Anorexia Bulimia Care
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Exercise in recovery

Hi,

I just joined. I have been trying to recover from anorexia. I have been 100% meal plan compliant but exercise is a huge issue. I cannot sit down without perching like a bird and I cannot stop doing an hour of exercise without feeling scared to death of food. If I don't stop exercising, is it still possible to repair metabolic damage? Or will my body nevet learn to trust me again? Thank you.

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Hi Sarrahrose

Firstly, well done for sticking to your meal plan, that’s a huge achievement! I completely understand how you feel regarding exercise as I suffered from serve anorexia athletica so i was completely obsessed with exercise as a way to “earn food”. Those feelings you describe of fear & not being able to sit still are completely normal for someone in recovery but part of recovery is learning not to listen to them, and breaking the control they have over you. You know deep down that they are negative behaviours but a brain in a disordered state enjoys the familiar so it makes you feel like you “need” to keep partaking in the same activities.

The good thing is, that as you get better, eat more and start to recover, your mind will become clearer and it may even be the case that you simply just wake up one day without the compulsions and fear, I know when I got to a certain point I was able to simply just sit, sit and enjoy a coffee with my mum without feeling constantly on edge and like I had to keep moving.

I wouldn’t recommend exercise in recovery, especially if you are feeling driven to do it. Wanting to exercise and feeling you have to exercise are 2 completely different things. I found this blog incredibly helpful in helping me overcome my ED & Tabitha herself (blog author) had a severe exercise addiction, her words really made a lot of sense to me as her thoughts on recovery are based in science and human biology. I have included some links to her posts on exercise and recovery, she doesn’t believe that you can fully repair and heal unless you give your body the time & rest it needs.

tabithafarrar.com/2017/05/e...

tabithafarrar.com/2018/02/c...

tabithafarrar.com/podcast/d...

tabithafarrar.com/2015/11/a...

tabithafarrar.com/2017/05/a...

I really hope some of this information can help you and aid you on your recovery journey. Don’t be too hard on yourself, you’ve already made huge strides and that in itself is incredibly impressive. I wish you every success and a life free from your ED. x

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Thank you very much. I will definitely take a look at these webpages. It is comforting to know I am not the only one who has struggles with this and that other have overcome exercise compulsion.

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It’s good not to feel alone :) exercise addiction is one of hardest things to overcome in recovery as it’s so intrinsic to the ED, especially for those of us who use it as a way to justify our food intake. You might slip up but you’re only human so don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re already doing the best thing which is eating, but like crazycrossstitcher said below it’s best if you don’t burn off the calories you inject, even if your brain is telling you thag you need to. x

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Great about the meal plan - know the feeling about exercise - its really hard not to balance food with exercise - but the way to true recovery is to continue the meal plan without burning all the calories straight back off. Do you have counselling - this would be beneficial I think to help you look at the issue you still have. I also exercised to earn food - but gradually by reducing exercise by 5 mins weekly over a period I only do a gentle 20 mins now - and continue to eat normally - and my weight whilst rising certainly didn't rocket as I'd feared - its amazing how much you actually need just to function - never mind putting on weight. ABC might have some helpful thoughts for you so do make contact with them. Good luck.

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Thank you; your input helps me a lot.

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