Coming to Terms with an Exercise Addiction

August 31, 2022 Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

During a recent session with my therapist, I felt compelled to ask for her professional take on my relationship with exercise. I told her that I prioritize running over just about every other line item in my routine. I told her that I feel immense amounts of shame if I cannot squeeze in an hour-long workout on a daily basis. I told her that I consistently run in the 105-degree Arizona heat, no matter how miserable the experience is. I told her that I rarely feel like the choice to stop running is even an option. I told her that I am afraid that without exercise, I will lose control of my entire life. She listened to me rattle off all this information, then replied matter-of-factly: "You have an exercise addiction. How is it working for you?"

Coming to Terms with My Exercise Addiction Is a Relief

It felt like a tremendous exhale to hear my therapist voice out loud what I have secretly known to be true for such a long time. I am enormously proud of all the work I have done to heal my relationship with food, but when it comes to my exercise habits, the eating disorder still has a firm grasp on me. I do not feel much freedom or empowerment in this area of my life—I am ruled by the compulsion to manage my stress, numb my emotions, and control the size of my body through intense, punitive workouts.

There is an undeniable sense of relief in coming to terms with an exercise addiction, but to answer my therapist's question: This pattern no longer works for me at all. It does not serve the interests of my mental or physical health, nor does it reinforce my commitment to eating disorder recovery. I know a change is in order, but where to even start? I feel caught in the crosshairs of what I need to do for my wellbeing versus what I am comfortable doing. It scares me to relinquish the exercise addiction, but healing is scary sometimes. So what is my next move? I will unpack this in the video below.  

What to Do After Coming to Terms with an Exercise Addiction

Are you coming to terms with an exercise addiction in your eating disorder recovery process? Which coping mechanisms are helpful as you confront and begin to heal from exercise addiction? I will be honest: I could use some pointers in this area, so please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section.

APA Reference
Schurrer, M. (2022, August 31). Coming to Terms with an Exercise Addiction, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 22 from

Author: Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

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