I did something the other day that I haven’t done in… *counts on fingers*… a very long time. I went for a run. Actually, I should probably clarify that a little… I went out for a walk that eventually turned into a run. The weather was perfect, my surroundings were gorgeous, and I just had that extra little pep in my step . Before I knew it, that pep turned into a jog, and… I didn’t hate it.
I can’t tell you how far I went, or how fast — maybe it wasn’t even more than a mile — but I can tell you that, no matter the distance or the speed, it was still a pretty big deal for me. Why? Because it’s a baby step towards healing the relationship I have with running. I know, I know… you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Err… Amanda? What relationship? You don’t run…” and you’d be right — I don’t; but I did.
Believe it or not, there was a point in time where the “running” part of my blog name was more than just a witty catch phrase. I did run. Maybe not with spoons (as far as memory serves), but I ran. I started in middle school as a required part of gym class, and although I never got into it too seriously as far as teams and racing are concerned, I kept doing it throughout the years because it was the only form of exercise I could think of (this was way before my HLB days, where I thought strength training was only for macho men).
So I ran on and off for years and years — not loving it, not hating it, just doing it for the sake of doing it. I’d take it up for a month or two and then give it up for six. It wasn’t until my ED really took hold of my thoughts that I started taking running a lot more seriously, and I’m pretty sure you can guess where I ended up with that one… let’s just say it was nowhere good and leave it at that.
I eventually had to give it up only because I physically wasn’t able to do it anymore, but you better believe I was itching to get back into it — and I did, probably far too soon into recovery… Because even though I was eating well and in a “decent” enough place with my health as far as weight and vitals went, my body still needed to heal, and it couldn’t do that properly while trying to handle the additional stress that running was putting on it.
My health suffered and exercise began to feel like torture again — something had to give. And because I’m the queen of jumping from one extreme to the other, instead of cutting back on exercise, I simply cut it out. Cold turkey. No more. Trying to figure out how to eat was difficult enough without factoring exercise into the equation, so I took it out. Simple as that.
So that’s been life for the past 2 years or so. No formal workouts, no intense exercise — I’ve been keeping active but definitely taking it easy. And it’s been nice. No complaints for the most part. But… I’ll admit that I do miss it sometimes… The sense of having something to work towards. The physical and mental strength that it helps cultivate. The endorphins… Those were things I loved. What I didn’t love was how my brain twisted something that’s perfectly healthy and turned it into something that’s not.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, does it? All or nothing? Isn’t that balance middle ground what I’m trying to find in recovery? I managed to do it with the scale, going from weighing myself obsessively, to completely avoiding it for years, to being indifferent and just checking every few months. I managed to do it with healthy foods, going from eating 100% clean, to rebelling against them, to eating a good mix of both. Now I need to find that balance with exercise…
To be honest, I was a little hesitant to write this post… I know I have a lot of readers who struggle with eating disorders and/or exercise addiction, and receiving e-mails/comments from them about how I’ve helped them overcome those hurdles made me feel like I had to keep being that example and take it easy. But I’ve been taking it easy — 2 years off has been plenty of time to heal, both physically and mentally. And like I said, I need to fix my black-and-white relationship with exercise/running and find that balanced middle ground myself– it kind of feels like that last recovery hurdle that I need to face.
That’s not to say that I’m about to start training for a marathon or adopt a strict gym-going schedule, but I don’t want to feel that twinge of guilt anytime I feel like doing something other than walking. Of course I could have just started running and not said anything about it on the blog, but that’s not how I roll… I’ve always been an open book about my challenges and struggles in the past, and that’s not about to change now.
No questions today… I’d just love to hear your thoughts, comments, questions, or concerns.
I can TOTALLY relate. Sometimes a girl just wants to run!
p.s. using Forrest Gump quotes is a must on any running blog 😉 http://thegoodfootblog.com/2012/02/use-forrest-gump-as-running-inspiration/
I love that you are always an open book and so willing to share all parts of yourself with us. As someone who has never struggled with ED I can’t claim to understand all that goes into the healing process…but as someone who started running a few months ago “just because” I do understand the need of sometime wanting a little bit more.
