One of the questions I get a lot is this: When does the weight gain end and does the body fat I've gained on my belly, ever even out?
I once wrote a post about what's actually going on when you experience crazy hunger after starting your hypothalamic amenorrhea recovery. Eating more and moving less will then lead to weight gain, which is of course what you can expect (and what you need right now). You can read the article about extreme hunger here.
When it comes to weight gain and fat gain, then obviously, I can't speak for everyone but I can speak from my own experience. Your experience may be totally different and that's fine! There's no right or wrong in when it comes to weight gain – some of us need to gain more and others less to restore their period. But if you're curious about how things went for me, this is what this post is about.
You may already know this that I don't really weigh myself. I know that my weight doesn't say anything about my health (I'm close to “overweight” category yet I finally have my period and I finally sleep!).
Constantly weighing myself also reminds me of times when I was SO obsessed with my weight that for at least 3-4 years straight I couldn't even have a glass of water before getting on the scale in the morning. Anything over 62 kg was a “disaster” for me…
This year, I have weighed myself three times: In January when I started my hypothalamic amenorrhea recovery, to see what my starting point was (it was 152 lbs/69 kg); next time when my period came back (163 lbs/ 74 kg), to see how much it took me to get there; and about a month after that (166 lbs/ 75 kg).
I was okay with +3 lbs that I had put on since May when my period returned. I was okay for two reasons: First, I wanted to let my body really find its way to the point where it feels comfortable and what's natural for it and secondly, I had no desire to start limiting my food intake again, like I have done multiple times in the past. I would lose the weight and probably my period too.
How much I weigh now? I don't know, but I'm quite sure that I haven't gained much since weighing myself last time in June. It seems that the set point theory really works, because it looks like I'm in a a place where my body stays the same without much effort, e.g without excessive exercise or any form of restriction.
In August and early September, we spent four weeks traveling and hanging out with my family and friends. We drank much more wine than normally; we didn't eat junk but we definitely didn't have uber healthy meals all the time, and we had desserts here and there. Nothing special – I just ate what seemed like a good idea.
During the four weeks, I worked out maybe 6-7 times, lifting weights. I also walked quite a bit.
When we came back and I put on clothes that I hadn't worn for four weeks, they were actually a little bit loose. So I'm pretty sure that I didn't gain anything during our travels, maybe even lost a pound.
Something that was amazing on my trip.. and may also have contributed to losing a tiny bit of weight was sleep!
I slept like a baby basically every night. When there's no need to go anywhere or be somewhere on time, you can read a book and take a break from any stress… you DO sleep well. I'm 100% sure that proper sleep is so important for our bodies and in helping to find their set points.
I don't know my exact body fat percentage either, but last time I had it measured was in our gym also probably in May. So If I remember correctly, it was 24.7.
For many of us who don't get their periods, the problem isn't necessarily the low bodyweight, but sometimes low fat percentage. And what's enough body fat for one woman to be healthy and fertile, may not be enough for another one to function properly.
I'm accepting the fact that my body wants more fat than someone else's body. I've decided not to worry about things that I cannot change: Also my nose is shaped differently than someone else's and my legs are longer than someone else's – we're all unique.
Body Fat Distribution
Let's talk about fat distribution as well. Like many other women, I also gained fat most noticeably on my belly area. I know I don't sound very encouraging, but I'm not going to sugarcoat it either: I do have cellulite on my belly, that I've never had before. However, here's how I've decided to think about my belly fat.
While I've never had extremely lean midsection and so weight gain on my belly was expected, my thighs never had much cellulite. I had some on the back of my thighs, but never on front. Well, I do now.
No one loves their bodies every minute every day, neither do I. So this summer, at first, I didn't feel comfortable putting on shorts… But I decided that if I don't do it, I'm not being who I want to be and what I stand for… and I said, screw it! I'm totally wearing shorts now.
If you are still starting your recovery and are wondering where your weight is going to be most visible, the way your mom and grandmas are built may give you some idea. I'm just like my mom: She too gains quickly around her belly, but her legs are relatively lean.
I don't know if and how my body fat distribution will change. I've read some women say that their body fat evened out and the belly dimples disappeared after a while, but it hasn't happened to me (yet). Although, five months is still relatively short time to say if it will always stay that way or no.
I've realized that I just have to go with my body's plan and accept it. I wouldn't mind losing some body fat later, but it's not my priority and currently I'm not doing anything to make it happen.
Just like I said before, this has been my experience and yours might be different. The main thing is, don't get discouraged and don't give up!
The weight and fat gain aren't as terrible if you think about them the right way. You can be upset about it every day, but it won't make anything better. The better way is to learn to deal with your own thoughts and beliefs around your weight gain.
That's why I will send out a 5-day 5-email mini course next week, called Strengthen that Mindset Muscle. I'll discuss some common thoughts and beliefs around gaining weight, talk about ways to change your thoughts and learn to actually like yourself more.
You will really have to challenge yourself because we get into some important questions! You will also get homeworks that I really recommend you do, to better understand the root causes of your fears and insecurities when it comes to your body.
To get this mini course, sign up right here!
If you need support on your journey to recover from hypothalamic amenorrhea, my ebook, programs and FREE 20-minute coaching calls are available for you! I get back to every email, so let me know if I can help.