Exercise and I have a complicated relationship. I have been active and involved with sports ever since I was in elementary school, and have always loved playing sports and working up a sweat. I don’t remember a single time in high school thinking that field hockey, track, or lacrosse practices were a great way to burn calories and lose weight. I played sports because I loved them and all the running we got to do was just a fun bonus. My first time in a real gym was in college and it was during my freshman year that I began to think of working out as a weight loss/maintence tool. I would go the gym with my roommates at least 5 times a week, but things were still under control and healthy at that point.
ED came into my life a few years later, however, and everything changed. No longer was going to the gym something fun for me to do with my roommates, but something I had to do. In fact I would blow off my friends because I had to get my workout in. I was a slave to the treadmill (even though I really don’t like running on it) and one of the only girls consistently in the weight room with all the guys. No matter how hectic my 5 classes+40 hour work week were I was at the gym, and if for some reason I couldn’t go I felt absolutely horrible and anxious the entire day. That type of schedule was grueling and I was completely incable of listening to my body’s needs (even though I thought I was in total control) and was litterally running myself into the ground. My health was deteriorating more and more each day, eyes sinking farther, skin becoming paler, but I didn’t care because “I could handle it.”
Well it turned out I couldn’t handle it for much longer and thats when treatment happened. The problem with day treatment was that after 2pm I was completely free to do whatever I wanted and try to counter act whatever I had at program that day. It wasn’t until I entered residential treatment that I made any real progress. I owe so much to the exercise counselor at Renfrew, it was there for the first time in a while that I evaluated my feelings during exercise and was working out in a safe and healthy way.
It has been 9 months since I’ve left residential treatment, and although my exercise frequency and intensity has definitely increased I am so happy to say that I try to listen to my body and what it is capable of doing that day. If I need a day off, I take it and can talk away the guilt that once beat me up for even thinking of skipping a day.
Today as part of my half marathon training plan I was supposed to run 5 miles, but when my alarm went off at 6:15 after going to bed after 12pm, I realized that wasn’t going to happen. Instead I ran 3 easy miles and afterwards all I could think about was how happy I was that I did anything and not that I was pathetic for running 3 instead of 5. There will always be another day to run x # of miles and I am so much happier that I went to the movies with my friends last night and stayed out later than 5 miles would have allowed for.