What is compulsive exercise? | Kati Morton

What is compulsive exercise? | Kati Morton

Hey everybody, Happy Thursday! I hope you all are having a wonderful week and enjoying yourself! The weather’s warming up, and oh…. so hot here in California if you’re here you’ll know what I’m talkin’ about but I know for those of you who don’t live here it is starting to warm up! And that’s exciting! Summer’s coming, yay! So today’s question is something I haven’t talked about probably a year or more; and this topic is excessive exercise. Dum da dum dum! And, so the question says: “I would love it if you could talk more about excessive exercise and the need to keep on increasing it. Why would we want to do this? It would be helpful to hear it from your respective.” Now The first thing I want to talk about, is really is defining what excessive exercise is: and I know those of you out there with an eating disorder that involves exercise are going to hate me a little during this video. And I don’t apologise! But, excessive exercise to me and I know that different clinitions will have different ways of verbalising it, but overall excessive exercise is exercise that impairs you ability to live your life. Does that make sense? What I mean is, lets say I’m going to go out with friends for dinner I haven’t seen them in a while I’m so excited. But… I have an extra meeting come up: I had a call that ran over. My sessions with my clients just ran over somebody had an emergency one pop up and I couldn’t get my exercise in. [GASPS] Cue horror music: [ KATI MIMICS HORROR MUSIC ] And so, instead of a normal exercise, or say “Oh that’s OK, I’ll work out tomorrow or whatever” “I’ll go for a walk later” “That’s fine… whatever… no biggie” An excessive exerciser will cancel plans with their friends to go exercise. They will do anything to make an excuse to exercise. And so that is what excessive is: It impairs your ability to just live your life, and enjoy things. Exercise is compulsory: you have to do it; it’s not something you get to chose, or enjoy OK? That’s just my definition: if you disagree, let me know what your definition is below. So the question that she’s asking is why do we want to keep increasing it? and the truth of it is that wating disorders and OCD they’re like best buddies. And often, in the therapy world, err, people struggle to diagnose both separately because they’re often part of the same thing; part of them, what we call differential diagnosis how you decide what to diagnose someone with, is recognising does the OCD component only apply to eating disorder behaviours and so because, it’s such a component right it’s even in the DSM, right it is part of the eating disorder that OCD sufferers part of the eating disorder We don’t give them a diagnosis of OCD on it’s own. Is that clear? So, OK, we’ve separated those out… So, because that is so well known to be a problem; with eating disorders you can see this compulsion to exercise. And the obsession that comes from our eating disorder voice Just FYI: we all have an eating disorder voice leads us to create bizarre calculations: OK, well “I ate blankety blank di blank” So I have to do blankety blank di blank. Oh now I have to go to the birthday party, heaven forbid, and I had a piece of cake right, and I did something out of my regular schedule, now I have to add on this. and this and this. Here comes the really screwed up part; and why eating disorder voices are so fucking nasty is that we can never take that back. I’ve had clients who have had all these things they have to do exercise like every day, because once you add something on, often times you can’t take it off. and so the list of things, the number of hours just increases, increases, increases until… it becomes excessive. And it impairs you ability to live your life. and so…. that’s where it comes from: that little OCD part of our eating disorder; that little nasty voice that nags us like “get up! You’re lazy/You’re stupid!” and that’s why it’s…. horribly annoying as it is My first task of my free eating disorder workbook available on my website for download whenever if you have trouble getting it, let me know I can shoot you out an email with a PDF file of it. Erm, I know some people have had trouble downloading it. So, the first task in that workbook is talking back to that eating disorder voice, and that’s why I talk about it all the time because otherwise, it keeps adding all these other things on and we feel, in that OCD type brain that if we don’t do it, something terrible is going to happen like “I’n gonna get fat” Errr, usually that’s the number one thing with eating disorders it’s gonna be like “I’m gonna get fat” or err or you know “my pants aren’t gonna fit” “people are gonna think I’m lazy” “I’m gonna think I’m lazy” “I deserve the punishment” Errrm I’ll try and think of other things patients have told me. But those are all the top — the ones I hear the most. OK? And so… we’re gonna have to fight back against that voice. And trust me, we don’t act out! A couple times, right, we think about it “OK I recognise it, it’s my eating disorder voice I’ll talk back to it until that voice gets a little bit quieter, and I don’t do the exercise it told me to do”… Then you’ll slowly start to have these little “ah ha” moments where you’re like: “WOW! Nothing terrible happened!” “I didn’t get fat overnight!” [ KATI GASPS ] “The eating disorder has been telling me that it’s going to happen forever!” and it LIED let me tell you that eating disorders fucking lie! So, that’s why we keep adding up and trying to exercise more it’s because it’s a part of that eating disorder, always pushing us to do more. And trust me, hear me out Somebody should create a GIF of this: The eating disorder will never be happy, you can never do enough. OK? So, please start talking back to it, please start talking to a therapist and a dietician we can help you so much with managing exercise and over-exercise because in all honesty, it’s so scary and is so hard on your body and your heart and it just gives me all the worries. So, please take care of yourselves, please reach out Erm, and like I said, check out my eating disorder workbook on my website, it’s free! And if you’re new click here to subscribe, and if you want more information about stuff like this, click over here and I will see you next time, BYE! Subtitles by the Amara.org community

