A lot of guys have called me a gym goth or a gym addict. I've gotten used to it but it seems like these terms get thrown around a lot and are oftentimes exaggerated. It's very easy for people to call others in the gym “gym addicts” when they don’t really qualify.
The bottom line is that there is such a thing as a gym addict. There is a tight definition of what constitutes gym addiction and what separates it just regularly working out. There is a difference and it’s a good idea if you want to become a gym addict to understand what it's like. Here is a quick rundown of the definition of a gym addict and how to become one.
How Do You Know You’re a Gym Addict?
The first indicator that you have become a gym addict is that you routinely work out. By “routinely,” I’m talking about sticking to a schedule no matter what. It may be raining cats and dogs; there may be a blizzard out; there might even be some sort of civil commotion or riot but people can expect you to show up on the gym on time.
If you are able to reach this level of consistency, you may be a gym addict but you have to look at the other parts of the picture below. Still, routine workouts at preselected times is a big indicator that you have become addicted to working out.
Next is the mental element. When you miss your workout, you feel it. You feel that there's something missing. Before you know it, you get this heavy feeling that you have wasted today because you did not do what you were supposed to do. That's how important working out has become to you. It's an integral part of your life.
The most common emotion that gym addicts feel when they miss a workout day is a sense of guilt. This is actually a good way of determining how addicted you are. If you are lightly addicted to the gym, you'll feel some guilt. There’s a tiny twinge of discomfort but you will get over it.
On the other hand, if you are a hardcore gym addict, the heaviness of the guilt is almost inescapable. It’s as if you start thinking you're the biggest loser in the world. You're going to lose a lot of your gains or there's some sort of chain reaction that will negatively impact the rest of your life. That's how guilty you will feel if you are a hardcore gym addict.
Another indicator of gym addiction involves actual physical withdrawal. You actually start to feel off or even weak because you're not at the gym. You have associated pumping weights or doing squats with a sense of physical renewal, all vitality, and a sense of being alive.
Even if you go a day without your scheduled workout, your body will let you know. It's as if you've gotten weak or there is something missing in terms of your body movements. This is not just happening in your head. Your body is actually sending these signals because it's not used to being free of all the pressure you put on it in the gym.
Finally, there are mental symptoms. These involve your moods. Personally, I know guys who get somewhat depressed if they’re not in the gym when they're supposed to be there. If they scheduled a day off from the gym, they’re in a good mood. There’s nothing wrong in their world.
However, when they know that they should be in the gym on a certain day, they become irritable, moody, antsy. They can’t quite put their finger on it but there's something off. Their day isn’t complete and they keep thinking about the about themselves being in the gym.
Keep in mind that all these factors work together so when you feel some sort of mental withdrawal symptom or you feel emotionally “off,” this is usually paired with a heavy sense of guilt. You have to look at gym addiction in holistic terms. The more of these factors are present, the higher the chance that you are a true-blue gym addict.
The Good News: Not All Addictions are Bad
You have to understand that being a gym addict is not necessarily a bad thing. Sure, that label has the word “addict” in it but not all addictions are bad. There are such things as beneficial habits. You just have to know your limits.
If you go to the gym regularly, this means you're a disciplined person. This means that you can be counted on to show up on time to do a job right. You're not going to half-ass it. You're not going to look at what you've done and say, “That's good enough. I’m going home.”
You're less likely to cut corners. How come? You have made a habit of going to the gym, filling out your workout schedule, and doing the necessary exercises so you can feel like you have actually done a real workout.
This habit, believe it or not, can pay off tremendously in other areas of your life. If your attitude is that there is no such thing as “good enough” and “if you're going to do it, go all the way,” you're going to be handsomely rewarded in life. No joke. Real story. How come?
Most people are looking to cut corners. Most people are ready, willing, and eager to do the bare minimum just so they don't get fired. If you're up against those people and your work ethic forged of from the sweat-stained steel weights of the gym, you are going to dominate them at each and every turn. That discipline that you develop at the gym is your secret weapon for success in all areas of your life.
