems and I want to be able to be “okay” with missing days. I also believe that walking is great exercise and it actually gives me a mental break.
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21 Ashley @ Life and Fitness May 3, 2013 at 8:50 am

I used to do so much cardio at the gym. I was that girl slaving away on the elliptical 6 days a week for an hour getting no results. My body was run down and I wasn’t eating enough. I am so glad I hired the right trainer for me who taught me overtraining can be so harmful. Now I workout 6 days a week, but on a completely different schedule and feel 100 times better. It just goes to show everyone’s body is different.
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22 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 3, 2013 at 2:09 pm

So true! And the worst part about it is that, in a lot of cases, people genuinely want to do good and it’s a lack of knowledge that messes them up. If only we could all have trainers to tell us what to do <3

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23 Lucie@FitSwissChick May 3, 2013 at 9:07 am

Thanks a million!! You know I need to read this, since I am a huge struggeler with overexercising. So inspiring and another kick for me to do some work on that.
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24 Sarah @PickyRunner May 3, 2013 at 9:07 am

I really admire the way you live now post disorder. I am the first to admit I’m an exercise fiend, but every summer I find myself injured in some way the prevents me from working out for about a month, and you’re right- the weight falls off, which is a big concern for a lot of people. I actually had to make sure I was eating more at one point last summer because I started to get too thin and it wasn’t intentional at all. Stress is a big part of that and while I do use running as my way to cope with stress, it also causes a lot of stress and that’s hard to see when you’re so obsessive about it. I enjoy the days where I walk for weeks at a time. I was thinking about this very subject on my run this morning, actually, and I think you’ve inspired me to take a slightly longer hiatus from running than I was originally planning. As usual, you were spot on in your opinion on a really controversial subject.
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25 Lauren May 3, 2013 at 9:44 am

Love this post. Going through multiple surgeries, I’ve learned to cope with taking time off from exercise… Going from a couple of weeks to months. Unforunately, the biggest struggle for me is to eat while I’m just laying around all day. I realize our bodies need fuel to live and we naturally burn calories even while sitting. I just have to have a constant reminder of why I need to just… eat. It’s horrible how much your mind changes and you see exercise as an excuse to eat ANYTHING. It’s hard for me right now because my knee is so swollen from surgery and there’s no hope of walking at the moment… But I just have to stay positive and remember food will only heal. I need to take my own advice. <3
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26 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 3, 2013 at 2:24 pm

That can be the hardest thing sometimes. I can write you a Post-It note to remind you. I’ll even use a pink one and decorate it with flowers and ladybugs :)

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27 Kate @ Quarter Century Southern Living May 3, 2013 at 9:47 am

I love your ability to write about issues that are so important and relevant to so many girls. I love to exercise as it is a great stress release for me and makes me feel better throughout the day, but like so many other things, taken to any extreme, it can be incredibly detrimental to our health and well being. I try to live my life with balance – in food, work, exercise, rest, and fun – but that is definitely easier said than done at times. Thanks for another great post :)
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28 Victoria @ Reluctantly Skinny May 3, 2013 at 10:07 am

I really liked this post, Amanda! Over-exercising is becoming too prevelant in our world, probably due to the pressure to look a certain way. I’m really glad someone posted realistic results of what happenes when you stop or cut back!
I have a very OCD personality and I tend to “plan” everything, but I try not to let that dictate my exercise schedule. I usually try to do whatever I’m feeling that day and attend some gym classes that I enjoy. Exercise is important, but it’s also important not to let it control your life. We need rest days, days with our family, and days to just veg out and relax, too!
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29 Carly @ Snack Therapy May 3, 2013 at 10:09 am

I totally understand the exercise addiction thing. I used to have SO much anxiety around the gym. Now, I pretty much work out for one hour, four times per week, when I teach my group exercise classes. I also count walking to/from campus as daily exercise! I love walking!
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30 Ksenija @ Health Ninja May 3, 2013 at 10:14 am

Great post – I love that you talk more about this issue. I used to gain weight while training for my first 10 K, though it only were 5-6 pounds really bothered since they obviously weren’t made out of muscles. Afterwards I tried various sports programs and ended only gaining a bit more. This year I consciously decided to cut back on sports and only do what’s fun for me and for the first time in two years I actually lost a few of those pounds and maintained my weight. Yoga and short runs or long walks are the only thing I do nowadays and I am happy this way.

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31 Beth @ Mangoes and Miles May 3, 2013 at 10:30 am

Ahhh I lovelovelove this post so much. I used to have such a hard time with rest days because I would feel the need to go out there and break a sweat so I didn’t feel like a useless lump all day. I’ve been kind of forced to start taking more rest days because the mileage I’ve been running has been too much for my body, and I’m still on the fence about it. I know my body needs rest, but…ah! Anxiety out the wazoo.

Anyway, this helped bring me some peace of mind. It’s nice to hear from a healthy living blogger who doesn’t do 2 hours of exercise per day, and it’s nice to know that no one has to! :)
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32 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 3, 2013 at 2:27 pm

The rest will do you good – promise :) And girl… useless lump? Pft. How much you exercise has nothing to do with how much you’re worth.

