So I’ve got my period back. Now what?
This is a question that was floating around in my mind throughout my entire recovery journey. Admittedly at the start my mentality was “I just want my period back ASAP so I can go back to ‘normal’”. Probably not the best attitude as my ‘normal’ was what got me into this shitstorm in the first place. My understanding is that some women who have recovered from hypothalamic amenorrhea have gone on to continue to train hard, some at an elite level whilst others have had to significantly reconsider their training volume to better suit their now fertile and menstruating bodies. So it is evident that I have some trial and error ahead of me to figure out exactly where my body’s ‘happy place’ is in regard to exercise. So what’s my plan going forward:
1️⃣ Food: my plan is to continue eating minimum 2500 calories a day indefinitely. My body weight has stabilised at this intake and I am loving the freedom it has given me around food. I am still intuitively eating and have been enjoying going out for meals and experimenting with more creative meals at home.
2️⃣ Exercise: this is one I am really trying to ease myself into. Until I have three consecutive periods I am not considering myself fully recovered so I need to ensure I am still creating a stress free environment for my body to do it’s thing. I have been back in the gym, however I have been significantly limiting my volume. I am there no more than 2-3 days a week and am doing less sets and significantly fewer exercises than I previously did. After I have had three periods I will experiment with perhaps another day or two of training, but I will of course have to ensure I am eating enough to fuel this increase in expenditure.
3️⃣ body composition: for me I got my period pretty much as soon as I hit the ‘fertile’ BMI of 22. It seems as though this is my body’s set point and it is quite happily maintaining without me really having to do much. Although it’s a higher body fat percentage than what I once was I’m happy with the way I look. In fact, my body composition is no longer something I find myself criticising or even noticing.
Pray for me guys 🤞🏽 I’ll let you know how I go
I made a pretty excited post yesterday about getting my first period in a long long time. I thought it would be appropriate to follow up with a post explaining everything I tried to get it back and what ACTUALLY worked.
1️⃣ My first attempt was my gut health/paleo phase. I’m not sure what made me think this was my solution. I think it had to do with a certain YouTuber I was religiously following. Long story short: that didn’t work ❌.
2️⃣ Around the same time I started to see a naturopath. I am not knocking natural medicine and I do believe it has an important role to play. However for me, I placed all my faith in naturopathy to heal me, I took all the herbal supplements and spent well over $1500 on it with no success. I should emphasise that I had been off the naturopath medicines for 5 weeks when I finally got a period so I can safely say they weren’t a significant contributor. ❌
3️⃣ Essential oils. I was getting desperate at this point. Again, not knocking them but at this stage I was STILL failing to see the bigger picture. Essential oils weren’t gonna override the real issue - a body fat percentage that was too low. ❌
4️⃣ Stopping training. This was a massive positive step for me, it happened in the first week of February. It was when I did this that I began to see positive hormonal changes in my body. However, for much of this stage I was still engaging in some degree of calorie restriction. Yes I was eating relatively high calories (2200 on average), however I was not listening to my body’s hunger cues and as I found later, was not eating anywhere near enough. ✅❌
5️⃣ I owe all my success in getting my period back to the @noperiodnowwhat approach. This approach advocates for a daily calorie intake of 2500-3000 calories minimum. No exercise at all and an effort to improve your reactionship with food and your body. Exactly 1 month TO THE DAY after I commenced this method I got a period. It works. Its hard. It sucked a lot some times but I have full faith in the process. ✅✅✅✅
If you are also struggling with not having a period I highly recommend you check out the book. My DMs are always open for any one who is after any advice or encouragement!
GUYS GUESS WHAT?! I GOT A PERIOD. It’s been a bloody long time since I’ve had a natural period (over 5 years) and just over a year since I’ve been off the pill. I am so so stoked that I have been able to heal myself through fuelling my body and letting it rest. It’s been 4 weeks since I went “all in” eating 3000 calories a day and not exercising AT ALL. I trusted the process and it paid off. No fancy supplements or strict diets. Just more food, less exercise and a healthy increase in body fat.
Have a happy Monday friends, I hope it is half as good as mine 😁😁😁
“A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty, but an obsession about female obedience. Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one.”
