Fitness Professionals: Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Treatment & Recovery

For most women going through recovery from Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, cutting out exercise isn’t easy, but it’s doable. But what about those who are Fitness Professionals? When you’re working in the fitness industry training clients or teaching classes, cutting out exercise just isn’t realistic. Below I’ll go through the keys to staying on track with your recovery, while working as a Fitness Professional.

Diet:

It’s important to make sure you’re making up for the additional calories you’re burning if you’re working in the fitness industry. For most going through HA Recovery, the recommended amount to consume is 2500-3000 calories a day, but for fitness professionals my recommendation would be 3000-3500 calories a day. I know this might sound scary, but it is CRUCIAL to your recovery and your health.

You can do this by eating quality foods which will be excellent for your hormone production as well as keep you from feeling like you’re completely letting yourself go. Make sure you’re adding in carbohydrates & healthy fats with each meal and snack as well to keep your hormone levels from dipping too much. If you’re having trouble figuring out which foods to eat, check out this post.

Exercise:

This area is definitely going to be the toughest for you to balance, so the best place to start is to cut out cardio. If that’s not realistic, then cutting down your intensity level and time significantly will help. That goes for resistance training too, cutting back on the time and intensity will make a BIG difference!

**You’ll also want to make sure you’re building in as many rest days as possible. And walking doesn’t count as a rest day 😉

Stress:

Reducing your stress level is another key component to getting your hormones back on track. When your body is under stress (caused by under-eating, over-exercising etc…) this will force your body to go into a “fight or flight” mode, which signals to your body that it is not safe to reproduce. Staying in this mode for too long will shut down the production of hormones necessary for you to have a menstrual cycle.

Some ways to reduce stress are:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • Circle & Bloom audio
  • Building time into your schedule for self-care (massage, pedicures, coffee with friends etc…)

I hope you’ve found these tips helpful! I know what it’s like to work as a fitness professional (I used to be a personal trainer) and feel the pressures of having to look a certain way in order for your clients to take you seriously. But your health & fertility is far more important than what others think and I’d bet that your clients will feel more comfortable with you, if they see you’re human and not the image of perfection like they see on TV and in magazines.

You got this girl!

XOXO,

~P

P.S. The information in this post are from my past experience and are my own personal opinion, for a specifically designed plan make sure to contact your doctor or nutritionist.

 

Mattie’s Story

Today I’m so honored to bring you another story of Hope, Inspiration & Dreams come true…fellow HA Sisterhood member Mattie, has a story that I just know will resonate with so many…

For me, HA started with an eating disorder right after my 13th birthday. I had regular periods for about 6 months before I started learning about calories and saw how easy it was to skip lunch and go for a long walk after school. I also saw how quickly my pants started to fit looser and how it became somewhat of a game. Not to mention, with this change in lifestyle, my periods dropped off immediately. I became quickly enthralled with eating the smallest amount possible.
I ate the least amount of breakfast as I could to get me out the door and approval of my parents, skipped lunch and any snack entirely and ate the least amount of dinner I could. I can’t imagine I was sustaining on much more than 1000 calories per day. As a growing, athletic 13 year old!! Can you imagine?? I should also mention my mother has a full blown eating disorder and though I love her dearly, she was my example.

It was normal for women to exercise and not eat all in the name of being thin, right??

All of this behavior continued into high school. I even joined the cross country team my freshman year which helped peel off more weight. I became obsessed with checking nutrition labels, learning about calorie counts at popular restaurants and burning off as much as I could through exercise. It’s sickening to think back to all I did to myself. After my freshman year of high school, my parents did not let me run cross country again because I had become so thin and unhealthy.
I went from about a 120 pound frame in 7th grade to less than 100 in 9th. My mom took me to her OB gyn who explained to me the thought process of an anorexic person and why it is so addictive. He gave me a magic number of 110 pounds and said I should aim for that. He also said that is the reason my periods had stopped. At this point, I was prescribed birth control. Doctors typically know nothing about fixing this disorder!!

So I left that appointment with a “magic” number in my brain and a slight willingness to help myself.

However, birth control would give me a period even if I weighed 80 pounds! Woohoo, I can continue in my ways and not gain weight and have a period! How naive I was!

Over the next 2 years, I fluctuated a bit but the scale did go back up. I ate more, but my mindset was the same. Calorie counts, excessive exercise. Not surprisingly that even with the increased weight, I never had a period. My senior year of high school, I started dating my husband. I lost a lot of weight that year. It took him about 6 months to confront me on the issue. He vowed to help me and hold me accountable.
I left for college the following year, thinner, weaker and unhealthy as I had ever been. I was close to 90 pounds. So scary! My boyfriend did hold me accountable though. I checked in with a doctor at my university once a week to be weighed and to discuss my habits. My weight slowly crept up. I STILL exercised to excess through college. Cardio, cardio, cardio. I looked for any excuse to exercise.

While I was eating more, I was still restricting certain things and not doing enough for my activity level.

