By Michael Gerrish, MS, Experience Life
Have you repeatedly made a commitment to do something and continue to put it off? Or have you thrown yourself into it for a while and then suddenly lost steam? During workouts or other tasks, do you often get impatient, fidgety or easily bored? If these descriptions ring true for you, there may be a hidden cause that could be derailing your efforts: Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
ADD is a disorder that is characterized by a problem with concentration and staying focused. People with ADD tend to be easily distracted and have trouble following instruction. Moreover, they’re often forgetful and not well organized. Experts often refer to the following subtypes of ADD: predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or some combination thereof.
The exact cause of ADD is unknown, though experts suspect there is a relationship between ADD symptoms and an imbalance of certain brain chemicals that help regulate attention and activity (the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine). Another possible cause is abnormal function of the prefrontal cortical lobe, which causes problems with attention and impulse control.
When it comes to fitness, ADD can sabotage your efforts by causing you to procrastinate. You may also skip workouts, fail to complete full sets or get bored easily and quit your workouts early. In fact, ADD can keep you from even beginning a fitness program.
Over the years, as a conditioning consultant, I’ve had many clients who’ve suffered from ADD, most of whom couldn’t lose weight or get fit until their ADD was addressed. One such client, Robert, had a classic case of ADD, but he wasn’t aware of how much it held him back until he began to work out. When I spoke to him for the first time at the gym, he had no clear sense of his goals, he talked in circles and often seemed lost in his thoughts. Moreover, he always appeared restless and couldn’t stay focused on any one thing. Over time, as it became clear he wasn’t achieving his goals, I referred Robert to a physician who was familiar with ADD. Once Robert was diagnosed with ADD and began getting treatment, his demeanor completely changed. Before, whenever I offered Rob advice, he would instantly tune me out. Now he became considerably more attentive, less on edge and more relaxed. In the first month after his diagnosis, he lost 8 pounds and greatly increased his strength. Within six months, he surpassed all of his initial goals.
Next: Do You Have ADD? Self-test