Good morning all! How was your weekend? Adam had a guy’s night out on Saturday so I got to enjoy a night to myself and got some painting done around the house. Pictures to come soon!
Before I get into today’s post, I should give any male readers a heads up that we’ll be discussing the joys of ladyhood. So if you want to skip out and join back tomorrow, no hard feelings. :-)
I am beyond excited to announce that I had a special visit from Aunt Flow this past Friday…..I cried, I rejoiced, I felt so relieved. Why, you ask? Considering my last cycle happened almost a year ago (11 months to be exact; and while being on the pill) this moment was monumental! I can officially say I’m on my way to overcoming Hypothalamic Amenorrhea.
For those of you who may not know, Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (HA) is a condition in which menstrual cycles stop due to too little body fat and/or an excess amount of exercise and a rapid weight loss.
There are a lot of blogs out there that I turned to for guidance when I first discovered I had HA. I found a lot of good information out there. There are many success stories that I’ve read that gave me hope. So what information can I contribute? What knowledge can I provide? What’s new to my story? Honestly, probably nothing. But I wanted to share my story for me. I believe it’s important to help me with my mental recovery, as well as having this to look back on and see how far I’ve come . But if I can help someone else though in the process, that’s great! If I can encourage other women who are struggling with HA to stay strong, I’ll do it! So I’m opening up and telling my story. Here we go! :-)
I went off the pill at the end of last June, and was a little bit surprised and annoyed when my cycles didn’t immediately return. Aunt Flow had always been like clock-work before I went on the pill, so I thought she’d do the same after. I thought “okay, I’ve heard it can take a few months for some women, I’ll just need to be patient…” 3 months later (September 2013), still nothing. During this time though, I was in denial of how poorly I was treating my body through over-exercising and under-eating. I spent a minimum of an hour a day, 6 days a week at the gym, and didn’t take in enough calories to feed my body for everything it burned. (Yikes!)
It was around the end of September when I had a doctor’s appointment followed by a heart to heart with Adam, and coming to the realization that my priorities were off with being too enamored with exercise, and that the reason my cycles hadn’t returned was because of putting too much stress on my body. My doctor suggested taking it easy on exercise, and all of the information I could find online also told me I needed to give up exercise and/or put on weight. In October 2013 I made the difficult decision…and gave up exercise. Specifically running and lifting heavy weights. (my 2 favorites!) The obvious sign of a healthy woman is her monthly cycles, and with mine having disappeared, I knew I needed to change something. And with my weight being at about 105, I knew I needed to put on some “junk in the trunk.” ;-) And since the winter and holiday months approaching, I knew it would come pretty easily!
Not only was my low body weight/fat an issue with my cycles holding back, but stress also played an important role. I’m a very type A personality, and I can get stressed easily. With the stress of moving into a new city and making new friends, getting settled into our first house, potty training a puppy (and just training a puppy in general), working part time, cleaning around the house, putting dinner on the table every night, suffering the longest and coldest Montana winter ever…I guess I don’t blame Aunt Flow for not showing up!
By March 2014, I finally felt I had finally reached a point of relief and feeling stress-less. I’m sure part of this was due to the weather warming up. I walk Max daily, (and especially felt I had to since he was just a puppy and couldn’t be cooped up inside all day) so mentally and physically I dreaded walking him…it was that gosh darn bitter Montana cold, it was brutal! In March I also eased back on exercise even more. Up until this point I was still doing brisk walking and yoga, but since nothing had still happened, I scaled back to even gentler walking outside and no more core work.
Of course, a natural side effect to giving up exercise and trying to put on weight to regain my cycles…comes great humility with needing to buy bigger pants. No woman enjoys shopping for jeans (at least none that I know), let alone shopping for jeans that you know are a good 2-3 sizes bigger than the ones you currently own. Not only pants, but bras, underwear, and some shirts too needed to go up. Our culture feeds you that your worth is in what size clothes you wear. I’m only human, I bought into it. But the past few months I’ve rediscovered my worth in Christ. Which is SO much better than anything this world can give.
This past year has been tough. I’d be lying if I said otherwise. There was a lot of frustration, a lot of tears, a lot of anger, a lot of heartache, a lot of doubt. But with it also came a lot of good. I’ve realized exercise is important, but there are more important things. I’ve learned to trust in God’s timing and lean on him for strength. Adam and I’s marriage has strengthened. I’ve learned to listen to my body and give it rest when it needs it. I’ve learned to sometimes just take a step back, and just breathe.
Phew! Was that a mouthful? Well, let’s sum up…
How I was diagnosed with HA in the first place:
- Over-exercising and under-eating
- Low body fat
How I regained my cycles and battled HA:
- Stopped exercise (with exception of yoga and walking)
- Gained weight by eating about 2500-3000 calories a day (Shocking, I know! Trust me, it was definitely a hassle and not always easy. But my body had to learn to trust me again that it wouldn’t starve and also needed time to recover for the months it was “eating itself”)
- I consumed a lot more full fat animal protein ( organic cheese, yogurt, eggs, and meat)
- Learned to handle stress better & de-stressed my life
- Surrounded myself with positive, encouraging women
- Trusting in God more
- Patience, patience, patience
- A wonderful, sweet husband who encouraged me throughout the entire process, and told me I was beautiful inside & out when I needed to buy bigger pants
What I’ve learned from this whole process:
- Exercise is important, but it’s not everything
- Your worth is so much more than that number on the scale
- Food isn’t the enemy
- God is in control of everything. Let go and let him take care of it!
If any of you who are reading are battling with HA, some advice I can give to you is stay strong! I promise it will all be worth it. I know everyone whose been there has said that and I remember reading multiple success stories (some from way back when, and some just of recent!) from bloggers like Ashley, Jaclyn, and Sam and I’d think “Ugh, when is it going to be my turn?!” Sure enough, 4 days ago it was. As tempting as it is now they’ve returned to go run 5 miles and take Bodypump classes 2 days a week, I know that’s not what my body needs just yet. So I’m going to take things easy and see how things go from here! Thanks for reading along with my
open journal blog post; I hope it can come of use to or encourage some of you!
And that is my Marvelous Monday for today! (thanks Katie!) Have a wonderful rest of your week, and happy June!