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Giulia Caruso

Fitness/Endorphine Junkie Attitude and How Your Family/Friends React to It

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(I hope this is the right section)

 

Today a friend of mine accused me of being a fitness junkie because I train four times a week.

I suspect it was because I said I couldn't do something with her because I had training.

 

My question is: are we all endorphine junkies or people who don't train regularly perceive us as such because we have different priorities?

Is there an actual addiction to endorphine problem when you train almost every day?

 

What is the reaction of the people around you (family/friends) to your training schedule?

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I train 6 nights a week, and on the 7th day I have to do some relaxing like yoga, sauna and all social stuff goes around it.

My friends laughed a bit at me at first that I have to schedule a meeting with them in advance, but yeah it's like that. Some of them, who also have a tight schedule (not necesserly because of training) understand it and cooperate with me nicely :) Others...well we just see each other like once in a month or two..or less. I have close to no social life, apart from spontanious outings with the guys from my gym after training. I think now my friends or people around me in general just don't care about me anymore, coz I withdrew myself so much from any kind of social life with them.

My family cooperates with me nicely, if there is a family meeting and I have to leave the party early to go train, my parents understand it, my aunts and oncles don't, but I don't care what they think. :) My parents are actually helping me out a lot, letting me use their car to go to training, otherwise I had no way to maintain this crazy schedule (or I had to spend the money I'm saving for going to Thailand for buying a car ;)).

I don't think it's connected with being a junkie of some kind, it's like you said: priorities

Before I shifted my focus to Muay Thai I was obsessed with rock shows, I had no problem with going to Germany, the UK, Czech, Slovakia, just to see my favorite bands, sleeping on the railway station or not sleeping at all - just going to the show and back home (like...a 6 or 12 hour trip one way, who cares? ;)). I was at a show almost every 2-3 weeks and this was the meaning of my life.

Now, there are still bands I like to listen to, but if the show is on a training night I will try to make both work or let go the show. It's just that my priorities shifted from going to shows to training.

I'd rather say it's a state of focusing of yourself, a kind of meditation and not being a junkie!

But honestly speaking... I'd love it if my friends were more excited about my training, but it's so out of their worlds, they are only scared for me and don't understand why I'm doing it....Actually on Sunday my friend messaged me pleading me to stop it, coz she cought glipses of how Joanna Jędrzejczyk massacred Jessica Penne in their UFC title fight. :) :) I tried explaining to her why it happened, but nooo ;)

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To me it's just different passions, you enjoy muay so you do it as much as you want. I think she just perceived it wrong like she felt it was more important than her, but it's more like; there's no pointing missing it if I don't have to, we can meet whenever but training is set times.

It's like saying to someone ohhh I can't come over because I'm watching Hollyoaks or I'm watching UFC. It's hard for her to understand your passion because she doesn't have it herself. Like I don't understand why people like golf, if someone said to me I can't meet because I'm going golfing, I'd be like who cares? It's golf, whereas that person likes golf and enjoys it so they will go and do it.

I guess at the end of the day it is priorities, because you could skip training and go meet her. It's weird, imagine saying to your trainer I'm going out with my friend I can't train, he'll think 'you can do that anytime' and when you tell your friend you want to train instead she thinks 'you can do that anytime'.

Lol, I always write posts more complicated than they are, but I think it's her view, she doesn't like muay/training she doesn't like it so she doesn't understand why you'd prioritise it over her, when she wouldn't do the same.  :smile:

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(I hope this is the right section)

 

Today a friend of mine accused me of being a fitness junkie because I train four times a week.

I suspect it was because I said I couldn't do something with her because I had training.

 

My question is: are we all endorphine junkies or people who don't train regularly perceive us as such because we have different priorities?

Is there an actual addiction to endorphine problem when you train almost every day?

 

What is the reaction of the people around you (family/friends) to your training schedule?

I've definitely had this happen a lot in the past. I couldn't even tell you how many times people who I no longer associate with called me 'boring', 'anti-social' or 'addicted' in the past. It was an issue for me when I first started training and fighting, but over time, my social circle changed - partly because I'd started actively adjusting it and partly because a lot of my friends moved on. That's the thing about living abroad, a lot of people around you are on temporary lifestyles. Now, the only people I spend time with when I'm not working are my training partners or other people I've met through Muay Thai. I still have wonderful friends outside of Muay Thai, but they are now dotted around in other parts of the world, which, as much as I miss them, is great for me because it allows me to completely focus without any distraction or social pull.

Any friends of mine outside the gym fall into two categories: ones who don't understand what I'm doing but love me for it, support it and express a genuine interest in it; and ones who care very much about me but are completely clueless or uninterested about what I do and what it means for me, so just never talk about it (this category only consists of people I met before starting Muay Thai). I'm now in the UK on vacation and I spent today with some girls who fall into the second category. The subject of my training or fighting wasn't raised once, despite it being pretty much my entire life right now. It was slightly weird for me and I felt like a fish out of water. I'm not offended by it, I just don't think they would know what to say or ask. To be honest, I sometimes find it easier not to broach the subject with those people. It saves some awkward conversation. I actually wrote a bit about how finding Muay Thai meant that my lifestyle adjusted and my need for 'me time' increased in an old post of mine, 'Does Fighting Change You?'

