Struggling with Adult Anorexia: When Exercise Becomes Extreme
Updated: Oct 12, 2022
By Diane Corso
While exercise is typically viewed as a healthy habit, for me, and many others with eating disorders, it can easily become harmful.
At one point, I was running 25 miles every single day — quite literally running a daily marathon on a treadmill. I couldn’t stop. Excessive exercise interfered with my daily life and activities, yet I always found a way to make it “work” — even if that meant hopping on the treadmill at 3:30 am. I exercised in secret so no one could see my struggle or judge me. I exercised when I was sick. I exercised through the fire in my shins and the purple, throbbing blisters on my toes and even despite the pain of broken bones. I share more about this struggle in my book, The Uncomfortable Truth.
While this remains an ongoing struggle for me, I’m slowly trying to develop a healthier relationship with exercise and have taken several small steps that have helped:
1. Walking — Running is my thing. I simply cannot go a day without it. However, I now incorporate walking with my runs. Before, I viewed walking as weak, but now I walk about half of the time, and dare I say, I’ve even grown to enjoy it!
2. Involving Family — I include my kids in my exercise routine. We take a class or go for a walk together which helps to keep me from overdoing it.
3. Shifting My Mindset — I talk back to the compulsion. I curse at it and accuse it of failing me and lying to me. I try to change the inner dialogue that runs through my mind.
The more I learn about exercise and addiction, the more I understand it’s a compulsion and one I’m still working to counteract.
If you, or someone you know, face similar struggles, here are a few resources:
• National Alliance for Eating Disorders
• National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)
• International OCD Foundation
• National Alliance on Mental Illness