Proud2Bme | When Fitness Becomes Compulsion

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When Fitness Becomes Compulsion

By Tori Lilly--You know John Green’s saying about falling in love? “I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.” For me, that is how my exercise addiction was; it happened slowly at first, and then all at once.

Trigger warning: Descriptions of eating disordered behavior.

I had played sports for basically all of my life, but it was always for fun. I didn’t exercise outside of going to practices and playing in games. As I got older, my eating disorder started to set in, I decided to get ‘healthy’ and I downloaded a calorie and fitness tracking app.

I wanted to use it to learn how many calories I was eating and how many I could burn by exercising. At first, I was exercising for fitness and health, and I was only running a few times a week. Before I knew it, I was exercising every day. I still thought that it was okay and that I was only doing it to get healthy, but I was starting to miss out on things in life because of my exercise addiction.

After school, I couldn’t focus on my homework until after I had worked out. Some days I had volleyball practice in the evenings and I still wouldn’t be able to calm down enough to do homework and eat dinner until after I had worked out even more. I worked out all the time—if the app listed the number of calories I had burned and it wasn’t enough, I would freak out and cry. I missed out on many different events and activities because I couldn’t help but work out all the time.

As I started my recovery, I deleted the app. It was not an easy decision and it didn’t make my exercise addiction go away, but it did help make the road to recovery easier. Now, does this mean that fitness trackers/apps are entirely evil and will always cause the exercise addiction and eating disorder that I had?

Not exactly. I believe that fitness trackers/apps can be helpful for those who are trying to live healthier lifestyles. However, if someone is struggling with body image issues or an eating disorder, fitness trackers/apps are very dangerous tools. If someone who is struggling starts using them, they are playing with fire. 

Deciding to use a fitness tracker shouldn’t be a casual choice; if you feel that you are in a good place, fitness trackers/apps might be helpful, but if you are not in a good place it is best to simply stay away from them.

Editor's note: Oral Roberts University is requiring freshmen to wear Fitbits that will track their daily aerobic activity and then grading them based on the data they collect. Sign our petition today and tell ORU to drop their harmful Fitbit requirement for good!

About the blogger: Tori Lilly has been in recovery from anorexia nervosa for four years. She is currently attending Olivet Nazarene University in Illinois. She is majoring in dietetics with a minor in psychology. She intends to become a dietitian for girls with eating disorders.

For more on the Fitbit, check out:

Tell Oral Roberts University to Stop Grading Students on Their Fitbit Activity!

Oral Roberts University's Fitbit Requirement for Freshmen is Absurd

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