March 11, 2017 at 11:46AM
My Relationship with
Working Out, and Staying in Recovery
My relationship with working out has most certainly had its
ups and downs. The peaks and valleys of which have had an exact correlation
with my eating disorder and self esteem.
I come from a very active family; both my parents saw the
importance in instilling an enjoyment of exercise and healthy eating, with the
occasional indulgence in lazy days and indulgent eating. I was, and still very much so am, a bundle of
energy. As a child, being able to release what was practically an internal
vibrations of energy into sports through playing with friends and
competition was something I loved. But
when my Eating Disorder started rapping its claws around me, and all aspects of
my life, it also stole away the fun and excitement of sports and being active.
A common term in the Eating Disorder community for this
obsession with working out is “over exercising”, which I describe as an all-consuming
fixation on the type and amount of food you put into your body that is not sufficient to
match an excessive amount of exercise. I would cancel plans with friends so that I
could workout in secret without my parents knowing. I
would pace on the spot when standing to try to burn additional calories… Exercise
wasn’t fun anymore; it had transferred from being a way of expressing myself
through competition and play to being another way my Eating Disorder was
enslaving me to points far beyond exhaustion.
I have been in recovery for a long time now, and anyone that
knows me can tell you that I am ridiculously active and am in love
with sports and working-out for the right reasons, most of the time. Why I say most of the time is because there
is no linear equation for overcoming a disease and/or mental illness, it takes
work, even when you are in a state of recovery.
But, there were some key questions and tricks that I asked myself when I first started exercising again that I continue to ask and use in maintaining a healthy relationship with working-out.
Is your body ready?
This step cannot be emphasized enough, you
may feel so ready and eager to get back to the sport that you loved now that you’re
at a healthy weight, but there may still be some after-math of your Eating
Disorder affecting your body that only a professional is able to suss out. For me, my Eating Disorder had led to a heart
attack, resulting in me having to get the A-Okay that my heart was strong
enough for the exertion that it would face through an increase in
activity. Another very common one for
Eating Disorders is Osteopenia, or sometimes Osteoporosis. Learning your body’s limitations is key; the
consequences of not knowing can be dire.
2) Are you ready to eat more?
Your calories in have to match your calories
out. If you’re body is physically ready to increase your activity, its time to
have a talk with your dietician or another professional that will help you
maintain that healthy weight needed to do all the fun sports and activities you
want to do! When I had been deemed okay
to start increasing my activity, the thought of having to eat more was paralyzing.
I wasn’t ready to start eating more, and I was scared that it would lead to me
starting to over exercise again. But the thing is, that’s okay too!
There is no life sentence or time frame
when you should be ready, it’s a process that needs to be suited for you. You’re
doing what you know will prevent you from relapsing, so kudos to you. There are a lot of great people in your life
and resources at your disposal to help you figure out where you are in that
process, and how to continue moving forward.
Baby Steps In!
Do your best to love and accept your body
at its healthy weight for all its magnificence before starting to strengthen it
through activities. You’ve already done
so much hard, amazing work to get to a place where you are strong enough mentally and physically to start exercising, and you deserve to continue to
move in that positive direction.
Set small goals for yourself regarding what
you, your professionals, and your support system think are good decisions. For
me, I started with wanting to play tennis again, a sport I had given up when my
Eating Disorder started taking hold.
Recap after whatever activity you did and see how you’re feeling physically and mentally, and appreciate just how strong
your body is now that it’s becoming more healthy.
Enjoy Yourself and Your Body
You have some so far and so has your body to
get to a point where you can run, play, and do the things you love again and
that is a celebration that never has to end.
Appreciate all that your healthy body can do, the joy you can get from
its movement, marvel at you and your body’s ability to bounce back, and
remember how much better having a healthy body is than a sick one.
Its exhilarating and euphoric when I feel the
muscles in my legs propelling me forward when I’m working out or playing sports
in a way that my fatigued and starved body would never have been able to do. I have a healthy body again that allows me to
do the things that I loved, not because of how many calories it burns, but
because its fun. I feel ridiculously empowered and have a
deep appreciation for what my body has accomplished and how far it has come and
what it allows me to do. Whether I’m
climbing a mountain with my dad or sprinting to one of my classes at university
that I almost always seem to be late for, this healthy relationship with
exercise and my body is one that I’ll strive to keep.
via The Mighty