The good, the bad and the ugly of over-exercising

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Robbie Cheadle to the blog! When I found out that this children’s book writer used to be a spin class instructor, I approached her about potentially submitting a post about her fitness experiences. She kindly obliged (thank you!).

In the post below, Robbie Cheadle explains about her relationship with exercise, including over-exercising at one point in her life. Have you known anyone with this type of obsession? Also, find out more about Robbie and Michael Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate book series and the first release from the Silly Willy series, titled Silly Willy goes to Cape Town. These children’s books delight, as does Robbie’s blog. Now, let’s give Robbie the stage.

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Female author of kids' books

Robbie Cheadle talks about exercise and books. Photo used with her permission.

I was never very good as sport when I was at school. I had very bad eyesight which made hockey, water polo and tennis very difficult. It is hard to be very good at a sport when your main concern is keeping your glasses up so that you can see the ball. I did better in solo sports, like athletics and cross country, when I was in junior school. These faded into the background during my high school years as I was much more interested in painting my nails, doing my hair and shopping for clothes.

After high school I had a working gap year and I worked as a receptionist for an electronics company. If my parents’ purpose in letting me take this working gap year was to refocus me on studying, it certainly worked. I did not want to spend the rest of my life answering the telephone and being shouted at when people were not available to take the call. I hated my job as a receptionist but I did meet a man, quite a bit older than me, during that year. He was a mechanical engineer and travelled a lot. He was also very sporty and played a lot of tennis.

Gerhard served the dual purpose of helping me with my application to university to study accounting and introducing me to the gym and indoor cycling.

I have always been an obsessive personality and, while the obsession itself may change, the absolute tunnel vision with which I pursue a specific undertaking does not.

Gerhard gifted me a stationary exercise bike and it didn’t take long before I was forcing my tired and untrained legs to cycle 1 km, then 2 kms and then up to 10 kms on this little bike. I loved it! I soon found that exercise made me feel strong and healthy and I rapidly progressed to a contract at the local gym and spending at least 30 minutes per day on an exercise bike, my headphones firmly in place on my head. I soon discovered other, even more interesting, forms of exercise and was soon spending 90 minutes a day in the gym, cycling, rowing and doing stretching and Pilates classes.

I was studying by this stage in my life and my new courses very challenging and intense. I loved accounting, economics and law and spent up to 8 hours a day studying and attending classes. I convinced my parents that I needed all the gym I was doing to relax and take a break from my relentless study programme.

The next three years saw me obtaining my accounting degree and also becoming a qualified spinning instructor. Spinning is a very intense form of exercise on a stationary bicycle in a class of other [crazy!] people. The exercise programme lasts for 45 minutes and is set to music. I loved spinning and was soon teaching up to 10 classes a week. The high it gave me was incredible and I would emerge from the class positively glowing and covered in sweat. My classes were very popular as I would really push the participants and I also went to a lot of trouble to plan interesting and unusual classes.

At the beginning of my Honour’s year, I started my articles at a major auditing firm. I met my future husband on my first audit and it wasn’t long before I had converted him to the joys of the gym. Between my spinning, gyming and studying, poor Terence had to come with me to the gym if he ever wanted to see me. It was Terence who came up with the idea of road cycling. In my highly obsessive exercise state, I thought that was a fabulous idea.

We bought bicycles and it began. Starting at 30 km cycles we quickly progressed to much longer rides, and even races, of up to 130 km. My obsession with exercise occupied a lot of my thoughts. I worked everything else in my life, including work and social engagements, around my cycling and gyming programmes. I would check the weather report from Wednesday onwards as rain was my arch enemy. Terence would not ride in wet weather as it was too dangerous. At the first sign of a sore throat or sniffle I would rush to the doctor for medications to avert any illness that would stop me exercising.

Of course, my obsession with exercise had side effects. I developed a problem with my knees from over-use and had to attend months of physio therapy to control the pain. I was a regular at the local chyropractor as I developed problems with my upper back and neck from sitting hunched up over a bicycle for so many hours a week.

How did it all end you might ask? I fell pregnant. The minute I found out I was pregnant with my son, Gregory, the world shifted for me. I felt desperately in love with my unborn child and didn’t want to risk any harm to him. In the blink of an eye my obsession shifted. Exercise was out and my baby was in.

I often think back on this time in my life and wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t discovered I was pregnant. I was on a path to doing significant harm to my body through all the over-exercise and nothing and nobody could shift my focus or convince me to slow down. Over exercising is a recognized condition in a similar vein to anorexia and bulimia.

Now I am on the other side of the exercise spectrum and really don’t do enough exercise. I go to Pilates once a week and try to go for a good, long walk once a week. My new obsessions with my sons, writing, baking and blogging have taken over. I wonder what will be next?

Book Cover for Silly Willy goes to Cape Town

Find out about Robbie Cheadle’s Silly Willy series for kids! Book cover used with the author’s permission.

About Robbie and Michael Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle was born in London in the United Kingdom. Her father died when she was three months old and her mother immigrated to South Africa with her tiny baby girl. Robbie has lived in Johannesburg, George and Cape Town in South Africa and attended fourteen different schools. This gave her lots of opportunities to meet new people and learn lots of social skills as she was frequently “the new girl”.

Robbie is a qualified Chartered Accountant and specialises in corporate finance with a specific interest in listed entities and stock markets. Robbie has written a number of publications on listing equities and debt instruments in Africa and foreign direct investment into Africa.

