Archive for March, 2012
A Disorder or Just a Symptom?
Exercise is a generally a healthy behavior that promotes wellness. However, some individuals become addicted to physical activity and engage in compulsive, excessive exercise that is extreme in frequency and both psychologically and psychosocially impairing. Exercise becomes the most important priority in the excessive exerciser’s life. All other obligations and responsibilities such as families, careers, and social engagements suffer. This addiction is referred to by a variety of names such as exercise dependence, exercise addiction, obligatory exercise, compulsive athleticism, compulsive exercising, and exercise abuse.
People who are addicted to exercise may have various motivations for their behavior, including a desire to control their body weight or shape, a feeling of inexplicable dread is exercise is not performed, or to achieve an exercise-induced “high.”
Exercise addicts may have a very rigid fitness schedule to which they always adhere. They may compulsively exercise alone to avoid attracting the attention of others, including trainers and gym staff. Addicts will exercise even though they are sick or injured, in the end causing more physical problems for themselves. They may miss work, school, or other social obligations to exercise.
“I do still get the same feelings of distress if I can’t go because exercise is such a major part of my life… I get very very depressed — depression to the point where I can weep and berate myself for not going.”
Seven Warning Signs of Exercise Addiction
1. Always working out alone, isolated from others.
2. Always following the same rigid exercise pattern.
3. Exercising for more than two hours daily, repeatedly.
4. Fixation on weight loss or calories burned.
5. Exercising when sick or injured.
6. Exercising to the point of pain and beyond.
7. Skipping work, class, or social plans for workouts.
What is known is that there are many individuals who suffer from an addiction to exercise. Often they will continue to workout even through the pain of an injury or against the advice of their physician. The psychological torment of not exercising is greater than the negative consequences that affect their physical and social well-being. Often when exercise is withheld, these individuals will experience irritability and depression. These symptoms are relieved by exercising, and thus the cycle is continued. Regardless of the reason behind the excessive exercise, whether or not it is caused by an eating disorder, the effects are harmful to the individuals on psychological, physiological, and psychosocial levels.
While there is an important debate about exercise dependence and eating disorders, it is also important to realize that this is a real addiction that affects real people and real families. Regardless of the cause, more research needs to be done on effectively treating this behavior. Ultimately, the goal is help these individuals overcome this harmful dependence.
Despite the fact that the average American lives into his or her late 70s, the United States ranks only 50th on the CIA’s life expectancy list. This is largely due to advancements in medical technology…this sounds good on the surface and in some ways, it is. However, these advancements haved evolved largely to deal with our nations growing disease epidemic…take more drugs to make us feel better…take even more drugs to compensate for the side effects of the other drugs, etc., etc..
What is attributed to the prolonged life expectancy of the top 10 countries?…physical activity and nutrition!
WHAT ARE CARBOHYDRATES?
Everyone knows that food comes in three forms: fat, protein, and carbohydrate. Most foods have all three, in varying proportions.
Carbohydrates are made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. The main carbs are sugar, starches, and cellulose.
Sugars are sweet carbohydrates, either single or double molecules: monosaccharides or disaccharides.
Starches are the main form of carbohydrate storage in plants. Starches are polysaccharides, which means strings of more than two carbohydrate molecules. Starches break down to sugars – that’s why if you keep a cracker in your mouth for a minute, it begins to taste sweet.
Cellulose is made of long, fibrous strings of carbohydrate, mainly for structural support of a plant. It is cellulose that provides us with fiber in the diet.
Fruits contain mainly sugars, while vegetables contain mainly starches. And both contain cellulose.
COMPLEX VS. SIMPLE
An apple contains natural sugar: fructose. A potato contains natural starch. But these are whole foods containing much more than just isolated carbohydrates. Apples and potatoes grown in good soil also contain vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Such foods are complex carbohydrates, meaning that they are complete foods.
The problem comes in with processed sugar and processed starch. White table sugar has no nutrients. White bread is a processed, artificial starch. These are not foods – they do not nourish. We call them simple carbohydrates. Even when they are broken down to individual glucose molecules by digestion, it is completely different from the glucose end-product of a digested apple, for example. That’s because apples don’t simply break down into isolated glucose molecules. Other nutrients and co-factors are present, which are necessary for the body to make use of the glucose: enzymes, minerals, vitamins.
White sugar and white bread require enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and insulin from the body in order to act. And the action is one of irritation, removal, and defense instead of nutrition.
All enzymes and nutrients have been purposely removed from white sugar and white flour by processing. The result is a synthetic manmade carbohydrate, occurring nowhere in nature. The body regards such as a foreign substance, as a drug.
Most books, most doctors, and most nutritionists fail to make this simple distinction between simple and complex carbohydrates. They talk about apples and Coca-Cola both as carbohydrates, because they say that both ultimately break down to glucose, and that’s the form the body needs. It’s the standard medical approach. Same mentality that thinks vitamin C is ascorbic acid (see Chapter). The same mentality that thinks that milk is a good source of protein, or of calcium. Loads of information, very little understanding. These are the type of nutritionists who confuse organic gardening with organic chemistry, and talk about when you buy organic produce in the supermarket, that’s the kind that is carbon-based. Or the type of “nutrition” mentality that has bypass patients eating mashed potatoes and gravy and canned sugar drinks the day after surgery so they’ll “get their strength back.”
Most nutritionists are trained to think that diabetes is genetic and therefore may have to be controlled with drugs. Like any other area that concerns health, most of what is published about diet and nutrition is unfounded speculation. Worse if they have credentials.
With sugar, ingestion is far different from digestion: just because you ate it doesn’t mean you can use it. This is why counting calories and food combining and blood typing and the Zone and other passing fads are so irrelevant: it doesn’t matter what you eat; it matters what you digest.