How to, Mental Recovery

How to: Stop working out

Hello, lovely warriors! I hope your fall is actually cool and that October has been good so far! I have another how to and I’ve been excited but nervous for this one.

Most anyone who has had an eating disorder and begins to recover eventually has to stop working out. Completely. Which is something so terrifying to anyone with an eating disorder (most anyone). I can only speak through my own experience with recovery, but I do believe stopping all forms of working out is necessary!

8cb5e9577692422f38e4c258e9823ae9It’s extremely difficult, but imperative to your recovery. Your physical body needs rest. Your mental spirit needs rest even more. The idea of not working out is more than just physical activity ceasing. The idea is about a mentality reset.

You have to retrain your way of thinking. Change the way you see exercise. Which sounds easier than it actually is. And I come from a more anorexic view of exercise so I can’t speak for other types and scales of eating disorders. But, what I know is that I abused exercise. I used exercise to change my body. Which it doesn’t.

Exercise is meant to be something joyful in your life. It should be something you enjoy and never feel forced to do.

I would force myself to exercise because I felt that I had to. I felt like I was “making up” for what I had eaten. I was punishing myself for being human.

I would run on the treadmill with one thing in mind: how many calories I was burning. I would workout only to lose weight. I did things thinking that my reward was being thin. Instead, I got an eating disorder and a year of trying to figure out who I am.

I understand that quitting exercise is extremely difficult. Almost impossible. Especially for people with ED. But, I promise that it’s so worth it. You may think you’ll never be able to stop, and that you have no reason to. Our culture tells us the more we exercise the healthier we are. It’s such a lie. It’s a death sentence. Our culture wants us to diet and workout to find happiness, when all it leads to is more unhappiness. 127572ff0e2377f4bc8bf1c85778a643

You have to deliberately stop yourself from working out. You have to make an effort. And during the time you would normal work out, instead doing something you enjoy that has nothing to do with physical exercise. Do something like colouring or watching Netflix or hanging with family. Whatever it is, replace it with your exercise.

I know it sounds easy, but in fact, it’s super hard. It takes so much will power. And if you can only do it once, it’s better than none. Every little step is moving in a bigger and better direction.

I didn’t even like working out. Ever since I was little I never liked working out. And then I suddenly went a whole new direction. I felt like I had to workout in order to be worth something.  In order to be loved. Our culture has embedded these lies into us at such a young age that it is so hard to combat that.

But every day, every week, it will slowly get better. It will slowly become easier. Now it seems so hard, so impossible. But, I promise it will get better. When I started recovering, deep down I wanted to stop working out, but every time I ate, I felt as if I had to. That I didn’t deserve it if I didn’t work out.

I thought I would never find a sport, or activity that I actually enjoyed. That I did not to just work out, but that brought me joy. Something to look forward to. And when I did, I have become so thankful for it. Many people recovering find yoga as a helpful way back into exercise. I found taekwondo. It made me feel empowered. Made me feel bigger than ED. It made me feel like I had the strength in me to do anything.

But, before you try and find an activity that is joyful movement for you, you first need to stop exercise on the whole. Your body is in a fight or flight mode. Every time you exercise your body goes back into this mode, and it thinks it is fighting for your life. Imagine being isolated on an island, with hardly any food, and constant moving. That is how your body feels. Your body is not only deprived of the food it needs to just get through a day, it is also being taken from. Every time you workout you take more and more from your body. And it is scientific fact that there is no way to lose weight that is sustainable.

10973f6baee9d816ea725862e503641cNext time you are going to workout, maybe just think about why. Really ask yourself why you are working out. Ask yourself if the only reason you work out is to be thin, to be “fit”. If you are working out only because you are trying to please society and a culture who tells you the only way to be beautiful and loved is to be thin.

My goal for you today:

  • Don’t do any strenuous working out at all this week. If you are in a place where you can stop working out completely, go for it! Talk to me, I’ll help to get you through. But if you can’t do that yet, then maybe doing something light for your exercise. Walking maybe, which yes this is exercise and I do believe you should eventually get to a place where you can stop doing that too (more of from a mental perspective than physical for me)

I pray your day goes fantastic, and even though times are hard there is a savior on our side. A God that loves us no matter what we have done, and He wants us to come back to Him and love ourselves the way He loves us.

Love, Mack.

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