I can still remember the day so clearly that I started “dieting”.
I was going into my senior year of high school. It was a time when I felt insecure and not so confident in my own skin, but who really is at that age anyways. I decided that I was going to start being HEALTHIER and build confidence in myself. I am so very thankful for that turning point in my life because living a healthy life does make you feel better and be more confident.
I started by making small changes to my diet each week. I started seeing great results. I had more energy and I was losing weight. At first, it was a very slow weight loss and was done in a very healthy and balanced way.
I can’t remember the exact moment that my healthy changes started to become an obsession.
It was about 5 months into my healthy change and at least 20 pounds lighter when my period went missing. I had just turned 18 years old. I remember thinking that it was strange that I missed a month because I was always very regular from the very first one I had. After about 3 months of no period, I went to the doctor.
She prescribed me the progesterone challenge. Of course that did not work. My doctor questioned me about my exercise routine but it was not even that much at the time. She did not think it had anything to do with my weight because I was within a “healthy” BMI range.
Little did she know or I even realize that my 1,000 calories or less diet was destroying my hormones.
She sent me to an endocrinologist who did not seem to think there was anything wrong and did an ultrasound to rule out other things. After almost a year of no period, I was prescribed birth control. My period did come once I started the pill. I thought it was “fixed”. I continued the cycle of restricting my calories and exercising for about 1 hour a day or more for many years. I lost even more weight even about 20 more pounds.
Fast forward until November of 2015, I decided to stop taking my birth control. I knew that my husband and I would want to start trying for a baby in the next year and I wanted to make sure my period problem was really “fixed”.
I did not think that I was near as restrictive with my calories (only eating about an average of 1200-1400 calories) and did not exercise as much so I did not think that would cause a problem anymore. I had even gained weight. Unfortunately, months went by and no signs of a period. I remember doing some research back in February of this year and stumbled upon hypothalamic amenorrhea.
As soon as I started reading about it, I KNEW that this was why my period was missing…
but at the same time I did not want to believe that this is what I had. I gradually started reducing exercise. I cut my running in half and started eating more. A few more months passed and still no period. I went to my doctor to have some blood work done and an ultrasound. All of my results came back pretty normal.
She thought it would be a good idea to cut back on exercising. I reduced exercising even more but still no period. I finally decided on June 15 th that I was going “all in”. I prayed and prayed for God to give me the wisdom and knowledge to get my period back. I stopped running and any form of exercising besides walking and yoga a few times a week.
I started trying to find ways to add in more healthy calories so I could eat the recommended 2,500 calories a day. I know that most days that I did not hit 2,500 calories. I focused mainly on eating a well-balanced diet of carbs, fats, and proteins and ate about every 3 hours. I allowed myself to have “treats” that I would never allow myself to have on a daily basis.
I did try to choose whole foods over processed foods but I did not limit or restrict myself if I wanted something that was not my idea of healthy. I slowly started noticing signs that my hormones were kicking back in but weeks passed and I still had no signs of a period.
It was a daily struggle with my new self against my old self.
I prayed for strength and perseverance to continue and not give up. I was fully committed to eating lots and doing little to no exercise, but I still struggled with accepting my new body. I always wanted to think how this was not fair that this happened to me when health and fitness was such a huge part of my life.
I was letting my pride get in the way of my recovery. I prayed and prayed for God to give me the wisdom and knowledge I needed to bring back my period. Finally after having a major meltdown after going shopping and not liking how anything looked on me because of my new size, I knew something had to give. I started praying and pleading for God to help me learn to love myself.
I promise after a few days of changing my prayers for a period to having love for myself I OVULATED!
I wasn’t 100% sure at the time but I had lots of good signs that I had. A little over 2 weeks from that time I FINALLY GOT MY PERIOD!
Overall from the time that I went “all in” until the day I got my period was a little over 8 weeks. I cannot say that I do not struggle anymore with self-love or acceptance of my body. It is a constant struggle. The second I start thinking negative thoughts, I simply stop and pray for self-love. I honestly think that God was allowing me to struggle so he could show me that I needed to learn to love myself.
My advice to other women going through this is to stop being so hard on yourself and to give yourself love. Instead of looking in the mirror and seeing flaws, look at yourself and say something positive about yourself. Find a strong support group, like The HA Sisterhood, who will help you get through this. This made a HUGE difference in my recovery. I promise you can do this!
If you would like to reach out to me for questions or more support, please feel free to email me at email@example.com. I also just started a blog of my own where I hope to inspire others to live healthier lives. Please go check it out at paigelaurenblog.wordpress.com <3