The Truth Is…

How’s that for a dramatic title!?

I’m not revealing anything new to y’all, but I did want to update you on how my body’s been doing since I decided to cut down the exercise and bump up the eating about three months ago.

First things first: I have not gotten my period back, and in fact, I haven’t really had any signs of it at all (besides a little bit of acne?). Yeah, I’m getting a little pretty darn frustrated, but I’m doing my best to stick with it and be patient.

The truth is… Even though I’ve decreased exercise significantly (mostly yoga, walking, stretching, and some bodyweight strength exercises), I think my body has still been stressed in other ways besides exercise: lack of sleep, lots of traveling, moving back into college, anxious feelings more often than I’d like. I also don’t really feel out of shape, which I guess is good, but it’s also indicative of how hard my heart is still working just doing daily activities.

I’ve gained almost 10 lbs. (mostly fat, some muscle) in the past three months, and I feel more energetic. (I had to go on a shopping spree for a whole new set of jeans!)

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The truth is… I am very comfortable with my body, even as it continues to grow outwards and not upwards. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t looked in the mirror or at photos and thought, “Whoa, hello, childbearing hips.” Or I’ll put my hand on my waist and think, “Hm. Much squishier than before.”

Coming back to college has been mentally and physically tough. I’m still eating a lot, but I’m also walking ten times more than I usually do at home. I’m sure I’ve already lost a little weight just in the past week. Also, I feel like maybe I can go to the gym, just for a light workout. I honestly believe that I look and feel healthy and that I can enjoy working out without worrying about body image.

But the truth is… I put so much stress on my body during my eating disorder, and even during recovery. My endocrine and reproductive system are not happy with me. I might be 99.99999% mentally recovered, but my body obviously isn’t. My body has been damaged, and it needs time and energy to be fixed.

Despite my lack of a period after these three months, there is still so much I have gained (besides physical weight).

The truth is…

  • I know how much rest and fuel it takes to build muscle. I’m working out less than half the amount I used to be working out, but I actually gained muscle the first couple of weeks just from giving my body proper rest and lots of food.
  • I’ve learned the value of warming up and going back to basics. What used to be my warm-up is now my workout for the day, but I’ve found that my body needs to warm up for even that.
  • I’ve gained back some more mobility and flexibility because I don’t write off yoga and stretching as “nothing.”

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  • I am more efficient with my time of day. I used to be so concerned about moving and exercising whenever I could that it would distract from my other daily activities.
  • Most importantly, I’ve gained confidence in myself…

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…If I’m not considered that “fit person”, fine. If I don’t have abs, fine. If I can’t do 20 pushups in a row, fine.

If I put all my self-worth into my fitness, that’s NOT fine. I’m more than my body. It’s about time I started living like I truly, deeply believe that.

I’ll be the first to admit that dance class (and a one-time game of ultimate frisbee with friends last night) may or may not be too hard on me right now. I’ve been letting those things slide because my brain needs the movement as much as my body does after sitting and studying.

I’m going to the gynecologist today because I’m not 100% sure what’s happening in my body right now. Maybe I just need more time. I’m still planning on gaining weight here in college, and once I get into a school rhythm, things may normalize a little more. Or maybe I’ll need to cut out dance class. We’ll see.

I’ll post another update sometime later, but thanks for listening and being so supportive of me on this journey.

 

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57 thoughts on “The Truth Is…

  1. Thats really spooky, Alison, only this morning I was wondering if you’d had any progress on the old period front! I’m sorry you haven’t 😦 I’m in the same boat too, still nothing going on for me. I know my body fat is too low right now though so i’m giving myself some time to increase and then if still nothing i guess i’ll go to the doc. I hope you get some clarification at the gynaecologist! I love how positive you remain about the situation too – its so hard but I really admire you for your courage and confidence. So inspiring 🙂

  2. I couldn’t be more proud of your progress, Alison. It is tough letting your body heal after the things it has gone through. Your outlook and courage is awe-inspiring. I pray that you will get your menstrual cycle back and that you will be perfectly happy and content. Did I mention that you look beautiful? ❤

  3. Hey Alison, I am so proud of you for working through this situation with such a positive attitude. I truly admire you. The amount of non exercise related stress that you are putting on your body (school, less sleep, and worrying, especially worrying about getting your period) is definitely contributing to your lack of menstrual cycle in my opinion, and from personal experience! This summer I finally started getting my period back, when I realized that it had become regular, I became obsessed and worried that anything I did was going to make it go away. Funny thing is, the stress and anxiety from me worrying about it made it come 12 days late this month! Something that I have been focusing on is just living the lifestyle that I want to live forever…that means working out if I want to/have time, going out with friends often, studying very hard for my nursing courses but also allowing myself to veg out and watch tv, and eating what I want. I believe that the biggest factor for me getting my period back was to just live in this balanced way.

