You’ve made the decision to recover from RED-S / REDs (Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport), to get your period back, but the important people in your life just aren’t on board with it. How do you get the courage to take the steps you need to in order to regain your health, when you don’t have a support system?

Sports psychologist Marissa Norman suggests ways to try to get support from the people close to you, where else to look if you can’t get the help you need from them, and ways to take action and make progress even when you don’t feel up to the challenge at hand.


Read the transcript

[Tina]  My coach, or my family, or my doctor don’t seem concerned. How do I get the courage to take this step to work on healing and recovery, when those most important people in my life don’t seem on board for this? 

[Marissa] Well, that is really challenging, to really want something for yourself and feeling like your support system isn’t on  board for that, so my heart really goes out to you. Very challenging. And as far as what to do, you mentioned, “How do I get the courage to take those steps?”  Sometimes I find it helpful to work in the reverse. So what I mean by that is, I work predominantly with athletes. And oftentimes they’ll come into my office because they want to work on their confidence. That’s what I see a lot, and  they say, “I want to get confident because I want to perform better,” and so I like to kind of reverse that. 

And so we’ll focus on, “Okay, let’s talk about the behaviors. What behaviors do you need to engage in, that are in your control, that will help you perform well?”  Sometimes I’ll get things like, “I gotta change my body language, improve that”; “I need to make sure I’m focused on the present moment, focus on what I can control”;  “Communicate better with my teammates,” things like that. And by focusing on that and making those changes, they end up performing well. And by performing well, then they start to feel more confident. And so now they have confidence going into that next competition, or whatever it might be for them.

So if you’re asking about, “How do I take the steps?” or “How do I get courage to take those steps?”, let’s reverse that now. Because we can make steps, we can make momentum, without feeling brave, without feeling courage. It’s okay; we can do that and still feel really scared, feel intimidated. And so, I would encourage you to think about what that first step is for you. Break that stuff up into four simple, digestible, doable steps, and just make the moves anyway. Don’t wait for feeling confident; don’t wait to feel courage; make the moves and by simply making the moves, you’ll start to build and earn your courage, so that when those steeper, more difficult steps present themselves, now you’ve built the courage to overcome those.  

[Tina]  Yes, thank you. Going to the first half of the question, in terms of not having that support system, what would be your advice for that person?  You know, could that be listening to podcasts of someone that you admire the way that they speak, could it be…  How else could someone find someone, or find support, if they feel like those who they’re closest to are not able to give that to them?  

[Marissa]  Sure. A couple of thoughts come to mind. One is, they might not be on board with what you’re doing, but still might be willing to support you. And so think about what kind of support you need, what that support looks like. If it’s you just need someone to talk to, or someone to kind of hold you accountable, and let them know, “This is what I need.” Almost task them with the support, and maybe then they fall on board. But we don’t need to wait until they’re on board to kind of get that support from them, in some cases. 

If that is not an option for you, then I think it is important to find your community, right? Maybe it’s a Facebook group, maybe it’s a mentor, but finding people that you can get that support from. But to get there, we want to think again, what kind of support do you feel like you need? Is it support from a professional, because that, you know, that obviously looks different; that is a matter of hiring someone. Or is it the support of someone that can just be a friend, or someone that can just simply be there? So think about what it is that you truly need to make those steps. What kind of support, what that support looks like. Then we can start to be intentional about getting that support for you. 

[Tina]  Okay, and one more option of, then what if it is someone who is actively, you know, someone is trying to not be concerned with the way they look, or trying and move through their RED-S, their eating disorder, and they are in a family where image is everything. And hurtful comments are made during this recovery process and it’s very damaging and very triggering. Any additional advice you’d offer to that person? 

 [Marissa]  I would say we want to set our boundaries. And especially when it’s with family, that could be so hard,  but if the goal is to take care of your health and that is the way to go about it, or the only way to go about it, we have to set those boundaries. And so at first, it might be, “Hey, I’m working on this thing. These are the things that are not going to help me in this process and I will not tolerate.” So we can first share those boundaries. If that is still not respected, we might have to make a very difficult decision, which is taking a timeout from those people, so that we can focus on ourselves. So that we can focus on ourselves to really heal. And then as I mentioned before, then finding other groups of people that can support us in the way we really need.  

[Tina] Okay, thank you.

check it out

Recovering from RED-S is hard. It’s even harder if you’re working through it alone. Even if you have professional support, they’re not available 24-7, and that can lead to going down search engine rabbit holes that have the potential to derail everything.

Our online resource, RED-S: Realize. Reflect. Recover, will answer all those questions swimming around in your head about recovery. It will give you the opportunity to connect with the experts you’ve come to know here, and to surround  yourself with a community of others who are going through it too.

THANK YOU! to Athletic Greens and Tracksmith for supporting this YouTube series and RED-S: Realize. Reflect. Recover.

Go to to get five free travel packs of AG1 and a free one year’s supply of vitamin D3+K2 with your subscription!

When you go to and use the code TINA15 at checkout, you’ll get free shipping and Tracksmith will donate 5% of your order to Rising Hearts, the Indigenous-led nonprofit founded by Jordan Marie Daniels.

more about Marissa:

Marissa Norman, Psy.D, CMPC, is a Sport Psychologist in the New Jersey area. She has her own private telehealth practice, and  works with youth to professional athletes from mental skills training to mental health services. She’s a former college track and field pentathlete who loves to laugh, to eat, and adventure. You can find Marissa at

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