Is Exercise Eating Up Your Head Space?
xercise requires thought. It requires making decisions and planning and it is quite normal for it to be something we think about, occasionally. But how do we know when we are thinking about exercise too much?
1) Are you negotiating?
Do you find yourself bartering? Making all sorts of deals and negotiations with yourself about your workout? For example, do you find yourself thinking, “If I go to the gym today I can have dessert after dinner tonight” While we hear this sort of language often in TV shows, magazines and even from our friends, negotiating between nutrition and exercise can be detrimental to your well being, and can be a very difficult habit to break. These negotiating patterns can set the stage for us to punish, or reward ourselves based on our behavior around both nutrition and exercise.
2) Are you trying to restructure your days around exercise?
Have you ever thought about canceling a pre-arranged plan with a friend for a session at the gym or a group fitness class? Do you ever rearrange your workday to ensure you can be on your computer exactly when your workout classes for the week open up online so you can sign up? When our schedules revolve around our workouts, exercise takes on more importance than maybe it should. If you catch yourself building your week around your gym sessions stop and ask yourself if your exercise should really be front and center.
3) Do you worry about not being able to exercise?
While plans and schedules are great, sometimes life happens and gets in the way of a normal routine. When this happens and affects your plan to exercise, are you able to adjust or does it cause distress? For example, a lot of people find themselves worrying about not being able to be physically active on a vacation or during a busy week at work. While a loss of routine can definitely be off-putting, it is important to examine where the stress is coming from. When this does happen, and physical activity is not a possibility, do you feel guilty?
4) Watch your language.
One telltale way to see how much power you are giving to your workout routine is to simply tune in to your self-talk around it. Words like should or must (“I should really work out today” or “I must make it to spinning this week”) give your workouts an element of control as it is “making you” do something you don’t want to do. Use your inner dialogue as a tool for examining just how much importance and thought you are giving to your physical activity routines.
Our relationship with exercise, like most things in life, exists along a continuum. Of course, there are healthy and unhealthy relationships with exercise but there are also so many points in between.
With new fitness inventions and workout trends it is even easier for fitness to take up too much space in our heads. When exercise is taking too much of our thoughts, it can cause heightened levels of stress and worry. While we may not be inclined to think about our exercise related thoughts as problematic, they can impede our daily life and affect our mental wellness. If your gut is telling you that this could be the case for you, seeking support can be helpful, so that you can get back to thinking about what you truly want to think about.