ED ED and fear of workouts

Strangelongtrip

MyPTSD Pro
When I was 14/almost 15 I seriously injured myself and was told to rest, and not workout for months. I ended up gaining a lot of weight (which is a bane to my family who is OBSESSED with weight), and around the time I turned 16 and my pain was better I decided to lose it all and stay on an exercise routine and an anti-inflammatory diet for my near constant chronic pain. It helped with pain etc, but quickly turned into an eating disorder. I wouldn't over work out because I physically couldn't at first, but as I lost weight and my pain went down I started running, which DID become over exercise and I hurt myself again.

What I would do for the diet and exercise is I would write it down in my "everything" notebook. I write every single thing I did throughout the day in that notebook. I still have it. I wrote what I ate, when, how many calories it was (I got down form around 1500-1600 a day to 1200-1100, which I thought "wasn't an eating disorder" because it was about 1000 calories, although sometimes I'd have to eat something at night in order to make it to 1000 calories), what I did, when my workouts were (every single move had check next to it, I had to cross it out). I had started cutting when I ate too much, or missed workouts. When I got my wisdom teeth out, I was so happy because I lost 5 lbs in a week, and you could see my ribs and hip bones (I'm pretty tall, and although I was still in a healthy BMI, I looked....wrong).

I eventually, around the December of my junior year of high school, had essentially a nervous breakdown. I decided I was never going to do that to myself again. I ate what I wanted, still healthy, and gained some weight back. I still did exercises, but I didn't write them down. Then gradually since then, I've gotten worse about exercising. I've gained A LOT of weight. I try not to think about my body, both because of trauma, pain from my injuries and because of some gender stuff. I did pool therapy exercises and easy elliptical workouts, but never seriously, because of what happens after I workout hard: I get obsessed.

I decided this week I want to tone my body up, just to feel more connected to myself and to help my physical pain. It also helps with emotional pain. So, I wrote out workouts like I used to. Nothing excessive. That didn't really bother me, but today I did my first workout, just a few minutes ago. And I felt that same obsession, like I wanted to do it for another hour. It felt great, and then the panic set in. I felt like I was going to lost control again. I was physically shaking a few minutes ago terrified I would fall down that same path.

I think I need a different system than notebook writing for my workouts, maybe an app would work. I want to workout but I have this feeling. I think it's sort of like obsession/mania? It's like what I feel about my passions, but I'm healthy about my passions, I can stop if I need to, I take care of myself. It feels uncontrollable. I don't know exactly how to describe it. It feels dangerous.

I think I want to create this thread to reflect on how I can still workout without feeling like this, but any insights would also be great! Thank you!
 

Muttly

MyPTSD Pro
I have a similar history with over-exercise and ED. I can exercise now but I don't think I'd be able to write it down and stay healthy. I think if I were recording my exercise I'd get obsessive again. When I got back into exercise I really had to set hard limits on myself about how much I would exercise. A couple times when I found I couldn't keep to those limits I had to stop exercising all together and reset. Over time it got easier to exercise without constantly feeling that push to do more. It still comes back now, but I have the knowledge that I don't have to act on it.

I hope you can find a way to exercise and have it be rewarding now unhealthy and obsessive.
 

Strangelongtrip

MyPTSD Pro
Thank you @Muttly I'm sorry you struggle with it too.

Thinking on it there’s a few ways I think I could do it without overdoing it and not writing it down. 1. Set a timer and I can only exercise in that time, and have a general guide of the body part to work. 2. Do workout videos (although this scares me too because of my injuries, I could listen to my body but I’d rather be in control of what exercises are on there and PT approved). 3. Write it down after the fact, instead of before. Set the timer, do my reps and record them. That way it’s not prescribed, but I worry that I’ll do even more this way than the way I’m doing.
 

Muttly

MyPTSD Pro
Just a quick reply but you reminded me. I set a timer a lot when I got back into exercise. And still use it if I feel like I might be having troubles with regulation. It sounds like you have some good ideas.
 

