True Confessions of an Exercise Fanatic—Or—Your Chance to Play Coach and Tell the Expert What to Do

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I recently came across two news stories that present some new thinking about how much exercise you might need to do for effective weight management, and how much is safe for the typical fitness buff. The first article talks about why some scientists think that it can take as much as 3-4 hours of physical activity and exercise every day to overcome the weight-gaining effects of one of the most common “obesity genes”. The second one talks about how the risks of “overtraining” tend to be exaggerated for most people who aren’t competitive athletes in training.

Both of these topics are near and dear to my own heart these days, because (a) I’m pretty sure I have this “obesity gene” that means you need to stay on your feet doing something physical for several hours per day; and (b) I do enough exercise that I need to watch out for overtraining problems, especially at my tender young age. In fact, I doubt I can be very objective about this information, so instead of playing expert here and telling you what all this probably means for you, I’m going to do the opposite.

I’m going to tell you what I think about all this from a personal perspective, and let you tell me whether I’m making sense or kidding myself.

So, let’s get started by getting the “true confessions” business out of the way:

Hi, my name is Dean. I’m an exercise fanatic. I usually spend between 3 and 4 hours doing some sort of cardio exercise on most days. My favorite activities are long (30-50 mile) bike rides, long and steep hikes up in the local redwood forest, or a combo workout–an 18 mile bike ride to the beach and back, a longish walk in the sand dunes, and a wee bit of skinny dipping in the ocean (I call it my “Irish triathlon”—and yes, I’m Irish.). I’m not in training for any kind of athletic competition, and I’m not even trying to lose weight right now, so I don’t really need to be doing this much exercise. And me and all my various physical ailments are going to be turning 60 in a couple of months, so chances are I’m not doing myself any favors by pushing the exercise envelope like this. I do it because I like it--sweat, sore muscles, and all. It’s my spiritual, psychological, and physical antidote to sitting in a little room by myself all day, staring at a computer screen and poking a keyboard. OK, I’ll admit that I really like to see the number on my heart rate monitor’s calorie counter go up, but that’s mainly because I also really like to eat, and the higher that number gets, the more I can eat without worrying about regaining weight. And I do worry about that—you would too if you had gained and lost and regained as many pounds as I have over the years, and like food as much as I do. The last time I stopped exercising for very long (ok, that’s an understatement—I went 20 years without exercising, lol), my weight got up close to 400 pounds. I know that if I don’t keep myself moving at a good clip for 3-4 hours out of the day, I tend to gain weight the way a truck gains speed rolling downhill. It must be those Irish genes.

So, that’s my story. Needless to say, the two new research findings that we’re talking about here were music to my ears. It looks like I really should be doing this much exercise, and I probably don’t have to worry about overdoing things. I'm just out riding my bike--not training to give Lance Armstrong any competition when he comes out of retirement. I’ll still be happily climbing the first hill when he hits the showers.

Alright, Coach, what do you think? Am I doing the right thing here, or am I fooling myself and setting myself up for problems? Or should I just bite the bullet, eat and exercise less, and use some of this time to get a more balanced life?

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If you enjoy it, I can't see a problem. If you're getting up the next day without ill effects, I can't see a problem. The only problem, IMO, would come if you were exercising so much you were underweight or were injuring yourself.

Humans have done heavy exercise for much longer periods of time. Only back then it was work to survive. 14 hour days of physical labour in harvest time was normal (and still is in some places). So what you're doing isn't actually that abnormal.

