Are You Fit…Emotionally?

Published: 23rd January 2007
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Copyright (c) 2007 Ainsley Laing

This week, I was surfing the web for ideas for fitness articles and something really caught my attention. It was an article on emotional fitness by Dr.Mathew Anderson called "Fat and Emotional Fitness".

What is emotional fitness? Well, it's really about our ability to recognize what each of our emotions are telling us, as well as being comfortable with all of our emotions and those of others. Dr. Anderson's premise is that emotional fitness is an important factor in weight control because so many of us eat, not only when we are hungry, but also when we do not recognize our emotions for what they are. The following "checklist" is excerpted from "Fat and Emotional Fitness":

An Emotionally Fit Person... 1. Knows how she/he feels at any given moment and can give that feeling a name. Such as angry, sad, happy, frustrated, joyful, excited, afraid and hurt. 2. Can and does communicate those feelings to at least one other person daily. 3. Can "be with" her/his intense feelings without having to act them out. To act out means to allow the feeling to dictate emotion driven action such as overeating or any addictive behavior, striking out at others or becoming self-destructive. 4. Understands that emotions, including intense emotions, are a normal part of life. 5. Does not make any emotion a forbidden emotion, even sexual feelings, sadness, fear and anger. 6. Can hear, accept and "be with" the emotions of others, even if they are sometimes intense, without judging them. 7. Understands that emotions, properly experienced, accepted and managed, contribute to one's quality of life. 8. Understands that chronic, extremely intense emotions are related to past wounds and traumas and need attention and deeper exploration, possibly with a professional. The very emotionally fit person will get the help she/he needs.

From Dr. Anderson's list, I can see that not being "in tune" with one's emotions would cause all kinds of unsavory behaviors and overeating can be very self destructive. What about taking this idea to other addictive or self destructive behaviors ' in particular exercise addiction?

Like overeating, over exercising is a socially accepted addiction. In other words, on the surface it appears to be a good thing. Also, it seems like only the person engaged in the behavior is affected by it. However, if you have ever been involved with someone with an addiction or self destructive behavior of any kind, you know that friends, family members and work colleagues are all affected in one way or the other.

Exercise addiction is no exception. Exercise requires time and energy and when it becomes excessive, not only does the addict get hurt a lot, but the time and energy needed to sustain important relationships also goes to exercise. But exercise is good, right! YES ' unless it takes control over your life. Even professional athletes and fitness trainers know when to stop.

How do you know if you are over exercising? Well, probably the best indicator is if close family members or friends are REALLY complaining about how much time you are spending at it. Things like, "is it really so important that you spend 4 hours per day at the gym?" will be said. If you really don't feel like exercising because you are so tired yet you feel compelled to work out anyway, could be a sign ' especially if you do this often. If you insist on exercising when you are sick or injured and have been told by your doctor to rest, this too could be a sign of addiction.

If you are over exercising or engaging in any behavior that is causing relationship problems, work problems or serious stress, try looking inward to understand what your feelings really are telling you. Emotional fitness is just as important as physical and mental fitness for keeping us free from illness and injury. Your body depends on it!

You can find Dr. Anderson's article at


About the Author:

Ainsley Laing, MSc. has been a Fitness Trainer for 25 years and writes exclusively Body for Mind eZine. She holds certifications in Group Exercise, Sports Nutrition and Personal Fitness Training. To see more articles by Ainsley visit

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