After sharing the Finding Balance series of posts last month, I started receiving emails which asked the same two questions:"How do you keep such a balanced attitude towards your weight?" "How did you handle the need to gain weight and/or eat more in order to get your period back?"
I decided these questions were worth answering here on the blog but it has taken me weeks to get this post together! I kept stumbling on the best way to answer these questions mainly because neither question has a one sentence here's how it's done answer.
After MUCH thought, I came up with a few things that I always think about which I believe help answer the above questions:If I eat less than I know I need, I may get thinner for a few months but then my metabolism will slow down and I will gain weight.
And even worse, it takes time to recover my metabolism after eating too little so it's not worth trying to eat less than what I need!Eating too little will eventually slow your metabolism.
Not eating enough is detrimental to our health and to our ability to use our food as fuel. Even before I actively worked to get my period back, the scale was creeping up and I wasn't even eating more at that point!
I recall a doctor saying to me, "Okay, so your period hasn't returned. Even though you eat and your weight falls within range for your height, you need to just keep eating more and if that means gaining more weight then that's what you need to do until it comes back."
I did this metabolism damage to myself. My weight was in range probably because my body was holding on to everything I ate in fear of not getting enough food for what it felt it needed. However, since my body was in fear mode, it was still not going to give me a cycle because it did not trust me that I would give it enough energy (calories) to support the chance of a pregnancy. So, I needed to still eat more for a while to prove to my body that it would not starve.
The thing is, while I do not know what I weigh now since I don't even own a scale, I am currently the same size only in a healthier way. Even though I am running more, I eat more, my metabolism works (I think) and get my period.We all have days where we feel like a sausage stuffed in our skinny jeans - accept it and move on.
This is a big one. I think it's important to realize that there's no quick fix to feeling perfect and thrilled every single moment of every day.
We all have bloated days and days where our jeans just don't feel right - no matter what size we wear. No one else can see what you feel unless you project negativity in your appearance.
Put on your makeup, best pair of leggings, grab a jug of water (to banish bloat) and go. Skip the mirror if you have to but DO NOT skip your meals. Skimping on food, restricting your calories, contrary to what you think, will not help you. In fact, eating less will cause you to get over-hungry later in the day which will lead to out-of-control eating.If I don't eat enough, I cannot run well because I won't have the energy.
After being sick recently and not eating normally, getting back to running was tough. My energy was lower which made me wonder how the heck people run without eating enough!
Is it really worth being any thinner or restricting your calories if it means not only are you low on energy and unhealthy on the inside but you can't run as fast or as long as you could if you ate more?
Sometimes you think you have energy, you think you are running fast when the truth is, if you actually ate more, you would have so much more energy and stamina for your workouts -- and your recovery would be much more comfortable and quicker.
Laura just wrote a terrific post last week which discusses the prevalence of undereating in runners. She really goes into great detail which really backs all of this up with documented information so it's worth checking out her post for further understanding on the seriousness of this topic.Reproductive health
If you are looking to have kids one day, screwing with your weight and your cycles may affect that. I got lucky but not everyone does.
When I was 22, I didn't care much about hearing that I may affect my ability to have a baby. Of course I wanted kids and was already engaged but the thought of children seemed so far away! Please don't make this mistake. You may not want kids right now but one day you will! And you don't want a dumb decision from your past to negatively affect you.
That little boy kept me so busy and on my toes (and still does) that it was a marathon just to keep up with him!
Even if you don't want children or think you are past the aging of having children, it's still important to get a regular cycle.I think the biggest thing to realize is that as active females, you just need a lot more to eat than you think.
Hunger does not always kick in when it should. Weight is not always the appropriate indicator of health.
As I said earlier, as you enter starvation mode, your weight may stall or creep up because your body slows down your metabolism as protection.
If you aren't getting your period, if it's irregular, if blood work is showing odd things like high liver enzymes, elevated sugar levels, high cholesterol levels etc, these things can often be (as they were for me) signs and side effects of an energy imbalance.
I was fooling everyone (including myself) back in the day because my weight was considered normal. Because I wasn't anorexic or bulimic, because I still ate chocolate cake and frozen yogurt, because I could go out to eat without issue.
The only one who wasn't fooled was my body. Overall I did not take in enough calories on a daily basis and the damage I was doing was really scary, even though I could not see it.
Keeping these sorts of scary things in mind are what help me to keep a balanced attitude towards knowing I must eat enough to support my lifestyle, even if that means weighing more.
Throw out the scale and go by how you feel!
Other posts of Interest:
Finding Balance Part One - How many calories do you really need?
Finding Balance Part Two - How what and why should we eat for our workouts?
Finding Balance/NEDA Week - Female Athlete Triad chat
Do you Really Need To Lose 5 Pounds? - Probably not!
Meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles
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