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Uplifting Recovery

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I’m a group fitness instructor and have been for more than ten years. If someone told me when I first came to OA that I would be a fitness instructor, I wouldn’t have believed it. Not only was I a compulsive overeater, I was also a compulsive overexerciser. I had lost control of my food intake and overexercising was one of my methods to control my body’s reaction (i.e., I overexercised so I wouldn’t get fat). But by the time I got to OA, overexercising wasn’t working for me.

I began dieting in college, and that’s when others noticed I had a problem with overexercising. One sweltering afternoon, when we were advised to stay indoors because of the extreme heat, I ran for miles on campus until one of my sorority sisters saw me and forced me to get in her air-conditioned car. On another occasion, I was sick with the flu but went out for a run anyway because I had to burn calories or else. When I was at the height of my brand of compulsive overeating, night bingeing as I slept, I would get up before daylight to work out at the gym. As I pumped my arms and legs in an intense fitness class, I often burped up the taste of food that I had binged on an hour or so before. I shudder to think about what I was doing to my digestive system.

A few years after I came into recovery, I was at the gym, and a fitness instructor noticed that I loved to work out. She told me I should be a group fitness instructor. In fact, she paid for me to attend a conference where I was able to get certified. Since then, I’ve been teaching classes every week. I’ve also run several road races, including a marathon.

As a result of recovery, not only has my approach to food consumption changed so I no longer have to binge at night or any other time, but my approach to fitness has also changed. I exercise because I feel good. In fact, as a birthday gift to myself this year, I took part in a fitness boot camp with one of my favorite instructors. I thank Higher Power that, although I’m in my 40s, I have the strength to do so. I also thank Higher Power because when I don’t feel good or the weather is extreme in either direction, I don’t have to do so.

Although working out is a part of my action plan, it is not how I control my weight today. Nothing I lift in the gym can make up for what I lift with my fork. Though I believe that working out has aided my overall health and it is HP’s will that I exercise my body on a regular basis, I cannot control the results.

— Jackie

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