Achieving A Balanced Attitude Towards Your Weight



After sharing the Finding Balance series of posts last month, I started receiving emails which asked the same two questions:

“How do you keep such a balanced attitude towards your weight?”

“How did you handle the need to gain weight and/or eat more in order to get your period back?”

I decided these questions were worth answering here on the blog but it has taken me weeks to get this post together! I kept stumbling on the best way to answer these questions mainly because neither question has a one sentence here’s how it’s done answer.

acheiving balanced attiturde towards weight

After MUCH thought, I came up with a few things that I always think about which I believe help answer the above questions:

If I eat less than I know I need, I may get thinner for a few months but then my metabolism will slow down and I will gain weight.

And even worse, it takes time to recover my metabolism after eating too little so it’s not worth trying to eat less than what I need!

Eating too little will eventually slow your metabolism.

Not eating enough is detrimental to our health and to our ability to use our food as fuel. Even before I actively worked to get my period back, the scale was creeping up and I wasn’t even eating more at that point!

I recall a doctor saying to me, “Okay, so your period hasn’t returned. Even though you eat and your weight falls within range for your height, you need to just keep eating more and if that means gaining more weight then that’s what you need to do until it comes back.”

I did this metabolism damage to myself. My weight was in range probably because my body was holding on to everything I ate in fear of not getting enough food for what it felt it needed. However, since my body was in fear mode, it was still not going to give me a cycle because it did not trust me that I would give it enough energy (calories) to support the chance of a pregnancy. So, I needed to still eat more for a while to prove to my body that it would not starve.

The thing is, while I do not know what I weigh now since I don’t even own a scale, I am currently the same size only in a healthier way. Even though I am running more, I eat more, my metabolism works (I think) and get my period.

We all have days where we feel like a sausage stuffed in our skinny jeans – accept it and move on.

This is a big one. I think it’s important to realize that there’s no quick fix to feeling perfect and thrilled every single moment of every day.

We all have bloated days and days where our jeans just don’t feel right – no matter what size we wear. No one else can see what you feel unless you project negativity in your appearance.

Put on your makeup, best pair of leggings, grab a jug of water (to banish bloat) and go. Skip the mirror if you have to but DO NOT skip your meals. Skimping on food, restricting your calories, contrary to what you think, will not help you.  In fact, eating less will cause you to get over-hungry later in the day which will lead to out-of-control eating.

If I don’t eat enough, I cannot run well because I won’t have the energy.

After being sick recently and not eating normally, getting back to running was tough. My energy was lower which made me wonder how the heck people run without eating enough!

Is it really worth being any thinner or restricting your calories if it means not only are you low on energy and unhealthy on the inside but you can’t run as fast or as long as you could if you ate more?

Sometimes you think you have energy, you think you are running fast when the truth is, if you actually ate more, you would have so much more energy and stamina for your workouts — and your recovery would be much more comfortable and quicker.

Laura just wrote a terrific post last week which discusses the prevalence of undereating in runners. She really goes into great detail which really backs all of this up with documented information so it’s worth checking out her post for further understanding on the seriousness of this topic.

Reproductive health

If you are looking to have kids one day, screwing with your weight and your cycles may affect that. I got lucky but not everyone does.

When I was 22, I didn’t care much about hearing that I may affect my ability to have a baby. Of course I wanted kids and was already engaged but the thought of children seemed so far away! Please don’t make this mistake. You may not want kids right now but one day you will! And you don’t want a dumb decision from your past to negatively affect you.


That little boy kept me so busy and on my toes (and still does) that it was a marathon just to keep up with him!

Even if you don’t want children or think you are past the aging of having children, it’s still important to get a regular cycle.

I think the biggest thing to realize is that as active females, you just need a lot more to eat than you think.

Hunger does not always kick in when it should. Weight is not always the appropriate indicator of health.

As I said earlier, as you enter starvation mode, your weight may stall or creep up because your body slows down your metabolism as protection.

If you aren’t getting your period, if it’s irregular, if blood work is showing odd things like high liver enzymes, elevated sugar levels, high cholesterol levels etc, these things can often be (as they were for me) signs and side effects of an energy imbalance.

I was fooling everyone (including myself) back in the day because my weight was considered normal. Because I wasn’t anorexic or bulimic, because I still ate chocolate cake and frozen yogurt, because I could go out to eat without issue.

The only one who wasn’t fooled was my body. Overall I did not take in enough calories on a daily basis and the damage I was doing was really scary, even though I could not see it.

Keeping these sorts of scary things in mind are what help me to keep a balanced attitude towards knowing I must eat enough to support my lifestyle, even if that means weighing more.

Throw out the scale and go by how you feel!

Other posts of Interest:

Finding Balance Part One – How many calories do you really need?

Finding Balance Part Two – How what and why should we eat for our workouts?

Finding Balance/NEDA Week – Female Athlete Triad chat

Do you Really Need To Lose 5 Pounds? – Probably not!

