Exercising- My Confession

by tessa8m on March 26, 2012

in Confession,Serious Stuff

Morning lovely people!

***This post is LONG and it took me about three days to write…(on and off of course) but yes, a slew of honesty, truth and emotions are in this. But it’s something I really needed to do, to confess to. If you are sensitive to numbers, weight, calorie chit-chat, please read with discretion or not at all. Thank you! :)

I am officially back at school- settled in, organized for the week and quite ready to get back into a schedule! As much as I love free time, I do freak out after awhile when I have too much of it. Plus requirements and routines tend to fall by the wayside when I don’t have a set schedule, not something I am a fan of. That was a major reason for the break from blogging, plus just wanting to take the time to focus on other things while at home.

There is nothing that happened over the break that led me to take a break from blogging and to be honest, nothing was “learned” or realized as a result of the time off… as I almost expected to happen. It’s not that I even completely went off the computer or stopped reading/commenting on other blogs- in fact I continued to throughout the week!

It was more that I was taking a mental break from constantly thinking about all aspects of a post- what I want to talk about on a particular day and how I am going to go about executing my own words. Trust me, I love my blog, this community, and everything that has to do with it. Amazing Asset and the support from readers is a major component of my recovery thus far and I could not be more thankful for this opportunity I have made for myself and aided by countless others (you all!) along the way.

Expressing myself through writing on this blog has not only been a fulfilling process, but has also both helped and made me bring particular issues to the surface. Most of these issues have been about the eating disorder, the illness that changed me physically and emotionally in countless ways, and continues to plague me on a daily basis.

I am always honest, blunt in some cases, and hold nothing back in my posts. This is not a “normal” HLB so why would I attempt to talk about oatmeal, cooking, shopping for food, workouts and such, without revealing what is lurking below the surface? Don’t get me wrong I love all of that stuff, but I simply cannot blog without being genuine.

Now I am leading up to something here… working on it! No wonder my posts are all so damn wordy and lengthy, I can never seem to get right to the point! What I am attempting to articulate is I feel I have been being DISHONEST with you all for quite some time now.

Exercising, workouts, running… the compulsive “need” to burn calories. Yes I have talked about this before (in this post here if you care to read), but it’s a topic that requires attention once again.

I am addicted to exercising. No, not to the endorphins that are released (although they are nice). I am addicted to the drop in anxiety/stress/fear levels within my body when I workout. I know that when I get my fitness on, I can eat more of what I want to… the fear of gaining weight subsides (to a certain extent at least) and I can relax.

I will say it again, I feel as though I have been dishonest with all of you... for awhile now. I have been eating more than I have in YEARS… consuming foods that I would never have even considered touching not too long ago. I continue to challenge myself, and while I do fall into food ruts and tend to stick to “safer” options, I am substantially better than I was about two years ago. I have put on weight and am in the middle of the healthy BMI range for my height.

However, all of this has been done because of EXERCISING… I can face all of this food because I know workouts will help to balance all of it out. I eat these scarier items with the thought in mind that they are helping to fuel my workouts, running, swims and such, and that they are also enabling my body to recover and perform at a later date.

Working out= burning calories= needing the right nutrients= refueling properly= recovery= burning more calories= not gaining too much weight (or fat!)…. a viscous cycle it seems.

I can rationalize the amount of food I eat with the physical demands I put my body through on a daily basis. It’s not even the “indulgent” or fearful foods that I rationalize, it’s items I have a troubled relationship with- nut butters, cereal/excess of carbs, avocados, any former no-no food that I am continuously trying to make a normal part of my life.

I have said this a number of times now as it’s something I want to make very clear. I am BETTER physically than I have been in years, and while the mental part of this is still playing catch up, I am healing in that regard as well. I eat particular (former) banned foods with minimal or no hesitation and have managed to get it through my irrational, disordered eating self that in fact, all of these calories and nutrients are 100% necessary.

However, an enormous part and reason for my progression is because of exercising. I feel as though I am constantly making deals in my head, or having internal conversations about eating certain items, amounts, etc.

  • Alright so I ran x amount of miles this morning… well I suppose it will be okay to have that extra serving of cereal.
  • I did a total-body circuit workout earlier, I ought to add more protein to my lunch salad right now. Do I need those calories though? Right yes yes I do, need that protein!
  • How great, I ran today and walked so much more than usual! Good, having that extra (1, 2 or 3) tablespoons of nut butter won’t make me feel so fat and guilty!
  • Easier workout today… well I’ll just got back on lunch or something to even it all out.

Stuff.like.that.

So I clearly do have an obsession/addiction with exercising. Yet it’s not the traditional “I need to spend 5 hours a day in the gym” situation. It’s more like, I need to do SOMETHING at least 6 days per week or else I will gain weight with the amount of food I am supposed to be eating. I ALWAYS take a rest day once per week now, but I really can’t fathom doing more than that!

I am closer and closer to reaching that 2,400+ calorie number I ought to be having each day, BECAUSE of exercising- running, burning calories, weight lifting… to avoid too much weight gain in the form of gross, mushy, horrific fat… That number is just so damn high to me STILL and yet the calorie amount I ought to be consuming is calculated without taking into account the high-intensity workouts I do.

Plus my new found love for circuit training and lifting weights has allowed me to gain “safe” weight.. aka muscle. So now I feel I cannot possibly stop lifting as extreme as I am because my muscle will diminish and turn into mush. How rational and intelligent am I sounding right now eh?

I worked out today, therefore everything I eat is fine. But I am not LOSING weight right now, so if I stop exercising what will happen to me? Balloon time.

The sad, scary truth is though, I am quite aware of the fact that I would not be eating the amount I should if I was not exercising. Yes I can do it once a week, as I talked about in my WIAW-Rest Day Edition a few months back, but more than that? Hells to the no. Like… my heart is starting to flutter just thinking about this, I simply would not eat as much as I “should” if I were not working out!

I can’t believe how true this is…

And it all comes down to the same damn reason, weight. Staying at a certain size, a specific number, a shape that I am “comfortable” at. One that is simply unachievable, unhealthy and disordered. After all of this time, how is it possible that I am STILL (at least a part of my mind) working to reach a certain weight?! WHY is it always about that?! When will I learn that a certain body shape does not equal happiness? When….

Damn it.

I decided to come clean about all of this after all of this time, for a few different reasons. One being I am understanding that this is simply a way for the eating disorder to take control in another way. If I am going to eat “a lot” (aka the amounts I need) well then something else must be compensated. Making sure to do an intense amount of exercise each and everyday? Perfect!

One obsession to another…does it ever end?

Another reason- Well I still do NOT have my period (even with healthy BMI) and I know exercising has something to do with this. Plus the anemia thing, my exhausted legs for the past several months, oh and this new super awesome situation I am dealing with… an inflamed tendon near my right ankle.

What the hell is it going to take to make it CLEAR that my body needs a rest? A legit injury perhaps, one that sidelines me for an extended amount of time? Oh my goodness how would I deal with that?

I would deal with it by restricting my food intake, that’s how. If I can’t exercise… well fine then, I just won’t eat as much. I’m pretty sure I am capable of doing this too. The fear of gaining more weight than I am “allotting” is just so obscenely scary to me. I am already unhappy at times these days, and knowing I can control my body gives me a bit of relief at least.

Gosh what classic and stereotypical eating disorder behavior. Everything “sucks” right now (my illogical mind exaggerates), but AT LEAST I know that when I eat certain foods and exercise a specific amount, I will look a way that I am alright with. But take the exercise out of the equation? Well then I will restrict… I need to hold onto the control.

Alright, I feel as though I have repeated myself numerous times throughout this novel of a post… and yet I really do not have an answer or a realization of any sort. I am so freakin frustrated with myself right now, so angry that I am allowing these thoughts to be a part of me after all of this time. And also, I’m upset because I feel as though I have been deceiving you all. I have made tremendous strides in my recovery, but exercise has always been there for me to enable this process to continue.

We all NEED to exercise for the countless healthy benefits it provides. In fact, I have always been an active person, seriously starting around age 9 when I joined a swim team which practiced 5-6 times per week for hours at a time. I worked out because I loved it, and well, it’s just what my family was involved in, and it was never about calories and weight.

And while there was a time where I would only exercise to burn calories, I have actually changed that mindset during recovery. I love how working makes me feel, I really do! That feeling you get after a good run, a great lifting session, when I show myself how far I can push my body, I THRIVE off of that. But I managed to take it to the extreme, so often it happens with all of this…

But when your body starts to fall apart on you- four years without a period, low iron levels, constant fatigue, heavy legs… where the inability to do what you love (in my case running) is becoming a reality. Yes I have had a few fulfilling runs here and there these past few months, but overall? I have felt like complete crap.

I need a rest. I have been going too hard for too long, and I am paying the price… physically of course but mentally as well. What I am doing to myself right now, my personal compulsive exercising, is not making me happy at all.

I honestly have been crying at times while writing this post because I know what I need to do- rest- but I know what I WILL DO if I back off my workouts, I will restrict. At times it seems I am never going to be able to stop this effing disease….

This always comes down to the same thing, weight and yet, I also understand how much more there is to an eating disorder than just the physical aspects. Those damn underlying issues need to be understood and addressed, whatever the hell those might be. BUT with all of this “knowledge” well here I am, confessing and at a loss of what to do and how to handle this all.

I love being the “healthy”one, the runner, the person who works out, who looks lean, who can run several miles without stopping… but I cannot be those things without taking a proper, legitimate rest. I will soon become the injured one.. the over-trained one who no longer can perform the way she used to. (sorry third person)

This goes back to the lack of trust I have with myself as well. I don’t trust my body to handle the food I eat, so I have to put it through hell in order for it to look a certain way. I am also the “exception” in that certain foods cause me to gain weight compared to others, but also, I don’t need rest, not really…. I feel as though my workouts just aren’t hard enough to deserve such off time. Well tell that to my physically declining body.

The conclusion to all of this is well… I need to REST! Durr. But how can I do this without try to compensate in yet another unhealthy way? That is something I am attempting to understand, to figure out… now that the “cat is out of the bag” and that I really do not have a choice. I want, no I NEED to be able to race this season because I really do love to run, but cannot without first challenging myself MENTALLY to give my body the break it both needs and deserves.

I am aware how this entire issue is quite beyond the physical- weight, calories and all of that. But while I work to figure out why this illness continues to manifest in my daily life, taking care of myself is a requirement. I just can’t do the demanding workouts anymore, but I also cannot restrict my food intake.

Now the journey begins on how to do this, and to handle it as well. I know it can be done. I have come this far damn it, and this is simply another challenge I must overcome. Albeit possibly the HARDEST physical and mental issue I have undertaken thus far, but oh well (sucks to suck), have to keep on pressing forward anyway.

If you read this entire beast…well thank you it is very much appreciated. And if not, well totes fine as well, we all have stuff going on in our lives and I know reading something like this takes a while. More than anything, it was helpful for me to at least get this out there, so I can finally start to deal with it.

-If you have an eating disorder/disordered and are recovering or attempting to, do you exercise? How much do you feel it’s a part of your daily life?

-If you exercise often, how do you deal with the times you are not going balls-to-the walls, in regards to your food intake? Do you cut back or keep it the same? Is this weight-related?

-How do you know when your body needs a legitimate rest? How do you like to treat yourself when this feeling comes?

-Have you ever been a victim of over-training? What was your experience with it? How did you both physically and mentally deal with the rest time (if you took it)?

-Have you experienced an injury before? How did you handle the rest period?

