Exercise Bulimia

Exercise Bulimia:

\”Exercise bulimia is a subset of the psychological disorder called bulimia in which a person is compelled to exercise in an effort aimed at burning the calories of food energy and fat reserves to an excessive level that negatively affects their health.\”


I ask you to open your mind and take a look at the current trend of the health and fitness industry over the last 5-10 years. A large majority of the popular fitness trends focus on the anaerobic activity. Let\’s consider anaerobic activity as any activity that you can not maintain a slow, steady breathing rate and carry on a conversation.

The goal of these exercise modalities is to expend as much energy as possible in a given amount of time usually somewhere between 20-60 minutes. In the right dosages anaerobic (without cellular oxygen) training is highly beneficial. Unfortunately, too high of a dosage will wreak havoc on your musculoskeletal and physiological systems.

The question I pose is: why are people drawn to this type of exercise almost exclusively? I see clients daily that have wrecked their bodies and physiology trying to be healthy by following these high intensity workouts multiple times per week. When I ask them as to why they choose high intensity exercise exclusively (instead of a blend of high intensity and low intensity exercise such as going for walks, stretching, breathing, and corrective movements) the conversation most always goes like this:

Me: Why do you choose high intensity exercise only?
Client: Because I feel like I need to workout.
Me: Work out what?
Client: Silence…(usually slightly awkward, for them, not me)
Me: What other types of movement do you get throughout your day other than your workouts?
Client: Silence….Awkward Smile…..I take the stairs (or some other minimal movement achievement).
Me: Do you think it is possible that you sitting for 8-12 hours plus a day in your car, at your computer, in front of your TV, at your dinner table, and on your phone has left you a bit restless and anxious and you feel the need to go as hard and as fast as you can when you get an opportunity?
Client: Maybe…..

Not maybe, definitely. As humans, as mammals we have a deep need for movement. Frequent movement. And to the degree we stuff ourselves with a sedentary day we feel the need to purge our stillness with movement. We fill the need to go as hard as we can, as often as we can. We get a huge endorphin rush. We feel great after the workout, then we come down from the endorphin high and we are exhausted. This cycle like most imbalances is variable. Some of us purge everyday with exercise, some of us purge monthly, some a few times a year.

This desire to binge (not moving) and purge (moving) needs to be balanced, just like your blood sugar, just like your bank account, just like any relationship you enter into there needs to be a consistent balance of incoming and outgoing to avoid a binge and purge mentality.

I encourage you to take a look at your exercise habits, or lack there of and identify your cycle. I further encourage you to then contrast your exercises habits with your spending habits, with your eating habits, with your relationship habits with your partner, children, and friends. Keep in mind, how you do some things is how you do all things…..

To the awaking of your health,


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