When Healthy Becomes Deadly
Eating disorders, specifically bulimia and anorexia, are fairly well understood by most people, at least at a surface level. For the general population the understanding of these addictions includes strict control of food intake including the use of laxatives and purging. However, this is another side of these drastic weight control programs. That includes the use of exercise, a normally healthy activity, to the point of self-injury and harm.
Exercise itself releases chemicals in the brain including adrenaline and endorphins. However, there are other chemicals released as well including endocannabinoids and enkephalins, which are very similar in their actions in the brain as the drugs marijuana and opium. They all act to stimulate the brains pleasure center, which is in the oldest part of the brain and also the part of the brain that is directly implicated in the development of addictions.
When the brain releases the endorphins and other “pleasure” chemicals in response to physical activity, it provides a reward in the form of a very relaxed, in control and on top of the world feeling. Some athletes have termed this being “in the zone” where they feel they can’t lose, things seem clear and evident and they feel their body operating in top competitive level.
When people are depriving themselves of other things that cause the pleasure sensations in the brain such as food, socialization and other pleasurable activities even mild levels of pleasure causing activities can become addictive. The coupling of strategic deprival of food for the body combined with exercise that causes the release of endorphins may, in fact, become an addictive combination. When people feel upset because they can’t exercise, exercise regardless of anything else, or don’t feel themselves if they can’t run or exercise for a day then they may, in fact, have an addiction. Exercising that becomes out of control can result in severe health problems, especially if paired with extreme dieting and unhealthy eating patterns.
Sherry Gaba LCSW, Psychotherapist, Life & Recovery Coach is featured Celebrity Rehab on VH1. Sherry is the author of “The Law of Sobriety”
which uses the law of attraction to recover from any addiction. Please download your copy of Sherry’s Relapse Prevention E book here http://www.sgabatherapy.com/FreeRelapsePreventionReport.en.html.
Contact Sherry at [email protected] for webinars, teleseminars, coaching packages and speaking engagements. Listen to Sherry on “A Moment of Change with Sherry Gaba”on CBS Radio here http://sky.radio.com/shows/a-moment-of-change-w-sherry-gaba/.