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Exercise and regular movement does an abundance of good for your mental and physical health. It can help decrease anxiety and depression, build confidence and aid the development of positive body image. But when addressing the role exercise has in the recovery from an eating disorders it’s a tricky one.

Exercise is unlikely to benefit health when it’s fuelled by fear and stress rather than fun. For eating disorder sufferers this is largely the case. Exercise can become a maintaining factor in the illness, a way to punish your body for food you’ve eaten, or “earn” the right to eat.

Unfortunately this has now become a “socially acceptable” form of self-harm, promoted on social media and fuelled by many other “fat-phobic’’ messages in society.


So, Should You Exercise in Recovery?

There is not real ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer per say. Recovery is hugely individual, what triggers one person may not influence another.
There are times when exercise is dangerous on the body, like at very low body weights and when you have not eaten enough. Risk of injury, fainting, even fatalities are all common to those over-exercising with eating disorders.

When I was ill I exercised to fulfil my eating disorders demands.
I didn’t enjoy what I did, it was ritualistic, obsessive, and I often found myself in the gym purely based on the demands of my eating disorder; lethargic and under-nourished.

So when I was in recovery, I stopped exercising altogether, for about a year, and then gradually added it in (with some slip ups) as I got physically and mentally stronger
I wont sugar coat it, it caused a mass amounts of anxiety and fear to begin with.
But I was determined that I would build balance into my lifestyle and enjoyment into my movement.
Taking time off was not going to be forever, just for now, just to challenge the feeling of spontaneously combusting if I didn’t ritualistically work out.

It is through trial and error that we learn to balance our bodies needs in recovery.
We have to test out and challenge our anxious thoughts, and see just what happens when we do what the eating disorder tells us not do to do.

Exercising should NEVER come from a place fuelled by fear, obligation or anxiety.
Rather it should be for fun, from a place of self-compassion and desire to see what your body is capable of.
This can take a while to achieve if you’ve been stuck in this cycle of destructive exercise for a while.
Rest assured you can break free, and I whole heartedly believe with the right support you will.


Read my  TOP 5 TIPS FOR BALANCING EXERCISE IN RECOVERY

and more articles like this over on: www.joscelinejoy.com

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“Fat” Is Not A Feeling

 

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From the billion pound diet industries, to racism, sexism, ableism, and homophobia our world tells us not to love our bodies, even as far as to be ashamed of the skin we’re in.

Too often people refer to “feeling fat” as if “fat” is an adjective, the same as feeling ‘happy’, ’tired’, ‘restless’ or ‘joyful’.

Warped by the diet-ridden, fat phobic world we have become, this noun, “fat”, we have learnt to associated with feelings of self-dissatisfaction, shame, guilt, and discomfort.
A word used to reflect not feeling good enough.
Good enough to ourselves.
Good enough in the eyes of society.
Good enough in comparison to our friends, families or those we admire on social media.


A study investigating the content and frequency of fat shaming, body dissatisfaction and internalisation of the “thin ideal” amongst college students (predominately female) found that 90% engaged in conversational fat shaming of their own bodies, despite only 9% of them being clinically overweight and this was (unsurprisingly) associated with higher dissatisfaction and internalisation of the westernised “thin ideal”. 

This feeling now drives the chronic dieters, those who return to their “Monday morning diets” of restricted eating, eliminating food groups and over exercising, as this is now a socially justified form of self-care.

Not just only for women, but for many males I come across too.

So I want to remind you, in those moments when you sit there and think “I feel fat” remind yourself that “fatness” is not a feeling. But feeling fat means you’re feeling some other dissatisfaction, and that finding out what that is will be revolutionary to your overall well-being, and self-respect.

In those moments when we decide to sit and listen to our bodies sometimes we don’t always like what we feel back.
Pinnacle to recovery is learning to sit with, and work through, these uncomfortable feelings, without self-destructive thoughts and behaviours.

Remember, you have one body, and that body may be different in its abilities to others, treated differently in the past, have undergone illness or injury.  But what your body does and how it does it, demands your care, your respect and your constant unconditional love.
Feeding it.
Clothing it.
Moving it, and using it in the ways that build you up instead of breaking you down mentally as well as physically.

It’s a true act of self-care instead of a repetitive cycle of self-harm.

It by no means waking up every day and feeling amazing, but it’s accepting that it’s okay to feel shit about other stuff and not project this as a label onto yourself.

It’s a choice to respect your whole self, and in doing so respecting the diversity of bodies, minds and abilities that surround you.

Lastly, I want to encourage you to challenge the label of “feeling fat” because to those who are actually overweight, who may even face size discrimination, this terminology is damaging, adding to the daily fat-phobic stigmatisation that diet-culture fuels, reinforcing the warped thin idealisations that need to be challenged and changed

Its okay not to be okay
But it’s not okay to remain so.


Related:
Diet Culture Is Damaging Our Health: Problems and Solutions
Break Free from Comparative Behaviour and Negative Self-Talk [4 Challenges]
The Instagram Trap: #Fitspo or #GuiltTrip?