How I Healed My Relationship with Exercise

Exercise. I’ve spoken about it before on my blog, about how it can be both healthy and unhealthy (check out the blog here) as well as touching upon my own experience with exercise. For those who don’t know I’ve not always had a healthy relationship with exercise. Exercise, or when I was going to exercise, was something I thought about almost all of the time.

My Unhealthy Relationship with Exercise

In my twenties I experienced disordered eating (for those of you who don’t know about it you can find out more about it here) and one of my ‘symptoms’ was a very unhealthy relationship with exercise. Looking back, I think it may have been harder to heal my relationship with exercise than it was to heal my relationship with food.

Some of my unhealthy exercise habits

  • I’d work out to burn calories
  • If I didn’t work out I was left with feelings of guilt which would eat me up inside
  • I would work out to burn off foods or if I was having a big meal in the evening
  • When I felt tired, ill or run-down I would still workout
  • I found having rest days very hard / stressful / guilt inducing
  • Working out felt like a punishment and something I had to do.
  • I would only workout in a fasted state to ‘burn more fat’ (note, this is bull s**t).

Of course there are more symptoms of an unhealthy relationship with exercise but these are the ones I experienced personally.

Emma Carr Health Coach posing with bent arms and scrunched face

How I Healed My Relationship with Exercise

Healing a relationship with exercise isn’t easy and will take some time but these are some of the actions I took which overtime helped me heal my relationship.

  • I got rid of my ‘fitness’ watch : My Garmin watch was great for tracking distances but it also monitored how many calories I burnt (albeit rather inaccurately) but in order not to focus on calories burnt during a workout and more on how I felt, I got rid of my fitness watch.
  • I focused on performance : Rather than setting myself calories burnings goals, I set physical goals, such as doing a pull up – which I’m so close to now!!
  • I focused on quality not quantity of my workouts : Rather than beasting myself everyday I focused on doing quality workouts less often.
  • I let go of the active persona : I used to associate myself with being an ‘active’ person, and because of this I had to always be, well, active. By letting go of this persona I allowed myself some space to recover.
  • If I felt tired I didn’t go to the gym : This was a hard one to implement, especially with that little niggle of guilt that liked to set in so often. But if I feel tired, like I couldn’t be bothered, or run down, then I don’t go to the gym. This comes with treating your body with love (yep, super cringe but I’m going there) and giving it the rest when it needs.
  • If I felt I was falling back in to old habits, I’d tackle them head on : By this I mean that if I felt the guilt setting in, or that I was going back to old ways, I would stop working out completely. This helped (and still helps) put out the fire than fuel it.
  • I started to respect my body : Saving the best one until last here! Rather than punishing my body through exercise I started to celebrate what it could do. This came hand in hand with working on performance-based goals and giving your body rest time (and that very cringe, but all important, love).

Do you struggle with exercise or know someone who might? If you want to get in touch or feel like you need someone to talk to please feel free to reach out, I’m all ears.

Love Emma x

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