4

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recovering from exercise addiction

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 19, 2012 at 9:34 PM

Hi Everyone, i am recovering from a pretty severe exercise addition and anorexia. i have found paleo and restored a healthy weight. however, i am still struggling with sitting still. i get antsy and feel a constant need to exercise.
part of my problem is i feel guilyy for sitting down - ever! it makes it nearly impossible to study or even sleep at night. i see all these messages that "sitting kills" and i feel like im developing a phobia of sitting. i am looking to get a better idea of how much time everyone else actually spends sitting. like seriously, do you all sit to eat your meals? do you sit to read a book ever? on average, how much time per day is normal for sitting?
thanks for your help!

Ed0cb30f40daff568778b776b2a5a81d

(943)

on February 27, 2013
at 11:16 AM

Hi tatty, do you mind sharing the details of the meal plan you recovered on. Kcal, macros etc. What was your height and weight at that time?

0d83a31f4066514252a2b6fb81f05b48

(907)

on February 20, 2012
at 07:58 PM

Also I know it will be so, so hard but you actively have to build new thought processes and that means doing all of the above. Sitting, eating, abstaining from most exercise - it IS worth it in the long run and you will only get healthier for the endeavor. It gets easier the more nourished you are and regaining weight actually helps quieten the hyperactive urges and signals as you brain stops starving so do stick with things and it will get better.

0d83a31f4066514252a2b6fb81f05b48

(907)

on February 20, 2012
at 07:55 PM

No worries Savory. Eating disorders are hell on earth. They take lives, break up families and destroy relationships. I'm happy to help in any way I can. I know the road is going to be so hard - especially since we live in a world flooded with messages telling us to do the exact opposite of what is needed for recovery. The truth is recovery means going without exercise (horrible sounding I know but it is the ONLY way to break the addiciton), eating more than you are comfortable with, challenging fear foods and regaining weight. THere is no recovery without doing these I'm afraid.

0c1b326ffcf37b1174d64bb1db5ac95c

(419)

on February 20, 2012
at 03:25 PM

Oh My Gosh Tattly! thank you so much for taking the time to share your story with me. this is so touching and means the world to me! i am inspired and motivated by your story and cant thank you enough! thank you for getting yourself well so that you were able to tell me exactly what i needed to hear to start getting myself well. i promise to pass along the favor to someone else once i am well too.

0c1b326ffcf37b1174d64bb1db5ac95c

(419)

on February 20, 2012
at 01:17 AM

i do appreciate the advice, but just thinking about doing those things makes me feel anxious and guilty. -and it all sound great, but i just dont know HOW to do those things without going crazy. it's like the voices in my head are chasing me and if i stop to rest or even slow down they will catch up to me...so i just keep on the run

0c1b326ffcf37b1174d64bb1db5ac95c

(419)

on February 20, 2012
at 01:09 AM

i do not have a desk job, nor do i ever sit for anything as it is...

F92e4ca55291c3f3096a3d4d3d854986

(11698)

on February 20, 2012
at 12:29 AM

totally, totally unhelpful. this is part of an eating disorder - can't sit still, need to be burning cals/building muscle at all times. she needs to accept sitting and be okay with it, not find ways to avoid it.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 20, 2012
at 12:17 AM

Slow walks, rich snacks,gentle yoga,eat a meal vs. anxiety. I stand by my "DEMEANING" advice. That reminds me, warm baths!..... Hope its not too" Girl Interrupted" for Paleogreyhound!:)

62442eec80b7d248ccfa08f98f736748

on February 19, 2012
at 11:27 PM

she (or he) is at a "normal weight" a la paleo. this advice seems more appropriate for someone in an inpatient setting. a bit excessive and demeaning I think.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on February 19, 2012
at 10:32 PM

I think too many people think meditation means going from where they are to being the Dalai Lama ... that's kinda hard ;). Maybe just start with a minute? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6eFFCi12v8

0c1b326ffcf37b1174d64bb1db5ac95c

(419)

on February 19, 2012
at 10:26 PM

sounds very interesting, i will see if it is available in audiobook form (unfortunately, this is the only way i can get through books right now) thanks again!

