As yesterday marked the beginning of eating disorder awareness week, I’ve decided to write a few posts about recovery related topics. But, I must say, that all of these issues can affect people without an eating disorder as well. Our culture is very screwed up when it comes to body standards, food, and exercise.
Today I’m going to talk about something that I haven’t really touched on before: exercise. I’ve had a complicated relationship with it, to say the least and I feel like it’s time to talk about it. Maybe it will help someone or just let someone know that they are not alone when it comes to trying to find balance.
Exercise. The word brings up a lot of things for me. For most of my childhood, I didn’t even really think about it. Sure, I went to dance classes and was just intuitively active, as most kids are.
But…Then puberty happened. Those fun, awkward, completely confusing years. All of the sudden, my body was changing and I wasn’t dancing anymore and it freaked me out.
So, being me, the ultimate planner, I decided to “do something about it.” This included starting to exercise.
At first, it wasn’t obsessive and I actually enjoyed it. I found some YouTube videos, did them, and moved on.
But, at some point, that changed. My whole mindset around exercise changed.
Instead of doing something because it felt good, I did what burned the most calories. If I wasn’t drenched in sweat afterwards and completely exhausted, it didn’t count. Suddenly, exercise was a punishment, for eating, for breaking one of the many ED rules I had.
It was soul-sucking, all consuming. Until I had exercised for that day, that was all I could think about. I pushed my body and my mind and contrary to popular belief, that is NOT a good or admirable thing.
Then I went to treatment, came back, and considered my relationship with exercise healed.
And while I have never exercised like I did before treatment, I am still working on my mindset around movement. I have to constantly question whether I am doing this thing (whether it’s yoga/Pilates/walking) because I want to or because I feel like I should because (insert disordered reason here).
I have learned that I simply (and just don’t want to) do some forms of exercise without falling back into the exercise trap. For example, running. Or for that matter, most forms of structured cardio.
If I say I’m doing a HIIT workout or a Jillian Michaels video for fun or because it feels good, you know I’m lying.
So, I just don’t do those things. And I am slowly accepting that that is totally okay. It doesn’t matter how many so-called “experts” say that XYZ is the best workout…If it doesn’t feel good and, most importantly, if you don’t enjoy it don’t do it!
I am beginning to find what works for me. And that might change as time goes on. Right now, this means yoga, some stretching, and walking (and random dance parties in my bedroom…)
All of this to say: you do you. You are not the ceebrity fitness trainer on TV or your best friend. What works for them in terms of exercise might not be what feels good for you.
So…Find what feels good.
And if you get that reference, you are officially awesome😁
Good night (or good morning/afternoon/insert time here).
Until next time,
-What form of movement feels best to you right now?