Recovering from an eating disorder is hard. Not matter how you do it, with a therapist, through in-patient, or entirely on your own, it takes awhile + can be very challenging. Many healthcare professionals will recommend removing exercise during recovery to eliminate exercise as a form of purging, but it is possible to keep moving while re-learning how to love yourself + your body. Fitness can sometimes actually help empower you to overcome an eating disorder —
1] SETTING NON-AESTHETIC GOALS
Exercise can be destructive for those with eating disorders when your mind is fixated on your bodily appearance. When you set FitGoals that don’t involve what you see in the mirror — a running distance reached, a squat PR, joining #6AMcrew 3 days a week, practicing yoga a little every day, or trying a new fitness class once a week — fitness can empower you. Setting small, achievable goals that require fuel + energy can help you find your confidence to reach other goals.
2] ACCOMPLISHING NON-SCALE VICTORIES
Non-scale victories [NSV] are fitness accomplishments that don’t involve the number on the scale.
>> Running a mile without stopping
>> Waking up for #6AMCrew excited to see your friends + sweat
>> Walking up the stairs without being exhausted
>> Having a regular monthly cycle
>> Carrying heavy boxes // luggage without needing help
>> Treating yourself because you can
>> Having more free time to spend with loved ones
>> Hearing your friends say you look happier + are smiling more
>> Realizing that you can do anything
Tracking progress for your fitness journey does not have to involve scale or appearance-based benchmarks. Erin, a LUC CHAARG girl, was most excited when she was finally able to enjoy eating out with friends + family. Celebrate every victory, no matter how small!
3] FINDING YOUR FIT
If you do continue to exercise with an eating disorder, it’s important to make sure you’re loving every sweaty second of your workouts. If you find yourself doing cardio as punishment, try doing fitness classes where you can’t count calories. Try strength training. Try new workouts, like hot yoga, aerial yoga, boxing, or bootcamp. Find your fit by trying different workouts until you find your soulmate sweat sesh — the one that leaves you beaming with endorphins + feeling mentally energized, no matter how physically exhausted you are. Falling in love with fitness is the first step to overcoming exercise addiction by remembering you’re doing this for you + only you.
It can be difficult to realize that exercise is good for your body! Your body deserves utmost love + respect — by working out, you’re keeping your body healthy + strong. You don’t need to validate food with exercise or exercise with food — they’re not mutually exclusive. When finding the sweat sesh you love, remember it is to ultimately love yourself.
4] FINDING YOUR TRIBE
The CHAARG community is so positive + supportive, there to help + encourage girls with any struggles to live their happiest // healthiest lives. Yvonne, a Penn State alum that is now a VirtCHAARG member, says that whenever she was feeling down about herself + recovery, she would post on her #inCHAARG Instagram + instantly receive tons of positive affirmations + reinforcement. Immersing herself in the community helped her stay on track + develop healthy attitudes towards fitness.
Recovery is different for everyone, but eating disorders often require management, not a cure. Recognizing your triggers + knowing how to manage them is vital to treating your body with utmost care. Even if you aren’t officially diagnosed, you’ll want to exercise with caution + remember your true intentions.
Liberate yourself from more than the elliptical — the calorie-counting, the sweaty punishment, ++ the negative attitude towards fitness. Fall in love with fitness as you fall in love with yourself — you deserve it. <3
++ Mary K