-Do you use exercise as a method of de-stressing, weight control/loss, or perhaps a combination of both?

-And because I need some positivity up in hurrr.. how was your weekend? Tell me 1, 2 or several great things you did :)

I really hope the rest of your Monday goes by super fast! Have a great one.

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{ 147 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Vien @ We Dare Food March 26, 2012 at 4:50 am

Your lengthy posts are always my favourite! I completely understand what you’re going through because it is the same for me as well. I wish magically teleport over to you and give you a BIG hug! It’s definitely a huge part in my life because I hate the days when I take a break and feel so guilty about it. Especially now, when I have tons of assignments – I sit on my bum all day! I really wish that I know when to stop because the only time I actually let myself rest (and not feel guilty) is when I’m too dizzy or fatigue to workout. When my vision starts to get blurry (often!) and my inner ear hurts, I actually feel like I achieved something because I’ve pushed myself to my limit.
Last week, I was really proud of myself! I was walking to the gym and felt a little tired from a full day of lectures…. AND I turned around and headed back home! :D Facing our fears can take time but I’m confident that you’re strong enough to take the step you need to work this out!
Vien @ We Dare Food recently posted..Pumpkin Butter

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2 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Aww I am sure that hug would be so helpful for both of us :) haha. But really! Yes, the sitting on my bum all day thing is hard to handle as well, even when I have done exercise! gahhh so true. That is a fantastic thing you did, great job on listening to your body! So helpful for me to hear Vien

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3 Khushboo Thadani March 26, 2012 at 4:51 am

I love working out for the endorphins it gives me and also as it’s a stress reliever for me…however I’d be lying if I said that my reasons to work out weren’t also vanity-related. I work out partly to stay in shape and balance out any indulgences. However my approach to exercise has definitely changed over the years: I used to think that every workout had to be ‘balls to the wall’- if I was doing an hour of weights, I’d HAVE TO follow it up with at least 20 minutes cardio…otherwise my workout was poor in my head. I’ve come to realise that if I am going to be working out 6 days a week, I can’t expect my body to provide such workouts all the time! I am a lot happier now that I’ve taken off the pressure and don’t find myself always exhausted. I also seem to enjoy my workouts that much more which is a good thing! As for eating according to workouts, I would definitely alter it accordingly: i.e. less carbs on rest days! I am much better about it now and eat more or less the same regardless of my activity: it all balances out eventually!
Khushboo Thadani recently posted..“Sugar-coated” marketing

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4 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Balls to the walls…what a great way of describing how I feel every workout should be! I am so glad to hear you are healthier and happier, very helpful for me to read

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5 Kat @ a dash of fairydust March 26, 2012 at 5:08 am

Oh,Tessa… I want to give you a warm,long hug right now! It must’ve been super hard to write this post and admit all these things to yourself as well as to us,your readers.
I so much hoped for a post like this though when you said you wanted to write an excercise-related one lately because I can absolutely relate to your feelings.
Yes,I do love excercising and the way it makes me feel,but I also sort of “misuse” it sometimes because of my ED thoughts.
Technically,I know that I am not even allowed to excercise froma doctor’s point of view,but I still do it though as I know that if I wouldn’t,I would never eat as much as I do now… And to be honest,it’s barely even enough at the moment.
It makes me feel so desperate sometimes; I FEEL that I need a rest because my muscles hurt like crazy,I am super tired and exhausted and feeling so down mentally,too,because I have no energy left for LIFE anymore,but I just can’t grant myself one.
In fact,it has been even worse only a few weeks ago and I’ve made some kind of progress already,but still,I am not acting rationally and I am well aware of it. This NEEDS to change,it clearly does,but HOW? :(
Kat @ a dash of fairydust recently posted..Hello, [Spring]!

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6 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 10:31 am

Hi Kat,
It was rather difficult to write this post, but it’s supportive comments like yours that help me through this kind of situation! So thank you for that. I am so sorry that you are struggling with this right now as well. Both of us need a rest to say the very least and I think perhaps challenging ourselves to do this is the only option! We can BOTH do this and I am ready to put myself through mental hell to get better

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7 Laura@keepinghealthygettingstylish March 26, 2012 at 6:38 am

I think your being hard on yourself here, you have come a very very long way already so don’t forget that! I don’t think you’ve been dishonest at all! I think it is great that you have identified some behaviours in yourself that you have identified as still being disordered though. I thought I would struggle more with the exercise thing but it hasn’t been too bad. I reduced my workouts down and it was difficult to begin with but guess what, my weight hasn’t spiralled out of control like I worried it would! I actually think most of my problems were linked to over exercising and not eating enough back to make up for it. Exercise for me is a de stressor, its my me time and it makes me feel good about myself. I have really cut back on my running and now I try and focus on the exercise I really enjoy. I do more yoga now and I love it! Know that you have identified this then I’m sure you’ll find a balance that’s going to work well for you :-)
Laura@keepinghealthygettingstylish recently posted..Butterflies, brunch and birthdays

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8 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 10:28 am

You are right, this is a long a** process and an obnoxious one to say the very least! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences with exercise as well… it helps to put some things into perspective for myself!

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9 crista March 26, 2012 at 7:16 am

You must be so frustrated. You wrote about it, you’re angry, that’s a huge step. You realize there is a problem that needs to fixed. Awesome! You will work through it – but realize how much closer you are to you now. Recognizing whats going on is hard and amazing.

I can tell you that I have an intense fear of stopping my workouts. I’ll want to stop eating. So I stopped working out (and I’m not saying you should do anything, just telling you my experience) and I was shocked that nothing happened. I was sure I would gain weight and I was bracing myself for that. Nope. My intense hunger was lessened and my body ended up feeling less puffy, I don’t know why but that’s the adjective that described how my body felt. I do workout now, consistently, but less intensely. There’s a time for everything and often a 30 minute yoga dvd is all I need or a 3 miler or just a circuit of push ups and situps and tricep dips. And I’m not gaining weight at all and knowing that is freeing. I still freak out and I try to get through it by asking myself what my goals are in life. Am I an aspiring model? No. Am I a professional runner? No. Therefore I need to concentrate on what brings me to MY goals. I want to be healthy and fit and have the stamina to get through arduous dance classes and auditions and I want to look good doing it. Therefore 3 hours of running + weights + whatever I think I NEED to do is NOT the quickest and most effective route. Just my example, but constantly asking myself what this workout will do for my career goals helps me find my healthy perspective again.
Be proud of your progress!! You will keep moving forward and clearly you have a good network to keep you going too.
crista recently posted..Sun Salutations

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10 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Thank you for your thoughts and personal story here Crista! Can I just say how helpful it was for me to read? Because yes, it was and I know exactly the puffy feeling you are talking about too! I feel that far too often, that i am just holding onto water and fluids because my body is constantly trying to repair the damage I keep doing to it. It is a good idea to ask yourselves such questions too.. thank you for your input!

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11 Catherine March 26, 2012 at 7:45 am

oh wow, i am at the same point in my recovery as you are…. i convince myself that i can eat all these “indulgent” foods and be ok with them but ONLY because i work out. i know i need to gain weight, i know i need to stop working out so much, but i also know my ED is screaming at me that i cant do both of those simultaneously. “i know.. i know.. i cant” <— that makes ZERO sense yet is still my thought process.

if my nutritionist/therapist could have their way i would not be working out AT ALL right now, since gaining weight is my goal, but that is just so unfathomable to me! i'm definitely doing better though (cutting out two days of cardio and having a rest day) but i still find myself making up for them when weight lifting…

its such a sucky cycle, the ED is fighting to get back control at every turn but i'll beat it. i have to.

keep your chin up girl, one of the hardest steps is to acknowledge its an ED behavior, so youre one step further than you were yesterday.

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12 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 10:20 am

Hi Catherine,
Trust me, what you said makes complete sense! It truly feels like you “can’t” with certain aspects related to recovery and getting better. Unless someone tied me to a chair or something, I really don’t think I can sit all day and be okay with it. You are right, acknowledgement is one of the toughest parts and it sounds like both of us are doing it!

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13 Jess March 26, 2012 at 7:45 am

Tessa!!! I love your honesty and openness. Well two things….I developed several overuse injuries in my anorexia days…most recently a metatarsal stress fracture that sidelined me through race season last year and is continuing into the early spring races:( you have to listen to your body! Also…over exercise raises your cortisol levels which can have a negative impact on your body/weight as well! I didn’t have my period for two years and once I stopped the crazy mileage and started adding fun workouts like Zumba and hip hop, it slowly came back! Not to be redundant but trust and listen to your body! There are no exceptions-your body won’t turn on you :)

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14 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Gahh i am sorry you have experienced such injuries! I am of course hoping that you get on the mend SOON! I know you are right, I must listen to my body and with the cortisol thing too! Thank you for this reminder

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15 Coach Dion March 26, 2012 at 7:49 am

Both my wife and I are addicted to excercise… Running… there is nothing quite like it, now my wife is injured at the moment (6 weeks) but we are lucky and it’s summer here, so she has been swimming (we have a pool at home) 1-2km every day, and walking the dogs and 10-30min on the bike (indoor trainer). Years ago I was injured and off of 9months… it was bad!!!

But I’m back and running OK at the moment. Like a lot of the running world you want to run faster and i want to be the weight i was 20 years ago! But i love food so I push out the miles (or km in my case) because there is no way I’m going to eat any less.

Good luck
Coach Dion recently posted..107.5 NOT OUT

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16 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm

I hope your wife gets better asap of course!!

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17 Alexandra March 26, 2012 at 8:01 am

Tessa, I read every word of this and am floored at not only how much it mirrors some of my thoughts/rationalizations, but also the honesty, strength and fervor in your words to beat this. I gotta be honest too and say ya, I think the only reason I can feel comfortable at the calorie level I’m at is because I weight train and am trying to gain muscle. Like you said, if I wasn’t exercising at all, I have a feeling I’d be waaayyy below my healthy range. While I do love the endorphin rush of a workout, sometimes I think I push too hard to make my post workout meal “worth it.” I think it’s our ED voice rearing its ugly head in another form. That stupid damn bitch of a voice never seems to fully disappear. Your passion to bury it for good is contagious, I love it and it motivates me to keep fighting. :) Thank you for the motivation my friend, it is such a grand way to kick off a new week. Every day is gonna be a bit of a fight, but we are strong gals–we can either let it consume us or tell that voice to get the eff out of our lives!! Stay strong beautiful chica, I’m cheering you on!! <3 Hope you have a wonderful week!!! :)
Alexandra recently posted..I never thought it was possible…

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18 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Well wow now I am thrilled you were so honest here with all of this! Thank you for telling me that this is helping you to realize a bit more about yourself love. That is sooo so true about the post workout meal situation, I do the same thing- go balls to the walls to make it worth it and allow me the feeling that I truly deserve it.
“stupid damn bitch of a voice” LOVE THIS because yeah, it’s true. Every day is a fight and a half and it’s incredibly annoying but oh well, just have to keep on going! I also hope you have a most fabb week :)

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19 Amy Lauren March 26, 2012 at 8:11 am

It’s a lengthy post but it’s okay. You break lengthy posts up well.

I do exercise. I am trying to recover, but I still exercise. I’m doing less cardio now, in hopes of TOM returning. So, I’m lifting weights more, doing yoga, etc. I’m trying to do group classes with friends or group runs with friends, etc. I was getting a little burnt out on running distance anyway, so this helps and keeps me in decent shape even though I’m not running 6-7 miles at a time. I wish I could say I didn’t cut back on food, but I do. I’m drinking protein shakes and like you, trying to put on “good” weight (muscle). I was probably overtrained with running anyway because my performance actually started to get worse :(. So, now I’m cutting back so I can run races in April just because I love racing.