68 comments on “What is compulsive exercise? | Kati Morton

  1. Kazooga 1234 Post author

    thx for this ha bisky vid and i need to exercise more luckily i have barre class tomorrow i dont know if i am going weekly again now that my mom is back i might be able to until vidcon but i am going to try to do that

    for me my depression has been kicking my ass recently so i just been laying around feeling horrible

  2. Meradith Stretz Post author

    Katie great video! Can you do a video on situational depression and how to tell the different between it and regular depression? Thanks!

  3. Fabs hyden Post author

    wow kati this was an amazing video i love it . your amazing i love alll you do you are succh a role model to me .kati im really scared about getting an autism dignosis im getting a referal and i dont wanna have a label because youcant get rid of autism . could you pls do a video about labels and dignosis im just really scared .

  4. Lotti W. Post author

    Thank you for this awesome explanation. I used to use exercising for my purging behaviors. In Recovery, I had to cut down my exercise routines. five years later I still struggle with it. Not in such a excessive way, but its definitly there. But I never understood, what this actually means; "obsessive exercising". Being fit and active is good, right?! Well, now I understand what this means for my body and that I cant fully recover without stopping these obsessive behaviors. And I realised, after watching this video, that I still have routines in my day, where I use my behaviors, because my head tells me, that I have to do it, otherwise I gain weight. So, thank you for this lightbulb-moment!!! I will work on this !!!

  5. michael Davis Post author

    I believe excessive exercise derives from a feeling of extreme self conscious. People are more insecur of their bodies because we live in a society where we are bombarded with photo shopped ads of models with physiques thats virtually unobtainable. So some people base their identity on the way the look. But this is a form of marketing because "sexy bodies" sell. So we have been indoctrinated to look like this. Another plausible reason is because exercise release feel good hormones in the brain and throughout the body. Dopamine, endorphins ect…..which gives you a high. And its an amazing strees reliever. But to much exercise is counterproductive and keeps your body at catabolic phase. Being addicted to exercising is definitely harmful but beneficial in moderation. But marketing from big business tells you that you should look like this….and people desperately try to look like these celebrities or models in order to feel adequate. Great video 🙂 Just my subjective opinion.

  6. S.C. Nagrod Post author

    This used to be a HUGE part of my eating disorder before landing in the hospital with cardiac failure at age 25.
    Now I'm terrified of running (or any cardio) because I know that "little OCD" voice will start talking again.
    Thank you for saying something about this; I think so many younger sufferers believe over~exercising benign.
    I certainly thought so, & I was SO wrong!
    Awesome info, as always 🙂

  7. FranticYak Post author

    Great video as always Kati! You were right though, you did irritate me in this video, but only because I know what you say is the truth, heh.

