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What advice do you have for getting back into exercise while in eating disorder recovery once you are weight restored?
This is a big question with so many layers to it. If you happened to struggle with exercise addiction as one of your eating disorder behaviours, just the thought of returning to exercise once you’re weight restored can stir up a variety of feelings and emotions. These may include anticipation, fear, anxiety, excitement, etc. Making this a very confusing process.
However, there are 3 initial steps you may want to take before you head off to exercise:
- Above all else, the first thing you want to make sure of is that you have your recovery professional’s green light to start exercising again. This could be a therapist, a dietician, a psychiatrist, etc. Eating disorders are not just about getting to a certain weight in order to be considered “healthy”; what is really the most important part of recovery is your mindset. Only a professional trained in treating eating disorders will truly be able to make the call if you’re ready for exercise, especially if overexercising was part of your eating disorder behaviours in the past. How you think about exercise and how it fits into your recovery is something you’ll want to address and work through thoroughly with your recovery team before any kind of exercise is added into your routine.
- You’ll want to make sure you have a plan in place. Be prepared with what steps you will take in the case of different possible scenarios: What will you do if you get triggered? What will you do if you get the overwhelming urge to do more than you planned? How will you congratulate yourself if you stick to your recovery? (rewarding yourself is just as important).
- Have someone go with you to exercise, at least at the start. Having someone safe and whom you can trust to support your recovery when you first start off with your exercise is essential. Not only will this person keep you accountable to your recovery, they will also have your back in case you happen to find yourself in a triggering situation. There is power in numbers.
I filmed a few videos on the topic of ED Recovery and exercise over on Libero’s youtube channel. Here they are:
I hope this helps! Don’t forget to join our group on Facebook if you’re looking for community and support!
Robyn Baker, CPT, RYT, BS
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Disclaimer: This column is meant to serve as a safe place to ask questions and get opinions from educated professionals; but please always consult your own team before making any changes to your medication, activities, or recovery process. Although our Experts are certified professionals in their area, their advice may not be suitable for your situation, and thus is not to be taken in place of that given by your recovery team and/or family doctor or personal therapist. Please use your own good judgment, and consult a licensed mental health practitioner for specific treatment. In the case of a crisis, please do not rely on this column, as answers may take several weeks to be published, and not all questions will be addressed. Please contact one of the Helplines listed in our Resources section if you feel you are a harm to yourself or in need of emergency support.