Exercise Bulimia

Or, how much is too much of a good thing?

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What is exercise bulimia?

exercise bulimia

Most people know that exercise is good for you. Whether it’s 30 minutes, 5 times a week, or an hour, 4 times a week, we should all be getting some form of exercise. Walking, running, playing tennis, bike riding, or whatever you choose, exercise gets the heart pumping and improves your circulation and can help you shed a few extra pounds. Even if you are at your ideal weight you should still be exercising to keep your heart and lungs healthy. Most of America knows this but just can’t seem to start. This is not the case for someone suffering from exercise bulimia. When it comes to exercising, unfortunately, they have trouble determining when to stop. Just like any other compulsion, someone who suffers from this disorder is compelled to exercise way beyond what is good for them or their body.

What causes someone to suffer from exercise bulimia?

As with eating disorders, (anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa), someone who suffers from exercise bulimia may have a very negative view of their body. They don’t see themselves as others do and try to take control of the situation by exercising way beyond the point that is needed to have a healthy body. Someone with this disorder may spend hours and hours at the gym, giving up other hobbies to concentrate on their body. To outsiders, and even family and friends, someone who suffers from this condition may seem only to be a very disciplined person when it comes to exercise, especially to those who lack the discipline themselves. What they can’t see is the pain that is associated with this illness. Anyone suffering from this type of bulimia worries about everything they eat and feels the need to exercise to eliminate any calories consumed. Why someone with this disorder lacks self–esteem, and feels the need to punish themselves for eating is known only to them. Someone with exercise bulimia is compelled to exercise to the point where they feel that their body has not stored any calories that they have consumed. The trouble with this idea is that the body actually needs a certain amount of calories just to make it through the day. Your body burns calories no matter what you are doing. Whether you are just laying in bed watching TV or skiing down a mountain, your body needs fuel (calories from food) to run. Of course, it will need much more fuel (food) skiing down a mountain then just laying around. When exercise burns more calories than you body needs you start to lose weight. Now that would be a good thing for the more than half of the population that is overweight. But for someone who suffers from this type of bulimia it isn’t good because they do not give their body enough fuel to run. When you exercise in excess daily, your body does not have any time to store fuel needed in times of illness or stress. A body without enough calories to maintain itself will start to break down.

What are the dangers?

As stated above, the body needs a certain amount of calories just to keep all of its organs working right. The body also needs to have a few extra calories in reserve for times when you get sick or are extremely stressed. Someone suffering from exercise bulimia will find that their muscles will become sore from overwork. Someone who has this compulsive disorder will notice that their bones ache because they are not given the proper rest time to recover. This can result in strains, sprains, or even breaks. When one suffers from exercise bulimia they run the risk of not only having their organs shut down without proper nutrition, but their outside body will start to show the signs of excessive calories burned. Losing all of your body fat will result in poor hair, nails and skin, as well as interfere with a woman’s monthly cycle and possibly cause reproductive issues in the future.

Who suffers from this type of bulimia?

Today, men and women, young and old can suffer from this type of bulimia. Among the reasons someone may become a person with this disorder is the desire to look a little better and then they become addicted to this goal, while others have a more serious concern. Too many young men and women, (and those who wish they were still young and want to look it), have the mistaken idea that only excessively thin or muscular people are happy and successful. They compare themselves to celebrities and other famous people and never feel like they measure up. The media spotlights women who wear a size “0” and buff men with their 6-pack abs. Someone suffering from this illness can only see this as the ideal way to be, not knowing that this “perfect person” they admire may have many problems of their own. Exercising for health and weight loss, if needed, is certainly a good thing but someone suffering from this compulsive disorder goes past what is needed to accomplish these goals because they will never become the person that they want to be as they do not see themselves for who and what they really are. For some reason the person looking back in the mirror is not the same person other people see. If you suffer from exercise bulimia, seek help. Life is short enough and you deserve to be happy!

What options for help are available?

If this doesn’t paint a pretty picture, you are right. This bulimia is serious stuff. Someone suffering from exercise bulimia should seek help. Many options are available for someone who can recognize that they suffer from exercise bulimia. Among these options are doctors, therapists and support groups. There are even online support groups where someone who knows that they are suffering from exercise bulimia can talk with others about this illness.

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