. guest post – overcoming exercise addiction .

by Amanda @ .running with spoons. on March 12, 2013

Hi friends!

Guess who’s back home after a week and a half in paradise? And guess who completely fell out of her blogging groove while she was there? Mmm hmm. I’ll be doing a full recap when I get the chance to sort through all my pictures and what not, but in the meantime, I wanted to share a special guest post with you guys while I do my best to shake the post-vacation blues and settle back into my old routine.

If you’ve been reading for a while, you might remember a post I did way back in the day about exercise as a physical stressor, and my experiences with giving up formal workouts and switching to a more casual approach to exercise. I know there are a lot of people out there struggling with exercise addiction who can’t ease up because of a fear of gaining weight, and if you’re one of those people then today’s post is definitely for you.

. – . – . – .

Hey Everyone! My name is Nicole. Amanda graciously reached out to me to write a guest post on exercising and the fact that I [finally!] found balance after several years of an exercise addiction coupled with anorexia.

Nicole1

Some of you may have noticed I comment on a blog or two from time to time… I’m known for sometimes sounding bitter or judgmental (what a great introduction…) because I myself have been frustrated with not having found a comfortable balance in my life. Out of that confusion, I misconstrue other bloggers’ posts sometimes or try to find something wrong with someone else other than me—please tell me you’re guilty of this too! I am also obsessed with politics, but I promise I don’t bicker or argue about it—I have a good sense of humor :)

Long story short of my ED, anorexia crept up on me in college after a breakup. I didn’t think I was falling into the reins of this disorder because I simply turned to fitness for something to do with my newfound free time. I, the girl who complained about walking the mile in high school, was suddenly running for nearly an hour straight on the treadmill every day. My calorie intake dwindled as I realized how relatively easily the weight came off. It was thrilling. As many of you can relate, this morphed into an obsession, an addiction, and a dark, scary place I never thought I would get out of.

Nicole2

(May 2011)

For over 4 years—subsisting on salads and rice cakes, diet soda and gum—I could not imagine NOT setting foot in the gym every day. I planned my classes and my work schedule around the gym. I ran because walking was not good enough.

Fast forward to now: I have been in recovery for almost 2 years, and consider myself “pretty much recovered.” Yeah, not a very technical or medical term for it ;) Why “pretty much recovered?” While I’ve been weight restored this whole time and have allowed myself to eat what I want, I have consciously been engaging in a rigid exercise schedule to basically give myself permission for these new eating habits. “Sure I’ve been okay with eating a healthy amount! …Only because I exercise.”

I think we always know deep down that we’re doing something wrong. I knew I wasn’t entirely recovered because of this messed-up logic that I absolutely HAVE to workout in order to eat or I’ll blow up like a balloon.

About a month ago I started to really get frustrated with the fact that I sometimes didn’t have enough time to workout exactly as much as I had the day before, or why the heck I was eating “so much” and thereby “cancelling out” the great workout I had, or why my weight was slowly creeping up given the amount of exercise I was doing, as well as wondering why I never felt satisfied after eating.

I realized that maybe I should take it down a notch. If food was always on my mind, and I was eating “so much” and basically gaining weight, why don’t I just do what others seem to do and take it easy at the gym and just… eat? Eat without giving it much thought. Why do I have to be the exception? It’s gotten to the point where people at the gym have remarked that I must be training for something! I’m not, so why do I push myself so hard and why does food have to be such a nagging mystery to me?

A couple weeks ago, I began to shave off time from each workout. 10 minutes… 15… 20. I’m at the point where I walk on the treadmill and run only once a week for only 10 minutes (down from 30). I eased into this new routine day by day. Yes, it’s only been 2 weeks. But I feel so much better that I honestly can’t imagine pushing myself harder again. I’m calmrelaxed! It’s been so refreshing. My appetite has actually slightly increased, and oh man did I get nervous at first. Ever since I started recovering, the feeling of hunger has been so uncomfortable I can’t handle it like I used to be able to. So staying hungry is not an option! But guess what? I actually went down about a pound and have been maintaining for the past two weeks… by exercising less and eating more.

While it may sound counter-intuitive to those of us who have suffered from an ED, it turns out that when you’re kind to your body, it’s no longer in “freak-out” mode and ends up in “ahhh-this-is-nice” mode  :)

Just know that depending on your level of “addiction” to exercising and/or restricting, doing a 180 by exercising less and eating more (eating to truly satisfy your hunger) will be intimidating! Tough it out for your sake. Don’t be a slave in your own world.

