Exercise Addiction or Healthy Habit?

March 5, 2008 – 10:00 am

Do you agree or disagree with the following article? Let me here your opinion!

Flow Thyself™,

Skin and veins: Celebrity gym-addicts whose love of exercise is spoiling their looks
By DONNA McCONNELL

“The ever conscious world of celebrity appears to have fallen victim to a new addiction, and this time it’s not illegal.

Madonna appears to be one of the key members at the forefront of the trend for punishing workout schedules.

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Madonna bonyBony Madge: Madonna’s intense fitness regime has resulted in supremely low body fat revealing every bulging veins and bony frames

But it appears the results are less than pleasing to the eye, as the singer regularly exhibits intensely veiny hands, and pumped up forearms which would not look out of place on a professional bodybuilder.

The forty-nine-year-old’s fear of getting older dictates her vigorous fitness drive. She begins her punishing routine with a three-hour session of Ashtanga yoga, followed by a Pilates session before lunch.

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Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica ParkerUber-muscular: Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker’s exercise regime includes running, climbing stairs and yoga. But she says she’d rather go to a dinner party

She then alternates her third daily session between karate, pumping iron, running, swimming, cycling and occasionally horse-riding. Fitness expert Cornel Chin said: “She clearly works out with weights to define her muscles.”

Renee Zellweger drew gasps at the Oscars as the actress famous for her role as curvy fictional heroine Bridget Jones revealed her knobbly shoulders in a strapless evening gown.

Following her role as the big-pant wearing character, 38-year-old Renee shrank to a shocking size zero on a macrobiotic diet of lean fish, rice and vegetables, as well as enduring a gruelling two-hour daily workout with her personal trainer to shed all traces of rotundity.

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Me and my biceps: Tara Palmer-Tompkinson hates her bulging biceps which would put many a man to shame

Renee also did a lot of running, hiking, yoga and swimming. The actress said: “I like fun exercise. But I need physical exertion of the sweating kind. I go for a run. That’s my thinking time. That’s where I get it out, any frustrations or whatever.”

But judging by recent pictures of her, it looks as if she’s taken her exercise habit too far.

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Gym bunny: Superfit Nell McAndrew shed 2st by running, cycling and swimming after the birth of her son, even going for a run after her 6.30am feed

Bony: Renee Zellweger, here last year in LA, also has protruding muscles due to extreme exercise

Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker has attempted to downplay her daily exercise timetable claiming she’s more inclined to “go to a dinner party than slave away in the gym” but it’s clear the mother-of-one doth protest too much.

The actress often reveals her bulging veins and sinewy arms in the designer gowns she loves wear.

Enviable though her slim figure may be in her red carpet frocks, her tough daily exercise regime of running, climbing stairs, yoga and Pilates has left her looking scrawny and leathery, and prematurely aged.

Richard Cormley, a personal trainer in Kensington said: “Sarah has obviously done high-resistance training to get her arms sculpted. She has a low body-fat percentage – you can tell by the definition on her arms – and she has started to develop chest muscles.”

The pressure for A-listers to stay extra slim for their starring roles appears to have crossed the Atlantic, as British celebrities fall victim to the over-exercising trend.

Tara Palmer-Tompkinson, 36 has always been naturally slender. Recently though she’s displayed uber-defined biceps that she hates but any man would be proud of.

“I tell my friends I’m on the doughnut diet, but I can’t put the weight back on. If I went to the gym I’d bulk up. I hate my muscles. They’re all very veiny”, said the socialite.

Harley Street surgeon Apostolos Gaitainis said: “She may be genetically prone to having large veins, but this appears to be a result of overtraining. There is no fat to disguise them.”

And marathon runner Nell McAndrew has been a self-confessed exercise bunny for years. The 34-year-old mother of one admitted: “When I feel blue or things aren’t going well for me, I go running or take to the gym.

“I cannot imagine my life without exercise. It helps me to think positively.”

Just six months after the birth of her baby boy Devon, Nell shed 2st by cycling, walking and swimming. She even went for a run after her baby’s 6.30 morning feed.”

  1. 15 Responses to “Exercise Addiction or Healthy Habit?”

  2. I’ll be the first to admit that I disagree with the tone of this article. The first thought that strikes me about it is the ever-present dialog about what these women look like - their physical appearance and how it is displeasing to the eye (or, rather, the cameras).

    This author is assuming that she knows what the idyllic, unquestionable “look” is for modern-day women - and IMO she couldn’t be further off from the truth.

    I have a hard time taking an article seriously when the take-home message is that exercise is harmful, even if the author’s definition of “excessive exercise” is different from my own.

    I get a general sense that these women enjoy physical culture - because several of them make their lives active with hobbies like horseback riding and running. I would hate to think that any woman reading this article would choose NOT to exercise for fear of looking “too athletic.”

