A scary piece of healing your body from years of under eating is how your relationship with food changes. It usually get worse before it gets better. You may come from a place where you didn’t have many hunger queues, you have an intense fear of foods or just felt ambivalent about it. Many women experienced binge eating eating episodes in the past because they were restricting or dieting for long periods of time or cutting out certain foods or food groups.
There is a really interesting study called Minnesota starvation Study where they restricted caloric intake in young, healthy males and what they saw was very similar to what you see in people in recovery from eating disorders and recovery diets that are too low in calories. I think it’s important to reference this study because what they found is that the men became obsessed with food. Their days revolved around food and they were so preoccupied by it they didn’t have the energy to focus on anything else. A very interesting study and obviously we can’t repeat this study because it is inhumane but once they were allowed to eat many had extreme hunger and their weight went way above what their weight was before they ever started restricting.
Two Types of Extreme Hunger
There are two different types of hunger that you may are trying to recover your periods. You may be physically hungry or it could be a mental hunger. The physical hunger is where your digesting food so quickly and your body needs a lot of calories to repair itself that you are experiencing normal signs of hungry including: your stomach is growling, your not satiated, you may get dizzy or light headed and you are thinking about food.
Mental hunger is where you can’t stop thinking about food. You may be full but you still feel the need to eat. This one feels much more like binging then physical hunger. I’ve had a few episodes myself of these. I felt frantic and compelled to eat. I felt out of control. It feels like binging so understand where all the panic comes in. Your appetite feels so damn uncontrollable and you may feel embarrassed and then this leads to guilt. Do not feel guilty and do not resist this. It’s your bodies way of regulating and if you want to get to the other side where you can eat intuitively and stop revolving your day around food then lean into it.
This extreme hunger is usually caused by hunger hormones that are thrown off, past feelings of restriction that are resurfacing and it’s the our body’s way of getting the calories it needs after months or years of restriction.
Causes of extreme hunger can be:
Restriction of food and calories
Eating the same foods with no variety
Labeling good or bad foods
Low calorie diets
Hormones are off
Too low of body weight
During an episode you may feel stuffed and sick but still can’t stop. You may have an uncontrollable urge to eat and inability to stop eating. Fear and anxiety may also be experienced during this time. You may eat thousands of calories in one sitting. All of this is normal and part of your body’s healing process.
After an episode you may experience:
Sense of guilt
Please don’t freak out when this happens. It is absolutely normal. Your body is trying to get to a safe place.
I am so excited to tell you that I finally got my period back!!! I have been waiting so long to say that. I started the recovery journey over a year ago but was “half in” the first 5 months and the last 7.5 months I went all in. Today I finally get to tell you what I did to get my period back!
I have always been self conscious of my body and weight especially the weight I carried in my stomach. I recall wishing every birthday from a very young age that I would get skinny that year. I believed that would lead to happiness. My entire life I have always been on that journey to get to lean and ripped. I was obsessed with my weight from a young age and was always trying to lose that last 5 or 10 pounds. I owned Shape, Muscle and Fitness Hers and Oxygen magazine and those women were the ideal body types I always dreamed of having. I never wanted to be super skinny but I wanted to be muscular and lean and then I thought I would be beautiful.
My relationship with food and exercise started changing in high school. I tried a vegetarian diet because I thought that was the way I could drop a few pounds because I didn’t know much about nutrition. I also started doing cardio to get in better shape and I was happy with the progress and loved working out but it just wasn’t enough.
Exercise was a part of my life since I was young. I fell in love with lifting before lifting was cool. It was back in the day when I was told I would turn masculine if I lifted weights. Throughout college my weight went up and down and I went through bursts of exercising a lot to not caring about it and drinking and partying like most college students.
I never could quite maintain that ideal weight that I wanted to be. My body would usually not let me get below a certain weight before I rebounded an my weight would go back up. That was years ago and I really haven’t dealt with the restrict-binge cycle in about a decade. Even though I was past that, I still wasn’t listening to my body’s needs and would do all the wrong things.
