We are well into the first week of spring break, and good golly (did I really use that phrase?!), it’s hard to believe, but Masters Nationals is a little over a week away. Actually, no, I take that back. The meet will start in exactly one week! I’m just lifting next Saturday.
For those that don’t know, I am competing in Salt Lake City for a USA Weightlifting National meet–for us older folk. Ha ha, yeah, I know, I’m not that old, but I am over the age of thirty-five and so I am now considered a “master” lifter.
In age, yes, I am a “master.” In terms of pure strength, technique refinement and form, in no way do I consider myself a “pro” or “master”. I didn’t actually start weightlifting until having my daughter who is now eight years old. Prior to that, I did what most people did for exercise: run, run, yoga, run, run. Cardiovascular health is important, and I am so thankful that I am able to go up and down stairs without getting winded. But when in the middle of eating disorder recovery (like I was a number of years ago), logging in miles upon miles on the track, road, or hills was not a good idea health wise.
Endurance training has a certain cadence to it. There’s a formality, a monotony that can be good when trying to clear one’s mind, but not so good when trying to overcome an addiction like purging or food restriction. The same OCD behaviors associated with an eating disorder can easily morph into compulsive exercise in recovery–it’s like trading one compulsion for another, and neither food related nor exercise related addictions are healthy.
So what is a person to do when cleared to move and exercise? I tried the yoga route and found that even that could be compulsive. There was no teacher there to tell me I shouldn’t do two classes a day (and in fact, I was praised for it), and looking at myself and other people in the big studio mirrors doing warrior poses only added to my body image insecurities.
For those reasons (among many others), that is why I love strength training. And I’m not talking about the 45-minute HIIT circuit using weights. That’s really cardio disguised as weight training (no offense to those of you who like HIIT–it can be fun, I just hate the feeling like I’m going to puke after doing rounds of KB swings, burpees, and box jumps, ha ha). Pure weight training using a barbell, periodized programming, deloads and rest days–that is what helped me keep a healthy mind-body connection in and after recovery.
I want to share more about how I went about creating a weightlifting program that was NOT compulsive and helped me appreciate what my body could do versus what it looked like–and I’ll do so in my next post. For now, I’d love to hear from you! What exercise, sport and/or movement have you done while in recovery? Do you weight train? What is your experience with the sport? Leave your comments below!