Jenn Hicks

Posts Tagged ‘Health’

The Truth About Exercise Addiction: My Story

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

The book cover

A new piece of work is in the world on a topic that is very near and dear to my heart, and it’s one that shares my story! Katherine Schreiber and Heather A. Hasuenblas teamed up to write “The Truth About Exercise Addiction: Understanding the Dark Side of Thinspiration

While my story about exercise addiction (yes, it’s a thing that exists, and no, you don’t want to get one) has been shared in a number of different ways, having Katherine interview me and really “getting” my journey was so validating. Speaking with her on the phone last spring felt like warm sunshine thawing me out after a cold winter. You see, this thing called an exercise addiction is wholly foreign and very difficult for most people to understand. But Katherine’s summary of our talk for the book proved that she got it.

I remember on one of my first visits to Sheena’s Place (a support centre for those with eating disorders and body image issues), I asked timidly whether there were any books in the library that described my experience. That was 10 years ago (in 2005) and the answer was “no”. In fact, there didn’t even seem to be a name for what exercise had become for me – a safety net, an escape, an obsession.

This is among one of the many reasons I am so thrilled to be part of this book. Even now, 10 years later, when I have (mostly) figured out how to live in my body in a healthy way, I was so, so moved simply to read the definition of exercise addiction:

Exercise addiction is a pattern of physical activity that exceeds what most fitness and medical professionals consider “normal,” causes immense psychological anguish (either during, following or in anticipation of exercise), engulfs and exercise addicts personal, professional, and social life, and is experienced by the addict as difficult to control or reduce in frequency – even in the face of illness or injury.


My story!

Having a name for this *thing* that I went through all those years ago really legitimizes my experience. It’s the same sense of “I-can-finally-let-my-shoulders-relax” I had when I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. As much as labels shouldn’t matter, the clarity and objectivity that having these labels brought be made me feel heard and understood.

I am learning more about myself and what I’ve been through in reading about this deeply familiar and yet confusing topic. In addition to sharing the history, origins, signs & symptoms of exercise addiction, I’m connecting with others who, like me, have struggled with using exercise in unhealthy ways.

If you’re interested in picking up a copy of this book, or sharing it with someone else, here’s a handy link.

Taking Your A$$ to Nia Class Even When You Just Don’t Fracking Feel Like It

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

I was once the type of person who stringently stuck to a schedule with military-like rigour.

In those days nothing could keep me from my routine. If something happened to get in the way, I panicked. I was lost without the comfort and predictability that came along with a fixed schedule.

Ultimately, that degree of rigidity didn’t serve me, and I learned to give in to some variability in my strict timetable. What I learned to develop instead were habits.

It was only by swimming in that pool of unyielding inflexibility that I realized how great it is to have habits – things that I do, not just for the sake of doing them, but because I want to get better at them. Having a practice is what helped me transition from “must do” to “want to do“. And that’s because the boatload of benefits makes me desire more! The rewards of being in my body (while also spending time with my mind, emotions and spirit) are limitless!

Here are some simple ideas that may help you get your a$$ to Nia class even when you just don’t fracking feel like it. Maybe, like me, you’ll develop a habit that keeps you hungry for more!




1. Know that you are welcome no matter what.

You can bring yourself, all of yourself, in any way that you want. You will be accepted, you will be appreciated. I promise. Being *truly* you is what Nia is all about!

You’re tired? Make your movements smaller, closer to your body.

Emotions close to the surface? Move into the emotion to keep your life force flowing!

Healing an injury? Move to stimulate your joints and support healing. You have the power to self-heal, and Nia supports that!

2. Know that you will smile (maybe even laugh) and that your body will be grateful.

How do I know that? Because at Nia, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We seek pleasure in our bodies and choose joy in our movements. We experiment and play and *tweak* not only our movements but also our mindset to consciously invite joy to be part of the dance!

One student told me that Nia makes her “feel positive and energized, both during the class and afterward“.

Another said  that “I know that I am not just boosting my heart rate. I am building my strength, toning my muscles, and improving my balance (very handy on icy winter sidewalks).  All of this while moving to incredible music – what’s not to like?

A student who earned her Nia White Belt said that because of Nia  “I feel vibrant, energetic and frankly better than I have ever felt in my body.  My posture has improved, no more aches and pains, my neck and shoulders aren’t stiff anymore and I feel youthful.


3. Know that Nia is a safe place to be perfectly imperfect and have fun!

Nia is *never* abofunut “getting it right”.  No one is on stage (although sometimes pretending we are can boost my confidence!) and no one is judging.

Nia is *always* about the Pleasure Principle; if it feels good, keep doing it; if it hurts, stop!

Nia offers only gain and the potential to dissolve pain.



If you’re a visual learner and enjoy looking at flowcharts, here’s a handy reference about habit-making you might enjoy.

(This blog post was inspired by this article)