Healthy Intentions that Turn Unhealthy
Fast forward to 2011 and I lost a ton of weight for my wedding. This is the first time I actually got to that low weight I had always dreamed of. I had abs but I could only achieve it by being on a very low calorie diet. There was no way my body could maintain it. I never once lost my period through any of the years but I was also on birth control and I remember the withdrawal bleed got lighter and lighter. Once I got married I got off BCPs and we started trying to have a baby. I was cycling normally after I came off Birth Control but had a short luteal phase. We both knew something was up and we saw a fertility Doctor 6 months into trying and we found out we had to go straight to IVF due to low sperm count. I did 5 IVFs to get my son and throughout these I was exercising a lot to counter all the weight I gained on the hormones.
I did a lot of cardio and lifting during the two years I was trying to conceive to keep the weight gain to a minimum and to keep me sane. I hate to admit it but this could be why it took so long for the embryos to stick. I finally did get pregnant and I had a fit pregnancy but quickly lost the pregnancy weight soon after our son was born. I breastfed for a year so my period never came back before we started our next IVF for our daughter. I do think my body was in a better place because I was fueling it more and eating a lot of carbs. I wasn’t doing the endless cardio and long sessions anymore because I didn’t have the time and I realized more was not always better. I was exercising smarter not harder.
I got pregnant on the first round but I was also at that same higher weight I was when I got pregnant with my son. After my daughter was born I was really stressed. More stressed than I have ever been in my life. My husband went to work second shift and I was home at night with both kids, exhausted, waking solely in the middle of the night to breastfeed, working full time and exercising daily. Needless to say even after weaning from breastfeeding my period never arrived. The doctors kept saying to give it longer. Finally almost 3 years after having my daughter and about 1.5 year after weaning I decided I needed to make a change.
If I was to pinpoint all the causes of Hypothalamic Amenorrhea they would be:
BCPs and IVF Hormones
Pregnancies Close Together
Constant Caloric Deficit
Too Much Exercise
Lack of Sleep
Low Body Weight
My Recovery Journey
August 2018 I decided to start cutting back exercise and only lifted 4 days per week. I put on 3-5 lbs but my period did not come and had blood work taken. My Luteinizing Hormone was 0.5 and Estrogen was about 5. It was like I already was in menopause.
January 2019 I decided I had enough and I went “All In” since I didn’t have any significant changes. I started really gaining weight and focusing on decreasing stress. I did yoga and very light walking on occasion. I was at BMI of 18 to 19 when I started and I knew I needed to get to at least 22 which was damn scary. I would punch in that number in those online calculators and prayed I didn’t have to gain so much.
February 2019 I started working with a coach in February and then boosted up calories to at least 2500 but some day it would range from 2200 to over 3K depending on appetite. The more you eat the faster you recover. This is something I learned throughout this journey. I gained a significant amount of weight for my size. I am a shortie. I didn’t record how much I ate but I ate enough where I was probably putting on about lb a week in the beginning. I know some people don’t like to give numbers but I think it’s good to hear others experiences as long as you know that yours could be more or less. I gained 20 lbs so I went up 20% in body weight which is a pretty decent amount to feel damn uncomfortable.
May 2019 I tried Clomid one time to see if it would kickstart my own cycles. I did ovulate and I had a period but it did not start my cycles the next month. After that my body seemed stuck trying to ovulate.
June 2019 I had all the signs of ovulation but nothing was happening. My body was stuck trying for almost a month straight of signs. I was having a follicular wave that didn’t end. I decided to go on Provera again which I had tried twice throughout the past year but never had a period. This time it worked which meant I was closer then ever before. I went on Soy Isoflavones (the natural Clomid) after Provera and 30 days later I had a period!
Changes that brought my period back:
Reducing Stress – Journaling, Asking for Help, Being lazy!
Stopped Stressing Over Food and My Body and Exercise
Exercising Less – No Lifting or Cardio
Time (this one was difficult because it’s out of our control)
Possibly Soy Isoflavones
Stopped Intermittent Fasting
If was to pinpoint what happened over the last month before I got it back it was that I completely let go. I stopped trying to control my hunger and suppressing it. I let go of what I thought my body should look like and learned to love it the way it was. I accepted that this is where my body needed to be. I do think my body wanted to get to my postpartum weight. That was the weight I got to before my periods were restored and it was the weight I was before I dropped nearly 20 pounds in 12 weeks right after my daughter was born. Your body knows and it remembers.
I’ve seen girls seriously recover in 3 weeks which to me seems mind blowing. Especially since it took me almost 8 months of going all in and another 5 months prior to that half in. I think my mind needed this time to heal. I wanted to give up many times but I never did. This process works. Try not to compare and be patient with yourself. Your body will recover when it’s ready.
