What It's Like Working Out After An Eating Disorder


It's possible, but it takes a lot of realignment

When I was in college and didn't really have much control over anything in my life, I placed an unhealthy amount of attention on my workout routine. I was insecure in my job and confused about my future, so I started working out every day, for hours on end; usually, I felt like I had to reach the three-hour mark to really feel accomplished. If I missed a day, I was even more hyperaware of the calories that I was putting in my body, and felt that I could see every slight fluctuation in my figure. I didn't realize it at the time, but, looking back, it's obvious that I was a compulsive exerciser, and likely dealing with an eating disorder on top of it.

While I've since reevaluated what I should be getting from a workout, and have worked with a therapist to take control of my problematic views of my own body, it's incredibly hard to get into working out in a healthy way when you've had any type of image disorder. This is because people who have dealt with eating disorders and those who suffer from compulsive exercising have dramatically different outlooks on working out than those with a healthy relationship with their bodies. "For people who have not struggled with an eating disorder or body image issue, exercise is something you do to feel good, to lose some weight in a healthy way, to feel strong, to feel confident, and to challenge yourself," notes Dani Tsukerman, the founder of Very Personal Training. But, she adds, for someone who has dealt with one of these disorders, "exercise becomes very tied to their self-worth, and isn't necessarily something that they do to feel good intrinsically."

Adds Dr. Ariela Vasserman, a licensed psychologist, "People who struggle with eating disorders in conjunction with excessive exercise tend to have much anxiety, anger and frustration, fear, and worry when their exercise routine is interrupted." Working out, Tsukerman says, isn't something that is done to feel healthy, but, rather, to "look good externally and to rid themselves of negative feelings, almost like an addict who can't function without drugs or alcohol."

And, in fact, even when people in recovery have regained a stronger sense of control over your eating disorder, it can still be difficult to get back into the workout groove in a positive way. For compulsive exercisers, Tsukerman says, "Your obsessive brain tells you that it's a great idea and that this is finally going to be the way that you feel great about yourself, and you may even outline in your head how it's going to happen, and be motivated and excited about the idea of it happening. It can make you feel euphoric and energized, because you feel 'in control.'" But that sense of control doesn't last forever, she says, and after a while "the sense of control [can backfire] and start controlling you."

Claire Mysko, the CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association, also notes that "the content around working out can be more damaging than the workout itself," pointing out that "far too many accounts share 'thinspiration,' and, more recently, 'fitspiration," which "promote unhealthy behaviors and unrealistic body standards." Tsukerman notes that this type of mindset makes its way into many gyms: "There are so many negative messages that are subliminally being sold, and they do it in a way that you think is 'normal,'" she says, and notes that it's common to hear the phrases "bikini body season," "six-pack abs," or even "strong is the new sexy" being tossed around casually.

For those who struggle with an eating disorder, having a negative view of their bodies can inhibit their ability to get back into working out. The weight of others' opinions added to their own view of their bodies can make working out in front of others near impossible. Says Tsukerman, "They might have feelings of shame or anxiety about working out in front of others, or may feel like they look stupid and that others are judging them or that they don't look as good as others in the gym, so they don't want to be in that kind of environment." All of these potential sources of insecurity, shame, discomfort, or triggering thoughts make the process of finding the right way to begin a healthy workout regimen incredibly rocky. It is possible, though, but takes an incredible amount of self-care.

Everyone I spoke with agrees that it's vital that you begin the process with a trained professional, and continue to use their expertise as a resource while you continue your journey. First off, if you're interested in beginning the process of learning to work out in a healthy way, Mysko says that it's best to discuss it with your therapist to "develop a plan," and then "check in that the exercise you're doing is being incorporated in a way that is helping you further your recovery." Tsukerman urges those able to seek out a trainer who is knowledgable and understanding of eating disorders, compulsive exercising, and body image issues and how they impact one's view of themselves. Someone with this training "will help you set realistic goals, to begin with, and they will help you reframe how you think about exercise in a positive way." Vasserman echoes these claims, noting that, "with the help of trained professionals, individuals may start slowly and gradually begin to develop a healthier relationship with exercise."