- Naomi Wolf.
Since starting my journey of amenorrhea recovery I have had time to invest in educating myself and reading into other areas of interest. A topic that I have found myself heavily invested in is this idea of diet culture. I have found it truely fascinating to be able to step back and observe how this obsession with female thinness had truly permeated every corner of my life to the point where I had completely normalised it. I am still learning and am yet to form a solid opinion on it but for now I urge you to question the constructs that make you feel the way you do about your appearance. Why is thin the number one goal? Why is thin the only version of beautiful? And why is this pressure only placed on women’s shoulders? #dietculture
I have been real slack with the insta posting of late. To be honest I feel like I am all captioned out and I’ve had a lot on my plate that has all felt more important than instagram, like shovelling 3000 calories down my throat on a daily basis. If you haven’t been following my recovery process, I have been trying to recover from hypothalamic amenorrhea, or loss of menstrual cycle for some time now. I have been out of the gym for roughly 5 months and about two weeks ago I chose to go “all in” committing to gaining minimum 5kg and eat 2500-3000 calories a day (more on this in my ‘amenorrhea’ story highlight). Whilst I have nothing new to report on the period front, there have been several other changes and improvements I have noticed over the past 5 months. In the spirit of focusing on the positives, I thought I would touch on a few of them.
1️⃣ Hair. Some 6 months ago I thought that bed sheets full of fallen out hair were normal. I thought that everyone lost large amounts of hair every time they brushed it. It is only now that I have some wonderfully awkward looking tufts of hair growing back (if you look real close at this photo you can see some) that I realise that what I was dealing with was not at all normal!
2️⃣ Digestion. Same thing goes for this. I had spent so long dealing with abnormal digestion that I had come to believe it was normal for me. Even foods I believed I was ‘intolerant’ to I can now eat with no problem at all.
3️⃣ Anxiety and mental health. Before I chose to recover my period I was struggling big time with anxiety, especially around social situations and those that involved food. The last fortnight especially has shown me this amazing freedom that I can have around food. It has become something social and enjoyable and my anxiety has not reared it’s head in several weeks.
4️⃣ Greater body acceptance and self love. This one is not always easy for me. However, this whole process has really driven home the idea that I care more for my health than for any aesthetic look. I do have my days but the majority of the time I find myself appreciating that my boobs no longer look like the chest of a ten year old boy.
CONTINUED IN COMMENTS
So yesterday I came to the equally exciting and terrifying realisation that I need to put on at least 5kg to get a period and be consuming 2500-3000 calories a day.
If you are entertained by people eating copious amounts of food then please stay tuned for a full day of eating on my story today #noms
Hey hey hello, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted on the gram. I thought I would jump back on here and write a quick little amenorrhea update for anyone who is interested in how it’s going and what I have been doing.
I don’t have a period yet so I can’t say it’s going great. It has now been 12 months exactly since I came off the contraceptive pill and about 5 years since I had a natural period. There are a number of things I have done to work on getting my hormones back on track. The main thing has been addressing the key causes of hypothalamic amenorrhea: over exercise, malnourishment, low body fat percentage and perceived stress. I have not been to the gym in 4 months now and have replaced these workouts with 2-3 yoga classes a week as well as 2-3 walks. In regard to nutrition, about two months ago I switched from strict macro tracking to a more intuitive eating approach. Some days I struggle seeing my body change, but the freedom it has given me to eat out has been really empowering and a welcome change. Along with both of these changes I have implemented daily meditation to allow myself to remove the emotional aspect from the way I view my body now that it is changing with my lifestyle.
I have also been seeing a naturopath who has been fantastic. She has been providing me with Ayurvedic herbs to take daily as well as other supplement and nutritional recommendations. I have worked with an armomatherapist to introduce essential oils which I apply topically morning and night. I know all of this may sound a bit crazy and woo woo but I’m at the point where I will try anything and everything!
Thank you to the people who have been interested in following me journey. I’m hoping that what I am doing will pay off sooner rather than later.
I can assure you that happiness does not lie at the end of a soul crushing, metabolism destroying diet. Nor are you able to achieve self fulfilment when you step on the scale and are greeted with your goal number. However many of us get into the mindset that happiness is something achievable. That it is right around the corner, sitting there along with our perception of physical perfection and our goal weight if only we just push ourselves a little further.
I have been there, achieved my goal weight and transformed by body. And the glimmering promise of happiness and self love were not thrust upon me that morning when I stepped on the scale.
So if you want to/need to lose weight - go for it. Work hard. Be consistent. Eat healthy and nourishing foods. But know that if you are doing it all in an effort to achieve happiness and self fulfilment then it doesn't quite work like that.
This is a cliche caption I know. People have captioned this topic to death on Instagram. Even I have talked about it before in previous posts. I used to read these preachy rants and dismiss them, as I'm sure many others do too. Unfortunately I cannot convince you that happiness is not waiting for you at the end of torturous low calorie lifestyle. However, I am certain that in time you will come to this realisation alone. Your happiness is up to you and comes from within.
P.S I am cat fishing you with this photo. I sure ain’t this lean today 🤷🏽♀️
Some things Instagram has taught me:
1. The amount of calories in a tablespoon of peanut butter vs the amount of calories in a slightly larger tablespoon of peanut butter.
2. Zucchini noodle pasta has less calories than normal pasta.
3. Meditation actually works – this isn’t sarcastic, its very true. You should try it.
4. Chronological newsfeed is ancient history. Good bye to the good ol days.
5. Eating fat doesn’t actually make you fat (Spoiler: yes it does if you eat too much of it)
6. Unfortunately, looks will get you pretty far in this life
7. #balance is the new black
8. Posed photos are more flattering than unposed photos. Flexed photos are more flattering than non-flexed photos. Groundbreaking.
9. No fitspo photo post is complete without a shaker cup of women’s best and a matching gymshark outfit.
10. That I should LoVE MySELf. Thanks. Problem solved.
11.And possibly the most important one of all: That people genuinely respond to vulnerability. There is absolutely no better way to bring people together and make people feel safe than to open yourself up and share what is hard about this life. There’s nothing shameful about sharing what is real and what is a struggle.
To begin with, this post is not for you to tell me which look you like better. Quite frankly I do not care.
A couple of days ago I had one of the worst body image days I’ve had in a while. I spent the day picking myself apart, whinging about how “fat” I thought I had gotten over the past two months, something utterly ridiculous and untrue. Coming out the other side of this momentary lull in self esteem I got the bright idea to put my before, after and after after photos together, thinking “this will be a great post for the gram, so I can talk about how I still love myself even though I have gained a little bit of weight” - a blatant lie after my day of body dysmorphia and unwarranted tears. It was only when I put the three photos together that I noticed that there really isn’t a huge difference at all between the second and third photo (in fact if I’d applied a whole bottle of fake tan, the two photos would be even more similar).
I think for many of us who have achieved an extreme level of leanness, or even a very high level of performance we struggle to settle for anything less. Why is it, that despite losing my menstrual cycle in the second picture, I still have a desire to look like that again one day? Why is it that I have conditioned myself to believe that anything larger than what I looked like this time last year is ‘fat’ or ‘undesirable’? I don’t quite have the answer to these questions yet. I am evidently not finding it easy to gain weight. But there a two things I am certain of right now: my health is my number one priority, and I am no less loved when I gain some fat. And that is something I believe to be true for anyone.
If you have been reading my captions you would know I have been changing my estimating habits to transition from a structured macro tracking approach to a more intuitive style of eating. I have done this with the guidance of the book ‘Intuitive Eating’ by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. I’ve been writing captions about the 10 principles of intuitive eating and today is no different.
Principle 2: Honour your Hunger.
I loved this chapter of the book because it was sciencey and I love a bit of science. By restricting food and not allowing our body to respond to natural cues a primal drive to over eat is triggered. No matter how extreme your dieting habits are, powerful biological mechanisms are triggered when your body does not get the energy from food that it needs. Countless experiments have shown extreme behaviours from subjects who had food restricted from them, showing an increasing obsession with food, changes in personality traits and extreme overeating when unlimited food became available. By attempting to outthink our biology, and implement a structured set of food rules or macro goals we often either crescendo our bodies into a state of over eating or our mind gets so used to ignoring hunger signals that they begin to fade. This is something I can relate to very much, and retuning in with my hunger and fullness cues has been one of my biggest challenges in this process. When you have suppressed these natural cues for a long long time, you not only lose indicators of hunger but also indicators of fullness and it becomes difficult to recognise comfortable satiety- which again leads to overeating and at times bingeing.