As for fat genes? I'm very sceptical. Sure, people have predispositions to some weight gain or are more naturally a certain body shape, but that doesn't change the basic calorie equation. Report
Since I've experienced this inactivity effect, I would say you are right on along with the FTO gene experts and the Dr H from Biggest Loser. I find that if i work out before work for about an hour and after work for an hour I am better and actually feel better. Report
I say that if you are doing this because you enjoy it, then by all means keep up the exercise. As a compulsive exercise addict I can tell you that if you enjoy it then it is safe. I on the other hand I wish I could enjoy exercise for what it is, instead for me it is a chore, my own prision to maintain my weight. I currently exercise to burn at least 1-2 meals that I consume in a day. For example if I have to miss a lunch workout because of an appointment or someone wants to do lunch, then I will sneak away before or after work and do the most intense workout I can in the time allotted or I will avoid lunch dates or appointments because of the guilt in missing a workout - that is wrong and I am desperately trying to change that behavior. If you are not experiencing any long term effects of over exercising then you probably don’t have too worry either. I have risked my health to exercise at all costs, a year ago I had to have a cyst removed on my stomach and that same day I went running until the pain was unbearable, it bled and never healed properly because I never let it heal, now have a large scare from where the stitches grew apart during the healing process. I also have been battling sever shoulder pain for 6 months, seen 3 doctors and still continue kickboxing and lifting weights. I am finally starting PT next week, but not sure what I will do if they tell me I have to stop certain exercises…haven’t thought that far ahead and knowing me I will just find ways to modify my exercises like I currently do (running & not swing the sore arm or lifting lighter weights on that arm). Anyways, good job on exercising at your age and after being overweight, I would only suggest watching the calorie watching, it could be a sign of purging your food intake via exercise – sign of an exercise bulimic. Take care and keep enjoying life! Report
i guess it really depends and it sounds like as long as everything is balanced and you have enough energy to maintain your exercise program, then things are probably fine. i think the true key is that you exercise for the joy of the movement as opposed to the fear of what will happen if you don't. also, listening to your limits of course. i am bulimic and i also have struggled with overexercising a lot, though i never really realized it until i went inpatient and was forced to stop exercising for an entire month *ack* but it helped me to see that what used to be energizing and fun became a chore and something that i was too tired and drained to actually enjoy. i was continuing to work out even though i had stress fractures and was tired and worn down just because i felt too guilty not to. i wish i could say i had things totally under control, but for me, staying away from the machines that count the calories and focusing on running or other exercises works the best. to each his own though, right? Report
Typically it's only considered "overboard" if it interferes w/ other areas of your life. I am an exercise addict in that my hobby is working out. I enjoy every aspect of being active- whether it's sports, lifting, running, or anything else that involves being outdoors/interacting w/ others in a way OTHER than sitting on the couch. I watch very little TV and truly enjoy spending my time doing physical things. At this point in my life I have the time to do it (no children) and know that it's okay b/c it does not interfere w/ my responsibilities. I still have a very active social life, relationship w/ my husband, and talk to my family and friends often. I am also very careful that if something "feels wrong" I will take a day off to make sure I don't get injured.

It is so hard to judge others and say what they are doing is wrong. We all have different bodies and what works for me might not work for you. But it sounds to me like you are fine Dean! Happy trails! Report
Hi Coach Dean,

I'm a big fan of your articles!

I don't think a few hours a day of activity will hurt a person. My mother has worked on a farm her whole life. She probably had done an average of 5 hours a day of outdoors work. Her cholesterol is a little high but other then that she's in great shape. She can lift more then most men her age and she's trim and looks great. She's in her 60s.

I would just watch out for your joints and be sure to take care of yourself by keeping up on your stretching and core/supportive muscle strengthening to help prevent injury. Report
I just want to thank everyone for all the great advice! For those of you who actually expressed concern that I might be causing some problems for myself, I can say that I don't think you have anything to worry about. My diet is healthy and matches up with my energy needs pretty well -- I'm not regaining any weight, and I don't think I'm using the exercise to "purge" calories eaten. I just like eating the way I eat and exercising the way I do. I suppose I could lose some more weight--I'm technically still in the "overweight" range for my age and height. But at least 10 pounds of that is loose skin and strange clumps of subcutaneous fat that didn't go away even when I got my weight down all the way to 195. And the only way I've ever been able to keep it that low is to actually get obsessed about diet and exercise on a permanent basis, and I'd rather live with the extra poundage than live like that again. All my tests results for diabetes, cholesterol, and blood pressure are actually on the low side of normal, so there's no problem there, as far as my weight is concerned. And the doc says all the exercise is good for my arthritis and heart valve issues. So, physically, I think this is a situation where "If it ain't broken, don't fix it" applies.

