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Worried That Returning to School Will Impact Exercise Routine

By October 25, 2012

I’m a recovering bulimic and have been doing great with food, exercise, and balance in my life for about a year now. I feel confident that I have learned from my horrible experience and now have the tools to continue to cope and heal throughout my recovery. Recently, I have decided that I want to return to school to earn my MBA. I have the full support of my husband and family and I know I can accomplish this goal. I am going to be working full time and going to school part time in the evenings. I know this is a huge undertaking (pressure, stress, work, multi tasking, etc.) but I want to make the investment into myself so I can exceed in this program. I’m also aware this is going to change my social and personal life very much, cutting drastically into my exercise time. Currently, I work out for 1.5 to 2 hours, 5 to 6 days a week. I love to exercise and it’s very, very high priority for me. I feel it’s the most important thing that helps keep me sane and on track with my recovery. I know I sometimes go to extremes with my exercise but it keeps me calm and feeling like it’s ok to eat the foods that I truly enjoy (in moderation). I’m concerned the impact going back to school will have on my exercise and thus my body and eating progress. I’m afraid that I will start to get scared because i can’t work out very often (or for long periods of time like I’m used to) and I don’t want to slip back into old negative patterns. Do you have any suggestions for learning how to deal with not being able to exercise as often as my body is used to and not gaining weight because of it. How will I find balance in my new life as a full time employee, part time student, wife, friend, etc. and still find time for myself, my exercise routine and my health? – anonymous

Dear anonymous,

Yeah, being forced to cut back is scary. It is also really scary to start such a new role in life – that of a student. In fact, it is really tough to find a balance between being a student, a wife, a Mom (not sure), a friend, and other various roles. I wish I could tell you how to find that balance, but that is something that is individual for everyone and only you can figure that out. It will take time and patience.

Pay attention to what’s lacking in your life and try to adjust your new schedule accordingly. You will most likely feel “out of control,” or even “crazy” at times, remember this is normal for a student/wife/other. If it gets really tough, find someone to help you out. Not necessarily a family member (they can often be too close to the situation at hand), but maybe seek the help of the school counselor or another therapist.

As far as the exercise issue, that is going to be tough too. But it sounds like exercise will play a key role in helping you maintain sanity as you start this new venture. It might mean waking up earlier to exercise, or trying new types of exercise throughout the day instead of all at once. You will be surprised how much energy school can take, both physical and mental. You will most likely be climbing stairs (instead of taking the very crowded elevator), walking across campus in a hurry to get to class, etc.

Another thing to remember is that when you are going to school at night, your dinner time may be compromised. Don’t get into the habit of skipping dinner. This happens to lots of us when we go to school at night. What can then happen is that it sets us up to eat late at night when we finally get home and wind down. This can often lead to binging, which can trigger other eating issues.

Sounds like I’m speaking from experience, huh? The bottom line here is to be aware of what you are going to eat in the evening on the nights when you do go to school.

You should also consider adding exercise in different ways on the nights you are going to school. For example, you might need to move your workouts to the weekends when you have some extra time. Do something that you and your husband can do together. A brisk walk or jog, a bike ride, swim, or hike. All these are great forms of exercise and great to do with someone else. Remember, you don’t need to workout 6 days a week. In fact 4-5 is great! You might need to drop the 6th day and do something “fun” and “energetic” like climbing the stairs and walking the campus at school.

Your life is really going to change, so go with the change. Don’t try to fit your “old” routine into the “new” one you must now create. Be patient as you learn to find this new balance and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. That is probably one of the most important things to remember. You are not “Super Woman,” so don’t try to do it all on your own. ASK FOR HELP! Good luck to you and be good to yourself.

Nicole