By Jeremy Rubera
I’m an exercise addict, I admit it. Yes, there is such a thing. Admitting it and understanding that was the first step. Naturally, my next question was now how do I go about changing this?
I know, right about now you’re thinking, “Why change it? That’s a good thing.” And you’re correct. Kinda. But, having grown up in an environment of addiction, I am very aware of the effect s it can have on a person, no matter what the addiction is.
Addiction is the continued repetition of a behavior despite adverse consequences. So, what I’m saying is that I would exercise even when I knew it was a bad idea, and despite how much my (insert random joint/body part) hurt, or how under-recovered I may have been, I would exercise anyways. This unfortunately is very hard to see because exercise in its nature is a healthy habit. BUT everything – and I mean everything – must be in moderation. I have watched and studied lots and lots of people in my still juvenile coaching career and I always struggled with this notion – not being able to put my finger on it until I reevaluated where I was headed with my training and my career.
This pattern of working out even when I knew I shouldn’t was becoming all to common for me. Because, not only could I feel it myself but I would hear countless comments from clients such as “I need to lift or I’m going to shrink,” or “I need some cardio or I’m going to get flabby,” or “I need to just ‘go’ to shut my mind off for a little while.”
This mentality helped me stay exactly where I was and this mentality is keeping many of us stuck in a bad rut: kinda muscular, kinda strong, kinda lean, kinda in good shape, and kinda beat up all the time!
Again, this is not a terrible place to be in life, but it’s not the most optimal place to be either. And certainly not moving in the right direction (or any direction) when the goal for almost all of us should be longevity.
The fix for exercise addiction is much simpler than more serious or harmful addictions: find a goal and work towards it. It’s just that simple. It may take some temperance mentally but it’s the solution to aimless or overloaded training. That is all too common and increasingly harmful. As simple as it may be, this could require a little more detail and thought. So I pose these questions to you as I did to myself:
Do you really want to reach your goal or are you happy with the quick fix and satisfaction feeling each day that you show up for the random WOD?
What are the people that have reached the goals I want to obtain doing and saying? And more importantly, can I really hear what experts in the fitness industry are saying? Or am I just listening? Because those are too totally different things.
First, find a goal that is important to you, realistic, and will take a little work. Notice I said “a little” work – so this goal won’t be achieved tomorrow without any effort, but isn’t so far off that the next 4 years of your life are on hold. Realistic, I don’t need to go into that, do I? Having some level of importance to you will help keep it just that, important. Now, don’t put so much emphasis on this goal that you are totally over-stressed, just make it something that you care enough about to keep you motivated and on track.
Second, design a routine (or have one designed for you) that progresses you toward that goal. The saying “an impromptu speech is worth the paper it’s written on” applies to workout routines as well – have it written down in advance. It should be progressive, and have a built in waves of intensity. Not every workout/day/training session can be at 10,000%. Some days have to be easy skill practice, a de-load week, some developmental movement pattern work, and so on.
A side note on that: Make sure if you are having someone design a program for you to achieve these goals, you care enough to ask questions. Do a little research. Just because you show up at a gym that has fancy toys doesn’t mean there is thought and a systematic approach behind their programming and that there is a dialogue and evolution to the program. Just as your goals will be, the program should be dynamic and mobile.
Lastly, begin the program and enjoy all the little improvements you make and know that they are getting you towards your goal. Don’t hang every hope and dream on any one single training session and try to learn from bad workouts – “bad” workouts being the ones where you’re not feeling superhuman. It is important to complete each workout in the program and learn things from each session because that is a part of progress, too. Basically, stay the course regardless of if you think you gained a quarter pound of fat, or lost a tenth of an inch on your biceps, or didn’t get a good sweat (my personal favorite), or you felt like a slug that day.
The more you focus on changing small things over time working towards a big change, the more steady your progress will be.
Have fun, be patient, and stay focused.
P.S. Here is my secret to a “good sweat”: Put on 2 pairs of sweatpants, 3 sweatshirts and get in a sleeping bag. Hard for the sake of hard is just STUPID!