When Fitness Stopped Ruling My Life

By March 31, 2016Motivation, Move, Think

It is so easy to get wrapped up in fitness, but I gained my life back (I’m about to go all engineer on you, so get ready).

Scientifically, it makes perfectly good sense. Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people… don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t. (Catch my reference?) 😀

In all serious-ness though, exercise does release endorphins, and these endorphins make us feel good after we work out. And what’s wrong with feeling good, right?!

At least that’s what I thought. However, these endorphins can easily cause our brains to make the jump from thinking of exercise as a joyful pastime to developing a full-blown obsession. And that’s when it can get out of hand. No addiction is good — no matter what that addiction is.

The hard part about this particular kind of addiction is that most people (including myself) do not even realize it’s a problem.

After all, we’ve been taught over and over again that exercise is good! Any way you can get in a workout is positive. Exercise is achievement, success, a goal to consistently be striving for, more and more and more… and when we get caught up in the hype and the high, we neglect to realize:

We are REVOLVING our days around working out…

We are devoting a huge amount of energy to planning our workouts…

We get legitimately upset when something, or someone, interferes with our plans…

Missing a day is simply UNTHINKABLE …

We unknowingly cancel plans to make it to the gym…

The first thing that comes into our mind when someone asks us to do something is “Will that fit with my workout schedule?” …

If we are not working out, we are constantly thinking about our workouts and weaving it into every part of our day…

We are missing out on LIFE….

We do not realize these things. And life passes us by.

I was one of these people. I took pride in my fitness, too. I was the “girl in amazing shape,” the “girl who had the perfect body.” and the “girl who was bad-ass and confident in the gym.” But that’s only what I was on the outside. It’s what people didn’t see that counts. Nobody knew how addicted I was, how my drive for fitness was hurting me. I don’t even think I knew what was going on until I wasn’t that girl anymore. Sure, maybe I was all of those things, but what did that even mean? What did that do for me? Nothing.

I cannot even count the number of times I would look at “normal” people around me and think to myself:

“These people are not torturing themselves to make time in their hectic schedule everyday to crank out an intense session at the gym, and they look completely and utterly fine. They look so happy and at peace. Why can’t I do that? Better yet, they look HAPPY. Why can’t I live like that?”

I would ask myself this alllll of the time, but I would never change anything about what I was doing. Why not? It’s simple: I was scared. Fitness was my “thing,” it made me look good, it made me… me. I loved it, I really did. I thought that because I was training so much and so intensely, that if I slowed down… I guess I didn’t know what would happen.

Social media was also impacting my situation — you see, I’m “Instagram famous” (@colbytriolo_youmakeyou hit a sister uppp), so I felt that if I “let the fitness side of me slip” all 30k people “watching me” would be disappointed.

Fitness was me. Yes, it was stressful — but that comes along with putting your life out there.

(Side note: if anyone reading this is going through the same thing, know that you are actually more successful when you are doing the things you love, so I promise you will not lose followers and people will not think differently of you if you start following your heart).

But one day, a flip switched. Fitness had taken my life hostage, and I wanted it back. I honestly don’t know what flipped the switch in my head; maybe my threshold had finally been reached, or maybe I had just gone away to college and for the first time saw everything I had been missing out on. But really it doesn’t matter what caused it to happen. What mattered was the fact that it did.

Looking back now, I can’t even really tell you why or when it happened. All I can tell you is that whatever did happen gave me my life back. The craziest part? I didn’t even realize I’d lost it until I had it back.

The ease I feel now is unspeakably amazing. When I let go of my obsession, a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.

To anyone that is suffering (or maybe doesn’t know that they are) from letting fitness control his or her life, listen:

It is okay to miss a workout.

Or cut one short.

It is OKAY to say yes to dinner with a friend instead of your typical 6pm spin class.

A skipped session will NOT ruin you. In fact, it will build your heart up.

You do not HAVE to clock in an hour of uninterrupted time at the gym to consider yourself working out.

It is OKAY to laugh your heart out while eating a cone of ice cream and call that your abs workout.

It is OKAY to sub sprinting your guts out on the treadmill for going on a leisurely hike with your significant other.