My body couldn’t recover. I kept my weight higher until my senior year of college. My husband who was still my boyfriend at the time moved across country for military training. With the stress of senior year and not having him with me all the time, I went back to my ways. I was back down to close to 100 by end of senior year.
We were engaged the spring of my senior year and he told me he wanted me at 120 by the time he graduated fm his training in June. He seems to be the only person I could do this for. When he graduated, I was where he wanted me. However, we were to be married later that fall and I unconsciously slipped back into my ways.

See, here is the thing, if you don’t keep constant tabs on yourself and stay honest with yourself, you WILL slip. It is so easy to go over that cliff again.

After we were married, I was thin but not that thin. I had gotten to about 115. Still not where I should be. My husband told me when we moved in together, he wanted me to listen to him, eat what he told me and stop the cardio. I had come off birth control for the first time in almost 10 years. (I had gone off sporadically at times to see if I could cycle, but of course, never did). Within two weeks of relaxing, having lots of sex, eating a ton, and eating lots of peanut butter, I had my first period in 10 years. It only took 2 weeks!
I continued to have periods 35-40 days apart up until August when I had the genius idea to train for a half marathon. Well what do you think happened again?? I lost my period, my weight dropped and I became obsessed with food again. After going on like this for several months, I made the decision to do something. This is the first time I realized I had HA. I researched and consumed all the information I could on the issue, sometimes sitting for hours on the fertile thoughts forums, thinking, yes, that’s me!!
I cut out my cardio, I started to eat more (and lots of fats) and within a month of my new ways, my period came back! I kept up with my new healthy habits for about 6 months until my husband deployed for the first time. I decided to take classes and become a personal trainer. It was all very easy–stuff I already knew. That summer he was deployed, I started training a few people (I am a teacher and have the summers off) but I was also increasing my cardio and not eating enough/ had started to restrict again.

I lost my periods over that summer. And this time, I didn’t lose any weight. It was like my body just refused my lifestyle. It knew. And it refused.

I did not let this continue. Once I realized it only took a slight decrease in calories and increase in exercise to make my periods disappear, I realized how sensitive I was and how much I will ALWAYS have to work to stay healthy. By the time my husband came home from deployment, I had jumped back on the research wagon, was eating right, exercising correctly and had started to cycle again.
When he returned home, we started a workout program together. Solely heavy, Olympic lifting. No cardio. About 4 days a week, maybe 30 minutes each time. Let me say that again. No cardio!! I was stronger than I had ever been before and was proud of myself for having multiple, perfect 28 day cycles. I was eating lots, feeling great, (again having lots of sex–I swear to this day, that has something to do with the hormone turn on that allows me to cycle. Just a small piece of the puzzle, but it is part).
I was also eating a LOT of peanut butter and coconut oil again. Plenty of carbs and protein. Plenty of everything. I had to eat at least 2500 for a while to gain my cycle back and then maintenance for me is well over 2200. And I am small. So if you are taller/weigh more, then you need more!! But don’t get caught up on numbers. I also took vitex while I was in times of not having a period, that seemed to help bring things on as well. But ultimately, it is reduced exercise and increased food intake. It just is.

Anyways, after 4 months of his return, we decided to try for a baby for the FIRST time. I got pregnant on the first try! The first try.

But I was listening to my body, taking care of myself and doing the right thing. I had a wonderful pregnancy,  loved being pregnant and have loved every second of motherhood so far. I did struggle slightly after having my baby boy with my old ways, but I nipped it right back in the bud. After not having a period for 6 months after stopping breastfeeding, I knew I had to do what I knew would work. I stopped any cardio I might be doing, which wasn’t much at the time and started eating 2500+ calories again. Within a month, boom. Cycling regularly.
As of now, I am almost 19 weeks pregnant with my second baby. A little girl. This time I got pregnant by accident!! I know now how careful and loving I have to be to myself for things to work properly. I also know that I don’t want my kids to grow up with a parent who is obsessed with food and exercise. Who is too stressed about control and getting things done to enjoy the small things. Who pushes away and loses relationships because my eating disorder and obsessive thoughts are more important.
I don’t want to look back on my life and think, I wasted it. Those 10 years of struggle were enough. I am beyond blessed to be where I am today. My beautiful boy, a baby girl on the way, a husband who loves me. I don’t want to take these things for granted. I also know that I will need help the rest of my life. A constant checking myself. A community like The HA Sisterhood that P has created for us women. We have to stick together and lift each other up!

Good luck to you all on your journey. I am happy to help and answer any questions you all may have about recovery. You CAN do this!! ~Mattie

Daily Affirmations for HA Recovery

When I think about my life during HA recovery and how I got through the mental struggles, I remember the things I told myself over and over, until I believed them. Below I’d like to share with you how I got through and my Daily Affirmations for HA Recovery.

Mirror, mirror, mirror on the wall
Tellin’ those lies, pointing out your flaws
That isn’t who you are
That isn’t who you are

It might be hard to hear,
But let me tell you, dear
If you could see what I can see, I know you would believe
That isn’t who you are
There’s more to who you are

{Priceless by For King & Country}

I remember the thoughts so clearly…”When I lose __ lbs, then I will be truly happy”, “When I tighten up ___, then I will love my body”, “When I can fit into a size __, then I will be beautiful”.