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33 Hollie May 3, 2013 at 10:48 am

This is a great post and you nailed it right on the head. First, I completely agree that over excersing is a huge issue in the blogging world. People compare themselves constantly..on ability level…ability to physically work out…how much…how long…ect…

Here is the thing as someone who ran collegiate and reads a few collegiate athlete blogs, often times there is not exact line of how much is too much. I also find a lot of bloggers blame that they are college athletes for how much they work out (which sorry D3 sports no one forces you to lose weight and no one forces you to run as much as claimed…anyways). I personally think the best way to look at over training is looking at injuries as well as energy level. Knowing when to back off and not saying “rest days are hard”…as someone who is taking a rest day today actually I can tell you…nothing hard about that.

I feel this was more of a rant than comment but that’s that.
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34 Missy May 3, 2013 at 10:53 am

One thing that I found was keeping me chained to my after work workout regime in an obsessive way was the ROUTINE of it all.
The obsession with having my day planned out, that little break between work and home, became tyrannical. I literally had no idea what I would do if I didn’t go to the gym even if it was only for 15 minutes.

It really helped me to have back up plans to fill that time frame and what was perfect for me was an easy (leisurely) walk with my dog as the sunset listening to Podcasts.
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35 meredith May 3, 2013 at 11:15 am

I realized I wake up a lot at night and get up even earlier (I am a total morning person regardless) when I am overtraining. I don’t take rest days too often so I just try to vary my intensity each week and sub in walks instead of runs or spin. I love my 30 min a day even if it is a slow walk. It is so important that we pay attention to our bodies and realize we are not like anyone else – what works for me may or may not hold true for someone else.
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36 Brandi May 3, 2013 at 11:18 am

I really do love this post!! I have gone through periods where I will completely stress out about my workouts and like you say here, it caused so many other problems. I really have to catch myself when I start to feel that coming on. Sometimes I even have to avoid blog reading so that I don’t hit the comparison game.
I love just being able to get a walk in and enjoy the time to myself. :)
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37 Alex @ Cookie Dough Katzen May 3, 2013 at 11:19 am

Good post! It’s definitely important to be aware of being obsessed with something that’s good for you, like working out. I have practiced telling myself it’s okay to take a few days off here and there and it works!
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38 Brittany @ GOtheXtraMile May 3, 2013 at 11:29 am

Love this post, Amanda! I have to agree with you on exercise addiction. It IS a real thing these days, just as not exercising enough is. Exercise addiction can be just as bad in my eyes. Working out is a paradox, it actually stresses the body, and it breaks muscles down. That is why rest is SO important in an exercise routine. Since your muscles are broken down in the gym, they need just as much time to heal! A lot of people have a hard time wrapping their head around it, but it is something that people need to learn.
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39 Laura Agar Wilson (@lauraagarwilson) May 3, 2013 at 11:36 am

I completely agree with that article, I think being generally active in life is way better than set workout ‘routines’ however I think the issue for a lot of people is that now we have cars etc that active lifestyle we would have once had is gone and the gym becomes more convenient. I’m definitely making more of an effort to walk whenever I can, if I worked somewhere in walking difference I’d be tempted to knock the gym right down! Still love a bit of yoga as well though :-)
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40 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 3, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Convenience is definitely a huge factor, especially somewhere like here where winter lasts 6 months :? But one thing that bothers me is that I find a lot of people use the gym as a reason to be less active for the rest of the day. It’s like… I already worked out, so now I can just veg around.

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41 Brittany May 3, 2013 at 12:01 pm

I think your version of daily exercise is perfect. Walking is a GREAT way to stay active without the stress on your body. I have been walking a LOT more lately and cutting back on the intense workouts. Your theory on losing weight when you stopped working out makes a lot of sense. Stress and body fat go HAND in HAND! Thanks for sharing this post! I love to see how things work for other people.

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42 Sam @ Better With Sprinkles May 3, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Adore this post! It’s interesting, because in a society where obesity is such a huge concern, people forget that overtraining can be a huge problem as well. I love your laid back attitude and think that a lot of people could benefit from adopting it!

You know that I tried a similar approach for the last month, and I’ve been loving it. I go to the gym when I have time and when I feel up to it, as opposed to “must get to the gym in this one hour window!” so coincide with pre and post workout meals, etc…it was ridiculous and causing a ton of stress. It’s crazy how much more relaxed I’ve felt the last couple of weeks just getting in workouts when I can! And building exercise into day-to-day life has been huge as well…I basically consider Saturday groceries/errand running to be a workout, because I park near the back of each of the lots I go to and get a ton of walking in. And I’m likely going to be biking to work most days when I start next week…so yay informal exercise!

I remember a year or two ago when I HAD to workout 6 days a week, and if something messed with my routine I would be a massive ball of anxiety. Not a particularly fun way to live, especially when I was breaking or avoiding plans just to fit my workouts in. I’d rather focus on living, than what happens in the gym!
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43 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 3, 2013 at 2:36 pm

I get a full body workout every Saturday when I clean my entire place :mrgreen: Vacuuming and scrubbing get my heart rate up like nothing else :lol:

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44 lindsay May 3, 2013 at 12:10 pm

i swear you are mini me. YEp, same thing happened. 8 months of just walking and yoga, good for the mind, body, and soul. Thanks for sharing your beautiful heart amanda! you don’t know how much of an impact you are onto others. xxoo
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45 Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health May 3, 2013 at 12:31 pm