How Pregnancy & Motherhood Affect Your Running Routine

Achieving a Balanced Attitude Towards Your Weight #weight #realtalk #running #healthy #fitfluential Click To Tweet

Do you own a scale?

How do you handle those days when you feel like a sausage stuffed in your skinny jeans?

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  1. says

    Amazing post! All of it is so, so true. I think seeing the big picture of health and what you actually want out of life is number one. Yup, we all have days where we think we look horrible whether it’s our thighs, stomachs, skin, whatever, but ultimately we need to realize these days happen, they typically reflect some other sort of dissatisfaction that we haven’t confronted yet. If we can accept that we do this and move on like you said, perspective comes a lot more easily!
    Michele @ paleorunningmomma recently posted…Paleo Butternut Squash Pasta with Bacon & Broccoli Rabe {Whole30}My Profile

  2. says

    I think that many of us female athletes, if we have been struggling, have the moment of aha when we realize that we have to fuel our body in such a way that sustains the activity. Or we have a scary moment that wakes us up. The problem that I am finding is that yes, there is a lot of talk out there about nutrition, but only if you can get to it, and most of it focuses on weight loss. I wish there was more out there that educated people about what to eat to maintain weight, and how to judge food intake vs activity level.
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…How to Get Results From Personal TrainingMy Profile

  3. says

    This post is packed with so much good info. I am so grateful that I know longer worry about how much I eat and just make sure I eat enough and get lots of nutrients. Thinking about how few calories I ate in my 20s really makes me shake my head. But I really didn’t know any better. I hope posts like this can get the message out to others who may be struggling! We have a scale, but it collects dust in the corner of the bathroom and I don’t think its been used in years..not even sure why we moved it to our new house! I know when I have gained a few pounds because my pants feel tight, but I just get annoyed because tight pants are uncomfortable, and then I wish I could wear sweatpants all the time.
    Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine recently posted…Scheduling Weekly Workouts Without a Training PlanMy Profile

  4. says

    Awesome post!!!! Well thought out and written. Packed with info that is extremely important rules to live ones life by!!! I was young and dumb at one time also. Wish I had a friend like you all those years ago when I thought eating less dinner for a bigger slice of apple pie was the way to go. Have not owned a scale in years and never will again. Have a great day.

  5. says

    Fantastic post, Meredith, and thanks for including my link. I definitely did not eat enough in college and for a while it did slow my metabolism a bit. I was also tired all the time then, beyond work and school fatigue. It’s sad because often the same resources where you learn about fitness encourage restrictive diets so at a young age those two become ties together. When my pants are tight I drink more water and ask myself what really matters—health or pants size. By not stressing over weight, a few pounds that I can gain also come off easily without trying – my weight has stabilized more.
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted…Sustainable Eating and RunningMy Profile

  6. says

    Awesome, awesome, awesome post! And you know I 100% agree with everything you said. I definitely think that a lot of women underestimate how much their bodies actually need to eat because they assume that they must be in maintenance mode since they’re not losing any weight… but they don’t think about the fact that they’ve forced their bodies to hang on to calories as a result of eating way too little for way too long. It’s tough to eat more when we’re constantly being bombarded by 1200 and 1500 calorie diet plans, but giving our bodies what they actually need to -thrive- makes such a huge difference in how we think and feel.
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted…deep dish double chocolate breakfast cookiesMy Profile

  7. says

    Yes yes yes to everything here. There are days when I feel horribly bloated and uncomfortable, but drinking water and focusing on foods that make my body feel great and healthy (smoothies, oatmeal, greens, and legumes to name a few!) really can help. Eating enough often seems like a lot of food sometimes, and I think there is a weird competitive dynamic between women where we want to see who can eat less and do more. I’m so glad so many people are speaking out now against harming our own bodies and minds, and instead stressing the importance of taking care of ourselves. Thanks Meredith!
    Caroline M recently posted…5 Small Things to Make Your Day a Little BrighterMy Profile

  8. says

    Important post. I think I’ve said this before but I don’t eat as much as my friend Lora, on any given day but I eat a lot more fat than she does. My body just needs it. Heavy cream in my coffee, lots of butter and peanut butter, meat, bacon, etc. I kinda eat like I live on a farm. So while my volume isn’t huge, my calories are and they’re the fat variety which keeps my cycles regular, and helps me stay fuller longer!

    I lose weight when I’m stressed, and I’m a little low right now so I’m focusing on getting it back up over 120lb. Anything under than that and I feel wrong.
    Suzy recently posted…My BirthplaceMy Profile

    • says

      I think it’s great when you eat what you know works for you. I am the same way – I will eat less if going through something (or just have cake as my lunch lol). I hope all is well this week!