The other point that many people brought up is about balance, and I do think about that some. My kids are grown and on their own, I'm single, and I spend as much time with my granddaughter and kids as they can stand, lol. But my social life consists mostly of communing with the redwood trees and waves, rather than other people. Honestly, that's the way I like it (I've always been very shy and anxious in social situations, unless I'm pretty well snockered on beer, which I don't do anymore). I'm not going to say that's "normal," but I'm not unhappy with things as they are, and this is something I don't feel compelled to spend any energy working on at this stage of the game. And, of course, I've got this great job with SP, that gives me plenty in the way of meaningful work and gratification.

I left most of this out of my original "story" because it obviously wouldn't have left much for you to talk about, lol. But I think it's great the way everyone zeroed in on the relevant issues and concerns. That's what it takes to make your own program work for you, and any expert advice or scientific information you get always needs to be filtered through your own priorities and goals before you can apply it in a way that will actually be helpful to you.

Thanks again!

Coach Dean Report
I've heard bible stories often, about how much they traveled, how much they worked during those times. If people can walk 120 + miles a day to another city, then what you are doing isn't going to hurt you. I think it's great that you are that physically active. Not many people are. I just started spark a few months ago, and I know I can get hooked on working out. I adjust easily to it, but have to do a lot of it in order to lose. I always seem to go numb when I work out, I can't feel anything. So I just keep going!! And that's what you are doing. You keep going, and if it's a balance that is healthy for you in all areas of your life, go for it. Not many of us can be physically active that much in one day. You're a great inspiration, thanks for sharing this with us! Report
The way I see it is that if you are not experiencing symptoms of overtraining, then continue as you are. It makes you happy. :) Maybe take a week every month where you excercise a bit less and eat a bit less to give your body a "break" and get used to the idea of doing less later on in life. One day you may have to slow down, but unless you're feeling extreme fatigue or soreness that never goes away or injuring yourself, I think you should be able to continue doing what you enjoy and pushing yourself. :) I'm currently maintaining for about.. .2 months now? Almost? And anyway, I still work out HARD and fairly often. I questioned myself as to why I was doing this -- I could work out less and eat a bit less. But I really like pushing myself. Now that I know the sense of accomplishment I get -- not to mention the endorphins benefit -- from pushing myself with excercise, I, too, AM HOOKED. :) Report
I'm with the if it ain't broke, why fix it crowd! :-)

I had to come back and make a second comment, afer reading the Taco Bell article. We live in a society that thinks it is normal to eat a day's worth of food at a sitting because it is relatively cheap and easy, and gasp when someone suggests that spending three or four hours being active would be good for us. Thank goodness for a site like SP, where health plays a part in our food decisions, and we can talk about exercise without fixating on "minimum daily requirements"! I hope the trend here, and in a few of the recent popular health books like You on a Diet, continues and expands ... Report
I think your doing great! People were made to get up and move! Report
Extra long moderate to low intensity workouts = endurance training in which the body uses fat as fuel, i.e., will retain the fat in storage to use it later (that's why sprinters are always leaner than long distance runners). Your workouts are for endurance- great for the heart and conditioning, but not weight loss. It all just depends on your goal, if you want to lose weight, then yes, you just need to bite the bullet: A. change your relationship with food and B. do shorter more intense workouts and change up the routine often every few months or weeks. But if you are happy (AND HEALTHY) and don't have anything else to do with yourself for 3-4 hours each day and prefer to eat until your heart's content... then carry on. Report
The more I exercise, the more I want to! Today I "only" had enough time for 2.5 hours and wish I could have done more. In my opinion, as long as you're enjoying yourself, keep it up!!! Report
I think you already know the answer...that is why you are asking the question...(okay off the therapy couch!!LOL)

The site talks so much about the balance of our whole, and it sounds like you have one more obsticle to overcome...the eating. Eating what ever you want means not dealing with why you want all of that. The enjoying aches and pains maybe just a way to keep you real...or keep you remembering the why you have to have some pain...for the price of eating.

