Friday, April 5, 2013

Reality Check, Please

I need a reality check.  I'm hoping you can help.

Most of the time I try not to talk about my accomplishments.  Apparently I already come off as a snob (which I absolutely hate - wish I knew what I was doing wrong), so I figure anything that might seem like bragging should be kept to myself.  (Besides, there is something very gratifying about congratulating a friend on a three pound weight loss, while thinking bout the twelve pounds you dropped last month.)  On occasion I'll share an especially exciting fitness achievement with my dad.  Though I think I might stop.  Lately, rather than being happy for me, he seems worried.  He says I work out too much, which I think is ridiculous. 

I've been living with an ED for so long I know my perception is skewed.  I am aware that I no longer have any idea what healthy eating looks like, but it never occurred to me that the same "ED vision" could apply to exercise habits.  Occasionally I'll have moments of disconnect, like when my coworkers tell me they're training to walk a 5k (I almost laughed because I thought they were joking).  Or when my parents psych themselves up for a hike over the weekend that I frequently do after work.  I know I am very active, but to say I work out too much?  I can't wrap my head around that. 

Anyway, here is what a typical week for me looks like. 

Monday
Before work:
Weight lifting - full body,  vigorous, One hour
Yoga - stretching, 30 minutes to an hour

At lunch:
Walking - three miles

After work:
Outdoor cardio with pups - vigorous, at least 1.5 hours
Yoga - stretching, 30 minutes to an hour


Tuesday
Before work: 
Walking - three miles

At lunch:
Walking - three miles

After work:
Outdoor cardio with pups  - vigorous, at least 1.5 hours
Yoga - stretching, 30 minutes to an hour


Wednesday
Before work:
Weight lifting - full body,  vigorous, One hour
Yoga - stretching, 30 minutes to an hour

At lunch:
Walking - three miles

After work:
Outdoor cardio with pups - vigorous, at least 1.5 hours
Yoga - stretching, 30 minutes to an hour


Thursday
Before work: 
Walking - three miles

At lunch:
Walking - three miles

After work:
Outdoor cardio with pups  - vigorous, at least 1.5 hours
Yoga - stretching, 30 minutes to an hour


Friday
Before work:
Weight lifting - full body,  vigorous, One hour
Yoga - stretching, 30 minutes to an hour

At lunch:
Walking - three miles

After work:
Outdoor cardio with pups - vigorous, usually 2-4 hours
Yoga - stretching, 30 minutes to an hour


Saturday 
Outdoor cardio with pups - long adventure, usually 4-12 hours
Yoga - stretching, 30 minutes to an hour


Sunday (Recovery Day)
Weight lifting - fully body, low to moderate intensity, usually 2-3 hours
Yoga - stretching, 30 minutes to an hour
Outdoor cardio with pups - low to moderate intensity, usually 1-2 hours


I realize there are some problems.  I'm probably not resting enough for full muscle repair, but I do a fair job of listening to my body.  If something hurts or doesn't feel right, I adjust my schedule accordingly.  While I do get a little guilty over missed workouts, I'm sane enough to realize that's life.  Sometimes I have appointments that can't be missed, or I need a low-intensity day during the week, and that's okay.  My world doesn't end.

My diet is also honed for this type of lifestyle.  I eat an enormous amount of protein, aiming for at least 100g a day (vegan protein powder is the only reason I accomplish this goal).  Even while restricting my calorie intake never drops below 1,000.  A normal day I'll eat somewhere between 1,500 and 1,900 calories.  While this seems like a monstrous amount - my ED screams at me that I'm a glutton - I realize it's a necessity if I want to keep doing the things I love.  And I do love this workout schedule.  I feel good, and strong and there is absolutely nothing better than standing on top of a mountain, knowing I kicked its butt.

Back to the point of this insanely long post: what do you think?  Is this schedule something that should be put into my secret box, tucked away with my ED?  Something that never gets talked about because, oh god, they might make me stop?

I can't tell you how much your input on this matter would mean to me.



14 comments:

  1. You're definitely working out a lot, much more than is considered normal. EDs can easily skew our perception of exercise too, so I'm glad you're looking for outside input. I used to run 1-2 hours a day, and people told me it wasn't normal, but I just saw it as healthy exercise. I don't understand how going for a short walk a few times a week can really be 'exercise' but I know that's the compulsive overexerciser in me.