  8. Franki Kootcher Post author

    I have been trying to download your self harm workbook ages! it just want work so it would be amazing if you could email me with the file! thanks!

  9. Sarah Davies Post author

    this is something that effects me daily even when I'm recovering from a leg wound that required stitches I have too exercise

  10. Maddy Shepperd Post author

    Hi Kati! I just wanted to say how amazing you are! Your videos are such an inspiration. I know that I am just one of a billion people watching your videos and letting you know that you by posting those videos saved my life and gave (and still give) me comfort and hope even in my darkest hours! But with that you not only saved my life but also my friends' and family's! Thank you so so much!
    I would be so glad if you could answer my question, cuz I don't know what to do and I am scared to ask my therapist about it. -.-
    So I haven't been eating anything in the last three days and I've already fainted twice in the gym – yesterday and today.. I know it's because of my ED and it won't happen again if I start eating something again. But still I am a little worried and don't know if I should see a doctor.
    I just feel like I don't want to bother him because I know there are a lot of people who feel way worse. I don't know what to do -.-

  11. Sierath Post author

    Yep, you're right. I don't like your definition because it's true. The other parts of my eating disorder I have a good handle on, but the exercise I still struggle with. I felt like I was doing a good thing getting in the habit, but it sucks as it takes over your life.

  12. commonercoffeeaddict Post author

    What if they are passionate about it? Or if what they've heard from the media makes them believe this is necessary to be healthy? You're not ready for a marathon with just a little exercise, and here people have developed a subculture around it. You don't go out with your old friends, but you make new ones.

  13. Angela Decicco Post author

    I love how real you are with everyone. You have helped me to be honest with my therapist and I finally got a diagnosis of an eating disorder. Thank you so much (:

  14. Daemon S Post author

    Can you do a video about Paranoia?
    Like I feel kinda creeped out about a lot of stuff I see or hear because I think they are all connected in some way and stuf…
    Eg: My roll number in school is 1223 and so is your PO box number thing, and when I first saw it, I had to close the tab and think about how it might be connected.

  15. Yana R Post author

    #KatiFAQ. PLEASE ANSWER. Hi Kati love your videos, they have gotten me through a lot, and still are. I have a question/suggestion for you, Could you do a video on FASD? Also, I have been feeling very, very dissociated the last few weeks, so dissociated to the point where I can't function, I become so lost in where ever my head goes that I can't seem to really eat, sleep, and now even drink water?! Do you have any tips on how to pull myself back into my body? It's getting to the point where also, my performance at school has struggled tremendously. Please Help! And if at all possible, Be even more caring and amazing to this world! Love your work, Keep it up. Smiles ~Yana

  16. the walkiest lady Post author

    what if you feel a million times more depressed and just like crabby and bitchy and miserable all day long when you don't get up and do it first thing in the morning..?

  17. L. John Post author

    I used to over exercise as part of my ED. I counted calories, and then I would go on a run for example, and I would say I have to burn X calories before I can be done, and X was usually twice as much as I consumed. It was really unhealthy and looking back, scary. Not only was I starving my body, I was taking away everything extra it had!

  18. Sage Thyme Post author

    I like the way you say gif haha. This is an important topic – I feel like people often don't talk about compulsive exercise when they talk about eating disorders, and it often goes unrecognized.