Its OKAY to stay up till 4am gossiping with your friends and eating Oreos, completely disregarding how you planned on working out before classes at 8am.

It is OKAY to walk into the gym and do whatever your heart desires because, honestly, why is there even a right or wrong? Why is it SO important that you do a certain “thing?”

In fact, it is more than OKAY, it is LIFE. You weren’t put here to work out all the time, you were brought here to LIVE.

I want you to realize that.

Fitness is not about putting yourself through intense and strenuous workouts everyday. It is about keeping your body and mind happy. Once more, that’s your body and mind.

Please, next time you’re forcing yourself to go to the gym because you feel like you “have to,” realize that you really don’t!

YES — staying active is important, and I’m not saying you should never workout. What I am asking you to do is to take a step back and assess yourself. See that if your body is saying no, your mind needs to say no. Ask yourself: “What am I training for?”. If it’s not for something special, then why on earth are you putting all that negative pressure on yourself? Fitness is more than just a body game. If your mind isn’t happy as well as your body, that takes away half of the health you’re striving to attain.  

Like I have said, I’ve been working out for years, to a point where it’s more than just a habit. It wasn’t something I really looked forward to, and instead it became just something I “had to do ”.

The day that changed my life came when I said f*** it, and hopped on the treadmill, popped up ‘Friends’ on my phone, cranked up the speed to a leisurely jog (I couldn’t even tell you the mph I was jogging at, because for once I not only didn’t know but I also didn’t care), and jogged it out until I decided I felt like I was finished, cleaned off my treadmill, and walked calmly out. No abs workout to finish, no dumbbells lifted, no extra anything. I just went, did what I wanted to do, and then I left.

THAT. That right there is what I’d wanted to do at the gym for years, but just didn’t have the courage to do. And it felt amazing. It was pure joy, pure happiness, pure mind and body fitness. It might seem cliché, but I was on top of the world that day, and radiating happiness for days after. I began training to my heart, not my head. I am sharing this with you (whoever has the heart in them to read this far on my babble) because I so wish I had someone push me to try this years ago. I so wish I had broken free of the fitness prison I had put myself in sooner.

Really, what is the point of keeping yourself on such a strict regimen when you aren’t training for something? Yes, sure — you are “training for life” — I’ve told myself that, too. But why is such stress on the body, and such strict regimen in your days “training for life?”

Why should “training for life” CONSUME your life?

Even training for a race doesn’t consume your life, there are breaks built into that. More importantly, why give up your life for this “training for life?”

The day I became free is the day I started laughing for real, the day I started feeling alive again.

It was the day I started enjoying the random things in my daily life. And, most importantly, having life experiences.

Like getting dairy-free ice cream with my best friend at odd, random hours. Like laying in bed watching Netflix all day because I just wanted to. Like leisurely strolling around outside in the middle of a sunny day because I wasn’t on a time-table to make it to the gym. Like staying up way past 11pm because I didn’t care if I was well-rested for another forced morning workout. Like going out to brunch, or lunch, or ANYTHING because time wasn’t a factor.

These are the experiences that life is meant for — not for saying no to all of these things for your “fitness,” AKA just so you can make it to the gym.  

Because when I am 80 and looking back, I want important things to remember. I want to see more than a life that entirely revolved around working out.

It makes me sad to think about all the years and memories I threw away because I was so obsessed with something as simple as getting to the gym. And, writing this out for the first time makes it seem so ridiculous and controllable, but I’m writing this because it’s not.

I did not see the happiness and joy I was missing out on. I did not realize I had a problem. I did not see it in the least bit, and that’s scary to me.. That is what I want to prevent in even just one person’s life.

What I want to leave you with is this:

Let fitness be a part of your life. Not your ENTIRE life. Because that isn’t what’s really and truly healthy in the end.

Fit but empty happiness:

colby triolo colby triolo

The look of true happiness (don’t mind my friend falling behind me):

colby triolo

Author Colby Triolo

Colby Triolo is a knowledge hungry fitness lover. She is at Cornell University studying Computer Science Engineering and someday hopes to change the virtual fitness world. Colby is a Certified Personal Trainer and loves all things fitness. She also thinks the beach is the best place in the world. (IG @colbytriolo_youmakeyou)

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