How to Identify Obsession Masked as Motivation
On the outside, I looked super dedicated and motivated. I can’t tell you how many times I was praised for my motivation and willpower when it came to running and eating “healthy”. We live in a society entrenched in diet-culture where more is better and pushing yourself is valued over taking care of yourself.
I love running, but years ago I fell into a pattern of planning my week around getting 30 miles a week in. I let the commitment to getting those runs in override how I felt.
There was a time I ran with a pulled hamstring – I mean, I slowed down, but could have used a rest day or two – and many vacations that I went running, which can be fun, but some of those runs were driven by the fact I would have felt guilty if I didn’t, which is not a reason to run.
I thought I was motivated by how amazing exercise is. Which, don’t get me wrong, with the right amount, exercise is an amazing thing. But, if I had taken the time to be really honest with myself, I would have identified the following things as red flags I was teetering towards obsession:
My anxiety of not getting a run in
There were so many times I was presented with a really fun invite – weekend at a friends’ lakehouse, girls getaway, music festivals – and the very first thought was how my workouts would be affected. Could I run there? Was there a gym? How many days would I really need to miss?
Even if I went, which I often did, those thoughts should never have been in the equation. I’m not a professional athlete, and I was already underweight. I worked out so regularly that the reward should have been taking breaks from my routine without a second thought or loss of fitness. Still, it was a major worry for me.
How ridiculously low my calories were for the miles I ran
LISTEN UP! We need waaaay more calories than we’re told. I used to think that 2,000 was the way upper limit, even when training for a race. 2,000 should be a baseline with zero activity, and if you’re active, 2,500 is a very reasonable amount to eat each and every day.
I aimed for 1,800 thinking that was a healthy amount. I honestly do not know how I was able to hit my running goals. It should have been obvious with how many times I felt hungry but waited until it was “time to eat”. Still, I thought I was eating enough because my hair wasn’t falling out and my training runs felt great.
My missing period and infertility diagnoses
Here’s the big one. I didn’t know I was missing a period because I was on the Pill. When I went off, I discovered I had zero uterine lining (i.e. what would be shed to create a period). Down the road of fertility treatments, as we approached IVF, I discovered Hypothalamic Amenorrhea when I got a second opinion.
Read This: My IVF Story
HA is cause by an energy deficit. Too much intense exercise is a big stress on your body, and restricting calories is another. This leads to a suppression of hormones, namely your reproductive system.
I made some major changes to have a successful pregnancy, and regain my cycle postpartum. First, I cut down, then cut running out, to gain a better relationship with it. Truly, I thought I couldn’t be happy running less, but I was so wrong. Now, my runs are stress free because my worth isn’t wrapped up in them.
I gained so much more than a regular cycle. I found flexibility in my schedule, more time for my family and friends, and complete freedom around food. BAM! Look, we don’t have to give up on our fitness goals, we just need to rearrange our priorities.
I offer free 30 minute Mindset Jump Start calls where you will leave with a few small goals to work on, and get clarity on your biggest worry right now!