My eating disorder started with Anorexia at roughly 14-15 years of age. It happened slowly. I started dieting with my mom around that time, mainly to be of support to her. I also started playing highschool sports around which meant more exercise and had a father who worked out in our basement nightly(and on vacations or work meetings), as well as followed his own sorts of diets. Looking back, I was constantly shown that we are not ok how we are and we must change our physical appearance. Now I am not at ALL blaming my parents, for anything! The 90’s were a time for diets. If you made it through them without trying Adkins, Cabbage Soup, Weight Watchers, South Beach etc, kudos to you.
Anyways, I started losing weight and people noticed. People complimented me, it felt great!! I felt great! It wasn’t too long before I was counting the calories in ice berg lettuce and pickles. I stopped eating all carbs, even carrots and corn .My diet consisted of iceberg lettuce, turkey and sometimes mayo, maybe some berries. This isn’t a post about my anorexia so I will get to the point about exercise. As time progressed so did my exercise and my obsession with it. I woke up to workout before school, I came home at lunch and told people ” I was saving money” and ran as hard and fast as I could. I went to soccer practice after, I did sit ups in my room before bed then I went to sleep in my workout gear so I would have less of deterrence for getting on the treadmill bright and early.
I would be exhausted, my legs ached my body hurt but I ran anyways. I would get sick but that never stopped me. I almost didn’t go on a high school Spanish trip to costa rica because I knew I wouldn’t be able to exercise to the intensity that I needed and I couldn’t handle that anxiety. I couldn’t handle not working out one day. My mind would destroy me. I would feel like I needed to claw out of my own skin. I had to work out if I wanted to eat. If I knew I wouldn’t be working out I restricted as much as I possibly could…but then night time would come and I never knew what was going to happen.
Anyways what I’m getting at is if exercise was used as a way to change how I look and or allow myself to eat. When I exercise, if it doesn’t hurt, I am not doing enough. If I’m not sore and hating my life, I’m not pushing hard enough. It was constant abuse, over and over and over again.
Today my relationship with exercise is getting better. It isn’t perfect but we are working on it. I listen to by body now and on days where I’m feeling run down or just really not wanting to, guess what, I don’t! I have the ability to do that now WHICH IS HUGE! It isn’t always easy but sometimes it is. It feels good to not have to punish my body. To be able to know when I am at my limit at the gym or on the trails and when I know I can push myself to do that extra set. I feel better when I move. My head quiets and I am able to be more present throughout the day. There have been stints in my journey where I pushed back against all exercise and all who did it because it was eating disorder related and I wouldn’t have it and now I will unfriend you and block you on social media. I don’t think like that any more either 🙂 there are certain images I find trigger or certain people I have had to unfriend because right now I can’t have those things in my line of vision on a regular basis.
There is no right way on the journey of recovery. Each of us are highly specialized and have our own needs and triggers. Listen to yours.