I can totally relate with what you wrote as I have definitely felt myself getting addicted to exercise. My lifestyle has changed recently and it has really impacted my ability to exercise as much. But stressing out about it and being unhappy about the frequency of exercise is worse than not exercising at all. Being active should be about having fun and being healthy not how many hours you logged or how hard you pushed yourself. Maybe for athletes, but not for us normal people. I have to constantly remind myself that just going on a long walk is good enough so thanks for the affirmation!
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46 Christine May 3, 2013 at 12:38 pm

just the right post at the right time.
You won’t believe me how helpful your writing is Amanda…
I’m currently fighting my exercise addiction and you talked about all the topics that circle in my head, the fear of what will happen if i cut back on running.
But i ended up with “shin splints” and sunday is my first half marathon so i had to rest the last 14days and i still run in pain… because i overexercised and didn’t rest…

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47 Emily May 3, 2013 at 12:51 pm

I don’t know how you do it, but your posts always seem to address EXACTLY what I’ve been thinking about or dealing with. It’s kind of creepy…
I’ve been there too, girl. Exercise addiction is a scary thing and I feel like it’s not only becoming more accepted, it’s being praised. I truly believe that social media (Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, etc.) are the biggest culprits- we’re constantly bombarded with quotes and images that convince us that we should spend ‘X’ amount of hours in the gym, or burn ‘X’ amount of calories to be healthy. Sooo not true.

It’s so refreshing to see a blogger, like yourself, that has truly overcome exercise addiction. I can relate 100% to all of the positive changes you saw when you cut back. It was amazing and completely shocked me. I fully expected to blow up like a balloon. Oh, the silly tricks our minds play…
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48 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 3, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Ohhhh fitspiration…. That’s an entirely different rant in itself *left eye twitches*

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49 Lisa C. May 3, 2013 at 12:52 pm

I love you. I mean that in a very non-creepy way. ;)
But this is such a fabulous post. This is such an important part of the recovery process. “Nothing bad happened”. Amen! You’re doing good things and helping many people.
Have a wonderful weekend, dear!

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50 Courtney May 3, 2013 at 12:57 pm

This is a great post, I’ve been through some exercise-addicted periods and it’s really draining! Thanks for sharing, dear :)
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51 Picky Nicky May 3, 2013 at 12:59 pm

I don’t think you should be encouraging people to stop exercising :S Plenty of people train for marathons or on sports teams and they don’t need to be told that if they quit their sport they’re gonna lose weight and be less bloated or whatever. I get that you stopped exercising because you were addicted to it but that’s not the case for everyone, some people push themselves to their limits for other reasons
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52 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 3, 2013 at 2:43 pm

I’m not encouraging people to stop exercising at all. I’m telling people that are struggling to overcome an exercise addiction that might be harming their body that it’s okay to ease up and that nothing bad will happen as a result. Of course there are people who have a legitimate passion for it, but this post was directed at the people who want/need to rest more but are afraid to.

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53 Rachel @ Undercover Diva: A Sitcom May 3, 2013 at 1:07 pm

I love this. I’m working on stressing less about my exercise, but I have to admit that gaining weight is a HUGE fear of mine. However, reading blogs written by people who have overcome disordered eating and exercise obsession has helped me pinpoint which thoughts are healthy and which thoughts are unhealthy, allowing me to redirect my thinking into positive thoughts to stay happy and healthy. Thank you so much for sharing this with us!
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54 Tonia May 3, 2013 at 1:35 pm

My husband wants to walk in the morning before work together. We did it twice this week and it felt amazing. He suggested we do it together every day. I panicked. No interval training, no weight lifting????? I am scared to death to let go and do what feels good. What if I gain weight? What if I am not moving enough on our walks? What do I do? I am recovering from an ED and I honestly feel like I am regressing at the age of 36. I don’t know what is going on, but I feel stressed about eating, exercising, schedules, etc. Most days, I just want to cry. When I read your posts, they make so much sense and I only wish I could feel as you do right now. It has been over seven years since I began my journey with having an ED and I thought I was better. But, I don’t think I am. I would love to just let go and not feel so out of control. I know it’s one step at a time, but I thought I had made progress. I am going to try and make those walks with my husband work. I truly feel like it is what my body is asking for. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. I truly feel more confident making decisions after I read about your experiences.

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55 Jenna May 3, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Oh my god I love this! I can TOTALLY relate. Up until about 2 weeks ago I’d been going to the gym religiously 5-7 days a week and it was starting to kill me mentally and physically. I feel like I’ve been striving for a level of fitness that I somehow NEVER seem to attain and it is frustrating because I put so much time into it and work so hard. It has made me depressed, it’s taken from my social life, I feel so guilty if I miss one day of working out, etc. So I went on vacation and realized how much better it feels to just be ACTIVE, like you said! I was walking around a lot, hiking, biking, and just living my life. I haven’t been back to the gym since, and although I still feel fear and guilt about weight and loss of fitness, NOTHING has changed in regards to my body! I’m so surprised! And I feel great!! I’m want to work towards incorporating fitness and activity into my life instead of trying to fit my life into my fitness routine.

Thanks for being seemingly the only blogger that advocates this sort of lifestyle. While I love reading healthy living blogs, I honestly should stop reading the ones that feed my guilty feelings towards not working out constantly or not having someone else’s body or goals. I don’t know how some of these ladies do it! :)

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56 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 3, 2013 at 3:39 pm

It was a vacation that really changed things for me as well :) And I love what you said about incorporating fitness into your life instead of trying to fit life into your fitness routine! It can definitely be hard sometimes when you’re reading about what others are doing, but you just have to remember what makes you feel good and what doesn’t.