    And I’d like to know why someone is telling us that something we enjoy doing, and is beneficial to our health, is bad for us. It’s a no-brainer from my perspective.

    On a side note..

    Richard Cormley, a personal trainer said, “she has started to develop chest muscles”

    lol, I wonder if Richard CPT knows that women have chest muscles even before exercising - they don’t just appear once you start training. He’s clearly an expert on the subject :)

    It’s articles like these that ended my magazine subscriptions years ago - I can’t take it!

    By John Sifferman on Mar 5, 2008

  3. Probably more of a social / cultural pressure to be/look a certain way, than exercise addiction. Its the “thing to do” for the celebs. Get a personal trainer and hammer yourself into the ground on the latest workout and diet fads so you can look as good as the other stars. Don’t wanna ‘let yourself go’ in that industry, right??

    By Nick1974 on Mar 5, 2008

  4. The article is interesting. It looks at exercise from the perspective of addiction and how it relates to image. Yet it doesn’t speak to health at all.

    Image is subjective. Eye of the beholder. Right? The author looks at these exercise “addicts” as victims, backing up claims to said addiction with snap shots of physique.

    Madonna’s got the body of a yoga guru. Will Smith bulked up for ‘I Am Legend’. One is labeled as an eye sore, the other would be labeled as prime specimen.

    Who’s healthier?

    I’d like to see the article even out image measurements with health measurements.

    By John on Mar 5, 2008

  5. Along similar lines as the posts above, it strikes me that nearly all the commentary is based on how these women appear. Its impossible to make any judgement call on whether the various workouts employed are being taken to an extreme or not from the brief and lazy actual description of their workouts. The article tends to make it sounds with the few workouts that it did mention, that the actresses are daily hitting a RPE of 7-8…which we of course are well aware is not healthy in the long run. But its tough to say whether thats an accurate representation since the author was clearly more concerned with making judgement calls based on their own personal biases of what a woman should look like.

    By Sean Flanagan on Mar 5, 2008

  6. I sure hope a women comments on this lol:-)
    The author expresses concern for the state of these peoples health on a basis on physical appearance, therefore her voice is still perpetuating the imbalance of physical culture. So, I do not agree with this article on this basis alone.
    Now, if she mentioned the possibility of a female athlete triad situation among these women then that’s a no brainer,and a more convincing article.
    The ideals that media sell for body type for men and women are fad and fashion. Unfortunately, this leaves a lot of stuff for us to disprove.

    By Jesse on Mar 5, 2008

  7. Hrm…I read this the other day in the Daily Mail. I honestly can’t look at the women and believe that they are healthy. The picture of Madonna doesn’t look fit..it looks like she’s been sick for a long time.

    There’s a difference between working out in healthy ways and what she is doing to herself.

    By Jay on Mar 6, 2008

  8. Instead of being so politically correct, will you folks actually take a look at those pictures and read the article? The author, a woman, btw, is writing about excessive exercise. One look at the Madonna photo and anyone not blinded by political correctness regarding how a woman “should” look and all that other rot that was given for arguments in some of the previous posts can plainly see that she is not exercising healthily. That gaunt look is a cry for help from someone who is addicted to exercise and who is overtraining. Our bodies were simply not made to exercise for 2+ hours every single day for months on end. It is undue stress and it is plain to see in that photograph.

    By Keith Koger on Mar 6, 2008

  9. That brings up something interesting. The article commented on how these actresses were exercising way far too much as indicated by their “bulging biceps”. As you mention Keith, a few of the actresses above don’t look very healthy at all. But thats for reasons that are counter to what the actual article says - a few of them look emaciated - definatly not overly muscular. The fact is though that the article gives little-to-no solid information on their workout programs.

    I also don’t view my post as an exercise as political correctness. This article represented itself as a discussion on commentary on exercise but instead was a social commentary on women’s physiques. That misrepresentation bothers me - plain and simple.

    By Sean Flanagan on Mar 7, 2008

  10. Sean,

    I’m not so sure I agree. For instance, when describing Sarah Jessica Parker’s routine, the article states, “…exercise regime includes running, climbing stairs and yoga…She then alternates her third daily session between karate, pumping iron, running, swimming, cycling and occasionally horse-riding.” Did you catch that? Her THIRD DAILY session! That seems rather addictive to me. And although it may not go into Daily Journal specifics as to time, sets, RPP, RPE, etc., I think one can make the assumption she is overtraining. And as you said, a few of them looked emaciated, another sign of overdoing it because you’re actually losing muscle at that point.

    I will concede the point that the author seems overly concerned with how in particular a woman’s arms should look. As I recall, Linda Hamilton, of Terminator fame, was all the rage in the 80s with her cut arms! And CST instructor Camryn (I’m not even going to try and spell her last name!) is pretty darn hot with those arms of hers! Oops. Did I just cross the politically incorrect line? :-)

    By Keith Koger on Mar 7, 2008

  11. *sigh* I didn’t realize that women training hard was such a controversial topic. It’s possible that some of the examples shown are overtraining, but at least they are working out rather than just starving themselves.

