Why Do I Feel So Exhausted in Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Recovery?
You are doing all things right for Hypothalamic Amenorrhea recovery, you eat more, you exercise less. Then why the heck do you feel more tired than ever before? This is normal and temporary. Why this is I explain in this post.
Your levels of cortisol are dropping
Have you ever experienced that you become sick when you finally go on holiday after a stressful period at work? This has to do with your stress hormones. They are there to get you going. Once the holiday arrives and your levels of stress hormones, for all cortisol, drops, and with it the feeling of high. The same happens in Hypothalamic Amenorrhea recovery. Your body has been running on reserves it does not actually have. It has been in a state of hyper-stress. The high levels of cortisol have made you stay on high alert. Once you stop engaging in extensive exercise (that has spiked your cortisol level even further) and start to eat more, your cortisol levels will drop (this is a great thing!) and suddenly you will feel how overwhelmingly tired you actually are.
Your body starts to repair and rebuild
Imagine you have a bank account. Every month you withdraw 2500 EUR and insert 1800 EUR. This means after one year you have a balance of negative 8400 EUR. Continue live like this for 12 years, and your debt is over 100.000 EUR.
Now exchange bank account with body and EUR with kcal. Of course the numbers are fictive, but the example gives you a feeling of how much deficit you have built up over years of restriction. This deficiency comes with a price: weak hair and nails, feeling cold, brittle bones, poor digestion. It also means that once you start to properly nourish your body it has a lot of repair to do. This is an extremely energy-intense process. Just think about how exhausted one can feel after a few days of flu or other infection. In the case with HA, we are not talking about a sickness period of a few days, but months, years or even decades.
Your brain starts neural rewiring
Besides the physical damage, your lifestyle has caused a lot of mental damage. Your brain is plastic, meaning it has the ability to restructure or rewire itself when it recognizes the need for adaption. But to work on your inner values, core believes and automatic thoughts will require a lot of patience, forgiveness, consistency and efforts. Just as with the physical repair, the mental healing will require a lot energy.
You might have deficiencies
Although not having a period, the vast majority of my clients are diagnosed with low iron status. I think this could be partly due to digestive issues, partly due to a diet where animal-derived products as red meat and liver is avoided. Signs of iron deficiency are fatigue and weakness, headache, dizziness or lightheadedness. I recommend all of my clients to get their iron values checked. In case of a deficiency, iron tablets are usually recommended to get the iron status back up in a normal range.
The more you are able to give in for your fatigue, the more you can rest, the shorter this phase will last and the quicker you will feel more energized again. It is important to allow yourself to rest, and not try to override your tiredness with caffeine or other stimuli.
*All content is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.