    That said, I totally understand if you genuinely enjoy working out. I'm the same with running, and my cooking obsession, though people always say its just my ED. I think it's fine to talk about, though some people might show concern because they don't understand how much you love working out.

    If you're resting when you need it, sometimes take a few days 'break', don't push yourself when you're hurt, and have a real passion for it - go for it. Some of us are just fitness junkies. I'm glad to know you're also watching your nutrition, though I can't comment on if you're eating enough or not. I think if you can stay safe while working out, go for it!
    xx

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    1. I must be skewed because 1-2 hours of running a day sounds completely reasonable, haha. I'm with you - I don't understand how walking for 30 minutes, three times a week could be considered adequate exercise.

      You make some very good points. Thank you for the comment! As always, Bella, you brighten my day.

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  2. Hmmmm, I am far from any sort of expert but it does seem like a lot. I think what's rough with ED mindset is you don't know what's "normal". I did however find this: http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/diet-fitness/exercise/90-minutes-of-exercise1.htm

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    1. I read the article, and I'm kinda flabbergasted at what it says. Apparently working out 90 minutes a week is "ideal"? How is that enough?

      Thank you for the comment and research, though. I really, really appreciate the time you took to help me. It has really given me something to think about.

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  3. I think you are doing more than average exercise
    I know for myself my ED behaviours are very much all or nothing
    I either eat everything or nothing
    No exercise or too much
    I guess you have to ask yourself are you enjoying it or do you feel a compulsion to do it
    I used to exercise way too much
    I walked my dogs for an hour twice a day and then I used to park my stepper in front of the tv and stay there for hours
    My feet were raw at the end of the day

    I like to live by the rule 'Everything in moderation, including moderation'
    I suppose it's all about balance
    And I know I struggle with that a lot

    Take care x

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    1. Love that! "Everything in moderation, including moderation." May have to start using that as a mantra when things get a little...intense.

      I'm not sure if my exercise is a compulsion or not. I truly enjoy what I'm doing. On the other hand, there are some intense feelings of guilt if I miss a workout. Not to say that I let it control my life, but I'm still working out whether this is healthy.

      Everything is so hard with an ED. Sigh. Hopefully you and I will learn to break the all-or-nothing cycle. Someday.

      Thank you for the comment. It is GREATLY appreciated.

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  4. I've got a crazy idea for you- on your recovery day, how about give your body time to recover?! You're right, you really do need some time to rest.

    You do a lot more exercise than is normal, most people trying to be good exercise 3 times a week not 3 times a day! and 13 hrs of exercise on Saturday is toooo much. Is there any way you could consider cutting it back to twice a day or exercise for less time?

    I know your head's not in a great place right now but anything you can do to keep healthy would be worth the effort. Do you work out alone or with others? Perhaps working out with someone else would give you some perspective?

    I hope you're full of smiles soon hun xxx

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    1. I used to take Sunday off to recover. Somewhere along the way I convinced myself doing only light exercise counted as recovery.

      Working out for 13 hours on Saturday is an extreme example. That usually only happens four or five times a year when I go on an all day hike.

      The comments I've gotten have definitely made me think about my exercise habits. I tried to cut back this weekend, but I ended up feeling worse than if I had done my normal routine - achy body, headache.

      Is there such thing as exercise withdrawals?

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  5. I hesitate to offer advice, because yeah it sounds like alot - but there was a point in my life, where dance was what I loved to do most and I was doing it 2-6 hours a day. It was also my social outlet, it's what I did with friends, and it was a challenge, I took lessons trying to improve technique and eventually taught some classes myself. So, I feel that on the whole it was part of a well balanced life. I didn't feel guilty if I couldn't go out one night, I may have been disappointed that I had to work or whatever, and at the end of the day I knew that there was another dance, or another club night, to go to another time.

    Are you able to miss a workout for something that isn't avoidable (like a dr. appointment) or for something equally enjoyable with out feeling guilty? Are you using exercise to avoid other things - like eating lunch with your co-workers?