Lies. They’re all lies. A decade later and I have finally learned the truth behind the girl I see in the mirror. I am beautiful, I am worthy and I love my body. Not because I’m a certain weight. Not because I fit into a certain size. Not because I’m tightened or toned. It’s because I am me, the girl God created in His own image. The daughter He loved so dearly, He would allow me to walk this journey to the truth so that I could be full of love and gratefulness.

It’s heartbreaking that so many women see those lies when they look in the mirror. Is it society? Is it how they were raised? Is it their own lack of self worth? It’s so many things. But sweet sisters, I’m here to tell you that so much lies ahead of you when you release those lies and cling to the truth. YOU are beautiful. YOU are worthy. And you can learn to LOVE your body.

The next time you look in the mirror, tell yourself this…

I am beautiful.

The scale does not dictate my worth.

The size of my clothes doesn’t make others love me more or less.

I will respect my body by nourishing it with good food and rest.

The dimples and squishiness are a sign of a fertile and healthy body.

My body is only temporary, but the joy that comes with loving myself lasts a lifetime.

I love what my body can do when I treat it right.

I love myself.

I love my body.

Learning to love your body doesn’t happen overnight, but with each step you take, you will get to that place of acceptance and love. It takes a conscious effort to rewrite the way you view yourself. To stop the negative thoughts and redirect them towards love. To see your body for all that it is capable of when you honor and respect it. To let go of the desire to look a certain way and learn to love the way God created you.

I have so much faith in you. I know that you will learn to love the girl you see when you look in the mirror…

Because that girl has so much life to live. And to truly live it. To be present with her thoughts and those around her. To be confident and comfortable in her own skin. To look at herself in the mirror with wonder and awe at such an amazing creation.

You’ve got this my sweet friend. Never give up, life is too sweet on the other side…

XOXO,

~P

P.S. If you’re struggling with truly believing this for yourself, I’d love to be there for you! Click HERE to learn more about my 1:1 coaching program and schedule your FREE session.

Taleen’s Story

Taleen is not only a beautiful writer, but she has truly pushed through the struggle of HA to get to the other side: truly healthy & happy.

I am so incredibly proud of her and hope you find her story as inspiring as I have…


I have always struggled with maintaining a healthy relationship with food. I have straddled both ends of the spectrum: being too lax with my health and fitness and being too obsessed. Having health and fitness on the back burner, ignoring the rising scale as well as never being able to enjoy the meal before me without thinking about how many calories I was about to consume. I have had problems with my period for being overweight and problems with it for being too extreme on the other end. I think it’s safe to say that I have never been good at listening to my body.

In March of 2015 I was introduced to the exercise program called 21 Day Fix. Thirty minutes of exercise a day and a meal plan lead to a changed life. After my first round I dropped ten pounds and the results became a springboard that launched me into obsession and anxiety. I obsessed over the compliments I was getting and always had anxiety about getting in my workouts and not eating more calories than the program allowed. Thirty minutes of exercise and 1500-1800 calories per day sounds pretty healthy, right? I thought so! Nonetheless, my last period was in April of that year. It was very short and very light and disappeared for 20 months thereafter. At first I thought that my body was adjusting and ignored the change. Actually, I enjoyed not having cramps, stained bed sheets and pants, and the ability to swim whenever I felt like it.

The party didn’t last long, though, and after three consecutive missed periods…

I went to the doctor and two different OBGYNs who all told me that my hormone levels were fine, that I was still ovulating, and to simply keep on keeping on. While my mom was happy that all was fine, I wasn’t satisfied. I knew that not having a period couldn’t be normal, no matter what professionals said. There is a reason God created the woman’s body the way He did, and if my period stopped my body was definitely trying to tell me something. And yet, I wasn’t ready to loosen the reigns on my obsessive and militaristically strict health and fitness regime, so I did just what the doctor ordered: I kept on keeping on and told myself that everything was ok and that my body would eventually adjust to my new “normal.” I have quotations around that word because my situation became anything but. Sure, 30 minutes of exercise a day seems healthy, but the anxiety and pressure I put on myself to get those workouts in coupled with a low caloric intake for my baseline needs was definitely a recipe for disaster.

Also, in order to give myself a break from restrictive eating throughout the week, I would give myself the weekends to eat without calorie counting, which led to binge eating. On the weekends I would eat myself sick to the point that I had sleepless nights running back and forth from my bed to the restroom – a result of eating way too much and my stomach wanting revenge. My mental state was also anything but healthy. I would cancel plans if they conflicted with my eating schedule and could never enjoy a social gathering because I was too obsessive about the food, the calories, and the overeating (oh my!). Sound familiar? It certainly does to countless women who are killing themselves to fit society’s ideal. So, sure, I may have looked healthy on the outside. But I was slowly dismantling my mental and emotional health. I was exhausted from the pressure I constantly put on myself to look a certain way and frustrated that it was never enough.

I couldn’t ignore the inevitable for long.

