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working out again after ED - how to progress?

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  • working out again after ED - how to progress?

    hey all

    I'm new to the forum, mostly because I have question I can't really find a lot of information about elsewhere. Basically, I'm currently recovering from anorexia: a few years of subclinical restriction which snowballed really badly about a year and a half ago. I started working out more and more, cutting more and more calories, until I reached a point where for about 8 months, I would literally eat nothing at all (except water and coffee) for 10-16 days at a time. These fasts would be punctuated by periods where I had to be around my boyfriend or family and have to eat (as little as possible) of normal meals. When I was rushed to the hospital in April with a failing heart (along with pretty much every organ in my body) and a BMI of 14.7, my doctor was crying because she was sure I was going to die. I didn't, though, and was clearly forced into recovery at that point.

    It's been a little over three months (I've been pretty strictly paleo since the start of my recovery), I'm at a BMI 20, and I was cleared to exercise a while ago. Since then I've been following the PBF plan pretty much: I walk for 30-40 minutes every day at about 3.5-4.5 mph, every other day I do "strength" with the PBF movements (wall squats, wall presses + a few knee pushups, forearm planks, etc) and a quick sprint session once a week.

    My problem is, the things I am doing barely qualify as working out, but they're far from effortless for me; I can only do about five knee pushups before my form goes to shit and failure comes soon after that. I'd love to be doing heavy lifting but have really no idea where to start and am pretty terrified of looking like an idiot in the weightroom. My muscles completely atrophied over the course of my ED, and my heart physically shrunk a good deal as well. How much more can/should I be doing to build muscle/burn fat? (I can't really lose weight at the moment, because I'll be "flagged" and possibly sent inpatient, but I'd like to improve my body composition as much as possible since so much of the recovery weight was fat.)

    Sorry to barge in with such a lengthy post, but I'm really at a loss of how to do this properly + primally while still seeing results. Any advice would be super appreciated!

  • #2
    If it's challenging for YOU, you're doing good!

    It's all about YOU.

    Progress in little steps!! As LONG AS YOU'RE MOVING FORWARD YOU'RE DOING IT RIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    A JUG OF WATER, IT IS FILLED WITH LITTLE DROPS!! - Buddha!!!!


    And I'll tell you what, you came to the right place. We're all here with you, YOU'RE NOT ALONE!!!!!

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    • #3
      Don't compare your workout to anyone else.

      If your workouts are "far from effortless" then keep doing what you are doing. Your body is repairing itself and that doesn't happen overnight.

      Keep it up, you have a lot of support here!

      Bob

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      • #4
        Agreed with above. No change is needed until it feels easy. And once that happens, progress to the next level on PBF. Your body is going to take a while to heal itself, so go slowly.

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        • #5
          Thanks for the thoughts, everyone. I guess I'm just scared that I could physically be pushing myself harder, but just "don't know what I'm capable of," somehow. Like I went soft with recovery with recovery or something? (At the beginning of the ED, for example, I would do two Insanity sessions + ballet every day, and now I'm so sore all the time just from these short walks.)

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          • #6
            Walk for exercise and let your organs, bones and especially your heart heal. Practice patience, right now. You'll only continue to damage yourself, if you focus on what type and how often to work out; trust me.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by gray View Post
              Thanks for the thoughts, everyone. I guess I'm just scared that I could physically be pushing myself harder, but just "don't know what I'm capable of," somehow. Like I went soft with recovery with recovery or something? (At the beginning of the ED, for example, I would do two Insanity sessions + ballet every day, and now I'm so sore all the time just from these short walks.)
              Oh...and work on kicking fear's ass, not yours.

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              • #8
                You are the sum of all your thoughts - buddha

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                • #9
                  Thanks very much for the advice and good thoughts, everyone! I guess I need to relearn my signals here, the same way I'm having to relearn how to be hungry/satiated. It's difficult because before I always just worked out as much as I possibly could, just like I would eat as little as I possibly could, because those were the safest options. I can track my intake to make sure it's at least somewhat appropriate, but figuring out exercise is even less cut-and-dry.

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                  • #10
                    Gain some mass before you start with heavier workouts, meanwhile heatherdarbs has it right, walking is good or light jogging if your body can take it. Give yourself time to gain strength and heal. Most importantly, just listen to your body. I had to take it easy for a while after I started eating right again after 10+ years of being underweight (BMI was 18-19) because I would get severe headaches with any sustained effort. I could tell when my strength really started to come back and I enjoyed workouts rather than suffering through them only to see how much I lost on the scale.