  19. Kati Wallace Post author

    #katiFAQ so I've been struggling with bulimia for over a year now, I've had no therapy or help or anything. In the past nearly 2 weeks I have not engaged in any bulimic behaviours, although it is constantly in my head, still counting calories & weighing myself daily & in no way whatsoever will I eat or buy food infront of anyone. Self harm has been worse this time tho, does that mean I'm replacing bulimia with self harm & I no longer have an ED? Thanks

  20. sunstripe85 Post author

    Thank you for this! I was never diagnosed with anorexia but I know I had it (have it?) for 2/3 of my life. I somehow managed to mostly get things under control by now but tbh it's really not properly dealt with probably, because one way I deal with things is avoidance and another is trying to talk back to the voice.

    Problem is, recently I did a yearly check up and they said I was super healthy blah blah but then it said my BMI was one point below the upper level of average for my height. And that completely horrified me. I've been thinking I should exercise for a while, just to be healthy, but the problem is I used to freak out on exercising and I'm scared to do any exercising at all. It's kind of frustrating because people are like OMG NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT? JUST EXERCISE 😀 and I'm like, I can't just randomly exercise. I tried running with my dog one day and I got instantly into that mindset of, "Well I need to run one more block. I need to sprint this far. I need to do this. I need to do that."

    I end up sabotaging myself when I do that because it's currently the only way I know how to stop myself from proving to myself that I CAN do those things because like you said, once I acknowledge I CAN do those things then it goes on my list of things I HAVE to do. And the problem is once I start counting calories and actually using a scale and monitoring exercising and all of that, then I run right back into my old mindset of feeling like I have to overachieve and wouldn't it be better to lose 30 or 40 lbs because then I'd know FOR SURE I wasn't fat and in danger of a BMI going out of healthy range?, I'd be in the safe zone of being underweight or under___ and that's always better than over___, right?, and then some of my clothes would fit a little better and etc etc etc.

    It's only remembering how miserable I was and the times I passed out that keeps me from jumping on that train, but at the same time it seems clear to me that I need to do something because my BMI shouldn't be that high and I have been having issues with clothing not fitting as well as I want. Plus I legit can't jog up a set of stairs or run a city block without getting a bit winded lol, and that's really not healthy.

    I've been feeling really stuck; like for my health I should go this direction but also precisely because of my health, that direction terrifies me. It took me… I don't even know. 8 years? To really lose all the vestiges of those messed up thoughts on my own and even now they still pop up, I've just gotten a lot better at ignoring them.

    I actually didn't know OCD was BFF with EDs and that makes me feel better to know that because at least that puts in the right context what I used to do and why I did it. I'm going to download your workbooks, also I saw that video about exercising with an ED and I liked the ideas in that so I'm going to try to focus on that first. It's actually really helpful to have something to start with, like, ok only 30 minutes 3 times a week, that isn't horrible; I could feel like I'm doing something but I'm not going insane. And I liked the weights thing because I actually bought little 5 lb weights years ago planning to use them but hadn't yet. I think I'll pull those out. Weights was never a thing I did to exercise in the past so I think that might be a safe place for me to begin.

    Anyway I know you get a bajillion stories all the time from people, and I hadn't really commented much on your videos before because I don't talk a lot about my anorexia issues in the past, but I'd been wanting to research this topic for the past few weeks but kept stopping myself for fear I'd go too crazy with everything. So this was perfect timing for me and I think I'll start small with the workbooks and aiming more toward the 30 minute thing to see how I do. I'll monitor myself the way I did in the past and if I start to feel myself going too far I'll intercept myself and reach out to someone else. I guess the tl;dr is I wanted to say thank you for the timing, your videos, and all that you do 🙂 And thank you for mentioning the workbooks too, since I didn't know about them before.

  21. Lizbeth Post author

    Hey Kati! So my moms friend was just diagnosed with "Unvoluntary Bulimia" or some type of Unvoluntary Ed. I was wondering if you could explain what this is or if you could do a video on this.? Thanks 🙂 Love your videos! 🙂

  22. Taylor Jolin Post author

    This is a little off topic, but I think I spy a copy of Grace & Style. Now I know for sure you can be trusted.

  23. No Step on Snek Post author

    Hey Katie, I love your work, your such a beautiful person inside and out, keep doing you. cheers <3

  24. Vanessa LeBlanc Post author

    #katiFAQ Hi Kati! First off, your videos have really helped with my bulimia. I was hoping you could please help me with a "nightmare" that I have been having for the past 4-5months. In these nightmares my jaw is locked and I can't unlock it no matter how hard I try. This causes an immense amount of pressure on my teeth causing them to break into a million pieces. Sometimes I wake up with my fingers in my mouth or with painful bite marks on my fingers. How do I make these nightmares stop? I know it might be due to stress but sometimes I don't feel stressed. I also have a fear that the bulimia is going to ruin my teeth, could it be related? It's very disturbing and very unpleasant sometimes causing me to wake up in a panic. I really appreciate any tips or advice. Thank you!

  25. klv19xx Post author

    Hi Kati, great video. when you were taking about if ocd behavior is only around food is an eating disorder what about the other way around? what I mean by that is if someone has ocd and they have obsessions and compulsions around food does that make it amazing disorder?

  26. Lucy Post author

    Winter is coming…although where I live it's still like summer everywhere else with an average of 15 degrees

  27. Lucy Post author

    That adding on thing is something I do. Although I don't think it's in an unhealthy way. Everyday I have a set of exercises that I have to do that I've gradually increased and if Im on a holiday and miss it I make it up on other days. It's only about 10 minutes though if I added it all up and I do it while watching TV so I doesn't get it the way. But there is a mindset if I'm not away somewhere that I can't miss a day, that I just have to finish them. But I also find telling myself that helps me get things done in generally. It doesn't get in the way or anything but I'll have to make sure to keep it in check after watching this video.

  28. singinwithceline Post author

    @Kati Morton I've been in pretty solid Recovery since 2011 as you know. But I am craving binge eating again and chewing and spitting. Ever since my cat died a month ago, it's all I want to do.Also I tried downloading your LGBT= workbook but all I got was blank pages.

  29. The Bullshooter Post author

    Hey Kati, can you please do "a coffee and a chat" about what to do when a broken heart just doesn't heal?

  30. Avery McFarlane Post author

    I always find it hilarious when Kati swears because she's so clinical and professional, but when she's like "the eating disorder voice FUCKIN lies" it makes me laugh xD

  31. kat K Post author

    One thing that I have to do is to ALWAYS beat my yesterday's step count. Every day I have to walk for hours to achieve that and if I'm sick or anything I still have to do it. It's really getting in my way of really living because I think about walking all day so that I get mad at people if they don't wanna go out walking in the freezing weather. I'm just scared what Will happen once I hit a impossible number of steps.

  32. Pantelina Post author

    Kati, I've downloaded the ed and sh workbooks when they came out. I've tried to download them again but it won't let me.. what can I do?

  33. Lily Perreau Post author

    What if i self harm or have an eating disorder but dont have mental illness, everyone just says im experiencing hormones? Why do people self harm if they dont have an mental illness?

  34. Myrest Post author

    hello guys, I just suggested on twitter to the Jenna and Julien podcast (the podcast of Jenna Marbles and her boyfriend Julien) that it would be a great idea to have Kati as a guest! Please like and retweet my tweet, I just mentioned Kati in it, or search by my username (@myrest). Thanks!

  35. Peter Lee Post author

    I got to a level where I was offered professional contracts in basketball. But I was really excessive with my training because of my mental health. I used to train minimum 5 hours a day and would never do social things because I wanted it so bad, but it was also to a big detriment to me. I also suffered with eating disorders for 3 of my 6 years playing ball and most of my life. Can definitely relate to this really well.

  36. Katey Barnett Post author


    You're awesome. Had a question for you:
    Do you have any information about unipolar depression? It strikes me as something that it's symptoms I can relate to greatly (I.e excessive crying, agitation, or a repetition of thoughts) Id love to hear your thoughts. Thank you!

  37. Ally Lavender Post author

    Can eating disorders be motivated by something other than weight loss?

    TW: disordered eating, self harm (?)

    For example, when my ED (?) was really bad I starved myself as a form of punishment whenever I felt my grades weren't good enough, or whenever my home life was so bad. I felt like I needed to starve as punishment. Does this even count as disordered eating or does it fall under self harm?

  38. Courtney davies Post author

    Kati, could you do a video on brain fog please? Your videos really help and I love watching them, so thank you!Xxx

  39. Jessica B Post author

    Hi Kati, this video describes me exactly. I have been working with a therapist for my ocd and depression/anxiety for about a year now but i can't get out to her the fact that i compulsively exercise and restrict/purge. i have been secretly dealing with this for years and i am too afraid/ashamed to tell anyone but it has gotten so out of hand that i don't know what to do anymore. do you have any tips on how to tell her or is it too late? i am afraid to recover but i'm afraid to live like this anymore

  40. Lis Eich Post author

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for this video! This whole point for defining what 'excessive' means was quite a journey for me.
    I'm not cancelling plans to exercise, I enjoy sports and stuff, so I really thought I didn't have a problem with this. Because it wasn't excessive, right? Because I do it because I like it.
    Well to some extend this was/is true, but I definitely had to notice during inpatient care that there was more to it.

    One day I had an exposure therapy (exposure to fear foods) scheduled and they spontaneously added something: they cancelled the sport therapy I was supposed to go to later that day. And it freaked me out! I noticed how I couldn't sit still. They asked me to stay in the room next to them and not to go for a walk or anything, and I really didn't know that this would be so hard on me. Later on they also challenged me to walk a bit slower whenever I'm going somewhere, because apparently I was walking rather than moving in a 'normal' speed.

    I guess my point is that EDs are REALLY REALLY good in making you believe that what you do is normal, when in fact it isn't.
    I might not be excessive to the point where I cancel plans to exercise, but I freak out if I can't move enough every day. And I think that this is also an important thing to realize.

  41. Tom Palmer Post author

    I've been on a compulsive exercise schedule before. I neglected my responsibilities, and I was always tired.

  42. Catherine Minter Post author

    Kati. I have started to realize this happening. Two years ago I lost 60 pounds and near the end it was getting unhealthy how I was loosing it. Now I started working out 15 days ago and I have already seen it going bad again. I have told myself that I have only have enough time for one rest day a week. I have been restricting what I am eating majorly and making myself work out even though I have been injured and told to take it easy. I tell myself I am not worth the food I am eating. I am not skinny. I can afford to lose weight.But is what I am experiencing, could it turn into a larger eating disorder issue? I have no place around where I live that I know of that I can go to. I have many other issues such as depression and anxiety and panic attacks…I need help Kati. I need help.

  43. TheClairbear Post author

    I'm always scared to listen to my dietition. I got diagnosed as diabetic and I felt like I was gaining weight on the diet they made me so I stopped going. I felt disappointed with myself and started feeling like I couldn't trust her anymore.

  44. Holli Starnes Post author

    My dietitian helped me with this…she gave me "permission" to not exercise. I already burn more calories than I am taking in with my activity at work, but would feel guilty if I didn't get additional exercise on my days off.

  45. Leslie Lipping Post author

    i fully have a workout disorder. working out is my best friend. i would rather stay home and do lunges than go out on dates. Unless the guy is super spectacular. 😐 meh.

  46. C Post author

    I don't know if you will see this, but I used to exercise obsessively. In treatment I wasn't allowed to walk or exercise and now, a couple of years later, I don't exercise enough. How can i increase my exercise without becoming addicted again? Thank you!

  47. Pearl127 Post author

    Kati, it is SO cathartic when you cuss at/about ED voice. I know it’s true but it’s so hard to say those things on my own behalf, and it is so satisfying to hear it articulated by someone else.


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