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57 Kate May 3, 2013 at 2:12 pm

You nailed it. Awesome post! I’ve definitely been there too – I had to get a run in every day. Then even when I got my first running injury I started cross-training two hours a day…now crosstraining is important so you can get back to running more easily but like…it got to the point where I was working out for twice the amount of time I’d previously spent running. And then, I couldn’t even get back to running because I tore my labrum through all that crosstraining. And so, I’ve taken the past 3-4 months off from formal workouts – and the first two months I wasn’t exercising at all (except physical therapy obviously)…..and you’re right nothing bad happened! It sucks that I had to learn that lesson via a major surgery, but there you go.

I will also say that the only exercise that’s good for you are the workouts you can recover from. That includes fueling properly (before and after), as well as sleeping enough and taking into account how active you are during the rest of the day. That’s why a lot of athletes are very lean – because they actually fuel well enough so that their bodies don’t need to hang on to excess weight. There were three months between my diagnosis and the operation, and during that time (basically once I moved to Colorado) I got my act together and started eating and sleeping enough to support my workouts. So that said, I did gain a few pounds during the inactive period, but it’s the kind of thing that only I notice (well…I hope at least LOL). And I also sleep WAY better when I can exercise, but again that’s only because I finally learned how to do it right – back in my addiction days I slept terribly, was slowly putting on weight, was bloated and crabby all the time, my digestion sucked…..all of that’s been better both since I started training properly and has continued when I stopped training.

So…bottom line, if you’re recovering properly then exercise is great. But if you’re not, then you need to stop, let your body re-calibrate and then get back to it – if you want to! And it’s perfectly fine if you don’t want to. Walks have been my go-to activity since surgery and they’re awesome! But I do think I eventually want to run again. Definitely not now, but I want to give it another shot when I feel ready.

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58 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 3, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Ahhh proper fuelling is such a big part of it and the one that I have most trouble figuring out. Sometimes I think about getting back into something, but that’s the one thing that keeps me from doing it. Never know what’s going to happen in the future, but for now this suits me just fine.

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59 Kim @ Hungry Healthy Girl May 3, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Exersice can definitely be addicting. Right now, I just don’t have time to spend a lot of time at the gym or working out. And just devoting about 30 mins a day to being active has been much better….there are so many other things to enjoy. I’m glad the you realized you had a problem and it’s great that you’ve had such great results with not following a strict exercise schedule.
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60 Jessy May 3, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Good post overall, but how is walking ON A TREADMILL any less formal than running or any other type of exercise? The idea seems even more obsessive/weird to me than traditional cardio.

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61 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 3, 2013 at 3:53 pm

You know when you have some extra energy/time to blow and it’s too cold to go outside? That’s when a treadmill comes in handy. You’ll never find me in the gym when the weather is nice, but considering we get pretty much 6 months of winter here, it’s a nice last resort to have. I don’t enjoy running so I walk, and it’s not obsessive because it’s not something I schedule in or feel like I have to do – I go when I feel like it and I pass when I don’t.

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62 Elise May 3, 2013 at 3:21 pm

I couldn’t agree with you more! I am currently at a point where I was told not to exercise. It was initially hard (from the standpoint that I feared what would happen after not working out) but I actually really needed that in my life. I was addicted to exercise, obsessed with doing as much cardio as possible on as little food as possible. As my recovery process continues on, I’ve let go of the need to exercise and rely on that. I know I can be healthy with just walking when I want to do so. It’s refreshing and releasing to realize I can still be healthy without having to exercise vigorously. It’s a freedom I never thought I would accept or welcome!
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63 Courtney @ Star Systemz May 3, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Great post, I couldn’t agree more! I work with a lot of clients who are workout and numbers obsessed and getting them out of that notion and just relaxing about it makes such a huge difference in the stress factor which also lessens belly fat, hello stress causes belly fat! Crazy but true! Thanks for being so open, you are changing lives. Love and shine courtstar

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64 Devon @ Health in Equilibrium May 3, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Wow, I’ve heard a lot of people talk positively about cutting back on exercise, but having it all laid out here is a real eye-opener. I have definitely cut back on exercise lately and I’m okay with it because I like having more time to do other things and not feeling sore all the time. I still like to do something almost everyday, but I keep my strength workouts short and intense (10-25 minutes) or I do yoga, go for a run or just a long walk. You really were a big inspiration in my making that change :)
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65 Aimee @Cinnamon Castle May 3, 2013 at 5:07 pm

This was so refreshing to read! I never suffered with exercise addiction, in fact throughout my eating disorder relapses I never exercised at all (I was very young, so i guess I didn’t understand what exercise does). I HATE sports and always got really bad marks, but yet, I force myself to exercise. I swore to myself I’d never join a gym, as it’s just not ‘me’. I loathe any sort of machinery, and I find classes just awkward. And plus, who wants to pay for exercise when you can get it for free with a walk or youtube or something? I went to England 5 months ago and did NO exercise for 2 months. I would maybe go for a few walks to the shop a few times a week (and even then, it wasn’t decked out in sports gear) and I have never felt better about my body. Since I have been back I’ve pushed myself to exercise at least once a day (even if I’m working which is quite physical work) and I’ve tried running, it’s not for me, but I force myself to do at least a fast paced 45min walk, PLUS something like pilates videos (which I hate) or another bike ride or something like that. Since doing that I’ve gained weight, and not even muscle, and I feel extremely uncomfortable in my skin, and my digestion has been all over the place. Sorry for the ramble, I just really liked this post!

