Compulsive and obsessive sports: Recognize and act

If you are reading this, there is a good chance that you are completely addicted to running. Where it may have started with training once or twice a week, four, five or maybe six or seven times is now the rule rather than the exception. You have probably been asked by those around you ‘if it can not be done less’ and ‘if so much exercise is healthy’. And yes, the dividing line between being sporty and obsessed is sometimes thinner than you might think. How do you know if your training behavior is compulsive? And how can you best act? We have interviewed experience expert Lianne Blacquière about it.

Eating disorder and compulsive exercise

Lianne is now a coach in the field of intuitive eating, eating disorder recovery and trauma therapist. She is also the author of the book ‘A New Beginning’, in which she describes her journey to heal her relationship with food and ultimately herself. She also has her own podcast. In short, she does a great job. Unfortunately, things did not always go well for her. She developed an eating disorder when she was fifteen.

‘For me, exercise was a leading factor in compensating for food. When I had eaten something, I always believed that I should burn it again. You read so often that the average Dutchman moved too little. Therefore, I was always afraid that I was doing too little and that sitting still for a day was not an option. At one point, I was doing exercises in my room, looking for workouts on YouTube, and getting scared to rest. I felt a constant urge to move and train and thought I would put on weight if I did not. This became addictive. ‘

Characters you go through

    ‘Ask yourself if you have trouble doing nothing and be quiet. Get 10,000 steps every day and complete your sports plan every week; is it also possible not to do this? If this thought gives you stress, fear, panic, irritation, excitement or frustration, and you always push yourself to exercise, even when you are tired or even injured or sick, then you have a disturbed relationship with sports. ‘

      “If you’re always pushing yourself, going to the gym because you’re supposed to, but you do not like it, then something’s not right. Something you can also be aware of is how you talk to ‘yourself and your body when you exercise. Is it ever good enough? Are you ever happy with what you do?’

      How can you best act as an environment?

      If you notice that someone has been very fanatical with sports lately and has lost a lot, for example, you may worry about this. But how can one approach such a one without being directly offensive or escalating the situation?

      ‘Always communicate from within yourself, and start by asking how someone is feeling. Express your concerns and ask how many sports feel to the person. Someone can resist and deny it or try to justify it. This is part of it, as we often defend and sabotage ourselves so as not to face the truth. It is very important to approach the person from compassion and embrace. Tell them that it’s okay if the person does not want to talk about it right now, but that they can always come to you if they need help. Continue to confront the person if the pattern continues or gets worse. Seek outside help if you notice it getting more extreme. ‘

      Can you ever ‘just train’ again?

      How is Lianne’s relationship with sports now? Well, much more positive and healthier.

      ‘Free and very nice. I myself am a fan of powerlifting and yoga. I go to the gym when I feel like it and when my body indicates that it has enough energy and space to move. But when I’m broken and in need of rest, I’m listening to this. I have found a balance between good exercise and rest. I now use exercise to connect with and feel my body, instead of running away from it and out of my body. I do not have to do anything and I know everything. ‘


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