“The gym saved me” and other B.S. recovery claims

role of exercise in eating disorder recovery

A topic that isn’t spoken about enough is the idea of crediting recovery from an eating disorder to external circumstances. The most common examples are:

“Going vegan was the key that allowed me to heal my relationship with food!”

“The gym saved me!”

I’m sure you’ve seen someone on Instagram claim one of these things, or something along those lines. But you will never find the answer to recovery in external circumstances. Just think about it...

Diets such as vegan, paleo, or cutting out any type of food, is a restrictive way of living. So by saying veganism is what allowed you to heal is like saying “switching to a restrictive diet is what helped me overcome restriction!” A bit of a paradox when you put it like that, no?

Same goes for the gym and recovery from exercise addiction. I see so many people joining a gym ”to motivate them to recover” and sharing their “gains” (while still scared of putting on fat). This can also be worded as “I was able to face my fear of weight gain but focusing only on building muscle!” Again, a paradox.

As much as many believe the answers to your struggles will be found in external achievements, that’s the very last place you’ll find them. For being fully recovered is not an achievement; it’s a state of being.

If someone’s definition of “recovered” is founded on something external, what happens when that label is removed? Just like a house will collapse if you remove the ground underneath it, your state of being “recovered” will collapse if you remove whatever circumstance you built it on.

If someone claims “the gym saved them” but then they get injured or go on holiday and freak out, they’re not recovered. Their eating disorder was simply masked in a socially acceptable way of restriction and compensation.

Main message? The only key in recovery is yourself. Only you can show up, do the work, and create a life that’s free from an eating disorder. Certain ways of eating and moving can be part of that life, but they are not the life. You are life. Meaning only YOU can be the foundation of your recovery.

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