I say enjoy your runs and your walks and whatever else you feel like doing 🙂 That’s the best part of being healthy, being able to do whatever, whenever, because you can.
Alex @ therunwithin
catching up on my spoons and what a great post to come back to. I love what you say about it. Honestly the guilt after recovery and trying to balance it was tough. which is whyI continued to do nothing for a while after. you have to find what works for you and recognize the bad thoughts/compulsions that come back so that you can take it and reframe it. I MISSED YOU total side note but very true
Amanda @ .running with spoons.
I missed YOU! But I was happy to see that you were living it up in Vegas <3
Ari @ Ari's Menu
Love love love everything about this. Especially that you are doing what makes YOU happy!
Tessa @ Amazing Asset
What an inspiring post here Amanda…. more evidence of how far you have come and continue to progress! I’m going to echo what Hollie said above as yes, she took the words right out of my mouth. Both your bluntness and honesty is what separates you from so many others out there… those who are indeed still suffering (to any extent) and are just falsifying wherever they want/can.
For me, running was initially something I did because I LOVED it. Then… the ED kicked in and while I did still enjoy it, it was the calorie burn I was looking for. Now, I would give anything to run pain free…. Hopefully in the near (rather than far!) future this will occur 🙂
I love how blunt and honest you are. A lot of readers may struggle with eating disorders but that doesn’t mean you are in the same place as them. I’m glad you are healing your relationship with running. That is what recovery is all about-healing relationships.
Heya gorgeous, may I ask when you started to feel in a good place with food and how long it took to get there? Hope you are having a fabulous weekend! Xo keep well and happy Amanda
Amanda @ .running with spoons.
Ooo that’s kind of a tricky one… I’m honestly not sure how to answer because it’s hard to pinpoint a time where things were suddenly all good. There were a lot of times where I thought I was in a good place, but looking back, there were still little things that needed work. It’s been a gradual process with a lot of unnoticed improvements along the way, but I can tell you that it’s been a good 2, and maybe even 3, years.
Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli
I think it’s great that you’re finally feeling able to see the gray where exercise is concerned and I say as long as it makes you happy, then go for it! But I am a little curious…have you ever thought about doing weight training again? I know you were really loving it a couple of years ago (before your bloggy break) but I haven’t really notice you mention it since coming back?
Amanda @ .running with spoons.
I’ve definitely thought about it, and while I’ll probably get back into some light strength training at some point, for now I just wanted something less structured that doesn’t require a gym.
Kelly @ Kelly Runs for Food
I think it’s awesome that you ran! It sounds like you’ve overcome a lot of challenges and learned a lot about yourself over the past couple years. If running again is a way for you to continue on a healthy path then you shouldn’t feel guilty about it!
Jaclyn @ Grateful Mountain Mumma
Thank you for sharing this! I can relate on so many levels–the need to slow down, taking a couple of years off, not slipping back into ED ways, wanting to be the role model for not running…
I am right where you are–after a two year hiatus needed for my body mind to recover enough for me to conceive and deliver my now eleven month old son, I now feel like running again in a healthy way.
It feels amazing. It’s now optional rather than obligatory and I have a huge smile on my face as I truly enjoy the beauty of fresh air and pumping lungs. I am not over-trained or underfed nor do I have any running specific goals time or distance wise–and this is liberating and feels fantastic!
Wishing you loads of healthy, positive energy as you try out running again for fun and health!
Amanda @ .running with spoons.