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on February 19, 2012
at 10:17 PM

Not sure if it would help reading Seth Godin's Linchpin (which is really about creativity at work), but his whole treatment of the lizard brain is I think spot on wrt the voices in our head. In my case, I call it "fight or flight or food" ... but it's just the way our neolithic brain has connected the dots. Sometimes it's not exactly a win. But we can all retrain!

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on February 19, 2012
at 10:15 PM

BTW, not sure why I didn't think about it when I originally wrote my post, but I also did neurofeedback. In my case, insurance didn't cover it for me, but it was *immensely* helpful. Might be worth looking into.

0c1b326ffcf37b1174d64bb1db5ac95c

(419)

on February 19, 2012
at 10:00 PM

thank you so much for sharing your experience! meditation with training wheels sounds perfect for me, i will give it a try.

0c1b326ffcf37b1174d64bb1db5ac95c

(419)

on February 19, 2012
at 09:57 PM

thank you so much for your suggestion, i have been looking for a meditation class, but have been afraid to sign up as im afraid i wont be able to tolerate it and will have to leave in the middle. i also do yoga now, but youre right, i probably push it too hard . . .

0c1b326ffcf37b1174d64bb1db5ac95c

(419)

on February 19, 2012
at 09:54 PM

yes, i am in therapy and working on this issue - but when i am alone, the voices in my head seem alot louder and more controlling than when i was thinking through a rational plan in her office.

2fd93e91bb14e641a2bac9c6033e84e2

(1614)

on February 19, 2012
at 09:45 PM

That is AWESOME that you are recovering from anorexia and that paleo is helping you be healthier! :) Have you used any sort of therapist in your recovery? If so, have you talked to them about the sitting phobia?

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8 Answers

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2
0d83a31f4066514252a2b6fb81f05b48

(907)

on February 20, 2012
at 10:21 AM

My heart goes out to you savory - you sound like exactly like myself a few years back. I too have struggled with anorexia and exercise addiction.

In particular sitting was my unique brand of struggle (and I why I harbor a personal hatred of the anti-sitting campaign since the ability to sit was a MASSIVE achievement for me that took 2 years). I couldn't sit. I was terrified to sit. In fact I spent all day from sun-up to the moment I had to fall exhausted to sleep standing, pacing or walking on the spot. I was like a caged animal, driven by an internal demon and an innate fear that if I stopped moving I would be immediately struck fat or deemed disgusting.

That fear took so much from me. I was 15 and I had to drop out of school. I couldn't sit in class or concentrate on lessons. I lost all my friends as I couldn't sit around with them and hang out. I couldn't travel because it involved sitting in a car, or on a plane. I couldn't go to the movies. Family dinnertime became impossible. I stuck out and not in a good way. It was insane, I was out of my mind at the time and it was hell. Sitting is part of the everyday world. It allows socializing, recreation, engagement.

I got so bad that eventually I was sent to a psychiatric inpatient setting in another country to be treated. Sometimes I had to be tied to my bed because I was trying to burn off whatever little reserve I had. Eventually I learn't, slowly and painfully, to sit. And you know what? It made no difference on my weight or my health or my blood results. Yes I regained the needed weight in treatment - but that was due to a refeeding meal plan. My general activity level had no actual effect on the calories I needed and I got so much stronger, my skin looked better and I felt calmer when I wasn't feeding the disordered brain pathways that believed sitting would kill me. I started to enjoy life more and I could do more. The first time I could go to the theater and sit through a film was amazing. Taking a leisurely afternoon in a cafe talking to a pal was incredibly soul satisfying. Sitting down opened up my world.

I still have troubles with the urges and thoughts today but believe me I would not give up being able to plonk down on my ass when needed for anything. I can actually have a life and experience the world because I do exactly that. Please go and talk to a psychologist, do some CBT and practice, practice, practice sitting. It will not harm you. Ignore all the info and articles about sitting - they only harm in cases like mine and yours. Embrace sitting. It opens up opportunities and is part of human life.

