I’ve been thinking a lot about exercise recently – no, no don’t worry, I’m not going to start or anything crazy like that…. I was thinking about the characteristics of it that remind me of alcoholism. No really…
Like the first time a person gets drunk, they think it’s a good idea – all their friends are doing it and so they give it a try; before you know it they’re falling down, puking can’t walk. Going to the gym the first time can be just like that – they’re pressured into it by their friends and society, they start out on the treadmill when they get done their legs are jelly… if they run too much they’ll throw up and get dehydrated, get light-headed and dizzy…. The similarities, just start here – lets look at more examples.
They are entirely normal in every respect except in the effect exercise has upon them. They keep exercising, nothing changes for a while (just like when an alcoholic begins to drink, all seems normal for a time) then they start to lose weight, act differently, they may start to smell. Their friends are too ashamed to say anything at first, their family is concerned – they spend hours and hours away from home at the “gym” where other people understand them and can relate. If they continue on for long periods of time their body will hardly resemble the normal body at all – their exercise life seems the only normal one. Finally the exercise becomes paramount to all other things and the gym becomes like a second home.
Doing the same thing over and over – expecting different results…sounds familiar doesn’t it? Curl that weight once, no… maybe fifteen times until it hurts. The ones who may be too far gone are the ones who say they get a high off of it, that they feel good after exercising… for them there may be no hope at all, we may have to lock them in weight room with their energy bars and sports drinks and watch in horror as they slowly exercise themselves into nothingness.
Sometimes an injury will occur. First a sprain – so they slow down, they take it easy, they can manage this… this won’t stop them, and here’s how. Perhaps a torn rotator cuff would convince them that it’s dangerous and their families beg them to stop… but no, surgery and “physical therapy” so they can do it again – pain is a small price to pay, they have to exercise. We’ve seen it on the news – those athletes whose careers have come crashing down after an injury prevents them from exercising – they sink into that pit of a recliner life, doomed to watch others workout, living vicariously through their efforts…. they cannot at this point differentiate the true from the false.
It’s an addiction now – they can’t stop. Sometimes going two or three times a day to the gym, maybe a personal trainer (a.k.a. pusher) to encourage them to branch out and try new things.. the treadmill was a gateway drug, leading to more and more dangerous things that will slowly waste them away into nothingness. They have to keep going to feel “normal” but it’s never enough – one weight, 5 laps, 20 presses… it’ll never be enough for them – they have an insatiable craving for sweat, pain, hard bodies… sick bastards.
Is there hope? A cure? I’m not sure if even a spiritual awakening would be enough to help them – most are to far gone after their second visit to the gym. I have to believe there is hope for them, I have to believe one day these folks will join us on the couch, chowing down on potato chips and ice-cream with not a care in the world… maybe someday they will be free, maybe someday they can live a normal life…