Do you find yourself gazing at the calories burned on the elliptical machine, refusing to let yourself stop until you have hit 500 calories? But once you’re there, why not push yourself to 800 calories burned? If these harsh thoughts arrest your mind you are likely exercising too much and not receiving the wonderful mind-body benefits of exercise.
Ask yourself if you display any of these warning signs:
- An inability to stop exercising, even when sick or injured
- Using exercise as punishment/compensation for eating your forbidden foods such as dessert or bread
- Allowing yourself to eat only enough food to “cover” the calories burned while exercising
- Difficulty sleeping, which could be a sign of overtraining
- Being afraid that you will get fat for missing 1-2 days of exercise
- Missing family or social events in order to exercise
- Viewing exercise as work instead of something fun
How do you begin to break free from the calorie trance? If you are very anxious about letting go of the amount of time you spend exercising, start by covering up the LCD panel on the cardio machine, or simply taking off your heart rate/calorie tracking device. Even better, break up your routine and try an exercise class where you are unable to keep track of calories burned. Begin to shift your focus to how you FEEL from working out. We will chat about that more in my follow-up post about letting go of rigid exercise rules.
Rachel Zavala MS, RDN, LDN – Nutritionist at The Body Image Therapy Center. If you would like to get in touch with Rachel please call 443-602-6515 or email email@example.com.