I felt really guilty the last time I took a complete rest day, so I don’t take them often. Usually I do at least something even if it’s just a short walk, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing because I have a pretty sedentary job and it is important to move every day. On the other hand, I can see you taking a rest day from the gym because you live on a college campus and already walk everywhere, so even if you take a rest day, you are still technically getting some exercise (I’m not).

I had a good weekend! I spent a bunch of it cleaning but I did spend some time with my husband and we went to a wedding and out to eat :).
Amy Lauren recently posted..My Journey to Technical Writing (Part 1)

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20 kati March 26, 2012 at 8:49 am

I find it really hard to read responses like this. I’d like to gain “healthy muscle” and not fat too. But I don’t exercise. And I’m raising my calorie a lot. So am I doing it all wrong? I feel so lost and sad and confused.

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21 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 10:39 am

NO you are NOT doing it all wrong at all… trust me. I am saying how wrong I am in this… I am addicted to this and it is just another manifestation of the eating disorder taking over my life. I am sorry you feel upset right now Kati, I am with you here and ready to make continuous changes as well. Please send me an email if you ever want to talk more

22 Amy Lauren March 26, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Hey Kati,

First, if you’re trying to recover, your MD definitely needs to know about any disordered eating. If you want to exercise, they need to make sure it’s safe for you- it’s not safe for everyone who is recovering to exercise, depending on your situation, and really only a medical professional can make that call.

As far as gaining goes, I wish I could say I don’t restrict sometimes, but I do. I’m not perfect, and that is just how it goes if you have disordered eating. Sometimes you know what to do, it’s just rationalizing it in your mind to do it that is hard. I’m thankful for Tessa’s and other blogs, at least they show that none of us are alone in our struggles with our bodies.
Amy Lauren recently posted..My Journey to Technical Writing (Part 1)

23 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Very well said Amy and I appreciate that you were honest with everyone here saying you have your restrictive moments too. it would be a blatant lie to say recovery is an easy walk in the park, far freakin from that if you ask me. Plus you are also right in saying that everyone’s recovery is different and you must seek medical attention and outside help in order to get through it all!
On that note, it is always nice to know we are not alone in this hell of an illness

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24 Kaitlyn March 26, 2012 at 8:38 am

This is such an amazing post! When I was going through the “worst” of my disordered eating, exercise was simply a way to burn calories, get moving, get thinner, happier, etc. Looking back at that time, I really don’t think I even enjoyed it that much. About a year ago, I joined a gym and started taking exercise classes for the first time, and I started learning all about different types of exercise. This is when I really started to love it, and I paid more attention to how I felt when I exercised.
Balancing exercise with food has always been difficult for me as well (I would absolutely restrict on days where I didn’t exercise…and those days were few and far between), but after i read “Intuitive Eating”, and started thinking more along the lines of “listening to my body”, I’ve slowly learned to develop that balance. Even on my days off, when I’m hungry, I’ll make sure eat something. If I stay true to this (which is definitely hard), I find that I definitely still feel great at the end of the day, despite lack of hard-core exercise.

Thank you so much for sharing all of this! You really are inspiring :) Have a WONDERFUL week!
Kaitlyn recently posted..Get GEARed Up!!!!

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25 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Thank you for sharing your personal thoughts and story here Kaitlyn! I am sooo so glad to hear how much better you have gotten with all of this! Inspiring :)

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26 kati March 26, 2012 at 8:45 am

I’m gaining weight and I do no exercise at all. Nothing. I feel shame and guilt for it and worry that I’ll gain all wrong. But I just don’t care anymore. I’m just an emotionless person and exhausted from feeling the shame. I just can’t stand this guilt that I’m not “gaining right”. But I’m so tired of the mental scolding all day every day. I’m just so tired of it.

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27 Kristin March 26, 2012 at 9:02 am

You are doing great!! Gain the weight and restore your body and then if you decide you want more muscle, you can start to lift weights. The most important thing to health and happiness is just to gain the weight!

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28 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 10:49 am

I know this is true Kristin… now i just have to get this through my irrational mind!

29 Kristin March 26, 2012 at 11:13 am

Oh Tessa, I wasn’t talking to you. I was just replying to Kati…I wanted her to know that there is no “right” way to recover.

30 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Whoops my bad! I was looking at the comments in a different format and it didn’t allow me to see this was directed at Kati! Sorry about the confusion and thank you for saying helpful words to her :)

31 kati March 26, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Thanks. But that’s my huge huge problem. I feel there has to be a “right” way. I’m so depressed and sad when I see others who are uber tiny and they exercise and gain “right” (the “right” macros, no junk food, exercise, etc etc). And me? I just keep screwing up. I eat “junk food” at night a lot. I don’t have the “right” macros. And I’m so depressed and unmotivated and lazy at this point about my life and the mess of my body that I don’t even try to exercise. I just feel lazy and useless and rotten. I really really worry about gaining this all wrong. Your words are so incredibly great…wish we could chat :) But I feel so down about it all. I feel like I do everything wrong.

32 Kristin March 26, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Kati–no matter who says that they eat the right macros, no junk, and exercise and it leads to them gaining weight the “right” way has not reached the point in recovery where you seem to be OR they are not being completely open and honest about recovery. I truly believe there is a point anyone who is recovering has a need to eat “junk” food at night, feels depressed, and doesn’t have the desire to exercise. It is part of the process. Your body is craving “junk” because it has been denied those foods for so long and you don’t feel motivated to exercise because your body is weak and tired from restriction. As you continue to eat and your body gets to a more comfortable weight, the serious urge for night time eating will subside and your body will feel energized and ready to move. Until that point, be kind to yourself and take one day at a time. I promise this stage will pass if you just hold on tight to the beautiful life that is recovery. You are a beautiful person, Kati.

33 Victoria (District Chocoholic) March 26, 2012 at 8:46 am

I definitely understand how you feel and can relate. When my coach puts two rest days on my schedule in a week I almost have a nervous breakdown.

Also, one of the reasons I am terrified of injury is that I’d immediately gain tons of weight. (OK and missing out on a big race that I’ve trained for would also suck).

Good luck with the ankle – that can be awful because even walking around can be hard.
Victoria (District Chocoholic) recently posted..Weight vs. Running Speed: A Case Study

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34 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Why yes, that would suck to miss out on such a race, oh goodness yes. Thank you for the well-wishes.. I do know it’s not a bone thing (had an xray) so thank goodness for that at least!

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35 Sam March 26, 2012 at 8:46 am

First of all, I love your blog. It’s one of the most clearly written, thoughtful, and honest I’ve found, and I’ve had experiences a lot like yours, so I can relate. I am a runner, too (though a couple of years post-collegiate), and a former anorexia sufferer who struggled with binge eating during recovery and who still struggles with restrictive habits.

I, too, work out hard 6 x per week and use that to justify eating closer to what I need, though lately I have not been eating nearly enough–I would say for the past 3 months, as my coach implied I ought to reach the ‘underweight’ BMI in order to be faster (yeah, I know, why would I listen? But I did). So for the past few months I’ve been restricting carbs and eating lots of vegetables and, yes, working out hard.

And, well, it’s definitely backfired.

I’m currently in the hospital recovering from surgery. I suffered a perforated ulcer, which the doctors say may have come from a) eating the wrong foods and b) eating too little food and not eating when hungry, so that stomach acid eroded my stomach lining.

I pushed through sciatica and tendon inflammation (in my left ankle, actually), likely caused by muscle imbalances as my body tried to compensate for the worsening ulcer–I pushed through hard workouts even when I began to lag behind runners who are usually in back of me.

It was a bad idea!

I only finally cut back on my running a couple of weeks ago, but obviously it was too late. I did start to feel better, though. The ‘craving’ for exercise slowly abated until I only felt I needed say 3 miles to feel sane, rather than 5 plus weights. And, well, then I had my ruptured ulcer, but that was unavoidable, I think.

I guess what I’m saying is, be grateful you can even consider just cutting back. ALSO, you will not lose muscle that fast. I’ve made my peace with taking the time off from running that I am, partly because I’m so darn drugged up and exhausted… and… well, partly because I can’t handle much food now, anyway–but mostly because I know that my body needs a break. (I will also be working on eating more and more forbidden foods, though without binging or overeating, as that can be dangerous with my condition!).

I am finding that as I take these days off and even before, when I was starting to feel sick and took some days off… I realize that nothing catastrophic happens. I don’t suddenly gain 10 lbs or lose muscle. I don’t feel the desire to eat wildly. (In fact, I think my appetite is better regulated when I don’t exercise too hard? It also helps me to feel I am not on a constant gym-kitchen-gym obsessive circuit). I have the time to focus on other things and to focus on eating for health INSTEAD OF eating for a low body fat % or athletic performance. Actually, eating for health IS different from eating for performance. Crazy idea, but helpful to me.

Anyway, sorry to give you my life story. I really, really hope you can take the time off you obviously need without guilt. Just grinding on won’t get you anywhere. (Side note–especially with weight lifting, it becomes counterproductive to do too much and not take adequate recovery). And I hope you don’t wind up where I am! I’m probably going to be discharged tomorrow, but I’ve been in the hospital for a week and it has been severely unpleasant.

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36 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Hi Sam,
Please don’t apologize for giving your life story, I really enjoyed reading it and also allowed me some perspective! Thank you for taking the time to share this as well. I am just so sorry you experienced and are continuing to deal with all of these physical issues that need to be addressed medically! But you are right, it is from doing too much for too long without taking in the correct amount of nutrients. (oh I would have damned that coach to hell if they told me that at this point…b/c I also would have listened at the time!)
Seriously Sam, this was incredibly helpful for me to read and allows me some assurance on the whole situation. Keep healing fast!!! I am sending major healing vibes your way :)

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37 Sam March 27, 2012 at 7:09 am

So kind of you to comment at such length. I’m SO glad you found my reply helpful. I truly hope you can bring yourself to take a few days or a week off; sounds like you really need it. And given your fitness level, you will find the results will be nothing but good, I’m sure. BTW, I have a friend who runs 4:20 for the mile and swears by a month off running a year, for what that’s worth. I also have several coaches who’ve taken several months off and say their fitness returned very quickly.

Plus, since I myself am about to take 4-6 weeks off–perhaps I’ll stop in and let you know how it goes for me? I get to do some slow running before then but no workouts etc. Should be interesting!

Best of luck to you, anyhow. :)

38 Sam March 27, 2012 at 7:12 am

btw the healing vibes worked–I’m going HOME in a few hours!

39 tessa8m March 27, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Woohooo congrats on going home!! :)

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40 Nikki March 26, 2012 at 9:03 am

Another amazing post, Tessa. I can understand how challenging this must feel to you. I am injured now, and it is killing me to know that I can’t burn off what I am eating. I can barely even make it through 10 minutes on the elliptical or bike with NO resistance. I just feel so down about myself, and I can relate to how you’re feeling. The only difference with me is that instead of restricting, I binge. I think it’s great that you are able to recognize this about yourself and know what could happen before it happens. That makes you stronger for being able to know your feelings, and hopefully that will help you not fall into the “trap” that our minds made if you choose to cut back a bit.

As for my weekend, it was pretty good! I wasn’t very productive, but that’s not always a bad thing!
Nikki recently posted..Cat Sunday!

