F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum

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Lonelymum

Hi 

I’m not much of a poster but reading this forum has helped us so much. Our 16 year old daughter was diagnosed with anorexia 14 months ago. She was WR at Christmas and we have seen some great progress in her mental state since then. We are currently working through fear foods - a steady laddered approach seems to work for her - as we re-fed on safe foods. We discovered she had an exercise compulsion last August and she has slept in my bed since then. She is supervised pretty much all of the time and when she was at school I took her/ picked her up , saw her for lunch and school supervised her break to stop her going walkabout. We are in the UK and her big summer exams are cancelled.These had been a big focus for her to keep on track with her recovery and I did worry that she would struggle but she has settled into doing lots of craft during the lockdown as well as the typical Netflix and social media. Since August exercise has just been a short walk with the dog each day. She was active before AN but not overly so. During lockdown we are having an hours walk a day but she is fairly sedentary in between and happily so. We have discussed her wanting to go running but she openly said it was driven by AN, we also discussed her going back in her own bed but again she openly said she felt the exercise compulsion was still too strong. Last week she told her therapist and then me that she is exercising in the shower in the mornings. We discussed it and agreed we would set a timer so she would need to hurry up rather than see it as an opportunity to exercise. 

Am I being naive with this - do I need to stop all exercise to help her get rid of the compulsion? We have come so far - like so many on here we have had an awful time and I don’t want to leave her with any lasting behaviours if we can help it. Given the current situation it would feel cruel to take away the walk but we will if it’s necessary. 

We would really welcome any thoughts on this - thank you. 

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Enn
Lonelymum wrote:

 We have discussed her wanting to go running but she openly said it was driven by AN, we also discussed her going back in her own bed but again she openly said she felt the exercise compulsion was still too strong. Last week she told her therapist and then me that she is exercising in the shower in the mornings. We discussed it and agreed we would set a timer so she would need to hurry up rather than see it as an opportunity to exercise. 


You have come so far. Eds, however take years to manage. 
From what you have written I think your D wants and needs you to make her stop exercise in the shower for sure. She says running is AN, and she needs to sleep with you as the compulsion is so strong and that she is exercising in the shower.   As for the walks can you curtail them back to half hour and see how she tolerates it? If she gets agitated with that, you may need to stop it altogether to ensure she can can get over it. 
If you don't go for a walk for a few days, how does that go? I would use her mood with or without exercise to see how strong the compulsion is. That would be the way to assess what you need to do.

When within yourself you find the road, the right road will open.  (Dejan Stojanovic)

Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ATDT+no exercise+ state not just weight+/- the "right" medicine= healing---> recovery(--->life without ED)
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PurpleRain
I completely agree with Enn. My D would get upset if I didn't take her to her dance class at the begging (when refeeding). First I allow her to keep going because she said it was the only thing she enjoyed (I know, typical ED talk but I didn't understood it then). luckily, she sprinted her ankle and had to stop for a month, she was upset at the begining but after a bit she was ok. I let her go back little by little and I would "test" her response to skipping a class now and then. She was ok with it so I knew it was not compulsive. I keep testing every once in a while and now in lock down she can't go of course, and she hasn't ask to do any other physical activity. She misses her classes but in a normal way. 
maybe you can cut back the time to half an hour or go every other day and see how she reacts. And I would sit outside the shower for a few days, to help her stop the compulsion.
Good luck!
13 yo d started to eat "healthy" September 2018, she had a growth spurt a bit later, followed by tummy bug. She started restricting breakfast and school lunch in January 2019 (that we know). We succesfully refed at home.
I have found inner strenght, patience and compassion that I did not know I had.
Never retreat, never surrender
keep feeding
 
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Foodsupport_AUS
Quote:
We have discussed her wanting to go running but she openly said it was driven by AN, we also discussed her going back in her own bed but again she openly said she felt the exercise compulsion was still too strong. Last week she told her therapist and then me that she is exercising in the shower in the mornings. We discussed it and agreed we would set a timer so she would need to hurry up rather than see it as an opportunity to exercise. 


