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Exercise Compulsion

I’ve read lots of questions about stopping exercise lately.

My d had a very severe exercise compulsion when at her most sick. Would not sit. Squatted always over the toilet, over chairs. Constantly moving legs and arms. Severe OCD rituals always involving movement. Ex. Having to run around the van in a certain pattern x ammount of times before jumping in with 2 feet and it had to “ feel right”.

She would exercise in her closet alone at night. In the shower- sit ups with bruises up her spine. If you left her alone for ten seconds she had done 4 star jumps.

At first we thought we were somehow being cruel by stopping all movement because we are all brain washed into thinking that exercise is a “ stress release”. We set timers and let her hit around a ballon for 15 minutes. That was a sweat inducing Olympic Cardio event for her. We let her drop ping pong balls into cups from our top balcony but she just used it as a way to run up and down stairs as fast as she could. We quickly realized WE WERE AIDING AND ABETTING THE DISEASE TRYING TO KILL HER. We were adding to the torture.

So we stopped ALL movement.

When she was super super sick we started by setting timers for her to sit. Butt on chair, feet on ground. The rules were she could scream and yell but she had to sit. If she moved she had to start over. We started at 3 minutes, then 5, then 10. I would kneel in front of her and have her look in my eyes and I would breathe with her and talk very gently and quietly to get her through.

Then we instituted a 3 warnings and then she had a shot glass of Ensure. We HAD to follow through. I had Ensure on the ceiling. It wasn’t pleasant.

We stopped ALL movement. She couldn’t get the mail. She couldn’t go up or down stairs unless necessary. No gym, no recess, NO SPORTS.

I slept with her for over a year bc nights were the worst.
I sat outside of the shower and had her talk to me. I sat outside of open bathroom door when she used the toilet. Even when she began to improve months later I still looked under the door to make sure she was on the toilet.

Within about 4-6 months ALL of this dissipated. With 25-30 pounds and time

And later on my daughter told us things like “ I was so RELIEVED” when you stopped my moving. My knees and back and pelvis ached. Everything hurt. I was so relieved when you slept with me because I knew you wouldn’t let ED force me to exercise in the night.”

My d was diagnosed at ten. She’s now almost 20- in complete recovery for several years. If I had to do it over again I would have done all of the above instantaneously.
Persistent, consistent vigilance!
Your daughter was very young. Everyone’s situation is different. 
Thank you, @mamabear! A good illustration of exercise OCD.

Some of the things that I thought were peculiar to our situation turn out to be more common.

Now I know that jumping onto the chair with both feet is ED. Or going up and down a flight of stairs several times, for only one trip. And a few more.

My daughter now tells us she hated those planks and push ups. But keeps doing them (on the bathroom floor, while the shower is running), because she doesn't see them as ED. She calls them "effort to stay healthy". So I just keep interrupting, rather than reasoning with her.
Mum's Kitchen

14-y-o "healthy living" led to AN in 2017 and WR at 16. Current muscle dysmorphia.

KLB yes my daughter was young. 

But an exercise compulsion is an exercise compulsion. Using exercise as a way to purge by itself or as a way to compensate for the actual act of eating (gasp) is the same whether you are 10 or 40. And yes the ways to combat it may be different. What worked for my kid may not for another person. That’s a given. 

I love what Tabatha Farrar has to say about this topic in adults.  Exercize and doing things you love is terrific..... when you have  free will to CHOOSE to or not and it’s not any longer a compulsion. When you can choose that you want to go skiing or you would rather stay home and sit on the couch and eat Oreos and watch Netflix. 

Persistent, consistent vigilance!

My d was dx at 17.she had exersize compulsion, anxiety depression and now they say possible ADHD
we tried for 6 months to let her keep the exersize for motivation to eat
by the time she was 18 she was admitted to IP in a very sick state and 3 years later she is still in recovery, one step forward and  2 back 
if I could do it all again I definitely would of stopped the exersize immediately (unfortunately in the beginning we got much conflicting advise from GP’s)
once we got the professional help she needed 
she indeed did listen to the experts at the hospital (and she had no choice by then she was IP for 8 weeks)
in the recovery process she was allowed little bits of gentle exersize (for eg 30 min SLOW walk) whilst in hospital only once she was eating and had gained the required amount of weight this was very closely monitored 
this was not easy by any means we had tears, depression, self harm, suicide talk, and anxiety 
then her friends would visit and of course this made everything worse to her as she couldn’t join in what they were doing
So IMO for any newbies do what you can to stop the exersize untill at least WR, then possible slow start to exersize being mindful of your child’s mindset and  that it’s not being done compulsively
it’s definately NOT fair and very sad that their life has to change so much and they can’t do the things they love but I’d prefer that then my d sick or dead
each day still is a struggle for my d but she also does have some joy and fun and laughter in her life it’s just different than it used to be 
Im so proud of her!
just my two cents 

Well said PleaseEat❤️
Persistent, consistent vigilance!

This is a powerful article. 


Persistent, consistent vigilance!
KLB wrote:
Your daughter was very young. Everyone’s situation is different. 

KLB, I'm so glad you still post your updates to let us know how you and your son are doing.  I think that must be really difficult when your son's needs run contrary to the conventional wisdom.  He really is a special case - even here, where everyone's journey is in the difficult-to-impossible range.

It is a tough situation when everyone rightly feels that their situation is peculiarly, exquisitely challenging (i.e., that they are dealing with a super-resistor) and yet 99% need to be persuaded that what seems like super-resistance is actually the norm with this vile illness and that following the standard path is their best bet.  And then there are those 1% like your family who need to blaze a contrary trail.

I didn't say that very well.  What I mean is: please stay with us.

Mamabear, I'm glad to see you back on the forum more often.  We need you. xx

"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP