Dealing with Comments From Others During HA Recovery

This article is based on a recent podcast episode I did on The Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Podcast. If you’d like to listen to the episode OR learn more about myself and my services, as well as The HA Society, a membership that I run for women with HA, click here.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I asked the gals on Instagram how they’re feeling about Thanksgiving coming up while trying to recover – or keep a recovered – period.

A number of women were looking forward to the season because having many other people around them also eating liberally can be helpful.

A number of other women however – about 50% – had some concerns. So on this episode, I want to address them!

Concern #1 was: Comments about my weight gain

Concern #2 was: Comments from people who notice I’m not restricting anymore.

I’m going to address both concerns 1 and 2 with the same answers because they’re kind of similar. We get a little tactical and a little mindset focused on this episode. I’m really just spitballing here but I hope its helpful!

For me, I’m very vocal about HA. Obviously. I literally have a podcast, a blog, a community and coach women with HA through the process. So, at every chance I’m going to raise awareness.

Many of you are interested in changing the perspective of periods and increasing people’s awareness of this issue. I mean, after all, everyone has a woman in her life and just imagine how this one piece of information could impact the trajectory of another womans menstrual health? SO, if that is something that resonates with you, perhaps being open to the opportunity to tell people what’s been happening is key.

If sharing isn’t something that sounds fun to you BUT you’re faced with grandma asking about your weight or increased eating, continue to listen because obviously, you need a retort. I think my tips can be maneuvered to work for both situations.

First of all, use this as an OPPORTUNITY.

An opportunity to spread the good word about period health. BUT it’s important to not be on a soapbox about it. People are not receptive to your tangents. Think of people who swear by the paleo diet, keto or CrossFit and talk your ear off about it. You almost want to push back because of it. Approach the subject gently, quickly and non-intruisvely. With the tact and elegance of a queen.

This is great because it means you don’t have to spend too much time or energy on this topic of conversation. It can be exhausting to educate others, so don’t push yourself.

When someone makes a comment on your weight or behaviour or whatever, you simply shoot them with a quick:
“Yes! I have been trying to get my period back” or “yes, I’m really excited about it because my health has been improving! – hey, have you tried the pecan pie yet?!”

Address their question, give a quick answer, and change the subject for both your sake and theirs because they will not know where to go next and they might just freeze and freak out. Or do that if you enjoy watching people squirm. You do you.

It’s just like someone saying noticing the same changes, but in the other direction. “Oh, you’ve lost weight”. In the past you might have raved about your new work out regime or whatever.

This time use that same enthusiasm to quickly inform, and close the conversation unless they become open to hearing more about it.

It might sound crazy, but chances are this strange, positive and excited reaction to weight gain and changed behavior our food is going to strike a cord with the person you’re talking to. It’s so different, so new, how can they not notice?

And the less you push the subject, the more open they are to learning about it next time or coming to you for information when the time comes to them that they or another woman in their life needs it.

It also decreases the amount of time you need to spend thinking about the subject, because evangelism isn’t the goal of the day.

I hope you can see how this tactic can be used to spark awareness on the subject to people OR to get them to leave you alone about it. Go in knowing what you want your intention to be for the day.

And of course, if you need to be at a function with certain people who make you uncomfortable, plan some ways to excuse yourself from their immediate presence. Put your own health above anything else at all times.

If you feel you need to, tell people ahead of time that you do not want anyone to comment on your appearance or your eating. It’s ok to be direct. Clear is kind. That’s your new mantra.

Concern #3 It’s a stressful time in general and being in control of my workouts and food usually helps me reduce stress. How am I going to cope?!

  • Eat your normal meals. Do not fall into old temptations to restrict so that you can “afford” to overindulge later. This is what inevitably actually causes you to overeat in one sitting, which is stressful to you both physically and mentally. When you’re well fed, you’re less food focused, you’re more focused on the day and your company and you’re going to walk out of the festivities feeling how you’re supposed to feel: connected, nourished and happy.
  • This time and this season in your life is about you and not about others, as much as it may be marketed to be about others. Be diligent about joy and relaxation throughout this period. e.g. go for a walk with a hot chocolate, take a bath with a book, visit a friend, go for a drive with your partner and your dog…
  • Have the phone numbers of your support or treatment team and friends available to you. This means, if you have a coach, are a part of a group or have a few friends in the community, swap numbers and keep in contact with them, reminding yourself that you’re not alone. Encourage each other to keep on track with your recovery protocol, and be kind and compassionate to others and yourself when they’re struggling. Now THAT is the festive spirit! I know that a bunch of the girls inside of The HA Society have swapped phone numbers and talk all of the time and that alone has made the whole thing worth it in my eyes.
  • Be sure to plan some time for yourself to do something that you enjoy. It is very important to take special care of yourself during the holidays.

If you find that the holiday season didn’t go to plan, and you had more emotions and feelings around how everything happened, just remember, that is a part of the process. I wish so much that I could give you advice that made it all go away…but that’s not really how it works. You don’t just work through everything in a day and have a total perspective shift. You’ve had many many holiday seasons now going through the same motions and if this is your first holiday season in recovery then you’re going to expect it to feel a little weird and uncomfortable.

This is an OPPORTUNITY. Not an opportunity to try and fix yourself, no no, you’re not broken. This is an opportunity simply to observe how far you’ve come with slowly changing your view around what it means to enjoy a holiday meal, to be present with friends and family and to move on the next day like nothing ever happened. Because the reality is, 1 meal isn’t going to make you gain 100 lbs just like 1 meal isn’t going to get your period back.

Happy holidays, friends! And if you’re loving this, shoot me a DM on Instagram and tell me what is YOUR social gathering survival plan? Do you plan to be loud and proud? And you a little more reserved and plan to dodge the conversation? I want to know what your holiday plan is and if you need me to be your support person, I’ve got your back!

Published by Dani Sheriff

I draw digital images and my passion is in drawing diverse women, promoting body acceptance, and improving our body image. Because we can't do our greatest work when we're so busy being focused on bodies.

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