Whatever the issue get's to be yours until you give it up....moving through out the day is a good thing, hard core exercising so you can eat what you want is another issue altogether. ((in my opinion only)) If it's working for you and not interrupting your life or controlling your life then keep doing it...if you are worried enough to post about it...time to do something about it....before an injury happens then it's out of your control isn't it???...that makes it an easy reason not to exercise so hard. to do some of my own moving on a Sunday morning. Go Dean go...and take a less hilly road a couple of times...However!!!! never give up skinny dipping...I'm not Irish but skinny dipping is a wonderful sport!

My two cents: in many cultures, EIGHT hours of activity is the norm, or even a light day. Since you are used to the exercise, know enough to warm up, stretch, sleep, get the right nutrition, and take rest days as needed - I'd say keep it up! Personally, I enjoy vacations where I can move several hours a day far more than my desk-bound periods; most weekends I'm doing something active (although I'm pretty sure I don't have the fat gene). I'm curious too as to whether you've gotten a professional to check your body composition and metabolism, and thyroid :) Report
I think exercise leaves footprints on your mind, even if you lay off for years it's really easy to slip back into a routine and it seems to me the body loves it. I get 2-3 hrs a day exercise now and I enjoy being active. My brother-in-law likes to bike to the lake ( 15 miles) Jog or run around the lake twice ( 2 miles around) and then swim kitty corner across and back 2 times-then ride home. Plus he walks 6 or more miles every am ( hes 58) so no I don't think 3-4 hrs or more is a long time if you can do it and love doing it. Report
I'm disappointed that the "fat gene" article left off the impact of making dietary changes. It's very difficult to lose weight through exercise alone. Report
Coach Dean,

My guess would be that there is definitely a pshychological reason for your exercise fanaticism stemming directly from your personal dealings with weight loss. That is not to say that doing something that you enjoy for 3 - 4 hours per day is a bad thing, especially since you stated that it is your "spiritual, psychological and physical antidote" to your daily life. That in and of itself sounds very balanced to me. I didn't see anything about the types of foods you are eating, so I will go on the assumption that you maintain a healthy diet, just with a higher caloric intake.

If your body can handle it, you aren't injuring yourself in the course of 3 - 4 hours of exercise and you are taking in an appropriate amount of good calories, I would say go for it!

Nica Report
I feel like a TOTAL slacker.

I get really excited when I hit the one hour mark. Of course, I weigh around 300 pounds right now. I am addicted to the exercise I do, but I don't really think I could do 3-4 hours and maintain my family life in any capacity. I am not even working outside the home right now, and I don't think I could do this.

If I got a job, I KNOW I couldn't.

Jennifer Report
I suspect that if you are enjoying yourself and you are not suffering from any injuries due to overuse or abuse of your body - you should keep it up. You will have to be prepared for the consequences after a while IF you choose to slow down or stop because you have to - you will have to drastically cut your calorie intake to make up for the reduced amount of exercise. I too workout for several hours a day - only I call it playing in the pool - I spend hours each day in the pool and I am moving constantly and it DOES help me lose weight but I can see that if I were to stop it, I could see a pretty dramatic upturn in the weight IF I am not careful. If you are having fun - why not? I am no where NEAR sixty yet - I won't turn 60 until NEXT year. LOL Report
Hi Coach Dean! You're my favorite! :-)

Even if you're maintaining your weight by working out a lot... you are what you eat! If you're working out a lot so you can eat a lot, you need to make sure you're eating well. On one hand, if you are doubting what you're doing, that's a sign that maybe you feel out of balance. On the other, if you're enjoying it - then that's great! There are lots of 20-somethings (ahem-ahem) that would love to have your energy. Report
Coach Dean you are an inspiration to us all--I hope to be clipping along as well as you--if you enjoy yourself and your lifestyle suits you the way it is don't change a thing!!! You make me want to get out there and move!!! Cheers to you! Report
I know that a lot of exercise can feel great just like many foods can taste awesome btu the key in both things is some level of moderation. Don't cut exercise out but dial it back just a bit, and also cut back on calories some (or cut out most refined sugars). Report
The problem with listening to the lastest expert give you his/her opinion is that sooner or later someone will come out with some other conflicting opinion and trying to figure out who is "right" will drive one mad.

