Sunday, January 21, 2007

Activity disorder

. . . otherwise known as exercise addiction or pathogenic exercise. They're frequently seen along with eating disorders. They're real, they're unhealthy, and they cause genuine problems in people's lives. Do you recognize any of these "Cognitive Distortions in Activity Disorder"?? Or perhaps you simply call it "overtraining".

Dichotomous, Black and White Thinking

* If I don't run, I can't eat.
* I either run an hour or it's not worth it to run at all.

Overgeneralization

* Like my mom, people who don't exercise are fat.
* I either run an hour or it's not worth it to run at all.

Magnification

* If I can't exercise, my life will be over.
* If I don't work out today, I'll gain weight.

Selective Abstraction

* If I can go to the gym, I am happy.
* I feel great when I exercise, so if I exercise I'll never be depressed.

Superstitious Thinking

* I must run every morning or something bad will happen.
* I must do 205 sit-ups every night.
* I can't stop at 1 hour and 59 minutes, it has to be exactly 2 hours, so when the fire alarm went off I couldn't get off the Stairmaster, I had to keep going, even if the gym was burning down.

Personalization

* People are looking at me because I'm out of shape.
* People admire runners.
* I am a runner, it's who I am, I could never give it up.

Arbitrary Inference

* People who exercise get better jobs, relationships, and so on.
* People who exercise don't get sick as much.

Discounting

* My doctor tells me not to run, but she is flabby so I don't listen to her.
* No pain, no gain.
* Nobody really knows the effects of not having a period anyway, so why should I worry?

6 comments:

Downhillnut said...

Considering my exercise habits from Sept-Dec this year I'm in noooo danger of this, hah.

Seriously, though it is scary that this exists. There will always be those who find themselves at unhealthy extremes, and this time of year is a good time for a reminder to keep things in moderation.

Thanks for posting this - I hope it helps somebody!

Flo said...

I'm guilty of the if I can't run for an hour it's not worth it. I find I can easily fall into that mindset.

Some of the others run through my mind but I can blow them off. That one though has the power to totally derail my training.

21st Century Mom said...

Not a problem for me. My internal dialog looks more like this:

"You really need to run an hour today"
"I don't feel like it"
"It's in the training program - you need to run an hour"
"I'm not in the mood"
"But you have an event - if you don't train you won't make it"
"Whatever"
"Really - it's the plan"
"OMG! It's 4:30 and if I don't go now it will be dark before I'm done!!"

And off I go.

So no - no disorder here ;-) That was a great post for those who suffer, though. May anyone with this problem find equilibrium, soon.

nancytoby said...

LOL! My internal dialogue includes a lot of whiny "but running sucks!" complaints.

Shawn said...

I *KNEW* I didn't have an activity disorder! Thanks for confirming it :)

Shawn the Slug Princess

Siren said...

When my best friend and I were getting into the meat of training for our first tri she happened across an article that said anyone who regularly exercises for 90+ minutes at a time is suffering from exercise induced anorexia. The article did not delve into the topic of excessive calorie restriction, making it seem that this amount of exercise alone could cause life-threatening thinness.

We laughed our asses off because at the time we were regularly working out for 2-3 hours at a time and the idea that I (100 lbs overweight here!!) am doing something that falls into the category of skinny eating disorder problem is comical. Obviously it's a real problem for some people, but clearly the guy writing that column hadn't met anyone from the Athena crowd and had no idea how long the average healthy, not-too-skinny triathlete trains on a regular basis.