                    You are on the right path, be patient and know that you have support here! Stay strong, healthy and beautiful!

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                    • #11
                      I do walk every day, pretty brisk pace (I think? all my perceptions of these kinds of things are skewed by my extreme weakness...between 4 and 4.5 mph?) and it's physically pretty tough for me at this point; I also do sprints once a week. I'm skittish about "gaining mass," though--I feel pretty miserable/disgusting at this weight already; I really couldn't bear to get any heavier. What I'd like to do (the only good option I have right now, really) is get rid of as much fat as possible and then replace it with muscle so that I don't get flagged for losing weight, but still have better measurements etc. But it seems like the best way to do this is to lift heavy (?), which physically I'm just way too weak to do. Is there anything else I should be doing to get myself to that point?

                      Do I just keep chipping away? This is painfully slow and it's driving me crazy trying to figure out how I could be making faster improvement. Terrified of the idea of not working hard enough/not progressing.

                      Sorry for basically asking the same questions over and over, but the panic just eats away at you.

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                      • #12
                        You are already talking about being "too heavy" and losing fat. This is alarming!! You nearly died!! The last thing you should be worried about is losing weight. The last thing. Right now you need to concentrate on eating real food and lots of it. Just as important is rest and lots of it. I would even take it easy on making yourself walk every day at a certain speed.

                        You damaged your body badly and it isn't going to heal quickly. It going to take time and patience on your part. I've got news for you too. You NEED certain amount of body fat to be healthy. One of the keys in your recovery will be weight training. Done properly, it can be literally miraculous. Yes you'll build some healthy muscle but more importantly is what you don't see and that is where the real magic takes place. There are bio-chemical reactions that take place that promote a leaner, healthier, younger body.

                        I would however ease into any such thing. Start with body weight stuff a couple times a week at most.

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                        • #13
                          I hope I can articulate this without sounding too blunt or offensive, but time is critical for you.

                          Your perspective is flawed; the longer you stay in this state of concern, while not fueling and living properly, the more clouded you become. If, in fact, you are not eating properly and potentially starving your body, you’re also starving your brain…which, after all, is part of your body. You have to keep that in check in order to make valid and justified decisions…and that’s not even mentioning your organs/bones. There’s no way around an eating disorder. You have to put your head down and go – the entire process is a drudge. However, the other side is the most unexpected clarity and perception. You have two choices: to recover or continue as is and eventually wither. I withered skinny body is useless and not one person cares about your size in the manner you think they do. You can treat your body appropriately in terms of health and be slender and fit – but how slender, is not up to you. If you attempt to manipulate it, you end up sick with potentially life threatening, long term medical issues. This isn’t a “might” happen, it will happen. Actually, according to you, it is happening. The longer you do this, the worse it gets. This is nothing to play around with. Put your anxious focus in the direction of finding the fear(as opposed to pushing it away) that’s driving this ED in your head and knock it out, somehow, in some way.

                          Do you have support? If you’re attempting recovery, expect your body to go through a cascade of changes. You need to allow it to balance and only then will it slide into a state of health. Once this happens, you’ll be shocked with your level of comfort and appreciation for yourself as a “you”…not a body.

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                          • #14
                            Haha, no offense taken, and I appreciate the concerns, of course. I guess I should clarify that I'm recovering under duress, here, not because I wanted to--my BMI was low enough that I was going to be sectioned, unable to finish my degree, etc., so my doctor struck a deal with me about allowing me to remain outpatient once I was released from the hospital so long as I met with her every week and gained properly. (She's incredible and has no problem with me being paleo, so between her and the boyfriend I've got a very strong support system, despite not wanting one.) I am not happy about this; I do not want to be recovered, but at this point I don't have much of a choice. Once I've graduated next spring, I'm toying with the idea of going back to the ED. Full disclosure. Until then, since I can't be the "skinniest," I'm coping by trying to become the "fittest." I'm weight-restored at this point, "healthy" BMI 20, and I track my macros/calories obssessively, so I'm definitely eating enough (too much, if anything: about 1900 a day).

                            I guess my thoughts really boil down to: since, for now, I have to be eating and be a weight+size I hate, what can I do to make it look as good as possible? Completely shallow and vain, I know, but my stomach turns thinking about going back to university and seeing people in this flabby state when the last time they saw me I was a spindly ~95lbs. And who knows, maybe in the meantime I'll learn to like the new body and won't need to dangle the ED in front of myself like carrot anymore.

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                            • #15
                              Are you doing any type of counseling or therapy?

                              Bob

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