I haven’t talked about hypothalamic amenorrhea in a while and I’ve had some emails about recovery that I don’t think I’ve touched on yet.
Disclaimer: All opinions on If Gravity Happens are my own personal opinions, views, and experiences. I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or anything like that; I am strictly talking from experience as just a normal person who is in the process of recovering from HA. Please contact a professional for any specific questions regarding your diet/exercise/medical issues.
Women who are often diagnosed at first are at extremely low body weights with very low body fat to them who were also at some point restricting calories and/or over exercising.
“When the body experiences famine-like conditions (i.e., restrictive dieting), menstruation stops due to inadequate fuel to support the menstrual process, to say nothing of nurturing a healthy baby.” -Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD from SportsMD
When I was diagnosed with HA, I was
counting limiting calories (averaging around 1200-1500 a day) while being very active (oftentimes running 6 miles a day, most days of the week and supplementing my ‘rest’ days for Jillian videos or elliptical intervals). I had created a huge deficit between the amount of FUEL I was providing my body and the amount of miles I was putting on it. Our bodies aren’t like cars. They don’t turn off as obvious as a car does if it runs out of fuel. Instead it slowly shuts down, even if we keep going…, sometimes without us recognizing the signs until it’s too late. (Enter my HA diagnosis and the start of a journey that will forever change my life).
Fortunately, my Dr. told me HA is reversible and I could get my cycles back on my own by gaining weight and by stopping running cold turkey. I gained from a BMI of 19.5ish to 22.3ish and stopped running completely for 6 weeks and got my first natural cycle back!
One of the biggest questions people have for me is what I ate to gain the weight in a healthy way.
NOTE: Never attempt to change your calorie intake without medical supervision.
I ate tons of peanut butter! That was my biggest source of healthy fats and higher calorie food. I also switched from Skim to 1% milk (ideally whole is better for you if you have HA but David and I met in the middle with 1%). I ate tons of full fat greek yogurt and 4% cottage cheese as well. Any kind of nuts, nut butter, olive oil, avocados…all really high in HEALTHY fats! With gaining, I knew I also needed to break free and allow myself some not so healthy foods as well like ice cream (again, that full fat dairy!) and cookies, etc. I knew that the faster I gained to a healthier weight, the faster I would most likely recover and that was my main goal.
Gaining weight is hard. Trust me, it goes way beyond the pounds on the scale. For a year I trained my willpower and dedicated myself to a new lifestyle, I got healthy which is awesome but there’s a fine line between healthy and taking it to the extreme. I took it to the extreme and someday I will be a runner again but I will be a runner who refuels, a runner who knows not to push it too far, and hopefully a runner who can share with you how to live healthy as a mother!
If you are dealing with HA and are in recovery mode already, it will get easier. Sometimes it’s best to get rid of your scale, get pants that grow with you, get rid of your clothes when you were that unhealthy weight…your mind has got to move past the restrictive thoughts and behaviors and anything you can do to make that easier and allow you to love your new HEALTHY and FERTILE body and curves the better off you will be and HA will feel less and less like a curse.
Eat. Rest. Nourish.
There were so many resources that helped me through my recovery and I hope these links help you find some answers as well! Feel free to email me at email@example.com as well
YourEatopia.com Phases of Recovery from Restricted Eating (especially read #2: “The Math of the Calories”)