Friend to Friend ==> Being Underweight + Amenorrhea.

I’ve gone from not fueling my activities, no period for a few years, injuries galore and terrible bone health…

Screen Shot 2019 01 10 at 10 22 13 AM

To 25-30 lbs heavier, having 2 babies, a regular period, healthy bones and my fastest race times.

IMG 3806

The road to get there was hard but more worth it than anything I’ve ever experienced.

IMG 6660

I have had my period back in my life for about 7 years now (minus a few breaks for pregnancy) and I first wrote about my loss of a period from overexercising and underfeeding here on the blog and it is still one of my highest viewed blog posts.  I receive many emails from women that are worried that they don’t have a period and don’t know where to go or what to do so let’s talk about it.

We are friends here so let’s really talk about this.  You are not crazy if this is your struggle in life, you just need some help and people to get you there. Also, I am NOT talking about naturally very thin people, the problem is when we do not fuel ourselves for the activities that we are doing.

Today makes the perfect day to start.

3e9c967f344ce069358e996a3aaf1fdc

“The body is smart.  And efficient.  So essentially, when we do not get enough energy after our workout to replenish those losses, our body stops any function not essential to day to day survival (as in your cells and brain needs energy to keep your body functioning but your period isn’t essential to daily living).” (source)  PS I am talking about losing our period due to under-fueling our activities… I know there are also other reasons that people may experience the loss of their period but I know nothing about that in the slightest.

Loss of our period is basically your body sending a warning flag that something is not right and it is shutting down your reproductive system.

When you are in the middle of this problem, it is so incredibly hard.  It’s easy to say to yourself that you’ll start working on it when racing season is over or when you want to have kids but you need to work on it NOW!  Changing your lifestyle is very difficult, finding a doctor that understands HOW PROBLEMATIC the female athlete triad is for our health can be exhausting and knowing how to fix the problem is daunting.  But I just want to reassure you that it is possible and SO INCREDIBLY worth it.

I can honestly remember seeing that top picture and thinking to myself that I had another 2-3 lbs to lose.  My body dysmorphia was so intense and the idea of gaining weight was my worst nightmare.

Every. Single. Day. was a struggle.  I had the help of a nutritionist, therapist, my mom (I can’t tell you how many meals she helped me get through) and God (I pleaded for help each day) and it was still a struggle but I knew I had the support system I needed to get me there.  If I’ve learned anything about myself, it is that I love a goal.  I got to the place where I made gaining my period back my biggest goal (hello, my FEMURS were breaking and I knew I wanted a family).  You are so much stronger than you give yourself credit for so I know you can do this too but you have to really want it so that when it sounds easier to slip back into disordered ways, you can stop and think about what you really want.  For me, that was health and to have babies.

I am nowhere near an expert nor do I have any credentials to guide YOU in your journey to gaining your period back but I can share what worked for me:

*I stopped running.  I had two femoral stress fractures at the time (due to having low bone mass ((osteopenia for me)) from not giving my body the energy it needed to sustain the activity I was doing each day) and had to stop running.  I see this injury as one of the absolute biggest blessings of my life.  I had to hit rock bottom to change the way I was treating my body.  This injury helped me realize what I was doing to myself and that I needed to get out of it.  I don’t think cutting out exercise is necessary for everyone with this problem but for me, I was able to get my period back within about 6 months and I think not running for a chunk of that time helped me to get to that point quickly.

*I increased my body fat %.  I didn’t just gain weight… I gained fat.  I don’t think if I put on lbs of muscle that my period would have returned… my body needed fat.

*I worked with a registered dietitian.  I have worked with one a few times during my 20’s and it was SO helpful for me.  (Below source)

IMG 6137

*I ate a lot more fat.  I think many of us grew up in the time that we were told fat was evil and fat-free should be part of every food label that we buy.  I used to only eat egg whites and thought that swedish fish must have been healthy for me since the bag told me it was fat-free.  We all now know how incredibly important eating fat is for our bodies but it took some serious retraining of my brain to get there.  I ate a lot of avocados, eggs (YOLK FOR LIFE), almond butter, full fat dairy items, oils and buttah.

