Exercising to Extremes

By Leah Rocketto

How far I went to lose weight and how I turned it around

When it comes to losing weight, most people subscribe to the mantra of, “eat less and exercise more.” When I was suffering from my eating disorder, I opted for, “never eat and always exercise.”

I scheduled gym time like I scheduled classes, never allowing myself to miss a session. I wore two pairs of spandex and two long-sleeve shirts – whether it was 6o or 60o. I ran and lifted weights until my body was sore. I went to the gym seven days a week for three hours a day – minimum. I also took five dance classes a week, only (Read More) adding to the caloric burn.

The miles on the treadmill and the reps on the ab machines transformed my curvaceous body into a bag of bones. While time at the gym took me away from my studies, it also gnawed away at my energy. Since I spent most of my day at Archbold, I had to wake up early and stay up late to finish my assignments.

I was weak.  But as long as I was thin, I didn’t care.

When I finally decided to get help, I realized working out took over my life, and I needed to regain control. In order to do so, I had to subscribe to some new mantras.

“Listen to your body.”

I used to focus on how many calories burnt. I wouldn’t get off the treadmill until I burned 1,000 calories. It didn’t matter if my shins were sore, my calves were tight, or my chest ached. Forcing my body into pain, however, only caused injuries. The compartment syndrome I developed in high school only worsened in college, causing severe knee pain. I had to wear a brace and take an anti-inflammatory to ease the pain.

Now, I focus on how my body feels. I take the time to stretch before and after I work out. If the pain gets too intense, I slow down or stop running. I ignore the calorie information by covering the counter on the machine or running outside. I make sure to take at least one day off a week so my body can rest and recoup.

By avoiding the numbers, I get a better workout without pain and potential injuries.

“Find a new reason.”

I saw working out as a way to lose weight and stay skinny – and that was it. While exercising to stay in shape is a good reason, it cannot be the only reason. I had to change my motivation so I could stop obsessing about my weight.

With time, I realized the real reason I loved working out. When I work out, I can escape everyday stress.  I tune out the world by turning on my iPod. I run from my problems by moving in another direction. I can leave my life, even if it’s just for an hour.

Temporary escape is more motivational than a temporary body.

“Keep it fun.”

After I dealt with eating-disorder-related issues, I fell victim to the everyday exercise issues. I became bored with my routines, making it hard to motivate myself to go the gym. I needed to infuse some fun into my fitness routines before I quit the gym for good.

I started signing up for fitness classes, like Spin and Orange-Pack Abs. I purchased Pilates DVDs and got in touch with my sexy side with Carmen Electra’s Aerobic Striptease series. I still take five dance classes a week, as they offer several toning benefits.

Working out was keeping me entertained and healthy – not a bad combination.

It is easy to become obsessed with working out when you see satisfying results. Sometimes, however, these results aren’t worth the risk. It is important to work out regularly to keep you in shape and sane. Just make sure you don’t go overboard.

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