I constantly researched about amenorrhea – the fancy doctor word for loss of a woman’s menstrual cycle – and realized that I was not alone, that there was an entire community of women who were struggling with the loss of their period and with body image. Those who were victorious and got their periods back told me to relax, to eat, and to stop exercising; to be honest, this scared me immensely. “I can’t gain weight,” I would think, “I can’t undo all of this work” because in my mind, weight gain was equivalent to failure. Despite these thoughts, I knew I had to make a change and so I tentatively upped my calories but continued to strictly follow my intense workout schedule. A few months later I crossed paths with “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, a book that challenged my ideas about health and body image and for which I am forever grateful. And so, I dropped the calorie counters and began to mend my relationship with food. However, I still could not let go of my workouts. I feared that the moment I stopped the control, I would snowball back into being overweight.

About four months later I noticed my issues with control regarding my body. I knew that my period would not start again until my mind and my body could make up, so to speak, and learn to trust each other again. So I stopped. I stopped putting pressure on myself to workout and only did so when I actually felt like it. When I did feel like it, I would either walk or practice light yoga. Full disclosure – this was really, really hard. The fear can be overwhelming and as a result I was constantly in tears for a few days.  “How many pounds away?” I would ask myself.  “How many weeks, months, or years?” “How many sizes will my jeans go up until I finally have a period again?” These fears took me to a dark place that only prayer could bring me out of. I prayed and asked God to help me understand what His idea of beauty is and to help me get rid of the lies this society has washed my brain with about what makes a woman beautiful. I began to learn that a number does not define my beauty; whether that number be a caloric range, a jeans size, or the one flashing on the scale (which, by the way, you should throw away). I learned that a number it is just that – a number.

It cannot tell you that you are funny, smart, loving, or kind. It cannot make you a friend, a daughter, a sister, or any other aspect of your identity. It cannot measure the quality of your relationships or give you beautiful memories or hilarious stories. A number is just a number and nothing more. The moment I chose to accept that numbers never had and never will define me is the moment I truly let go and embraced my body exactly the way Jesus chose it to be.

Only ten days later I started my period.

I jumped up and down and danced all around the bathroom at work and must have thanked God a hundred times. It still shocks me how quickly my body began to trust me again and I truly count it as a miracle. I still struggle, friends. Thoughts of food and body image still linger in my mind more that I care to admit, but I know it won’t be this way forever. I refuse to let myself miss out on life because of lies telling me that you can only enjoy it if you are a size 2. My prayer for all who read this is that you may love your body and treat it with the respect it deserves. That you may nourish it and cherish it because it is fearfully made by the same God who created galaxies, waterfalls, and every beautiful thing you see when you walk out your front door. I wish I could take each of you out to coffee and talk about society’s toxic ideas about beauty, why they are absolute hogwash and what health, fitness and beauty really means.

To those of you who are still battling amenorrhea, please don’t give up.

Please keep going because victory is really sweet. The best advice I could give you is this: eventually, you need to stop researching. You need to stop reading about what others did and what worked for them. I’m sure you know by now how overwhelming all that can be. Your body is unique and knows what you need and all you have to do is listen. That’s it. Eat what and when and how much it tells you. Exercise it in a way that brings absolutely no mental distress or pressure. Listen to your body and let it make amends with your mind.

I wish you all the very best in your recovery and hope that you find true contentment with who God has made you to be.

With love and prayer,

Taleen

Returning to normal…Post HA Recovery

When you make the decision to go “all in”, you take some extremes that you normally wouldn’t do in your daily life like going cold turkey with exercise or eating 2-3 times more than you ever have. This can bring some feelings of fear…fear that this is what your new way of living will always look like, fear that you may never get to exercise again or fear that you’ll always have to have a high calorie diet. So I thought it would be helpful to give you an idea of what life looks like…post HA Recovery.

I’ll admit, post recovery can be tricky. But that doesn’t mean your life will always have to be all or nothing.

If you truly enjoy exercise, you will be able to reintroduce it back into your life, but it’ll have to be in baby steps. Your body needs to know that it can trust that you won’t bring it back to starvation and exhaustion. Below are a few steps I took when I started to introduce exercise back in post recovery:

  • Start Slow: Start with 2-3 days for at least 1-2 cycles before increasing the number of days.
  • Add 1 Day at a Time: Once you get to the point where you know your body is ok with 2-3 days of exercise, you can add 1 additional day and keep it at that for 1-2 cycles to see how your body responds before adding any more.
  • Low Intensity: I highly recommend starting with things like Yoga, Walking or Light Resistance weights before moving onto more intense exercise like Running or HIIT classes. Going too intense too soon can cause some major setbacks in your recovery.
  • Reduced Time: Starting with 20-30 min is going to be VERY important when you start to add exercise back in. I learned this the hard way and it resulted in a 45 day cycle. Remember, your body needs rest and nourishment…30 min may not seem like very much, but I promise you’ll still get all the health benefits without putting your cycle in jeopardy.

Once you’ve found the right amount of days, time & intensity for your body, I would keep it at that for a few months or until your cycles are stable before changing things up! It may take longer than you want, but eventually you will get to a place that feels good for you AND your body.

Now, let’s talk about food…

From the many women I’ve spoke to about Hypothalamic Amenorrhea and going through it myself, “getting” to eat 2-3 times more than you’re used to can get old real quick! You may feel like your day is filled with eating, eating & more eating.

