I service my addiction daily, or six times a week at a minimum. I’m late to work because of my addiction. I sacrifice time with family when we travel to get a fix. I get cranky, crabby, and easily irritable when I haven’t gotten a hit in the last 24 hours. Cravings for my addiction have caused me to do things I never would have thought of, like take time away from doing things I love while on vacation.
I often annoy the heck out of DJ by trying to squeeze time into an already busy day to feed my habit. I make us lake for the company Christmas party, late to leave for trips, and get up early to make sure I feed my compulsion. I get short-tempered when we travel and I don’t have access to a gym or running trail.
I need it. My body needs it. And while I might not look like an addict, I sure as hell hate going a day without at least 45 minutes of gym time.
I, my friends, am an exercise addict. Or rather, I’m addicted to the endorphins I get after exercise. I feel so much better after working out. I sleep better. I eat healthier too.
Ok, my definition of addiction does not go as far as WebMD's definition of exercise addiction. Clearly it’s a real and serious issue for some people. But I do plan my day around when I can sneak a gym session, bike ride or run in. I also don’t strive for perfection; I like wine and chocolate too much to strive for 5% body fat!
But I do plan crazy things, like getting up at 6am to go to the gym when my day is too busy to squeeze it in any other time. Getting up at 8 am tomorrow at the lake to go for a run on the bike trail. Scheduleing a two hour bike ride the morning of our wedding. Setting reminders on my work computer for all of the gym classes I like to take, and marking my availability as "tenative" during those times.
It can feel selfish too. I prefer to exercise alone. I like to go at my own pace, jamming out on my iPod. Fast on a bike, slow when running. It takes me away from my family and friends when we’re together. A few years ago I went with my dad on a bike ride and left him in the dust, which he reprimanded me for when we got home. Apparently a leisurely bike ride with my dad wasn’t something I had the time for, not when I could go all out for an hour.
Biking in 2005 at the lake.
My mom and me getting ready to bike it out.
It’s been a lifestyle choice for me for nearly five years now. This obsession, this need, and this craving. My worst nightmare is blowing out an knee, because then I couldn’t exercise while I recover. How would I handle that?
I’m making light of my gym obsession. And I know most doctors would prefer if their patients were so motivated. But I also recognize that sometimes, I should just lighten up on it a little.
How can such a good thing sometimes feel so… self-interested?