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66 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 3, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Don’t apologize at all, girl! Thank you for sharing your experience. You never know – someone who’s going through the same thing might come across it and feel less alone.

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67 Katie @ KatieEnPursuit May 3, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Slam dunk yet again! So true that nothing “bad” will happen! I’ve made huge gains with this recently. Allowing myself to stay in bed when I wake-up really tired instead of pushing myself to workout & not freaking the eff out if I don’t exercise as planned. It’s scary the point we allow ourselves to get to. I have to thank you for continuing to serve as an awesome role model for many of us!
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68 Kelly @ Femme Fitale May 3, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Fitness is near and dear to my heart, as is psychology, so I found this post to be quite interesting.

Addictions can come in many forms. So, I don’t necessarily think it is ‘exercise’ that is the culprit, but instead the psychological ties that a person develops with it. I’m of the philosophy that exercise is a very essential part of living a healthy and balanced lifestyle; the physiological advantages far outweigh the alternative. I could go on and on about these advantages, but I think everyone has already heard that song and dance.

If exercise becomes stressful and controlling, that’s when the issues arise- when it dictates your life choices and views about self-worth. That’s when adjustments to one’s fitness routine should happen. However, what if someone works out for other reasons than “losing weight”? My husband needs to workout every day due to a re-occurring hip problem that stays away as long as he exercises. I’m trying to get back into pre-baby shape right now. Although food choice is the #1 way to achieve a healthy body weight, I won’t achieve the results I want unless I incorporate some higher intensity exercise.

I think the main point here, and the one you are trying to make as well, is that there isn’t a 1-size-fits-all for exercising. I think it takes a bit of exploring until eventually you find what gives you the most satisfaction and leaves you with positive energy: walking? HIIT? cycling? Body Pump? yoga? The options are endless. Sedentary lifestyle is just as problematic as is exercise obsession, though. It’s all about finding the “thing” that gets your heart pumping and makes you feel alive. ;)

Love your blog, girl. xo
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69 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 3, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Exercise has a LOT of benefits, no doubt about it, and I definitely agree that physical activity has to be part of any healthy lifestyle. But like you said, problems arise when it starts taking too big of a toll on the body, which is unfortunately exactly what happens when it becomes obsessive and excessive. Any exercise puts a certain amount of stress on the body, but it’s a positive stress that the body can go on to recover and benefit from. It’s when the body can no longer recover properly that it’s time to take a step back.

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70 Ellie@Fit for the Soul May 3, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Ahh another great post, Amanda! I feel as though I’m pretty good at not overexcising, yet I do also have those days when I get annoyed at myself for missing my workout that I was looking forward to. That’s when I know that I need to chill out and reassess my habits because it’s borderline idolizing working out. I know I love exercising for the mental benefits and how light it makes me feel because I love to be out there doing things without having to physically struggle, but your posts on this subject matter always keep me in check and remind me that I shouldn’t stress out about it, and just simply enjoy it. :)
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71 Brittany @ Delights and Delectables May 3, 2013 at 6:00 pm

love, love, love this! I feel so much better after cutting down my exercise. It allowed my adrenals to bounce back and my hormones are starting to get back to normal. I don’t think people realize how much over exercising can effect!
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72 Katy May 3, 2013 at 7:19 pm

Ahh, this reminds me so much of my experience with giving up exercise! I walk and occasionally run, but giving up strength training was really hard for me because I had images of myself getting fat and flabby, but it just didn’t happen. My body barely changed! I’m definitely much happier now :)
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73 Laura May 3, 2013 at 8:20 pm

What perfect timing for you to write this. I plan on reading all of the comments afterward.
2 weeks ago I became aware of how much my life was revolving around going to the gym. It was never cardio…always circuits and weights, but it turned into a few times a week to every. single. day. My body was exhausted, my mind incapable of working to it’s full capacity, and my day’s revolved around the workouts. I would lie to go to the gym, tell people I was places I was not…it was horrible, and in a weird way, extremely stressful.

I told my Nutritionist 2 weeks ago about this realization and we both realized that with an increase of exercise came a decrease in food intake. Something needed to change. So I was told to get back on track with eating and only lifting weights 2-3x per week MAX. But this didn’t seem right to me. To me, 2-3x would just continue the addiction, so instead I upped my intake and stopped going to the gym all together.

I checked back in with my Nutritionist today and despite increasing my intake and stopping all exercise, I lost 1/2 a lb. Nothing to worry about, but for someone who assumed she would immediately balloon up…this is a big deal. But like you, my anxiety decreased SIGNIFICANTLY since I stopped exercising. Sure, I get anxious that I’m not going to the gym, but I’ll just go for a short walk instead. But knowing that I’m being honest with myself and others, that my days have SO much more free time and I don’t need to rush out the door to squeeze in a workout…it just feels great. And I’m not tired all the time and am much more willing to be productive at home AND at work.