This journey has completed changed the trajectory of my life and given me the energy to take my life back into my hands. I believe in the process so much I am going to start coaching other women on how to recover their periods and heal their relationship with food, exercise and themselves. If you are interested send me an email or DM me on Instagram!
How is your relationship with yourself? Do you look in the mirror and say positive things? Or are you one to beat yourself up when it comes to how you look?
Today I wan to talk to you about accepting your body where it’s currently at. Not where you want it to be. Not 5 lbs ago. There are lots of lessons I have learned in recovery while deliberately putting on weight. No matter what your goals are it’s important to accept your body at every stage because there will always be things you can’t control about the way you look. If you are always hating your body because it’s not skinny enough, you don’t have enough muscle or for any other then I’m talking to you and I bet you are sick of always worrying and stressing about it.
I’ve made drastic improvements on how I talk to myself and I am much more neutral and accepting about my body now but this stuff takes work. It’s so sad but I recall that every birthday as a little girl I wished I was skinny. Every time I threw a coin into a wishing well I wished I was skinny. I envied my friends and their flat stomachs. I lived my life around getting that ideal body and wanted to hide the body I was in. If you had asked me what is the worse thing that can happen in life I would tell you it was to gain weight.
I remember being so angry at my body and wished I could just cut my fat off my stomach. Then I would be so much happier. I finally got to that place where I was super thin and guess what? It was too much for my body to handle. I lost my period. I found out I had osteoporosis Is that worth it? Definitely Not! I had to spend every moment fixated on working out and eating right. I made fitness my priority. My quality of life sucked.
I understand weight loss can feel addictive. It’s a high when you step on that scale and see a lower weight but your weight does not define who you are or does not dictate how happy you can be. The one person that gets to make that choice is you.
Mindset Shifts Take Time
The number one thing that you need to do for yourself is to be kind and be patient. This stuff takes time. During this process you need to do the work. This is going to be something you do on a daily basis. As you improve your relationship with your self and the way you view the way you look then it will start to get easier and you will need to focus less on it. Just like working out doesn’t get you muscle overnight changing your body image and your confidence about your body doesn’t change overnight.
If you truly want to find a place of food freedom, freedom from the scale and endless hours in the gym to restore your health and period you need to get to a place of acceptance If you feel good about yourself you are going to be confident and you won’t be worrying about that damn scale being an extra few or 5 or ten pounds higher and you can start living your life.
My Top5 Tips to Gain Confidence in Your Body and Accept Weight Gain
Tip #1 Is to surround yourself with other people that are positive.
If it is triggering for you to be around friends that only talk about how they are fat or need to lose weight or even the new diet they are on then avoid them. I know it may be hard but it’s not forever. This also means the people you follow on social media. If you are following people that are really lean or extremely muscular and don’t portray a body type you could have without going to extremes then you need to stop following them. They are going to make you feel worse about yourself and make you think that being that lean is attainable and healthy. Yes, some woman can be naturally very thin but that is not the case with most women.
Tip #2 Wear Clothes That Fit and Flatter You
There is nothing worse than trying to squeeze your body into pants or clothes that don’t fit or are unflattering for your body. You will never be confident and accepting of your body if your clothes are too snug or you feel depressed after you try and put your clothes on. Stop wearing the baggy shirts and leggings. Try to find clothes that flatter your new body. Follow body friendly fashion models to come up with ideas.
Tip #3 Stop Body Checking
Don’t hone in on one area of your body especially the areas you like the least. If you are body checking and looking in a mirror see yourself as a whole person not that one area. Speaking of body checking just stop doing it. Don’t let those moments set you off and ruin your entire day by focusing in on areas that you wish to change or that have recently changed. It doesn’t feel good to pick yourself apart in the mirror
Tip #4 Changing Your Thoughts
Recognize your thoughts and how they are making you feel. Those negative thoughts aren’t going to go away overnight but it’s all in how you react to them. It’s about learning to hear them and move past them without letting them affect you. If you really want to take this a step further going through the process of changing your thoughts is super helpful. If you can’t jump to I have a beautiful body go through the process of getting to a neutral place first. This is where I started. I would see myself in the mirror gaining weight and I would think I’m getting so big and I would start to replace it with:
This is my body.
