How weightlifting helped me in ED recovery
When i went into recovery i struggled with not having something to aim for. Before i went into recovery i would aim for how many hours not to eat, how little calories i could eat, how many calories i could burn on a treadmill etc and i would challenge myself with that every day. When i went into recovery i couldn't just stop that and it was the reason i couldn't accept recovery at first. So i found a new healthy way to challenge myself instead. I started lifting weights. A place that was originally such a trigger for me (and still on bad days i won't go) became a haven for me. It gave me something to aim for, a way to challenge myself. Instead of aiming for how many hours not to eat i aimed for how much i could deadlift and it gave me the outlet i'd been looking for.
I'd stopped squats at the very start of recovery and never picked it back up, but I now have a 1RM of 85kg (pre-covid lol). Which feels truly incredible. My muscles had never developed properly because of my ED and i was super weak even after i went into recovery. I had to build up my muscle from having practically nothing at all. At first i would compare myself to other people in the gym and I'd feel really self conscious because I couldn't lift as much as other people. But someone else's story is not my story. We all have different starting points and process at different rates. I realised I couldn't keep clinging on to the idea of comparing myself to others, it was hindering my progress both in recovery and in the gym. You need to do things for you and only you. Not because you want to impress someone else or be like someone else.
I could never completely erase the habits i can picked up from my ED instead by challenging it into something healthy that i enjoyed and made me feel proud of, it helped in so many ways at sticking with recovery. And to see progress with weights i had to eat. So it was a big fuck you to my ED. Something that started out as a way to replace bad habits has become such a place of joy for me.
Exercise was such a trigger for me (and sometimes is) but I stopped viewing it as something I needed to do. It stopped being a need and more of a want. I wanted to move my body because it makes me feel good and excited. I love walking and lifting weights. It's not exercise to me anymore, it's just something I enjoy.
Saying all this, don't push yourself too hard. I don't go to the gym when i'm having bad days because it's incredible triggering for me. I don't do any cardio machines at the gym anyway because abusing exercise was a bad habit for me in my ED and on bad days walking past all the cardio machines to get to the weights is super triggering for me. Know your triggers, know your limits and don't push yourself more than you can handle. Baby steps are the way to do it.
Everything in this blog post was beneficial for me in later recovery so don't think you have to push yourself to be comfortable in the gym right off the bat. I didn't exercise for a very long time when I first went into recovery. I wouldn't have benefited for just 'a little bit of exercise' because I viewed all exercise through a distorted lens. Even if other people thought it was 'healthy' amount, to me it would have been unhealthy because my mindset was unhealthy. Don't push someone recovering to be okay exercising, ever. I needed to develop healthy ideas and a healthy mindset around exercise before I could even set foot inside a gym.
Fitness culture can be extremely toxic and it can be really hard for people recovering to get through all that. It's okay to go to the gym or go for a run/walk/cycle because it feels good and not have a goal in mind. When it stops being enjoyable, stop. I've walked in to the gym before and walked out 5 minutes later. This is so so okay to do!
This was helpful to me but some people would find this extremely triggering. Each person in recovery is different so don't push someone to go to the gym or exercise if they don't want to. They'll get back into moving their body when they're ready. Stop telling people that not exercising is bad for you because it was one of the healthiest things I ever did.
Snippets taken from this post