Strangelongtrip

MyPTSD Pro
thank you @Muttly ! I've spent the entirely of today dissociated after that, I'm really frustrated and just "coming back to my anxiety" this evening and I feel like the whole day got away from me without me accomplishing anything, and in the end accomplishing these things is more important than being buff lol.

But it feels sort of...righteous? to know that yes, I really DO have a reason I've been avoiding this. Maybe I'll do the workout at night next time, just in case but then I wouldn't be able to sleep. Just really jittery and frustrated
 

Strangelongtrip

MyPTSD Pro
Today I did another small workout, but I didn't check anything off. Just followed the list. Also did it with a family member, and that seemed to help because she was sort of a regulator, I couldn't over do it. The workout I feel great about, didn't push it, it helped my chronic pain. Didn't feel the need to keep pushing!!! A little victory.

But I feel absolutely rotten otherwise today. Fatigued, brain fog. I think the panic from yesterday triggered a POTS episode or something. My heart rate jumps a ridiculous amount from sitting to standing, but the workout helped a little bit. Now I'm just depressed I didn't get enough done today, even though I have plenty of time to meet my deadlines.
 

littleoc

Sponsor
I had this problem, too. I would play basketball outside, completely alone, for nearly fifteen hours a day on the worst data, and kept insisting to others that it was low-strain on my body, though I actually still have injuries from it. I ate poorly. Mostly off of other people’s plates.

My ex had a huge role in getting me to stop under-eating. So, long story short, when that mess of a relationship ended, I felt significant power in being able to not eat and being able to overexercise.

Over-exercising and under-eating have become more challenging since my TBI, I thought, until I journaled what I was eating. I journaled for my nutritionist and then set about eating even fewer calories before she told me I was under-eating significantly. So I was wrong about thinking I was overeating.

I frequently see pictures of an underweight teenage me and think I’d like to look like that again. I can’t place why.

But anyway. That’s all to say I understand. I’ve found that having a strict routine helps me much, much more than journaling. I worked with a nutritionist to set out an eating plan that was healthy and had enough calories so I’d be nurturing my body into believing it didn’t have to store all those calories. My day starts with a bowl of oatmeal, fruit, and cheese + nuts. Sometimes half a sandwhich with it. Breakfast is my biggest meal on good days.

I only exercise on certain days of the week, and I can only exercise for up to six hours a week. It always starts with physical therapy exercises.

The biggest thing for me has been to work on body image in therapy. I am now understanding what about my body is bothering me, and realizing it’s helpful to accept some things and love myself, while also wanting some things modified or gone. (As in, for any other people reading this, things like large breasts.)

It’s still a challenge every day and I’ve fallen off a bit. But I’m getting better at it. You can’t change everything over night. Routines are the same, but they really have been the best advantage for me so far! :)
 

Strangelongtrip

MyPTSD Pro
Thank you for your kind words and story @littleoc ! I want to work with a nutritionist. I have trouble eating enough and I feel like I can't justify using lots of resources bc we don't have a lot of food in my house, but I'm still really overweight, or I'll finally get food and it's too much bc it's unhealthy (we're currently poor, and with COVID, I don't have a job. hopefully I can get unemployment, gig worker).

I only exercise on certain days of the week, and I can only exercise for up to six hours a week. It always starts with physical therapy exercises.

The biggest thing for me has been to work on body image in therapy. I am now understanding what about my body is bothering me, and realizing it’s helpful to accept some things and love myself, while also wanting some things modified or gone. (As in, for any other people reading this, things like large breasts.)

I need to talk to my therapist more about this, but he's more of a trauma specialist and not necessarily that good about eating disorders, although he said he could recommend someone for me. Thank you again!! Also sorry if this doesn't make a lot of sense, I'm really dissociated again for the third day in a row lol.
 
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