It breaks my heart to see that women who have decided to take their healths in their own hands and recover from hypothalamic amenorrhea, are second guessing their choice because their friends or family members don't support it.
Recently someone commented one of my social media posts saying that her family members are making fun of her for gaining weight. She had stopped running and started eating more to get her period back so obviously she was gaining weight. But now she had decided that she can't handle her friends and family members bringing her weight gain up all the time, so she was determined to lose weight.
Quite honestly I don't even understand how this can be happening. How is it possible that people who are closest to you, make nasty comments about your body? Are we in middle school or what?
However, if that really is the case, here are some things you should think about.
1. Know Why You're Doing What You're Doing
I get asked all the time, how I managed the weight gain and what exactly my thoughts were to overcome it. Here's what I say.
There are two things: First, I was just so tired of being in this cycle where I never allowed myself to take a single unplanned rest day. I had to get up every morning and work out hard — this was my identity. Although my eating had been more or less normalized compared to where it was years ago when I was constantly counting points or calories (except for my binge days), I still had some restrictions and I still thought time to time whether I should try keto or fasting or something else because I wanted to be smaller and leaner.
I was physically and mentally tired and I needed a break.
Secondly, I did it for my health. I get it that you may not be as tired as I was. If your intense exercise hasn't kicked in the bad way yet, e.g you actually don't get too many or any overtraining symptoms (feeling like crap comes later if you continue to overdo it and don't recover!) and the only symptom you have is that you don't get your period, then think about your future health.
Here's how I thought:
I want to be active and independent also when I'm old. If my bones are weak, I cannot do it.
If I keep sleeping as badly as I did when I still had hypothalamic amenorrhea, my cognitive health will suffer.
If I don't ovulate, I don't make enough estrogen that would protect my brain from Alzheimer's and other cognitive disease.
It would be fun to be sexually active for long time, because that too makes our lives longer and healthier. Anyone who has had hypothalamic amenorrhea knows that sex isn't the most interesting thing for you, and part of the reason is that you're dry as a desert down there anyway. TMI? Nope. We need to talk about it because that's the reality.
I don't want to have kids but most women do. If you do too but don't ovulate every month, you're lookind at a long and rocky and super expensive journey to go through fertility treatments. Financial costs are just one part of the story, what it can make you go through emotionally is totally different one and I bet you don't want to experience neither.
Why not tell your “friends” to shut up and do what you need to do anyway. Put on this weight that you need to, and take your health back.
2. Tell People What's Going On
I understand that not everyone wants to be an open book and share with the whole world what's going on with their health, especially if it comes to something as intimate as your periods and fertility. But still, at least consider telling your family members and friends what's happening.
Although your body should not be any of their business, if they don't know what's going on, they may be surprised to see you running less or not at all any more and stop going to the gym. They probably notice you eating things you never ate before if you used to be super “clean” eater, or not measuring out food portions anymore. They may notice your weight gain and wonder what's going on.
None of this is a reason to bully anyone, but if they do, tell them. If they're real friends and really care about you, they understand that what you're going through is really hard for you and hopefully they will support you.
Several of my male coworkers knew what was going on when I was recovering from hypothalamic amenorrhea. When I told them that I need to reduce my hours and not do early morning classes because sleep is absolutely crucial for me right now, everybody understood. I was a bit surprised at first when my male boss asked me straight, what exactly is this hypothalamic amenorrhea that I talk about on social media, and he was curious about all the facts. After the first second of surprise, I was fine and told him. Talking about your missing period and how to fix it is no different from talking about broken leg and how to fix that.
All my clients knew as well. I have to be honest and admit that I told them because at first, I was scared of what they may think when they see me put on weight. So it was the way to justify myself, although now I know that I never needed to. We never have to explain our bodies to anyone. Our bodies are only our business.
As a result to being so honest, my relationships with my clients deepened even more. We talk about our cycles often and there's no shame around it.
3. Don't Give Up
You may doubt several times: Do I really need to gain weight? Am I really under eating? I don't train all that much, do I? I'm not underweight, so I can't have hypothalamic amenorrhea…
Here's how you know that you probably have it.
So please don't give up. You can't see a change in just a few weeks of making lifestyle changes. Sometimes people say that they ate 1800 calories instead of their usual 1500 for two weeks and nothing happened, so this thing doesn't work. It does work. You need to be patient.
You may also be seeking assurance from your friends and family, hoping that they tell you that there's no way that you can have hypothalamic amenorrhea and that there's no way that you need to cut back on working out. Well, they probably haven't had this experience so they're not the right people to ask. Instead, ask those who have been through it!
Let your friends and family know what's going on but don't ask them what the right thing is to do. They may validate what you were hoping to hear but that doesn't mean they're right.
If there really are people who make fun of you or comment your changed habits or body shape or size, maybe it's time to evaluate your relationship with them. If you think this relationship is worth keeping, tell them what's going on so hopfully they understand better. Tell them that you're doing it for your health because they may have no idea how dangerous hypothalamic amenorrhea can be for your health.
Lastly, no matter what someone says, you do what you're supposed to do. It's your body, your life and your future that you have to take care of. Only you have the say in what you decide to do with your body, no one else.
Do you have hypothalamic amenorrhea? I currently have free spots to my 3-month coaching program as well as for 1-hour Solution Sessions. You can always read my ebook to get started. Contact me if you have questions!