As you may know by now, I wrote the book Fit2besick chronicling my journey through the dark side of overtraining. While the knowledge I pass on is through my personal experience, I want to touch base on what fuels us to push ourselves to the extreme. In today’s modern society there is a misconception that more is better. Look around, and it’s everywhere. The words extreme, hardcore, advanced, super, tough etc. come to mind. We see personal drainers on TV promoting the latest and greatest hardcore workouts that will have your abs rock hard like the chemically induced people on the commercials. While what they preach is partially true, it can lead to a slippery slope. Right now any one of us could play the part of an extreme trainer and push someone until failure. Is it extreme, yes, is it healthy, well that depends where your mindset is.
Now let’s look at the other end of the spectrum. The place where most of us health conscious people live. We wake up every day motivated to get our workouts in because we know it’s what makes us healthy. While a good active life is healthy, the problem occurs when passion becomes obsession. This was when my health started to decline, even though I was the strongest and most fit in my life. Kind of sounds like a contradiction, but being fit is not the same as being healthy. I could ride a bicycle like an animal, but at the sacrifice of my wellbeing.
I use to have this print out on my wall saying “Obsessed is the word the lazy use to describe the dedicated.” I lived by that saying until it brought me to my knees with tears in my eyes. Looking back, the life I lived was a tough one. I routinely woke up at 4am to get my training done before work. I was always worried about missing a workout, because in a strange way, I thought I would lose hard earned fitness. Everything mattered back then except the important things in life. I was living on the hamster wheel of physical perfection. In my case it wasn’t to beat the guy next to me, it was to see how far I could push my limits. Everything else including all the race results was the side effects of perfection.
I constantly lived through the reward system. I had to earn every bite of food I ate no matter how good or bad it was for me. Looking back now, in order to have enough energy to complete the monster workouts I did, I relied on sugary garbage and caffeine. Kind of a contradiction to eating healthy right? Knowing that you are starving, but purposely not eating to weigh a certain weight, or look a certain way. Honestly I drank that cool aid for a long time. Even though I was able to jump on my bike and ride 100 miles which I did routinely, all my free time got devoured by this obsession. Was it worth all the damage I did to my health in the process?? The answer is no. Knowing that I put it all on the line, I live with no regrets. Everything happens for a reason, and if I did not do what I did, I would not be here right now typing out this blog.
Overcoming this addiction to exercise was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. Listening to the ego, but not acting to satisfy it is very hard. For me I got to this point through desperation not inspiration. I had to start listening to the inner voice in my head in order to feel somewhat normal. Learning to trust myself and do what feels good without second guessing. Once I implemented this practice something strange started to happen. My body started healing, and my personal life started to become so much more productive and fulfilling. Ironically I now eat more food than I did when I was training 300+ miles a week, I hardly exercise at all, and yet I’m back at racing weight! Only until I made this conscious shift in my thinking did my life start to change. There is a better way to do things no matter what the self-proclaimed experts say. Don’t get caught up in the latest fads. More often than not, they are looking to get an “Extreme” piece of the money pie by preying on self-conscious people. Do what’s right for yourself and your body. It’s the only place you have to live for the rest of your life!