Yes, consuming large amounts of high quality fats, proteins & carbs is VERY important for recovery, but it won’t always have to hold such a high priority in your life. Eventually your body weight will get to the maintenance “safe” weight and you will no longer need to fill yourself to the max.

When you get to that safe weight, you’ll be able to rely more on your body’s hunger cues and fullness scale. I still recommend sticking to balanced meals & snack that include fat, protein & carbs, but you can scale back a bit on the amount. Just make sure you’re continuing to stay aware of your cycle and if cutting back is having an effect…(and don’t forget to continue to enjoy those treats too!)

I hope these tips helped if you’re in the post recovery stage or close to it. Please let me know if you have any additional questions or feel free to email me for more specific recommendations!

XOXO,

~P

Karly’s Story

Today I have another story from the HA Sisterhood that I know you will find inspiring and full of hope! Please welcome Karly as she shares her recovery journey…


My journey has been a bit of a roller coaster.

I started birth control in March 2013 and went off in January 2015 (the last couple periods on BC were super light). I didn’t get a period in February or March but figured I was adjusting post-pill. Then I had periods in April and May, but that’s when it ended.

At the end of August, 4 months since my last period, I went to the gyno and discussed my lack of period. She suspected PCOS (though acknowledged that I didn’t fit the “type”) and ran some blood tests to check my testosterone levels, as well as a sonogram to check my ovaries. My ovaries looked fine and my testosterone levels were low, so she ruled out PCOS. She prescribed the progesterone challenge, to which I had no reaction so she checked my estrogen and FSH levels. Across the board my hormone levels were low; everything was on “sleep” mode. Her only recommendation was to go back on BC “to get regular” (which didn’t make sense since I just came off  BC so by that logic I should be regular…) or visit a fertility specialist which personally I wasn’t ready for. That was the beginning of October 2015.

From the beginning of our appointments, she asked about my diet and exercise and concluded that since I was not a marathoner or doing anything extreme that diet/exercise wasn’t the cause. I was also in the normal/healthy range of BMI (5’8 135lbs) so didn’t think that was an issue, but she said if I felt like it I could try putting on 5lbs and tone down the workouts (approx 4-5 times a week for max 1 hr each mixing it up with body pump, spin, running, body step…nothing EXTREME).

In November, I happened to have a deal for a month of unlimited barre so during that month I only did barre (no cardio) and my weight crept up to about 140. On December 22nd, I got a period!

After that I went back to my original workout schedule and again lost my period.

In March, I went back to the gyno, and she said we should try the progesterone challenge again, and if I get a period then I could try a round of clomid to force ovulation; no period came. After 5 months since my last cycle, I decided to try acupuncture at the end of May. My acupuncturist believed I was dealing with post pill amenorrhea. With weekly visits and daily herbs I was able to ovulate and have a period in June (though the luteal phase was extremely short).

Even with an absurd amount of googling over the past 1.5 years, I didn’t stumble upon the term “hypothalamic amenorrhea” until last month.

And finally I was reading some stories that “sounded like me”.

I was never too thin but I did spend a lot of time planning out my workouts and putting in extra effort when I over indulged on the food side of things. If I had to guess what threw me into this funk it was probably the period of time in April/May 2015 where I was working out probably 6 times a week with crossfit being 3xs a week and restricting my calories to about 1400. If only I knew that that would not only hinder my body goals, but also lose my fertility.

In mid-August, I decided to prioritize my desire to get back my cycle/pregnant over my desire to stay a certain level of fit. The hardest part has been getting over the fact that I used to get my cycle just fine when I was 15+ lbs lighter, but unfortunately that’s just not me anymore. Starting in mid-August, I cut out all cardio and increased my calories considerably.

Around September 8th, I saw fertile mucus as well as a shift in temperature so I was pretty confident that I ovulated. My temp stayed elevated for a couple days before it dropped on the 13th and I woke up to some very light spotting. I just so happened to have a gyno appointment with a new doctor scheduled for that morning, where I shared with him everything from the last couple years, including my recent lifestyle changes/weight gain and the spotting that morning.

He agreed that he too thought I had hypothalamic amenorrhea, and said I won’t be able to get pregnant without assistance. He then ordered some blood work and prescribed me a hormone replacement regimen. I left that appointment feeling SO discouraged since I really felt like my body was starting to signal it was on its way to recovery (he even told me I should not gain any more weight and start exercising again). The spotting/light bleeding actually continued for 3 days, so I decided to hold off on the hormones to see how things went for another month and would reassess then.

On day 23, I saw a significant amount of EWCM followed by a dip/spike in temp! Then the acne and the sore breasts arrived, so I just knew I was in for a real period finally. My period ended up coming 8 days later.

It really is so satisfying to see some real signs of recovery.

I still struggle with the extra weight/negative body image, but knowing that I’m giving my body a chance to do this thing naturally is where I find hope. Now I am praying for a longer luteal phase next month, and for continued patience and grace during recovery.
Thanks to all the ladies in the HA recovery group. I wish you weren’t also in this situation, but I am so so grateful for the constant encouragement and support during this challenging time 🙂
 

Sample Menu: Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Treatment & Recovery

I’ve been getting asked by the girls in the HA Sisterhood what they should be eating during recovery to get in the recommended 2500-3000 calories a day. I felt giving a Sample Menu would be most helpful for those still struggling to figure out what to eat.

