18th July 2021
Healthy Body Healthy Mind
Exercise has, like most things in my life been a challenge to get to a stage of manageable and healthy. Is has taken a lot of hard work and effort as well as getting really honest with myself.
I was at times a full blown exercise addict, I am not proud to admit that I have in the past been banned or you might say rejected from more than one gym – “We are sorry but we cannot accept you any longer but would be happy to freeze your membership for the time being”. Those fateful words burn shamefully to my core today. They did not however in that moment, when I was in the terrorizing grip of Anorexia. I can feel the emotion kind of fizz in my nostrils now when I think about it, shuffling out of the gym layered up in clothing against the cold to protect my emaciated frame. I wasn’t sad or embarrassed, I was furious, I was frantic, I could not focus I did not know how I could get my exercise routine done to complete my day and make it bearable.
This was just one of the very low stages of my battle with the disorder. Manic exercise addiction. It is a very real and dangerous disorder, I pushed my body to exercise regardless of fatigue or illness. It was both a means of weight control but also routine and reward. The endorphins that gave me that post workout high were never enough, I needed more each time. I punished my body harder each time until I physically couldn’t anymore.
I am now in the “healthy light of day”, and very grateful to the gyms for being caring, but did they take into account what their “care” did mentally?
I was angry as it screwed up my routine but I was also devastated and ashamed if I had allowed myself to admit it. I wasn’t a bad person, I didn’t set out to be in the predicament I was, I more than anyone knew, how ill I was deep down and I needed help, not rejection.
The Fitness industry is huge and it is all consuming. I may be hyper-vigilant given my history but whether it is positive or not I get hit daily with body image, diet and fitness stories, adverts and everything in-between. I am not anti living healthy and exercising by any means. I am a big advocate for moving your body – it is one of my tools to recovery – but it is about doing it in the right way, the safe way, the tailored way for my body my mind and my life.
Everybody is unique, brilliant and beautiful. We each are born unique, we are beautiful, wonderful and we have to find our way in all things to suit us and this includes exercise.
It took me time to find what worked for me. I am never going to be a runner or a gym bunny again, when I was in my darkest days I pushed myself to be that person but today I do what is ‘fun’ for me to keep me moving that is the only thing I will allow. I refuse to gruel through workouts to punish myself, I did that for years to no avail. I want to look and feel good and be healthy but I also want to live. I had to totally give up exercise in order to retrain my mind to find a healthy relationship with it. I still have to be very careful and honest not only with myself but with my husband to make sure that I don’t allow old habits to slip in. I urge anyone who has had or is struggling with exercise issues to speak up and ask for help. It truly changed my life, exercise now is part of what keeps me well but it used to be a major factor of what kept me very sick.
As women, men, people there is so many ups and downs to hurdle through life but I honestly believe the institutions (ie gyms etc) need to step up and help us help them to create a better future for physical health. Mental health comes along with that however, its a fine line that I have tread, believe me! I do feel that gyms and fitness facilities should have ’mental fitness’ specialists on their payrolls as standard. How many times do I now see either very underweight, very over-weight individuals or just people any way shape or form struggling in gyms, not just physically but mentally? A lot, that is the answer. It needs to change.