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WINTER Template Recovery: When to Exercise Again ©EDALOP 2014

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Introduction If you are going to invite exercise into your recovery and your lifestyle, doing so too early or too late can put you in quite a predicament. Yet knowing when to exercise can be a problematic and very nerve-wracking. So how can we know the right time to start? Embrace Weight Gain Ask Questions Find Accountability ©EDALOP 2014

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Embrace Weight Gain Recovery and weight gain go hand-in-hand. There is no universal number, but for restrictive, exercise and purge-related eating disorders, weight gain is a highly common outcome. For recovery, any change, especially the reintroduction of food and reduction of daily exercise, can be extremely difficult to cope with because “routines” ruled your life. These new, self-chosen goals will normally be in direct conflict with the disordered mindset that used to be so comforting and life sustaining. So before you can even consider adding exercise to your life, you have learn how to healthily love and accept your body no matter what the scale or the mirror leads you to think. ©EDALOP 2014

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Embrace Weight Gain Tips for Embracing Your Weight: Reacquaint yourself with food. Like an old friend, you might need to remind yourself what food actually is—a body and mind energizer! Give your body a new purpose. Instead of a weight loss machine or a symbol of your lack of control, your body can be honored and respected for its true, intended uses. Consult a nutritionist, physician, psychologist, et cetera. You don’t need a professional to help you recover, but never count them out as a resource because they can provide information, encouragement and accountability. ©EDALOP 2014

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Embrace Weight Gain Tips for Embracing Your Weight: Daily say things you like about your body. You might not completely believe yourself at first, but the more positivity you add into your life, the more positive and brighter you’ll be. Surround yourself in appreciation. Use the mirror and the scale for good. Write and place encouraging reminders on your mirror and scale. (Click here for examples) Listen to your body. Sleep when you’re tired. Eat when you’re hungry. Be creative. You might have tried some of these already, so make up your own! Make sure they are positive and that you enjoy doing them! ©EDALOP 2014

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Ask Questions Relapses and slips are lurking around every corner, and if you make one wrong turn, you could fall right back into your old eating disordered habits. Not every mistake leads to relapse, but it’s always a possibility, especially if you’re not arming yourself with the right resources. Choosing when to incorporate exercise can be very stressful; and it doesn’t help that your eating disorder lifestyle is just chomping at the bit for you to mess up! Thankfully, you can ask and personally answer preemptive questions to guard against relapse when you’re finally ready to make this decision. First things first, though, remember to be honest. ©EDALOP 2014

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Ask Questions Try Some of These Questions: Why do you want to start exercising? If there is any inkling of a “to lose weight” desire, then steer clear from exercising for now or make a very detailed list of all your triggers. Also include helpful recovery responses for each trigger. This will help alleviate some pressures and lower some related risks, but heed this warning: this will not guarantee total freedom. If you think you’re ready, then make sure you are very well prepared. Exercise should be solely for providing energy, strength and other non-weight related outcomes. So continually holding yourself accountable. ©EDALOP 2014

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Ask Questions Try Some of These Questions: Are you comfortable with who you are now? While we will always make mistakes, we have to be accepting of ourselves, flaws ‘n all. It might take some getting used to, but with exercise having both emotional and mental ties in our recovery and eating disorder mindsets, being defensive of your true self is crucial. Even if the whole world is cheering you on, if you’re not supporting yourself, then you’re recovery is going to be short lived. ©EDALOP 2014

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Ask Questions Try Some of These Questions: Are you willing to take exercise breaks? Are you willing to exercise less than you planned? Does your workout have to be perfect? Exercise is supposed to be fun and challenging. One of the most dangerous things we can do is let something so helpful and positive in our lives turn into something that controls us. So make sure you are okay with taking breaks. Even if they are in the middle of your workout, even if they are for a few days, do it! Always leave time for recuperation and continually make sure your recovery is still on track. ©EDALOP 2014

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Ask Questions Try Some of These Questions: What kinds of exercises do you want to do? Never underestimate the power of various exercises. If you ever had any “go to exercises” during your eating disorder, then don’t start out with those. While retracing your steps is always a useful way to find something you’ve lost, retracing your disordered behaviors during recovery can be quite triggering. Try some new exercises that you’ve never tried before, and when you’re ready, slowly reintroduce those old exercises. If you jump the gun, don’t panic. Relax and try again some other time. ©EDALOP 2014

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Find Accountability Just as you need to be in your own corner, you’ll need some external support to make sure you’re exercising does not get in the way of a healthy recovery. So think about someone who you can talk to, text, call, message, email—whatever, and ask them to help you with this. Maybe they can exercise with you, frequently check in on you, be your cheerleader or even be your bounce board for concerns and other thoughts. Anything! You just have to ask them. Oh and you also have to be honest. They can only encourage and help you if you tell them the whole truth. Don’t let lying, a trick heavily used in your eating disorder days, be a tool in your recovery. It only leads to regret and pain. ©EDALOP 2014

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Find Accountability Don’t just pick anyone. While you’re not going to have perfect information, you can still make responsible decisions on your accountability partner because this person should be a friend, mentor, family member or role model. Someone who you’ve had to rely on before and they came through. This person should also be readily available. They might have been great last time, but over time, life goes on. People get married, start a new job, move, et cetera. There’s nothing wrong with this, but you’ll still have to make sure the person you choose is currently able and willing. Again, ask and be honest. ©EDALOP 2014

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Other Resources: Eating Disorder Coalition Fitting It All In National Eating Disorder Awareness Until Eating Disorders Are No More For a longer list, go here… (If you ever need anything, don’t be afraid to email us at eatingdisorders.alop@gmail.com)