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Overtraining Recovery Spectrum: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2jKeSDbZGQ&t=1102s
Simple Strength For Women: A Bodyweight Strength Training Program for Women After Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Recovery: https://kersten-kimura.teachable.com/p/simple-strength-for-women
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How to Eat to Get Your Period Back: https://kerstenkimura.lpages.co/how-to-eat-for-ha/
5 Tips to Reverse Overtraining Quickly: https://kerstenkimura.lpages.co/overtraining-recovery-new/
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How To Successfully Move From Metabolic Healing to Balance
In today’s episode, I’m talking about how to successfully transition from metabolic HEALING phase, to BALANCE phase.
Balance is the place where we all want to be eventually, because this is where we feel and look our best, our weight is stable, our periods come every month, we have a healthy libido, we have a healthy relationship with food and body, and enjoy our lives the most.
If you aren’t familiar with my Burnout Recovery Spectrum framework, I recommend that you check out this video, and if you want to get even better understanding of how the spectrum works and how it can help you to recover from burnout, check out this FREE 5-day program.
How to Go From Healing to Balance
If you’re someone who has successfully overcome the burnout and healing phase and wants to maintain her health in the Balance phase, today's post and video are exactly for you. I’m going to share with you my main tips for navigating this change from HEALING to BALANCE.
Of course, there is no strict line or a moment where you go from Healing to Balance, and it doesn't happen overnight. The change is more gradual, but there are still very big differences between the HEALING and BALANCE phase.
Look at the following image. You know that you are in the BALANCE phase when you mostly don’t have any signs and symptoms from the left column, and you’re feeling, for the most part, like described on the right.
1. After Healing, Be Moderate with Your Goals
One of the biggest mistakes I see women make is this: We immediately set ourselves extreme goals and want to achieve them quickly.
For example, you may want to lose 10 percent of your bodyweight, or drop 10 lbs from the weight you gained in your metabolic healing process. You started feeling better, your energy came back, your period came back too — and now you want to get rid of this “extra” weight that you had put on.
Not so fast! This will be a big mistake. Remember that you needed this weight for a reason, and if you lose all of it again, the end result will be no different than last time.
Instead, your goal could be something like this: Getting stronger, improving your weight lifting form, getting even healthier… Let go of the weight related goals, or at least, don’t get too attached to them and don’t rush them.
2. Maintain Your Health, Including Mental Health
This has to be your number one priority. You’ve been hurting your health for too long, and as a result, caused yourself metabolic damage. After metabolic healing, balance will be maintained only if you truly take care of your health.
You want to make sure that your physical symptoms don’t come back (look at the left column above again — this is not where we want to go back to), but mental health is equally important. You probably already know what you have to do in order to keep your physical health in check, but what are the things that you can do to maintain your mental health?
They are different for everyone, but here are some options:
Getting outside often. I believe that everyone needs fresh air and sunshine, so allow yourself that.
Spend some time with your favourite book.
If music makes you happy, see if there’s some new awesome music in your favourite app.
Hang out with friends and family.
The last thing you want to do is to stay inside and hide because you believe that everyone is judging your new looking body. Yes, you likely gained weight, but that doesn’t mean that you should never wear shorts or tank tops anymore. Remember, it’s not only thin persons’ right to wear shorts when it’s hot outside. It’s your right too. And you’re not supposed to sit inside or wear long sleeves all the time. Get outside, do the things you love, instead of being stuck in the house. You will feel so much better.
3. Exercise Wisely
Exercising can be a very healthy thing to do after recovery, if it’s done right. Too many times I get emails or YouTube comments from women asking: I got my period back, my energy returned, then I started working out 6 days a week and eating 1500 calories, why did my symptoms come back?
This is not the smart way I'm talking about.
Too many too intense changes at once and of course the symptoms will come back.
But to say that exercise is bad or dangerous, is wrong. When done right, exercise can actually improve your hormonal health. I recommend strength training way more than I recommend cardio, because it’s way more hormone friendly. In a traditional strength training session, you do your sets, then rest, maybe even 2-3 minutes, letting your heart rate to drop. In cardio training, you’re going all the time, and your cortisol output is steady. It’s generally not the most favorable form of exercise for someone who has just recovered from burnout and wants to go from metabolic healing to true balance.
I also don't recommend HIIT or HIT training especially in the early stages of your BALANCE phase because that's way too intense. You may be able to reintroduce it later.
Strength training has great impact on your insulin sensitivity and other hormone regulation, but it has to be done right. Please take a look at my bodyweight training program if you want to get started with training again. If you’re ready to move on to harder workouts, they have to be designed for you, because everyone is different. If you need help with that, please get in touch with me.
4. Eat Well
One of the most common questions I get from women after metabolic HEALING and transitioning into BALANCE phase is this:
Can I start eating intuitively now?
I would say, if you’ve been tracking your calories and it’s not a problem for you, continue to track for a little bit longer. But instead of trying to hit a certain number, see what your intuitive eating adds up to. See what the number looks like over the course of one week or so. If it’s about the same as it was before, or slightly lower (a few hundred calories), you can continue to eat intuitively. If it was significantly lower, (decrease by 300 or more calories), we should bump up the calories a little bit to make sure you stay healthy.