Although I do recommend tracking for the first few days to get a visual, after that I would encourage you to not track beyond that.Continuing to track your calories will only cause extra unnecessary stress that will keep you from moving forward in your journey.

I know the need to control is very strong during recovery, especially once you’ve gone all in, because you may be feeling uncomfortable in your body and a bit out of control. But I promise if you learn to let go, it will give you a sense of freedom that is so important to your success!

Below is a sample of what I ate during recovery {roughly 2500 calories a day}. To keep yourself from feeling the need to track what you’re eating, use this as a rule of thumb for each meal & snack: 1-2 Tbsp of Healthy Fats, 1 serving of Quality Protein, 1 serving of Fiber/Carb…Fruit & Veggies as desired.

My Sample Day of Eats

Day of Eats

6am Breakfast:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup organic whole milk
  • 1/2 cup berries
  • 2 tbsp Almond Butter

10am Snack:

  • 1 scoop Protein Powder {I use Shakeology}
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup Almond Milk
  • 2 tbsp Almond Butter
  • 1 cup Spinach
  • Water & Ice

12pm Lunch:

  • 1-2 cups of Greens
  • Handful of Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup Roasted Butternut Squash
  • 1/2 an Avocado
  • 6oz chopped Grilled Chicken Breast
  • Drizzle of Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar

3pm Snack:

  • Homemade Protein Bar {HERE is one if you need a recipe!}
  • 1 cup of Pineapple
  • Chai Tea Latte with Almond Milk & Honey

6pm Dinner:

  • Baked Sweet Potato topped with 1 Tbsp of Coconut Butter & Cinnamon
  • Ground Turkey & Bell Peppers sauteed in olive oil & seasoning

8pm Dessert:

  • Whole Milk Ice Cream or
  • Homemade Brownies {Cup4Cup makes a great Gluten Free mix!}

I hope this helps those of you still struggling to fit it all in!

XOXO,

~P

P.S. If you still find yourself struggling with your nutrition, make to get your copy of The 28 Day Meal Plan designed specifically for HA Recovery!

Teaghan’s Story

I’m so excited to bring you another story of Hope, Inspiration and Dreams come true…Today I’ll be sharing Teaghan’s Story.


I have always had a passion for being active. I grew up as a competitive dancer from the age of 4 when I started. I should mention that I first got my cycle at the age of 11 and it was regular. I went on birth control for acne at the age of 14. I danced throughout high school and continued to dance as I pursued my education in Fitness and Lifestyle management. This is when I found a new passion for working out. It was part of my life and became very important to me.

I have always enjoyed healthy foods. But it was during college when my working out became an addiction, that my food also became an obsession.

It really was never about losing weight for me. During high school at my heaviest I was 135 lbs at a height of 5’8. I was working out 6 days a week. This consisted of 2-3 spin classes/4 days weight training/HITT/and maybe one 5k run. I was also walking everywhere and still dancing a couple nights on top of that. I never really counted calories but I was fixated on “clean foods”, and cooking all my own meals. I would think about things like if I had carbs for lunch, no carbs for dinner. I really did eat big portion sizes but it always super healthy/clean and I rarely indulged. It got so bad that I didn’t want to go out with friends to restaurants if I didn’t know what was on the menu or I would look at the menus ahead of time.

Basically fitness and food was my “outlet”. If I was stressed I would workout. If I couldn’t control something in my life I knew I could control my meals/workouts. During this time I was at my lowest weight around 116 lbs.

I was 21 when I stopped taking birth control pills because I felt like it was starting to mess with my hormones. I didn’t get my cycle back for 2 years. I saw an OB/GYN and she basically put me back on birth control to get my cycle back.

After I was married at 25 I decided to go off the pill. My weight was back to about 125lbs so I thought that maybe my system would start to work properly. Nope! I have still not had a period since then. I did a couple progesterone tests during this time and did not bleed. I have seen multiple doctors who never really said to stop working out, as they didn’t find my routine excessive.

Fast forward a couple years….

Between 26 and 27 years old my weight got back down to 116lbs. I am a Fitness trainer for the military and still active, but workouts have become more intense as I get stronger, and eating has become even more clean as I love cooking and trying new recipes whether it be paleo/gluten free/whole 30.

As my husband and I were started getting serious about wanting a baby…I knew I had to make some big changes. I have never officially been diagnosed with HA but when I found P’s blog “Finding Pure Happiness” and I related to her story, I knew that was what I had. She then added me to the Facebook support group, which changed my way of thinking! Reading all the stories, and knowing I wasn’t alone, really helped it sink in.

The tips/strategies from the other women were so helpful, and the stories were beyond inspiring.

