Do you feel totally tired and exhausted in recovery? Feel like you have no energy for everyday tasks, lack motivation, and feel very unproductive?
You may wonder what the heck is going on?? Isn’t recovery supposed to make me feel better, not worse??
Many people feel they had way more energy when they were restricting and think maybe all this eating and not exercising is not good for them?
In today’s video, I will talk about why you feel so tired and exhausted in recovery so I hope it will ease your worries about recovery “not working for you” and will keep going!
Why are you feeling so exhausted and tired in recovery?
I will try to explain this by drawing a parallel with experiencing some other type of illness.
Let’s say you have the flu and you are recovering from it. You won’t feel energized, you won’t feel like doing a lot of stuff or being super productive. It’s very likely you will feel exhausted, you want to lay down, sleep more, you feel fatigued, you feel you can’t do the normal daily things, or at least it requires so much more energy and feels a lot harder.
So in the same way if you are recovering from restriction, not eating enough, from so many unhealthy disordered behaviors then your body is also recovering from something serious. You are recovering from an illness. Maybe it lasted for a few weeks or months, maybe it lasted for many years or even decades.
Your body is recovering and restoring itself and right now it has more important duties than giving you daily energy to continue your normal daily life.
It has to repair all the inner damage restriction and the disordered behaviors have created. Like recovering from low metabolism, digestion issues, getting back your period, restoring your muscle mass, even restoring your organs and your brain as all of them suffer from restriction.
When we restrict our body doesn’t just lose fat mass but it loses weight from all body tissues. When you are restricting or dieting the body will literally eat itself to get energy. This is why many people develop osteoporosis which is thinning of the bones, or their stomach muscles will be utilized for energy, peoples muscle mass will start to fade away, they experience insomnia, their hair falls out, they have more anxiety and depression because their brains are suffering from lack of fuel.
As you can see there are so many things restriction and starvation affects and therefore there are so many things in recovery our bodies need to recover from.
To understand more about what’s happening in your body when you are recovering I think it’s helpful to draw another parallel with something called triage.
Triage is something that is typically used in hospitals when there are many patients to take care of but you have to make a choice of who is the first one you need to take care of, in terms of who is in the most critical condition.
The body also operates in a similar way and it will choose to take care of the most important tasks first – if you are recovering from an eating disorder it is not important that you have the normal daily energy for your everyday activities, but it is the most important that all the energy you do get, all the food you eat, all this energy and fuel goes straight to restoring the body and all the damage restriction has created.
This is why you will feel so exhausted in recovery, our body is right now operating on more important tasks that need to be taken care of first.
But now you may wonder…
“But why I had so much energy when I was restricting?”
Everybody is different. Some people also felt in their restriction that they were exhausted but some people felt they had actually more energy.
And one explanation is that it wasn’t the “real energy” that comes from having a healthy functioning body but it was more of the “fake energy” that comes from running on your stress hormones.
So when you’ve been restricting and your body senses that you are starving it may increase your stress hormone production that gives you this false sense of energy. It’s this anxious and obsessive energy that comes from living under stress, it isn’t calm and happy energy that comes from truly being healthy. There is a huge difference.
And evolutionarily speaking it also makes sense because having more energy when you are starving can be a form of starvation response – if stress hormones “keep you wired” and give you this fake energy when you are starving it helps you to keep moving to places with more food.
In recovery the exhaustion finally hits you
But once the body finally gets enough food in recovery it can finally relax and put all this energy towards healing, and THEN you may suddenly feel very exhausted and tired.
Plus, of course, it’s very hard work for your body to digest food when your digestion is compromised because of restriction, and it does take a lot of food to be processed to reach energy balance. Your body literally has to restore all the normal functions and systems that weren’t working optimally when you were restricting. There is so much repair work going on internally and all of this will take a lot of energy.
Remember, you are not starting from energy balance, you are starting from energy dept, and all the damage restriction has created has to be restored. And it takes a lot of fuel and energy. So understandably your body won’t give you normal daily energy (like for people who are energy balanced) but it will first put it towards internal repair work and healing.
And this is exactly why you need to rest more in recovery and why stopping exercise is important. Otherwise, exercise will demand the energy you simply do not have leftover right now.
Your body doesn’t care if all of this feels very inconvenient to you right now. Yes, you may have work to do, you may have school or other commitments, but recovery is the body’s top priority right now. And if you don’t take time to rest more you will just delay and prolong this process even further. There is no way around it.
So if you feel exhausted you simply need to rest and keep eating.
If you want to learn more about recovery and how to do it step by step then please read my book “BrainwashED”
You can check out my recovery online courses HERE.
Or you can book a one-off coaching call with me HERE.