After seeing my first period in 10 years, I instantly shared my joy with my closest friends and family members, and well… with the world. I was super happy and so were my friends.
But I also received one question that made me realize something important…
This question came from my mom.
After I had emailed her (because we live pretty much on the opposite sides of the world and despite my excitement, I wasn't going to call her in the middle of the night her time), she got back to me and asked me:
So, you're 74 kg now. Do you think you're fat now?
I looked at this email and couldn't believe my eyes. What do you mean, if I think I'm fat now? Why do you ask me that? Should I think that I'm fat now? Is there really a reason to feel that way? And, don't you know that I don't care about the number on the scale anymore?
It took me a minute to realize that no, she probably really doesn't know. Because years ago I used to obsess about my weight a lot. And that's the way she's used to see me.
Why She Thought I'd Think I'm Fat
While I'm totally chill with my weight and body fat now and choose to like both of them, years ago weight gain would have freaked me out more than anything.
Everyone around me probably knew that I weighed myself regularly and that gaining a gram meant the end of the world for me. They knew that I would head out to run, rain or shine. They knew that I would put my training and eating habits above everything.
That way, there was nothing too surprising in that my mom thought I must think that I'm fat and probably hate my body, and that I'm probably going to go ahead and try to lose the weight again, just like I've done before.
It Really Isn't About the Weight
I've changed so much in the past years and now know that there are so many other things to focus on instead of my weight.
I've learned that if I want to workout, I need to eat a lot. I know that low weight isn't the indicator for great health. I've seen many examples of how being lean doesn't mean having better health. I've come to a realization that a lot of times, the “healthy” weight ranges, BMIs and calorie estimates can be absolutely misleading and make healthy people think they're unhealthy.
If those numbers told the whole truth, then why do many women have to get higher BMI that is “healthy”, to regain their cycles? Why someone at BMI of 19 may be sick and someone at 26 is healthy?
It's not about the scale or numbers on the BMI chart. It's about health. And we know that our health is good when we feel good, when we have energy, we sleep well, we're interested in sex, we have good relationships, and wait… when our reproductive system is working properly, in other words, we have periods, together with ovulations.
Good energy, proper sleep, good relationships, sex drive and… periods! are the signs of good female health.Click to tweet
I didn't know any of this when I was still obsessively training. And I really can't blame anyone for thinking that weight gain must mean the end of the world for me now. They don't know that my understanding of health has changed tremendously, and that gaining weight doesn't freak me out anymore.
What Do You Want to Be Known For?
What's the impression you want people to have of you?
Many of women who have hypothalamic amenorrhea, are know as The Fit Girl.
The one that eats kale three times a day, trains like it's her full time job and looks awesome all year around (according to our society's narrow understanding of “awesome”).
What a dedication! She's so perfect! And of course, look at her abs–she must be healthy.
Ok, let's say that these are things you really want to be known for. But do you also want to be known as the girl who never goes out because she can never skip her workout? The one who never eats a piece of cake because that wasn't part of her plan (but no one knows that this fit girl likely binges on treats when nobody else is around)? Who gets grumpy when there's nothing to eat at the restaurant? And who is constantly counting calories and weighing and measuring her food and herself?
Do you want to be known as the Fit Girl who never does anything that doesn’t support her exercise and weight loss?Click to tweet
Apparently, that was me too, and I'm no thrilled about it.
What If You Lose The “Fit Girl” Identity?
When something like hypothalamic amenorrhea happens, this Fit Girl may be terrified to lose her identity, just like Lindsay said in her hypothalamic amenorrhea recovery story. Then what?
If you're that Fit Girl, you have to make changes that seem huge: Cut down or completely cut out exercise, eat more, relax a lot and as a result, gain weight.
But the positive thing about these changes is that you will learn to accept and even like yourself in a different way.
Getting your period back teaches you to accept yourself and even like yourself in a new way.Click to tweet
You'll realize that you haven't been interested in much else than your food and fitness. You start to explore other things around you. You may have more time in hand than you used to, especially if your workouts used to be very long and if you used to spend crazy amounts of valuable time typing your calories into your fitness app.
Use this time for something else, non fitness-related activities. Watch movies, read books, go to new places… You can and still will be fit, because remember that the workout ban is only temporary. You can and will get back to it, but in a different–and better–way. But first you have to recover properly. The more you do to heal yourself, the faster you'll get back to it.
While you're on your recovery, you can become more than this previous Fit Girl was.
For example, I've started to read lots more. I've also written lots more. I've discovered many new podcasts and found some new goals to work for. I've met new people and made friends with them, and overall, my mind is more open to everything new and different.
So, what do you want to be known and remembered for? It has to be more than just abs. Who do you want to be? Not someone who's scheduling her life around workouts and meal times and who gets upset when she has to eat out or miss a workout.
I don't want to be known as this obsessive girl who is putting her bodyweight above anything else. I don't think you want it either.