Hi! My name is Brian, and I’m an exercise-a-holic. That’s right, I’m addicted to exercise and have been since the day my parents dragged me onto a soccer field at the age of four, kicking and screaming and doing everything I could to avoid taking part in a sport that to this day, 30+ years later, I obsessively play.
But I don’t blame my parents for my addiction. I blame my brother, Ryan. He and I are only one year apart in age and were incredibly competitive with one another growing up. Feeling the need to outshine my brother probably stemmed from the fact that most people thought we were twins. It also didn’t help that we are one letter away from basically having the same name—thanks, Mom and Dad… Actually, I’ve changed my mind- you are partially responsible for this!
Whether it be in school or sports, we always sought to outdo each other. I remember when we both started running cross country in high school. Every one of our runs ostensibly became a race even on recovery days or a challenge to see who could get in the most mileage. Exercising seemed less about being healthy and more about getting an edge over my brother. While nowadays Ryan and I are less competitive with one another, my competitive nature still resides deep within me and drives my obsession with staying fit and being active.
For most of my life, my obsession has served me well and has allowed me to remain competitive in sports with athletes half my age and feel good both mentally and physically. But as I get older, all the years of pushing through pain and ignoring my body’s signals to relax and recover are starting to catch up to me. For the first time since the age of four, I had to take several months off from playing soccer and spent most of last year receiving physical therapy to treat two strained hamstrings, plantar fasciitis and other related issues. Not being able to engage in the activities I loved affected my mood and heightened my anxiety.
Last year was a bit of a wake-up call for me that a seemingly healthy habit can lead to detrimental physical and mental outcomes. Now that my body is back in working order (more or less), I’m attempting to approach exercise in a different way – one that involves allowing myself recovery time, incorporating more yoga and stretching into my workouts, getting better sleep, and occasionally turning down a request to play soccer. While sticking to this new approach has been challenging at times, I constantly remind myself to stay focused on the bigger picture…I’ll never outcompete Ryan if I’m sitting on the sidelines!