You have done an amazing job and even better your D is clearly at the point where she is able to tell you what she needs. What she needs is someone to help with the compulsion to exercise when someone is not around. I don't think the walks are an issue, she is doing these with you. She doesn't want to sleep alone, and she clearly needs more assistance with the shower. Great planning. If the timing doesn't work suggesting she sing in the shower with someone outside may help, hard to exercise and sing aloud, and shower at the same time.

My D also had exercise compulsion. We never stopped walking the dogs daily unless she was very physically compromised. One of the dogs was elderly which always made sure it was never a brisk walk but it was a time to get out and just relax a bit. The has been some research suggesting that low level, non compulsive exercise doesn't get in the way of recovery and may actually help. That does mean if it is raining, or the weather is not good it may be a reason to stop the walks and see how she goes. 
D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13. Initially weight restored 2012. Relapse and continuously edging towards recovery. Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.
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MKR
Hi @Lonelymum,

I agree that walks with you could be OK, especially if this is also the time you walk and chat together. The walk then has a social purpose, too. But if she starts marching ahead (like mine does) it will be the compulsion. Then you just make it a condition that she walk at your pace or you stay at home.

We choose a different track each time, admiring the houses along the way, or follow a map through a park, just to make it less about just mileage.

If it wasn't for the lockdown, I would suggest a team sport, where making friends is a goal, too.
Mum's Kitchen

14-y-o "healthy living" led to AN in 2017 and WR at 16. Current muscle dysmorphia.
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Yael826_
My daugter as well has exercise compulsion with her anorexia. Since quarentine we are letting her exercise every other day. I'ts a slippery slope though. We are a hugely active family and she was crazy active before she was diagnosed, one year ago, WR after 3 months but still struggeling ( but less). I kind of feel they are going to have to learn how to do certain things like exercise in moderation. I would suggest a timed walk maybe every other day. When d was first diagnosed i would walk with her. 
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Lonelymum

Hi - thank you all for your perspectives - it’s really helped. 

The timer went well this morning and she was showered and dressed before it went off. I think we will keep on with the walks for now and vary the lengths. She doesn’t dictate where we go and they are a stroll with me or as a family with no signs of her wanting to march ahead. To be honest she is her most open when we are walking - often the time when confessions have been made! Before the lockdown there were some days she didn’t walk because she was tired after school . Mainly I decided when those times were but a couple of times she did say she was too tired. I’ve also introduced having a sweet while we are out - a fear food and she has dealt with it ok. Also she is tolerating a morning snack  - which she wasn’t having at school so on balance I think the ED is finding a gap because of the lack of time pressure in the morning. We will carry on being hyper vigilant and I can always rethink if necessary. 

Thank you all - keep feeding and stay safe x

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MKR
Lonelymum wrote:
The timer went well this morning and she was showered and dressed before it went off.

... I think we will keep on with the walks for now and vary the lengths.

... To be honest she is her most open when we are walking - often the time when confessions have been made! 

... I’ve also introduced having a sweet while we are out - a fear food and she has dealt with it ok. 


Wow! Excellent strategies.

Shower timer - I will use this for non-ED family members, too (me included) 😀.

Varying lengths of walk - this preventss OCD (if any).

Walking-talking - a lot of parenting coaches recommend this because with no eye contact the child is more relaxed.

Fear food - amazing idea!

Excellent strategies @Lonelymum!
Mum's Kitchen

14-y-o "healthy living" led to AN in 2017 and WR at 16. Current muscle dysmorphia.
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Alisonpcox
I think you are so supportive and your daughter obviously trusts you. To ensure that it is not driven by compulsion, but in light of the current situation, perhaps you could change the type of movement you engage in each day. Maybe some gentle stretch that you could both do, or yoga, a walk, throw a ball around the yard. Change it up and try different activities so your daughter can still enjoy moving, becomes to appreciate what her healthy body can achieve and you can spend some fun time together. 
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Alisonpcox
I think you are so supportive and your daughter obviously trusts you. To ensure that it is not driven by compulsion, but in light of the current situation, perhaps you could change the type of movement you engage in each day. Maybe some gentle stretch that you could both do, or yoga, a walk, throw a ball around the yard. Change it up and try different activities so your daughter can still enjoy moving, becomes to appreciate what her healthy body can achieve and you can spend some fun time together.
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