Trust me, I know. Not being able to work out in recovery is hard.
It bothers you because it makes you feel like you’re different.
It makes you feel deprived & incapable.
Safe to say: It makes you feel like cr*p.
The harsh reality of recovery is that you must feel those things momentarily to properly heal, restore weight, replenish energy levels & get your health back. I promise you that it’s worth it.
Not being able to work out, let alone perform simple daily tasks during recovery, like groceries or going to the mall to buy things I needed, was so freaking hard for me. As you guys most probably already know, I’m someone who constantly needs to be on the go & occupied.
But after a few weeks of trying so freaking hard to put on weight, it finally hit me. I reached a plateau because I was MOVING TOO MUCH to compensate for the increase in my food. My therapist & nutritionist kept telling me that was the most probable cause but I guess I just chose to close a blind eye. When I finally accepted that I had to lay low & just chill, I started to slowly but surely gain weight & feel more energy. It wasn’t easy, but like I said, it was worth it.
In retrospect, now I know why working out or doing everything to be overly-active to compensate for food consumption in recovery can be counter-productive:
First things first, put it this way: You put all the effort in the world into upping your food intake & letting go of safe lists & comfort foods, but then you exercise your life away until you burn it all off. All your effort, the daily struggle & fight with your mind to get rid of the anxiety surrounding fear foods, the discomfort associated with eating that you work through… all of that hard work goes down the drain, because you’re not actually keeping any of those calories in! This can make you feel discouraged, hopeless & adopt the mentality that recovery just doesn’t work. Truth is, it works, IF YOU LET IT & find the strength to let go of the need to be active in pursuit of the long-term goal: HEALTH.
Second of all, exercising in recovery can be a trigger from a mental standpoint. Most eating disorders are characterized by needs to restrict, starve, deprive & compensate. If you engage in behaviours that teach your mind that it’s acceptable & right to compensate for the food, your mind will learn to hold onto that sense of control & it risks becoming an obsession. You may get rid of one problem (control over food) but you may end up causing another (obsession with exercise). Guys, as harsh as this may sound, you have all the time in the world to exercise. But recovery isn’t the right time. You have to focus on getting away from the need to compensate & do everything to regain your HEALTH!