Tired of Striving for ‘Lower Than Healthy BMI’

By October 16, 2012

I’ve come to terms with my unrealistic concept of the ideal image of me having a lower than healthy BMI. I exercise EVERY morning, holidays, Sundays, you name it and I get up extra early to make sure I have the time to do it. The guilt if I don’t do it is so overwhelming that I skip a meal to make up for it. Since I now realize this is a REAL problem with real side effects—I’m always cold, wake up several times a night, depression, etc. I want to break free of this vicious cycle. My day revolves around what time I will/won’t eat and what I will eat. Going forward, I want to become a healthy woman again and no longer be the skinny bag of bones as I’m often referred to. My question….do I keep the habit of daily morning exercise and just eat more? Or do I keep eating the way I have been and stop exercising? Some type of combo of the two? I don’t know where to turn without feeling guilty no matter which I choose. Please guide me??? Thanks. – L.

Dear L:

First, it’s wonderful that you now recognize the vicious cycle you have been trapped in, and are determined to break free. Acknowledging that you had unrealistic and unhealthy expectations for your body size and weight is also a huge step. You are definitely on the right track!

You are also asking an excellent question. Ultimately, your goal is to reach a place of balance, at which you can exercise more moderately for the right reasons, while also eating healthfully. It’s clear from your letter, however, that the thought of doing this is overwhelming to you.

What would really be best is for you to sit down with a nutritionist who has experience with disordered eating (see “Finding a Nutritionist”). He or she can help work out a plan, tailor-made to your preferences and situation, so that you can reach that place of balance. You would make gradual steps, one at a time to reach your goals. This plan would include:

  • Eating three balanced meals a day, with healthy snacks as needed
  • Making healthy food choices most of the time
  • Incorporating favorite “fun” foods in moderate amounts
  • Learning how to eat intuitively to meet your body’s need for fuel and nourishment
  • Developing an individualized exercise plan that you can enjoy without obsession

To get started in the meantime, explore  articles in the “Eat Well, Live Well” section of this site.  I think you will be encouraged and emboldened by the information, especially since you have already made the decision to make changes.

If you feel you need extra support and advice in understanding the issues that are at the root of your attitudes about eating and exercise, you should also considering a consultation with an eating disorders therapist.

Please keep in touch, and let us know your progress.