The way to overcome this biological reality is to honour your natural hunger. This takes much trial and error. You will overeat and you will under eat a lot. However, your body needs to be biologically reconditioned. It is much easier to stop eating when you know you will be able to eat again. And you need to retrain your body to recognise that.
If you are interested in intuitive eating then I do highly recommend picking up the book ‘Intuitive Eating’ by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. It’s easily available on the iBooks store and it has
When I decided to attempt to eat more intuitively, my first instinct was to read everything and anything about the topic to best prepare me for success. A major resource for me (and many others) was the book ‘Intuitive Eating’ by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. In the book the authors outline the 10 principles of intuitive eating, kind of like steps or guidelines. I thought it might be interesting to go through these steps in some of my captions and talk about my experience with working these into my life.
The first principle is ‘Reject the Diet Mentality’. This was a difficult one for me. The book defines a diet as any restriction of food intake with the end goal of weight management. Any food rules are dieting, any decision made about food intake to control weight is dieting. Any rough tally of carbs or protein in your head, even if you don’t enter it in an app is dieting. So with such a broad definition, it’s pretty easy to see how the diet industry has had a major impact on pretty much all of us. For me it was really hard to reject the diet mentality purely because of my investment in my appearance. I thought control over food meant control over my appearance and because I didn’t have the control of working out, it was infinitely more terrifying. This step really made me realise how much I had switched off my internal hunger and fullness cues. I was ignoring hunger in the morning and eating when I was already full in the afternoons. It also revealed to me that I did have some fear foods lurking, that I didn’t think I had when I was under the guise of my IIFYM means I can eat anything and still make progress lifestyle. The food fears were still there.
I am not at all knocking macro tracking any other form of dieting method here! I tracked my macros for years and it honestly changed my life. I loved doing it and I still do believe it is a great tool. I do however want to share my experience of trading out macros for my intuition, and share some of the resources that I have found to be really helpful. I hope it may help to really define what intuitive eating is for anyone who is interested, and encourage you to try it.
A little amenorrhea recovery update for anyone who is following my “journey” (can someone invent a new word I can use instead 🤮)
👉🏼 Physical update: obviously have not yet got a period (you would know if I had) but I have signs and symptoms that something is happening which is exciting and hopeful. I am quite shook that in 10 weeks I have only gained 1kg despite keeping my food high and activity very low (more on food below). I haven’t lost any considerable amount of muscle however I do find myself scrutinising myself and imagining that my prized delts are evaporating before my eyes.
👉🏼 Nutrition update: I have been intuitive eating for two weeks now and I am really taking it in my stride. My intake before this was at 2200 calories a day (which is high for someone not exercising) and I would estimate that whilst intuitive eating it ranges from 2000-2400 a day. I am planning on actively eating more for the next few weeks because I think some fat gain may be the last piece in the puzzle for me to get a period. This is equally exciting and terrifying but it’s almost winter here so that is easing my mind a little (#farewellbikiniseason )
👉🏼 Mental update: I have days where I drive past my gym and resemble this emoji 😩😩😩😩😩 purely because I love training and I miss it a lot. But most days I enjoy feeling relaxed and having a lot more time to spend on my studies and relationships. I am enjoying yoga but it isn’t really filling the gym shaped hole in my life. It will do as a replacement. Setting goals like training my flexibility so I can do the splits etc has helped a lot (I am so close to full splits 🤸🏼♂️#gome ). From a body image perspective, apart from my regular imaginings that my muscle is evaporating I am actually doing surprisingly well body image wise! I have my days (but I have my days regardless of whether I’m exercising or not) and I am thankful for my lovely boyfriend who calls me out when I’m being straight up ridiculous.
I think that’s everything! Thankyou to the people who have sent me messages sharing your story and experience with amenorrhea. It’s so lovely to find that this is something many girls have gone through and overcome. 💕💕