Here's the summary: For years, I've been a runner. I ran lots all last year and over the summer until I hurt my hip, when I switched to swimming/biking/elliptical-ing. When I got back to school in the fall, I continued biking a lot, plus added some running back in; in general, I was pretty obsessive about it. Then in November, my heel/Achilles tendon started KILLING me and I could barely walk, much less run or work out at all. So I abruptly quit going to the gym and haven't been back since. I can objectively report that this is the longest stretch I've gone without regular exercise in at least seven or eight years.
At first, it really really sucked. I felt constantly fat and antsy and miserable. Without the chance to blow off some steam every morning, I was literally crawling out of my skin. Plus, my foot took FOREVER to heal. Like, I was still limping in January, more than a full two months after I originally got hurt. Since then, it's finally gotten a lot better and now I'm almost ready (knock on wood) to pronounce it cured. Other than the occasionally twinge, it feels fine.
Throughout this whole saga, I've been absolutely terrified about gaining weight. It didn't (still sort of doesn't) seem possible to reduce the calories-out half of the equation and not gain weight. Despite all that, I pretty much kept my intake the same, even increased a tiny bit, and my weight held steady for a few months. Sometime during the winter, though, it started creeping up. Maybe there's a bit of a delay? Maybe my metabolism's just funky? Anyway, it didn't increase a ton (i.e. less than five pounds) but it still freaked me out. In January, I got my period for the first time in nine months, and I'm really curious as to whether or not cutting the exercise had anything to do with that.
Then I got sick over my spring break, lost some weight, and that's basically where I am now.
There were several weeks in there somewhere when I was okay with not exercising. It almost felt nice to take a break and not have that constant internal pressure to get my butt to the gym. But lately, I've been really missing it. Actually, I miss running outside most of all. The weather has been absolutely beautiful and all I see are other runners everywhere I go. It isn't painful to watch anymore like it used to be, but seeing runners definitely reminds me that I used to do that, and I used to love it.
At this point, I'm thinking about exercising again in a vague, noncommittal way. Like, I haven't set a date for when I plan to start back up again or anything like that, but it's in back of my mind, nagging at me, getting louder and louder all the time. And it doesn't necessarily feel like an ED urge, I promise, although I definitely need to be careful of that. It feels more like me wanting to do something that I've always done, even during my healthiest times, and that I want to do again because it makes me feel good.
My therapist and dietician have not given me the green light to resume exercise, although I also haven't really pushed the issue with them since my foot has kept me from working out for so long anyway. But I did work out all last fall, which they knew about and didn't forbid me from doing. At my appointment yesterday, R did mention that I really shouldn't be running until I put some weight back on, but he mused about whether or not the exercise would help increase my appetite and make the meal plan look a bit more palatable. (Obviously I would need to replace any additional calories burned off.)
I guess my biggest concerns now are that A) I'm worried about getting hurt again, and B) I'm worried about getting obsessed again. I don't know how to exercise without finding myself stuck in the pattern of needing to do more each day than I did the day before. All last summer and fall, I was incredibly obsessive and ritualistic about my workouts, to the point where my day would be absolutely ruined if I didn't get a good workout in. I would arrange my days around my workouts, and I would hate myself for missing one. To be clear: I don't want to go back to that. But being in shape also makes me feel strong and powerful, and I miss that so much.