I can feel my body spreading. Literally, as I sit on the couch, I can see and notice that my legs are getting bigger by the second, and my stomach is expanding. All I can imagine is the number on the scale increasing and increasing each minute I am handcuffed and instructed not to do any physical activity.
- No exercise — meaning my body will not be releasing any endorphins contributing to my energy level and positive outlook on life.
- No lifting — that means not even my twelve-pound baby; therefore, I am being forced to have and hire help during this restrictive time.
- No bending up and down repeatedly — meaning my obsessions with doing laundry and unloading the dishwasher have been taken from me, too.
This past Wednesday, I had double hernia surgery. Before this, I believed there was a reason I had three vaginal deliveries. And, now, my thoughts have been validated. I was able to get up, resume my normal daily activities (maybe not run immediately, but I was sweating my ass off on that stair master), and continue life, as usual. I saw first-hand what a c-section recovery looked like with my sister-in-law, and swore I wouldn’t have been able to abide by her restrictions. Well here I am, with very similar limitations, and it’s awful, like I presumed.
Let’s start with my mood. I admit that I rely completely on exercise to dictate my contentment. It’s just who I am and how I function. So, when my daily workouts are taken away, I naturally feel more tired, anxious, depressed, and, on top of these, struggle with my body image. I am correct when I say that I significantly benefit from exercise, but there has to be a way for me to understand that if I take two full weeks off, I will be ok. I must believe my body will not blow up; I will not pack on weight; and, I will still be happy, energetic, and cheerful.
But, this has been, and, still is, a struggle for me. The truth is, when I reflect on the times I have given my body a considerable break, I realize they have been as a result of illness or surgery. These are opportunities I learn appreciate time to rest, enjoy quiet time around the house, and catch up on reading and news. Despite all the research and literature that suggests “off-days” not only allow for recovery, but, also, prevent injuries, I have a very difficult time allowing myself to relax, recover, and slow down.
Similar to my exercise regime is my diet. I am completely aware that maintaining a healthy diet consists of balance, portion sizes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, all while limiting saturated and trans fats. But, again, I have established specific rules and guidelines that allow me to eat my desirable foods, but, also, sustain a particular number on the scale. Any deviation, such as exercise restrictions, messes me up completely; both physically and mentally.
I’m not suggesting that I am a role model for a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle by any means. In fact, I’m far from it. However, I can assure you that what I am experiencing today, in terms of thoughts and feelings, after six days of zero activity is a drastic improvement from what I would’ve been like thirteen years ago when I had an eating disorder. Though I am not thrilled with the circumstances, and I still have negative thoughts about my body and mood, I’m not nearly as consumed by it now as I was then. So, when people ask if I still suffer from various symptoms, I can explain this situation, and feel proud for how far I’ve come in my recovery from anorexia nervosa.