why i exercised during recovery
i was recently asked whether or not i exercised in recovery. the short answer: i did. the longer answer will explain the nuances of this decision, of course with the disclaimer that i can only speak to my experience. what it all boiled down to was that i no longer exercise to be able to eat, but i eat to be able to exercise (and spend days hiking around forest preserves and taking self-timer pictures with my best friends—pictured above 😉)
what recovery ultimately taught me is that exercise is a privilege reserved for healthy bodies, one most definitely could be taken away. my parents knew how much joy and clarity i found in movement, and how detrimental not having that would be to my mental health. this became a motivating factor to get better—i never wanted to reach that point where my parents or my doctor forced me to stop working out.
at first glance, this sounds like enabling an exercise addiction. however, it was quite the opposite: by continuing to exercise throughout recovery, i was forced to fundamentally change my mindset when it came to movement. in addition to restructuring thought patterns surrounding food and meal times, recovery also involved changing the way i thought about exercise. the value in movement was no longer in the amount of calories it burned, but in the way i felt. the purpose in movement wasn’t to earn, make up for, or burn off food.
i now have a body that i am constantly working to build up, both mentally and physically, rather than break down. physically, this means more weight training, yoga, movement that feels good. mentally, this means celebrating growth in my body as a sign of health, focusing on what it can do rather than what it looks like. i eat so that i can move, and that movement feels right. i don’t exercise to be able to eat, but i eat to be able to exercise. no longer does cardio leech strength from my bones. i am not, as i once was, at odds with an overtaxed, under-nourished body, frustrated and fighting to make it do more with less. my body is not out to get me. it is not an enemy separate from myself that i have to struggle against. i am at peace with my arms, my legs, my belly, my home, happy with the space i take up, the mental and physical space i have created.