I was already in the process of seeing a fertility specialist when I decided to go “all in” in August 2016. I had already had unsuccessful attempts with Clomid and Femara. The next option was injectables (menopur) with Ovadrel (trigger shot). The doctor told me if I wanted to help the process, I needed to become a “couch potato”. Even though I was eating a lot of calories, for years I had been underestimating how much I actually needed for the energy I was expending. He basically said, that my body is using all of its energy and it’s saying there is nothing left for anything extra like making a baby. This was the reality. And it took that long for me to wake up and realize I needed to fix these habits.

It wasn’t easy. I still stuck to eating the way I liked to eat but I would try to add more healthy fats, like extra peanut butter (4 TBSP throughout the day instead of 2). I also tried to schedule a pizza night or ice cream date with my hubby. I should also mention the support from him really helped me stick to it. I would go on a few walks and a couple light yoga classes a week.

I had almost 2 weeks of injections and did the trigger shot on August 12th. Then it was the dreaded 2WW. I couldn’t believe it when August 28th, I saw 2 pink lines!!! I should also say I took about 4 tests after this because I was in such disbelief! I really had gained that much weight, maybe 5 lbs. I felt like it was too good to be true. I was back in Canada visiting family during this time, so I had to wait until I was back in Colorado to get to my clinic to get my bloodwork done! My first beta was 1391 which confirmed I was pregnant. They had me do a second test to make sure my levels were increasing. A few days later my levels had increased up to 12119! So that was when it sunk in…. and when the nausea hit… it REALLY sunk in!

However every day waiting for my first ultrasound 6 weeks, and even until my most recent one at 11 weeks. I have been worried every day that I am high risk and it isn’t going to stick. Yesterday I heard a heartbeat and saw the little head and legs up in the air. I was so emotional, it felt so real!

So I say that I have not technically recovered fully. I have gained 11lbs since going all in. I have been told that after my first trimester I can start to add some light exercise. I plan to swim once a week, continue with my walks and MAYBE 1 or 2 light weight sessions or a yoga. If I am more active I try and replenish with even more carbs on those days or just more calories altogether. I will continue to leave out cardio.

I really do believe my body was craving rest.

I had been go, go, go for 10 years, and only taking 1 or 2 days off max! The support of everyone in the group kept me going. I am so grateful that it worked for me this time. But I am hoping to not have to rely on fertility treatments in the future. I am hoping to regain my cycle and try naturally!

Why you need to share Your Infertility Story

For so many women coming to the realization that you’re infertile can be like a dagger to the heart. Feeling broken and alone in your struggle can keep you from opening up and sharing your infertility story with others. All too often infertility is considered a “taboo” subject, which is just so unfortunate.

When I first opened up about what I was going through, I felt this huge sense of support & love from those around me. Did I still feel alone? Most of the time I did, not many people in my circle of family & friends dealt with infertility {especially Hypothalamic Amenorrhea}. But just knowing that they knew what was going on and could lend a shoulder to cry on was HUGE.

Sharing Your Infertility Story...

Opening up also lead me to ultimately finding my diagnosis and cure.

If you’ve read my ebook “Finding Jase”, then you may remember the passage titled “A Chance Meeting”. For those of you that haven’t read it, I’ll give you the short version below…

In the Spring of 2012, my mom and I ran into a new friend of mine at Target. This new friend was someone that I instantly felt a connection to and opened up to about my infertility struggles. That day we ran into her, our conversation quickly turned to talking about my struggle with Hypothalamic Amenorrhea. During our conversation, another lady overheard us talking and came over to tell me about her diagnosis. She urged me to check into PCOS {what she had} based off what I was experiencing.

Later that evening, my mom and I did some research and although the signs didn’t point to me having PCOS, it was through our research that we landed on Hypothalamic Amenorrhea. In that moment I knew this was EXACTLY what was keeping me from having children. Over 6 years into my struggle with infertility and I had finally found the answer that no doctor was ever able to diagnose me with!

So you see, opening up and sharing your story with others can lead to some pretty amazing things…

View More: http://jacquelyncontrerasphotography.pass.us/kfamily

I don’t even want to think where I’d be right now had I kept it all in and dealt with it on my own. If you’re scared to share, start with those that are closest to you. You never know who might be able to relate or know of someone that can help!

I’ve recently shared a few stories {HERE} from the girls that are a part of the HA Sisterhood in hopes that it would help those that are currently in the midst of their struggle with HA. If you’d like to share your story on this little space of mine, I’d love to have you! Feel free to message me.

You can get through this Friend, I promise! I have so much faith in you, stay strong and never give up…what’s waiting for you on the other side is truly amazing <3

XOXO,

~P

Arianna’s Story

Today I have another story to share from the HA Sisterhood <3 I’m so excited to bring you Arianna and her story of how she found true health and her miracle…


I’ve wanted a lean strong body since I was about 10 years old. I remember begging my mom for this workout machine called the “gazelle” for my 11th birthday, I wanted to look just like the girl using it on the infomercial. Boy I had a lot to learn!  But instead my mom insisted she would get me a membership at her gym, I was so excited!! I was the youngest member for a long time.

A couple years later I was finishing 7th grade. My hormones starting fluctuating & my appetite was getting insatiable, I starting eating anything & EVERYTHING! I put on 25 pounds in about 4 months. That made a huge difference on my once slender frame, people noticed immediately & I was embarrassed & ashamed. I cried a lot during those years.

