Beating Orthorexia, Taking It Slow, and Learning What It Means to Love Your Body

It’s been a long time since a workout made me sweat.
It’s been an even longer time since a workout made my muscles ache the next day.
I mean, I can’t even remember the last spin class I took, or the last run I went on.

I’ve been easing back into it slowly because the energy levels haven’t been there quite yet. I’m still recovering from my November relapse and my body hasn’t given me the green light, nor has it felt like I could do very much.

Years ago I wouldn’t have allowed my body to rest for so many months. The thought of even skipping a workout would be unfathomable.

I would have forced myself to get up, drink an energy drink or pre-workout, and pushed until I ended up in the hospital.

In fact, in 2016, I ran myself into neuropathy because it was my way of dealing with depression. I couldn’t stop until I was forced to. I told myself the years following that that I was recovered, that “orthorexia” wasn’t something I struggled with, and I just loved running.

Which is true, I did, but it really hurt my body, and it didn’t come from a place of true love, but an obsession.

Just like in real-life relationships, there is a stark difference between love and infatuation. I wasn’t actually in love with running, I was infatuated with the idea of being small, skinny, and one of those marathon runners.

I had never been skinny growing up. I was always a bit chubby and had the cheeks to show for it. I didn’t mind when I was a kid. I actually kind of liked my chubby cheeks. And the fact that my thighs touched? Why would that ever cross someone’s mind as being a problem?

It took a while, but by the time I was a freshman in high school, it was at the forefront of my mind.

I would run and run and restrict my food day-after-day. I remember downloading the calorie counter on my iPhone when I was only 15-years-old. My parents were nervous about giving me an iPhone because of the freedom it gives, but the real danger for teenage me was in that tiny little nutrition app.

I won’t go into much detail, but it began to rule my life. On-and-off that is. Diet culture became so ingrained into my mind, and I had no idea. I was so innocent and naive that I thought it was normal, and I thought it was a good thing.

I told myself that if I only ate 1,000 calories, or if I ran seven miles, it would help me be happier. I forced myself to believe that running and eating “healthy” was the solution to all of my problems, all while completely destroying my mental and physical health.

Now all these years later I’m still dealing with the damage. I can’t run, and even walking long distances sparks nerve problems. But I will say that I’m really proud of myself for letting my body heal now. It’s easy to regret past actions, decisions, and choices, but learning from them is the most important thing we can do. 

If you struggle with orthorexia, know you’re not alone. It’s easy to get caught up in exercise addiction, just like it is with any addiction.

For me, one of the first steps in healing was actually acknowledging that I had a problem. After that, I created action steps (like I would if there was a business problem in my life) to help work through the orthorexia.

I forced myself to stay home from the gym for weeks. I didn’t let myself run my feet into the ground just because I was having a bad day mentally. I also deleted my trackers off my phone to ease away the self-competition as well.

There isn’t a one-sized fits all solution to this, because everyone has a different mind and different way of handling things, but telling myself I wasn’t going to exercise helped me a lot.

Although I am not addicted to exercise anymore, it’s still something I have to fight. Even just last night, I went to work out a little and had such a strong urge to push myself hard. I had to force myself off the bike after just a few minutes because I knew what was happening.

To clarify – working out hard isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually good for a lot of people. But for me, because of the autoimmune diseases my body has to already take care of, working out has to be slow, especially now as I’m still healing.

Everyone is different and everyone should look at their body uniquely. I wanted to share this post because I have received a lot of questions on Instagram about my workout routines, schedules, etc. and wanted to clear it up.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to send me a DM or email if you have a question or want to chat.

xx Linds