If you feel good, if you like what you're doing, if you're happy and living your life to the fullest, keep doing what you're doing! Do not try to do things the "right" way for the sake of being right when it's all wrong for you!

Your level of excersizing sounds great to me and I wish I had the energy and time to commit to a similar routine. With that said, see your doc regularly and listen to your body... I wish you all the best! Report
Always enjoy articles by Dean and enjoyed the many comments on this article. Can't help but think Dean is compulsive in whatever he does. How do you find time to do all these things? I'm retired but very busy all the time and have to make time for exercise. But I guess you have time to do the things you love. There may come a time when you can't be quite so active, so make sure you learn to eat and maintain your weight loss without depending on the exercise. Having had a bad knee for 6 years, I have just worked my way back to moderate exercise. We can't see what lies ahead. Report
If you are happy (and healthy) who is to doubt you??? You know if you are doing too much. Report
First let me say I starting down that road myself. Been to the 400 pound mark by not exercising. So I have that gene. Back down to 220 and starting to get that feeling of trying to over train. I think you have to base what right on each person. You must be open and honest with yourself about how you feel. I think each person knows if they are doing damage to themselves or not. Some training my be an obsession to some, but really just pushing the max to others. Keep posting so I can see what coming next. Report
Nice to know I'm not the only one with this problem & am dealing with possible over training issues of my own now:( And I'd read this study too- appears I have all the same issues. Report
Re exercise fanatic, yes I believe you can exercise and think our bodies talk to us all the time. I have friends who are semi-professional runners and constantly overdo their running yet never seem to learn. Have you heard the saying moderation in everything? Our bodies build up lactic acid, shift electrolytes etc all of which can have effects plus when does your body ever get time to rest and recuperate!! Report
First, I will say that your blogs are intelligent and inspiring to those of us on the health and fitness battlefront. Thank you. You are a success story that challenges and inspires the rest of us. Beyond that, I have one word for you: "Balance." Health includes healthy eating, healthy relationships, healthy exercise, healthy work practices, and the ability to be alone with yourself and God with an absolutely resting heart and mind. Can you say all of those are true for you? I myself know what it is to be "high" on exercise. I love it! At my healthiest point, I worked out about 2 hours 5-6 days a week (including running, weights, stretching and toning), but I also walked or biked most places rather than driving and had a fairly active lifestyle on other fronts...rode horses, swam, etc. I was also very unbalanced in my mental, emotional, and spiritual life. Since then, I've experienced years of broken physical health from auto immune diseases which have forced me to correct these other imbalances, and I am now getting to reintroduce some of the physical exercise that I love so much...I am also 60 years old. I'm glad you have the honesty and courage to examine your own life...not to mention, laying it bare before the spark community that looks up to you as a mentor and example!! Remember that God has made you for His unique purpose and pleasure, and that that involves being the most complete and healthy "YOU" that you can be. Best wishes, Coach, for many more years of health and success! Report
The fact that you are asking the question tells me that you have doubts about what you are doing.

My question is this, is there family and or other responsibilities in your life being neglected for this addiction to exercise? If so, then yeah it's too much.

Is it keeping you connected to yourself, God, or are there things you can be doing for others. I mean, if you are meeting all the other needs in your life and are not using exercise as a totla escape, then i say do what works for you. judgin by your age, i am assuming you do not have children at home... personally i think someone who has children at home, and works a job definitely do not need to exercsie that much unless they are training for something.

BUT hey, who am I to know... I am still at the beginning of this battle and my mind may change...

I think deep down you know the answer for which you seek. We all usually do, if we just take the time to look inside ourselves for it.

I think if you like it, you should do it, regardless of what the experts say. I truly believe that a big part of a healthy lifestyle is filling up your life with things that make you feel alive, and more like you.
I also love to challenge myself, and after long days of sitting solo in front of my computer, I can relate to the desire to disappear into the hills under the power of my own body. To move my body and breathe the fresh air. Someday, I expect I'll find the time to make it a habit, too.
Research is changing all the time. If there isn't a clear verdict in this area, or if you're willing to pay the price, I'd say take the chance, live your life to the fullest, and enjoy the freedom of the healthy body you have right now. Report
Thanks for sharing! I am with you, and it is very relieving to hear someone who isn't overly concerned about overtraining. I think that pushing yourself hard everyday is what it's all about. I burn about 8000 calories a week in cardio alone, plus weight training. I work out every day. I love it. I need it. And I'm not training for anything, like you. I just like to feel like I'm at my best game.

