How do you live with the added weight that you never used to see on your body, after hypothalamic amenorrhea?
First, you may have to put on a lot of weight to recover. More than you'd probably like but you need to trust your body in this – you can't control it.
In the following video, I'm talking about how to live with weight gain after hypothalamic amenorrhea recovery. What has changed in my life and what hasn't, during the past two years when I gained probably around 20 lbs and as a result, become overweight, to get my period back?
Check out the video below!
If you'd like to read the article instead, here we go:
2016: Lean but Tired
The two pictures side by side are from 2016 and 2018, almost two years apart.
Had someone showed me the second picture two years ago, I would have freaked out. This is what I'm going to look in less than 2 years???
Yes, that's exactly how I look today.
In the first picture, taken in 2016, I was really lean. I worked out 6-7 days a week and was often exhausted. While I loved working out, the amount of exercise that I did was too much for my body. As a result, I had lost my sleep and of course, my period. My digestion was non existent — I had constipation very often.
However, I did like the way my physique looked. Unlike many women who train excessively and are never happy with their bodies, I was okay with myself for the most part. I have to say though that I was still sometimes wondering what I could do to get leaner looking abs… (I didn't see that I actually did have abs, which I realized only later).
I didn't appreciate my body all that much and I didn't think that it was awesome. I treated it like it was a machine that was supposed to handle all these intense workouts and running that I put it through.
2018: Overweight But Better Health
The second picture is taken today, in 2018, almost 2 years later. I've gained a lot of weight and body fat. I don't work out more than 2-3 days a week. I have my period and I sleep better. I'm no longer constipated and my hair grows probably the fastest it has ever grown (here's what you to improve your hair health!)
I'm not extremely happy with the way my body looks. I'm not madly in love with my cellulite, rolls and dimples or love them insanely. There are people who say that this is what body positivity should look like, but to me, it doesn't. To me, loving myself every minute I'm awake is unrealistic.
What matters to me and what I consider the biggest win regarding the way I interact with my body is that I don't think about it every single minute of the day. I put way less time and effort into worrying about its imperfections and trying to make it smaller.
My body just exists and I take good care of it, but it isn't in the center of my attention all day every day, because that would prevent me from living my life they way I want it to live and do other things that matter to me.
What Has and Hasn't Changed as a Result of Weight Gain
Obviously, as a result of hypothalamic amenorrhea and recovery, I'm not working out 7 days a week anymore, but only 2-3. I've tried to work out 4 times a week but that usually leads to insomnia and that again to depression… My body is not there yet, to be able to handle this many workouts per week.
I'm more relaxed around food, although my relationship with food was already pretty good two years ago (things were different during my excessive running years when I would count every calorie!).
I'm eating without any rules and restrictions, and I call this way of eating dietless eating.
But other than decreased exercise and being more relaxed around food, my life isn't that much different. Some women may think that their lives can never be normal or the same anymore because their bodies change. This is not true, because inside, you're still the same person, right?
For example, here are the things that didn't change:
- My relationships. My husband didn't leave me, my friends didn't start talking crap about me because I gained weight, my family didn't care about my body fat.
- My work. I still have my clients, no one left me as a result of weight gain. No one thought that I have no longer the right to train them because my fat percentage was higher.
- My job as a group fitness trainer. The two gyms where I'm teaching classes, didn't fire me. No one has ever told me that my skills as a group fitness trainer are no longer there just because I gained body fat.
I still wake up in the morning, do my work, hang out with my husband and friends… not much has really changed!
Make the Choice that is Best for Your Health
It's all possible because of the mindset shift. When you think that you're a victim of hypothalamic amenorrhea and weight gain, you are. You need to take it as a learning experience.
Sometimes we need to make the choice that we don't love.
Could I have chosen differently? Sure. I believe we always have a choice. I could have kept working out hard maybe for little longer (although my symptoms of fatigue were getting quite bad) and ruined my health even more, but I chose not to.
Women who don't menstruate, lose about 2.5% bone density per year. This is the same rate as menopausal women. They can get hormonal replacement therapy, but if you are in your 20s, 30s and even 40s and your period is missing because you're overtraining, you should get your body to work properly naturally. I made the decision that I don't want to put my bone health in danger anymore.
I also chose to gain weight over being very lean if it was going to improve my health. There was a price, for sure. I lost my hardly earned leanness and also strength and stamina.
It took me a long time to get used to my body and I'm still working on it, it isn't easy. It may take months, a year or even several years to learn to live in your changed body, but if you keep at it, you'll get there. Besides, our bodies will always be changing. It's unrealistic to think that there's one destination where you will end up for the rest of your life.
Just put your priorities first and they will show you the right direction in difficult moments.
If you're at the very beginning of your weight gain journey, know that it's not going to be as terrifying as you thought it would be. The most important things, things that are your core values like your relationships, your marriage or your relationship with your significant other, and maybe your job, won't change.
You're still the same person in a little bit different body.
Update: I am now recovered from HA and would love to help you do the same!
You can also apply for 1:1 coaching with me!