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41 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 10:51 am

Nikki, thank you for sharing your personal thoughts on this as well. I am sorry about your injury of course, especially with the race that you had signed up for… gah so annoying to say the least :( I actually have “eaten my feelings” as well at times, so I understand that one too.
Oh and not being productive is definitely an okay thing! Glad you had a nice weekend

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42 Kaitlin @4loveofcarrots March 26, 2012 at 9:31 am

Tessa, you are amazing and always write such honest posts. As I was reading this post I could relate to every thing you were saying and started to think about when I finally stopped working out just to burn calories and justify things I ate and started working out for my personal health and wellness. I used to have to burn a certain amount of calories at the gym in order for me to feel accomplished, if I felt like I had eaten more then I should that day, back to the gym I want. My body hurt all the time I went weeks without taking rest days, and days I declared a rest day I often found myself doing something to burn calories, because if I didn’t work out one day I would gain weight, duh! Though with time I have slowly overcome my need to burn a zillion calories each day at the gym, I still have days were I think if I don’t workout I will gain weight, it is still hard for me to take rest days sometimes but I know I need it and usually will make it an active rest day were I will just go for a walk or go to yoga. Our bodies know us better then we do so we must listen to it. I can’t remember the time I realized I was killing my body with exercise and that I wouldn’t gain weight if I took a rest day but I know it was hard to get to that point and on the days I didn’t workout I had to constantly remind myself that I wasn’t going to gain weight in 1 day just from eating to fuel my body. You will be able to get to were you want to be because you have the knowledge to get there. You aren’t alone in your thoughts and feelings.

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43 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 10:54 am

Hi Kaitlin,
I really appreciate you sharing your own personal story with all of this! I am seriously inspired and motivated by the fact that you have slowly but surely been able to overcome this… so helpful for me to hear. You are right, our bodies certainly know what’s best and I really need to start listening to it. I feel so awful these days and I know a main reason is because I need more REST! It is helpful to hear I am not alone either…again, thank you

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44 Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries March 26, 2012 at 9:39 am

ah tessa, i just want to give you a big HUG right now! there’s so much i want to say about this because i can relate all too well. i plan on writing a similar post in the near future, but i can say that i can totally understand what you’re going through. it’s tough, it’s hard, but you can totally do it! love ya!
Ashley @ My Food ‘N’ Fitness Diaries recently posted..Peanut Butter Lovin’ {Giveaway}

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45 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 10:01 pm

I will look forward to reading that!

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46 Kat March 26, 2012 at 9:43 am

Exercise is the one thing I havent been able to let go with my ED. Its my one crutch that I hold on to. Sure I can eat peanut butter now and a huge plate of chips and dip, but give up a day of exersing? No way. My last post I talked about how I workout now because I love it, and its TRUE, but Im also very addicted to it. Its part of my life, part of who I am, and still part of my ED. If I let that part go, then whats going to happen? How will I stay in shape if Im eating normal now? Those are all the questions I face.
I dont really count the calories Im burning during a workout anymore, but I still feel the calories I DIDNT burn if I take a rest day.
Kat recently posted..Whole Wheat Chocolate Muffins

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47 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 10:56 am

I read your last post and do agree with what you wrote…all of the reasons you exercise. I feel the same way! But you put this so well too, working out is your last hurrah with the eating disorder.. the one thing that remains and is hard to get rid of. Gosh i understand

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48 Alex March 26, 2012 at 9:59 am

I think everyone who has had a problem with this can relate. I know it may seem tough but my big realization that exercise for me was not what I deemed as ‘healthy’ was when I got my first stress fracture. I had to take 7+ months off from running. it was hard, but mentally it helped me realize I needed to recover. In treatment, they taught us the balance of letting our body relax and we went on only walks that were short and sweet. The tell tale sign for me was getting my period back, after five years it finally came back. Now, I work closely with my nutritionist to find a balance of exercise that is actually ENJOYABLE for the right reasons, for the stress release, not for the food intake.

You can do this, it is hard but worth it.

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49 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 3:57 pm

First, I am sorry you had that stress fracture, but good for you for mentally dealing with it so well! I am thrilled for you that your period came back, I am hoping mine will too…someday soon please. But only if I make some changes!

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50 Maggie @ Running on Fro-Yo March 26, 2012 at 10:08 am

I can really relate to this post! I’m definitely going through a similar situation right now, but I can tell you that it WILL get better! For a long time I was SO obsessed with numbers and oh well I worked out today, I can have this cookie. Well, I haven’t worked out yet today, I better eat tiny meals…stuff like that went through my head all the time! I’m finallyyy coming around though, and I know you will too because you’re working so hard! Keep going <3
Maggie @ Running on Fro-Yo recently posted..Chick-Fil-A Connect Series 10K Recap!

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51 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 3:59 pm

That is wonderful you are getting better with all of this! I certainly will keep on working to get there too

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52 Tara March 26, 2012 at 10:19 am

Oh gosh I can relate so much to what you are saying. As awful as my injury was last fall, it really put things into perspective for me. I’ve loosened up so much – I haven’t done a real workout in 5 days and it’s amazing that I didn’t think twice about it really. The only thing I thought twice about was the fact that I didn’t care and how awesome that was! I know you will get to that point eventually as well.

I also recently had a really bad day (body image and food wise) and went for a slow, short run – it felt long and awful. I knew it was because my intention was to burn calories. The next day I went on a long, slow run and it was so enjoyable! I realized it was because I wanted to run and train rather than try to “fix” my caloric intake or something. The funny thing is I probably burned more calories on the second one, but I didn’t care and that’s what made me feel so much better about everything! It’s amazing how a change in perspective changes so much!!
Tara recently posted..What I’ve Am Loving Wednesday!

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53 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 4:01 pm

I know you had a tough injury (to say the least) and seriously, you have dealt with it so well! Every time I read about your thoughts on dealing with the injury…well I was in awe and inspired! Thank you for sharing your thoughts here on this.. it makes it a bit easier to try and deal with it myself

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54 Ashley @ AlmostVegGirlie March 26, 2012 at 10:44 am

I can relate to this form of exercise addiction so much! Like you, I’m not exercising for hours on end but I will not allow myself to go a day without at least 45 minutes to an hour of physical activity. Part of it is because I genuinely like being somewhat active but another part is I still fear weight gain and taking even one complete rest day because surely I’ll blow up! Obviously this is not true, but I still feel this way. And I feel like I can’t talk about it because it doesn’t seem like an obsession to me since I don’t exercise that strenuously–I walk to and from classes from my dorm 5 days a week sometimes more than once a day and do cardio circuits in my room but I justify it by saying I don’t do that much. However, I think it is an addiction because I won’t give myself a rest day, even if I’m just not feeling a workout. I’m still working on eating more, which I really need to do, but now I’m struggling even more with my obsession with exercise so it’s really like a lose-lose situation right now! However, I do know that we both can conquer this if we really work at it!
Ashley @ AlmostVegGirlie recently posted..Spring Cravings

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55 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Obviously it is not true but try telling that to our irrational, disordered selves! ugh I so get it Ashley and also about what we do never really being enough to call a proper amount of exercise. I guess I just have to listen to my body on this one as it seems to know best and is demanding a rest at this point!

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56 Kristin March 26, 2012 at 11:35 am

I am in the exact same boat as you, Tessa. Thank you so much for your honesty and for writing about such a tough issue. My weight is restored but I know that I am not healthy, as evidenced by my missing period. Furthermore, my mood and view of my body is dependent upon my work out. Even if the scale reveals the same number, I am certain that I look better on days when I work out really hard…not realistic, I know. I have always placed too much of my self worth in my athletic achievements..from gymnastic events to the number of push ups I could do to running times. Perhaps that is the biggest issue. I need to define myself by my role as a follower of God, daughter, sister, and friend…those, after all, are the titles that really matter. We’ll keep fighting—striving for progress each and every day. Thanks again for a great blog post!

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57 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 4:05 pm

yes exactly… the period (or lack thereof) is an obvious one to me too. I mean that is a clear physical sign that something is amiss. What you said is not realistic, but of course I understand completely. You have great ideas here… to define ourselves beyond just the ones that “work out” are fit/trim and all of that. How about looking beyond such identities? yes to that

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58 Bethany @ Accidental Intentions March 26, 2012 at 11:56 am

I had a back injury in September, and trying to deal with it was not fun. The doctor told me in no uncertain terms that I absolutely could not do any form of exercise other than swimming (which at that point I had never done before, at least not as self-motivated exercise) for a week (right? Just seven days. Nothing), and it was SO frustrating not being able to run. When I was told to take time off, my first thought was a concern not about losing my endurance, but about losing my health, as if seven days of not running would turn me into an obese person or something (obviously not). Honestly, though, taking that time off was the best thing that happened to me in my running career thus far. I learned that I actually love running — I was SO jealous of the people I’d see running down the sidewalk, not because of the calories they were burning, but because of the fact that they were healthy enough to run. Up to that point, a lot of my running had been for fitness, not the love of the sport, but my injury showed me that I really, truly love running. It also healed my back like a charm. Every now and again my back will get a little twingey, but by and large that week of rest solved the problem and kept it from progressing, which was so necessary for me to get back to running. It also helped me gain some perspective. I’m going for a run this afternoon after not running for 11 days. I was on a trip to Mexico and didn’t have the time or opportunity to run or even work out at all. While I thought that would frustrate me, I ended up not minding. I knew that it was perfectly all right for me to take some time off and enjoy where I was (including all the food!). My run today may not be the easiest run I’ve ever had since I took so much time off, but I know my body did not completely fall apart because I took that time off.

I’ll be posting a Rogue Review on my blog about this in a couple of months, but I recently read a book I think you would love. It’s called The Woman in the Mirror: How to Stop Confusing What You Look Like With Who You Are by Cynthia M. Bulik, a professor of psychiatry at UNC and the director of the UNC Eating Disorders Program. It’s about separating body esteem from self esteem, understanding how a whole variety of factors can play into low self esteem in women, and has a huge section on ways you can work through your past experiences that lead to current problems to help you heal. I thought of you a ton while I was reading it and really, really think you should look into it. It’s a fantastic book.
Bethany @ Accidental Intentions recently posted..La Frontera

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59 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Well Bethany I really appreciate you sharing all of this… it helps me sooo so much… to know that you went through an injury (I am sorry to hear that happened btw :( ), took the time off you had to and came out just fine on the other side. That is amazing for me to read, and again, so helpful! Also, good for you for taking the time off in Mexico (jealous!). Like you said, gaining perspective from something like that is just awesome.
Oh and I will definitely look into that book! Sounds like something I would both enjoy and umm NEED to read

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60 Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health March 26, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Wow, thank you so much for opening up about this Tessa! It actually makes me consider how my thoughts about food and exercise are sometimes intertwined- perhaps more than I think they are! I think you’ve already overcome the challenge of realizing that your body needs rest AND more food and that realization right there can help put you on the path that you need to take. It will probably be incredibly hard, but I know that you are such a strong person and that you will be able to do it! Also, are the 2400 calories you should be consuming for days that you rest, do a light workout, or a hard workout? Or is that just kind of a guide for your activity level in general? Because perhaps you’re still feeling so tired because 2400 is what you need without exercise and so you would need even more with it? I’m sure this has already come up with the nutritionist! Anyway, thank you again for being so honest. You got this girl…you can totally do it!
Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health recently posted..Can I Go Back Yet?

