Gaining weight is probably the hardest part in recovering form hypothalamic amenorrhea, but a lot if times, it's inevitable–even if we may hate it.
Gaining weight may be particularly hard for many reasons. One of them being that we may have heard negative comments in the past about our bodies, and those comments stayed with us for a long time.
At one point, we decided that it's time to get in shape, lose that extra weight (which a lot of cases even isn't extra!) and show those people who threw negative comments at us, that we can be better than they think.
And so it happened that we accidentally went too far with our weight loss and also wrecked our health during the process, eventually developing hypothalamic amenorrhea.
What Others Will Think When We Gain Weight?
We may get hyper obsessed about maintaining our low weight. We don't want those people who were rude to us, reason to comment on us again.
Just the thought of not being that “uber fit girl” anymore freaks us out, because that's been our identity for a long time.
But we may even get so obsessed with our weight that we may think that our friends or significant others will leave us or find someone better if we no longer are as fit as we used to be.
Is that's what we're so afraid of and that's why gaining weight is so terrifying?
That could be the reason. But, we need to keep in mind that people who we want to keep in our lives, who we want to spend our time with and share our good and bad with, the ones that we can truly trust, give zero crap of how our bodies look.
Because changes in our physical bodies won't make our awesome personalities, our skills, smartness, kindness and thoughtfulness, disappear. Of course not!
Over the years, I've experienced two bigger weight gains. I want to share with you how people around me reacted to it–or didn't. Maybe it encourages you to stay on track with your recovery too, because you may realize that the looks of your physical body have nothing to do with your value as a person.
The First Time I Gained a Lot of Weight
I've gained a noticeable amount of weight twice in my life.
First time was when I was 20. Over the course of two years, after graduating from high school and starting college, I had put on about 30 lbs. It happened because I was driving more than ever instead of walking, my days at school were really long so I worked out less, and because I felt a bit homesick, I used chocolate to comfort myself.
I gained weight and started hearing comments about it. Even though I was never really big, some people's comments made me believe that I was.
I remember really well a comment from one of my friends back then. It was my birthday, and I had asked some friends over to celebrate. As they were wishing me happy birthday, he told me, “Happy birthday, and may you grow big!” That's something that we'd say to kids–when you grow big, you get strong, so eat up! So, it was supposed to be a joke. Or, sort of, until he turned around and said, “Wait, I'll take it back. You definitely don't need to grow any bigger.”
It was meant to be a joke, but… not really. This damn comment got stuck in my head for a long time. I had already decided that I needed to lose weight, but now I was ever more determined.
Now, thinking back to it, I shouldn't have taken this comment to heart. He wasn't even my close friend!
True friends don't give a s*** about how much we weigh, if we have a bad hair day or if we have pimples on our face. None of those things changes our personality, they don't make us worse or less worthy.
But back then, I didn't have the skill set and tools to react to it the way I could do it now.
However, not everyone around me was like that.
At the same time period, I was in a relationship with a guy who I was dating throughout the time of putting on weight and later, losing it.
He never said anything. No negative comment. Later as I lost all the weight and more, became super skinny, ran like it was my job and got completely obsessed with measuring and counting every bite I ate, I asked him, how come he never said anything about my weight when I was bigger.
Because in my mind, being with me when I was 30 lbs heavier, must have been a huge compromise from his part! He must have not liked me at all, because how could anyone like someone who's that out of shape?
He told me that of course, se noticed me slowly putting on weight, but he didn't say anything because it wasn't a big deal. He was okay with it. If I was okay, he was okay. And later, when I decided to lose that weight, he was okay too.
That's a kind of people you want to hang out with (even though we ended up breaking up, but for totally different reasons). People like this have a different value system than those who judge us based on our looks.
The Second Time I Gained Weight
Fast forward to 2012 and I moved to the US to spend a year here as a visiting scholar.
It ended up being the best year of my entire life. I had so much fun, I made lots of new friends, partied a lot, throughly enjoyed the warm weather and outdoor activities, broke up, fell in love, get rid of my depression and…
… gained back the same 30 lbs.
I wasn't happy with how my body looked, but I was happy inside.
Again, I had many friends who saw me gaining weight over that time. My mom visited me and saw me after a long time and of course, noticed the difference. My new boyfriend (and now husband) saw me gain weight. But none of them said anything negative about it.
Because they didn't care about my weight, they cared about me.
Again, these are the people we want to spend our time with. They don't judge. They don't make fun or comment our bodies. They are with us because we're just so freaking cool people, am I right?!
But, I was still afraid of some people's reactions, especially of those who had seen me way skinnier when I left my home country.
When my mom came to visit me in the US, I was, of course a bit anxious to see what she has to say about it. I told her, kind of apologetically, that you must notice that I'm not that skinny anymore… and se said, yes I do see that, but I also see this sparkle in your eyes, I notice that you don't complain anymore (and I didn't even know I used to do it until she said it!) and you seem so happy.
My boyfriend who saw me gaining that weight, never said anything. He loved me, not my physical body. We fell in love when I was really skinny, and we were still in love when I gained 30 lbs and later lost that same 30-ish pounds again. And we still are in love today when we're married and when my weight is between my lowest and highest (but definitely on the higher side).
None of those people I saw after going back, ever had anything to comment. Of course, they probably noticed my weight gain, because hey, they can see! But none of them ever pointed it out unless I did it myself. I guess I thought that being apologetic about it makes my weight gain more acceptable. But the truth is, there's no reason to apologize or explain our body size to anyone.
There's no correlation between our bodyweight and our value as persons.
People who love us, do so for who we are, not for how we look. If there really are people in our lives who value us for how we look, then there's no question that there's absolutely zero reason to keep them in our lives.
So, what are we so afraid of after all, when we gain weight? Yes, restoring our cycles may mean that we can't walk around with washboard abs. But there's so much to win.
What are you most afraid of, when it comes to weight gain?
Edited: I am now recovered from hypothalamic amenorrhea and I love helping women do the same. Here are some ways how we can work together. Don't put it off! Even if you don't want babies now (or ever), you DO need your period to be completely healthy.