As you guys have already said, it all comes down to priorities. The people who called me boring for wanting to spend my free time in the gym instead of partying didn't understand that I was passionately working towards goals that were important to me. When they told me 'let go and have some fun', they didn't realise that being in the gym was my idea of fun. We just had different wants and needs. This even goes for some people in my gym, who don't take training quite as seriously or see it as just a hobby. It's fine if we're not on the same page with it, as long as everyone does what makes them happy. 

You asked if it's possible to become addicted to training in an unhealthy way, and I do think that's true in extreme cases. I say this as someone who previously had problems with an eating disorder and used excessive exercise as a way to fuel that. However, this was before I'd found Muay Thai. If you're interested, you can read my story about that here - 'How Strength Training Saved me from an Eating Disorder'. 

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I've recently watched a few movies that deal with the cliche of "friends with kids." Basically, as an adult, once you have kids your circle of friends becomes pretty limited to other people who have kids. People who don't have kids are like, "stop talking about your kid's potty training," and people with kids are like, "stop asking me what I've been up to; I've been fucking parenting." I got married quite young, before any of my friends did, and being "the married one" changed our abilities to relate to one another. People who have children aren't "obsessed" or "love-having-no-sleep junkies." They're called parents and that's what their world is defined by.  As athletes, our worlds are in some very key and definitive ways different from our non-athlete associates. So it's hard for us to relate on that time expenditure.

I have a hard time with my family on this one. They love me, a lot, and they all support me a great deal. I might consider one of my brothers my biggest fan, outside of my own husband (who absolutely takes the top tier on that title).  But my family doesn't "get it." I'm frustrated all the time by how it's seen as a "phase" or something I will turn into something else by opening a gym and becoming a teacher or something.  This isn't just something I did when I was young, like a "study abroad" or kiddie soccer clubs. This is my life, my passion, my transformation. That's hard for people to get because most people use physical challenges as hobbies or for fitness. Hobbies stop being "hobbies" when they are transformative.

Take for example Mark Hogancamp, who creates an entire world out of dolls and model buildings. There's a whole documentary and in it you learn that this is Hogancamp's therapy. It's not temporary, it's not "just for fun" and it's not a hobby. Dolls are stuff of hobbies, but only if it's practiced as a hobby.  Is Mark "obsessed?"  Surely.  Am I obsessed with Muay Thai. Yes. But that's not a bad thing.  If you're climbing Everest and you're not "obsessed" with getting to the top, you not fucking getting there. I can promise you that. It's not a casual endeavor.

And in the end, you should ever be made to feel bad about the thing that makes you feel good.

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Take for example Mark Hogancamp, who creates an entire world out of dolls and model buildings. There's a whole documentary and in it you learn that this is Hogancamp's therapy. It's not temporary, it's not "just for fun" and it's not a hobby. Dolls are stuff of hobbies, but only if it's practiced as a hobby.  Is Mark "obsessed?"  Surely.  Am I obsessed with Muay Thai. Yes. But that's not a bad thing.  If you're climbing Everest and you're not "obsessed" with getting to the top, you not fucking getting there. I can promise you that. It's not a casual endeavor.

I just watched that documentary a couple of weeks ago! I thought it was really interesting. We all have our passions and there will always be people who think they're weird, and that's ok  :smile:

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It's more or less exactly what everyone here has said already- I do some form of exercise almost every single day of the week, training or not and my social schedule is adjusted to that it takes place after I've done my morning workout routines. In the beginning I just said I was busy and never elaborated on what I was busy with since I would get funny looks from my work mates that I would cut out this extra time for my strength training. Now that I'm with my family again they've taken notice but also accepted it as my own routine and are open to making time for it.
 

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Thank you everyone for sharing. It's making me feel much better.

 

@Emma: I read your post, it's very interesting. The bit that touched me was the note on "not feeling guilty or stressed if you miss training". That I think is connected to "not feeling guilty if you eat a super pizza out with friends". For me it's strongly related to keep focusing on doing things because they make me happy, without relating them to my worth. It's so complicated!

 

@Micc: I feel you. I always had to schedule meetings with my friends. I work afternoons and evenings, it's always been complicated. But suddenly hearing no because of training (instead of work) must have been unexpected. I've always been over-available to people, and just recently learned to defend my space and my needs.

 

@Iwtgtt I think that's the point. I was hurt that she implied the "addiction" part.

 

@Sylvie I am already the friend without kids, and get all strange looks because my life is not revolving around family but around my own artistic and personal projects... In italy they are still considered not "real priorities". It sucks. But I agree that obsession is what allows you to create something new. Also combat training is actually being therapeutic for me, so yay!

 

@Steph I think I'll start doing that. Say I'm busy without saying why. ;)

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Cannot quote everyone but love your thoughts.  My two cents are regarding the definition of addiction vs dependency.  I would say I definitely have a dependency on the endorphin response of training (and get a moody, angry withdrawal if I cannot).  Some people like to call this addiction, but I distinguish addiction from a more simple dependency.  I ask - does it make my world better, or worse?  If it makes my world worse yet despite that I do not stop, it is an addiction.  If it makes my world objectively better (not temporarily high), I may depend on its help, but its definitely not an addiction in the classical sense, more like a healthy habit.  Eating disorders and various body dysmorphia are pitfalls; I don't deny that.  But I am lucky in that that is not part of my experience.  Great thread thank you.

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