Exercise and Eating Disorder Recovery

I come from an incredibly active family. My brothers and I were playing sports year round starting at a young age. My parents do triathlons and long distance running.

Being active has always been part of who I am. I have always found running particularly therapeutic. It’s a great time for me to reflect on life and enjoy being outdoors.

I took a break from most exercise in the beginning of my recovery. I did yoga and some dance classes in the treatment center I was at, but I didn’t run or do strenuous activity. I think this was important for me to have a mental break. I learned to not NEED exercise and a gained a greater appreciation for it when I did exercise.

So many diets preach exercising as a way to change your body and burn off the “sinful food” you ate on the latest special occasion. I had mixed my love of being active with a desperate need to burn calories to ease my anxiety about the food I was eating.

But exercising from a place from fear is not only unhealthy for your relationship with your body, but it isn’t productive. It isn’t sustainable or satisfying for most people.

When I started exercising again, I would only do workouts approved by my treatment team. I journaled before and after and recognized the thoughts that came up.

I picked the ones I like and focused on only thinking them. Things like “I feel strong”, “my body can do amazing things”, “the scenery and fresh air is so beautiful”.

Working out with these kind of thoughts is truly healthy for me. My mind, body and spirit all benefit. And I don’t NEED to do it to stay sane.

If you work out right now, try noticing the thoughts you let yourself think about working out and try to recognize the thoughts that serve you and ditch the ones that don’t.