Phew, thanks for reading! Take care :)

Nicole3

(Feb 2013)

. – . – . – .

Does anyone have any similar experiences to share?

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sarah @PickyRunner March 12, 2013 at 9:54 am

I absolutely adore this post. It’s such a great reminder that you don’t HAVE to exercise. Everyone around us is always talking about how you’re only healthy if you workout for an hour a day and blah blah blah. No. Just no. You don’t need to. I have been in this situation and it is something I still struggle with. However, when I do take off a few weeks (usually once in the summer), I find myself settling into it and I don’t feel terrible about myself. My running has aided my recovery, quite honestly, but the addiction part of it is the piece that still lingers. This is such a refreshing perspective and I’m really glad you decided to share.
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2 Ksenija @ Health Ninja March 12, 2013 at 10:09 am

Awww, what an amazing guest post! Thanks for sharing your story with us Nicole. This sort of posts are the reason why I love RWS so much – topics which are kind of taboo around the health blog sphere are put up for discussion. I love exercise for several reasons: it calms me down, blows my head free when I am pissed off or worried and brings me to a calm and relaxed place – but I also know that I am not free off other reasons which I do not like that much: exercising for weight loss, to compensate bad eating or, in earlier days, just burn off as many calories as possible. Luckily all the reasons I mentioned first became dominant in the course of this year. I avoid doing sports I don’t like, I try to include friends into my activities and go for exercises I enjoy doing, even when they are not as intense as others. That does not mean that I am all yoga and no running now – I am still a person who loves a good, mindless sweat from time to time to get her mind clear. But now I chose the workout I like to do, not the one I thought I should better go for. Guess in the end its all about balance again – an answer that seems to work for all discussions ;)

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3 Sam @ Better With Sprinkles March 12, 2013 at 10:10 am

Thank you so much for writing this Nicole!
I can completely relate to a lot of what you’re saying – in recovery, exercise became a crutch for me. I was ok with eating more, because I knew I burning it off on the treadmill. If something came up that threw off my workout schedule, I would feel anxious and panicky. When I was deciding whether or not to follow a workout plan at the beginning of last summer that only had 4 workout days a week, I laid awake at night for days agonizing over how I was going to handle ‘only’ working out 4 days a week. I think this is really common in recovery, unfortunately, and it’s something that doesn’t really get addressed as often as it should.
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4 Nicole March 12, 2013 at 11:03 am

Yes! I agonized over my workout schedule even when I *thought* I was doing so great in recovery as well, and while I knew this was wrong, I still couldn’t truly fathom not working out while eating “so much more.” Just like when I decided on recovery, it took kind of that “rock bottom” point for me (though my workouts weren’t terribly exhausting, I was just super annoyed!) to FINALLY realize that I need to do things differently and calm down!

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5 Alice March 12, 2013 at 11:33 am

Thank you for this!

It’s so true. I still struggle with exercising a reasonable amount rather than going all out, and it’s been a constant theme for me in my attempts to overcome anorexia. Every time I get my eating back on track a bit, I compensate with running. For the past couple of months I’ve changed things quite drastically. I’m working nights to finish my doctorate, and therefore sleeping days. It’s really hard to get to the gym and I can’t run at night. So I’m doing exercise DVDs at hone – things like Ballet Beautiful – and going for short walks when I wake up in the evenings. Part of the reason I shifted my timetable to work by night was for this reason – I just couldn’t control my compulsion to exercise during the days. I’d sit and try to write, only to find myself twitching to go for a run. So I just removed that option. My fatigue has improved significantly (one step short of being diagnosed with CFS this time last year), my focus is better, I’m happier, sleep better, and strangely enough I have lost weight (water weight) and toned up. Pushing ourselves to the extremes is just a crutch, and I’ve come to accept that it wont make me stronger or prevent me from gaining weight, it’ll just exhaust me and lead to chronic injuries (I spent the last half of 2011 and all of 2012 nursing two stress fractures that just would. not. heal.)

Thank you for this post, Nicole. And thank you for the blog, Amanda. I’m a relatively new follower, and I’m trying to break the silence and comment, not just read! I hope your holiday was refreshing for you.