Screen Shot 2018 09 06 at 12 42 20 PM

*I am SO much faster now that I give my body the fuel it needs to run and stay healthy.  Luckily, we are understanding more and more that thinness does not equal speed (if your body’s set point is very naturally thin than that is a different subject… I think our body performs BEST at our set points and underfeeding to get to a lower weight is not going to end well).   It might for a season but then there are so many injuries that can happen if runners are underfeeding themselves that can end running for us for weeks/months/years/lifetime.  And even if speediness came by under eating for what we are burning… RUNNING ISN’T IMPORTANT compared to our overall health.  I look back at those years when I was so obsessed with my weight and wonder how in the world I could value my size over my health but eating disorders are a mental disorder so we NEED to work with professionals (just like we would go to the doctor if we had appendicitis.. I believe the same thing needs to happen with mental disorders) to get better.   We get one body, that’s it… we have to take care of it and getting the proper help needs to happen today, not tomorrow.

*Mile at a time, day at a time, meal at a time.  Changing your lifestyle is hard.  I went from running all of the miles and living off of Skittles, lean protein and vegetables to not running and completely changing my entire diet.  It was difficult.  Things weren’t fitting like they used to, my body was changing and it was so beyond scary at times.  But I took it a day at a time.  And the benefits of being able to have my babies and get my body healthy again (I was able to get my bones back to a normal range) was the best reward on the planet.   You can do hard things, so I’m not worried about you not being strong enough to make the changes because I know you are. <— Let your people and medical professionals in to help you because for me, it was not something I could do on my own.  I needed help.

*What do I do now to make sure that I don’t lose my period again?  PERSONAL ANECDOTE—>  I stay at a healthy weight for me and I also stay at a healthy body fat percentage.   I am choosing to run and train A LOT which means I also choose to eat more than enough and rest enough to not drop below.  That means even if I am not hungry after a hard workout/long run… I still eat.  Our hunger cues can be a bit off from training hard but I know my body needs the fuel and so I eat.  I have also started weighing myself periodically during my training so that I can make sure I’m not dropping too much weight from all of the training.  If I do start to drop a bit, I eat more.  I know that this weight is a good place for my body to have a healthy cycle and do not want to even risk going below.  For a few years there I avoided the scale completely because it was a trigger for me so do that if you need to but if it isn’t a trigger than it can be your friend to help you to make sure you are eating enough for all of the miles.  I have chosen to avoid all hormonal birth control methods because for me personally, my hormones were all over the place and I want to know FOR SURE while I am training this hard that my reproductive system is working accordingly because I do not want to miss my period until I am pregnant again.

What do I do now if I have days where I struggle with body image?   Luckily, it doesn’t happen nearly as often as it used to but here are some things I do–> I get off of social media for a little while.  For me personally (this is not the cause of body image problems for everyone… but for me–>) I try my best to focus on helping others rather than focusing on myself so much (remember my window vs mirror analogy?  I try to focus on looking out through a window to see other’s needs rather than stare at myself and just think about my needs).  I get back to a therapist.   Usually it has something to do with hormones/time of the month now so I remind myself that hormones are making me feel a certain way.   I don’t think we have a lot of control over the first thoughts that pop in our heads but we do after that and I work hard to stop certain thoughts and change them to something positive.

If you are in training right now and you are missing your period (not due to birth control methods etc)… that is your body telling you that you are not giving yourself enough energy for your training. Don’t wait until your next race or until you hit your next goal… take care of this now, please:)  I am always here if you need to email someone about it… I’ll be your BIGGEST cheerleader.

Your worth has nothing to do with your weight.  You are a human/sister/daughter/friend/mother/teacher/employee/neighbor/wife/girlfriend/_____.

————————————————————————————————————–

Struggling with amenorrhea or have you in the past?  What did you do to help?  

Do you struggle with disordered eating?  What is your relationship with the scale?