It wasn’t until I was about 16, when I started dating my now husband that I lost 20 pounds.

I was so in love I wasn’t really craving food like I used to & the weight just effortlessly & naturally came off without me really trying. I finally felt confident.

I got engaged at 20 and decided I really wanted to get in shape for my wedding. At that time my older sister and brother in law, were also getting serious into fitness as they began training for a competition. So I was fortunate to get help on proper training from them, they taught me how to really workout and not just float around the gym like I had always done. It only took a few months & my body had a new physique that I was very proud of!

I maintained that body for a few years until after I had my son, he was about 8 months old when I took it up a notch in the gym. I wasn’t focusing on dieting at this point just putting on muscle and enjoying my alone time at the gym.

Then, about 6 months later I  discovered a calorie tracking app and my whole life changed.

I cut out sweets and upped my protein intake and calculated I was eating around 1600-1700 calories a day. I was losing fat at a nice steady pace and had never felt better about my body! People couldn’t believe I didn’t even do cardio! My metabolism was very healthy. I felt really good at this point!

Things started to shift over the summer, I started to indulge on weekends and my appetite started getting a little more stronger, I began feeling really guilty as the scale shifted a few ounces here and there so I decided I needed to start being STRICT. I no longer ate intuitively but instead started planning and tracking the day (sometimes many days) before. I would limit myself to about 1200-1350 calories a day and kicking up workouts.

My body was fighting every second of it.

I was noticing many negative changes in my body during this time, my appetite started getting out of control, I couldn’t stop thinking about food and I would count down the hours until my next meal. I was cranky, depressed and tired all the time. My workouts were becoming miserable. My once full, defined muscles were now soft and empty.

My cycles were getting farther apart until January I finally had my last. I was still making no progress. My weight plateaued and then I decided I needed to change something about my diet. I started thinking “maybe I’m just underestimating everything I’m eating”. I began carb cycling as if my poor body hadn’t been punished enough. I weighed every gram of food that went in my mouth. I guess I was obsessed.

I was eating around 80 carbs on my lowest days. It was making everything worse. I went to a couple different doctors for my cycle issues. They asked me if my diet was healthy…”Of course!” I said. I didn’t eat processed foods, I ate plenty of fruits, veggies and protein, so no problem there! I wish they would have asked me how much I ate. They took blood tests, told me all my hormone levels were extremely low and prescribed me birth control.

We are now in June, I’m still eating the same and oblivious as to why I’m having so many issues.

Gosh I feel so dumb looking back!! My husband and I wanted to start trying for our 2nd child, but I knew with no cycle or hormones it was impossible. I started researching hormones on Google and came across a bodybuilders blog about her battle with hormones and her strict diet. It FINALLY dawned on me. My diet was the problem.

I started doing more and more research like a crazy person reading about all relative terms such as starvation mode, metabolic damage, female athlete triad and adrenal fatigue. I decided to start eating 1650 calories a day which was a huge step for me. I did this for a couple months all while adding in cardio sessions, to ensure I didn’t gain weight.

Well, I didn’t gain much weight but I also didn’t gain my cycle back which was the whole point. I don’t quite remember how I stumbled upon the term “HA” but I’m sooo glad I did. It was the beginning of August, and just when I thought I had learned it all, God humbled me, again.

I had no idea that I needed to eat that much in order to recover. I watched success stories on YouTube, read countless blogs, and joined a wonderful support group on Facebook. The day I learned how to recover is the day I began. I knew I was going to gain weight, it was inevitable. My metabolism was at a crawl.

I knew it was my only hope.

I began eating 2300-2800 calories everyday, maybe somedays 3000. I had a huge appetite the first few weeks and ate all the things I had denied myself for so long, it felt wonderful to just eat and enjoy it and to know I can have more if I’m still hungry. I took off a few weeks from the gym and let my body rest.

I was feeling sooo much better, my body temp was now at a normal 98.3 degrees, I had tons of energy and always happy. My family noticed too! I talked to my dr and she told me I could still incorporate a moderate amount of exercise as long as I replenish extra calories lost.

At 6 weeks into my recovery I had signs of ovulation, so I took some tests but never got a clear positive. I still was glad to see progress nevertheless. I was expecting my period to show up on a Sunday, 2 weeks after the potential ovulation but instead was greeted with nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. In the middle of the night I got up to use the restroom and thought I might as well take a pregnancy test, (not really expecting it to be positive) sure enough 2 pink lines showed up and I about fainted!! I woke up my husband immediately and we both never went back to sleep!!

I thank the Lord I have my amazing husband to lean on and my family that always supported and encouraged me!!

As for my body, I gained around 8 pounds. But I’m not stressing over it. It will come off in time. All I know is that I will never ever abuse my body like that again. I really tried to enjoy and embrace the process as much as I could but there were definitely moments I broke down. I just kept telling myself “this is only temporary“, and basically this is the only option, you either are miserable and infertile forever, or you give your body what it needs and deserves and you will in turn get your health and fertility back. I pray you all choose health above all else, because the reward is great.