    • It’s crazy how sensitive our bodies are to little bouts of stress! But you’re so right— I’m better off not letting this issue get to my head too much, because that will just be another stressor. I’ll do what I can, but I’ll let life flow as it does. Thank you for your support and encouragement, Paige!

  4. I’m sorry your period still hasn’t come. You’re doing the right thing by being patient and working hard. It’s amazing how accepting you are of yourself. I love it! I’m currently doing this Bible reading plan called “Waiting on God” and it’s this list of scriptures for the month of September that you read each day and they all have the theme of waiting on God’s timing. I think you would enjoy it! Here’s the link in case you’re interested: http://rachelwojo.com/waiting-on-god-bible-reading-challenge/ 🙂

  5. I’m sharing this. You are an effing inspiration and I totally said effing. Sorry.

    “Also, I feel like maybe I can go to the gym, just for a light workout. I honestly believe that I look and feel healthy and that I can enjoy working out without worrying about body image”. This is such an important line- I think there is often the stigma that should you workout or set foot in a gym, it’s taboo or your honouring your past behaviours but honestly, just reading this post and contrasting it to your earlier circa 2013 days paints a very clear picture for you and that you CAN do a workout for pure enjoyment.

    big props.

  6. He Alison, I’ve been following your blog for a little bit, but never have posted before- first, thank you so much for your honesty. This is all a process, and you are navigating it with grace, patience, and incredible fortitude.

    As someone in a similar situation, I know how scary, but freeing it is to de-prioritize moving/exercising/working out- because the only way to realize how much of your self-worth may have been tied up in “exercise” is to cut it way down. A lot. And I say that as someone who also recently said to someone that (paraphrasing) “I don’t care that I am not eating 100% healthy, don’t have visible abs, am not in perfect shape (whatever that means)- because I’m happy and more confident than I’ve ever been, despite all of that.”

    As you put it so damn well: “If I’m not considered that “fit person”, fine. If I don’t have abs, fine. If I can’t do 20 pushups in a row, fine. If I put all my self-worth into my fitness, that’s NOT fine. I’m more than my body. It’s about time I started living like I truly, deeply believe that.” Life is beautiful when you free your mind to live it openly, and accept whatever body it is that takes you there and supports the life that you have chosen that makes you happy.

    And college is stressful, especially those first transitional weeks! Coming from someone who didn’t use to prioritize my wellbeing in the first few weeks of school, make sure you are paying attention to your particular signs of stress, whether that is feeling more tired, not sleeping, not getting work done despite a lot of time spent studying, working out too much etc (just examples)- and honor that with time with friends, playing music you love, writing poetry or whatever it is that is purely you. And it sounds already like you are doing an amazing job with that. After all, being aware of your anxiety is the main way to ensure that you are mindful that it doesn’t begin to become unhealthy. Good luck with everything!

    • Hello, dear! Thank you so much for commenting. It’s so true that I needed to cut down exercise a lot just to realize that there’s more to life than working out every day. It’s sad, but I’m glad I figured that out now rather than later. There’s nothing wrong with making fitness a big priority in one’s life, but there’s a HUGE difference between prioritizing it for the sake of feeling “worthy” of something and prioritizing it to supplement daily life and feel confident.

  7. Alison… wow. This is beautiful. You and I are rocking the exact same boat, girl. I understand and respect you so much for this journey you are on. There is so much inner debate that happens between whether or not a certain activity level is still “too much” for me… even though, like you, my activity level is no where near what it used to be. And like you said, it is often mind that needs the movement – not just my body. You WILL get there. Your words prove how resilient, strong and mature you are. I know I need to be more honest with myself – though it can be so, so hard. Thank you for the inspiration lady!!

    • Thanks so much, girl. ♥ It’s sad yet encouraging at the same time knowing that many other girls are in the same boat as I am. Our bodies are designed to move, so movement shouldn’t be restricted completely in my opinion. But I’ve also learned that our busy, active bodies need A LOT of rest, especially us women!

