Friday, February 18, 2011

Too Much?

Hope you’re all enjoying your weekend so far! I think mine’s gonna be mostly booked with homework, laundry and Say Yes to the Dress.
I’ve never been a hardcore exerciser, but I’ve always admired people who are devoted to their workouts, either for sports like track, or just hitting the gym regularly. Throughout the worst parts of my ED, the only exercise I got was about half an hour every day in a women’s fitness PE class at school and my ‘secret’ crunches. I was restricting my calories so much that I could barely work out because I didn’t have the energy.
Exercise has never been really “off-limits” for me during my recovery. No one ever told me not to do it, probably because they assumed I wasn’t doing it and exercise wasn’t part of my ED. Throughout my early recovery, I still just did the crunches, probably more than before because of all the calories I had to eat, but that was about it. During that first summer, I went on the trampoline occasionally or went on hikes with my family on vacation, but that was about it.
Last summer, my second summer during recovery, I think I became more interested in working out. I scheduled in about 15-30 minutes of exercise a day, either walking down my street (which is about a mile), biking, jumping on the trampoline or basic cardio moves in my room. Still, nothing extreme or anything, and I didn’t feel too bad if I missed a day.
First semester of freshman year, I was just trying to keep up with school. I didn’t really have much desire to work out. I was walking probably half an hour a day between classes and my dorm, so I thought that was pretty good. My parents even told me to try to eat more, since I was exercising more than normal for me. And I was still doing crunches after every meal. It’s just something that’s stuck with me.
Then this semester, it’s like a switch flipped on and I feel compelled to exercise. I’m still walking the same amount, but now it’s not enough for me. I started doing yoga two weeks ago. I started out with ten minutes a day, but that quickly progressed to half an hour a day. Then yesterday, I did an hour of yoga. Today, I’ve done 45 minutes. I’ve also been doing some jogging. I did ten minutes today, in addition to the yoga and my normal walking. So I’ve already done an hour and 25 minutes of exercise today. I know, that probably sounds like such a small amount. But for me, it’s big. The only times I’ve ever done that much was hiking or riding my bike over the summer with my dad.
The scary thing is, I feel like it isn’t me who wants to work out, but my ED. I’m starting to feel a high from exercising, and I like the pain it’s bringing to my muscles. But I’m wondering if I’m starting to become addicted to exercise.
Exercise is a great thing, don’t get me wrong. It’s made me more calm and helps me sleep better and just feel better in general, but I’m confused as to how much is too much?
Haha, had to add in something a little silly :)

Q’s: Was or is exercise part of your ED? What do you do when you feel like you’ve done too much?


  1. I think that you have to evaluate whether you are exersising for the joy that it brings, or for the pain and calorie-burning factor. There isn't a defined "limit" besides your best judgement of whether exercising has become an obessive or compulsive habit oppossed to a healthy activity.
    I used to be an avid exersiser simply for the joy of it before my eating disorder. I swam for a team 6 days a week as well as weight training and running. When my ED developed exersise became an obcession and there was no joy in it, only judgement and pain, until I became too weak to exersise at all.
    Now I am eagar to see if my doctor thinks I'm ready to run or swim again because although I've fallen in love with yoga, I miss my cardio!

  2. I agree with Emma - the important thing is what's motivating you to exercise. Make sure this is coming from you, not the ED. If you do decide to start exercising regularly, do it with caution. If you start feeling like you have to exercise no matter what or you work through an injury, than you're probably doing too much. And be aware that you might have to raise your calorie intake if you work out a lot.

    I technically have been diagnosed with exercise bulimia in addition to anorexia because I used to run all of the time, no matter what. I injured my knee pretty badly this summer, but ran anyway. This is not normal behavior! =)

    Listen to what your body is telling you. If you need to take a day off, do it. And remember that sometimes what you want isn't what's best for you. Even though I've "purged" through running in the past, I still love to run. But I've had to accept that I can't right now because I'm not healthy enough. That's what's best for my body.

    Take care!

  3. Well considering I was a runner before an anorexic, I can definitely relate to the fact that you find it hard to distinguish your love for running and your love for burning calories..
    Mine definitely started off as a love for my sport.
    But quickly I became obsessed with how many calories I was burning doing it. This is something that never happened before..

    Luckily now I have found more of a balance, and although I do have my days where I feel the need to run more in order to burn off my increased calorie intake, I can pretty much tell when my ED wants me to run and when I want to run.

    Something I would suggest doing is taking some time to relax and really contemplate WHY you want to run. If it's for the endorphins and the fact that you just wanna be healthy and get some fresh air, go for it! Otherwise, don't. And i know it sucks that sometimes you can't do what you love (exercise) because ED is associated with it, but that's a sacrifice we have to make sometimes. Like two Sundays ago I was supposed to run (my schedule said so), but my ED was the only reason behind me wanting to. I didn't personally want to because I would be late watching the Superbowl and miss hanging with friends. So I'm proud to say that I didn't run that day. Yea, I felt a little guilty after, but more happy than that.

    Sorry this is so long! Good luck finding the balance Ash :)
    <3 Haley

  4. To answer your question, exercise was never a part of my ED. I remember going on my elliptical machine 3 times and jogging twice for 20 minutes, but I was bored to death and hated it so much. For whatever reason, I never even "abused" ballet to burn calories. I really wish I had some advice or could help, but I think I can't offer much advice to such a problem that I've never had.

    The only thing I can really say is the same thing everyone else is: stop and think before you exercise. Is it because you want to, you like to, and it feels good? Or is it because ED wants you to burn calories?

    Your body knows what's best for you 100%, so as long as you respect its cues, it won't lead you wrong. You're right, exercise itself is really good, but when it's ED-driven, it becomes really bad. You don't have to give into the ED Ash. You are stronger than this, I know it! :-)

  5. Exercise has been a HUGE part of my anorexia. I was and am not like those anorexics who eat celery and a handful of cereal per day. I did restrict and still sometimes do restrict. I would eat a lot of low low calorie things like lettuce, cabbage, celery, oatmeal, etc. But I would eat large quantities. I am a big eater.

    But the thing that really made me drop so much weight was too much exercising. I didn't listen to my body. This was the huge part.

    In order to help me to stop this obsessive exercising I cut all cardio out of my life. Zero. Zip. Nada. For some people this may not work. I still allowed myself to do strength training stuff. I felt huge and nasty because I was eating so much to gain weight but wasn't burning calories. I thought I would turn into a whale. Well I didn't and haven't. I have now incorporated exercise back into my life. I am keeping myself accountable to not working out too much by keeping an exercise journal and giving it to my counselor. This has helped a lot. Maybe you should ask someone you trust to keep you accountable for how much exercise you do. I hope this helps!

  6. Exercise certainly had it's claws in me....but I am happy to say I am SO much better. I barely work out now compared to what I used to do...I have to admit I am not always comfortable with that, I feel lazy, but I deal.


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