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6 Jill March 12, 2013 at 11:50 am

Alice, I’d love love to chat with you about this. Maybe Amanda can pass you along my email address or something? I don’t want to display it publicly on internet :)

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7 Amanda @ .running with spoons. March 12, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Thank you for sharing your experience, Alice! It’s always great to hear from more people who have gone through this sort of thing, and I think it really helps give others the courage to face their own exercise addictions when they read stories of people cutting down on the exercise and not experiencing any negative effects.

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8 Ashley @ Life and Fitness March 12, 2013 at 11:34 am

I was at a similar point two years ago where I was Doing cardio almost everyday! I was basically living at the gym and was getting no results. I was so frustrated. After talking to a trainer, I realized I was not doing any strength movies and was just wasting my time doing endless cardio. After two years of weights and eating so much more food, I feel so much better! Thanks for sharing your story.
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9 Nicole March 12, 2013 at 12:48 pm

EXACTLY. I was running, walking, using the elliptical 5-6 days a week and yet… my weight was slowly creeping up. It was kind of a “duh” moment, but I wish I had a trainer like you who could’ve told me much earlier to ease up on the dang cardio!

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10 Caitlin March 12, 2013 at 11:45 am

Wow, girl. This one hits home hard ha. I definitely fell into this trap for a long time, and when I get stressed out again, I almost always want to turn back to it. I’ve been pretty good thus far, but sometimes I know deep down I push too far, whether I’ll admit it to myself at the time or not. Something to think about how to work this into my life….think I may need this more than I’m willing to completely admit right now
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11 Nicole March 12, 2013 at 12:46 pm

You can tell you’re overdoing it if you’re analyzing it or worrying/getting antsy about the next time you can work out, or even simply recognizing the fact that maybe you’re getting tired more easily. If you think you’re overdoing it and you truly want to give yourself some leeway, I suggest shaving off just a few minutes from your workout/run each time! It’ll barely be noticeable but then will add immensely to how you feel overall!

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12 Jill March 12, 2013 at 11:49 am

I would love to chat with Nicole. YOu can pass her along my email if she is open to it! I kinda (only kinda ) relate and am having a tough time…though I’m OLD (in 30′s :(
And not anorexic or anything, but have issues with orthorexia, digestion issues galore, anxiety and “overeating” a lot…

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13 Lisa March 12, 2013 at 11:57 am

Yay your back Amanda! I missed you!

Thanks for this post Nicole! This one really hits the nail on the head. I suffered from a pretty bad exercise addiction, which was tough to overcome. Not only was I a competitive swimmer, so it was normal for me to train anywhere from 3-5 hours per day, but once I started restricting, I was no longer able to do those hardcore training programs anymore. I totally thought it was normal to train that amount, since it was what I was used to from age 8 up, but I’ve realized as I entered recovery that my body was pushed past its limits. Even though I still get those same temptations, I learn how to deal with the stresses and anxiety with healthier behaviors!
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14 Amanda @ .running with spoons. March 12, 2013 at 4:38 pm

(I missed you too, girlie <3 <3)

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15 Robyn March 12, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Thanks for sharing your story Nicole, I think no matter where someone is on their spectrum of eating/exercise issues the common struggle we all share is wanting to feel in control and wanting to be healthy. It takes lots of work patience and trust in yourself but being healthy and kind to your body is the most important. Who cares if its only been two weeks, you are doing what you can in your own time. Keep believing in yourself!!!
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16 Nicole March 12, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Thank you!!! Yes, it does take a lot of patience and trust… which thankfully for me at least gets easier with time. It’s watching out for the triggers like stress and depression for whatever reason that have to be monitored like a hawk!

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17 Rachel @ Undercover Diva: A Sitcom March 12, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Okay, so I’ve never considered myself to be an addict or have I ever battled anorexia, but a lot of this post resonated with me. Specifically these paragraphs: “About a month ago I started to really get frustrated with the fact that I sometimes didn’t have enough time to workout exactly as much as I had the day before, or why the heck I was eating “so much” and thereby “cancelling out” the great workout I had, or why my weight was slowly creeping up given the amount of exercise I was doing, as well as wondering why I never felt satisfied after eating.

