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Okay to Exercise with Increased Calories During Anorexia Recovery?

By November 23, 2012

I am 17 years old and have been diagnosed with anorexia. I have a BMI of ** and I know I need to gain weight. I should be in In-Patient already but i promised, pleaded and begged to just keep up with the therapy. I have been going to a nutritionist for almost a month now, (once a week), and am eating about 1200 calories a day which included 500 calories from the drink ensure. I have been running at least 4 to 5 miles a day for the past 7 months but stopped for three weeks after my weight dropped too low. I have begun running again, however, and am running in secret. I would appreciate other insight on whether it is ok to exercise with increased calories during my recovery. I know that i need to gain the weight but i would feel better about eating more if i could run also, i want at least some of the weight gain to come from muscle rather than fat. Thanks for your time and consideration. – Amanda

Dear Amanda:

In-patient help is always a BIG hurdle. No one wants to surrender their daily living to a third party. But, if you think about it for just five minutes, you already do it on a daily basis. You really do not have the freedom to choose what you eat, what you do, or what you think on a daily basis.

You pleaded to maintain therapy and avoid a different treatment than what you currently offer your own self. You “work” a plan with a nutritionist to consume a minimum if you are able to run. You run to reduce the calories you “worked” to calculate out. Then you demand that your body produce muscle and avoid holding on to any nutrition in the form of thermal insulation (fat tissue). What do you call the name of the program you inflict on yourself at this moment?

As hard as it is to hear, your approach is not based on a physiological reality. You want your body to perform without you having to do anything different. Anorexia is a serious disorder that can lead to severe health damage and/or death.

The negotiating, the “deal making”, the “pleading and begging” is all part of the disorder talking. The disorder demands: “Do Not Change” only “trust yourself” and it will have it do that until your muscle and you are annihilated.

Consider printing this response and use it as a talking point with your therapist and nutritionist. Instead of challenging others to let you do your own thing (i.e. avoiding intensive treatment), challenge YOU to do something different than running and restricting calories. The freedom for you to live how the way you want (healthy, with muscle, and physically active) is dependent on you choosing personal growth.

Leanne