When I was forced to challenge my restrictive behaviours and EAT MORE, I used to compensate for the increase in calories by running even more, and this seemed to mitigate the threat and made me feel better. If I felt I’d over-indulged, I could run it off. I was constantly looking for opportunities. In any lull, or when I felt at a loss, I could occupy myself with a quick trot around the block. I’d extend my usual run with little detours and digressions. Plotted on a map, my route contained so many extra loops that it would have looked like some baroque, ornamental filigree.
My theory was that burning off the extra calories made the extra food bearable. If I didn’t tell myself that I could run it off, I wouldn’t eat it in the first place. Then, over time, my natural laziness would re-assert itself and the extra running would drop away.
It didn’t work out that way. At least, it hasn’t so far, and it’s years since I started. I’ve surprised myself by having far more determination than I realised, which, confusingly, is something to be proud of. And isn’t.
It’s hard to give up these reassuring demonstrations of strength, these reassuring demonstrations of quiet but extra-ordinary anguish, and subside back into being another ordinary, slightly sub-average schmuck.
I could continue running because, for a long time, even after diagnosis, I was blind to the link between exercise and anorexia – how strong it was, how faithful the correlation. The discrepancy between my calorie intake and expenditure was mathematical and simple, and, for this reason, Abi had forbidden any of exercise at all. Still, food and diet seemed to be the focus. Running was an obstacle to recovery, rather than a cause of the problem.
So, the words went in, I acknowledged their truth, but they didn’t mean anything to me. Perhaps my own experiences lacked authenticity, and thus so did the deductions I could draw from them. I couldn’t take my own psychology seriously. My interior existence was unreal, insubstantial, unconvincing.
I guess it’s also because running was my daily habit since long before the apparent beginning of my illness, and so seemed unconnected to it. This begs the question, though, how deep do the roots of these conditions go?