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61 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Apparently it has been calculated out that without working out but while considering the amount of walking around campus, the 2,400 number is for that! So without the extra fitness thrown in there. I know the fatigue has something to do with that too, there are just so many factors playing a role and each one needs to be addressed in order to get all better!
And thank you for taking the time to read this girl, always nice to know and hear your support :)

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62 Rachel @ Eat, Learn, Discover! March 26, 2012 at 12:19 pm

This is definitely an issue I have dealt with – especially last year. I wasn’t running or doing anything high impact, but there was a period of time where I felt like I couldn’t do anything with my day, or eat anything if I didnt do at least 45 minutes on a cardio machine and *total body* weights. Yep, every day. It was exhausting to say the least – and getting me nowhere as far as fitness and muscle building was concerned. I eventually hit a wall – even when I took rest days in between, workouts were hard, and I was low energy all the time. And, to make things worse, during that time, fitness was somewhat of a ‘secret’ thing for me. It was my little period of time that very few other people knew existed. Which, in retrospect I now see how that was even more detrimental to my mental well being.

As for now, the best thing for me is just learning to relax. Especially over the past few months I have learned to just trust my body – even if it means waiting an hour after I wake up to have breakfast, having a second breakfast because the first one didnt fill me up, or skipping snacks because i’m not truly hungry and eating at odd times without a schedule. It has taken a long time to get to this point, and I’m still far from perfect. It’s a big leap of faith to take, but once you do, it feels incredible. <3 I seriously admire you for sharing this – I often don't have the courage to do so, even on the blog!
Rachel @ Eat, Learn, Discover! recently posted..Exploring Stockholm: Slussen, Gamla Stan, Hagaparken

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63 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 4:14 pm

I am so so glad you have gotten much better about this Rachel… lifting everyday is certainly not the best thing for you, which of course you were able to see and feel! Trusting is still a huge obstacle in my way but one I just have to keep working on, I don’t have a choice!

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64 A Fine balance March 26, 2012 at 12:54 pm

YOU HAVE JUST SAID EVERYTHING that goes on in my head.

I am addicted to exercise…but not in a good way. I rationalise things the way you do.
Oh I can eat this because I worked out or Im just going to have that instead and challenge myself and my body to see what it can “get away with”.

I truly find this post on point with how I feel…

On another note…would you want o do a collaboration piece with me? perhaps write something similar on my blog about this? I feel you have so much knowledge to impart…

Hope to connect soon

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65 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Hello there,
Thank you for stopping by and sharing your personal thoughts on this! I am not entirely sure I could write about something like this again for a whole new post… (it takes a lot out of me, mentally) but if you were to reference my blog that is of course fine. And if you did write something on this, I would be sure to add some input if you would like!
let me know :)

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66 Kinley @ Better Off Barefoot March 26, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Hi Tessa,

This post is so spot on to how I feel all too many times. I seem to slip to “over-training” syndrome way too often with running/eating. I start thinking too much about everything and then doing everything incorrectly and I end up paying for it. Under fueling, over exercising, etc. I know this and yet still slip up all too often… I am really trying to work to listen to what my body wants but it’s so hard! Not that you asked for advice but one thing I am finding works better for me is to take a rest day from worrying about what I eat when I also rest from exercise. This forces me to not restrict what I eat in the thought of “but I didn’t exercise” because instead I am just aiming to have a low key, no stress, no analyzing total and complete rest day?! It’s not easy for me mentally, but I know it’s something I NEED to do to work towards being better about resting/not caring about the exercise/food balance/gaining weight because of overeating every day :) I hope you can find some solutions to help you figure things out. It is a long process but you seem to be doing so well just by even acknowledging this pattern and WANTING to change. That’s a start for sure!! (At least that’s what I keep telling myself…progress not perfection!!)
Kinley @ Better Off Barefoot recently posted..Marathon Monday: 3/26

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67 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Hello Kinley,
This is a great idea… to just go into a day knowing that you will take a rest from EVERYTHING. Like you said, very hard to deal with mentally but you won’t know the benefits until you challenge yourself! Thank you for the motivation to do so :)

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68 kaila @ healthyhelper March 26, 2012 at 1:15 pm

First off….AMAZING post. I am continually impressed by your honesty and thoughtful writing. I know coming forth with something like that can be difficult so I commend your bravery for doing so. With that said, I KNOW you can accomplish your goals of rest! This past year I took two HUGE breaks from exercise. Yes it was hard but I knew my body needed it and the shock to my system actually helped me develop a healthier relationship with exercise than ever before. I wouldn’t say I was ever obsessed with it…but I definitely LOVED working out and made it a part of my everyday life. But when I realized my body was performing up to its usual standards and my workouts were beginning to feel forced…I took a break. No exercise whatsoever. And ya know what…it didn’t kill me. It actually made me feel better and more secure with myself. I came to the realization that a few weeks off from exercise in the span of a lifetime really aren’t going to make a difference. And it actually made working out after the break even more fun! I had missed it and regaining my fitness back was actually a fun challenge because I got to do workouts that once felt easy but now were really challenging again! I really hope you do decide to take a break…it will definitely be difficult at first but in the long run I think it will be very healing for you.

Again, AWESOME post!!

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69 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Kaila,
Thank you for your words here girl! I remember reading on your blog some time ago that you were needing a break and well, it is very inspiring for me to read that you did twice and are fine of course! It’s motivating for me to know that you have done this and darnnit I can too

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70 Katherine March 26, 2012 at 1:23 pm

I can relate to this post SO much. I’ve been struggling with the exact same thing for a few months now and I completely understand all the emotions behind it.
I can tell I’ve been pretty tired and working my body hard lately, so during spring break, I took three days off from exercising completely. It was very difficult mentally and I struggled to keep from restricting, but I made it through. After taking that break, my legs felt incredibly powerful during my run. I was able to do a hard pace workout and still felt like I could have kept going. Rest makes all the difference if you treat it right, and remember that you’re not alone.

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71 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Thank you for sharing this Katherine! It does help me to know you were able to persevere through that mental tough time

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72 Eric March 26, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Hey Tessa,
First of all, big props to you for having the courage to acknowledge the issue at hand and not try and cover it up or come up with an excuse to mask what the issue is at hand. Secondly, I again want to let you know that you are doing an amazing job on your path to a full recovery. It is not an overnight thing and it is a long path ahead, but its all about taking the proper steps. I really really do understand what you are going through and I can completely get what it feels like. After I got over the restricted eating problem I had when I was trying to drop weight for increasing my running ability…I got better about the eating portion, but my workouts were crazy! I would work out 6 days a week, no matter what. In the end, I had to realize that its all about balance. Working out is important. It really is….but theres more to life than evolving our life around exercise and balancing what we can or cannot eat because of exercise. Our bodies are meant to balance things out…and if we go do a solid 4-5 workouts a week…things will work out – you will still be an amazing athlete and in fact may see more gains.
Now after a year or so from this issues, I’ve been able to eat healthfully and at the same time, be happy with a solid 3 runs a week, plus 1-2 weight lifting/cross training sessions….
its all about balance. Good luck with it all, and know that you are doing amazing!!!!
Eric recently posted..Weekend getaways and running motivation….

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73 tessa8m March 27, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Hi Eric,
Thank you for stopping by my blog and taking the time to read my ramblings here! It means a lot :) You are completely right with what you said here.. it’s about balance and of course there is more to life than workouts, and eating meals around the workouts, running, fitness and such. I am tired of defining my life in those terms! I am glad to hear you have gotten so much better about this as well!

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74 Andy March 26, 2012 at 1:38 pm

I’ve never had an eating disorder but I have always used exercise as a way to justify what I eat (I actually thought that was normal before I read this post…….is it not normal?) and to make me look a certain way. Almost everyone I know does this as well, or so it seems when we talk about it. I mean, I certainly don’t put myself through grueling bootcamps because I enjoy it. I enjoy the feeling endorphins give me after but I also enjoy the way it makes my body look (muscle tone, etc).

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75 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 4:31 pm

I think that it can be “normal” but when the thoughts and actions behind this all start to make extreme negative impacts on your life… well then something is wrong. For me, I am exhausted, no period, anemic, and just feel like crap. I am also sad and pretty frustrated all of the time, this schedule is clearly not working for me

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76 Mary March 26, 2012 at 2:00 pm

I’ve struggled with all of the issues you describe in this post, although definitely not to the extent that you do, so I really understand the way that you feel.

For me, the turnaround didn’t really happen until I actually faced my biggest fear: not exercising as often and eating normally. I started graduate school this past fall and with my class load I honestly only had the energy to exercise three/four days a week. I also had to stop running for a while because I moved to Denver for school, and running at high altitude was something that I physically could NOT do right away. I couldn’t breathe! So my workouts were less often, and lower intensity. But I had to eat normally to keep my energy up for my demanding schedule! I was so consumed with school that I looked in the mirror a few months later and realized, wow, I didn’t gain a bunch of weight…maybe this voice in my head really IS wrong!

I still struggle with body image, like nearly every girl in the world. I think learning to love yourself at your body’s “happy weight” is one of the hardest things ever. I’m not there yet, and I’ll still get triggered and have negative thoughts about my body and seriously consider going back to restrictive eating because “I would look so much better if I lost a few pounds”. But you have to YELL over those negative thoughts. Truly, my recovery didn’t really begin until I completely stopped comparing myself to other women — no more magazines, no more triggering TV shows with super thin “gorgeous” girls (The Hills was ridiculously triggering for me, believe it or not). You only get one body. Just one. And you have to learn to love it (whatever it may look like) and make it happy.

I’m glad you’re getting angry with yourself, that will motivate you! You are so strong and have come so far and you are not alone!

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77 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Well Mary thank you very much for sharing your own story with all of this! It is quite helpful for me to read a “real” story like this because it gives me the motivation to try a rest on my won and also the assurance that everything will be okay! Those thoughts are just the WORST but again you are right, you must YELL at them to stop because they do nothing good at all. We have one body, that is it and no more of this disrespectful stuff I am so “good” at

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78 Lisa March 26, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Okay, i read every single word on this post. Actually, I re read it about 3 times total! I can completely 100% relate to where you are in recovery right now, its kind of crazy! Can I e-mail you? I feel like we could really share a common ground on this issue! Love this, and thanks for really putting yourself out there and posting this!
Lisa recently posted..Holy Crap, Skinny B, and Snacks

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79 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Yes of course you can email me Lisa! Anytime you would like :)

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80 Allie March 26, 2012 at 2:31 pm

WOW! What a post! I read everything and I love your honesty for real! I know you can work through this, try not to overthink everything :)

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81 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Working on it :)

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82 Laura @ LauraLivesLife March 26, 2012 at 2:34 pm

I think this is something I struggle with completely – and I think a part of my has come to terms with the fact that this is how I will live. I want to take away the unhealthy part (i.e. exercising when I am sick or injured), but a part of me knows that I can handle making healthy eating choices because I exercise. Maybe there will be a time when I don’t need to do that, but right now, I feel comfortable allowing myself to make healthy eating a priority because mentally I feel like I can because I am exercising! I’m just not ready to let that go yet!

I’m so proud of you for recognizing it and taking a break – I think it’s important to realize that these are steps, and you are moving forward, even if you feel like you are standing still!
Laura @ LauraLivesLife recently posted..If I only had the time…

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83 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 4:27 pm

If you are comfortable with yourself and can honestly say you are okay then that is fine! Just making sure both physically and mentally you are fine is they key :)

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84 Brittany March 26, 2012 at 3:10 pm

As with all your other wonderful posts, I read every last word!! You are NOT alone, I know there are many people..myself included that experience severe anxiety and fear if they miss multiple, or just one workout.

I had a ROUGH couple days a week ago because I knew I needed to skip spin class due to a demanding day at work, but in my mind I wasn’t earning my meal if I did that. I didn’t eat much that night because I felt guilty for skipping spin. I know at times this is necessary, but the mental ability to accept that is tough.