This is my recovering body.
This is what a body looks like that is trying to restore hormones.
This extra weight is exactly what I need.
This is exactly what I am trying to do.
This is what a healthy body looks like.
It’s possible I could I could love my body.
Tip #5 Let go of judgement.
Stop judging yourself and others. Most of the time if you are having thoughts about others and their weight gain or body composition it is because you are insecure about yourself. Ask yourself, do you honestly think you will have people’s approval if you are thinner? If the answer is yes then you either have a distorted sense of truth or you are correct and these people are not worth your time. If we are picking apart other people we don’t feel good about it later on. If you say good things about others and appreciate them for other aspects besides their bodies its easier to find good things about ourselves as well.
Remember this stuff doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient with yourself .
I spoke about body image in my last post and dealing with weight gain. Today I want to address why you need to stop caring what other people think and how to deal with people that may make comments about you. I think this was one of my biggest concerns when I started gaining weight for Hypothalamic Amenorrhea recovery. I was concerned with what other people would think about me as my body and habits changed.
First off, I can tell you making the decision to recover is the best decision I could make and I am damn proud of it. It will also be the best decision that you can make. Here’s the thing at the end of the day it’s you that has to deal deal with the repercussions and other people are far more interested in themselves than you. Think about when you go to the gym. Look around. Everyone is looking in the mirror at themselves too worried about what others think of them.
I’m sure if you are in recovery you have had these concerns or are afraid to start recovery and change your habits because you are fearful of making changes because of what others will think. It seems to be a trend that those suffering from HA or eating disorders may be a bit of a perfectionist, an overachiever or set very high expectations for themselves. You may always beat yourself up or maybe you don’t feel good enough or thin enough or pretty enough as others. Maybe you hear the words self love and wonder what that means and how can anyone feel that way about themselves. I am here to tell you that the relationship with yourself is your most important relationship. If you have a poor relationship with yourself then you need to make it a priority to change it.
The Perfectionistand Overachiever
From my perspective, there seems to be this relationship with women that overexercise, are always on diets and restrict calories who develop disordered eating patterns all because we are trying to put ourselves in this box of what we think others want us to be or what is acceptable or what we think we should be.
This ties into being concerned with what other people think because if you are going through HA recovery you are most likely going to have people make comments at some point. It could be compliments, it could be insults or it could just be observations. It’s all in how you take it. I know for me there are certain people that can make comments that really trigger me. Mom, that’s you!
You Won’t Recover or Get What You Want in Life
One of the main reasons not to care what others think is you won’t get what you want in life and you will not recover. You will be too worried about pleasing others or what other people think of you so you won’t take action and won’t get to the place you need to be.
The number one reason to not worry what others think is that it will hold you back. You won’t get what you want in life and you won’t get to a place where you are recovered. You may not give in to what your body is asking for because you are scared that people may comment on your food choices and your body changes. Think about on your death bed are you going to be caring what that girl at work thinks about you or are you going to be content because you made decisions for yourself and not others. You are going to be happy you made the decision to recover for your health and didn’t stay in that place of disordered habits because you were concerned that other people think you let yourself go. At the end of the day, you are making this choice to recover. Own it. Be proud of it. This isn’t some sort of victim situation. You are choosing to recover.
You Will Never Get To Know Yourself
Another reason to stop caring is you will never get to know yourself and what you want. I am a recovering people pleaser so I fully know that I chose not to do things because I was worried about what other people think and it really held me back. In regards to your body you may abuse it and you won’t love yourself. It’s really hard to get to a place of self love if every time you look in the mirror you say nasty things because your body isn’t what you think the ideal body should look like.
You may feel that others look one way and it’s different than what you look like so you do things to put a lot of strain on your body because of the stress you cause it by under eating or overexercising. Your body will never be what you want it to be if you want it to be someone else ideal. You don’t want to punish yourself for not being the way you think other’s think you should look like. Remember you are only given one body. Take care of it. Be compassionate with it. It’s the one thing that is going to stand by you through all of this.
Stop Feeling Not Good Enough
What goes hand in hand with doing things other people want is never feeling good enough. What you need to learn is that you are good enough and being good enough has nothing to do with other people it has to do with being enough for you. I hear often Brooke Castillo on The Life Coach podcast say “you can be the sweetest peach but you will always have someone that doesn’t like peaches.” Another way you may not feel good enough is when people start making comments and I guarantee through recovery you will have at least one person say something to you. It could be compliments, it could be insults or it could just be observations. First off you are good enough and what you look like is no one else’s concern and what they think about you has nothing to do with you and all about them.
