Have you ever felt the “gym high?” That feeling of pure pleasure when the endorphins rush into your brain and you feel strong and healthy? I know it all too well, however my “gym high” becomes toxic really fast. When I was suffering from anorexia, it was like an addiction and I could not calm down unless I got my “fix.” My anorexic mind made me go to the gym. My anorexic mind made me finish more cardio even if I was weak and tired. My anorexia mind made me prioritize my workouts over my family, friends and work.
Recently I had the pleasure of going to California for a family trip. We rented a house and guess what was the down the street? Yes a gym. Now my nephew is really into working out for basketball, so I went with him. The first day I did a brief warm up and some weights. I felt safe-in control. The second day while I was running sprints on the treadmill I was struck with the “high.” It was feeling that I wanted to keep. Quickly the obsession started to creep in.
- “Tomorrow I’ll do more cardio.”
- “When I get home I’ll join a gym.”
- “I need to use these specific machines to get my abs looking just the way I want them.”
- “I cannot believe I ended my gym membership 2 years ago. To get fit I need to go to a gym.”
And when I returned home to New Jersey the obsession continued. I got a free five day pass at a local gym. The wheels started turning about when I was going to the gym. A saving grace for me was that the pass obviously had an expiration date. After the five days my intention was to join the gym. After all of my hard work to cancel my gym membership two years ago to put me on the path to freedom, I was thinking about joining. Trainers at the gym started to leave messages about joining and getting personal training.
I was at a crossroads in my recovery. Working out at home and taking some local exercise classes were working for me. My obsession to work out had dropped dramatically and exercise did not rule my life. So what did I do?
I chose to respect my disease. I never returned those gym calls. I did not join the gym. I practiced body acceptance and self-love. I recovered from anorexia AND I recover each day.
People in recovery from anorexia are different from other people in that we need to consistently respect our disease and make effective decisions to stay recovered. We are susceptible and need to be vigilant to possible triggers. It is important to identify our triggers and cope ahead on how we are going to manage them. Practice willingness- doing what works.
We can recover one day at a time.