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Teach Yourself How to Exercise Healthily During Recovery


With swimsuit season getting closer and the climate getting hotter, starting an exercise routine will be on many people's minds.

However, if you are recovering from an eating disorder, starting a workout regimen can be harder than for most.

Many people who suffer from eating disorders abuse exercise as a method for weight loss and turn it into a form of self-punishment. Ignoring your body's signals of pain and fatigue can be unhealthy, and it can perpetuate other unhealthy habits like yo-yo dieting and binge eating.

Nevertheless, exercise can be a great tool during recovery when you learn how to manage it properly. Many people in recovery find that when they begin to focus on the health benefits exercise provides, rather than weight loss, exercise becomes fun and relaxing. It is important to understand there is no quick fix to exercising healthily and that it requires patience, as well as learning to treat your body and mind in a more caring way.

Five Tips to Change the Way You Think About Exercising

  1. Remind yourself that you are exercising to better your health, not to lose weight. Try to focus on feeling genuinely healthier rather than on having control and burning calories. Working out using yoga, pilates or tai chi can be a great start, as these focus on the body in a slow, careful way and are more involved with relaxation rather than numbers.
  2. Avoid being too repetitive with your workout. If you are only doing 100 push-ups a day or 10 laps around the track, you may become too focused on control, numbers and calories. Try to avoid thinking about your routine in terms of numbers and create a workout that has fun variations and which involves stretching, warm-up and core exercises.
  3. Make exercise fun! If you have been constantly exercising in a gym, change things up and try to exercise outdoors. You can also exercise with a friend, take up a dance class, or try something you've never done before at the gym.
  4. Listen to your body. Getting reconnected to your body will help exercise feel like healthy fun rather than like a chore and will keep you from pushing yourself too hard. Try to do enough exercise, but not too much. If at any point during your work out you feel sick, sore or dizzy, you know you’ve pushed yourself too far.
  5. It's not about how much you do. Remember that your workout will not focus on the quantity but the quality of the work. Don't worry so much about doing the “right” type of exercise; anything can be unhealthy if you push too far. If you feel like you are slipping into an unhealthy workout routine, take some time out. Think about what you have already gained in recovery and the ways in which your workout regimen should build on that progress, not destroy it.