  9. says

    Lovely post, and one I really appreciate reading. Amenorrhea was one of the biggest struggles for me as I went through almost a decade of disordered eating patterns in late middle/high school/college/early law school, and I experienced it for VERY long stretches of time – once for 18 months in college, once for 15 months in law school, and what got through to me the second time around was the knowledge that it could one day affect my ability to be a mom, which I was realizing at the time was one of the main things I want in life. It’s all good now, and I hope that when the time is right I’m okay, but it’s still what I tell myself on those days when my work skirts feel a little snug in the waist (I would love to be able to legging it those days!) and really, whenever I’m so hungry I can’t understand why I am not full. This Saturday before the half, I was just ravenous all day. Literally walked out of brunch around 2:30pm with my boyfriend and told him we needed a snack on the way home, and dinner happened promptly at 5pm! And that was BEFORE the race day 🙂
    Alyssa @ renaissancerunnergirl recently posted…Third Time’s the Charm at the NYC Half MarathonMy Profile

    • says

      I have so many random days like that where I am so hungry, eat lunch, then a snack and then early dinner! it really does happen, it’s so weird. I’m sure now that you got yourself back to good health it will all be fine when you are ready to have a baby.

  10. says

    Yep yep yep yep YEP. Nailed it. Such an important topic that is overlooked if you don’t display the “normal” symptoms of anorexia or bulimia. I got away with it for months before it really caught up with me and I was putting myself in danger. Life is so much more enjoyable when you’re eating enough and don’t obsess over a stupid number.
    Sarah @pickyrunner recently posted…See you laterMy Profile

  11. says

    I do own a scale but I don’t use it, and haven’t in several months. It’s been the best thing ever for me. I used to freak out about how many carbs I would eat, but my running suffered when I cut carbs too much. I’m so glad I’ve found a balanced lifestyle. And yes, there are days when I feel stuffed in my jeans, especially when it’s that time of the month! recently posted…Weekend Wrap-Up + Dallas Rock n Roll Half Marathon!My Profile

  12. says

    Yep, good post and think you really hit the nail on the head when you mentioned how if you appear to be a good weight, eating chocolate cake, etc, there can be an assumption that you’re totally fine and seem to have the right balance but you really can’t fool your body. She always knows best!
    Fiona recently posted…Happy St. Patrick’s Day!My Profile

  13. says

    Such a very well thought out post. Our bodies are VERY smart. I lost weight when my Crohn’s got really bad because my body just did not absorb nutrients. While I was never underweight as I healed it held on to every damn thing I ate and weight came back quickly. I do weigh myself weekly and if it is over my normal I will all of a sudden feel “fat” but then tell myself I am ridiculous and get on with it. My body is at a weight that it is happy with. I am able to eat what I want and it performs how I want it to. I was running low 8’s in my 10K last weekend and I think to myself, my body doesn’t LOOK like it should be able to run that fast. But it does and that works for me.
    Gianna @ Run, Lift, Repeat recently posted…Spring Fling 10K RecapMy Profile

  14. says

    To read this from someone who has gone before is really encouraging and SO awesome for me. I’m really thankful for your transparency with your own struggles Meredith as it’s actually helped me a lot as I’ve been on the road to recovery. <3
    Emily recently posted…WIAW: I Don’t Have the Model DietMy Profile

  15. AmandaM says

    I will say that I am pretty obsessed with restriction. Your point about “how do people run while not eating enough” is spot-on. When I eat enough, I am a much better runner! When don’t running is a real struggle. So in some ways, running saves me. If I decide I want to run well I HAVE to eat well.

    Great post. Thank you.

  16. says

    I love, love, love this post … It’s so incredibly timely for me. I lost my period for about 8 years and it came back with a vengeance a couple months ago. I’ve been on birth control for the last week and I already feel like I’m bloated, have weight in places I didn’t use to have weight, and feeling all kinds of uncomfortable.

    I know it’s better in the long run … But wow … It’s awful now!
    Arthi recently posted…Whine Before Wine.My Profile

    • says

      I am so glad it came back! Keep up the good work 🙂 I am not a fan of the pill so I can’t really help with how it is making you feel but I certainly understand! Do you have to be on it? If not, maybe consider not taking it? It’s great for some people and for some reasons but it’s not for everyone. Especially if you want to know you are getting your period on your own – it masks that. But, maybe after getting used to it for a few months you won’t even notice the side effects and you will feel fine!

      • says

        Thank you! I’m not a fan of the pill either but I think I’m stuck on it for a little while. I had to get blood tests done and my hormones were totally out of whack which the pill is supposed to help with. Hopefully things settle down though!!
        Arthi recently posted…Whine Before Wine.My Profile

  17. says

    As a dietitian, I totally appreciate this post, especially you sharing your experience. It is so true about restriction and how smart our bodies are – especially active women, we need way more than we think we do. It’s so so important that we eat enough to fuel our running and recover. My clients worry and compare themselves to the girl next to them, when the fact of the matter is, that girl next to them isn’t running 20+ miles a week like they are.

  18. says

    This is a lovely post. I’m in the process of gaining weight back to my body’s healthy setpoint and this is the small extra amount of courage and motivation I sometimes need 🙂 thank you for your lovely blog xx