Thanks so much, Jaclyn! It’s encouraging to know that it’s possible 🙂
Congratulations Amanda! It is scary to think of falling back into bad mind spaces for sure! I am recovering from an ED as well and can sympathize with what you are going through. Through my recovery I couldn’t give up exercise as it was something I really enjoyed, but i did learn to scale back. I think that if you are in a good place right now and enjoy a little exercise that’s a good thing. To me not doing something you want or love to do is just another form of deprivation. Everything in moderation right
Oh Amanda. I am super proud of you for sharing this – not just the fact that you felt like running, but that you were conscious of the impact it would have on your blog friends. You’re in an interesting position in that you are an example to people in recovery, but your sensitivity to that is admirable. The fact that you’ve gotten to the point in your own recovery that you ARE ready to mix up your movement is an inspiration in itself. It’s something I’m faced with right now as well, and it’s kind of overwhelming. There’s the fear that it will spiral, or that I’ll be too hard on myself as I build my strength up again. But I’m ready. And knowing that I’m not alone in easing back into that again is SO comforting. Thank you, thank you for sharing where you’re at – it’s something to celebrate! xo
I LOVE THIS POST SOOO MUCH! I love that you ran ahhh!! SOO exciting and I am so proud of you. You deserve to get back into working out like this, but ONLY if you want to!! I know you stay active with lots of walks which is great!! As for helping your readers, you can only do so much and you must live your life and write your blog for yourself!! There is nothing wrong with getting back into exercise as long as it’s in a healthy way, and it sounds like it is!! WAY TO GO HOT MAMA!
THIS IS SO AWESOME!!!!! Honestly I couldn’t be more happy for you. Recovery is all about doing what makes you happy – if exercise fits that mold, then that’s awesome. I also used to be a compulsive exerciser and obviously it took a surgery for me to realize, whoa hey…slow down girl. And after all the time off I’ve had – and especialy now in grad school where I don’t have a lot of time for exercise any more – I realize that working out, cycling, running etc, I do that stuff because I like it. it’s something I look forward to every day. It makes me feel good! If you can have that relationship with exercise, that’s really the sweet spot. And you should NEVER feel guilty about it! I know you might feel “obligated” in a way to take it easy for the sake of followers etc, but the reality is that exercise is a normal, healthy thing, and for you to have a good relationship with it is probably the BEST example you can possibly be. If that makes sense. Just, you know….don’t go all FitSpo on us 😉 Proud of you Amanda!!
Amanda @ .running with spoons.
Gah! So good to hear from you, girl! 😀 I was wondering how you were. And don’t worry — I’ll do my best to keep the ab and heart rate monitor shots to a minimum 😉
Ashley @ AlmostVegGirlie
I think this is a really awesome step for you to take to get back into a healthy relationship with exercise! To be honest, I rely a LOT on exercise at the moment. Ironically, during the worst of my ED, I didn’t workout other than in my daily P.E. class at school, but in the past 3 years, I’ve been working out very regularly, rarely taking a rest day more than once or twice a month. I do love the feeling of a daily sweat sesh, whether it’s lifting, tennis, cardio circuits or yoga, but I do feel scared that if I take a regular rest day once a week, I’ll get out of habit with my routine. Obviously this isn’t true, but I’d say exercise is one of my lingering disordered habits in that I feel the urge to workout every single day, and if I don’t exercise as much as I usually do, I feel guilty. But like you said, it doesn’t have to be about the extremes–working out daily no matter what vs. taking a break from exercise. I think finding a routine where I’m not burning out but still reaping the benefits from regular physical activity is something to strive for!
Gina @ Health, Love, and Chocolate
Although running and I are taking a break, I still enjoy many other forms of exercise, but I know how important that balance can be. I think your body is telling you it’s ready to find that balance with exercise again, as black-and-white is just typically not a fun place to be. I have a feeling this will be such a positive thing, a relaxed and no-stress approach to exercise has seriously been a blessing for me and my type A self.
It’s so ironic that you posted this today because the exact same thing happened to me on Thursday morning this week. I had a horrible dream and woke up at 6am with the urge to run…I just needed to let out all of my frustration and anxiety and that seemed like the perfect way to do it. I’ve cut back SO much on exercise (almost cutting it out completely) over the past year and can totally relate to that feeling of guilt when you start re-introducing it. But really, how silly is that? Like you said, it’s all about balance and listening to your body. If you want to rest, rest. If you want to run, RUN. <3
Shashi @ http://runninsrilankan.com
Wonderful post Amanda!