Beneficial habits also enable you to become a better person as far as your relationships are concerned. In any relationship, there will always be uncomfortable areas. Either you're waiting for the other person to get their act together and grow up or they're doing it to you.
Whatever the case may be you have to be patient with people so they can put everything together. In many cases, they just want you to be there to support them as they stumble and fall. A lot of people don't have the patience for this. A lot of people would rather use others and so the relationship is worthless.
When you develop beneficial habits, you develop the necessary discipline to be there for your loved ones. They will be able to rely on you and you will be able to rely on them and this leads to richer and more fulfilling relationships.
I can go on and on but there is such a thing as a positive addiction. The term “addiction” simply means you can't go on without doing something for a certain substance. So, keep this in mind. Just because you're addicted to an activity doesn't necessarily mean that all addictions are bad.
The Confessions of a Gym Addict
Here is my personal walk-through of what it's like to become a gym addict. You’ll get enough information on how to adopt this lifestyle and apply the necessary limits. Keep in mind that while there is such a thing as a good addiction, it is also true that there is something as too much of a good thing.
You have to know your limits. While it's okay to develop a certain beneficial habits or addictions, you can’t go overboard with them. I’m just throwing out there so you know. If you decide to become a gym addict or if you're already well on your way there, understand that applying limits is not only healthy but also necessary.
Confession #1: Getting started is the hardest part
I don’t know about you but I know a lot of guys who talk a good game. They tell themselves and people around them, “Tomorrow I'll get my life together.” Guess what happens when tomorrow rolls around? They’re back to where they started. They didn't lift a finger. Their goals are just hopes and dreams.
I share this with you not because I’m judging guys who do this. I used to be one of those guys.
The problem is as awesome as regular gym workouts may be intellectually, we tend to focus on the things that we feel we must do on a day-to-day basis. In other words, we just focus on the mandatory stuff. We don't focus on things that we think are optional that can actually take our lives to the next level.
Where do you think gym workouts fall in that equation? Here's a hint. Most people don't look at working out at the gym as something they need to do. That's the problem and this is why getting started on the road to regular workouts is the hardest part. The easiest thing in the world is to talk about it. The hardest is to get started.
Think of it this way. If you're trying to hit the gym regularly, you’re like a rocket ship trying to go to the moon. Did you know that most of a rocket’s fuel is spent on takeoff? That's because there's so much gravity trying to pull it down. The good news is once it gets past the Earth's gravitational belt, it doesn't require much fuel to get to its destination.
The same applies to working out or adopting any kind of healthy habit. When you're trying to start, your body and your mind are tag-teaming you. You are putting up all sorts of excuses why you can’t do it today. You keep playing games with yourself that there is always tomorrow.
Well, tomorrow comes and nothing happens and then that's followed by another day and another day. Before you know it, months and even years pass and you're still no closer to your original plan. Don't feel bad because this happens to almost everybody.
Get started today. Stop thinking about it. Just do it.
Confession #2: You have to put in the time and learn to override your feelings and emotions
Let me clue you in on a secret. When you start working out at the gym, there will be that one person who will try to trip you up. I’m not talking about a gym bully. I’m not talking about some big, hulking guy teasing you. I’m talking about you. When you go to the gym, you’re probably thinking, “Oh man, why do I have to do this? I only have fifteen minutes to do this. I’m in a hurry. I don't have time for this.”
Your feelings can drag you down. Eventually, you start looking at your workouts in the context of your feelings. You're thinking to yourself, “I can only enjoy a good workout if I’m in the right mood.” Don't do that because you will never ever be in a perfect mood to work out.
Flip the script. Override your feelings by focusing on schedule. If you have scheduled yourself to go to the gym at 6:00 this evening, meet that deadline. It doesn't matter if you know you're going to hassle with traffic to get to the gym. It doesn’t matter if you feel a bit down or you're not all that focused. None of that should matter.
Pay no attention to your circumstances and focus more on the fact that you have made a decision. I know this is hard but the more you do this, the more you will be able to strengthen your power of decision. That's how you become a more effective person.
You see, there are a lot of people out there who are making a lot of promises and who talk a big game about their goals and plans but most of them don't follow through. At the very least, they don't keep their world to themselves.
