Cold Turkey To Overcome Movement Compulsions??
This is a question I’ve asked myself many times – how we approach stopping exercise & compulsive movement in eating disorder recovery?
Cold turkey or gradually decrease?
I don’t think there is a one size fits all approach.
Recovery is messy & complicated & takes a lot of trial & error to find our unique path.
Many (like me) with an ED do have quite rigid, black & white thinking (a part of the undernourished brain) & so the all or nothing can be easier to comprehend.
Of course, unlike with purging through vomiting, movement is a hard one to get right.
We cannot stop all movement as we still need to get from A to B (even just around the house), so it is less black & white.
Some people though do find cold turkey mindset works for them.
Cancel plans, stay home for a while with lots of food & break all the movement compulsions, the usual walks or other movement you usually do. Put yourself on couch rest & have others help with shopping, cleaning etc for a while (or have stores deliver) letting the brain start to rewire years of compulsive movement.
Other people cannot do this – it’s too big a leap, too scary – so a stepwise approach might work better, ensuring it is taking good enough steps each time & that the steps forward to reduce movement don’t cease altogether or allow old habits to sneak back.
When reducing movement it is CRUCIAL that the eating does not suffer – certainly does not reduce & ideally increases. .
Doing this we teach our brains any link between food & exercise is inappropriate. We do not need to ‘earn’ food. .
Fears are going to scream at us when we stop movement…. A key one – fear of weight gain.
However, to recover from an ED, for most of us, weight changes are NECESSARY – we don’t recover otherwise.
So, yes -ED will argue you will gain weight if you sit & eat all day but we need to argue back that that is the point!!!
And when our body is trusting us, healing & the metabolism revs up, the gains will stop – we don’t need to return to movement for that.
This is a leap of faith.
But cold turkey or not – addressing the movement is necessary!