Stay strong, and we will all continue to grow slowly.
Brittany recently posted..Dairy Free

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85 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Oh gosh it is so tough sometimes and I am sorry you had a rough mental week as well. You stay strong as well!

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86 StoriesAndSweetPotatoes March 26, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Oh Tessa, fabulous post and I commend you for getting this all out there. Don’t lose sight of the fact that you are making progress, you do want to be healthy and you are on your way to getting there. I never would have entered a real recovery if I did not stop exercise cold turkey for a number of months. For some people, exercise is just part of their ED, but for me it always was and always will be a part of my life. Now I’m exercising again it couldn’t be more different from when I was in my ED. I was forced to stop exercising when I entered treatment and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I know you run a lot of races but I truly, truly recommend no exercise for even just one month. You are an active young woman, you won’t be sitting on the couch all day, but no intentional “Here I go, off to exercise” type stuff. It’s only one month of your entire life. It will blow your mind how you will NOT balloon up as you say. In fact, when I stopped exercising my metabolism skyrocketed. I’ve never experienced anything like it. Or course, it normalized, but I never would have known that my worst fears about not exercising were FALSE. Alright this is getting long but I believe an addict can not transition right into balance. The addiction has to be broken before it can become a healthy part of life which it absolutely CAN…I mean, in this case because it’s exercise not meth :) Keep doing the work, you ARE getting there! xo
StoriesAndSweetPotatoes recently posted..I’ve Been Squeezed…err…Pressed.

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87 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Thank you for this reminder Sarah… That I am in fact making progress. You are right, it’s important to remember this and also helps to put this whole thing into perspective! Your comment is really motivating for me to just do it… just take a damn rest and face the discomfort that will come along with it. Because boy oh boy it will be there but you are right, I will come out much better on the other side. Thank you for this

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88 Haley @ Health Freak College Girl March 26, 2012 at 4:18 pm

so i HAD to read this entire post because i felt like i was writing it. i still struggle with the whole over exercising thing. that was definitely my biggest problem during the worst of my eating disorder. i probably worked out 4-5 hours a day. it was horrible. then of course i would come home and eat vegetables, nothing to replenish my body. i didn’t have my period at that time but when i started to slow down on the exercise, it came back. now it’s gone again. am i exercising too much? maybe.

i am SO happy you wrote this post though. i think too many bloggers are scared say their problems, especially when it comes to exercising
Haley @ Health Freak College Girl recently posted..why i’m not vegan

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89 tessa8m March 27, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Gahh I get what you are saying here of course and I hope you identify correctly if you are exercising too much again. Only you can know and be honest!

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90 Rachel March 26, 2012 at 4:39 pm

When I first fell into my disordered habits, I restricted food because I hated working out. But, I was really good at dieting, so I thought that would be the key to weight loss. It wasn’t until I started trying to dig myself out of the depths that I began exercising regularly mostly as a way to balance the fact that I was eating more to feel like I could justify eating more- just like you explained. Now, though, I really do enjoy exercising- the way it makes me feel, the great stress relief, the time I take just for myself. Yet, I know that it is still a crutch I use to keep my mind quiet about the the higher amounts of food I am eating.

I am so glad you wrote this, and please, keep us all filled in on the process/progress. I always learn a ton from your posts, and selfishly, I can’t want to see what you open my eyes to next. Here for you, girl!
Rachel recently posted..One Year VEGANiversary

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91 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Hi Rachel,
That is wonderful to hear that you now enjoy exercising… but yeah it does sound like it’s a crutch, something I certainly understand. I will definitely keep you updated and post it as continuing to acknowledge this helps me to work through it too.

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92 Julia @ girl with a stethoscope March 26, 2012 at 5:01 pm

I completely can relate. I wish I could say that I exercise because it makes me feel good or it gets rid of my stress..but no, that’s not true. I exercise so that I can burn off the calories that I eat. On my day off, I find myself eating less calories because I know I won’t be burning it off with exercise. On the days where I go hardcore with my workouts, I “allow” myself to eat an extra handful of cereal or extra almonds. If I didn’t exercise, I don’t think I would “allow” myself to consume the extra calories that I have come to consume. Everyday is a struggle and I really hope one day I could exercise just because it makes me feel good and NOT think about the extra helpings of food this allows me to have.

As usual, love your post Tessa. It’s so refreshing to see someone who never holds back and always speaks the truth. Love ya girl!
Julia @ girl with a stethoscope recently posted..Things That Make Me Smile =]

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93 tessa8m March 27, 2012 at 7:25 pm

Yep I feel ya on every single thing you said here… I know you don’t want to do anything about it now, but I would consider really looking at your routine. Don’t wait as long as I did- until even going up a slight incline is tiring, stairs are out of the question, and injuries are inevitable

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94 Eva @TheHealthyParty March 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Sending you lots of love girl <3

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95 Bethany March 26, 2012 at 5:27 pm

~I run 6 days a week. I usually do a long run on Mondays (10-12miles) and 6 miles a day the rest of the week. I OVEREXERCISE LIKE CRAZY to compensate for me eating more from all the months of me UNDEReating. On the days where I don’t run, I feel like I need to restrict my food intake because I am not burning those extra calories. However recently I had a muscle spasm in my back and it left me unable to run for 3 days. After talking to my therapist she said “look at this injury as your ticket to see how your body really responds to not running as much” and at first it was hard to not run but after the 3rd day, I looked back and thought “how in the world did I run 12 and 6 miles–6 days a week? I had no time for a life!!” So now I have decided to cut back my milage and it feels like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders! I need to focus on not only eating more, but exercising less. It is a whole part of the recovery process and I know my body wasn’t meant to be the weight I have been struggling to keep it at–whether it be undereating or overexercising.

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96 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Hi Bethany! Thank you for your input on this subject! First, I am sorry that the muscle spasm happened but perhaps it was something that was “good” for you in the long run.. it sounds like you are doing much better now! It’s motivating for me to hear :)

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97 lindsay March 26, 2012 at 6:24 pm

friend, this is good to confess. Take it from me, i know its hard. That is my profession, to teach classes, train, etc. and i am on rest. just yoga and walking . gotta get my gut checked again before i can workout. The mind likes to tell us we must sweat and exert, but find another outlet. I know you know this. Take time to go on long walks and decompress the mind. those have saved me. and you know what? they make me more hungry, for life and food! hehe.

thanks for being so real Tessa. <3

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98 tessa8m March 27, 2012 at 7:27 pm

I hope you get better asap of course Lindsay… we are both resting together and will get through it!

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99 Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table March 26, 2012 at 6:25 pm

I cannot tell you how much I admire the courage and bravery it must have taken to write this post. With your determination and ability to honestly look inside yourself I have no doubts that you will conquer this challenge and emerge even better. *hugs*
Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table recently posted..Manic Monday

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100 tessa8m March 27, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Thank you Laura, that certainly means a lot to hear you say!

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101 CJ @ http://healthy-happy-whole.com March 26, 2012 at 6:45 pm

oh hunni i just wrote about this last week. my husband recently took away my treadmill key and finally gave it back only to reduce my cardio time from an hour to 35 minutes. i thought i was going to die. i thought my days were going to be completely ruined, i would blow up over night and i wouldnt be able to survive, and although it really does suck, im still alive and i dont think i have changed all that much.
this is just another nasty part of the disorder and it requires a lot of work. you dont want to be a mom worrying about when you are going to fit in a gym session instead of participating in activities with your family.
you are strong and brave. you have accomplished so much and i know you can climb this mountain too.
i am here to support you in any way i can!
CJ @ http://healthy-happy-whole.com recently posted..The Big 5-0

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102 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Gahh how did I miss that post by you!? Off to read it right after I respond :) Thank you for your support Cj and also good for you for getting through this too! Would you consider taking time off exercising completely… for a few days at least?

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103 CJ @ http://healthy-happy-whole.com March 27, 2012 at 5:07 pm

I have thought about it but for right now I am still working on coming to terms with less intensity and a shorter duration! as someone pointed out to me yesterday, however, heaven forbid something happened that MADE me give up exercise, how would i deal then?!
CJ @ http://healthy-happy-whole.com recently posted..What did I expect?

104 Carly March 26, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Hi Tessa! I swear I could have written the exact same post about myself…kinda scary. I have been an athlete since I was little-continuing swimming through college. My problem started when I finished swimming. I became obsessed with running and lifting-even when I hurt myself I push through it because I never feel thin enough. If I miss a workout I literally freak out. Like you, I haven’t had a period in a very long time (even though I put on some weight.) I have been working to recover, but my mind always takes me back to the thoughts of perfection. Like you, I KNOW I need a rest-I am constantly tired, but I refuse to stop. It’s a really hard battle and I wish that I could just stop, but it feels like I can’t. I really appreciate your courage to post about things like this-it’s a great thing to do and helps so many people. Thanks :)

On a positive note: You asked how our weekends were: It was my birthday and I saw the Hunger Games! I loved it!

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105 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Thank you for sharing this Carly… It is always SO helpful to know I am not alone with all of this! We just have to do it, to really just take the plunge and STOP and REST! Of course easier said than done but i am really thinking it’s time to just freakin do it at this point

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106 Tayla Anne March 26, 2012 at 7:55 pm

I always read all of your posts! They are SO good and I can ALWAYS relate. I feel the same way about exercise. If I couldn’t be active I would definitely restrict to compensate. Sometimes I wonder if that is natural though? Like would normal people just not eat as much on rest days or no? Today was a rest day for me…I literally had to FORCE myself to not do anything…I kept telling myself that it was doing my muscles and body good, not sure I believed it though. I get really anxious and irritable when I don’t exercise which is something I need to change (working on it). So anyways, I think you are so strong and courageous for really being honest with yourself about this issue…do what you feel is right in your HREAT (not for Ed)…listen to your body, what is it asking for? Take good care of yourself Tessa!
You are a true inspiration. Believe in yourself :)
Tayla Anne recently posted..Sunday Blues with Some Sunshine

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107 tessa8m March 27, 2012 at 7:28 pm

I appreciate your words here Tayla! Sometimes it’s necessary to give ourselves positive self-talk when in doubt! I know that is what I am going to be doing these next few weeks

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108 Anna March 26, 2012 at 8:50 pm

YOU NEED TO TAKE A BREAK! The best thing I can recommend is to just go cold turkey and don’t exercise, although I know that sounds insane. For me, once I quit completely, it became easier every day to deal with the guilt of not exercising and get over my addiction. When I was still trying to exercise a little bit, it made it that much more difficult, because I was still holding on to the excessive compulsion to burn calories. Try just going a week even – your body will appreciate it so much. You have no idea how much more energy you can have and how much better you will feel when you are not pushing your body to the limit every day. Trust me – it is not normal or necessary to exercise so hard every day and then walk around sore and tired all day. Unfortunately it is hard to make that realization and come to your senses until you can really take a rest and see how much better you feel.

