I recently shared my story about developing Secondary Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (HA for short) last year and how I was able to regain my cycle. While I did regain my monthly cycle and I'm in a much better place mentally, I'm still dealing with disordered eating issues and some anxiety surrounding food. This was the main cause of HA for me. Some days are great, some not so much. I have to often remind myself though, it's about progress not perfection.
I received some emails & messages after my last post from women who were recently diagnosed or struggling with HA. This is exactly why I decided to open up about my journey, to open up the communication with other women. It always helps to know you aren't alone.
Secondary HA is typically caused by under-eating (eating disorders, restriction, etc.) and/or excessive exercise. It is often a combination of the two. Make sure that you are in tune with what has caused HA for you. Before you can heal, you have to know what is causing it. These are things I did, had to realize & that made an important difference for me.
Weight gain is ok
You HAVE to realize that where you're at right now, in this state where you've lost your cycle, is not a healthy place. Chances are you're going to have to gain some weight, and even though it might be tough to grasp at first, it might be necessary. Your body does NOT define you. We were not put on this earth to obsess over food choices or our bodies. We are perfect in His eyes and that is what truly matters. There is so much light at the end of this tunnel, I SWEAR. The sooner you realize this, the faster your healing begins. Trust me when I say this, you're body is not going to blow up the way you think it will. You might need to gain 5, 10, 15, 20 lbs. Who knows, but whatever changes it does make.... they're necessary.
Surround yourself with all things positive
This was a big one for me. I was obsessed with fitness people- their diets, their workouts, all the articles that tell you what to do to achieve whatever it is that you think is "perfect." I immediately had to un-follow them all. Here's the deal, our society is obsessed with looking a certain way but the thing is, we're all made so different. You can not compare yourself to anyone, it's like comparing apples to oranges. What did this look like for me? I stopped following people on all social media that triggered me, people that always post about fitness or good/bad diet choices. I don't even open articles that talk about food, weight loss or fitness. I work out when I want and I try make healthy choices with food, but I do it on MY terms now. Nobody else can have any influence on my food choices or amount of days I workout. I started following other people who have been through this, who 100% get it. Two of my favorite resources have been Maddy Moon (blog, podcast, YouTube) and This Girl Audra (YouTube). They have both been, and continue to be, so incredibly helpful!
Relax yourself- mind and body
For so long, I truly didn't know how to relax at all. I'd stress about an upcoming free weekend and feel it had to be planned out by the hour, it would cause me so much anxiety. I used to dream about what it would be like to have a relaxing weekend with no plans. It didn't used to be a possibility for me. After my diagnosis, I knew things had to change. I had to let a lot of things go- my work out schedule, tracking calories, meal prepping, blogging. Anything that kicked my brain into OCD planner mode, had to stop. It's been glorious. Let yourself relax, you're body needs to heal. This is so important.
Support is key, it's ok to get help
Don't try to do this alone. Finding the HA support group on Facebook (here) helped me a lot. It can be isolating and you can feel alone. You're basically having to do the complete opposite of what the world tells women to do and that can be such a hard task. I'll be honest here, I'm now seeing a therapist & a dietitian that specialize in eating disorders. I wish I would have done this sooner. Having a good support system is huge. Dustin has been amazing throughout all of this, but at the same time, I don't want to always bombard him with my issues. It's nice to have support from people that specialize in these issues. So whatever that means to you, make sure you have it.
Surrender it all to Him
This might not be for everyone, but for me it was a big one. Last year when I was so bad and obsessed with eating "right" and exercise, it 100% became my idol. My relationship with the Lord was put on the back burner. When I finally woke up and realized this, when I truly surrendered it all to Him, I started to notice the biggest changes. I'm so thankful for His love and grace. My mind quickly started to shift in ways I didn't think were possible. Guarding my heart daily and praying in those hard moments, life changing. I plan on sharing more of my testimony soon, but please know that when you're at rock bottom, I promise you that there IS hope.
1 last very important reminder....
Progress is what we're after, NOT perfection. Perfection doesn't exist.