Like most things, exercise and I have had a love-hate relationship throughout the years.
I was never an athletic kid; I hated sports and refused to play them. My mom always tells the story about how I adamantly refused to play tee-ball at the age of 4. Obviously, sports were not in my blood. I did roller skate and bike ride and play outdoors like most kids, though.
I remember the first time I "exercised" though. A lot of my disordered thoughts and behaviors started around age 11. I remember doing crunches to have a flat stomach. I don't think I really understood why yet but I do remember getting praised by my grandmother for having such a flat stomach. At 11.
As a teenager, exercise became fairly regular for me, mostly running and workout videos. It was primarily part of my dieting regimen or as a compensation for eating. I HATED it. This continued throughout college until it bordered on exercise bulimia in graduate school. Even after I started recovering from my disordered eating, the unhealthy relationship with exercise continued, particularly as compensatory for food.
At this point, I exercise because I have to. Let me explain. I don't particularly enjoy exercise; I would much rather watch tv or sleep in. But I know if I want to keep intrusive ED thoughts at bay, I have to do at least something almost every day. This could be stretches, kickboxing, or strength training but when I don't exercise, ED thoughts start creeping in and I start thinking about dieting and other unhealthy behaviors (yes, in my opinion, dieting is an unhealthy behavior). I don't look at exercising as compensatory anymore, just part of my self-care, as important as brushing my teeth to maintain my health.