I realized that maybe I should take it down a notch. If food was always on my mind, and I was eating “so much” and basically gaining weight, why don’t I just do what others seem to do and take it easy at the gym and just… eat? Eat without giving it much thought. Why do I have to be the exception? It’s gotten to the point where people at the gym have remarked that I must be training for something! I’m not, so why do I push myself so hard and why does food have to be such a nagging mystery to me?”

I am constantly obsessed about getting at least a little bit of a run in, but what really stuck out to me was you saying that you obsessed about gaining weight even though you’re working out all of the time. I’ve gained weight as well, even while I was training for a half marathon. I didn’t know if it was my food choices or what, but I was/am frustrated with it. The funny thing is (maybe not so funny) is that my weight gain is only 3-5 pounds, which is NOT much by any stretch of the imagination, but I still want to get rid of it. Maybe it’s time to reevaluate my thinking.
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18 Nicole March 12, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Oh it’s not funny at all because it’s annoying as heck and makes you question everything you do! I’ve read before that putting too much stress on your body makes it go a little crazy and hold on to weight because it’s attempting to fuel AND repair itself, so there is definitely something to the fact that there is a delicate balance when it comes to food and exercise. You can over-exercise and under-eat by a lot and thereby LOSE weight… but you can over-exercise (or exercise) and under-eat just slightly, leaving your body in a confused state on what to do with the food that does come in!

It’s really admirable that you’re training for a half marathon! But I think you’ll be happier (jeez, even mentally! You’ll feel better, I promise!) if you try to incorporate a bit more food into your diet. I’m no expert but I’m sure if you studied your routine a little bit you might find that you could squeeze in some extra calories here and there to help your body function at its best!

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19 Amanda @ .running with spoons. March 12, 2013 at 4:41 pm

“I’ve read before that putting too much stress on your body makes it go a little crazy and hold on to weight because it’s attempting to fuel AND repair itself, so there is definitely something to the fact that there is a delicate balance when it comes to food and exercise.” <– I’ve read a lot about that as well and actually experienced it first hand. It’s crazy because it seems so counter-intuitive, but it really does seem true.

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20 L March 12, 2013 at 8:03 pm

Amanda, do you think you could do a post on your experience with this? I know you touched on it in your post about changing us your exercise habits but do you think you could expand upon on how intense exercise affected your body and the changes you felt/saw once you stopped doing extreme stuff? I think I am in the middle of a similar situation myself and would find it soooo helpful to read first hand about how someone else went through it. Thanks so much! I find you blog extremely helpful and refreshing!

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21 Amanda @ .running with spoons. March 12, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Sure, L!

22 Nia March 12, 2013 at 2:10 pm

This post actually brought tears to my eyes. The sentence “Don’t be a slave in your own world” really spoke to me, because I have been struggling with the feeling of being in a routine that I cannot break out of. And I sometimes feel hopeless that I won’t be able to live freely, but this is so motivating. Thanks Nicole!

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23 Nicole March 12, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Awww girl… thanks for reading. And I hope you try one step at a time to change up your routine. Baby steps like me, taking off a few minutes here and there, or whatever it is you need to do for yourself. And I don’t know what part of the world you’re in now, but the weather seems to be lookin mighty fine in most places! So wouldn’t it be nice to just take it easy? :)

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24 Andrea @Pencils and Pancakes March 12, 2013 at 5:08 pm

I can definitely relate to this….I didn’t even realize that I had a problem until a couple of months ago when I started suffering from a back injury. I knew I was going to have to take a break from exercising… and I went into panic mode. From December until basically last month, I’ve been trying to make myself feel better by doing what I can at the gym….but what I didn’t know was that I was just making my injury worse and prolonging it. After seeing a specialist two weeks ago, I have not been doing ANYTHING more than just the things the physical therapist is giving me. I feel much better. Mentally and physically. I used to think I would instantly gain weight if I stopped working out. After 2 1/2 months of struggling with this concept…I’m happy to say that, no, I have not gained weight- I’ve actually lost weight- since I stopped working out so intensely every day. I think that my over zealous attitude about working out may have even lead to the injury. I’m taking it as a learning experience…..now I know I have to treat my body better and not over do it.
Wow, glad to get that out….might have to copy and paste on my own blog now that I actually put it down in words LOL.
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25 Kate March 12, 2013 at 8:32 pm

