Saturday, September 2, 2017

When exercise becomes unhealthy Part 2

I was investigating a dip in traffic to the blog this week and discovered I inadvertently changed my privacy settings. Way to go, Nicole. It was a particularly bonehead thing to do given I'm still trying to rebuild an audience after killing RttDS last January. So if you're here, I am very grateful you're still sticking with me. Thanks.

Yesterday, I introduced the moment I started seeking new answers to problems that had been building throughout my entire life. I had been juggling a restrict/binge/purge cycle for years, and prior to 2012, I had tried unsuccessfully to end this through therapy. I think part of the problem was that I wasn't willing to stop the intense exercise - I was only focused on the "binge" portion of my problem. Here are some things that were happening to me that should have clued me in sooner that I was overdoing it:
  1. Loss of menstrual cycle: I didn't start journaling until about 2010, so I have fuzzy timelines on this, but I had been taking hormonal birth control up until 2009. I stopped because I figured taking hormones for 10+ years was a bad idea. Shortly after I stopped the BCP, I stopped getting my cycle regularly. I likely would have lost my cycle sooner - BCP was artificially keeping it going. As I shared in this post, it came back late 2015 after I stopped the running madness.
  2. Compromised immune system: Like I said yesterday, I was sick all of the time in 2012. It was particularly bad that year because I faced lots of stressful events then, and wasn't doing myself any favors adding in the extreme exercise. But even in the years following, I'd find myself feeling run down frequently. Since 2015, I've had less of a challenge fighting off infection.
  3. Night sweats: TMI? About once a month, I'd wake up in the middle of the night absolutely drenched. It could be the middle of the winter, it didn't matter. This was the absolute WORST because a. Gross and b. There was no chance of me going back to sleep when this happened. I never tied the hormonal chaos my body was going through back to this, but given that it hasn't happened in a few years, I think it's safe to say the intense exercise was connected.
  4. Compulsion: While not a physical symptom per se, I feel like it's important to address here. Exercise was *the* thing my life revolved around. All social engagements were prioritized around my training schedule. I was even late to my bridal shower because I needed to hit the gym the morning of, and my husband wasn't ready to go to the gym with me on time, but I just would not cut my run short. It's no longer the end of the world if I miss a workout these days.
  5. Lack of improvement: Remember I said yesterday one of those overtraining signals is still hanging around? This is the one. The thing is I DID get faster and I DID lose weight when I began half marathon training, even though some of the other problems above I had already been experiencing for a few years. And things kinda evened out for me in 2012... and then started to get worse, and haven't improved since. 
Star Wars Han Solo shrugging.
Things are supposed to be getting better now, damn it.
BONUS SYMPTOM: Anxiety. I don't know whether to include this here or not. It COULD be related. I can't ignore the fact that it certainly peaked in 2012 while I was training for two half marathons, but there was a lot of other stuff going on. I've experienced it less intensely over the last few years, but I think there are other things in my life besides my running and eating habits that are contributing to that as well. 

I've noticed my anxiety has increased since I started the meds. I confirmed with New Doc this week that bupropion acts like an amphetamine. "That can be a bit uncomfortable for someone with anxiety," he says. Gee, doc, ya think?! He's changing my script, although the lower dose has more of an immediate release. We'll see how that goes.

Anyway, I share the above in the hopes that it can help you or someone you know to figure out if you have an unhealthy relationship with exercise. There are plenty of other ways your body could be yelling at you to slow down, but the biggest thing is that you've gotta be in a place where you are willing to listen. Something about living through a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy finally got me to listen and start looking for answers. Gotta live our best lives now because tomorrow is not promised.

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