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Q&A With Trixie: A Healthy Approach to Fitness

By: Trixie Hennessey

Web-photoHi! My name is Trixie Hennessey, and I would like to extend a warm welcome to the Looking Glass Community.  I have been involved with the Looking Glass Foundation for a long time and have been involved mostly with developing the Looking Glass Residence (formerly Woodstone Residence), a residential treatment program that supports young adults with eating disorders on their path to recovery.

I’m thrilled to announce our newest blog series, Q&A with Trixie, which will provide a forum to address many of the questions I often get from our community about eating disorders. Based on the questions you submit to me at trixie@lookingglassbc.com, I’m going to address the topics that so many of us wonder about. So, please send me your requests and I’ll do my best to answer them in the coming weeks and months.

So, for our first instalment of Q&A With Trixie, here’s a question that I got asked just a few days ago...

Q: How do I manage my tendency to over-exercise when that’s what I see every day at the gym?

A: This is a question that I get asked all the time because exercise can have so many physical and mental benefits, but it can also become seriously entangled with anorexia or bulimia and result in over-exercising. Re-integration of a healthy approach to fitness can be an important part of eating disorder recovery, but I would strongly encourage each of you to take certain steps to ensure that your fitness goals support your overall recovery plan.

First, a great place to start from is psychotherapy that addresses self-esteem issues and distorted body image in relation to gym/exercise habits. While it is not a stand-alone solution, this kind of treatment will provide a safe place to talk about how to process difficult feeling and emotions when unhealthy exercise tendencies arise.

Second, pull in family and friends for support.  Exercising with a family member or trusted friend can help you remain accountable to your wellness goals while also strengthening your social support network and providing a healthy stress release.

Consider this: getting out for a walk or a bicycle ride with others can support a healthy lifestyle that is consistent with your recovery goals but a gym environment is more likely to be a solitary activity, one that too often involves rigid adherence to a strict regimen, unhealthy comparisons, and harsh self-evaluations.  I would suggest doing an honest appraisal, and if the gym evokes negative thoughts and feelings, then ask yourself if the gym is the right fit for you at this time.  If you decide to go forward, remember that boundaries, containment, and balance are key.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, remember to be gentle with yourself.  Self-compassion is the key to all aspects of your recovery journey, so foster structures that support your overarching therapeutic agenda.  Focus on yourself – judgments and comparisons are the thief of happiness.

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Trixie holds a Masters of Social Work degree from the University of British Columbia- Okanagan, where she also completed post-Masters training in Neurosequential Therapy. Trixie is the Looking Glass Foundation's Program Manager and has been a part of our team since 2011. She is also a Therapeutic Consultant at Optimal Family Wellness. She lives in Vancouver, BC and loves hiking, photography, and being mom to her two children.

Submit your questions about disordered eating, mental health and supporting those around you to trixie@lookingglassbc.com. Through Q&A With Trixie, she will provide general advice for informational purposes only. For other inquiries and services, please consult directly with a licensed professional.

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