Share any major changes in your lifestyle that you have experienced.  

You May Also Like

39 comments

Reply

I have never had issues like this, so I can’t even imagine the struggle. But from your photo and your story, you have overcome sooo very much. So proud of you for that. And I just have to say, you look amazing and healthy now. Kudos to you for never giving up such a strong fight.

Reply

Michele, you are so incredibly encouraging and I hope you know how much I look forward to hearing from you. PS YOUR CRUISE PICTURES ARE AMAZING. We will have to go try an Eastern Caribbean Cruise now. Have a wonderful night.

Reply

I went through this same experience as a freshman in high school. It was my drop in swimming performance (I was a competitive swimmer) that was the impetus to me seeking help. I gained back the weight and never got as skinny as I did then, but I’ve definitely struggled with disordered eating and body image for years and years and years after. Ironically it was trying counting macros for a few months and not seeing hardly any different in my body that helped me see that I am right at my natural set point and it would take way too much work to make any more changes in my body. And I’m not willing to put more effort in. Ha ha! It’s tough when I show up to races and I am not the typical body type for a runner. But I almost always place in the top 1-5% of female runners and frequently place in my age group. And I’m just starting to realize that my body is what it is and it’s oretty dang awesome and it might not look like other runners, but it’s performing well and I can’t complain! As long as I try to eat a balanced diet, then I’m usually pretty secure that my body is where it’s suppoaed to be. I don’t weigh myself anymore but I occasionally use the measuring tape to make sure my messed up thoughts about my body aren’t based in reality. Unlike the scale, inches don’t fluctuate with water retention and hormones and I feel are a better indicator of where I’m at nutrition-wise than the scale. 🤷‍♀️ it’s all very much a work in progress but I make sure I never make any remarks about weight or body insecurity around my 4 kids…they won’t get any signals from me that their worth is somehow tied to their body size!

Reply

Chelsea, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Huge congrats on your running… you are incredible. I completely understand what you are saying about our set points. Each body has an area it loves to be at and I do not find it worth it to kill ourselves off trying to go under that set point with our eating etc. Good call on a measuring tape every once in a while rather than the scale.
You are an amazing mama and I am right there with you on my kids never hearing anything about weight/looks = worth. Keep up the great example for your 4 kids, they are so lucky to have you.
Have a wonderful night.

Reply

I’m so proud of you!!! Can I ask how tall you are? And do you measure just weight or other things like body fat percentage? I love you and the example you are for us all. Also, I love your friend to friend series.

Reply

Hey Erika! Sure! I am a little under 5’9″. I did have it measured during the time I was working towards gaining weight and that would be interesting to know where I am now but I am not sure. Thank you and I hope you are having a great evening.

Reply

Thank you for responding! I always thought you were about 5’4 it maybe 5’3!! Anyway, I’m so glad you are healthier now and are being a positive role model for others. You inspire me so much. 💗💗

Reply

I would like to point out that losing your period is not the only marker that something could be very wrong! I never lost my period but had an eating disorder years ago where I got down to a very very low weight. My mental state and behaviors were very unhealthy despite still having a very normal period. I feel like sometimes women and girls say’oh it’s not that bad, I’m not really doing harm or i don’t really have an eating disorder if I’m still getting my period” which is not true. Just needed to share this! Thanks for sharing your story and I’m very glad you’re healthy! You are a gorgeous woman!

Reply

Oh ABSOLUTELY!!! That is a fabulous point… I was just sharing what I experienced. But girl, THANK YOU for pointing this out and this is so important to share. I hope you are doing well!

Reply

Thanks for posting about this, it’s so important for people to take seriously.

There are several sports medicine organizations that have suggested renaming the female athlete triad as “relative energy deficiency in sport” to recognize that hormone imbalances can occur in 1. normal weight people and 2. men. I have never been medically underweight but have lost my period from underfueling several times. It’s really the intake not making up for your training that leads to the hormone issues the most.

