Approaching physical activity with a mindful perspective can aid in recovery from eating disorder and improve body acceptance. The human body was designed to include motion.
However, as with all things in life, exercise must be approached with balance. Our purpose in life is not solely to exercise; rather exercise is one small part that can add to a healthy lifestyle. If an eating disorder has distorted your body image, participating in appropriate and enjoyable activity can increase your respect and appreciation for your body. When we use our bodies as they were intended, we are rewarded with increased health, acceptance and trust in our bodies.
Guidelines for Healthy Physical Activity Healthy activity has a positive affect on the mind and body, rejuvenating and enriching it rather than exhausting or depleting it. In the end, physical activity should alleviate mental and physical stress rather than create more! The following are some tips to keep in mind for enjoying your activity and keeping it healthy and balanced for you.
Choose an activity you enjoy doing to be active.
Regularly include rest days in your routine.
Plan activities for rest days that are social and / or relaxing.
Vary your physical activity to avoid strict routines.
Listen to your body! Do not make exercise choices based on guilt or calorie burning goals.
Exercise with a buddy.
Be honest with how you feel while exercising - are you having fun? Is there something more important to be doing?
Excessive Exercise Physical activity can change from being a positive force in your life to being negative when it becomes excessive, obsessive or rigid. Some people rely on physical activity to regulate their emotions or “numb out” from unenjoyable feelings. Other times exercise may take precedence over more important priorities in life. Physical activity can also become a requirement to allow permission to eat, or as a form of self punishment. These factors all indicate that exercise has become unhealthy and is taking more from you than it is giving back.
Asking yourself questions and considering the answers honestly, can help to you mindful about your physical activity.
What is my goal / purpose for exercising today?
How do I feel when I miss a planned time of exercise?
How does missing an opportunity for exercise impact my body image?
Special Issues for Female Athletes Many women feel the pressure of looking good while they’re physically active, moving the focus of the activity away from their activity and onto their appearance. Many team sports have much more revealing attire for the females than their male counterparts. Many women who enjoy physical activity also face the pressure of “looking the part” for their chosen activity or sport. We all have cultural expectations and assumptions of size and shape, such as expecting a basketball player to be tall, a jockey to be short and a gymnast to be tiny. These assumptions can lead to feeling pressured to fit the mold and can feed the belief that failing to do so means a decrease in athletic performance. However, it is important to remember that weight and appearance do not accurately measure performance, but are endorsed by the marketing industry for their own personal gain.
Balanced and enjoyable exercise can add to a healthy lifestyle and renew our respect and appreciation for our bodies. So have fun this winter season, and choose activity that respects your body.