    Articles like this are why I don’t subscribe to such magazines or watch E! on television.

    By Jason Erickson on Mar 7, 2008

  12. *double sigh*

    It’s *possible* that some of the examples shown are overtraining? No, it’s clearly obvious that some, not all, of the examples shown are overtraining, in particular, Madonna and Sarah Jessica Parker. If I’m not mistaken, isn’t CST a “health first” modality of training? I would like to think that someone out there in CST land would be in agreement with me here.

    Oh, and I am in agreement with you, too, Jason. I don’t subscribe to such magazines or watch E! on TV, either!

    By Keith Koger on Mar 8, 2008

  13. “By Keith Koger on Mar 7, 2008

    *sigh* I didn’t realize that women training hard was such a controversial topic. It’s possible that some of the examples shown are overtraining, but at least they are working out rather than just starving themselves.”

    Addition is ADDITION

    By Paul Karpick on Mar 8, 2008

  14. As a woman now in my 40s and troubled by a chronic injury (of 15yrs) that prevents me exercising regularly, I’ll throw my thoughts in on this comment-string.

    I came online purposefully today to hunt down Linda Hamilton’s exercise regimen for her Terminator 2 stint. I still think she looks incredible, amazing and though perhaps a little too muscular for my own tastes, I still aspire to be somewhere near as defined as she is.

    I hold a couple of viewpoints on this subject:
    ** Firstly - if more women (since this is the gender the article is about) got off their asses and actually worked out, they would get over that age-old stupid paranoia of “does my bum look big in this”… one they buy into because of lack of self esteem. It wouldn’t and they wouldn’t pester men about it, if they got over the angst and just straight out exercised.

    ** Secondly - excessive exercise, no matter what gender you are, is unhealthy. It stresses the immune system and for women in particular can take a toll on the reproductive system. We need fat for hormone regulation for the monthly cycle.

    My ex-housemate was an over-exerciser, 30 laps of the pool 3-4 times a week, 8km run 3-4 times a week and every day, most times twice daily a 1 hr fast walk. She was reed thin, post-anorexic (yes, she had over come this food obsession and replaced it with an exercise obsession… and was still rigid about her eating habits), and had reproductive issues caused by her lifestyle.
    Her older sister is the same.

    Yet - in a sense, I applaud them both, because the one thing they have going for them over women who are muffin-tops who don’t get off the couch is that these two young women had excellent health recovery after injury and rarely were sick with winter colds or flu. They also understood the meaning of self-discipline.

    By contrast, my other exhousemate was a classic muffin-top, size 14-16, who I knew had lousy eating habits (a large packet of potato chips and a tub of icecream for snacks)… and this was subsequent to totally lousy self-esteem. In the 6 yrs I knew her I only ever heard about the exercise she used to do, and how she might take up swimming… which she tried for a short time… but lacked the discipline to keep going. She was always sick with allergies, and rashes, and other skin conditions.

    There is a price to pay for any extreme.
    We have the US and UK size 0 (size 6 Australia? or size 4? something like that) stories leaking in to our culture - and yet we have a clothing industry size adjustment that now seems to consider size 14 in Australia to be the real norm.

    I simply feel sorry for the lack of education, lack of self esteem, lack of motivation and lack of support for any person - male or female - who is at an unhealthy weight - be it under or over. You would have to be avoiding the press coverage if you were not aware of the wealth of studies demonstrating that the developed populations are overfed, overweight and toxic with junk food.

    I say, go Madge! We may not want to look like Madonna but she presents a far healthier role model for young women than someone the press would pick on for being overweight.

    It isn’t the fact that Madge et al are muscular, it is the way the press reports or should I say expresses opinions on how these women look, rather than focusing on how well they feel, how healthy they are and how darned good Madge looks for a 50yo. Sh-t,I hope I look that good at the end of my decade… and so far, I manage ok…

    It takes a good diet, discipline and a willingness to sacrifice now for the sake of great health in the later years.

    Cheers.
    Ms T

    By Ms T on Oct 31, 2008

  15. Excellent contribution, Ms T. If I can be of assistance with your chronic injury, please feel free to contact me. (sonnon at rmaxinternational dot com)

    By Scott Sonnon on Oct 31, 2008

  16. I look at these ladies and think that they look awesome. I too watched Linda Hamilton in terminator when I was a teenager and wanted those biceps when my friends wanted fake boobs. I doubt that these ladies have ever had major plastic surgery because they keep in such good condition, they are in athlete condition, good on them, they sound show us their diet & exercise plans to inspire rather than receive critism from those who fail to get up of their lazy backsides and do something about it!

    By Carey on Jul 30, 2010

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