Reply

Victoria, I love how much I have learned from you over the years. I appreciate our friendship (even though we’ve never met). I have not even considered what the hormone imbalances could do for the men too. It sure is tricky to find the right balance with all of the training that we do! You are amazing and I hope you have a great night.

Reply

I had an eating disorder through my teens and twenties. Thank God I am well now but those were the worst years of my life. I’m healthy now, married and have 3 little boys :)

Reply

Pam, it makes me so incredibly happy to hear where you are now! Your kids and husband are so lucky to have you:) Have a beautiful evening!

Reply

I appreciate this post Janae. As someone who worked with those eating disorders in the past, there is so much in social media that “normalizes” not having a period, being abnormally thin, etc. It honestly blows my mind. I’m so happy for you now and it’s clear how much happier you are too.

Reply

So proud of you, my sweet friend! You have come such a long way and are incredibly STRONG and BEAUTIFUL!!!! I got too thin for a while back in college and my early 20s, and I worked really hard to put back on weight that I had lost. I’m so glad that you were able to get help and have a healthy view of who you are now. You’re so right that our worth has nothing to do with our weights. Thanks for sharing that beautiful heart of yours.

Reply

Great post Janae! I think the more awareness, the better. Your approach is so friendly and reassuring. I have had body dysmorphia since age 5. I’m now 49, that’s a long, tiring time! This is also a reminder that our youth are watching and listening to us. Brooke, Knox, and Skye are lucky to have you as a positive role model. Andrew, too!

I have had some hard years and some great years and sometimes you just never know when it’s going to sock ya. Like you mentioned, it’s good to have a dietician, doctor, and therapist during the good and bad times. My divorce 7 years ago really set me into a tailspin and I found myself tired, withered, and periodless. It’s like my ED found a weak spot and took advantage. Anyway, like you said, it’s one day and one meal at a time. And it took me years of being better to actually appreciate being better. I feel like some distance helps, because early on when weight restored and moving and grooving things can still be rocky and a slippery slope. I also feel like being around kids is great-I take a lot of hunger cues and enjoyment from my kids and it’s amazing to just join in and be happy and content with food.

Thank you for posting this and I want to say that the earlier someone works on improving their health the better! I wish I had received more help when I was 14 and in the hospital not really knowing what was going on!

To you and all your readers-you are amazing and worth being well so you can keep playing with your sport/kids/doggies/etc.

Reply

Thank you for sharing. I struggled with this for a LONG time and it only came up when TTC. One resource that was super helpful was Dr. Nicola Rinaldi’s No Period Now What. I was finding that my docs really didn’t know that much and the book was so helpful. She also has FB groups dedicated to recovery. It takes so much work mentally to start to let go.

Reply

Love a good success story! There is a good audience for this one, living in America.

Reply

Thank you, thank you for sharing, Janae. I feel a real kinship with you as I too have had an eating disorder that consumed me from age 15-24. I am 42 now with 3 kids and still run regularly. I no longer starve myself or fear food. I love food and being healthy and would never want to go back to that awful time where the eating disorder was all consuming.
What is still astounding to me is those crazy little thoughts still creep in daily, such as “are you sure you want to eat all of that?” “you didn’t run today, so you’ll need to eat less” and “your stomach is big today, better step up the exercise”.
Some days I handle these thoughts better than others, but sometimes I feel so silly to let these thoughts get to me.
Your written words are so helpful and powerful. Thank you thank you, Janae, as always for putting yourself and your words out there.
Have a great day!
Mary

Reply

Honestly, which you already know, but cannot tell you enough, your blog when you were gaining, and posting pictures of your yummy donuts, desserts, etc and then announcing your pregnancy with Brooke gave me confidence and motivation to do the same. It was like I was not doing it alone! I have never felt such freedom eating. Resulted in my beautiful Hope, and those babies they just change you. To be think I could go be disordered again if I tried.
Thank You, friend!
xoxo

Reply

Janae, thank you. I think the more we can open up and share our stories, the more people can stop feeling shame and the more people can realize if there is a problem and seek help. I think, like you mentioned, our society has completely normalized diet culture and being obsessed with being healthy is normal and even praised. You CAN NOT determine someone’s health by a picture. So much more goes into health than our physical appearance. We may look great, but are we mentally suffering? Emotionally? Our relationships? Our health is a complete package. There are times in my life that I LOOKED healthy and I got so many compliments on how great I ate and looked. But I was anything but. For me, I lose my period long before I LOOK underweight. My set point is naturally higher than some, I guess. Any who, I could go on forever about so many things you mentioned in this post, but don’t worry, I won’t ;) I DO want to share two amazing podcasts I listened to lately that I loved. Because even though I know I am in an overall healthier spot right now, I still have to remind those thoughts that tell me to weigh less and control more to shut up and listening to podcasts help that. Haha. Love you Janae!!

Episode 23 of “Therapy Thoughts” with Christy Harrison.
And the podcast “It’s Not About The Food” the episode with Emily Fonnesbeck.

Reply

You know how you can tell how far you’ve come and how healthy you are mentally and physically now? You posted your weights for the first picture and where you are now. Being able to talk about weight with real numbers (vs “a couple more pounds”, “I don’t weigh that little”, etc) is so HUGE. Congratulations on your success and confidence and the full happy life it allows you to have now.

Fortunately, the only time I struggled with amenorrhea was from 14-18 yrs old. My parents were tough about keeping weight up and eating enough and took me for testing/consultation. Based on the test/consultation results that said my amenorrhea was mostly caused by still growing fast (I didn’t completely stop until I was 20), they picked a set point weight and said I had to stay above it or not run. So I paid attention to the scale and stayed above it because I really wanted to run! Right around the time I turned 18, my growth slowed enough and I haven’t missed a period since except for pregnancy. I am fortunate that I had parents who were both on top of possible issues and looked carefully into causes.

My current relationship with the scale = mostly allergic. If my clothes get *really* baggy, I check (that hasn’t happened since I got pneumonia in 2012). If my clothes get *really* tight, I check (that doesn’t happen very often). Otherwise, 95% of the time probably, I pretend scales don’t exist and it stays hidden under the bathroom cabinet.

Reply

Janae, thank you for sharing this . . . it is so important to talk about this and I know it well help people. I’ve struggled with body image and a bad mindset about food. I still have some of those thoughts, but like you say–we can’t always control what pops into our heads, but we can control what we do after. It’s still a work in progress (and might always be), but being able to share makes life so much easier. I find I am so much happier and healthier when I exercise regularly (endorphins!), but listen to my body and take rest days when needed, and fuel with whole foods and good meals. I try to incorporate vegetables into my meals so I don’t have to remember to eat them. :-) I also try to avoid spending time with people/websites/magazines that emphasize how we look, how many calories we eat, etc. I can’t stand getting lunch with a friend and they start talking about how many calories are in the food. It’s triggering and so unhealthy (and food is supposed to have calories!!!). Redirecting that conversation is really important to me.

I love Shalane Flanagan’s and Elyse Kopecky’s cookbook because it has such a great approach to food and fuel and uses the best ingredients (hello, butter). I also think cooking makes me happier about food–I know it’s made with love and I’m proud of the work I put into creating it!

Thanks again Janae–you’ve created a community where friends can TALK about these things and that is so valuable. :-)

Reply

So brave of you to share this, Janae. We should all be able to talk about our struggles without worrying others are judging us. Take care. XO

Reply

Loved, loved, loved this. You are truly gifted at writing in an encouraging and evidenced based way.

Reply

I certainly had disordered eating for many years and I feel like once you go through it, it is always a possibility. So I know to watch for triggers and keep myself in check. A few years ago I went through a lot of stress and at the time did not know my dairy allergy had returned. I was stressed and nauseous all the time ( from the dairy) and lost 30 lbs rapidly. Figuring it all out meant gaining the weight back and that was HARD even though I knew I was far too thin. That was such a trigger for me.
My youngest daughter is in treatment for selective mutism and the psychologist took our history. She red flagged my daughters weight because she was trending off her growth curve. She told me that the latest research shows how important it is to keep our kids ( those of us that have a history of disordered eating) on track with their weight. There is a genetic predisposition and they find that kids can cycle through “ my stomach hurts so I am not eating that much today or I am no longer eating this” and then it becomes this pattern, don’t eat much, something is triggered in the brain, etc. I was somewhat shocked and it’s good to know that I need to watch my girls, even at age 8. In this particular point in her life I am confident she is eating enough but we will watch her.