Worrying about others and comparing is only going to make you feel inadequate. I know it is difficult to let things roll off of you but find something that works for you. Have that one support person you can go and cry to or the person who can be that voice of reason. If not, you are going to get really resentful of others and yourself or you may start playing victim and start blaming someone else for things. Lastly, if you worry what others think you are going to feel unfulfilled in life in general. Are you living someone else’s dream and not living your own purpose because you are too worried about what other’s think? Are you too concerned about what your body looks like that you don’t have the energy to do what you want in life? You lose your chance to be self aware because you are suppressing your feelings. If you take anything away from this realize one of the main reasons not to care what others think is you won’t get what you want in life and you will not fully recover.
Remember you are one step close to getting the life you dreamed of. Take Care.
Recently I posted on my IG stories how I was having a such a tough time with weight gain. I went out to buy clothes and it was awful. Nothing fit. So why was it bothering me so much? I am not meeting expectations that I should have never set with myself. I keep setting myself up for failure because I was setting an expectation to be recovered at a certain weight. This weight was a number that I had gotten pregnant at a number I had cycled at with no issues. At first it was a certain number on the scale. Once I got there I got panicked and I then set another number to try to not bypass which was a BMI of 22 the fertile BMI which is recommended in recovery. I got there and then I kept gaining and I was like “No, I can’t gain anymore!” but I could still fit in a certain size jeans so I was OK with it. And then guess what? I gained even more weight and I no longer fit in that size and this is what really pushed me over the edge. I am now over the 22 BMI and I am no longer fitting in the size I wore after I had a damn baby.
Your Body Decides Your Recovery Weight
All this goes back to my body either doesn’t feel comfortable yet or still has more repairing to do. This takes time. The more days that pass the stronger I get. So I keep going. Even if you feel like giving up on where you are on your journey don’t give up. Weight gain is tough. This is all about perseverance. In a blink of an eye it will be another year and you will be restored and it will all be a distant memory. Think back to something you regret. You don’t want this to be that. Be strong and keep going.
The fact that I have gained this amount of weight and I still don’t have a period is telling me I am not recovered yet. I am close to the highest weight I have ever been at. I have probably overshot by now but that shouldn’t matter but let’s be honest it feels like it does. It doesn’t feel good to put on clothes and be spilling out of them but let’s talk about that.
What are You Making Weight Gain Mean?
Let’s talk really about what you are making it mean. What does it mean to you that you have gained weighted? Are you making it mean you let yourself go? Is the problem the weight or is it truly the thought around what you are making it mean? Are you making it mean you aren’t worthy anymore. That you aren’t beautiful? Are you worried about what others are thinking of you?
My guess there are two big things here. One you are worried about what others think which I will cover in a future blog post and the second thing is you are probably upset with what you are making this mean. So ask yourself what are you making it mean? Write down why it is bothering you and take a good look at these reasons.
You are Not the Number on the Scale
Remember you are not your weight. I guarantee if you were to describe yourself or someone else it would not be by what they looked like. You would say that they are a great friend and great listener. Or maybe you would mention their funny sense of humor. You would describe who they are as a person. Gaining weight does not change who you are. It only makes you better and stronger for wanting to better yourself. Even if you are not recovering and maybe you are just gaining weight who cares?
There is a saying that “What you resist persists.” What needs to happen is you need to let go of who you think you are supposed to be and look like. If you are resisting this weight gain it is going to resurface two fold. If you aren’t allowing your body to recover and you are still holding on to having that lean physique you won’t get out of this. These expectations will set you up for failure and disappointment. You yes you are all about what is on the inside not the outside.
During recovery, we have a distorted view of what we see as normal. I am not going to go into all the diet industry and that BS because I think we already know that. But normal is what is healthy for you and no one else. Others may be able to be at 15% body fat and cycle but that is not you or they may be able to be that low of body fat and feel good. It’s OK to gain weight. I am giving you approval to and it’s also OK not to feel great about it all of the time. This is about accepting your feelings about it and to try and make improvements. Body’s have seasons. You may have a fit season, you may have a postpartum season you may have a prenatal season. There are times in your life that you don’t have the time to exercise or worry about your weight and times you are super fit. This is your recovery body. Love it for all it does for you.