    I too suffer from the "all or nothing" mentality. I exercise 1-2 times a day every day or I go weeks sitting on my ass. I restrict or I eat everything under the sun. It's hard to tell sometimes where the balance lies.

    If you really think it might be a problem - and there are some studies that show endurance exercise like yours can be harmful to the heart and body - look up exercise addiction - check at a library too so it's not junk off the internet. That way you get correct information.

    (sorry if I was long and rambly)

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    1. Not rambly at all :)

      My main concern with my exercise habits is yes, I do feel guilty about missing a workout. Not enough that I'll miss important appointments, or even avoid spending time with friends and family, but guilty all the same.

      I tend to read anything and everything I can get my hands on involving EDs, nutrition and fitness. There has been a lot of research saying endurance training can be harmful, but it was all about running. Something I never do anymore. (I went from couch to full marathon one summer and so destroyed my body that I vowed to never run again.)

      For the most part all of my exercises are low-impact and I try to keep my heartbeat at a reasonable level. My intensity is determined by how much I sweat and my ability to speak normally. Not sure if this negates any negative effects of my schedule, but I'd like to think I'm a knowledgeable exerciser.

      While addiction is a concern for me, I'm not sure if my exercise habits quality - yet. I guess this would be a good time to reevaluate before it does become an issue.

      Anyway, thank you, thank you for the comment. Sorry for the long, rambly reply :)

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  6. There are definite alarm bells. The biggest thing I noticed is that there is no rest. None. Modifying your workouts to work around extra soreness is not the same thing as a few days real rest. The guilt at missing a workout is also a sign that things are not quite in balance. It also seems like spending several hours a day could interfere with other regular life activities.

    That being said, I get it. I know how much better I feel when I'm moving regularly (though I've never been a three-times-a-day-er). I'm a half marathon junkie with a history of nonpurging bulimia (including using exercise to "purge") so I know how hard it is to pick apart the good and the bad.

    It's ok to be a lot more active than the average person. It's ok to enjoy getting out and moving. In the big scheme of things, being very highly physically active is low-risk for an ED-related behavior if you can keep from injuring yourself.

    If your goal is fitness, you definitely need more rest, and probably to reduce the number of high-intensity workouts (I read that a lot of it raises inflammation... maybe from The New Rules of Lifting for Women? and it makes sense - the human body doesn't usually have to withstand such high stress at long durations and frequent intervals). You don't eat much at ALL for that level of activity. Think about it. You are easily burning a thousand calories a day through exercise. Your 1,500 calorie day is like the couch potato's 500 calorie day - only your body needs extra energy to replenish and rebuild too.

    Anyway... I'm not sure I have anything particularly useful to say. Basically, it looks like you have a not-totally-balanced relationship with exercise, but you're saying that for the most part it works for you and makes you feel good. With the understanding that I am also coming from a disordered viewpoint, well, it sounds like it could be a heck of a lot worse.

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    1. Inflammation is a concern for me - I take a number of anti-inflammatory supplements. I've spoken to my naturopath about exercise-induced inflammation and we're both in agreement that with weight lifting, the benefits outweigh the risk.

      I also think there's some confusion about my "vigorous" exercise. All that means for me is my heartbeat remains elevated (about 135) for the duration. I adjust so that I'm not panting or pouring sweat.

      As for the intake issue, you're right, 1,500 calories doesn't seem like a lot for someone as active as I am. However, if I eat any more, I gain weight. I'm sure if I could stop my binging behavior, I could eat more on a daily basis, but it is what it is. Certainly not healthy, but it's necessary.

      Argh. Sorry, this was a very defensive reply. I really appreciate the time you took to comment, and it's certainly given me something to think about. I guess I always knew my exercise habits weren't necessarily healthy, but I didn't think so many people would agree with the sentiment.

      Not sure if there are any big changes in my future, but I will try experimenting with some things. Maybe drop a day or weight lifting and/or take a full day of rest.

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  7. I think you're allowed to brag on your blog even if it doesn't seem like you're allowed to brag anywhere else in this world. I have used my blog for years as a release.

    Stay strong in your mind and body and never lose hope!

    P.S. Don't forget to smile!

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    1. Thank you, Ashley! You make me smile :)

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Thank you for the comment! Your input is always appreciated :)