This was a great post! I think a lot of us that go through exercise addiction coupled with ED….and the reason you start to gain weight is your body just gets sick of working so hard and underfueling and it goes into “survival mode” – definitely happened to me! I’m an endurance athlete (a runner and a cyclist), so it’s a bit different for me – I’ll never give up formal exercise because I do train for races – but for awhile I was letting my running dictate the rest of my life, and I would get REALLY anxious when I couldn’t run as long as I wanted to. I was also obviously underfueling and eventually I started to GAIN weight, not lose it. Once I got a bit more relaxed about workouts and started actually eating enough to fuel myself, my weight dropped and stabilized. I’m still an athlete that trains hard but now I can actually say I’m a healthy one! I’m glad you found your heathy balance too :-)

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26 lindsay March 12, 2013 at 9:28 pm

oh yes! i can relate. I was actually forced to rest from a stomach inflammation. Only yoga. As a fitness instructor it was hard to do, but i totally healed during that time, more mentally than anything.
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27 Ashley @ AlmostVegGirlie March 12, 2013 at 10:02 pm

This post really spoke to me! I’ve considered myself in recovery for a couple of years but over the last year or so I’ve really gotten into an exercise-obsessed mindset and while I like to deny that I have a problem (mostly by saying that other people do way more than I do), it’s become an unhealthy competition for me to workout more and burn more each day. I don’t feel okay going even one day without any exercise and that’s how I know it’s an addiction–sometimes I put exercise above school or friends, which is just not ok.

And I think it’s extremely interesting that cutting back on exercise helped you get more in tune with your body. I’m scared to eat more even though I’m sure I don’t eat enough for my activity levels and eating more while working out less just doesn’t seem like an option for me. But if I could eat more intuitively, exercise less and not gain weight I would be thrilled! I may just have to experiment with this…
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28 Nicole March 12, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Before recovery, not working out was simply not an option for me even if I felt like I was going to black out! But in the past year, I definitely stuck to a pretty rigid and somewhat hardcore exercise routine given the amount I was eating. Although I didn’t always love it of course, I probably would not have thought about changing things up until it finally clicked that I was a) thinking about food all the time still even though I thought I was “recovered”, and b) I was slowly gaining weight.

So while it’s incredibly tough to just go cold turkey or make a drastic change, it’s a lot more manageable to do little things like a less strenuous exercise instead, or eating an extra snack. Little things come a long way and they’re so much easier to deal with mentally!

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29 Carly @ Snack Therapy March 12, 2013 at 11:28 pm

Exercise addiction is no joke. I remember the anxiety I would get if I couldn’t workout. My whole day would be ruined in my eyes. It was a horrible mindset. It’s also a very fine line between being dedicated to fitness and addicted/dependent on exercise.

Because exercise addiction is so easy to hide under the guise of being fit and healthy, it often goes unnoticed. Thanks for bringing some attention to it!
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30 Anna March 13, 2013 at 12:32 am

Wow, I can’t tell you how thankful I am to have read this, especially today.

Due to the circumstances of my current life as a graduate student, I’ve found that I’ve resorted to old thought patterns that hadn’t plagued me this badly since about 8-10 years ago when I was in the throes of anorexia and bulimia for the first time. In my early/mid-20′s, things were “okay”…no calorie counting or restricting, but some “scary” foods were “off limits” and I occasionally purged. I was a functioning person, though.

Fast forward to about 3 years ago when I started a PhD program and picked up running as a hobby. Not being much of an exerciser prior to this, I was rather proud of my new healthy habit. As stress and anxiety over grad school matters built up, though, I found myself exercising more, weighing everything I eat, tracking calories, and planning my life around exercise and eating. It was gradual, but over the past year, things have gotten seriously out of control. I see a therapist and am attending regular Eating Disorders Anonymous meetings, so don’t worry – I have support and know that I can reach out for more intensive treatment if that ends up being needed. I’m hoping it won’t get to that point though.

Anyway, what I wanted to say was that I am currently dealing with serious exercise anxiety, and I know this is simply a waste of time and energy…especially when it leads to me neglecting my work! This has lead to a shame/avoidance-of-work cycle that I’ve currently been struggling with. A lot of the thoughts and frustrations you expressed regarding exercise resonated with me. Although I get a thrill on days when I run faster or longer and feel like a super-woman, there are days when I’m completely fatigued – like today. I don’t know if this is linked to my exercise habits, but I’ve also been dealing with major insomnia…which doesn’t help matters at all – physically or mentally! Today, I was tired and achey but seriously had to PULL myself away from the gym and tell myself to stop feeling guilty for exercising. It was hard, but I think I need to keep doing this and pushing myself to be a little uncomfortable. I like your idea of doing a little at a time – shaving 10 minutes off each workout. I will give that a try.

