So I am sure you have all heard the ‘no one-size-fits-all’ (I mean other than Brandy Melville’s supposed ‘free-size’ clothing, haha) mantra by now. While we all understand where its coming from, most of us don’t employ this mantra in our daily lives, and here’s why.
Don’t let Google scare you!
If you think you have a cold, you may Google your symptoms, and seek remedies or medications that are suggested for your system. The advice that you are receiving is based on what has worked for other people. It’s the same in management consulting – we apply models that have worked on previous clients, to clients who are in a similar situation or industry. Essentially, we are all living and breathing the one-size-fits-all model in so many aspects of our lives – weight-loss solutions, school, healthcare, fashion, anti-aging treatments, and the list goes on.
My case with Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (HA) was very similar. Before my diagnosis, WebMD had basically told me that I had a whole host of medical conditions including a thyroid disorder, anemia, and diabetes to name a few. While all of my blood tests negated theses diagnoses (thank goodness), I was diagnosed with HA. This was not a surprising diagnosis, as I had sort of self-diagnosed it in the year that I had noticed my missed period. However, it’s not really ‘real’ until your doctor has told you about it, now is it?
So there I was, diagnosed with HA. The countless blogs that I had read, all said the same thing: ‘I was told to gain weight.’ Some bloggers even mentioned being told to gain up to 20 lb. Now for anyone who has struggled with weight loss or body image issues, accepting that you have to gain back weight that you’ve worked so hard to lose is a SUPER SCARY THOUGHT! I was preparing myself to gain weight, and preparing myself to no longer fit in to my size 0 / 2 stuff. I immediately increased my caloric intake from about 1500-1700, to the 2000-2200 range, based on what I had read in the blogosphere.
The weekend that I was diagnosed was an emotional roller coaster for me, to say the least. My mood went from acceptance, to guilt, to frustration, to deep sadness, to self-pity, to then extreme exhaustion. My doctor had asked me to see a nutritionist / therapist as a next step, and the day could not come sooner.
A sigh of relief – “You DON’T have to gain weight”
I was super skeptical about how much this nutritionist / therapist could really help me. After all, I had probably read every single amenorrhea-related post out there, and I knew so much about nutrition already. Typical ‘I am smarter than the therapist’ attitude!
Wednesday, March 18th, 12:30pm: I went in with a game plan to get the most value for my money (eugh, this apparently ‘amazing’ lady didn’t take insurance). I had specific questions written down about how many calories I should consume and how I should alter my exercise routine. I didn’t want to waste any time, but to my surprise, I spoke SO MUCH MORE than I had expected to.
My biggest takeaway from the session was that there really is no one-size-fits-all. My nutritionist told me that several of her patients had gotten their periods back without weight gain. She explained that while extreme weight loss can be stressful on the body, so can extreme weight gain, so I didn’t have to worry about packing on pounds ASAP. She told me that my goal would be to maintain a healthy weight – something my body had never known how to do. What I loved is that she allowed me to continue tracking my caloric intake (I was scared she’d ask me to ditch calories all-together). This was very important for me because I have been a binge eater my whole life. Restrictive eating in an attempt to lose weight only aggravated my binge eating, and I would have crazy cravings and eat mounds of desserts every 2 weeks or so. I would try to compensate for this by dropping to 1200 calories / day again – it was a vicious cycle!
Anyway, my goal was now to eat more healthy fats, and increase my caloric intake to maintain my weight. Here’s what I started doing:
– Eating 1800-2000 calories per day (I was advised NOT to adjust this number based on my exercise, and instead eat more or less depending on my hunger. Adjusting caloric intake based on exercise can often lead to unhealthy habits like over-exercising, and can be guilt-inducing)
– Exercising no more than 3 times per week (NO RUNNING)
– Eating a minimum of 60g of fats per day
– Taking fish oil and biotin supplements, in addition to my daily vitamin
It has now been almost a month since I have incorporated these changes, and I have more or less maintained my weight (probably a 2 lb increase, which I am not worried about) – yay!
These were things my nutritionist / therapist told me to do, but I have started doing a lot of things based on my own research as well. More on that next time.
Lots of love,