So this information is great to hear. As humans I believe our bodies were meant to run and stay active all day long.

Kudos. Report
My take on this is actually pretty simple. If you're in tune with your body, it will tell you what it needs. In your case, Coach Dean, your body is telling you it LOVES to move each and every day for extended periods of time. Nowhere in your confession did you say your resting heart rate is too low, you have any type of chronic overuse injuries or soreness to any joints, or your are chronically sick from not resting your body. It sounds like your plan is working for you!!! What more can you ask for?? Whenever it comes to research, I take the results with a grain of salt mixed with a side of truth. We are each unique individuals with bodies that conform to differing wants, needs, and desires. When you finally get in tune with your own body, the research findings tend to be a moot point. Keep doing you, until the researchers knock on your door and make you test subject #1 in discounting your continued "get up and go!!!" Report
When I was in my mid 20's I was a competitive bike racer. At the time I rode 5-10K miles/year. I absolutely loved it. I ate everything in sight and drank as much beer as I wanted (which admittedly was a lot) but stayed skinny. I was pincking 4.75% body fat. My family and girl friend even told me I needed to gain weight because they said I looked like I came from a concentration camp.

Now in middle age I struggle to find time to exercise a couple of hours a week and now I'm obese (until recently morbidly obese). I know it is all priorities; we make time for the things that are most important to us. I need to go to work, I'm on call a lot, I want to spend time with my daughter before she grows up, I want my wife to feel loved and I want to get at least 5 hours of sleep a night. When I add up all these things there is little time left for exercise.

If you are able to work out hours a day and still meet all your other life obligations than good for you! Report
I am 63, so am reasonably close to you in age. However, my fitness level has been compromised by severe illness, but has gotten better with SparkPeople. I say that if you feel good and have balance in your life and your doctor feels that you are in good condition, go for it.

The time to pull back would be when your body says, Aaaaaaagggggghhhhh! If you suddenly feel considerably weaker and have to push yourself to exercise, and you start losing weight suddenly without even trying to ---- GO TO YOUR DOCTOR! Been there, done that. Report
First of all, I am not sure I am qualified to comment on this, but I am tempted to say something about balance, as invited.
It is all a matter of degree in my mind, not big movements.
So, if you cast around for something that both gave to you and to others, such as taking a "little brother" along for the rides in order to make a difference in the world, I think you might not be so tempted to question your lifestyle.
You describe "eat, exercise, work" as your activities. Being a workaholic, I tend to fall into that pattern, so I try to find ways to give back.
There are also physically challenging opportunities, such as actually sponsored riding for a cause and giving time to assist in neighborhood clean-ups and building houses in Habitat for Humanity projects.
Good questions, though.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment. Report
Wow,what a story..I think a person who finds his life through battling weight is fantastic .I don't want to be on the diet forever and to finding a whole new lifestyle is what I want ,too. Report
Well before I read the article you linked to, my first thought was "My granddad worked a farm all day long and I don't think he knew what obesity WAS!" lol.

I'm not sure about this "obesity gene" but I do know Americans aren't nearly as active now as we were even 50 years ago. Maybe the human body was MEANT to lay on the couch and watch "law and order" reruns for 4 hours a night. Maybe we were MEANT to get quite a lot of physical activity.

I say if you enjoy working out, DO IT! I enjoy working out as a stress reliever, plus it's MY TIME where I'm alone with my thoughts with no phone, computer, or people bugging me.

