6 thoughts on “Health At Every Size, Exercise & Eating Disorder Recovery: Answering A Reader’s Question

  • March 15, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Exercise was my way of purging when my anorexic behaviors weren’t enough to curb my appetite or when I had been “bad.” I distinctly remember several instances where people complimented me on my exercise regimen, which reinforced that I was doing the right thing and that I was somehow “better” than other people because I was so disciplined.

    When I was searching for my first therapist, I had an intake session with one who supposedly was skilled with eating disorders. I said to her, “I exercise too much,” to which she replied, “What’s wrong with that?” I didn’t see her again!

    One of the turning points in my recovery was when I had to fight with a gym to get out of my contract. I first tried lying, saying I was moving, but they didn’t buy it since I couldn’t produce a utility bill at my “new” home. Then I brought in an actual doctor’s note, but they said it was “too vague” since my doctor didn’t specify my illness and they also said, “Not many illnesses are so bad that a doctor wouldn’t want you to exercise.” I tried saying that due to HIPAA, I had a right to my medical privacy, but the manager I was talking to wouldn’t budge. After going home literally in tears, I decided to call and speak to the gym owner, who had already heard about my attempt to end my contract. He wasn’t going to let me out either, so I said, “If I tell you exactly what’s wrong with me, will you let me out of my contract?” He said yes, and I said, “I’m anorexic. I overexercise and your gym is where I do it.” He got it and my contract was ended.

    NO ONE should have to fight so hard to get out of a gym contract. It was a HUGE victory for me, but not something I could have done without years of therapy.

    I started going to yoga at a yoga studio shortly thereafter, and the change was marvelous. 🙂

  • March 15, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Doing exercise that you enjoy is what makes all the difference between consistency and stagnation. If you do what you enjoy, it’s not even considered exercise anymore. It’s considered fun.

  • March 16, 2010 at 10:37 am

    @ Kate, thank you so much for your comment! I love that you listened to your instincts and knew that therapist number 1 wasn’t the right choice. Same with the gym – you had to fight so hard for that! But you did! As an aside, I’ve heard of many gyms having iron-clad contracts. In fact, I can think of one in particular right now that doesn’t let you out of your contract for anything.

    I’ve heard so many wonderful things about yoga as a complementary to eating disorder recovery. I’ve started doing yoga and feel much more connected to my body.

    I love your point about feeling “better” than others because of your self-discipline. It’s exactly how exercise is portrayed in our society. Exercise to some extent, is also viewed as a purging behavior in our culture, too. I often see articles in magazines telling you how many calories you burn if you do such and such exercise and what that equals in food. I’m thinking about this post in particular:


    Our culture absolutely reinforces excessive exercise and some ED behaviors, not causes, but certainly reinforces.

  • March 18, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    @ Rahim, that’s a great point that if you do what you enjoy then it’s considered fun. That’s why it’s so important to move your body by finding things you genuinely like. This way, you enjoy the act of being physically active.

    Sure, there are times when I’m feeling lazy, and I have to really motivate myself to go to the gym and take a Pilates or yoga class (or I choose to relax). But while I’m there and afterwards, I feel great.

  • April 27, 2010 at 9:34 am

    I had trouble getting out of a gym contract, too. That’s reprehensible!

  • August 28, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    What if everything now, movement, is considered “calorie-burning” to the point that any movement is considered exercise and no longer just for the whimsy of the adventure…
    Even hiking, walking, anything…
    If someone loved activity, as a real thing, but now has tainted it with this perspective, how do they get out of it?
    Or is it like an alcoholic’s continuous hopeless recovery from the disease – they are incapable of having a drink sensibly or without the same motivations so they must forever abstain.
    That is a depressing thought.


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