i truly used to believe that if everyday i ran one more mile than the last, then maybe my mom would love me. exercise was such an essential part in my eating disorder’s survival, and so once i realized the death grip it had on me, i knew i had to break free.
i was addicted to exercise, and after i admitted that to myself, abstinence was the next step. this was hands down the most difficult part of my recovery. not only did i have to increase my intake, but i no longer had my vice of the gym to compensate for it. i was physically uncomfortable and mentally trapped; all of the emotions that my eating disorder protected me from and helped me avoid, were staring at me head on.
and i stared right back. i had (and still have!) and incredible therapist who taught me how to trust again and ultimately made facing those feelings a bit less daunting. yes, i still get overwhelmed by my emotions and memories from time to time, but this was the ‘easier’ (i use this term lightly!) part of my recovery.
what i struggled with the most was the physiology of recovery. i had taken my body to hell and back with my eating disorder, and so healing from that toll felt equally as taxing. the body changes. the uncomfortable fullness. the process of relearning hunger cues. i was exhausted and conflicted.
being a dancer, movement and exercise were an integral part of my life. and so when i was at that point of being physically incapacitated, i felt like a part of me was missing.
fast forward a about 15 months and i was finally at a place physically, emotionally, and behaviorally where i believed that i could welcome exercise back into my life. but this time around, exercise looked and felt much different! i no longer wanted to use excessive gym time to avoid trauma and stress, instead i just wanted to feel connected with my body again.
recovery gave me a second chance. recovery gave me a fresh start. recovery gave me a new body; one that i no longer recognized, but one that i wanted to love. so with the guidance of my therapist, i began the practice of meeting and embracing my body through yoga. my mat was the foundation to which i started feeling at home in my body. the inexplicably wonderful combination of focused attention, mindful breathing, and physical movement, taught me how powerful the connection between my mind and body actually was. it was with this newfound knowledge that i began to appreciate my body for what it can do and not for what it looks like. this knowledge was power.
from there on out, i had the power over my eating disorder. what ultimately kept me so far from recovery, ended up leading me right into its arms. finding yoga made me realize how disconnected i was with my body while i was in my eating disorder. using my breath and mindfully attending to all of the changes that recovery brought to my life went far beyond perfecting the flawless controlled sirsasana. this new approach to exercise and connection with my body made working through the physiology of recovery possible and continues to make maintaining recovery one of the greatest reasons to get up in the morning. i am grateful that i have learned to use movement to pay homage to my body. and am even more grateful that i no longer function on the belief that my worth is conditional upon my physicality.
Written and contributed by Megan Rose.