advice, anxiety & mental health posts, eating disorder, eating disorder posts, Exercise, my thoughts, Q&A, Uncategorized

Recovery question – exercise addiction/overanalyzing/always counting calories or exercise

Hi Izzy,
I have a question since I know you suffered from a severe exercise addiction when you had your ed. Im still not fully recovered, but I’m weight restored and live a normal life so I guess I’d say Im very close to recovery. However, I also had a very serious problem with excessive movement when I was at my worst stages in the illness. Today I’m quite sedentary since I study full time, and I don’t get anxiety for moving/not moving, but the problem is that I still think about how/when/how much I move and will move almost all the time!! I don’t know why because I doesn’t make me move more or less, it’s just like I’m always analyzing it even though it makes no sense at all and it’s completely unnecessary.. Its like “Now I’m sitting down, now I’m standing, now I’m walking, now I’m dancing etc..” and it is so frustrating and I just want to be normal like I was before my ed when I never had a though about the daily movement. Was this ever a problem for you? If so, how did you stop thinking about your movement?

Hello,

First off i am so sorry it has taken me so long to reply to your comment. Maybe you have managed to find some tactics that have worked for you to overcome this problem.

I never struggled with this exact problem, however i did have thoughts like “i am not moving/exercising enough”, i would compare my exercise/movement to others, if i saw others moving when i wasn’t i would feel anxiety – example if i was sitting on the train and i saw people standing i would begin to feel very guilty and anxious – as well as just trying to move as much as possible. At my worst i did count the hours i was activity and the hours i was still/sitting each day and only allowed myself X hours each day to actually sit or rest.

Your problem sounds alot like how i was with calorie counting…. i was always counting calories in my head and would count the calories of other people’s food as well as my own food. I did reach a stage where the amount of calories i guesstimated my food didn’t bother me, i.e whether it was 300kcal or 600kcal didn’t matter, i would still eat it… but i couldn’t stop counting. It was frustrating… to not be able to get rid of those thoughts or stop constantly counting calories… always analyzing.

Image result for numbers in head

However, i no longer do that and only ever talk about calories in food if i am asked questions regarding it or if someone asks me to guess how many calories are in their food (because they know i study nutrition. However i usually answer that it really doesn’t matter how many calories are in their meal.) So i believe that you can overcome that analyzing of exercising and moving you do everyday.

My best tip is to try to focus on living life and doing things you enjoy each day. The more you focus on living life or working on projects, school work, doing hobbies you enjoy the less time you have to sit and think and analyze. The more you focus on life, the less time and space your eating disorder thoughts have to take up.

Image result for counting calories gif

However, it might be at the end of the day that the analyzing thoughts creep in and take up your time. Then i would suggest maybe 1) writing or journalling, 2) maybe reading a book – something to distract yourself so you don’t just think. But also 3) maybe ask yourself why you analyze your exercise/movement everyday…. what does it give you?

Trying to change your thoughts. This is the most important, just like when it comes to eating disorder habits or behaviours, you need to change them…. you can’t just mask over the problem or try to distract yourself. But actually change the thoughts…. which does take time and only YOU can do it. Each time you begin to analyze/think about your exercising and moving, change your thoughts…. think about something else. Maybe think about things you are grateful for in your life, maybe goals you have or what you want to do in the future/the weekend etc or even just counting sheep if it is during the night time.  It is like all negative thoughts or habits, the more you allow them to take up space – the more space they will take up. (Or even like negative or manipulative friends… give them your hand and they’ll take your whole arm. It is the same with intrusive thoughts.)

If i am honest, i am not fully sure how i overcame certain thoughts or mindsets. Somethings just happened naturally as i began to focus on life, example with the calorie counting. It wasn’t that i actively tried to change the thoughts… i just didn’t have time or energy to count calories. I had school work to focus on, i had friends and family, i had my blog to focus on as well as doing things i enjoyed. So from time to time  i would catch myself sitting at the table counting calories in the food my family and my self were eating, but i would just stop those thoughts at once. Overtime those thoughts stopped.

Some thoughts may never fully fade, however if they don’t control your life or impact your life negatively then it is often ok that they just appear from time to time. But it sounds like the thoughts you have take up alot of time and energy and i would recommend you try to work on them…. to atleast make them lessen and fade so that it is not an everyday analyzing.

I really wish i could give you better advice or some more concrete tips, but what works for people is so individual. And the mind and thoughts can be complicated. However i do believe that those thoughts and analyzing can fade and lessen even if they may not be completely gone forever (or maybe they will!!), you just need to work on changing the thoughts and focusing on other things in your life.

 

 

(If you struggle with always counting calories then i have some posts HERE [from my previous blog] which might help you.)

Image result for overanalyzing

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6 thoughts on “Recovery question – exercise addiction/overanalyzing/always counting calories or exercise”

  1. I didn’t ask the question, but this post still helped me a lot as I deal with the same problem. I also read the post of your previous blog which helped even more. Thanks for sharing the question and your reply😊

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  2. I have a query about calories. Here, the health government have launched a “new drive” on the amount of calories we consume – rather like promoting the “five-a-day”- they have now come up with saying we should aim for no more than 400 calories for breakfast, 600 calories for lunch and 600 calories for dinner. This to me seems a bit low for everyday eating, ie someone who is not on a diet or anything.
    What do you think of this? Do you think it is good advice to follow?

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    1. Hmmm…. i don’t know how to feel about those guidelines as it promotes the idea that you have to count calories which definitely isn’t the case. 1600kcal would be the average for a middle age women who isn’t very active… so it does also give the wrong message that you should only eat 3 meals or only eat 1600kcal. I much prefer the swedish recommendations which is more portions/servings each week…
      Remember that these recommendations are just guidelines for the general population and not based on individual needs or requirements. Everyone is different and people eat differently everyday. For someone who is very overweight then it might make them think about their own eating habits and that maybe they are eating more than they think…. but for someone who is active or has a healthy lifestyle and diet then they have already found thir balance and health and the guidelines don’t really apply to them.
      I could write alot about this, but this is just a short reply of what i think/my opinion 🙂

      Like

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