Thanks for this post…it was extremely reassuring. And tomorrow I’m calling my gym and canceling my membership. I would much rather spend my summer days outdoors than inside a gym anyways. =)
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74 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 4, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Thanks so much for sharing, Laura! Hopefully someone will come across your story that can relate and get inspired by the positive steps you took <3

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75 Ashley @ AlmostVegGirlie May 3, 2013 at 9:02 pm

I’m so glad you posted on this today, because it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I feel like I might possibly have exercise addiction, because I feel guilty when I get too busy to exercise, or to fit in as much workout time as usual. I can rarely go a full day without working out but I feel like I’m not seeing much progress though I exercise daily. I often will still exercise even though I have a headache or am feeling off, and then I feel bad afterwards when I didn’t have a great workout. And since I’ve been exercising more, my weight’s gone up a bit (not in an unhealthy way, since a year ago I was quite underweight, but it’s making me uncomfortable and anxious) and it’s been driving me crazy.

I always assumed eating clean+intense exercise would equal weight loss, but what you’re saying here about stress and exercise is starting to get through to me. I’m actually starting to believe that I don’t have to restrict my intake significantly or ramp up the exercise to maintain or lose (and I can honestly say I probably don’t ‘need’ to lose weight, but I still feel anxiety about my body and struggle with body dysmorphia sometimes) and I could probably actually benefit from taking a week off from exercise to reevaluate, then adding back in yoga and walking into my routine and then returning to a more regular workout schedule with at least one rest day per week. It scares me to make such a huge jump out of my comfort zone, but I don’t want to live like this forever. I can honestly say I love exercise, but not when it feels forced, and I want to get back to loving the way it makes me feel.
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76 Sara @ Nourish and Flourish May 4, 2013 at 2:41 am

Yet another refreshing, thought-provoking, and timely post, Amanda! This one in particular, though, resonates *very* deeply with me. During my eating disorder years, my anxieties about food expressed themselves in a variety of ways; I adhered strictly to low fat foods; then low carb; then diet everythit ang; then vegan; then “clean”….However, what remained constant was my relationship with exercise. More was always better, and if I missed a workout, or wasn’t able to exercise for at least 60 minutes (minimum), I’d fall apart. It was only a matter of time before my body began to fall apart physically, too. I stress fractured bones, and experienced adrenal fatigue and exhaustion. Not fun! Being forced to sit out on the sidelines was torturous, but it helped me reevaluate my addictive relationship with exercise. Not only that, I realized that resting for extending periods of time–or at least doing different forms of exercise like swimming and biking—worked wonders for me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. :)

Last year, I began following structured exercise regimens again, however the difference is that I’m now able to acknowledge when I need a break, and actually TAKE the break. I enjoy the structure, but completely agree that exercise is far from “one size fits all.” What works for one person, won’t necessarily work for another. And not only that, but what works for one person during one phase of their life, won’t necessarily work in another phase. We’re constantly evolving and growing, and being able to adapt to changes and desires is, what I think, truly makes a person healthy.

Happy weekend, love! <3
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77 Ashley @ Eat Run Live Happy May 4, 2013 at 6:10 am

Okay… I’m a little late with the comment but first, Running with Spoons is officially my favorite blog to read right now. Going on the top of the blog roll list.
Anywho, I’m pretty sure we are the same mind in a different body. I’ve been recovered for a year this month (yaye!) and I have had the same problem with exercise. I’m actually training for a full marathon right now so I do have to run a lot BUT I am really learning to not freak out if I miss a run. I had a huge anxiety attack about two months ago and ALMOST purged. I knew then that I needed to work on my anxiety, not about food this time, but when it came to missing a work out. However, I do strongly believe that running and having a fitness goal that doesn’t involve weight, has really really played a part in my recovery.
I actually felt guilty after my recovery for wanting to be fit. I thought people would take it the wrong way and think I still had ED thoughts. Now, I think recovery doesn’t mean you don’t have to care what you eat or what you look like. For me, it means focusing on being healthy and being the best, happiest person I can be.
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78 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 4, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Feeling guilty for wanting to be fit after recovery? I can definitely relate to that. Sometimes I almost feel like I’m not allowed enjoy exercise or healthy food anymore. But I really love what you said about focusing on being healthy – there’s definitely nothing wrong with that :)

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79 Ashley @ Eat Run Live Happy May 5, 2013 at 6:49 am

I felt compelled to write a post about it today! I’m glad someone can relate and I’m not the only one!
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80 Ali May 4, 2013 at 7:38 am

AAAAAAAAAAAAND this is why you are my favorite blogger <3 I work with so many women who feel the need to go to the gym 6 times a week, and I can see the exhaustion in their eyes (and hair, and skin, and lack of periods, and the list goes on….) That was me years ago- teaching 14 fitness classes a week, THEN going on a run, THEN going to hot yoga…..when I got really sick with an autoimmune heart condition and LITERALLY could not do anything. I almost died because of the condition, and since have developed multiple autoimmune issues, to which I manage fully through balanced diet, TAKING IT EASY and not overdoing it (!!!!!), sleep, and stress management. Exercise for me is teaching and doing yoga and walking my dog. Ironically, my body and brain never felt better. It felt so good to not have to plan my life around when I was going to the gym, and to just live my life. When the voices creep in and I start to worry about not being in good cardiovascular shape- I say to myself "what would the purpose of me being able to run 10 miles be?" Can I walk my dog briskly without discomfort? can I garden, and kick the soccer ball with my husband, and walk up the stairs without gasping? Can I go hiking and live my life? To me, that is health and fitness. Thanks for putting this out there. There is a lot of overexercising going on in this community, and it needs to be talked about.