Thanks for reading and let me know you deal with weight gain in recovery.
I shared my HA symptoms in a past blog and video and now that I am almost 7 months into recovery I am sharing what to expect in the recovery process. First off, recovery is uncomfortable. When you first begin recovery every symptom can be seen as normal with a caveat. If there is anything life threatening then obviously you should seek help. There are so many things that happen in recovery we feel like we need some validation or reassurance that we are on the right path. I am going to cover possible things that can happen. Whether or not you get them doesn’t make your recovery any more or less normal. You may experience additional symptoms or have a different experience and that is OK. Every day can be different too. There were days I was starving and there were days I was felt so full. There were days I had insomnia and days I slept really good.
Recovery time can be dependent on your genetic and how suppressed your body is and how quickly you can bounce back. How long you have restricted or overexercised may influence your recovery because your body may have a lot of healing to do. If you are still under a lot of stress this can also affect symptoms and of course recovery time. If you are in what they call Quasi-Recovery (Half In), this could also impact your recovery.
Recovery is TOUGH and everyone’s journey is different. Since everyone’s recovery length varies you may see the symptoms when you first start, when you are all in for a month or scattered throughout recovery. Remember just because you get your period back doesn’t make you 100% recovered. Your body OR mind may still have some other healing to do so don’t you get all crazy and go run 10 miles!
Symptoms and Experiences in Recovery
1. Obsessiveness about food
If you didn’t have this before you will most likely have it now. If you have restricted in the past you may start to see what they call extreme hunger. What you think you are doing in regards to binging may likely just be your body asking for the calories it needs. Don’t go into panic mode that you now have a binge eating disorder. I would see this as a good sign that your body is waking up. You may start allowing yourself certain foods and it will turn into eating a ton of that food or you may give yourself a little bit and it may feel like you just can’t stop. Don’t freak out! This can be normal! For me I kept craving a Dunkin Donuts blueberry muffin. I hadn’t had one in years and every time I had one I would need another one. I was scared because every time I thought about one I had to stop and get on. Every time I would see the sign I would panic and it felt uncontrollable. This will go away. It won’t last forever. It could last days, weeks or months. Once your body is nourished and comfortable you won’t be obsessed.
2. Weight Gain
As with eating a lot you can imagine weight gain will come. Weight gain looks different for everyone. You may gain rapidly then stop gaining, you may lose and then gain or you may have slow gradual weight gain. At times you may feel like if you keep eating the way you do that you will become huge or balloon up. Don’t worry your body will regulate even if you overshoot your weight set point.
3. GI Problems
Many people experience GI Issues. This can include nausea, extreme fullness, constipation and bloating. You GI tract is just waking up and adjusting to the increased amount of food, calories and carbs.
4. Bloating and Swelling
Along with bloating you may have swelling. This will look different for everyone. It could be your face, hand legs or stomach or anywhere else. It is your body retaining water and adjusting to the increase in calories and carbs. My face swelled for a few weeks and so did my stomach.
5. Aches and Pains
Aches and pains is another symptom in recovery. Your body may ache like DOMs or delayed onset muscle It may feel like you just ran a marathon or were working out like crazy. You may feel old injuries resurface.
6. Sleep Changes
Sleep is can go to getting really good to being horrible. You may be awakened throughout the night due to hunger. You may have insomnia or you may sleep like a log. I personally have always had sleep problems so I am jealous of all of you that get a restful nights sleep!
Emotions are another part of recovery that can be affected. You may become more depressed or anxious and this could be the fluctuating hormones, lack of control, You may cry about everything or you may be feeling anger. These feelings hit me pretty hard as I felt numb for quite some time prior to recovery.
8. Brain Fog
My mind became more fogged before it became clearer. I was drained mentally when I first started recovery. Not only was my body tired but so was my mind.
9. Comparison Thoughts and Comments from Others
You may find yourself comparing yourself to others. No longer feeling like the smallest person in the room. You may begin to hear comments from others about your weight, food choices, amount your eating or how you are different. I had some people as me why I wasn’t exercising, people talk about the size of my arms, people that tried to figure out what was going on with me or if I was possibly pregnant.
