Today, I want to share with you my take on working out in eating disorder recovery. Do I think it’s something you should do if you are embarking on your recovery journey & actively pursuing it?
Short answer: NO. But I’m not one for short answers.
Long answer: NO. Like most things regarding our health, this is a highly personal choice & it depends on the severity of your ED & how badly it affects you physically, emotionally & mentally. But, at the end of the day, I don’t see how exercise & recovery can coexist.
Again, I am simply sharing with you my personal take on this. If you do happen to work out in recovery, I am by no means judging your choices or decisions, but I do encourage you to speak to your physician &/or treatment team about it before you decide that it’s the right choice, especially since you may not be thinking as clearly as you would be if you were not affected by ED.
When we embark on a journey towards recovery, we choose to recover for several reasons, some of which include: because we acknowledge that our minds are disordered, that we have unusual thoughts that encourage behaviour that has the potential to be detrimental to our health & that we need help to help ourselves.
While exercise can be extremely soothing & helpful to cope with stress, anxiety & achieve mental stability (& has played a huge role in doing that for me now that I’ve reached full recovery), I don’t think it’s the appropriate coping mechanism or distraction for someone in recovery who has tendencies that promote restriction, starvation, deprivation or compensation, body image issues, an addictive personality or engages in negative self-talk.
For a person who doesn’t suffer from an eating disorder, exercise already has the potential to become an obsession. Just imagine how much the potential & risk is amplified for someone who already suffers from an illness that promotes using control & restriction to compensate for & repress emotions.
You have all the time in the world to exercise.
Recovery isn’t that time.
Be wiser than to expose yourself to YET another risk. Focus on regaining mental clarity, physical strength & emotional tolerance before you think about lifting a weight. Just one lift might leave you on your way to leaving one obsession behind but developing a new one.
Remember: Eating disorders aren’t about food; they’re about control. You know that more than anyone if you’ve lived with one.
TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR RECOVERY & work on getting to a place where you no longer feel like you must always be in control to be strong, wise, successful or good enough.
YOU ARE ENOUGH, right where you are.
Let exercise be the reward you look forward to when you’re no longer in a mind frame where it’s a risk.
You deserve more than to put your body at risk yet again.
Do for your body what you’d want it to do for you.
Set your priorities, stand by them & your mental & physical health will follow.