I don’t talk about my eating disorder all that much anymore because it gratefully isn’t part of my day-to-day life. But I still get tons of emails about it! The “I Got It Back” post remains one of my most viewed.
The most common question I get about getting my period back is, “How much weight will I have to gain?”
And it makes me sad.
It’s a really normal question and one I know I asked as well. People with eating disorders and often times people with Hypothalamic Amenorrhea don’t want to gain weight. It’s scary. It’s a control thing, too — not knowing how much or how long it’ll take. Not knowing what your body will be like afterward. It’s going against everything our image-focused instead of health-focused society tells us to do.
The reason it makes me sad is because if you’re asking that question, you’re still not ready for full recovery. I wasn’t for a long time, that’s for sure. If you are still trying to calculate the exact weight you’ll be and if you are okay with what your body will be like, you’re missing the point.
I had to get to a place where I was so fed up with my disordered eating and lack of period that I didn’t care how much weight I had to gain. Where it was worth it to be healthy no matter what I looked like. Where the number wasn’t the thing that mattered any more, but my LIFE and my HEALTH and my HAPPINESS did.
You have to get to that place to be ready to recover. And it’s not easy.
So people don’t like my answer to that question. My answer is, “I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter.” I tell them that I didn’t even weigh myself, so I don’t know much weight I had to gain to get my period back. It all depends on where your body is right now and where it needs to be to get healthy — how much body fat you need for your hormones to function again, how much time it’ll take for your body to trust you after being underfed for so long. That’s different for every single person. It could take 2 weeks or 2 years. It could take 5 pounds or 50. So I don’t know.
But I always encourage them to change their perspective. Health is the goal here. A functioning, healthy body and a happy, stress-free mind. That life is SO much better once you get your body to where it wants to naturally be. You don’t constantly worry about what you’re eating or how much you’re exercising. You can eat intuitively and exercise to be strong and feel good. And you can love your body at the shape it naturally is because you know it’s healthy and it’s uniquely yours.
Trust your body. Gain as much weight as it needs to. It’s pretty smart. And you’re worth it.