  8. Thank you so, so much for this, Alison!! There is so much truth and beauty in what you said, and, as I am trying to have the courage to tell myself things like this, I’m filling my ears, head and heart with inspiring, uplifting words of truth from people like you. I need to hear this so much! Your progress and journey is so encouraging; thank you for being so open and sharing it with all of us!! Keep going, girl…praying for you!! ❤

  9. So proud and inspired by you…as usual!!
    I definitely think stress (physical, emotional, etc) can play a big role in everything. I’ve been dealing with some similar stuff and the dr says it is adrenal fatigue. “Stop stressing” ha! If only it were that easy!
    I pray that you find some answers soon and that you continue on this journey to…awesomeness lol I was going to say health but…💁🏼😉
    Hope you have a great weekend and remember I’m always here for ya! Love you💗

  10. I’m sorry to hear your period isn’t back yet – keep giving it time! Mine took a good 8-9 months to regulate and come back. Your body is learning to trust you again (because the reason it isn’t having a period is because it wouldn’t have enough to sustain a baby right now – not sure why I never realized this when I wasn’t having one.) You’ve made such huge strides and are in such a great place mentally. Hang in there and keep up the confidence – you’re beautiful, smart and have a ton to be confident about 🙂

    • Thank you for your encouragement, Di. ♥ I’ve heard somewhere else too that it can take up to 9 months to get your period back, so I’m just waiting it out.
      If I were actually planning on having a baby now, I couldn’t blame my body for not having a period. I do actually feel like I have enough physical/mental stress going on to keep my body preoccupied. It’s all so simple when you think of it! Helping out the situation is what’s complicated…

  11. So it’s been a while (severe understatement) since I last commented, but I’ve been reading your posts on a regular basis, and I want to applaud you for how far you’ve come in the recovery journey thus far. It’s truly inspiring to see how you’ve reshaped your relationship with exercise and food, especially in a blogging world where there are SO many college-aged young woman who are still deeply disordered–as is painfully clear by their pictures and posts 😦 I think that your blog truly serves as one of the best examples out there of how recovering from an eating disorder can bring about so much more joy, strength, happiness, and fulfillment in one’s life, and judging by the other comments, your other readers agree with me in this respect! For me personally, it took several months of being “technically” weight-restored before I got my period for the first time at age 19. You are absolutely right in saying that stress of any kind can affect your menstrual cycle–it still does for me. You seem to be handling this situation in a mature, reasonable, and patient manner, so kudos to you for that 🙂 I wish you the best of luck with everything, and thank you for sharing your journey and thoughts with all of us.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience, Kendra. Even before developing disordered eating habits, I was a pretty late “bloomer” (not having my period by age 16), so this could all be something totally unrelated to my past disorder. I’m sure this will all pan out in due time though. Thank you for your kind words and support.

  12. When I first found you, I went back and read like all of the posts I could find about your journey, and found them all encouraging. So it’s nice to hear an update! I’m so sorry you haven’t gotten your cycle back… That must be so frustrating. I had trouble with mine for a bit, but it was mostly diet related. I also have a thyroid disorder, and my cycles have been getting funky lately, and I’m getting a bit concerned. Ok, sorry I went on that TMI bunny-trail about myself. Back to your post. You are such an inspiration to me. I know I haven’t had an ED, but I have always struggled with body image. Even though, as you said, you have those moments, you help keep me going. Because I know I’m not the only one struggling. Which is sad, but encouraging, too. I hope you are able to figure this all out soon! ❤

  13. Alison – I just wanted to say as a fellow ED sufferer (trying to recover from ana) and a Christian, and also called Alison (!), I love following your blog and find it really inspirational and helpful. Thank you for being so honest and sharing so much with all of us.
    Lots of love and prayers
    xxx

  14. It sounds and looks like you’re in a better place in your life. I get what you mean about feeling frustrated. (Especially when it comes to pimples with no period still.) But you’ve come so far in just three months and I hope you remind yourself of that! Hearing your story gives me the motivation to continue to be patient with my own recovery journey. So thank you times a million!

    I agree that it’s tough to be back at school… I don’t think I realized how much walking I actually did on campus! Between the stress of classes, extracurricular activities, and making time for me–it’s definitely a more challenging balancing act.