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81 Kat May 4, 2013 at 8:51 am

This is a really great post lovie.
Exercise addiction was totally my problem. Being a soccer player I already had 2 hour practices everyday, but I would then go home and run some more. It was just all sorts of bad. And def when I started fighting back against my ED, toning down the exercise seemed impossible. Some days it can still be hard. The difference is now instead of being addicted to the calorie burn, Im addicted to the sweat and muscle burn! Oh and just the muscles in general. I must admit that I love when I get compliments from someone about my arms or my fitness. :) But it is totally a balance. Some days are better than others.
I struggle the most on vacations, because Im just eating and not doing anything. I think, like you said, if I were just more active it wouldn’t be such a big deal, but who is really active on vacays?! lol
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82 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 4, 2013 at 5:00 pm

I’m probably more active on vacations than I am at home :lol: All the walking around from sightseeing really adds up!

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83 Tatiana May 4, 2013 at 1:04 pm

thank you for this! I’m not a total exercise addict, but I do like staying in motion… however, this reassures me greatly that if I do take a break sometimes I won’t turn into a total potato :)
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84 Liv @ Life As Liv May 4, 2013 at 3:40 pm

I definitely have a fear that if I stop working out, I’ll gain weight suddenly (oh the horror). You have no idea how comforting it is to hear that missing that one workout won’t suddenly put 20 pounds on my body. I’m definitely making leaps and bounds with intuitive eating, and I think intuitive exercise is next on my “to tackle” list.
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85 Mary @ Fit and Fed May 5, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Very interesting, Amanda! I would say that I do rely on the mood-lifting benefits of exercise but I never thought of it as a problem? Eye-openinng post. But for me it’s not just the exercise itself that helps my mood, it’s my friends who I see when I go to the rink to skate. And surely that’s healthy? I like the feeling of skating itself, it’s not just the exercise, though that is certainly a part of it, it’s that the motion feels very freeing. It is also true that my sport (figure skating) requires a lot of repetitive motion to get the skills, and I have dealt with those kinds of injuries, though I have more awareness of them and strategies to prevent them now. Certainly it’s very important to have a lot of strategies in life to feel good, and not just be totally reliant on one like exercise.
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86 Megan May 5, 2013 at 4:51 pm

This. Is. Awesome. I don’t really read blogs anymore, but I know most bloggers who are “recovered” are now suddenly addicted to weight lifting and protein. Ugh. Keep doing your thang, girl!!!

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87 Kerryne May 5, 2013 at 8:44 pm

LOVE. THIS. POST. This is such a serious topic going around my circle of friends (otherwise knows as gym addicts) as we speak. I have experienced all sides of this being a competor and could not agree with you more. Sometimes in this instance LESS is actually MORE and better for you. Its all about listening to your body!

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88 Kerryne May 5, 2013 at 8:45 pm

*competitor

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89 kris May 6, 2013 at 12:38 am

I think this is definitely a topic that a lot of people struggle with. I know I definitely had quite some time of working out way too much, but I’ve finally reached a point where I know when I need the extra rest and am actually okay with taking consecutive days off. I know that everyone is different and can take on different levels of exercise, but I’m glad you talked about what works for you!
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90 Katherine May 6, 2013 at 5:33 am

love love love that quote (90% of the things you worry about never happen)
wow. so true.
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91 Caitlin May 6, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Amanda, you don’t realize how unbelievably helpful this post is for me in my life right now – thank you beyond words…

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92 Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets May 6, 2013 at 6:29 pm

I love to exercise; it makes me happy and helps me manage my stress. It’s a wonderful release for me, and I truly feel differently when I go for long periods of time without it. That being said, some weeks I exercise five times a week and other times only two. It depends on how much time I have and how stressed I am, and I don’t carry any guilt over not exercising on days off. It’s important to give your body a break from time to time.

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93 Cammie May 6, 2013 at 8:05 pm

I love this post! I used to workout way too hard and now I just listened to my body and it feels so much better. Yoga and light jogging/walking is doing it for me. Love your blog!
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94 Meghan @ After the Ivy League May 7, 2013 at 8:30 pm

It’s so great to hear another perspective on exercise! From the complete opposite side of the spectrum. Exercise addiction definitely seems to be rampant in the blog world these days, and it’s something I’m cautious of. Whenever something hurts, or I feel exhausted for an unknown reason, or I’m just plain stressed out about not having enough time for this that or the other, exercise falls to the bottom of my to-do list. The greatest realization happened for me during grad school when I quite literally had no time for exercise and skipped it entirely for 3 weeks. Anddd…nothing happened. No dramatic weight gain. Or increased stress. Or decreased sleep. I was just fine without it. But I am happy to have time to exercise again, I do still enjoy it, and whenever I stop enjoying it, that just means it’s time for a little break.
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95 Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli May 9, 2013 at 10:31 pm

I love your perspective on this! I swear, my outlook on exercise has changed dramatically over the last couple of months. I think I had actually started getting a bit into the exercise addiction before I gave up calorie counting, because I was experiencing a lot of burnout/depressing thoughts. And of course, I always ended up comparing myself to others feeling guilty if I missed going to the gym. But after my knee surgery and being faced with the fact that I could NOT exercise, I definitely don’t take movement (no matter how simple) for granted anymore. A walk is a WALK…it’s SOMETHING! And there are some days where it is my everything…just being outdoors, walking in the sun, listening to the birds…I can’t believe I used to scoff at the thought when now it’s probably my favorite form of exercise!
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96 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 10, 2013 at 6:52 am