Sorry this comment is so long. I was really encouraged by your post and can honestly say I *needed* it. Thank you!

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31 Nicole March 13, 2013 at 9:12 am

Exercise is a great way to relieve stress, and unfortunately for people like you and me, it’s easy to get sucked into it when we’re REALLY stressed! I was at my worst with exercise and eating when I moved to a different city to start a new life. Instead of focusing on that, I was basically destroying myself everyday.

But yes, do try taking a little time off here and there from each workout because you’ll feel the benefit from that but it won’t be nearly as hard to deal with mentally as if you suddenly were strapped to a chair for 24 hours!

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32 Nelly March 13, 2013 at 3:30 am

Great post and insight into this!

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33 Marie-Sophie March 13, 2013 at 3:58 am

Great post – and I feel there’s not enough people who remind the blogging world that yes, too much exercise does exist and in a very unhealthy way!! Even though my eating disordered/disordered exercise behaviour days are in the past (beginning to mid-twenties, I am now 30) I still have to explictly tell myself that I do NOT have to feel guilty to not exercise as much as most of the bloggers do. And it’s okay. It’s even GREAT because I am listening to my body, its needs, my schedule and my own life balance! I used to build my days around workouts as well, would miss out on parties, dates with friends, sleep and just relaxing because well, I “had to”.

I have managed to not judge my life’s success on the amount of workouts a week but have found the exercise I actually like and enjoy doing! Yoga, Body Pump, some 30day shred workouts and just walking. That’s it. And the very last and latest warning signal my body sent me was my diagnosis with adrenal fatigue. The stress of several years (studies/job, family stuff, being a perfectionist, pushing exercise even though I was already stressed enough) caused it and I gave myself permission to do absolutely no exercise at all for several months. Such a stress reliever! I am now on my way to adrenal recovery and even more aware of how I treat my body!!!

thanks for the honest post, Nicole – and keep on doing what you’re doing!!!

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34 Laura March 13, 2013 at 6:14 am

Throughout college I was addicted to cardio. I didn’t necessarily spend hours on the machine, but my days and social events (the few that I took part in) revolved around my gym schedule. I wouldn’t ‘allow’ myself to eat certain things if I didn’t go to the gym. I didn’t feel OKAY with myself if I didn’t go to the gym. Each day I needed to be there, on the elliptical, making sure I at LEAST did the same amount of exercise or burned the same amount of calories as the day before.

Somewhere along the line, I gave up cardio. I think it’s when I graduated and came home to a boyfriend and a job that was extremely physical. Now though, I no longer have that job, but I still go to the gym pretty religiously–to lift weights. In my eyes, that’s not as disordered, but to be honest…if I skip a day lifting I feel as though every muscle in my body is going to turn to fat. It’s different than cardio, and I feel like a lot of people with Anorexia struggle with cardio addiction, no an addiction to weights. Plus, my Nutritionist says SOME lifting is okay, and good for my bones and my anxiety. But where do I draw the line? How much is TOO much? And what would happen if I stopped or cut back drastically? It’s weight lifting, not cardio, and exercise addiction stories very rarely touch upon that.

Sorry this is so long…ahhh!
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35 megan March 13, 2013 at 6:24 am

This post is golden. Sometimes I feel like I fall into the exercise addiction trap, but I feel like there’s such a fine line. Generally, my life is very sedentary, so I don’t feel like I’m overdoing it with exercise. I run or do some other form of cardio 6 days a week and I think I fuel myself properly for the most part. However, sometimes I just feel so out of touch with my body’s needs. There are days that I feel ravenous, but allowing myself to eat much more than “normal” is just too scary. And then there are the days (sometimes several days in a row) that I just have NO appetite at all, despite exercising pretty intensely. Those days are most frustrating, and I’m not sure what causes them. If anyone else has experienced this, I’d love to hear some insight :)

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36 anne March 13, 2013 at 9:06 am

