Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Confessions of a Former Exercise Addict

This weekend I ran my first 10k. It was a pretty big deal for me - not just because I’ve never run that far before (yes I know it’s only 6 miles, but it was still double the furthest I’d ever run before), but because it was another step in recognizing that I really have recovered from the tangles of anorexia.

When I was first diagnosed with having an eating disorder (spring 2004) the doctors labeled me as having “exercise-induced anorexia.” It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like, I had become obsessive about exercising and was expending more calories than I was taking in. Over the past several years its been very difficult for me to get back into having a consistent, healthy exercise routine. I either end up falling back into my obsessive tendencies, or I rapidly lose weight.

Actually, I don’t think my compulsion is that out of the ordinary. Negating the eating disorder aspect, I know several women who I would argue have an unhealthy relationship with working out.

“Addict” is defined -
1. (noun) a person who is addicted to an activity, habit, or substance
2. (verb) to habituate or abandon (oneself) to something compulsively or obsessively

After a lot of thought and prayer, I dove into training with some goals and guidelines that ended up making a huge difference in my approach to exercise.

Physical Goals:

1. Don’t lose weight. I know, this sounds completely ridiculous considering weight loss is probably the primary incentive for the majority of people who exercise, but I knew from the beginning that I had to make a strict rule for myself - if I lost weight, I had to stop running until I gained it back. Amazingly, I never had to stop and actually ended up gaining weight in the process (and being okay with that!).

2. Make the distance. This is the more obvious goal of training for a race. I really hate running, but I love LOVE the feeling you have when you finish a run. The more miles I was able to run, the more accomplished I felt.

Mental Goals:

1. Don’t Obsess. Easy to say, harder to do. Here are a couple of things I did to make sure my mind was in the right place when dealing with exercise:
  • Mix up my training routine - Meaning I occasionally deviated from my original schedule of when I would run and how long I would run. This helped me avoid the “but I have to exercise today” mantra.
  • Focus on being healthy - not weight. Shouldn't this be the ultimate goal for everyone? Being healthy is comprised a lot more then a number on the scale. I’ve learned a lot over the last few years, one of the most important being a better understanding of the nutrients and calories my body needs. Remember this and realizing I was building muscle helped me a lot when my weight started to go up.
  • Have an accountability partner. My dear husband was always around to keep me in check - asking me how I was doing, pushing me to reach my next mile goal, and filling me up with pasta :) He is pretty darn amazing.
  • Focus on something other than yourself. Yes, exercise is a personal activity, but I get distracted by thinking about just how many calories I’ve burned, how many candy bars I can eat now. Something that really helped with this race was finding something to distract myself with. My running time became a really special part of my day - my prayer time.
We have become a country that obsesses about weight and weight-loss. Don't allow the world's obsession to become your own.

Refueling on crepes post race

"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post! This very topic has caused me to me under great conviction of late. For several years I have obsessed over my weight when exercising, and how many calories I can burn in a single workout session. This past year the LORD has really showed me it's not about looking trim and perfect in the world's eyes, but being able to train my body and habits for HIS glory. Thanks for this post. I needed it! :)

    Have a wonderfully blessed day!