Well thanks for admitting that you were totally scoffing at me back in the day! :P

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97 Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli May 10, 2013 at 5:23 pm

Hahaha! I was scoffing at myself too! Which I will NEVER do again…I swear, the first time I was able to walk with my knee I just wanted to keep going forever JUST because I could actually do it…and then I was all kinds of sore the next day! Lol
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98 Albizia May 21, 2013 at 12:13 am

I completely fell off the face of the blog world. Not only did I stop writing but also reading. *ashamed* Well, I’m not gonna stop reading you. I went through the 23 posts I had to catch up with and I’m happy to see everything is so upbeat and colourful. (That chicken cracked me up!) Now let’s leave a few comments here and there.

Exercise… We’ve been friends forever. I’ve always been quite active but it wasn’t until I decided I was a fat cow that I started actually paying attention to my physical activity. I increased and increased the number of exercises in my daily workout until I didn’t have enough energy to keep up with the crazy routine and eventually kinda ruined my knees. At some point I started coming back to my senses and gradually got rid of almost everything on the workout list but never really let myself have a day off. Imagine 2 days off for 4 years. 1 day spent on a transcontinental trip that is hell of a workout on its own and 1 day being too sick to move. Even if said workout takes 10 minutes a day, there is something really wrong in the inability to stop. I finally realized it won’t kill me less than a month ago thanks to le boyfriend who dragged his butt all the way to Japan. I thought it would be absolutely ridiculous to leave him alone while doing my workout after he flew 6500 miles to see me. And surprise! The world didn’t end. There were no floods, earthquakes (well, there were 2 but that’s Japan after all) or other disasters and, of course, I didn’t gain any weight. I’m supposed to be a smart girl but I tend to act really stupid sometimes. I think we can count cuddling as exercise in addition to walking :)
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99 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 21, 2013 at 3:40 pm

It’s good to hear from you, girl! I was wondering how things were with you, but I remember coming across a pic of you and your boy on IG so I assumed you were out there having a great time :)

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100 Tara January 22, 2014 at 8:53 am

This is a really great post. I’ve had two kids and finally lost the baby weight about 1 1/2 years after my second with a controlled diet and walks. There was a small amount of excess around my middle that I thought I could get rid of with more intense exercise, so I bought a tredmill last March. Well, what a horrible idea that was. I started running, an then soon after that I started noticing my weight go up, and my appetite go up. I was horrified to see that I had put on 10 pounds within a month and a half. Not only did I gain weight I also had knee and ankle problems. I told myself that it would all balance out, well it never did. All the new clothes I bought from losing my 20 pounds of baby weight weren’t fitting anymore, I was so confused, angry, depressed. Why wasn’t this working!!!

I stopped running for a while and lost some of the weight I had gained. I still had it in my head that I had to really exercise to lose weight. I stared incline walking on the treadmill. My knees and ankles felt better but my weight skyrocketed again. I have recently stopped exercising and am now focusing on my diet in hopes to fix the damage I did in the last 10 months. Buying that treadmill was a waste of time and money, now not only do I still have occasional pain from my knees and ankles I have 12 pounds that I have to re lose. I will be sticking with walking for exercise.

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101 ronak March 1, 2014 at 6:06 pm

I just want to skip exercise or yoga for 4 day ( as i am going on trip)a i am afraid will my muscles will get cramped

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102 Noemi April 1, 2014 at 11:07 am

I found this post while looking for answers/ideas/opinions. I have been working out and paying attention to what I eat since I was 7, swimming, step, weights, running. 3 days a week and now 4 days a week, introducing exercises for legs/arms whenever I have time..I am not saying this is not healthy, it is, but mentally stressful. When you work 8 hrs a week and spend 2 hrs in commuting to work..I feel like working out is all I do in my free time. I feel like I lost connection between my mind and my body. I would love to try some yoga or barre classes along with more walking but my first fear is..what will happen to my body if I don’t run 7 km 4 days a week? I am still stuck, tired of going to the gym, a gigantic space that feels so impersonal and noisy. I am thinking about changing my routine..maybe I should just try and see what happens, listen to my body more. This post was inspirational, thank you!

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103 Francesca April 4, 2014 at 5:58 am

This is so inspirational! I come on this page everytime I start to panic about not working out! For two years I have ran 15-20 miles a week, which doesn’t seem like much but to me that was what was keeping my weight down! Lately I started to loath it but forced myself to do it anyways! After receiving some blood test results regarding the loss of my period for two years and finding I have some low hormones I knew I needed to do something. I stopped losing at my goal weight of 120lbs but didn’t maintain properly and ended up losing another 10-11lbs. It has only been three weeks but since quitting all formal workouts I have never felt better! I have much more energy, I am able to cycle/walk to university and I am able to sleep in! I haven’t slept in late for so long! Plus I feel so much less stress as I don’t dread workout days anymore! However I still get scared now and then that I will balloon up, even though I’d like to gain about 7lbs!

I do like to be active but how do you reintroduce exercise so that it isn’t about calories and feeling like you deserve to eat?

Again, thank you for this!

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