10. Full On Identity Crisis
Recovery takes you out of your norm. It changes you and leaves you without your stress reduction or old habits. I personally felt like I had an identity crisis. I was no longer the fit girl. I didn’t have exercise in my life. The weight gain made me not recognize myself. I was wondering who I was without out these things. I wanted to be at the gym and I became obsessed with other things including podcasts, researching and needed to put my energy into new hobbies like blogging, creating YouTube and going back to school. I wasn’t exercising so I felt I needed to do something to fill the emptiness.
Let me know if your relate at all to any of these and check out the video if you want to hear me speak about each one of these symptoms.
Have you been gaining weight for recovery? Are you lost and need tips on how to deal with the weight gain?
These tips can be helpful for any weight gain like including HA and ED recovery, when bulking for adding muscle or if you have just been indulging in more food than normal and your pants are getting tight.
I am going to tell you a little bit of my backstory before going into the tips. When I first found out that I may have to gain weight to get my period back it felt like I lost of piece of myself. I would read blog after blog of recovery stories and I would think “no way.” This is not me. I don’t have to do this.
I was so resistant at first I tried decreasing exercise and when that didn’t work I stopped resisting and made the decision I would gain and be confident in my decision. This part of recovery is by far the most difficult especially since my entire life I had tried to be a certain size and I was finally there. I went into panic mode. I am sure many of you can relate. You may have grown up and always struggled with your weight, have a history of always dieting or overexercising and may have never been satisfied with your body.
There were many many years I didn’t treat my body well. Not only through diet but the words I would use to talk about it. I always thought I could hate myself thin. I felt I wasn’t enough. I wanted to look in the mirror and be comfortable. I wanted to be able to buy any clothes and not worry that maybe they were too tight around my stomach or that my arms looked big in it.
It was ironic that when I was finally at a comfortable place that I needed to gain in order to improve my health. Once I decided to gain I made the decision to love and accept myself at all sizes. I am now bigger than I have ever been and I am a little uncomfortable because I have had to overshoot to get my body to a place that it is happy but make sure I am compassionate with myself. So now to provide you some tips and some actionable things you can do to deal with weight gain
Tip 1#: Commit to Loving Yourself No Matter What
My biggest tip is make the decision to commit to loving yourself no matter what happens. No matter what size you get to, if you get more cellulite or if you no longer fit in your favorite dress make sure that you are kind and caring to yourself. Negative self talk will get you nowhere and only increase your stress.
Tip #2: Create a Compelling Reason
I started recovery knowing I needed to get my period back for my health. It was not because I wanted to have kids. Initially my reason was that the sooner I start the sooner I can get back to lifting and my normal life again. Then I found out I had osteoporosis and that was the fire that really pushed me. Remind yourself that everything is temporary. This angst and stress and is not going to last forever.
Tip #3: Change Your Mindset
The key to dealing with weight gain is to change your mindset. Do this by changing your thoughts about it and your body. If you like mantras try creating some post its and leave them on the mirror and your fridge and start using these to change them. I would say you must look at these post daily if not a couple times a day in order to start changing those negative thoughts. I use “this is my recovering body” a lot and while you may not think that is very positive I personally couldn’t jump to I love my body and went with a more neutral thought. I have also been using thoughts like “I love this choice I made to improve my health” which is a true statement and I can feel good about it. I can use that thought because it truly makes me proud of myself and I do love that I am doing this for myself.
A few to try:
This is my recovering body
This is my body (more neutral)
I love my new curves
I love that I made this choice to improve my health
This is exactly what my body needs
I am doing this because….(fill in reason here)
Tip#4 Buy New Clothes and Stop Weighing Yourself
Buy New Clothes. Stop trying to squeeze into those old clothes. Donate your old ones and purchase new ones. Find clothes that make you feel confident and comfortable. Don’t weigh yourself it if it’s going to make you feel worse about yourself. The number on the scale does not matter!
Tip 5# Create a List of Reasons
Create a list of reasons why you are doing this. These are your reasons for recovery or weight gain. Do you want to have children, do you want your health back, do you want to live long and strong for your children, do you want to gain muscle? Do you want to get back to working out? Record all of these down and look at them on a daily basis.
Remember Weight Gain is NOT easy so don’t be hard on yourself!
You check out my YouTube Video on Dealing with Weight Gain which covers the tips above: