How to find the middle ground in fitness

Slowly but surely I'm learning to listen to my body when it says enough is enough. I have always been an extremist, hence me growing up with a somewhat unhealthy relationship with food--I was either binging or starving. As I got older, I learned that there was a middle ground to eating, but now my manic tendencies show up in my exercise habits. (Did you know that 6 out of 10 women are disordered eaters? Are you at risk?)

I work out a lot, mainly to be healthy and because it's a stress reliever for me. But I'm not going to lie: there's a certain thrill to seeing the calories burned on the heart rate monitor. Every so often, those numbers start to drive me. I stay at the gym for hours until I burn a certain number and that number starts to go up and up and up 'til I'm at the gym for 3 hours, 4 hours. I know when I start volunteering to help friends move because it'll be great for my quads, or I leave 3 hours between appointments so I can walk from Brooklyn to midtown Manhattan in 30-degree weather I'm bordering on obsessive.

When I as younger, I would take this as a sign that I was super awesome, but now I take it as a warning sign. Maybe it seems strange that sometimes I have to take stock of my behavior like I'm an outsider, but that's really the only way I can keep myself in check. Sometimes I have to sit myself down and have a good talking to myself: Kim, practice what you preach--everything in moderation. Don't go all exercise disorder like the girl from The Sopranos.

I've been pretty good lately about moderation, exercising enough but not too much. But holiday time and layoff time is stressful, so when I started working out double time and my body started feeling like it was made of lead I had to take a step back. It seems that no matter how much I focus on treating my body with respect, not seeing food as my enemy, not seeing my body as my enemy, every once and a while my old issues resurface. Methinks this whole moderation thing may be a lifelong battle. That seems pretty exhausting. Sometimes I wonder what it's like for people who don't have to go to extremes.That must be nice, but the middle ground seems to be the hardest to get to. (Try our holiday survival guide that helps you stress less this season.)

[photo credit: Getty Images]
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