Reply

Hi Janae,
Thank you for this post. I do urge you to consider removing your actual weights from the very beginning, though. Sometimes people with eating disorders can be highly “triggered” (though I hate that term) by seeing numbers like that. I’d hate to have one of your readers see that and think “I wish I was 135 pounds!” or… “Janae got to 108, I can, too! “I weigh as much as Janae, but I’m shorter — I must be fat” etc etc I’m sure you know what I mean.
That being said, I did struggle immensely in my teens and 20s. I was hospitalized numerous times for anorexia, and also suffered bone loss and amenorrhea. I am very proud to say that I am now five years COMPLETELY recovered. I strongly feel that I now have as much a chance of slipping back into the throes of anorexia, as someone who has never experienced it would. I wish I could pinpoint how the change happened, but it took time, effort, and a whole lot of trust (in myself and others) to get to where I am today. I have a lot of proud moments in my life, but recovering is 100% my proudest achievement.

Reply

Hi Stacey,
I used to feel triggered by seeing weights reported and now I wish women talked about it more! Isn’t it funny how differently we all regard this stuff? From what I’ve read from Janae’s post, I’m about an inch taller than her and 30-40 lbs heavier! I’m not “overweight” (not a fan of that term), I suppose we just have different body types. When I had an eating disorder myself, I was Janae’s current weight at my lowest weight, and I struggled every day. I guess this is all to say, I feel like the fact that we don’t talk about weight and body types and the fact that your body being different than my body being different than her body is totally NORMAL and to be expected is a big part of the problem. When I was growing up I got it in my head that I should be 120-125 lbs b/c I read somewhere that that’s what I “should” weigh, and I restricted food for the better part of a decade to get there (and never really succeeded). I feel like if we had more diverse examples of women’s bodies we would be less likely to get caught up in an arbitrary number that is not actually based on our unique body’s needs and health! Anyways, I totally respect your and others’ views on the weight-being-triggering issue, I just wanted to provide another point of view. I think not talking about the natural diversity of bodies and weights is actually a huge part of the problem.

Reply

Hi Caitlin,
Thank you for responding. I totally see your point. I’m definitely not “triggered” now that I’m recovered, but I do remember a time when I would have LOVED to read about someone else’s weight — because it fed my unhealthy need to constantly compare myself to others.
You’re absolutely right, we should celebrate our differences. I feel like posting her actual weights might spark feelings in some of her readers about their own bodies. I don’t mean to speak for Janae, but I do remember a time when she herself didn’t want to know her own weight, and was fearful of the “number” bringing up unhealthy feelings.
I’m just very protective of people like myself (rather, myself 10 years ago), and feel like posting actual weights doesn’t add anything to her story or message.
But yes, I agree that not discussing body diversity is doing our society a disservice. Though I feel we’ve gotten better in recent times with the whole “body positivity” movement that seems to be happening nowadays.

Reply

So much yes to this! Especially the dietitian part. Be very selective of your dietitian, too!
Disordered eating should be taken vary seriously. It is the number one cause of death of all mental health disorders. Number ONE.

Reply

Oops, as I saw the first picture, I didn’t recognize you ;(.
I fasted for the first time when I was about 18, it continued on and off. When I was 21 it was hard, then two years later then most of the time till I was 27, then it turned more severe until I was 30 when I saw my enamel was broken and then I stopped. Not many episodes followed. I never searched help, I was too shy or ashamed. How often I was starving, excessively exercising or overeating! How often my day was determined by how good or not good I was regarding eating. Living in an imaginary world, using it as escape. I didn’t know it better. Now it’s ok and I wish I didn’t have to go through that. I was also just bones- like you on the first picture- at one particular race..after the race I didn’t eat anything, not even the pancakes which I adore..I thought I had to lose some weight. It is a mental problem, it later substituted in my case by pleasing people, and my self-worth would depend on others. Thank you Janae for opening up about it. I agree, we can do hard things :) Have a good day!

