MY HYPOTHALAMIC AMENORRHEA RECOVERY PT. 2 my period has arrived a third time. hurrah again!
I wanted to give a third and perhaps final (?) update on what’s been going on with my hypothalamic amenorrhea recovery.
It’s safe to say I have recovered, but I’m still trying to stay very much in tune with my body and my eating to ensure I stay that way. It’s an easy mistake make, but when you finally get your period back after struggling with HA for some time, it can be tempting to dive right back in to old habits. Yet part of dealing with HA is also learning not to do that– to learn new habits when it comes to diet and exercise. So that’s what I am trying to do.
So what I am doing exactly? Well, my third recovery period arrived at the end of March, in the midst of a global pandemic. Honestly, being in a pandemic may make your own hypothalamic amenorrhea recovery a bit easier, in the sense that gyms are closed down, and you’re stuck at home all day with your fridge.
As far as my own HA progress goes, I’ve settled into my weight gain. Often in your HA recovery, you’ll gain quite a bit of weight at the beginning– I know I did– but then at one point, despite eating everything til your hearts content, you WILL reach a plateau. My plateau occurred, and around that same time, I also found myself just being less hungry, which I think was an indication of my body and mind telling me I’ve got this recovery thing down. Food thoughts dissipated during the road to recovery– at one point, I found myself force-feeding because I literally did not want to eat anything, I just wasn’t in the mood.
That’s since passed, I don’t force-feed these days, I just go with what my body wants. If I want to eat at 8 AM as soon as I wake up, I do it. If I want to eat at 11 AM, I do that. I just eat when and what I want, essentially. Now it’s just a matter of transitioning these habits into my newly-formed routine for a healthy lifestyle.
Despite all the effort that goes into HA recovery, and it’s effort that goes against everything you think you know– I’ve learned so much along the way I wouldn’t take it back. And I have so much more to learn, I’m actually excited to do it. I want to learn about how to train in sync with my cycle, I know there are so many good resources out there on this topic. But when it comes to right now, let me share a little bit of what I’ve been doing as part of my daily routine and exercise regimen.
Okay so “exercise regimen” is a bit strongly-worded, I’m definitely not in a full-out “regimen” of any sorts at this point, however, with my boyfriend’s (he’s a personal trainer!) help, I will slowly be getting into one in the coming month. Nonetheless, in this third month of HA recovery I did have a few days of exercise spaced out towards the end of the month. Actually, I ran on one of the days I had my period too.
So in terms of what I have done thus far into my recovery– I’ve ran a handful of times! I’m so excited to run again. I’ve read a lot of HA recovery stories about girls who did not go back to running. Welp, sorry, that won’t be me, at least not as long as I can help it. As much as I am comfortable with my body in its current weight (minus boobs, boobs will never be comfortable), and as much as I can eat, I still want to run, sorry not sorry! I haven’t lost the passion for the great outdoors as I rush on past.
Still, I need to be smart about introducing running back in. I’m going to take it month by month, I really hope nothing affects my period but I just don’t know yet. I will be ensuring that I fuel myself pre and post-run, no more are the days where I do fasted cardio in the morning and not eat for several hours after that. It’s a basic plan, but it makes sense, amirite? I think bycombining this purposeful effort with a new knowledge base about how the menstrual cycle really works, what affects it, and how to train with it– I’ll be all set.
As far as the running I’ve done thus far: I am not back out there running 10 km (or 6 miles daily), that’s for sure, and I wouldn’t recommend anyone do that. My very first run I did (since December 31st 2019 really), was a .92 mile run. Okay even for some people, that might seem like a feat! And I was impressed with myself. I’ve been worried about how the return to exercise would be. Would I be as motivated? Would I be able to handle it? Well, my fitness levels have definitely gone down, there’s no doubt about that. But I was still able to complete a 1o-minute run in full, without walking, at a good-enough (maybe ish) pace. By the end of the run, I was entirely out of breath. I hadn’t felt that out of breath since I had first started running, really. It stayed with me for several hours after the run. Still, it felt sort of refreshing. It felt so good to be back out there, although I could feel the extra weight on me with each stride and the impact on my lungs. On the flip side though, I’m looking at things this way: I am excited at the challenge that lies ahead, to regain my fitness, perhaps gain even more, but doing it in a healthy and effective way– a way in which I can still keep my period.
Following that first almost-1 mile run, which occurred on March 21st to be precise, I’ve run five more times since– basically twice a week up until this point. I progressed a bit, but these runs are still quite short, between 1 mile and 2 miles maximum. I definitely notice how each time I return to the pavement, my breath feels better, my cardio is improving– or it’s the muscle memory is returning.
Beyond getting back out on the pavement, I’ve had a couple of strength training days scattered in, but nothing too crazy. Maybe one or two total. We have a little home gym set-up, again it’s nothing fancy but it does the trick in the midst of a global pandemic when there is literally nothing else. Thus, I’ve done some squats with my kettlebell, as well as some weighted lunges and some push-ups and sit-ups– the basics. Even doing something like a reverse crunch, I really notice how much more difficult it is– how much more weight I am pulling up, thanks to my new bawdy.
Today I am beginning my training program with my boyfriend (@FitorDieMTL) and I am excited to dive back into something (did I say that yet), to have this structure of exercise and routine back in my life– especially at a time like this when we are all sort of flailing without any proper routine since work-from-home and self-isolation has become the new norm. Of course, I’ve attempted to implement my own routine during this time, including meditation and a walk in the morning, but it can be a case of hit or miss. This past week I have to admit it was more so a hit, though!
The training program I do with my boyfriend will take it slow and easy, at least to start, as we see how my body responds to everything by the end of April. However I will be losing some of this extra weight, because for myself, at this size, it is a bit cumbersome. I’m all for accepting your body and your weight, and I’ll also definitely admit that aspect has been the biggest struggle for me personally, and it’s something I still struggle with. Nonetheless, accepting your body can also equal being healthy. What I mean is, in my current sedentary state– one that has become even more sedentary thanks to quarantine– I should be exercising, or moving my body in some form or fashion. I haven’t actually been this sedentary in awhile, because even during my HA recovery I was at least walking to and from work daily. Now there is none of that. There is nothing else either, which means I sit in my office chair all day and move from my office to my kitchen to my bedroom– that’s it. So I this coming month, I will be exercising. Nonetheless even if I lose weight, I will not be losing my period. I’m going to learn the right balance and forge onwards in my fitness journey!!
Until next time! You can catch me on IG in the meantime, @grainfreee. Feel free to reach out to me and let me know if you’d like to read more about my HA progress and exercise updates.