By Allison Brooks
This morning I woke up to a inbox full of proclamations that I needed to get fit for the new year. Heck, even Target got into the mix by having a sale on their workout clothes. Big deal you might say, it happens every year, you know, New Years resolutions. But it is a big deal for someone who struggles with compulsive exercise and exercise addiction like me. Every time I hear or see something about working out I get the message that I am lazy for not exercising right that second, or that I should feel guilty about the fact that I had Chick Fil A for lunch and didn’t immediately go for a run to burn off every single calorie that I just ate. You see, for me exercise isn’t something fun. It’s way to torture myself and control my weight. When I exercise I don’t eat because I don’t want to waste all the hard work I just put in. Exercise is like a very powerful drug to me, something that I can only do when closely monitored and very occasionally. I am currently on exercise restriction because I do not currently have the power to control myself. I say I’m going to run a couple of miles but in reality I end up running 12. I have been exercise free for 52 straight days, a record for me. I should be proud of that but I’m not and that’s because I’m getting the message from the media that everyone needs to exercise and do it to lose weight. And I tell you what, I am sick and tired of feeling guilty for not exercising!
So this is me taking back the meaning of being fit. Oh, of course I was fit when I ran a half marathon everyday, but was I healthy? Heck no! In fact, right now I am the healthiest I have been in years and that’s without exercising and with eating a full meal plan. I am proof you don’t have to be exercising every single day for hours to be healthy. Not only am I physically healthy, but I am mentally fit as well. I am happy and enjoying life that doesn’t include getting up at 4am every morning to work out. The media does not control me or have power over me…if I don’t want to work out, I won’t work out. I will not let the media’s distorted view of what is healthy and what is not influence how I feel about myself. I am in control. I am not a bad person because I do not currently exercise, just as you are not a bad person if you DO exercise. My point isn’t that exercise is bad, it is that it’s not for everyone and that we should not be shamed for not exercising every day of the week. Moderation is key. I will eventually return to exercise, but not until I am in a better place and can do it in moderation. But until that day comes, I will not let others make me feel guilty or ashamed for not running every morning. I am a much healthier and happier person when I don’t.
About the Author:
Allison Brooks is a 30 something legal assistant from Tallahassee, Florida. She has spent most of her life battling anorexia, major depressive disorder, and personality disorders and has been in and out of treatment centers the majority of her adult life. She is in the beginning stages of her journey of recovery and is proud to call herself a survivor. She is an aspiring eating disorder and mental health activist, hoping to spread awareness and reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues. Through her writing, Allison hopes to inspire others to seek recovery so they, too, can see what a wonderful thing life is.