Today’s post is one of the highest requested I’ve gotten in the (almost) year that I’ve been at Healthyezsweet Life. I get so many e-mails from you guys saying that you want to be able to be able to enjoy exercise, get stronger, build endurance, etc. but you’re worried about slipping into obsessive patterns. You want to work out again, but you don’t want to work out for the purpose of being skinny or counteracting calories. To put it simply, you want your exercise to be yours again and you want to feel good about yourself while you do it.
Just like anything else in recovery, reacclimatizing mentally and physically to exercise is different for everyone. Before you decide to engage in exercise, make sure that you have confirmed with a physician that you are cleared to do so. Once you have confirmed with a doctor that you’re ready to exercise and once you feel mentally prepared to get back into the (sweaty) saddle, bring these tips with you to the gym or on the yoga mat to make sure you’re keeping yourself grounded in self love and you grow your strength and get your sweat on!
What to Tell Yourself…
Okay so usually when I do this, it’s not out loud. Usually I’m on the treadmill and Wiz Kahlifa’s voice is no longer doing it for me so it’s time to bring my own voice into the equation. Talking to yourself (even silently) is a way of reaffirming your motivations and reminding yourself of what is amazing about exercise. Spoiler alert: none of it has anything to do with weight loss, abs, or any kind of gap. And sometimes we just need to remind ourselves of that once or a hundred times. Here are some mantras you can tell yourself to make your workout about YOU and not your eating disorder or restrictive thoughts
- For when you’re about to begin: “My goal is to get stronger not smaller”
- Set your intention the minute you walk in the gym doors or roll out your mat at home. If you can say it out loud, even better! No matter how you do it, or how you phrase it, assert that the emphasis is on strength and growth. Every crunch, mile, or plié squat is done in the spirit of the privilege of growing stronger, not punishment for the food you eat.
- For when you’re feeling discouraged / worn out: “I think you can go another round (or insert however many rounds/reps you have left) so give it a shot. If not, no worries! You can stop at any time”
- This is how you motivate without putting triggering pressure on yourself. By encouraging yourself to keep going you light the fire a bit, but all the while assuring yourself there will be no guilt if you decide to stop today. There’s always tomorrow!
- For when you start thinking about the calories burnt: “No matter how much I do today or how far I push myself, it will be enough”
- When you were a child and held tea parties, you didn’t determine the success of the party based on the number of cups of tea you went through. So why should the success of your workout be determined by the number of calories you burned through? Let yourself enjoy the movement and be comforted by the fact that whatever that movement is, however fast or however heavy the weights, it’s enough because it’s your effort that counts. It’s your effort that brings out those endorphins and it’s the effort you get to feel proud of.
What I Will Tell You…
- If the activity you planned for your work out is really uncomfortable or you’re just not enjoying it the way you thought you would be, there are dozens (if not hundreds) of other activities you can do at the gym instead.
- At home / no gym alternative: there’s also dozens if not hundreds of different ways to workout without any equipment. Explore new fitness channels on Youtube if you’re tired of your usual at home routine. Head over to your closest park and make up your own exercise routine!
- You don’t have to do one type of exercise on a day just because it’s what was planned. You can switch it up and you should. There’s no better way to kick disordered thoughts out of your workout than telling them that they can’t tell you what to do or how to do it!
- Err on the side of gentle and forgiveness
- If you’re not sure if you should stop, if something feels forced – call it a day. This is especially important in the beginning stages of exercise in recovery / after recovery. You’re still learning to listen to your body again, so if you’re not sure if you’re being compelled to do a certain exercise, or workout all together, by ED or restrictive thoughts then it’s probably a good idea to sit that one out. Don’t get discouraged; you’ll have time later to reflect on what happened and not every work out will be that way. But for now, if something is starting to feel triggering, let it go.
- Think about someone you admire for their fitness philosophy and try to mimic it
- NOT for their body. This is not about comparing your beautiful body to someone else’s beautiful body. This strategy is to help you imagine yourself with the confidence, with the approach to health and exercise of someone you look up to. For me, my first fitness inspiration was Cassey Ho of Blogilates for her constant body positivity. Whoever your pilar of inspiration is, think of what they would say to you while you’re working out. And think about how they’d encourage you!
Above all my friends,
Give yourself permission to experiment in the gym (or at your house if that’s where you choose to exercise) and find what you like. Remember that it’s okay to decide certain activities aren’t for you. It’s okay to have ups and downs. In fact, it makes you like the other 7.125 billion people on Earth. What makes you different? It’s not how hard you exercise or how often; it’s how amazing it makes you feel and how you share that joy and love with others.
No questions today, but I would love to hear your thoughts on either exercise, recovery, or the relationship between the two.
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