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TW: Eating disorder body image hiccups

Hi all!

 

I am new to ReachOut. I was recently recommended to join after seeing a psychiatrist in the worst depressive episode of my life. Anyway, after getting a new medication, things are looking much better!

 

I suffered from an eating disorder at the end of 2017. I would have considered myself fully recovered by perhaps the beginning of 2019. However, with some new mental health challenges, I have found myself at various moments heading towards relapse. 

 

With the recent depressive episode, the lack of exercise has meant I have gained some weight (I don't know this for sure, but can feel it). My psychologist has said to me it is important to embrace your body and its changes, as well as be comfortable with how you look. However, I am feeling sort of confused as to what 'normal exercise' looks like after having an eating disorder. Lots of regular people aspire to look a certain way or perhaps become more toned, however with my eating disorder history, it is tricky to understand for me what is normal, and how to find strength and comfort with an active lifestyle that is mentally healthy. 

 

Any wisdom/advice/experiences would be greatly appreciated! I am feeling quite conflicted at the moment. 

 

Thanks!

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Re: TW: Eating disorder body image hiccups

Hey @xraychick,

Welcome to ReachOut! It's awesome to see that you are reaching out for support not just in-person, but online as well Smiley Happy
I do agree with your psychologist. It's incredibly important to accept your body as it is and to also accept its changes.
Try not to worry too much about what "normal exercise" looks like, or what "regular people" want to achieve. For example, most people like to go to the gym, however, the idea of going into a gym and people watching me work out really stresses me out, so I've opted to buy a treadmill and just workout at home instead.

It's more important to find an activity that you'll find fun and also something that you can participate in regularly. Don't focus on what sort of body you want to have, but on what will make you feel happy.
Since you're really conflicted at the moment, I would just try to come up with a bunch of different activities that sound fun/interesting to you. Write up a list, and go through them one by one, and hopefully you'll find something that is enjoyable and you can stick to. Explore and experiment, but most importantly have fun with it Smiley Happy

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Re: TW: Eating disorder body image hiccups

Hey Xraychick

 

I hear what you're saying. I can understand how the idea of 'normal exercise' would be confusing/ create some inner conflict with you, especially when you are trying to build a healthy lifestyle that takes into account the needs of your mental health. Sounds like allot to take in!

 

I have struggled with the issue of 'normal exercise' myself. For a while, I would try to hit the gym and compete with others but always felt inadequate and I would give up. For me, what finally worked was an ultra-personal, solo exercise routine. One that was about getting outside and giving it a go.

 

For me, this was listening to my favourite podcasts or music, and starting with a light, chill jog around the park - only for 15 - 20 minutes. I told myself I could walk whenever I got tired as well. At the end, I did a small amount of strength (pushups/situps) under a nice tree. 

 

This worked for me. I enjoyed working out and didn't have to compete with others. Now, I can run a little longer and do a bit more strength, and the routine helps with my anxiety as well.

 

I hope sharing my experience might be helpful! I feel exercise has become overly associated with body image. For me, it's part of my self-care so I like to keep it a little on the easier side.

 

Would something like this work for you? What types of exercise do you enjoy most?

Highlighted

Re: TW: Eating disorder body image hiccups

Hey @xraychick,

Welcome to ReachOut! It's awesome to see that you are reaching out for support not just in-person, but online as well Smiley Happy
I do agree with your psychologist. It's incredibly important to accept your body as it is and to also accept its changes.
Try not to worry too much about what "normal exercise" looks like, or what "regular people" want to achieve. For example, most people like to go to the gym, however, the idea of going into a gym and people watching me work out really stresses me out, so I've opted to buy a treadmill and just workout at home instead.

It's more important to find an activity that you'll find fun and also something that you can participate in regularly. Don't focus on what sort of body you want to have, but on what will make you feel happy.
Since you're really conflicted at the moment, I would just try to come up with a bunch of different activities that sound fun/interesting to you. Write up a list, and go through them one by one, and hopefully you'll find something that is enjoyable and you can stick to. Explore and experiment, but most importantly have fun with it Smiley Happy
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Re: TW: Eating disorder body image hiccups

Welcome to ReachOut! I hope you enjoy your time here!

 

I'm sorry to hear you had a terrible depressive episode. It's great that you are seeing a psychologist and the new meds are working for you! Way to go woohoo!

 

I love @katurian and @Abderian's idea of finding activities that you enjoy, and taking it easy when you feel like it. My psych advised exercising 3 times a week, 30 minutes each to boost your mood and physical health. But of course there is no concrete definition for "normal exercise". Everyone's body is different. Some people can go on a run everyday and love it but I'm lucky if I can force myself to walk every other day! Smiley Tongue

 

You are right that lots of people exercise to look a certain way, but it's not the point of exercising at all. Perhaps it could help to shift the focus from losing weight to exercising to keep your body moving and healthy? Smiley Happy

 

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Re: TW: Eating disorder body image hiccups

Hi @xraychick, I'm also new to ReachOut!

 

Sorry to hear about your recent mental health struggles! But it's so great that you've acknowledged it and are seeking help. So well done, I'm very proud of you!

 

I think "normal exercise" is different for everyone. It all just depends on what makes you feel good and healthy. For me, I like to spend 20 minutes every other day going for a walk. On days when I'm feeling particularly motivated I might for a 30 minute run, it really just depends on my mood as i sometimes struggle to get my body moving. 

 

I hope this helps you in some way, try not to put too much pressure on yourself and you'll find what suits yourself best. It's important to remember that exercise isn't just about losing weight, but its also a way to take care of your wellbeing and mentality. 

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Re: TW: Eating disorder body image hiccups

Hi @xraychick,
I do agree with what your psychologist said. For me, I struggled with my body image since 2018 because of body shaming from others. I became so fascinated with big booty and thin waist, and then I started to go to gym and do a lot exercise that my body couldn't tolerate, so the consequence was that my lower back hurt. That was really painful and stopped me from doing any exercise quite a while. (Well, the good thing for that was it forced me to accept my body changes Smiley Very Happy)
So I think "normal exercise" might mean doing adequate amount of exercises, being aware of your body signals when you are exercising and identifying whether your body can tolerate, whether you can keep going with the exercises. Most importantly, taking a rest when you are tired or feel sick, do not force yourself to exercise when you don't feel well.