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109 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Oh gosh Anna I know! Can I do it? Can I really go just cold turkey with it?! Oh my goodness just thinking about it is making me near-hyperventilate! And yet, it must be done. You are right about all of the benefits, again I know this but it helps so much to be reminded. It just has to be done, I have to take the plunge…

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110 Natasha March 26, 2012 at 8:52 pm

I do genuinely enjoy exercise, but at a few points in my life I noticed that I was really becoming addicted to it. Now, I’ve become more at peace with skipping workouts and whatnot. Sometimes if I trained too much, then I would hold onto weight more. Now, I find that exercising for when I enjoy it and when I feel good, I am able to have better eating habits and manage a healthier lifestyle. After a while, I started to feel really run down after over exercising, which wasn’t the goal!
I know how hard it can be when you think that you ALWAYS have to workout, but listen to your body because sometimes taking a break is just what you need!
I do find that on days that I don’t exercise, though, I try to eat a lot more veggies and proteins and try to eat very healthy (but enough calories of course)!
Natasha recently posted..So I ran…

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111 tessa8m March 27, 2012 at 7:29 pm

That is fantastic to hear how much better you have gotten Natasha! I can’t wait to get to that point :D

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112 Anna March 26, 2012 at 8:57 pm

YOU NEED TO TAKE A BREAK! The best thing I can recommend is to just go cold turkey and don’t exercise, although I know that sounds insane. For me, once I quit completely, it became easier every day to deal with the guilt of not exercising and get over my addiction. When I was still trying to exercise a little bit, it made it that much more difficult, because I was still holding on to the excessive compulsion to burn calories. Try just going a week even – your body will appreciate it so much. You have no idea how much more energy you can have and how much better you will feel when you are not pushing your body to the limit every day. Trust me – it is not normal or necessary to exercise so hard every day and then walk around sore and tired all day. Unfortunately it is hard to make that realization and come to your senses until you can really take a rest and see how much better you feel. Also, it doesn’t matter how much you are eating, if you are working out too much then your body is still going to feel exhausted. Maybe if you weren’t running so much every day, you wouldn’t feel as hungry and be thinking about food all the time, and you might feel less out of control around food at times.

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113 Kianni March 26, 2012 at 8:58 pm

8( I’m kinda in the same boat right now..my runs have ben getting worse and worse, I’m injured, tired, i was sick a month ago and it still feels like it’s lingering..I exercise 5.5 hours a day most days, though not super intense (though, that is on purpose so I can keep going for a long amount of time)..
I want to give you this link: http://www.gwynetholwyn.com/blog/2011/11/6/exercise-as-a-way-to-restrict-you-bet.html

besides that specific post, the site it full of great information..It’s much different from this pseudo-blog world where everyone seems to exercise and obsess about healthy food, staying in their little bubble and hiding and commiserating to try and reassure themselves that they are okay..but it’s not..Honestly, I read this post and then had to close it, and came back now, because it gave me anxiety.
You are THE most honest blogger (person) i have come upon, and i admire you for that. Half the time if I do decide to click on to a blog, I expect it to be sunshine and rainbows, parading around their unhealthy lifestyle, that they try to validate somehow…
You just have to be truly truly honest with yourself, as well as rational. You have to go through somethings that FEEL unbearable, but afterwards, will be glad or at least look back in relief.
I’m no where near recovered, not mentally at least. Yet for the last few days have been able to eat more than i thought i would ever be able to let myself, despite having to run less, even walk becuase of the pain. i can’t even say how I’ve done it, but the link I gave you, the forums helped me alot to sort through my thoughts and fears (or my EDs fears) to help let go and be reassured what i am doing is right (or on the track to getting there) It’s still trying to find loopholes…still trying to find if there is some other way to do it without stopping exercise…If I could right now, I would seriously check myself in somewhere, or find some sort of job or group or something that lasted for a 2 or three weeks or something so i would have something 24/7 to do, and have all my time occupied and planned by someone else so i would not have an opportunity to exercise…I feel for you..but sometimes..I”m thinking of it in terms of running, haha…Long run, slow and far…or sprints, quick, but more painful, yet done quickly, however those short minutes feel as if they are drawn out to their max…which one are we picking right now? (sadly I’m always the one that picks long runs usually, but when I do sprints, I almost always want to cry from anxiety and doubt, but afterwards i am so elated and happy from doing something I didn’t think I could do.)
Kianni recently posted..Let’s do a survey to pass the time…

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114 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Hi Kianni,
First of all wow 5.5 hours a day?! I am a bit relieved to know that you realize that that is a longggg time.. way too long for anyone, even an olympian or some elitist or something! Also, thank you for sharing that link, I will check it out. I do read her blog and yes, it has been helpful at times and I appreciate her honesty as well. I am honest because I don’t know how else to be with all of this. When I was in denial about what was going on, or pretending it was not as bad as it was, well I was even more miserable than I am now. I never ever want to get back to that point nor will I!
That is great you have been doing better these last few days.. just have to keep taking it one step at a time. Small and slow ones if need be, as long as you keep making progress in the right direction, that is essential.

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115 Chelsea @ Chelsea Runs March 26, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Aw, Tessa. I’m sorry this is happening. :( I totally respect you for writing this post – it must’ve taken a lot out of you emotionally! All I can say is that I know you’re strong, and that you really just have to trust your body a little bit more and worry a little bit less. I am the least trusting person in the world, so I know how hard it is. It’s SO easy to get wrapped up in what you “should” do and numbers and figures and training plans and blahblah.. But it’s really about listening to your body. It will tell you when it wants to be worked – it’s a much different sensation than having a bored mind! When I take a long rest, I can feel the energy surging in my body the next workout – like my body’s like OKAY LET’S GO NOOOOOW! And when I’m tired, but my mind is ready, things just don’t work out well. Usually trying to run or work out when I’m not into it just doesn’t work. I would try doing something new for the enjoyment to “ease your mind” on rest days, or make it a challenge for yourself if you’re competitive. You’ll know when your body has healed – and trust me, it’ll be a great feeling. Also, regarding eating on rest days.. I deal with this by thinking of how I’m fueling my muscles to build up all the things they had to ignore over the course of the week. So, by eating, I’m allowing full recovery and making myself better. I hope you can work this out soon girl! Good luck! <3
Chelsea @ Chelsea Runs recently posted..Racep Recap: DC Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon!

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116 tessa8m March 26, 2012 at 9:58 pm

You described feeling “good” and “bad” during workouts so so well… it’s all true! That is just the BEST when you feel like you could go forever, nothing better :) But I will not reach that point until I take the plunge and just rest… so hard and scary but I am thinking I just do not have a choice! I appreciate this advice, all good stuff Chelsea :)

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117 Emily March 26, 2012 at 9:31 pm

I saw your post on my Google Reader this morning, but I saved for an after dinner read, because I knew it would resonate with me.
Thank you so much for this post. I’m “guilty” for fooling myself and others into thinking I’m doing GREAT on the recovery front. After all, I am eating, but…it comes with the caveat that I’m also exercising A LOT.
I don’t want to give up exercise, I truly love how it makes me feel. Unfortunately, I push myself in order to “cancel out” the extra calories on my meal plan.
I’m not sure where to go from here, but admittance is the first step, right?
Best of luck, continue to update us on your progress!

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118 tessa8m March 27, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Admittance is most definitely the first step Emily.. I cannot avoid how I feel anymore, it’s just too awful and i know it will be for my extreme benefit in the end!

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119 Amy @ Turtle-speed Runner March 27, 2012 at 2:29 am

Well, as always I seem to be a little different in my recovery process… I stopped activity altogether for a couple of months while I was recovering. It was hard, but I coped because I knew I could go back to it… and I knew I couldn’t function properly as I was. I built it back up slowly and the weight I did gain from stopping (+ binging, might I add) all normalised until I was at a healthy weight again :)
I know it’s really difficult to stop, but you could always just cut down… instead of running 7 miles, run 6… instead of doing an hour circuit, maybe do 45 minutes. Easier said than done, I know!!
I should also add that I still don’t have my natural period back either… despite being in recovery for 3.5 years and being a healthy weight for about 3 of those. Like what the?
And exercise… I do it because I love it. There are a LOT of sports I don’t like because I suck at them, but there are a few that I would seriously do all day long if my body would let me…. it’s the endorphins, being outside in nature, the feeling of sweat dripping down your body and the accomplishment of finishing something difficult.
Keep the honesty coming, Tess… and don’t beat yourself up too much. You’ve still come a long way, and I think exercising is a much better replacement for not eating enough!!! Especially as exercising is enjoyable, and being hungry all the time isn’t ;)
Amy @ Turtle-speed Runner recently posted..Being single, and exercise anxiety

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120 Sarah March 27, 2012 at 7:49 am

Tessa! I love your honest posts – they truly are so refreshing! You are a brave girl for being able to be so open on your blog. To answer some of your questions I love exercising and while I have in the past participated in disordered eating I’m in a much better place today. It’s taken me a looong time to get here and it’s still something I work on every day but I use exercising as a way to boost my moods, energy and overall wellness today. Keep on doing what your doing lady! You’re amazing!

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121 tessa8m March 27, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Aww thank you Sarah, it helps me to hear you say this, especially today!

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122 cam@mtl-fitness March 27, 2012 at 12:30 pm

I think every woman has a tendency to think that way…deep down we all want to look good and feel good and one of the way to get there is with food and exercise. Sometimes it’s nice to think outside the box though…We have to remind ourselves that whatever amount we eat or exercise, what’s really important is to choose healthy fresh food and to stay active everyday (walking is active, it’s not necessery to push as far as HIIT). As women (hormones, water retention and all), our weight fluctuates from day to day. We have to stop thinking about weight! There’s more important stuff in life than our freak*** weight! I’m not saying I’m different than you, I’m just saying that we have to remind ourselves as often as we can that a healthy lifestyle is not only about journaling food and exercise…If only it was as easy to do than it is easy to write…Keep up the great work! xxx
cam@mtl-fitness recently posted..Breakfast at work #2

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123 tessa8m March 29, 2012 at 12:19 pm

You are right here and I appreciate these reminders! Walking and eating healthfully is enough and I definitely forget that sometimes. And yes, weight does fluctuate all of the time, another thing I must remember!
Thank you for stopping by :)

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124 Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles March 27, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Don’t beat yourself up for your thoughts, Tessa. Recognizing them is the first step toward developing a healthy attitude toward exercising. I think you’ve already taken the first steps by realizing that exercise is something that makes you feel good. And it should! It’s something most people could use more of. You’ve come so far where taking care of yourself is concerned, and resting without restriction is the net step in the journey.
Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles recently posted..Dilly Beet and Quinoa Salad (+Giveaway)

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125 tessa8m March 29, 2012 at 12:20 pm

oh yes, resting without restriction is definitely the next challenge… one I am currently dealing with!

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126 Megan March 27, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Tessa, I still have to read through every one of the great comments you received, but I have to say that every single word you wrote could have come from my mouth. I have always thought I was “recovered” from the eating disorder I experienced in high school – over 15 years ago (I am 32 now) – but lately I’m just not sure. That voice in my head just never left. And while I am technically at or just barely under a healthy BMI, getting my period is a rare occasion. I tried to convince myself that irregular periods are just “normal” for me, but I know that’s not the case. I am a runner. I absolutely love it, but listening to my body is not something that comes easy to me. I ran a marathon last year, but since the marathon it’s been a constant series of injuries. The worst was the stress fracture in my foot that occurred just before Christmas. It FREAKED me out because I couldn’t do anything and I felt like I couldn’t enjoy all that indulgent food during the holidays that I would otherwise allow myself if I could exercise. Luckily (?), I discovered swimming it I was able to satisfy my compulsive need to exercise while I was healing from my stress fracture. While I don’t count calories, I do think I eat enough to fuel my exercise, but I am extremely regimented with what I eat and I will always err on the side of eating less than permit myself to eat beyond what I think is “appropriate.” Take away the exercise though, and I’m like you: I feel like I should restrict. It’s total nonsense, because I know in all likelihood I need to gain weight to restore my periods and break the cycle of injuries. And I have to face the fact that if my husband and I decide to have a child in the new few years, I’m pretty much foreclosing that possibility by my own behavior. I’ll be honest, I have no intention of giving up exercising, but if I continue engaging in it six days a week like I have been, I know I really need to suck it up and gain some weight. But without someone really telling me to do it (like, in a non-negotiable way), it’s so hard to re-program my mind. Thank you for this truly honest and thoughtful post. It really provided me with some extra encouragement to do what I know I need to do and to face the reality I am in.