Like so many who have already posted here, I was a running junkie – every day, 7 miles or so, plus weights a few times a week. Eventually I got tired of getting injured and started “just” walking instead. Revelation: I actually enjoyed walking, rather than the running which I dreaded but knew I would be glad for the “burn” afterwards. Whatever. The point I wanted to make here, is: my husband is an internal medicine doctor and when I was talking to him a while back about this exercise anxiety I have, about whether “just” walking is enough (compared to the obsessive running I used to do) he tells me that if his patients did half of what I did, just walking and eating basically healthily with fruits and vegetables – well, he might have a much easier job. I don’t want to disparage any medical problems in any way, just get across that from his point of view, health is a lot different than the obsessive athletic perfectionism that we often see on “healthy living blogs.” To him, getting an hour of any kind of movement/exercise per day and eating a balanced diet is plenty healthy, whereas to many of us who have read healthy blogs and think about this all the time, healthy means being in amazing competitive shape and eating only perfectly raw/clean/vegan whatever. Perspective is good.

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37 Shannon March 13, 2013 at 11:35 am

I love how this ends. I did the same reduction and challenge and continue to do so to this day all of the time. The second the stress of exercise and doing it for appearance and weight control creeps up again I STOP. Really I love the description of “ah so nice” because that really is the feeling you get from toughing it out and doing it!
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38 Katy March 14, 2013 at 2:03 am

Ahhh, you’re gorgeous! Well done on your recovery!!! I can relate so much to your story <3
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39 Alex March 14, 2013 at 8:38 am

Thank you so much for this post! After reading it, then the comments, I was so shocked to see that I’m not the only one who has had this thought process! Starting a few weeks ago, I’ve been slowly cutting my work outs shorter by just a few minutes. I’ve been in the exercise rut for a while now, so I figured I might as well just go ahead and start reducing instead of just THINKING about it (like I have been for some time). A few months ago I noticed that my body has basically been in a stale mate; not improving from the strength training/ cardio I was doing, feeling and looking bloated, and gaining weight. Although I’m still working on reducing my work outs, I already am starting to feel the difference. But there haven’t been any physical changes yet, which is frustrating and discouraging, but I will not let that bother me just yet! :)
I’ve gone from killing my self every day just so I ‘can’ eat, to slowly just working out until I feel energized. This post has definitely helped a ton! I honestly thought I was the only person who had this problem, especially after a year in ‘recovery’ for a ‘too healthy’ diet.
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40 Thais @ Eats n Miles March 14, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Great post!! I can totally relate! I´m a little obsessed about exercising everyday and need to take it down a notch. Today I´m taking an unplanned rest day and I have to admit I feel a little guilty…
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41 Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli March 15, 2013 at 9:59 pm

“While it may sound counter-intuitive to those of us who have suffered from an ED, it turns out that when you’re kind to your body, it’s no longer in “freak-out” mode and ends up in “ahhh-this-is-nice” mode.” <- SO true!

So glad you were able to finally find a happy medium between life, exercise, and food. It's funny how we can get so focussed/fixated on one thing in life (especially when it's not necessarily something that is "enriching") …and like completely miss out on so much else! It can be nerve-racking to turn the tables of our mind and shift to a different path, but it's so amazing what we can learn about ourselves in the process! :)

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42 Elise April 4, 2013 at 6:18 am

First of all I want to say THANK YOU for this post! I was literally almost in tears! I can relate SO much to this. I, too, am recovering from my ED and am very rigid and hard on myself with my exercising. I feel that in order to eat more food I NEED to exercise. If I don’t exercise, it’s as if I don’t give myself permission to eat. Obviously, this is still disordered and unhealthy. And I realize that. It’s just a matter of changing that unhealthy habit and unhealthy mindset. I get so anxious when I don’t have time to complete a full workout or when I can’t run as much as I did the day before. It’s like I’m always trying to ‘one-up’ myself and do more than I did the day before, while not realizing this is something that I can’t do. When I miss a workout or can’t complete a full workout that I have planned, I feel like I’ve failed and let myself down. This is not a healthy way to be. I was so moved by your words and your example about how you slowly worked your way down in your workouts, slowly but surely and how you still continued to eat normally (even eating more!). This is such inspiration and motivation for me. I can’t thank you enough for your story and experience. It helps knowing I’m not alone in this!
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