When Work Takes Over

September 3, 2015 • Body Image, Eating Disorder, Exercise, Health, Mental Health, Recovery • Views: 1772

The past couple of days have been unusually difficult for me in my recovery! I find myself in a back and forth: I put an enormous amount of energy and time into Body Boop and the #edrecovery movement, but then because of that and a full-time job, I have less time to exercise and treat my body well. Then because we eating disorder sufferers are typically such perfectionists and just big, big fans of guilt and shame, I feel like a failure and a hypocrite because I am telling everyone to treat their bodies with respect, and here I am on my butt on my laptop all day.

These feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, depression or anxiety, whatever the reason, have historically been a precursor to eating disorder relapses for me. So, when I think about my overall health and wellness, I think about appeasing those negative feelings, because sadly that tends to be my natural state. In my recovery, I have tried to find that balance with nutrition and exercise so that I am not restricting and I am not overexercising, but I am still treating my body well.

What I’m trying to say is this: Don’t let the fear of overexercising keep you from exercising at all, and don’t let the fear of restricting keep you from eating healthily. There is a balance in everything, and if you have had an eating disorder, fear has ruled enough of your life already. I have never been a fan of morning workouts – I don’t feel great during the workout and I don’t feel great after. I hear people say all the time: “It sets the tone for my whole day!” That’s great if that works for you, but for me, I need a minimum of 8 hours sleep or I can’t function.

So, if I have a long work day, it usually means that a workout is not going to make it into my day, and most of the time I’m okay with that because I’ve walked my dog a few times that day and I eat really well (for the most part – can I help it if carbs are the greatest gift on this Earth?).

And then the TV comes on, and I see all the unattainable body types in reality shows and commercials. And then there’s, well, the entire Internet.

How in the world is someone supposed to stay on track with recovery if he or she is working hard to support a household and pursue dreams? What if an old, discarded dream was once to have the perfect body? How do I let that go and focus on dreams that will keep me alive and benefit others, when sometimes all I think about is what’s wrong with me?

Occasionally, I do find the need to go back on a meal plan, and sometimes medication. With the guidance of my therapist and my psychiatrist, different solutions are right for me at different parts of my journey. But the guilt and shame over skipping exercise or treating myself to a dessert never seems to go away. Eating disorders are a constant struggle, long after residential treatment ends or the worst of it has been processed, and the patient has healed.

The only thing I can do, is do the best I can. When I was in the middle of my eating disorder, I tried to “make up” for my perceived errors. If I had that dessert, well, I completely restricted the entire next week. If I missed that workout, it meant hours and hours of punishing my body in the gym for days. The punishment never fit the crime.

Today, I didn’t exercise, and I have to be okay with that. For me, for my husband, for my dog, for everyone who loves me. For everyone in recovery themselves. But tomorrow (here’s the beautiful part) – tomorrow, I am still alive. Tomorrow, I can go enjoy that spin class that is such a great part of my week. Tomorrow, maybe it won’t be so hot outside, and I can take my dog for his longer walk around the park. Tomorrow, I will look the same as I do today, and I will have still skipped that session at the gym yesterday.

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