Me and Jim go way back. He was the place I visited at 5 a.m. before school started and the place I went to every evening. He was all I thought about day in and day out. Jim ruled my life and whether I want to admit it or not, he continues to still rule it today.
By now I hope you realize it is not a man named Jim that I am actually talking about but the place I go to every day to try to morph my body into something it isn’t, a gym.
I started working out in high school and immediately became hooked. My obsessiveness became addicted to going to the gym everyday and making it work into my schedule no matter what. If that meant waking up before the sun rose to get in a workout because I was busy in the afternoon than that is exactly what would happen. Sometimes I would go before school and afterwards because I didn’t “finish” my workout in the morning. My compulsiveness to go to the gym got worse and I started to noticeably lose weight. After being confronted by my Mom and threatened that she would cancel my membership I got myself back in check. I still went but I made sure I was not over doing it.
The main reason I loved college is because I could schedule my classes in the late morning which gave me time to hit the gym beforehand. Knowing I would get my workout in first thing made my day a breeze because it wasn’t hanging over me to go later. Eventually life happened and my schedule changed which was a rude awakening to have to go to the gym in the evening. I was so tired from classes, internships and work but I never allowed myself to skip a workout. The perfectionism in me wanted to do it all and make it seem easy.
After I accepted help for my eating disorder, I was sworn off from exercise. My doctor didn’t know how I hadn’t passed out already during a workout. She was terrified my heart would give out or one of my bones would break. Even though a professional was telling me it was absolutely not okay to exercise, I still didn’t listen. ED took over and would not have that especially when they were wanting me to eat all of this food to restore my weight. I couldn’t fathom eating meals and not working out, that just wasn’t going to happen. The idea of gaining weight terrified me so exercising was the thing to put that anxiety at ease. They may make me eat food but I sure as hell wasn’t going to stop burning calories. So I continued to go to the gym. Of course I didn’t tell my doctor that but I know that she knew I was continuing with it.
I did restore my weight and I look much healthier today but recently I have found myself in a deep rooted struggle that I have been avoiding for years now. My unhealthy relationship with exercise. I still panic when I know I cannot make it to the gym due to a busy schedule, my first thought in the morning is when I will get there that day, my gym bag is the first thing I pack at night for the following day and all day long I think about when I can leave work to get to the gym and what I will do for my workout when I get there.
I know this is not healthy. I know it is not logical to think about the gym as much as I do a day’s span. I know that I shouldn’t have a panic attack if I can’t make it there. Most importantly, I know that life is going to happen and I should want to choose to live it instead of getting to workout. But the truth is I can’t stop myself. I can’t stop the thoughts and I for some reason would still continue to choose the gym over a social outing with people I love and care about. Life is going to get in the way and there is going to be days that I plan to go to the gym that I don’t make it there and I need to learn how to be okay with that.
So where to go from here?
The thought of cutting it out cold turkey terrifies me and I know it would never last. Though I know if I limit the amount of time I work out that won’t work either because I become so enthralled in it when I am there, I know I will just stay and not be able to leave. Therefore, the game plan is to cut back on the number of days that I go which has already been anxiety producing. Even though it is not going to be easy I know it needs to be done. I have continued to shun this demon and it is time that I faced it. I will never be able to fully recover unless I work on all aspects of what fuels ED. I need to learn how to love myself and my body without starving it or overexercising. I need to find the joy in movement and exercise again instead of going because it’s compulsive.
So here’s to the next part of my journey. Battling Jim who I have been attached to for far too long.