Reply

I experienced amenorrhea about 15 years ago. At the time I was working out way too much – I worked out for an hour in the morning and an hour after work. I’d even sneak in jumping jacks and squats in the bathroom at work. I avoided going out and doing anything if it interfered with my workout time. I then started restricting my diet – never starving myself but ate little and only the foods on my ‘good’ list. I eventually went to the doctor and they told me I needed to gain weight and put me on some progesterone medication. The night of my doctors appointment I looked in the freezer and thought to myself ‘the doctor told me to’ and I ate so much ice cream and candy bars that night – this led me to disordered binge eating for years. I have since gotten myself on a healthy mindset of eating and exercise. I battled infertility for over 6 years but now have 2 children. None of what I went through was good or worth it and wish I would have known then what I know now.

Reply

As an eating disorder therapist and recovery consultant, I greatly appreciate this real and honest post. I appreciate you sharing your journey and pointing out the importance of having professionals help in your journey.

Reply

Thank you for that quote from Deiter Uchtdorf. I am so fascinated and interested in self-improvement. So this may sound completely twisted but I am wondering either your thoughts or other readers… Before you recovered, even if you KNEW you would feel better, look better, run better with more weight, how did you overcome (or did this even cross your mind) the opinions of or feedback from readers, friends, family? For example, we might get pigeonhold into “oh, she is the skinny runner girl who always eats healthily and works out a ton.” And people are kind of envious that you are in such good shape and they may think you are “naturally thin” and don’t actually have an eating disorder. Did you or has anyone else struggled with the fear of loss of identity or of people judging your fuller face/body and saying “oh, wow, she looks heavier. wonder what happened…” Even though 99% of people would think you look 100 times better and have more energy and life? Being skinny might be what sets you apart and how do you let go of that desire to be “special” or different in that way?

Reply

Janae,
Thank you for sharing. You are SUCH an inspiration in so many ways, but your story here is amazing. I have never had an eating disorder, though I struggled with disordered eating when I was in college. I had been the same weight for about ten years, and had run 14 marathons at that weight. Last year, when I decided to really buckle down and marathon train for faster times, my weight went up about 10 lbs. I am still considered very thing and a fine weight for my height but I admit I am paralyzed by the number on the scale – and think about food and losing weight constantly…even though my performance is so much better – I have set PRs in every distance this year, and am training to run Boston for the first time in April. Anyway. This post hit home. And I think when I get home I am going to put my scale away. My clothes fit, I’m running fast (for me!) and I’m healthy. I’d much rather break 3 than weigh that specific number. So thanks :).

Reply

Thank you for your bravery in sharing your story. I am sorry for what you experienced. You are an inspiring woman.
Disordered eating is such a tough mental battle. As a teenager I struggled with my relationship to food and my body. I’m happy to be at a place where I no longer measure my value by the weight on the scale, but it took hard work and love to get here.

Reply

I read your blog everyday, faithfully. And I don’t know how I missed this post. So thankful you mentioned it today and I was able to read this one. I am struggling so bad right now. Amenorrhea for 2 years now. Disordered eating. Body dysmorphia. The whole nine. It’s embarassing. I’m in my early 30s. I’m a mother of one. And more than anything, I want another baby. My lifestyle and my distortions have robbed me of what I long for the most. At this point, it consumes me everyday. All I can think of is how to fix this. I’m in therapy. I’m seeing a reproductive endocrinologist and have been on hormone replacement therapy for a few months now. Taking estrogen and progesterone. Neither have caused my cycle to return. He said we could try clomid but that it’s usually not successful in women with HA. That injectables are most likely going to be needed, which is costly. I feel defeated, discouraged, depressed, anxious, hopelessness. The thought of never having another child scares me. I have put on 5lbs this winter but I was never really underweight when I lost my cycle. My BMI has been in the 18s and now 19s. … I appreciate you coming forward with your experiences and success. It gives me hope that maybe one day I too can have another child. If you have any advice left to give, a magic wand, anything .. please reach out to me. Thank you again for bringing light to this topic and sharing your life with us. You are part of my morning coffee everyday ;)