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127 tessa8m March 27, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Hi Megan,

I sincerely thank you for sharing your experience with all of this. Reading stories like yours helps me to feel less alone and that is incredibly helpful! I of course can relate to all of this and the having children/period thing as well. I know, heck we BOTH know, what must be done in order to get this normal female cycle back and yet we are doing everything to prevent it. Enough already, I cannot live in this type of fear any longer, not truly knowing what I am doing to my body and I am ready to make the rather difficult changes to get it back… or at least start to get healthy again!

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128 Sonia the Mexigarian March 27, 2012 at 2:49 pm

I used to work out for at least 3 hours a day in the midst of my disorder. I LOVED working out. It was a distraction from the hunger and it got me closer to my goal. Is it wierd to say that I always think I was at my fittest form when I was hardcore in my ED? I mean….I worked HARD and even though I physically felt like crap, during the workouts I felt amazing.

Now, going on 2 weeks without a real hardcore workout (lots of stressors going on at the moment) I kind of miss how I could go balls to the wall and somehow still have energy to function on some level. :\

When I started to make the effort to heal from my ED, I did cut back on working out, just a little. And even though my ED mind was screaming at me for being a lazy ass, I held firm in not over working my body.

I definetly applaud you for taking a hard look at your exercise routine. It’s tough giving it up, but as you said, your body is literally telling you to rest. Not doing so may furthur injure you and thus may permamently harm you in some way. Once you rest, you get a greater appreciation of what your body can do, and what it needs to heal from what you put it through.

Even professional athletes like Olympians take time off right? ;) Whether it be a physical break or a mental break, they too need it. Soon after they are back at it and seems to love it even more.
Sonia the Mexigarian recently posted..Update

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129 tessa8m March 27, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Hi Sonia! I really appreciate you sharing your own personal experience with this! I am glad that you have gotten so much better with all of this as well and was able to tell ED to shove it when you were cutting back on exercising. That is fantastic :) And you are right, Olympians certainly take time off!

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130 Hannah March 27, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Tessa!
Read the entire post, how could I not?? It was amazing, of course. I honesly cannot even fathom how much strength and courage it takes to acknowledge and confess this continuation of your relationship with your ED. Even though I’m not at a point where I can exercise strenuously, when my ED first started, I was obsessed with running. Even now when I see people running/working out I feel so much guilt, fear and sadness. I know that I can’t normally work out because I’m not strong or healthy enough to but my ED is so strong that I can’t seem to let it go. Thank you for writing this post, your perserverance is amazing and it encourages me to fight. Stay strong and keep us updated, we are here to help you and support you.

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131 tessa8m March 27, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Hi Hannah! Thank you for taking the time to read my entire thought process through this! Let’s both try to turn the thinking around now and use those people as motivation to get better… we will both get there someday!

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132 Katie March 27, 2012 at 7:34 pm

For me exercising saved my life. I KNOW it is bad, but it is my incentive to try harder. I love to run and if it makes me eat and forces me to REALLY fight then I’m going to keep it in my life because I flat out know that if I stopped I’d lay in bed crying all day NOT eating. My only goal when I bottomed out was to get to where I could run again. I know when I slip I get hurt and I have to REALLY think way too hard about do I want to run today or do I want to do yoga, but you know what? Everytime I’ve gotten hurt because of my ED I have learned something and have realized how much harder I NEED to fight. I’m no angel, but I won’t give up my running because I choose to have it be my incentive and my reward for trying. I also have my period however and despite some other health issues I can’t confirm they have anything to do with the ED. I am at a healthy weight too.

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133 tessa8m March 29, 2012 at 12:22 pm

i think this is fine Katie… it is what worked and continues to work for you! For a long time, I have felt the same… exercising helped me to eat more. But now that it’s causing so many terrible health effects, well it’s time to go back and look at my routine.

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134 Heather March 28, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Hey hey!

So, this is my first visit to your blog and I have to say that I felt like I was reading a page from my brain files. Maybe my sharing of my file will motivate you to take a guilt-free-or-not break more often.
First, I am 29, 5-9, 150lb
I have been an extremely active chic since I was five. I have chronic anemia and have been to the point of needing a blood transfusion only to turn it down because it would interfere with my activities. I have managed it with diet and shots in my younger years since then.
I have a shredded posterior tendon in my ankle, have to have reconstructive surgery of my foot, have bones rubbing together in both of my knees due to cartilage wear, and my shoulder falls out of socket whenever it wants from too much shoulder activity.
I still HAVE NOT stopped. It’s disgusting. I am terrified of what might happen if I rest. I work 40 hours a week, play on two ball teams, run, blade and hit the gym for at least an hour and a half 4 days a week.
I am beyond terrified to take a break. Look where it’s gotten me. My orthopaedic file is as thick as my college textbooks and I am facing a surgery that could bench me for life.
Girl, you have to stick with this resting idea. I wish to God that I could go back and slow down and be sane about things. I hated sitting still and still do, but at some point your body isn’t going to let you have a say in it anymore.
I hope that find peace in yourself and realize that it’s okay to slow down. You seem to be on the right track and for that I’m thankful. I hope that my story helps you out as yours has helped me. There are different forms of strength and we are both working on developing the more important form… the strength to overcome.

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135 tessa8m March 28, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Hi Heather,
First of all, thank you so so much for stopping by and taking the time to read my thoughts on all of this! I really appreciate it, seriously lady. And second, well gosh, I am incredibly sorry to hear about all of these injuries and issues you are dealing with! I wish I had something more useful to say than that but I truly am sorry :( Thank you for sharing your personal experience with all of this and the advice you are giving. No, I do not want to end up with problems such as this and i know I must REST.. we both must! I hope you are more at this point? It’s going to be hard, but you are right, it is necessary. Thanks again Heather

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136 Eleanor@eatinglikeahorse March 28, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Tessa this is such a brave and inspiring post. I’ve always so admired your attitude to recovery and strength and this post just compounds that opinion… you’re so strong to be doing this but don’t ever think you’ve been dishonest because you’ve been far, far from it! You’ve come so far and this post and decision is another step towards recovery… you go girl :-)
Eleanor@eatinglikeahorse recently posted..Strange times

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137 tessa8m March 29, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Thank you Eleanor that means a lot :)

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138 Michele March 28, 2012 at 9:50 pm

I am caught in the same cycle. I don’t know what to do except to deal with it and accept that it is who I am.

I have the same symptoms (no period, anemia, and now a serious achilles injury).

I haven’t been able to truly run in months. The depression and anxiety from this has even caused me to even gain weight despite my compulsive exercise. I am grateful that I have been able to resist falling back into complete anorexia.

You’re not alone.
Michele recently posted..WIW 2

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139 tessa8m March 28, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Hi Michele,
Thank you for stopping by and being so honest! I know this is a terrifying and frustrating time for you. BUT it sounds like you really and truly need a rest.. like no choice in the matter. I am going on three days without it and I am a-okay so far! Well annoyed, but I know I will feel SO MUCH BETTER when I get back into it. We must respect ourselves and we are really not supposed to go balls to the walls crazy every single workout

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140 Alexandra March 30, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Thanks for being so honest! Definately look into yoga and meditation :) it helps a lot

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141 tessa8m March 30, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Aww thanks Alexandra!

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142 Dolce March 31, 2012 at 10:41 am

Oh my gosh, this post describes me. Thank you so much for writing thim, like really, I have been totally denying it to myself all this time. Wow…I could have never written it better myself!
I am recovering, and doing very well, but exercise I a big part of my life even now. I have turned the cardio done a significant amount (which is crazy for me!), and am focusing now more on building muscle and strength. I’ve noticed when I haven’t had a hard workout that day, it is soooo much harder to give my body what it NEEDS, but that constant thought “You didn’t burn off many calories today, you don’t NEED that scoop of peanut butter!”, when in all reality I DO. I have definitely gotten much better, but I still have my guily feeling days. I have been a victim of over-training, specially with running. I was running way too much (for me), and was persuading myself I loved running, when I really personally don’t! I think it’s awesome that some people are such great runners, it is just not for me! So basically my knees are like the knees of a grandma.
I have found that it takes a lot, maybe too much, for me to realize I need an extra rest day in addition to my Sunday rest day. Lately, I have actually really improved though!
Tessa, keep going strong in this hard, hard fight. Don’t feel alone in this battle (that’s what the ED wants you to think!), I and many other girls are right there with you. :)

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143 tessa8m March 31, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Hi Dolce!
Thank you for saying something so nice here and also taking the time to share your own personal story! Of course I can both relate and understand everything you are saying here and I am just so sorry you understand the struggles! I never want anyone to ever feel as I do, but unfortunately it does exist :( That is exactly how I feel, it takes TOO MUCH for me to be willing to take more than a rest. Apparently I have to keep pushing myself to the extreme until something happens! Ugh. It is so nice to know I am not alone.. thank you girl

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144 Miranda April 1, 2012 at 10:44 pm

If you have an eating disorder/disordered and are recovering or attempting to, do you exercise? How much do you feel it’s a part of your daily life?

Every day. You hit the nail on the head- I’m addicted today. Honestly, today was the first day in over a month I didn’t go to the gym. Granted, I’ve been on exercise restriction so all I was allowed to do was walk. But I walked like a mad woman. 4.9 mph with an incline set at 15, the highest it went.
You give me hope! xx
Miranda recently posted..Posto numero dos!

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145 tessa8m April 2, 2012 at 6:55 am

Hi Miranda,

I am honored to hear I give you hope! You can do this lady.. I know it’s hard to take time off but it helps me to think about it as something that is necessary! I cannot avoid it, and my body will feel so much better once it has finally rested

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146 Beth April 2, 2012 at 9:55 am

I’m having a very similar issue with how much to eat- I’m actually in a similar boat with you all around: I’m 5’10″, so I’m taller and just bigger than all my friends; I feel guilty if I don’t work out everyday (and, have only recently ‘allowed’ myself 1 rest day per week); etc… Calorie calculators online also tell me I need to eat an average of 2400 a day. My question is, is that total – or do I also eat back what I burn running/doing whatever? Do you ‘eat back’ those calories or just stick to 2400 regardless of what type of exercise you do? I know you aren’t a dietician, I’m just looking to see what you do so I have some sort of idea

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147 Lisa August 27, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Tessa, this post has been LIBERATING! Thank you for being so truthful to your audience, to the world, and (most importantly) to yourself! It takes no small amount of effort to stand up to the ED part of yourself and you have done just that! That, alone, deserves so much congratulations and encouragement. You’re leading such a great example and impacting so many lives along the way (just look at all of the above comments!)- so a sincere thank you for paving the way.

As a quick second note, I just wanted to go back to what I said about the ‘ED part of yourself’ and remind you (*myself and other readers, too*) that ED is only one part of your self. A small, hopefully-diminishing, part of the self that is certainly not your whole self! There are so many aspects of the self that make you who you are- and we have to remember that ED does not, should not and WILL NOT control our entire self. I’m very proud of the recovery process that you are seeking out for yourself and I look forward to seeing your progression and advancement in this fight for yourSELF :)

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