When you decided to go to the gym at 6:00 in the evening tonight, you have made a promise to yourself. Deliver and collect on that promise.
Confession #3: Ride that positive feedback loop
Believe it or not once you start going to the gym regularly, things will get easier. I know it sounds crazy at this point. At this point, you're just looking at yourself in the mirror and you see that big beer belly.
Believe me I can relate. I was there but here's what worked for me. When I went to the gym, my belly got a bit smaller. I knew because I was always looking at myself in the mirror at the gym as I pumped weights. I definitely had enough opportunity to observe myself as I ran on the treadmill. Day by day, I noticed that I started looking better.
What happened next? I got excited about the fact that I was looking slimmer and more muscular and better. So, what did I do? I got so excited that I wanted to work out more. At the very least, I wanted to keep working out regularly.
What happens then? Well, I looked even better and this triggered a chain reaction yet again. I looked better. I got more excited because I looked better and this enabled me to work out more, which made me look even better and on and on it goes.
Do you see how this works? This is called a positive feedback loop. The good news is that after you put in the time to learn to override your feelings and emotions against working out, you establish that feedback loop. Hang in there.
Confession #4: Hang in there until you hit your point of momentum
You have to seriously hang in there. Determine your feedback loop and work it. The good news is that there is a nice reward waiting for you. Remember the first time you decided to work out? Your first day was probably such a hassle. Your second day was like pulling teeth.
As negative as those initial days were, you will reach a point where stopping your workout is a lot more hassle than starting. That's right. You will reach a point of momentum where it takes less energy to get started. In fact, you may reach a point where it doesn't take any energy at all. You look forward to your workout. How awesome is that?
Here’s the best news. All of us have a point of momentum. We just need to hang in there with our new routine until we reach that point of momentum.
Confession #5: Get addicted to the rush
When you hit the gym regularly you eventually make it a habit. How come? Not only does it feel good mentally to be in the gym but you also become physically addicted to it. When you work out to the point that your body releases endorphins, you get a nice buzz. It's like being high on drugs but this is purely organic and purely natural. You're not hallucinating or getting paranoid. Instead, this is the best kind of drug because you feel like you're on top of the world .It's one hell of a rush.
At first, you become aware of your endorphins once in a while but, eventually, you start connecting the dots and you're able to trigger it almost by command. That's when you get addicted because you look forward to that nice natural high that you get.
It makes you feel so alive. It makes you feel like you're doing something meaningful with your life instead of just worrying about how to put food on the table and making to the next day. In other words, you start to feel complete. Life develops a fresh sense of vibrancy.
Confession #6: Learn the sting of guilt and disappointment
I wish I could tell you that becoming a gym addict is just a bed of roses. It isn't. Just as you can get addicted to the rush of those endorphins flooding your bloodstream, you can also remain motivated when things go south.
What am I talking about? If, for whatever reason, you skip going to the gym, you may have become addicted to the point that you feel guilty. With guilt comes a sense of disappointment and sadness. These are heavy feelings.
I have come across many guys who said that they skipped going to the gym because of something they have to do for work. They felt like the biggest losers in the world. They feel that they have let themselves and other people down. They keep saying to themselves, “This is not me. I’m not this type of person.”
This is part of the territory. If you want to become a gym addict and you want to maintain that lifestyle, learn the sting of guilt and disappointment. Understand that they are part of the equation. While it's easy to understand the drawing power of endorphins and how that leads to gym addiction, it is also true that your fear of this heavy guilt and sense of disappointment can also push you to gym addiction.
You have to remember that there are two types of people in this world. There are proactive people and there are reactive people. Proactive people do things out of desire. They look at things as they are and then they desire a new outcome so they move things around.
On the other hand are the rest of us. These are reactive people. We only lift a finger to change our lives only when our backs are against the wall. If it's not the rush of endorphins pushing you to gym addiction, it may as well be the sting of guilt and disappointment that would help you make the transition.
The good news is it doesn't matter whether it's guilt or disappointment or being proactive that gets you there. Just get there.