As announced on one of my latest Instagram posts, I want to start a new WholesomeStef series dubbed #lessonsfromrecovery. I see my eating disorder as a blessing in disguise because it has taught me so many valuable life lessons and has made me a better person. Yes, I want to talk about the struggle and the challenges, but I also want to look at the positive side of things and show how you can come out stronger on the other side. I initially just wanted to scribble down a couple of sentences on Insta, but I ended up having sooo many things to say that you are here on this post now.
Let's start with the first #lessonsfromrecovery: Weights vs. Cardio
During the darkest times of my eating disorder I would spend several hours a day on the treadmill slaving away. My goal was to become as skinny as possible as quickly as possible. I would go to the gym after meals as a punishment for what I just ate and would run whilst self loathing and thinking about nothing other than how I needed to burn those calories (which weren’t a lot to begin with). Never in a million years could I have imagined to work out because I loved my body. Positive affirmations whilst running ? Forget about it. Even though I come from a very active family that loves to hike, bike, ski etc., I completely disconnected from the joy I used to experience when doing sports during this time.
Once I started getting better I realized I needed to stop running, at least for the time being. Whilst I inherently enjoy running and am the type of person that gets a runner’s high after a couple minutes, it was simply too triggerig at that point. At the same time, my boyfriend started getting into weight lifting and I increasingly joined him for weights session instead of going for a run. Two years later, and weight lifting has changed my life. I know this sounds drastic, but it truly has changed my perception of things in so many ways.
Lifting weights is so empowering. It’s a means to be more, as opposed to the never-ending struggle of becoming less. It has taught me that my self worth isn’t in my weight, but instead in my strength. The number on the scale doesn’t matter that much anymore. What matters is that I am constantly pushing my body and stepping out of my comfort zone to become stronger and more powerful. It’s like there’s nothing I can’t handle when I’m squatting or doing a new deadlift PR. That feeling of achievement when you manage to do your first chin up (still working on those pull ups !) is simply unbeatable. You feel like maye you could do anything.
I also like the calmness of weight training. Simple, honest exertion. It’s almost like a meditative practice. Those hours at the gym are sacred, time for myself and I look forward to it every day.
Then there’s this high that you get after a gym session that lasts for the rest of the days and let’s you attack any obstacles with the same strength and persistence as at the gym. Lifting has taught me to focus on my goals, visualize them and then go for it.
Increased self confidence and a positive attitude, self respect, patience and self understanding are all the things I have learnt since picking up my first weight. It’s self development on so many levels.
These days, I do a mix of weights, cardio, body resistance training aka Kayla Itsines' Bikini Body Guide, TRX, yoga…The list goes on. I love to experiment with different styles of exercising and to learn new things. But boy do I get excited when I get to lift heavy with the guys at the gym. Best part of the day!
Though, I do have to say that not everything is rosy and shiny all the time. I have my ED-related struggles, even with weight lifting. I love the fact that I am getting stronger and can see the progress in the amount of weights that I can lift, but I have also noticed how some of my favourite tops are getting tighter around my arms and that I feel "too big" in them. I used to thrive for skinny legs and a thigh gap, and all of a sudden I have to deal with not being able to fit into any of my pants because my bum's too big. At times, I have this internal battle with myself between the joy and empowerment I get from lifting and the old and deeply ingrained desire of being a size 0. I am not telling you this to confuse you or to weaken my rave about how amazingly transformational the experience of weight lifting can be (because I still freakin' love it!), but I simply want to be transparent with my recovery. #thestruggleisreal
I would love to hear your personal story with cardio and weight lifting. Can you relate?
P.S.: The workout gear (except for shoes and gym bag) are from my newest favourite Australian brand, Lorna Jane. If you live in Switzerland, don't worry, FeelGoodTrading is bringing the brand right to your door step and you can order directly through them.