Reply

I had amenorrhea for 7 years, starting around 14 (I got my period at 9 originally). My body stopped absorbing nutrients (best way to describe, no one ever figured out exactly what was going on), I dropped 25+ lbs I didn’t have to lose, and I was deficient in everything no matter how much I ate. I didn’t actually start working out until college, and I kept eating all the things. Honestly, sometimes I’d get scared and stressed and straight up binge because I was like “I NEED THIS FOOD TO STICK.” One morning I weighed myself after that and somehow weighed even less than a few days before. And nothing worked for a while. If I had to guess, my gut was a mess. I went pretty strictly paleo for two years, and toward the end of that, when I trained for a half marathon (which I don’t strictly recommend for someone at my super low weight at the time… but I was determined), the weight came back on. I like to imagine the diet had healed my gut and let me start absorbing. The training helped me focus on what my body could do more than what it looked like, my jeans had stretched with me over the winter, but when spring came and I put on shorts, it was pretty much time to buy new ones. A few months after the half, I got my period back. I’m heavier than I’ve ever been (though I am built pretty small), but also stronger and faster, and I (usually) feel better about my body than ever. Also, while it’s the foundation of my diet, I’m not strictly paleo anymore and it’s great to have bread and cereal back, honestly. :) I can nitpick and find things I’d want to change – can’t we all? – and I can also work toward both performance and aesthetic goals in a healthy way, and be totally fine if I don’t achieve them, you know? Health first, always. And I totally notice that body image is tied to my hormones!! Right before my period, even if nothing changes in my appearance, I start seeing myself as if I’ve gained a ton of weight and I want to change everything, and then two days later my period starts and my head goes back to normal.

Reply

Thanks so much for sharing this Janae. It is so important to be open about this topic and to be so clear about the fact that it is not normal or a sign of being an athlete when you lose your period!

I found out I had amenorrhea when I stopped with the pill. At first I thought I might just need some time to get my hormones back in balance, but after about a year I went to see the doctor and had a bone density scan done, which confirmed the amenorrhea suspicions. While I definitely struggled with disordered eating / over-excising to some extent, I have always been lucky to have a pretty good body image (number on scale doesn’t bother me at all!), but was really worried about “having to be healthy” (I think they call it orthorexia). However, like you say, as soon as I realized I was actually compromising my health, I was able to follow the advice from my doctor and take a break from excising and stop focusing on only eating “healthy” but also including treats, fats, sugars etc! I took about 4 months off and started getting my period back soon after! I gained some weight and just really gave my body the rest it deserved. It’s been about 2 years ago now and I’m fully back excising but still eat so much more “balanced”. I now look at it as food for my body and food for my mental health. Ice cream, cake, dessert etc. are all the things that make sure my mind is happy as well as my body.
I’m actually only slighly heavier now than I was before

In case it might help someone else, some things that really helped me were:
– Tina Muir’s website! She struggled with amenorrhea too and really gave some good and helpful advice.
– Timing my rest/break/no food rules with a vacation. It really helped for me to get out of my normal routine and to be in that holiday mindset and sampling all the delicious food while being away while also not missing my usual exercise routine!
– Being kind to myself and … TRUSTING THE PROCESS! I found it very tempting to make excuses as to why the usual advice wouldn’t apply to me (I’m not that underweight, I don’t exercise that much, the doc is just wanting me to gain weight but I’m sure that’s not going to help etc. etc.)

Thanks again for sharing and I’m sure this will help people that are right in the middle of it now!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *