The line between exercise consistency and compulsion

April 22, 2016

Self-Paced Course: Non-Diet Academy


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A Certified Eating Disorders Registered Dietitian (CEDRD) with a master's degree in dietetics & nutrition. My passion is helping you find peace with food - and within yourself.

Meet Katy

A client was talking to me this week about how hard it is to know when to push herself to exercise if she's not feeling like it, and when to allow herself to take a break.  It begs the question, when does it dishonor your body to exercise?  And when is it an act of self love?  The line between can be blurry.

As an example, if I am signed up for a half marathon there is going to be some training required.  Otherwise I probably wouldn't be able to complete the race, at least not without causing my body a great deal of pain.  Therefore, a training program where I progressively increase my mileage to prepare my body for the race is the most kind way to prepare my body for such a challenge.  Certainly over weeks or months of training there will be days that I am not as enthusiastic about going for a run.  And that can be tricky.  When do I take the day off, run easy, cut it short or walk instead?  When do I do the planned miles anyway? Consistency is required to train, but compulsion can lead to burnout, emotional distress and injury.

Let's look at another example.  Perhaps I start doing yoga and take a couple of classes per week.  I had a stressful day at work, didn't sleep well the night before and missed my afternoon snack so I'm hungry.  All I really want to do is go home and sit on the couch and watch TV while sipping a glass of wine.  Do I go to yoga class after work?  Maybe going home and relaxing is exactly what my soul needs that day.  If so, I should honor that.  Or perhaps I need to get a snack and go to yoga, knowing that I will feel more chill after and glad I went.  But if forcing myself to go when I really don't want to and can't enjoy it, that's compulsion.

I could go through a million more examples.  It's such an ambiguous issue, and only you will truly know if you are being compulsive.  Approach it from a mindset of respect for your body and your true self will whisper words of wisdom.  



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