Best wishes and I hope some part of my story can help.

0d83a31f4066514252a2b6fb81f05b48

(907)

on February 20, 2012
at 07:58 PM

Also I know it will be so, so hard but you actively have to build new thought processes and that means doing all of the above. Sitting, eating, abstaining from most exercise - it IS worth it in the long run and you will only get healthier for the endeavor. It gets easier the more nourished you are and regaining weight actually helps quieten the hyperactive urges and signals as you brain stops starving so do stick with things and it will get better.

0c1b326ffcf37b1174d64bb1db5ac95c

(419)

on February 20, 2012
at 03:25 PM

Oh My Gosh Tattly! thank you so much for taking the time to share your story with me. this is so touching and means the world to me! i am inspired and motivated by your story and cant thank you enough! thank you for getting yourself well so that you were able to tell me exactly what i needed to hear to start getting myself well. i promise to pass along the favor to someone else once i am well too.

0d83a31f4066514252a2b6fb81f05b48

(907)

on February 20, 2012
at 07:55 PM

No worries Savory. Eating disorders are hell on earth. They take lives, break up families and destroy relationships. I'm happy to help in any way I can. I know the road is going to be so hard - especially since we live in a world flooded with messages telling us to do the exact opposite of what is needed for recovery. The truth is recovery means going without exercise (horrible sounding I know but it is the ONLY way to break the addiciton), eating more than you are comfortable with, challenging fear foods and regaining weight. THere is no recovery without doing these I'm afraid.

Ed0cb30f40daff568778b776b2a5a81d

(943)

on February 27, 2013
at 11:16 AM

Hi tatty, do you mind sharing the details of the meal plan you recovered on. Kcal, macros etc. What was your height and weight at that time?

3
2fd93e91bb14e641a2bac9c6033e84e2

(1614)

on February 19, 2012
at 09:51 PM

Paleolithic man wouldn't have sat in chairs, but there would've been a measurable period of time each day consisting of squatting and sitting on rocks or on the ground, aside from the hours of sleeping. Cooking over fire on the ground, foraging for foods on the ground, preparing animals for eating, resting during a hunt or gathering trip, working with any sort of plant or animal materials for rope, net, clothing, etc-- most of this would be squatting or sitting. No scientific proof, but you certainly shouldn't feel guilty about sitting for meals or relaxation!!

What is "normal" now is far too much. I try to stand at work, but it's never more than 2-3 hours out of my 8-9 hour workday. I don't spend much time sitting at home, but I do sit to knit, eat meals, watch a TV show or two. However, I still feel like I'm doing pretty good provided I'm standing and moving approximately 8-10 hours a day.

2
7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on February 19, 2012
at 09:45 PM

I think you're right to realize that while too much sitting is a problem, it's not one you need to worry about. For you, it's really the opposite, which is giving in to your compulsion to exercise (I spent a couple of years doing what I called exercise bulemia, so I can relate a little).

What I'd do is worry less about sitting and focus more on figuring out ways that would work for you to spend more time relaxing your mind. Or in physiology-speak, learning to be more in parasympathetic mode and less in sympathetic mode. The constant angst is really stressful and is taking a toll on your adrenals.

Learning meditation is a great tactic. I found I had to do assisted meditation (aka 'mediation with training wheels') because I was antsy about just sitting still, so I gave myself something to focus on. Start small and build up.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on February 19, 2012
at 10:15 PM

BTW, not sure why I didn't think about it when I originally wrote my post, but I also did neurofeedback. In my case, insurance didn't cover it for me, but it was *immensely* helpful. Might be worth looking into.

0c1b326ffcf37b1174d64bb1db5ac95c

(419)

on February 19, 2012
at 10:00 PM

thank you so much for sharing your experience! meditation with training wheels sounds perfect for me, i will give it a try.

