As noted in my list of symptoms one of my issues is compulsive movement. Mostly, it’s the fact that I wear a Fitbit and enjoy challenging myself to hit 250 steps every hour and 10k steps every day. However, if I can’t hit these targets it often causes anxiety. Even trying to sit still for 90 minutes to watch a movie can be difficult.
However in addition to this, I really like to lift weights. I’ve been doing this since midway through my big dieting phase a few years ago (the thing that started all this!) and it could probably be argued that I’m a bit compulsive about this too. I enjoy training hard, I pretty much never miss a session, and I have been known to use it as punishment (after overeating) or as a reason to eat more (as in hey, if I train, I deserve more food). The last two are problematic, because I don’t deserve punishment for giving into hunger and I certainly don’t need a reason or justification for eating until I am satisfied, that’s just a basic human need whether I’ve lifted weights or not!
I’ve digested so much ED material over the past year or so and much of it seems to suggest that during recovery we should just eat and rest – exercise of any sort is a bad idea. I’ve never quite been able to accept this, to be honest and it’s been a bit of a source of guilt. I know that my walking is definitely a problem, but the lifting, I think in most cases, is generally OK except in the cases I mentioned above – and in fact I think more often than not it is really beneficial for my mental health. I need the time out in my gym, away from the hustle and bustle of day to day life – getting under the bar and lifting some heavy ass weights seems to clear my mind better than almost anything else I’ve tried.
Thankfully, it seems like not all experts think exercise should be completely cut out, and I was pleased to have my own biases confirmed when I read this article by Emily Troscianko earlier in the week. And this week, I’ve also confirmed to myself that the lifting is really a minor issue (if it is one at all). Due to some work commitments this week I’d planned a lighter week in my lifting, and often times in the past when I’ve tried to deload I’ve found myself just going hard anyway. But this weekend just gone I had two days out of the gym without guilt, have done a couple of light sessions since then, and will be heading interstate for a conference tomorrow (and a couple more gym-free days) with zero guilt as well. I feel like I’ve got some perspective on things.
On the walking front, well there’s progress there as well. I haven’t hit 10k steps quite a few days this week, and I’ve been quite chillaxed about it. It only really took a few days at work in meetings and stuff (which meant I was unavoidably low on activity) to realise that the sky wasn’t going to fall in if I didn’t do it. I just haven’t quite got around to removing the Fitbit yet, but come to think of it, since this conference means hours of sitting inactive in a function room, now is probably a good time to challenge myself so tonight I’ve pulled my old watch out of the drawer and I fully intend to wear it tomorrow instead of the Fitbit.
I still genuinely believe that a ten minute walk after every meal is useful for digestion and overall health (both mental and physical) – I don’t think that’s my ED voice talking, as in my head the post meal walks have nothing to do with weight management (it’s my overall activity levels that do that). I’d also like to make sure I don’t become deskbound all day at work, again just for general health. But it should be quite easy to do those things without relying on external cues to do it – if that means less anxiety (and being better in touch with my body) then that sounds like a win-win to me.