HA Recovery: Eating

20 Jan

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.

I had lost a good 15 more pounds at least after this picture was taken...

I had lost a good 15 more pounds at least after this picture was taken…

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!

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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.

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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 ifgravityhappens@gmail.com as well 🙂

Hypothalamic Amenorrhea -Mallory’s story

Ashley at MyFoodnFitnessDiaries HA FAQ

YourEatopia.com Restrictive Eating Disorder Spectrum: Fertility and Pregnancy

YourEatopia.com Phases of Recovery from Restricted Eating (especially read #2: “The Math of the Calories”)

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8 Responses to “HA Recovery: Eating”

  1. myneonrunningshoes January 21, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    So glad you have been able to overcome. It is a very challenging thing to do but the end result is so worth it!

    • Mallory January 21, 2013 at 6:49 pm #

      Thank you so much! You are totally right, it is SO worth it 🙂 🙂 Someday I will look back on all of this and be thankful I had to go through it because it will make me a better person and a better mother! Thank you 🙂

  2. Priscilla January 21, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    This post brings tears to my eyes, but they’re tears of joy!!! I”m so happy that I was able to share in this journey with you and even more excited for where this journey is going to take us 🙂 You’re a beautiful person inside and out and I am so thankful for HA bringing us together ❤ Love ya lots~xoxo P

    • Mallory January 21, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

      Aww you bring tears to MY eyes!!! You are such an amazing supporter, motivator, and friend a girl could ask for! Thank you for always being there for me!!! xoxo

  3. fotini February 14, 2013 at 7:29 am #

    Hello there! I’m suffering from ha for 1,5year now. I lost weight and my period as well. I started from 74kg and i lost it at 57kg. Then i dropped to
    51kg , not in purpose but i didnt know how to maintain, i was afraid. After that i tried to gain some weight and I weigh now 55kg. Offcourse still nada. My question is will my period come back at the weight i lost it? If i hit 58kg and maintain are they any chances that will come back? Im also starting an homeopathetic therapy these days. Thank you for all this information! Take care

    • Mallory February 19, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

      Fotini, I’ll have to do some kg to pound conversions so I kind of have an idea where you stand right now. Usually aiming for a BMI of 22 tends to bring cycles back but everyone is so different. As long as you are resting, not doing intense exercise, and eating plenty of calories, your body will be working on healing. You can email me at ifgravityhappens@gmail.com if you want to chat more! 🙂

  4. Justine@upcycleyou.com February 23, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    I’m really glad I found your blog. I too experienced HA and didn’t get my cycle back until I finally started getting serious about eating healthier and scaling way back on my physical activity. I am recovered from an eating disorder (and now about to publish my recovery book). I am honestly AMAZED by how much better I feel these days–I think if I would have felt this way for a few seconds while I was at my unhealthy weight, I wouldn’t have questioned the weight gain…it’s not easy getting rid of old clothes or fighting off those “fat” feelings, but I do feel more beautiful actually having a real woman’s shape now (and my husband agrees!). And–there’s also the fact that we want to start having children. There’s NO stronger incentive to be healthy than that. Best of luck to you in your own journey, and hopefully in the near future we will have some happy news to share on our blogs!!

    • Mallory February 25, 2013 at 6:23 pm #

      Hi Justine! I am so so glad you found my blog as well! You are so TOTALLY not alone in this!!!! It sounds like your body is in the perfect healthy place for a little one! Lots of luck to you and please never hesitate to email me and chat! ifgravityhappens@gmail.com 🙂 hugs!!!!

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