2
89a3eb9e05b04102f0a584e438a7da3e

(1136)

on February 19, 2012
at 09:44 PM

Look into a meditation class. It helps you to sit without guilt. Very mild yoga stressing the relaxation and not the strength/conditioning might help too. Avoid the power yoga while you are recovering from anorexia. Often cable companies will have "on demand" goodnight yoga class for free that will fit the bill.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on February 19, 2012
at 10:32 PM

I think too many people think meditation means going from where they are to being the Dalai Lama ... that's kinda hard ;). Maybe just start with a minute? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6eFFCi12v8

0c1b326ffcf37b1174d64bb1db5ac95c

(419)

on February 19, 2012
at 09:57 PM

thank you so much for your suggestion, i have been looking for a meditation class, but have been afraid to sign up as im afraid i wont be able to tolerate it and will have to leave in the middle. i also do yoga now, but youre right, i probably push it too hard . . .

1
F92e4ca55291c3f3096a3d4d3d854986

(11698)

on February 19, 2012
at 11:24 PM

Two things: are you doing Cognitive Behavioural or Dialetical Behavioural therapy? Both can be helpful for ED issues. Obsessive fear/guilt around sitting (obsessive meaning the thoughts keep happening, interrupt your life etc) is definitely part and parcel of eating disorders, and it's one I struggle with as well (I sit all day for work).

Simplifying here, but I think the CBT approach would be to say "that's an unreasonable thought, or, that's an ED thought. It's perfectly normal and healthy to sit. Paleo man probably rested as much as he could get away with, doing some random bursts of exercise only when he needed food. I am not going to feel bad about sitting."

Also, try to see whether those thoughts are loudest for you when there's other stress in your life. That's key - to start seeing the ED as a volume dial that gets turned up when other things in your life seem scary, uncertain and shitty. And finding ways to turn that volume down - distracting yourself, soothing yourself, etc.

Good advice about meditation, too.

Also, remember that you are a human BEing, not a human DOing. It's okay to just BE.

Finally - here's a great video, some food for thought. Half an hour of activity is just fine! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUaInS6HIGo

0
21b36b3de8ff31b0d41e7f0f4b5c1e03

(1688)

on February 19, 2012
at 09:55 PM

According to my Fitbit I sit for about eight hours a day. That's probably not ideal but I do think even hunter-gatherers did quite a lot of sitting, especially in very/hot cold climates where it's not really advisable to move around much when it's really hot or really cold.

-2
2870a69b9c0c0a19a919e54cb3a62137

(1520)

on February 19, 2012
at 11:53 PM

Why don't you try a standing desk setup?

0c1b326ffcf37b1174d64bb1db5ac95c

(419)

on February 20, 2012
at 01:09 AM

i do not have a desk job, nor do i ever sit for anything as it is...

F92e4ca55291c3f3096a3d4d3d854986

(11698)

on February 20, 2012
at 12:29 AM

totally, totally unhelpful. this is part of an eating disorder - can't sit still, need to be burning cals/building muscle at all times. she needs to accept sitting and be okay with it, not find ways to avoid it.

-2
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 19, 2012
at 10:57 PM

When you get antsy , go take a slow walk, a VERY SLOW WALK. And make sure you take a large high energy dense snack with you. Then go do some real easy yoga. Then eat your next meal. Repeat as needed. Good luck.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 20, 2012
at 12:17 AM

Slow walks, rich snacks,gentle yoga,eat a meal vs. anxiety. I stand by my "DEMEANING" advice. That reminds me, warm baths!..... Hope its not too" Girl Interrupted" for Paleogreyhound!:)

0c1b326ffcf37b1174d64bb1db5ac95c

(419)

on February 20, 2012
at 01:17 AM

i do appreciate the advice, but just thinking about doing those things makes me feel anxious and guilty. -and it all sound great, but i just dont know HOW to do those things without going crazy. it's like the voices in my head are chasing me and if i stop to rest or even slow down they will catch up to me...so i just keep on the run

62442eec80b7d248ccfa08f98f736748

on February 19, 2012
at 11:27 PM

she (or he) is at a "normal weight" a la paleo. this advice seems more appropriate for someone in an inpatient setting. a bit excessive and demeaning I think.

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