It’s the season after the holiday season, when resolutioners and regulars alike commit to new fitness goals, squeeze in crowded studios, and take advantage of no-joining fees and discounted memberships. Retailers slash prices on workout apparel, the media insist we make exercise resolutions “stick,” and Instagram basically functions as a fitness tracker.
Those experiencing and recovering from an eating disorder often have a complicated relationship with exercise. Many have used it in their illness to influence their body size, shape, and diet, while others have resisted it altogether. A component of many recovery plans is establishing a relationship with exercise rooted in health, self-care, and enjoyment.
In the midst of this January fitness craze, let’s discuss exercise and gyms in the context of eating disorder recovery. Here are some things to consider before visiting the gym this time of year:
Obsessive exercise is one of the most common symptoms of an eating disorder. For people across the eating disorder spectrum—anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and other eating disorders—obsessive exercise is a very common behavior and may also feel compulsive, or like it has to be done. It can also be a widespread compensatory mechanism for those who feel they have eaten too much.
While in most cases exercising is important for good health, too much exercise and not enough calorie absorption in the body can be harmful and even dangerous to your health.
By Joanna Hardis, LISW-S
As we enter a new year, everywhere I turn I’m seeing commercials for home video programs promising body transformations; I’m receiving countless offers for weight-loss and fitness programs; and I cannot open a magazine without being inundated with exercises guaranteeing a better, leaner body.
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