For so long I’ve been guilty of using exercise as a way of coping with anxiety over food. I would use it to cope with a hard day instead of facing my emotions and praying through them. I would cope with eating food by doing more exercise. I wouldn’t want to eat dinner until I had exercised. I didn’t think I deserved to be hungry if I hadn’t exercised before dinner. Tonight I had pizza with my family. And I wanted to exercise beforehand. I wanted to be frustrated about not exercising before dinner.
It is not worth it.
It’s not worth the worry.
It’s worth trusting God for those little details, for the hunger whether or not you’ve exercised officially.
For a long time, I would get home from a big restaurant meal, and I would have planned that I was going to ride the bike for 2+ hours to burn off all the calories. It never felt like food was something to enjoy but something to fear.
Now. I don’t feel like that most of the time anymore.
Freedom in food is worth it.
Freedom to NOT cope with eating food by more exercise is so good, but it’s hard to get there.
It’s hard to not cope with anxieties, fears, insecurities I have by doing exercise or doing more exercise after a big day of eating. It can be hard on Sunday, when I come home, feel like I haven’t done anything, and I know my body is tired, but my mind is listening to the lies that I ‘should’ be exercising or moving more.
I often think that in the recovery world we can go to extremes. We might demonize exercise as a wrong thing, but I know that from my own experience, it was because I used it for the wrong reason. I used it to try to manipulate my body, and I would use it to often exalt myself above others by being the ‘athletic tough girl.’
God really humbled me by showing me that I’m not invincible. I was even reminded of that yesterday when I went to my second CrossFit class ever; I lifted really light weights, and I am SOOOOO sore this morning.
This is a bit of a rambling post, but I want you to know that exercise is NOT a bad thing. It’s just that I think recovery is a SPIRITUAL and mental battle just as well which reminds me of 1 Peter 5:8, ‘ Be a]sober, be b]vigilant; c]because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.’
I have this enemy who tries to make me believe lies about missed workouts, about how exercise should be my all in all, and it’s not true.
It’s GOOD to:
Be able to exercise and to put off a workout if you’re tired
Be able to say ‘no’ to a workout in favor of time with family or friends
Be able to change the times of your workouts and not be worried about not doing ‘enough.’
Be able to process through your emotions without drowning them in excessive exercise.
But it takes time. Often I have had sweet friends message me who are in recovery and ask me about how long recovery takes, and I have to answer, ‘It takes time.’ And it’s not fast, but you have to keep focusing on the goal of LIFE and not death, joy and not misery, happiness and fullness instead of emptiness and brokenness.
I’m thankful to say that my relationship with exercise is better than it has been in 10+ years. I love to run, but I don’t run everyday, and I haven’t trained for anything longer than 5 or 6 miles in a very long time. My body is content there right now, and while I’m working on my period health, I want to be careful and not continue to jeopardize it.
Now this is also my own journey, and don’t compare yourself to me. We all have different journeys, different lessons to learn, different forms of movement and rest that will work for you in recovery. No one story is the same, but this is my encouragement to not use exercise to cope with the hardship, but take that hardship to others and ask them to pray for you. Message me on Instagram or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need extra support!
Do you ever find yourself using exercise as a way to cope?
What are healthy ways to cope with the emotions that sometimes surround recovery?