The "Balance" in your life is decided by you. If working out isn't interfering with anything else in your life or your family's life, then maybe you DO have a balanced life? It's sort of self-defined that way, I think. Report
This is one of my Catch-22s. While I am in no way a fitness buff I do feel exercise is important to overall health and weight loss. My problem though is, as you continue to exercise, your body adjusts and so you need to increase your exercise or your intensity level. Thus, if you have to continue to increase your exercise or at least your intensity, how long before you are spending all your spare time exercise (if you HAVE spare time). It's just one of those questions I've never really been able to answer... Report
If you enjoy it and you are not having to see a doctor due to over exertion, then I say go for it. If it is like an addiction, hey, what better thing could you be addicted to. Better than alcohol, cigarette or food addictions. So, keep it up. I'm sure anyone your age only wish they could do what you are capable of doing. Report
I think if you enjoy it and your body is still holding up, why not?! If your body starts balking at all that exercise then you'll have to start cutting back, but if you have the lifestyle where you can enjoy such activities, I'm enviouis and think you should keep enjoying :-) Report
In my younger days, before children and before I turned 30 I was an exerciseaholic. Then I had children and I loaded them into the stroller or the bike trailer or farmed them out to a friend that was willing to trade hours of children for some alone time to exercise and I still exercise. I wasn't as skinny as I had been before, I had to work harder to stay thin but I could do it. My main motivation was not so much the weight factor but that exercise made me feel good. Then during my third pregnancy family tragedies happened and I forgot about exercise. I had the baby and tried at times to get back to exercise and it never felt good with my body anymore. Eventually, with three children 4 and under and other things to deal with I gave up on exercise. Years later and I "accidently" started it up again. I hadn't realized how big I had gotten until I lost a little. I still have far to go but I have to say that number 1 I am working out now because it feels good. 2- because it is good for my health even if I don't lose weight. 3- I want to lose the weight and feel "prettier" because of it. 4- I want to prove to myself that getting older doesn't have to mean feeling older. 5- I want to do active things I haven't done in many years. I could continue on with the list.

Do genes play a part. I'd have to say yes. I have a friend who admits to eat all kinds of garbage. I don't think she ever cooks a meal for herself. She doesn't exercise although she does live an active lifestyle with school aged children and she is as thin as a rail. I on the other hand may never be as thin as I once was. May never lose the belly that has been genetically imposed upon me no matter how hard I try. Yes I want these things but I have realized there are other things more important.

B. Report
I have to agree that exercise doesn't mean you can eat what ever you want. You could work on that issue too. You do seem a bit extreme.... Do you have an active social life? Might want to look at that as well.
I do agree that the fat gene can impact how much you need to work out. At you age you seem very active that is Great!!! Keep an eye out for pushing too far . Pain isn't always a good thing especially since you are not just starting out or doing a new routine. Report
Great "confessionaL ! " If I were you, All I would need to do is to think back where I USED to be (400 lbs) and say to myself,,,, I am NOW in the right place! It is great that you have the time to enjoy your activities so as long as you don't see your health declining, I say, GO FOR IT!" Report
Okay, I went and read the article about the fat gene. It suggests 3 - 4 hours of moderate activity, like walking or gardening. In other words, a relatively active lifestyle. It did not suggest 3 - 4 hours of heavy cardio, which sounds like what you're doing.

If you enjoy doing this amount of exercise, and it's not hurting your body or your life (i.e. family time, sleep, work, etc.), then I'd say it's your own business. You may be an endorphin addict, but is that any worse than being a chocoholic?

If you HAVE no personal life outside of exercise, BTW, that constitutes hurting it, at least in my book. Get out and see some people socially. Have some stimulating conversation for a change. Report
I think you're right, that some people have to exercise a lot to lose or maintain weight. That is certainly my experience. Unfortunately as people age, the ability to push that hard declines. You will not likely be able to do as much at 70 as you do at 60, and for sure by age 80 you will have slowed down that much more. It's really important to manage your food intake so as not to gain weight as you slow down, and most important of all to eat healthy food, not use the calorie burn counter as an excuse to eat high-fat, high-calorie foods just because you can "afford" it. What happens if you get injured and can't exercise? Good eating habits will help you maintain your weight when you can't move your body enough to burn extra calories. Report
If you aren't hurting anybody and you feel good at the end of the day, I say keep doing what you are doing! I hope I can still work out with vigor when I hit 60. Report
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