5. Continue to Work On Your Mindset
Mindset work really never ends! I hope that you did a lot of work when you were recovering, but also that you keep doing it moving forward.
One of the most common things I still see with women is people pleasing. We’re constantly worrying about other people’s opinions.
Is that you too? I admit that this is me too sometimes, but I’m working hard to overcome this, because it doesn’t serve anyone.
Are you still a people pleaser? Are you still worrying about what others think, and if they possibly judge you for gaining weight?
We don’t know whether they do or don’t. But the truth is, we know why we had to gain weight, and we also know that we can’t change people’s minds. We literally cannot go into their minds and change them.
Another thing to consider is that some people don’t like you no matter what. And that’s okay, because you don’t like all the people either, right?
Focus on how you are feeling, how is your energy, strength, wellbeing. Do things that make you feel empowered. During your weak moments, literally think, what gives me my power back? What can I do to start feeling better? I know I lift some weights. Maybe that works for you too.
Show up confident! Look people in the eye. Be proud of yourself. Fake your confidence if you don’t have it just yet.
The last thing I want to say on this topic is this: Your light shines brighter than you can see.
This is from my favourite meditation guides, Lou Redmond, whose meditations I often do and also recommend my clients. We are full of light, but we’re not able to see it. We always think that all the other women around us are better, smarter, prettier… But have you thought that they may think the exact same way? It's such a sad thing that we’re not able to see our own light. But believe, it is there, so be proud of yourself and show up confident. You’re awesome.
Feedback From Women: Most Common Goals After Moving from Metabolic Healing to Balance Phase
In the last few weeks, I’ve been getting on phone calls to chat with women who offered me their experience after arriving in the Balance phase. I was curious to learn what were their goals moving forward. Here’s what they told me:
I Want to Feel Good In My Body
There are two things that we have to keep in mind:
Remember why you had to gain weight. There was a reason, you had to get healthy. So please remember that while it’s totally fine to want to feel good in your body, it can’t look like losing all the weight you had to gain.
Also remember that you’ve been in this new looking body for very little time. Of course it’s difficult at first! Let’s say that you were really thin for 10 years, and now you’ve been in this new weight for a year… It takes some time to adjust.
On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong in wanting to feel comfortable I your body. It’s okay to want to feel and look stronger, want your clothes fit better, etc. And these things can be achieved via healthy exercise where the focus is primarily on strength training, and being mindful with our food choices.
Not all your confidence should come from the way your body looks, but some of it can — and there is nothing wrong with that.
I Want To Exercise Consistently
Several women said that they would like to start regular exercise, but they either don’t know how to do it or they are afraid that when they start, they will throw off their hormones again. This fear is understandable because we don’t want to go back to those old habits and develop the same issues we had in the past.
When we transition from metabolic healing to balance is that we may be tempted to overtrain again. I see this quite a bit when I get emails from women saying that they started training 6-7 days a week again, and lost their periods again. That’s no surprise, because your body is not ready for this level of exercise.
When I was ready to move from metabolic healing phase to balance phase, I initially overdid the exercise too. Never to the point where I would lose my period, but definitely enough to start getting really exhausted again. Sometimes I would need a few weeks off after a hard workout.
I vividly remember one bootcamp class that I took, which left me sore for 4 days and made me take two weeks off afterwards. This is not what anyone wants. What we truly want is to keep up a consistent workout routine. This is only possible if this routine is tailored to you taking into account where your body is at and what it's currently capable of.
The intensity can always be added later, but in the beginning it's critical to err on the side of doing less, not more.
I Want To Be Pain-Free
Interestingly, I have found that several women, myself included, developed chronic pain during recovery, which is now holding them back from becoming more active in the Balance phase.
If you listened to episode 8 with Christina Wei, you learned that chronic pain is often caused by emotional trauma. This makes me wonder if for those women who developed their chronic pain during or after Hypothalamic Amenorrhea recovery, the emotional stress of weight gain was simply too big. I don’t have any data on this but it seems like a very logical connection.
If you have chronic pain in any area of your body, please check out episode 8 with Christina Wei. You will be surprised by what you learn!
I Want to Be Energized and Happy
Everyone wants to be energized and happy, this is your right!
In order to feel this way, think what are the things that make you feel energized and happy? And do these things.
I have a client who just recently went through a very difficult week. She felt lonely, sad and stayed in a lot because she didn’t feel comfortable in her body that had some new weight on it. But things got so much better as soon as she actually went outside and even more, when she went back home to visit her friends and family.
Even if you’re an introvert, getting outside can be very helpful. So do it! Stay in touch with people. Nurture your connections, hang out with people whose company you enjoy. Do a Zoom happy hour, if you can’t meet up in person.
These are my tips for you if you are transitioning from the HEALING phase to BALANCE phase.
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section below.
You can also apply to work with me, HERE.