My Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Recovery Story
In this post I share my Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Recovery Story with you. I walk you through the changes I made in order to recover from Hypothalamic Amenorrhea. Every BODY is different, and I would love to help you find your way.
Food used to be complicated
My relationship with food before I started my Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Recovery was complicated. There were no foods or groups of food I could not eat - as long as it fitted my plan. This means there was a lot of planning and bargaining going on in my head. "If I have X then I cannot have Y". I was not actively counting calories but I was for sure restrictive and always picked the low caloric options (given my history ED history I have a quite good clue about calories, knowledge that I cannot unlearn). I often ate quite "healthy" during the day, and then allowed myself a treat in the evening (think ice cream, chocolate). I was hitting about 1800 calories on average. I thought I was not feeling hungry, but in reality I was. I was constantly thinking about food and planing my day from one meal to the next.
During my Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Recovery the biggest change I made to my food routine was to remove all rules around eating and food. I started to embrace and trust my hunger. This was scary as hell. In the beginning I was craving a lot of sweets (ice cream, chocolate, desserts, cookies ....). This was a logical response of my body, it was in an energy defect and really craved high density food to put itself in a more stable state. Up until recovery I had always identified as a sweet tooth. So I was really taken by surprise that the cravings for sweet stuff eventually evened out and more or less disappeared once I allowed myself to eat whatever I liked whenever I liked. I can still crave sweets from now and then, but then it is mostly due to that I was not eating enough the meal before. Calorie wise I made sure to hit at least 2500 calories, but mostly my intake was (and still is) way above that. For me the key really was to listen to my body and to learn to trust it again. See my post on and How much should I eat during Hypothalamic Amenorrhea recovery? for more information on calories during recovery.
When I said that there was no food or food groups that was forbidden to me it is not quite true. As a child of the 90:ies I was really scared of fat. During my Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Recovery I actively tried to get in more fats (of all kinds) into my diet. Se my post on What should I eat during Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Recovery? for more information on macros during recovery.
Timing the meals
I was having snacks between the main meals also before I started recovery (mostly because the main meals were too small leading to me being hungry quite soon after the meals). However the snacks had to me on the predefined time and in more than the predefined amount. During my Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Recovery I got rid of all the rules and allowed myself to eat whenever I felt a hunch of hunger. Even if it meant I had two or three snacks before lunch. I've collected some inspirational snack suggestions HERE.
Another important change that I believe made the scale tip was the implementation of a morning snack. Before recovery the first thing I ate was breakfast at work around 7 a.m. Given that I wake up around 5 a.m. these two hours without food was enough to put my body in a within-day energy deficiency (in my post When should I eat during Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Recovery? I go much more into detail explaining this phenomena).
I would rather describe myself as someone with an active lifestyle with a passion for movement and not exercise. I was not into any high intensity training before entering recovery. Therefore I did not change my movement routine during my Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Recovery (in contradiction to many other recommendations around Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Recovery). Activities that I engaged in during (and after) recovery involve gently ride my bike as transportation, go for walks, strength training using my body weight or light weights, stretching, Horse Back Riding, Ski Touring, Via Ferrata. However there were for sure some compulsive aspects to movement that I had to work on. In my post How Much Can I Exercise During Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Recovery? I explain more in detail how I recommend you to approach training and exercise during Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Recovery.
I was gifted with a good sleep. As long as the environment is silent, dark and not too hot I sleep like a baby (where does this figure speak come from?!). I was born an early bird. I love being the first one awake, this is the time I have for myself. As a consequence I have to tuck in quite early to hit 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Luckily I am quite tired in the evenings so going to bed early was not really a problem for me.
I am a person that likes to plan, control and analyze everything. I always say that I am not necessarily the smartest, but I compensate with being super well organized and disciplined. Planning, studying, learning has been my answer to insecurity and new situations. This has been a great cooping mechanism and highly rewarded in society, starting already in school. To my dismay, I could not fix Hypothalamic Amenorrhea by wielding power and being in control. For sure the knowledge and science helped me deal with the insecurity along the recovery journey. But I also had to learn to trust the process and trust my body (and at the same time stop trying to control it). This was for sure the hardest the first time I went through Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Recovery. The second time I had somewhat a clue about what I could expect and where my body would feel safe again. In How I got pregnant naturally after Hypothalamic Amenorrhea you can read more about my fertility journey.
The weight gaining part scared the shit out of me. For all the uncertainty. I would so much have wished for a predefined number, at XX kilos you will regain the period. To cope, I tried to work on my mindset around appearance and weight, to deattach my value from my weight. This is of course easier said than done, but I followed a fake it til you make it approach. I also engaged in body neutrality, and tried to appreciate my body for what it can do rather than for how it looks. As I gained weight I felt super uncomfortable, but on the same time it seemed to matter less and less the more weight I gained. I regained my period after I had gain about 4-5 kilos, which is really nothing. Since I saw the implemented changes as lifestyle changes and not as a fix to a short term problem I continued to follow all the guidelines around food and exercise also beyond my first period. I ended up gaining about 2-3 kilos more before my weight stabilized. In my post Weight, Weight Gain And Set Point I explain more in detail that you wont continue to gain and gain and gain until infinity.
To summarize my Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Recovery story, by small changes to my all day life and mindset, I could achieve life turning changes and recover from Hypothalamic Amenorrhea. I am grateful over the Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Recovery journey; it helped me finding balance and adopting a lifestyle that can support my body and health for the rest of my life. The same can be true for you. I am here to support and guide you on your Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Recovery journey.