  15. Your attitude towards recovering and conquering is such a blessing Alison, and it inspires me to keep going at truly caring for and treasuring the temple that God has given me. There are days I want to abandon the fight, and then you share a post, and it revitalizes me. 🙂

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  17. You have come so far and I am so honored to be able to follow your journey. Be gentle with yourself. Others are saying its ok to go back to exercise as it works for you and I agree. I also say it is perfectly fine to let go of it entirely. You can live life without ever stepping into a gym again and be fabulously healthy (mostly that’s how it was done up until not that long ago-and in many countries, people are quite fit doing the amount of walking one does in college without having to add on spin classes or cross fit or whatever.) Anyway, if your cycle still isn’t back, your body probably just isnt sure yet, it doesnt have the resources it needs, and it is working on it. You’re not doing anything ‘wrong’; it’s just still working on it. Be gentle with yourself through the process-now, and forever. I have struggled with the feeling of wanting the Get There with recovery and I think its the mentality that once I am There I can go back to eating less and exercising intensely. But maybe the new, happy, wonderful, beautiful normal is just chilled out, all the time, forever.

  18. Your strength and determination is so inspiring. I hope that your body gets everything sorted out. Thank you for being so open and honest – it’s definitely more insightful and helpful to me and others in recovery, as well as helpful to you as well. You’ve come so far, and I’m so glad I found your blog!

  19. Great to hear your progress Alison and it definitely is progress for sure, even if it hasn’t returned yet. I got my first one back in July after coming off the pill in January but haven’t had one since – moving to Australia has put so much stress on my body I’m really not surprised it hasn’t come back again – I think sometimes you just know there is so much going on that the time really isn’t right. If you catch my drift? I’m just putting trust into my body that it knows exactly what’s best for me – I will try and rest and give my body the best fuel and fingers crossed it all works for the best! 🙂

  20. So wise! Things always seem to take longer than they should; props for sticking it out. I’m totally choosing to do this for myself as well, and looking at your process including your previous exercise blogs give great insight into the fact that it is such a journey, and comes in stages that take time. My gynaecologist said that the mental side of things- anxiety, depression, big life changes etc. have a huge impact on our hormones and so certainly do affect our period. So it’s not surprising that in this phase of your life, it’s taking more time to get back to normal. xx

  21. Thank your for keeping us updated Alison, I love hearing your honest and heartfelt posts regarding this topic. I am so proud of you for going against what the ‘norm’ recommends and trying to gain weight in order to establish hormonal balance. It can be an incredibly difficult thing to go through, but you seem to be handling it like a pro! I am sure that with time, your period will return. In the meanwhile, keep rocking your incredible confidence, positive attitude, and awesome handstands ;)!

  22. I really love this post and I love that you are doing whatever it takes to get full physical health back. The body is such a complicated thing and it’s so frustrating to not know exactly what’s going on – especially since you are resting and eating more and still not getting your period. But like you said, it will work out and you probably just need more time and to not be stressed in other ways. This all happened for a reason, and you have grown so much from this experience. Good things in your future my friend!! (including a period) hehe ❤

  23. HI Allison, I’ve been following you for awhile but I don’t think I’ve commented. I also am trying to gain my period and I’m almost at 9months of just walking and lifting a few weights here and there, plus having gained 20lbs. I know it’s frustrating, and as weird as it sounds I have started to pray everyday that God heals my body, and my mindset in accepting the weight and the changes that have happened in my body the past few months. So here’s to hoping that both of us see results soon, and thanks for being so open about your journey! God Bless!

  24. i remember that post. first off, that handstand is amazing! you are clearly doing very well in your practice 🙂
    second, how do you know you’ve gained some muscle, though you’ve decreased your workouts & intensity? this is an honest question, as i know rest days are important, but i’ve just never had that happen to me.
    and lastly, thanks for sharing. while i’m still prioritizing my workouts, this definitely reminded me AGAIN to focus on stretching. to focus on school and maximize my workout time, not let it encompous my day too much. and to eat well. i feel like i’ve been stress eating, and even though i’m aware of it (i’m more mindful, where as last year i ended up doing a ton of mindless stress snacking. i realized this too late, and am working on relaxing and focusing on school).
    thanks, and i hope you keep getting stronger ❤ ❤

    • When I started eating and resting more, I was just coming back from a lot of exercise in Colorado, so I think that period involved a lot of good recovery for my muscles! Not 100% sure, but I do actually feel stronger now than I did at the beginning of the summer (also possibly from yoga working different, smaller muscles than I’m used to).
      Thank you for your comment ♥ Praying that you are able to focus on school and to let go of the stress more. Trust me when I say I know it’s not easy. I have days where I am aware that I’m stress eating, but it’s just one day, and the most important thing is that you’re aware. Best of luck, girl!

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