There are many things to avoid when stepping into the gym when you're dealing with a disorder. "A major thing to avoid is the scale and body measurements," says Tsukerman. "Because so many people base their self-worth or their success on the scale, it can be extremely triggering." Self-awareness is extremely necessary, as well; she says, "Know your triggers and patterns, and devise a plan for when you're faced with those triggers." Vasserman says that understanding how you can use exercise as a way of "challenging some of the dysfunctional associations and preoccupations with weight loss and body image" can make your mindset toward your workout more positive, overall.

And, too, keep in mind what is motivating you to work out and make sure that you're doing it for the right reasons. Says Tsukerman, "If you are doing it because you feel guilty for something you ate last night, or because you know you'll feel guilty if you don't work out, then challenge that and don't work out right then. Sit with those feelings and let them pass and you'll see that you survived and nothing bad happened." This will be hard, and it won't immediately change your outlook, but, "with more and more practice, you will find a balance."

"It is important to have an individualized exercise reintegration program for those who suffer from excessive exercising and other eating disordered behaviors," says Vasserman, but, for those who do not have access to mental health professionals, there are options. When it comes to the type of exercises that serve you best, Tsukerman says the best are those that "bring awareness to your body and require you to be slow and methodical or intentional" with your movements. "With each movement make sure you are tapping into each body part as it moves, and take note of how it feels," she says. "It's okay to take this slow." Vasserman also suggests "lower intensity, anaerobic exercises in conjunction with mindfulness practices" for those just starting to get into working out again.

Tsukerman notes that those who have struggled with disorders likely have an obsessive outlook on exercising, and says that you need to try to actively work against that. "Try not to count the number of repetitions and allow yourself to stop an exercise when you feel you need to," she says. Tsukerman also gets that it's typical to "find yourself wanting to quicken the pace or get your heart pounding," but it's vital that you come to understand that exercising is about "waking up your body and mind" more so than it is about burning calories. And don't get too in-your-head about it: "Keeping exercising fun and enjoyable is important when reintegrating exercise in a healthier way," says Vasserman.

Everyone agrees that the most important things to focus on are that you're not becoming triggered by your workout and that you're continuing to work out for the right reasons. Working out should allow you to feel better about yourself, not worse.

Photo by Imani Givertz

Premiering today via NYLON

Small Talks, aka Cayley Spivey, has come a long way since starting a band, then becoming the entire band herself and forging her own fan base from the ground up. On her recent album A Conversation Between Us, she began to unpack any lingering baggage with one particular song: "Teeth." Today, she premieres the accompanying music video exclusively via NYLON.

"'Teeth' is about my personal battle with letting go of the past," Spivey tells NYLON, admitting that it's easily her favorite song off of A Conversation Between Us.

Watch the video for "Teeth" below.

Small Talks - Teeth (Official Music Video) - YouTube

Photos by Joe Maher/Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

Must have been pretty awkward

Taylor Swift and Sophie Turner were guests on the U.K.'s The Graham Norton Show together, which must have been awkward for Turner's husband, Joe Jonas, seeing as he also happens to be Swift's ex. I wonder if his name came up?

The interview doesn't come out until Friday night, but promotional photos show the two sharing a couch. Swift is making an appearance to perform her new single, "ME!" while Turner is promoting her new film, X- Men: Dark Phoenix. But it seems necessary for the two to be asked about Jonas.

Swift was just on the Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month, where she brought up the fact that she felt bad for putting Jonas "on blast" on DeGeneres' show back in 2008 by telling the audience that he broke up with her in a record-setting short phone call. But, according to Swift, she and Jonas are chill now, since it happened pretty long ago, which means she's probably already hung out with Turner and maybe even gossiped about him with her.

We can only hope that they get the chance to spill some tea on television.

Screenshot via YouTube, Photo Courtesy of HBO

"That's! His! Auntie!"

Leslie Jones has rewatched the Game of Thrones finale with a beer in hand, Seth Meyers at her side, and a full camera crew ready to take in all her glorious reactions. Spoilers ahead, but, if you haven't watched last week's episode already, that's kind of on you at this point.

When Jon Snow started to make out with Daenerys, also known as his aunt, only to stab her through the chest moments later, it was emotional whiplash for everyone watching. And, Jones' reactions—both from her first and second viewing—sum it all perfectly.

"That's! His! Auntie! [gagging noises]," Jones says before making an aside about calling the police if her uncle ever tried to do the same. But then the knife goes in, and Jones screams. "Did you see that?!" Jones asks, "Yeah bitch, that's a knife in you." Meyers points out the funniest part of all: "Why are you so upset about someone kissing their aunt but totally fine with someone killing their aunt?" Jones replies, "Because that bitch needed to go," and, well, same.

Other highlights from the comedians' rewatch include comparing Dany's victory speech to a bad improv gig, predicting that their dogs would have less of a reaction to their deaths than Drogon did to his mother's, and more.

Watch all of Jones' reactions from this Late Night clip below.

Game of Jones: Leslie Jones and Seth Watch Game of Thrones' Series Finale

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These lyrics are a lot

Robbie Tripp, aka Curvy Wife Guy, is back with a music video, titled "Chubby Sexy," starring his wife and a trio of models. In it, Tripp raps about his bold choice to find women with an average body size attractive.

The video begins with a series of statements laid over some pool water: "Curves are the new high fashion," "Chubby is the new sexy," "We Out Here." Tripp posits that these queens deserve an anthem, which they do. What they do not deserve is this Cursed Song. As he lists all the names he knows to call them by (thick, thicc, and BBW), one model (who I really, really hope was paid well) squirts some lotion down her cleavage, and Tripp begins dancing.

"My girl chubby sexy/ Call her bonita gordita," Tripp states in his chorus, before going on to compare "big booty meat" to the peach emoji. Another thing he mentions is that his wife can't find a belt that fits her waist, and that's why he calls her James and the Giant Peach. He then tries to dab. Here are some of the other Cursed highlights from his, uh, verses:

Got those Khaleesi curves/ Knows how to dragon slay
She like a dude that's woke/ We like a girl that's weighty
Some say a chubby girl that's risky/ But they ain't met a curvy girl that's frisky
Imma dunk that donk like I'm Andrew Wiggins.
Thick like an Amazon/ Built like Big Ben.

Tripp says one thing in the video that I couldn't agree more with: "She don't need a man." No, she does not. Please run. If you must, watch the entire video, below. Or send it to your nemesis!

Robbie Tripp - Chubby Sexy (Official Music Video)

Photo by Emma McIntyre / Getty Images.

See the promo here

It was bound to happen. The Kadashians and Jenners have committed themselves to letting the cameras roll on their lives, for better or for worse. So if you thought that the Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson cheating scandal was off limits, you thought wrong. The trailer for Sunday's episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was just released, and it involves the famous family working through the fallout of what happened when Woods went to a party at Thompson's house.

The teaser includes the infamous clip of Khloé Kardashian screaming "LIAAAARRRRRR." It's still not explicitly clear who prompted that strong response. She could be responding to Thompson, who clearly isn't always honest. Or she could be reacting to Woods account of the events on Red Table Talk. But the most revealing moment comes when we see Kylie Jenner—who was Woods' best friend before all of this happened—react for the first time.

In a heart-to-heart conversation, momager Kris Jenner says, "For you and Jordyn, it's like a divorce." Kylie only offers this in response: "She fucked up." Based on Woods' version of events—which I'm inclined to believeThompson is the one who fucked up. Still, I'm hoping for some kind of reconciliation between the two longtime friends. Perhaps we'll have to wait until next season for that.

Check out the promo video below.