Robbie is married to Terence Cheadle and they have two lovely boys, Gregory and Michael. Michael (aged 11) is the co-author of the Sir Chocolate series of books and attends school in Johannesburg. Gregory (aged 14) is an avid reader and assists Robbie and Michael with filming and editing their YouTube videos and editing their books. Robbie is also the author of the new Silly Willy series the first of which, Silly Willy goes to Cape Town, is now available.

Silly Willy goes to Cape Town

Blurb: When the George family go on holiday to Cape Town, Cautious Craig cannot believe what he has to endure at the hands of his naughty and wilful younger brother, Silly Willy. Willy throws tantrums at the most embarrassing and inappropriate times, causes a commotion on the aeroplane and tries to steal a chameleon from Butterfly World. What is a poor older brother expected to do in these situations?

Follow Robbie Cheadle at:

Her blog
Goodreads
Google+
Facebook
Twitter

Purchase Robbie and Michael Cheadle’s Books from:

Amazon

OR

TSL Publications (The first two Sir Chocolate Books are currently available at a discounted price in hard copy and as eBooks)

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68 thoughts on “The good, the bad and the ugly of over-exercising

  1. Reblogged this on Robbie's inspiration and commented:
    I am visiting Christy at her delightful blog, When Women Inspire. I am on my own for this visit as this post relates to a time in my life before Michael was even thought of. Thank you, Christy, for having me over to discuss the issue of over-exercise.

  2. That was an interesting story, Robbie. I get obsessions too, but have never had one for the gym! It is ironic that in trying to stay fit and healthy you ended up doing your body some harm! I admire you though for being able to run 10 spinning classes per week as well as the other exercise you did!

  3. Popped in to see you here with the lovely Christy B. adding to her self help, motivational posts. Your frank honesty is so refreshing. and I love how you now have other things and you still exercise but in your way xxxx

  4. Through my life, I had met people with the overexercising problems , in fact I had it myself early on my late teens and early twenties, luckily I never developed a problem, and sort like Robbie life, and other more vital occupations took over, like trying to make a living first, and supporting a family next! 🙂

  5. I always wanted to try a spinning class, but never got around to it. You make it sound like a lot of fun, though I’m sure I never would have been as dedicated as you were.

    I was a huge fan/advocate of P90X back in my younger days. Definitely in the best shape of my life. Now, I need to focus more on exercise!

  6. Pingback: Over-exercising: The Good The Bad The Ugly. – The Militant Negro™

  7. Your honesty is inspiring, Robbie, and it is fun learning more about you – but I must admit that, other than dance classes, I was never in any danger of over-exercising.

    Had I started dancing at a much younger age – and been able to afford many more professional classes (with somebody to pay my bills so I’d NEVER feel the need to work otherwise – lol), perhaps I might have gotten obsessional about improving because I really did LOVE it – but both economics and the time requirements of my love for acting protected me from that possibility.

    I guess we all have Gregory to thank for the fact that you can walk upright and pain-free today, huh? The blogging community is the richer for your participation. Thanks for sharing.
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

  8. An insightful post, Rbbbie. Thanks for sharing your story. I get a little obsessive too about things I love, and exercising in my 30’s turned into moderate body-building. Yeesh. It all ended when I started writing. I’d love to find the middle road! 🙂

  9. OCD is a tough cycle (no pun intended) to break, Robbie. Thank goodness being pregnant made you switch tracks. Your new ‘obsession’ isn’t dangerous to your health … unless you start bingeing on fondant 🙂 Thank you for sharing; it has reminded me that I need to get back on track with exercising 💖

  10. Thank you so much for sharing Robbie’s journey. As I told you earlier, I have been struggling with weight issues and it is mentally impossible to not exercise and force yourself to have a rest day.

    My running two years back almost caused permanent damage to my ankle because of pushing it too much and too soon – the high/release somehow made everything else pale in comparison.

    • The two do became inextricable linked – weight loss and exercise. If you don’t do the exercise you are anxious to eat because you feel you might gain weight. This is not the truth because exercise builds muscle and speeds up your metabolism and that doesn’t disappear in a short period. Actually it helps build muscle if you allow your body to rest.

  11. Wow, Robbie, I’ve learned a lot about you here today. What a great post. I don’t know how you managed to fit in everything else while doing all those spin classes as well as studying then working. I laughed at your boyfriend having to take out gym membership to be able to see you – must have worked.

  12. Great share from Sally. I enjoyed this one. I was obsessed with running while in my 20’s. After a serious ankle sprain, I had to back off. Since that time, multiple lower body injuries, and running was never to be repeated. I’m a walker now. Much safer. Writing is a much better obsession, it seems. Thanks, Robbie.

  13. Love yoga, weight-lifting, and working out in general, but loathe spinning with a passion. I think it’s more about the seats on those bikes than anything. Great post, Robbie!

  14. It’s great to learn more about you, Robbie. I was never very good at PE at school but I’ve since enjoyed going to the gym and used to go to all classes available (I must say I got to spinning when I was already of a certain age and had a bad knee, so it’s never been my favourite). A few years ago, due to family issues, I stopped going to the gym and now I follow You Tube exercise videos (a variety of people, depends on the mood) most days, although try to take it easier. In my case, it definitely keeps me going (I tend to exercise in the mornings, so I know at least I’ve done something of use…).
    As I’ve never had children I can’t talk from experience but I can see how that would take up so much of your life. Enjoy your new obsession. ♥

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