Writing about your spontaneous fun run is as important as all your other writings about your recovery – as it too is such an important part of that recovery.
Relearning to find JOY in running &/or exercising is so crucial to your healing – and it gives hope to those in or recovering from an ED themselves.
I had an ED many moons ago and in time, I learned to look to the Big Guy for an emotional/spiritual outlet and to running as my physical outlet/my sanity saver…if I had your blog as a guide – the whole process might have been quicker 😉
So proud of your progress lady! Hope your weekend is wonderful!
Amanda @ .running with spoons.
Thanks, love! I definitely couldn’t have done it without the Big Guy upstairs, and this is definitely one of those last little bumps that I have to overcome… Thankfully it’s a whole lot easier with a supportive community behind me 🙂
I am really happy you shared this. I would argue this is the best way to start running again – in a healthy way. The gradual desire to run a little every once in a while is a much more natural progression than ‘all or nothing.’ Although I sympathize with those feelings. It’s also helpful to share these feelings when you’ve got so many people supporting you and cheering you on. This was very heartening, especially as a ‘sometimes runner’ myself.
Arman @ thebigmansworld
Absolutely love this post Amanda and its sticking to the authenticity of this blog.
I think the fact that you spontaneously went running- no plan in place, no gadgets ready to count the miles or expenditure, no specific water bottle to hydrate you- is your body’s way of telling you its at peace and ready for you to embrace exercise again. It knows what it went through when it was forced, and those two years off has somewhat been its way of healing and now it trusts you again.
Does this mean your going to start training for a half marathon tomorrow? No. But when the urge for a run comes, you can go for it.
Thanks for continuing to inspire and epitomise balance.
I totally feel you on the black and white thing. I get soaked in so easily in extremes, it’s scary. Eat nothing. Eat it all. Save all the money. Spend it all. Exercise like crazy. Don’t exercise at all. I find it very hard to manage a balance in many things that I do. Funny enough, I never had a problem to keep the balance with typical addicting things like alcohol, gambling, smoking.
I think, that except for baking, numbers are always unecessary. How old we are, how heavy/light we are and how long, or how far your run was, doesn’t matter. You liked it, and that’s wonderful! Since I stopped running 90 minutes every day (yes, I did that) and actually only do ‘longer’ runs when I feel like it (longer means max 50 minutes), I absolutely love it. There IS a balance, but one needs to be ready to find it. Maybe you are now? Thanks for being so honest once again, Amanda!
You seem to be at a healthy place in your recovery and it seems like a good time for you to ease into exercise again! You’re a strong person and I know you will do it the right way this time around! 🙂
For a long time, during my ED, I HAD to do cardio for at least an hour EVERY DAY. A lot of times it was the elliptical, because running was too hard, given I was malnourished. There was a point, before Ed, when I took up running one summer, to lose weight partly, and got up to 10 miles a day before I injured myself, go figure. I began to realize (duh) that this addiction to exercise was draining me, and doing me no good at all. I made a decision to use exercise to get stronger, and not run me down, and switched to lifting weights. I hated cardio anyway, and now I barely do it, unless I’m feeling frisky. I love the fact that I’m building my body to be strong and healthy, and no longer feel compelled to exercise for a certain number of days (yay, rest days, who know), or minutes a day. I don’t think I’ll ever run again, but I definitely will never run just to burn calories. I think it can be tough to justify your behavior around food/exercise when you do have a history of disorder, but eventually, it has to come down to what makes you happy and healthy, and you really shouldn’t have to explain yourself (although I see you are being responsible). 🙂
Hillary | Nutrition Nut on the Run
I <3 that Lulu bag — is it old or new!?
Amanda @ .running with spoons.
It’s actually a pretty old one. 2 or 3 years, I think?