"Exercise because you love your body, not because you hate it." This week, I was reminded of this quote, which I believe holds so much power and truth.
I have been open with my readers about my eating disorder; I believe it is something so many people struggle with and never talk about. Talking about it, though, can be incredibly influential. I can tell you, from my experience, that it has been the people who have dealt with and overcome eating disorders, that have truly helped me overcome mine. It has been someone's listening ear that has made me feel less alone and more understood. It has been the simplest word of encouragement and truth that has transformed a day that could have been one of bondage into one of freedom.
A part of my eating disorder that I haven't dived into as much through writing, is over-exercise, or exercise addiction. I know this is also something many people deal with, in different forms. This doesn't always go along with anorexia, but for me these two things coincided.
Exercise was a way for me to punish myself for the small amounts of food I would take in. But no matter how much I ran or how many sit ups I did, it never felt like enough. I wasn't taking care of myself and exercising for my health, and I knew that. I was, as I said, punishing my body. It was an outward display of the lack of love I felt for myself.
Now, when I exercise, I exercise because I want to be strong, to be healthy. I want to be able to run and dance with joy. When I was living with an eating disorder, that wasn't possible. I vividly remember one day that I was running, and I felt myself start to fall--I was so weak and I couldn't see or think clearly. I felt numb. But as soon as I felt myself start to slip into what I think was me fainting, I stopped. I stopped running and I felt just a bit of energy come back and I went home. I did not stop over-exercising after that day, but I did begin to realize that what I was doing was destroying my body, not making it "better". I realized that I was not exercising for the reasons I should have. And that I wasn't strong enough to keep doing this.
During my recovery, I was not able to exercise at all. When I started exercising again, my outlook on it completely changed. I am thankful for exercise, but I no longer tell myself that I have to exercise. I don't run to punish myself, but to strengthen and cherish the body Christ gave me.
I am learning to love my body. And here are just a few things I've been shown through this journey:
Because you love your body, you will have courage to strengthen and grow it, instead of tearing it down.
Because you love your body, it will no longer be your only focus. Your heart will be sensitive to the problems around you that you may not have seen before, instead of the "problems" you see in the curves of your body or the number on a scale.
Because you love your body, you will be able to love others more deeply.
Because you love your body, you will inspire others to love their own.