Savanna’s Story.

Looking back, I didn’t think I had a problem. It wasn’t until almost a year later that I realized I wasn’t getting my period and this had all gotten away from me. Overall, I would say that I was “sick” for about two years, which resulted in me losing my period for about a year – possibly more due to birth control for 5 years masking my real problem. I graduated college in 2014 and ended up moving home with my parents to find a full time job in my field and save some money while my boyfriend finished law school.

One day, I remember getting on the scale and seeing a number that scared me. It was higher than I had ever been in my life. Looking back with more insight, I wasn’t overweight at all but really thought I was at that point in my life. While I was looking for jobs, I craved a routine since I had a lot of time to spare, so I started going to the gym everyday.

I started with spin class and started to really like it, and that led me to keep going and trying even more high intensity workouts like insanity, tabata, HIIT, and weight training. I even started running which was something I NEVER liked doing in my life history. I have suffered from asthma for the last 8 years of my life so I was never really able to sustain running for a very long. But, that started to not matter anymore and the exercising took over.

I would sometimes spend up to 3 hours at the gym at a time…

and I would sacrifice hanging out with friends and my boyfriend for going to the gym because I thought all of my progress would be lost overnight if I didn’t go. After a few months people close to me started noticing changes in my body and I actually got compliments, which made me want to work even harder. Although, even though I ended up losing about 25 lbs, I still felt like I could look better and lose more. Once I found a full time job, I was still trying to workout everyday but it started to become unrealistic due to my work hours. Still, I managed to squeeze in workouts almost 5 days a week. I thought life was great and I was loving where my body was, but little did I know that I was causing my body serious damage.

Now looking back, there were things that I remember, sort of warning signs that I should have seen but was too blinded by it all to realize.

I was always cold all the time, I would go to the gym after eating only a granola bar or I wouldn’t eat any breakfast at all, my hair and nails were breaking, my heart rate was alarmingly low and my blood pressure was lower than it usually ever was in my life. This obviously scares me now, but in that moment all I could think about was working out and keeping the body I had worked for, and even losing more.

Fast forward to May of 2016, I started getting migraines with visual aura that were really scary. After having a few, my doctor suggested going off of my birth control because it could increase the risk of a stoke with this type of headache. I stopped my birth control after being on it for about 5 years and didn’t really think much of it until 6 months passed and I didn’t get my period back.

I was never one to keep track of my period before I was on birth control, and I never got my period on my birth control, but I knew that something wasn’t right if I still wasn’t getting one when I went off of the pill. I went to my doctor and she tested my hormones showing that my estrogen was near menopausal levels. She suggested to stop working out as much and to eat more to gain some weight to get my period back.

Yeah right, easier said then done! I promised her I would but continued working out and didn’t take her suggestion seriously until almost a year later. Once the holidays came, I actually ended up getting one period I think due to a little extra holiday weight, but it never came back until about 4 months later. After the holidays I had lost weight again and returned to my damaging workout cycle and needed to find the strength to get out of it and recover.

The ironic thing is that I work with children and teenagers with eating disorders.

I know the horrible damage not eating enough and excessively exercising can do to your body but it just didn’t matter until one day I started getting more nervous about the damage I was causing to my bones and my fertility. I have wanted children my whole life, and it scared me that I might not be able to have them naturally if I didn’t do all I could to recover and get my period back.

It was after this that I searched online for support groups for this type of thing and found The HA Sisterhood! Seeing that there were other women going through the same thing as me was really inspiring. Until this point, some part of me was convinced that there was something else wrong and that I really didn’t have to gain weight to be healthy again. But, seeing that this was exactly what most women in the group did to recover gave me the strength and courage to go all in and recover for the greater good of my future.

In February 2017 I decided to go all in and ask for the help I needed to get through this.

I told some of my closest friends about it to keep me accountable because for me, I felt like I couldn’t trust myself to do what I knew I had to do if other people didn’t know. My friends have been so supportive – even the ones I used to go to the gym with all of the time. I cut out all of my high intensity workouts and do one Zumba class a week now just for fun. I started increasing my portion sizes, eating more carbs, and making sure the dairy I was eating was made with whole milk.

Throughout my whole recovery, I never counted calories because it scared me to know how much I was actually eating. I mostly tried to eat intuitively and listen to my body. After a few weeks, I started sleeping better, I wasn’t cold all of the time, and my heart rate and blood pressure drastically improved.

It was such a great weight off my shoulders to not have to worry about the medical instability of my body anymore. Overall, I gained about 10-12 lbs since going all in and 14 lbs total since my lowest weight, and on April 22nd 2017 I got my period back!! I was filled with an overwhelming sense of pride that I was able to accomplish this and that my body can and is working the way it is supposed to!

Don’t get me wrong, the weight gain was not easy.

For many weeks I kept wanting to go back to how I was, feeling that I was more confident back then. I told myself I would recover after I got married, I would recover right before I wanted to actually have kids. But as I thought about it more, there was no better time to recover than now. I would have just kept putting my body under more and more stress and who knows how long it would have taken to recover if I kept up with my unhealthy habits.

I had many doubts in this process, and I sought out a therapist during to just make sense of my thoughts and help with my body image. I wouldn’t say that my body image is great, but I am definitely starting to feel more and more comfortable in my new body. It is really motivating to know that my body is healthy again and that pushes me to stay where I am and keep my body happy where it is.

There were times in this process where I felt that it was so unfair…

why did this happen to me, why do girls who are smaller than me still get their periods and I’m the one who has to gain weight to make it happen. It took a lot for me to realize that everyone is different and every body is happy at a certain place. It was hard to accept this but I just keep thinking of my future and what I want in my life and it makes it a little easier to push out those negative thoughts. I am so proud of myself for doing this and I can’t go back now.

I have to keep on this track to health and being the best me and I couldn’t have gotten here without the support of The HA Sisterhood. It seemed like everyday someone was posting something that I was thinking myself and it was reassuring that I was not alone in this process. I hope my story can inspire others that you too can recover!

It really feels great to be freed from the restraint and guilt that came with over exercising. I am hopeful that I can stay on this road to recovery with the help of my boyfriend, friends, and therapist because my health is most important.