The title of this article flies in the face of mainstream American consciousness, but I think it is very often a good thing to be able to say no to exercise.
I am a cyclist. I have loved riding and racing my bicycle since I was eight years old and began riding a tandem bike with my dad.
Cycling was always a very enjoyable pastime – a way to socialize and spend time with my family and just all-around fun. As I fell into my eating disorder, however, it started to become something I had to do, which ruined the enjoyment. Through this experience, I discovered exercise can become something I have to do instead of something I want to do.
Especially during my recovery, it became increasingly important to recognize when my desire to exercise was a compulsion rather than a desire to have fun.
Exercise should be something enjoyable, a source of stress relief, and a healthy pastime. When it becomes something you feel you have to do, or something you feel bad if you don’t do, you need to reconsider why it is you are exercising in the first place.
It was very difficult at first to take days off from exercise. I felt very bad about myself and I had unrealistic fears of what would happen to my fitness. But as time went on, I found I didn’t lose my fitness and I also renewed my passion for cycling I had lost when cycling became more of a compulsion than a hobby.
I remember a very specific decision I had to make regarding exercise and my own mental health. It was my junior year in high school and I had been training with a cycling coach for about a year. I realized even though my cycling was improving, I was losing interest. In essence, cycling was becoming more like a chore than a passion. I made the decision to take a step back and take training less seriously, which resulted in me having much more enjoyment when I did go out for a ride.
As you can see, there came a point in my life where I had to say no to exercise. In fact, there are still times when I have to take a step back and realize that I am no longer enjoying exercise, but rather it feels like a chore that I have to complete in order to feel like I have had a successful day.
At first it seemed very wrong, like I wasn’t doing what I should be doing. However, after awhile, I realized that I was looking forward to the rides that I did go on, and was feeling much better both on the bike and off.
So I encourage you to take a look at what motivates you to exercise, and be honest with yourself. If you are exercising because you feel obligated or guilty if you don’t, I encourage you to take a break. Not only will you advance your recovery, you will also renew your passion for sport and rebuild a healthy relationship with whatever it is you love to do.
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From the Archives:
A break from Exercise is Important, Too!
“For many people with eating disorders, exercise is used as an avoidance mechanism; rather than actually feeling emotions and dealing with the root issues of the disorder, they are temporarily numbed, only to make things more complicated – just like restricting, bingeing, purging or any other ED symptom. Therefore, exercise needs to be carefully monitored before being reintroduced into daily routines.” Read more
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— Craig Harper
thewhizkidforte said: What do you think of the fitspiration regarding squats called "squatspiration?" They are the images that rile me up because they shame women into doing a lot of squats just to have the perfect butt! Most of the images have women whose hineys protrude out of their shorts, swimsuits, or undies and are accompanied by squat-related quotes. What do you think of images like these? I'd REALLY LOVE to see a post on Stop Fitspiration or Libero Network about them! (And I'm doing a tumblog on this!)
I responded to this via email but will reply here as well!
Thank you for your message and your support of #stopfitspiration!I have varying views on “fitspo” images related to squats. On the one hand, you have the images that are simply showing you how to squat correctly or different types of squats etc… I don’t even consider images like this “Fitspo” at all. Rather, I simply view them as “fitness info graphics” or “how tos” To me fitspo is more about the explicit promotion of exercise being used to maintain a physical ideal. I think, though, fitspo messages do have this grey area - which is why many people don’t understand why we’d want to “stop fitspiration” - because they agree the “extreme” stuff is bad, but don’t see what’s wrong with some tips on how to use a barbell. This is what I call a “miscommunication of definitions.”As for the images that relate squats to achieving the “perfect butt” and compare “squat butts” with “non squat butts” (gah! how ridiculous!) I definitely consider this “fitspo” in its truest form and am obviously against it.I think this would be an interesting topic for a blog, I am going to log it away and hopefully write about it sometime this month!I will send you the link when it goes live :)