Saturday, June 04, 2011

Inspiration for Overcoming Hypothalamic Amenorrhea

There have been an number of great, inspirational posts over at the HA board on the FertileThoughts forum. I thought I would collect a few of them here (with the author's permission.)

LindsayAnn wrote 6/19

I am feeling hopeful...almost too if it doesn't happen I know i will be crushed...but even so I gotta tell you all that it is so worth it just to even respond to the clomid with that follie/lining and then to see the smiley OPK, ovulate, etc....just knowing i responded is great. It is worth this past year and a half plus of TTC on my own. Weight change, etc...worth it ALL and then some. So please everyone keep going. If I can get to the point of responding/ovulating then I promise you ALL can too. I treated my body like crap, complete crap...for years and years. No longer I swear to God I will never go back to that type of lifestyle

Lawgirl wrote 6/21

The word I keep thinking of is FREEDOM. It is so freeing not to be wed to a workout schedule, eating only certain foods prepared in a certain way at specific times. It is freeing to no longer calculate how I’m going to squeeze in a work out. Instead, I can be fully present at work and for the people I love.

LindsayAnn wrote

"...thinness does not equal fertileness....quite the opposite. Your body wants extra padding, a bit of fat and curves to signal it can carry a baby and enable a baby to grow inside of you. No extra energy/fat supplies = no way your body will enable an environment to create a new life. Where as a 'thin/fit' might have been your previous goal (mine too...ALL of us), your new goal (please correct me if I am wrong here) is "healthy weight/still beautiful (promise you on that)/baby-producing body'...and, in order to do that you really need to gain....I think even more than 10 pounds. I know that SOUNDS scary, but after the first couple pds you will realize it's not nearly as scary as we imagine it to be. TRUST ME ON THIS. Like I said, I an 5 feet tall...29 years old....I was living the past 10 years of my life 20-30 pds lighter than now (not kidding...lowest weight was 67pds....typing that now makes me shudder at how bad that was,,,I just didn't see that reality I sure as hell see it!)......I look much MUCH better now. I promise you. My body is a lot happier now is my mind. It was still is at times...but I promise it will be worth it soon once I have a baby. Actually, scratch already is worth it. I am more satisfied, confident (who woulda thought)(even with my bad.fat feeling days...still I feel more sexy and confidant) and content in who I am and what life is all about. It is sure as hell NOT about a weight or a **** number. I am more than that. And, guess what? So. Are. You."

Jambaby wrote

"Oh... I also want to point out a few things:

1. the MOMENT you get your BFP, the weight gain (even a gruesome 30 pounds) is worth it. Immediately!

2. Even if you fail progesterone, keep on trucking. I ended up ovulating naturally only 6 weeks after failing it. So don't lose hope!!

3. I have NO detectable EWCM, ever. And I still got pregnant. So don't fret. (I used preseed).

4. I am saddened by my mistakes - 6 years of undereating & amnorrhea.... but really proud that our bodies CAN overcome this!!!!! "


"I have to post this because I am absolutely ENLIGHTENED...

A year ago, I was still perpetually aiming to live off ~1100 net calories a day. I was maintaining my (thin) weight with that. And I truly thought that if I ever went over (to, say, 1600), I'd keep gaining and gaining and gaining...

Anyways, as of July 2010, I made HUGE lifestyle changes. I took the plunge because I wanted a BABY more than anything. As in, NO MORE CALORIE-COUNTING. I began eating WHATEVER I want, and then some. And now, 10 months later (full of "liberated" eating...), I realize I am NOT gaining. In fact, I haven't gained AT ALL since November!!!

So yes, truly liberated eating did result in slowly and steadily gaining weight over 4 months (as per my intent, anyways)... but after that, my weight just NATURALLY plateaued. I am still within a healthy BMI range!

And believe me, I have been eating TONNES. Lots of healthy foods, AND also a tonne of junk (oops! ). I don't think twice about reaching for that second (or third) cookie! Without calculating how many calories to burn at the gym afterward...

Anyways, so over the past 10 months I have been eating a net of 2200-ish calories per day... sometimes more, sometimes less... and the fact that my body has settled at a "happy weight" is absolutely Shocking to me.

I am posting this to show you (and show myself!) that indeed, our bodies WILL find a comfy, "happy" weight! So PLEASE do not fear "liberated eating". Now that I am on the "other side" (as in, eating LOTS, cycles have returned), even though I still haven't got my BFP I am truly 1000x happier than I was when I was restricting calories - food is enjoyment, and this basic enjoyment is an important part of living a happy life.

This is truly a lesson that our bodies DO indeed need those calories.. a lesson I was too "scared" to believe earlier. I worried that my metabolism was busted... and that I needed to stay at 1100 forever... but our bodies BOUNCE BACK! Believe me, OUR BODIES WILL SPEED UP TO ACCOMMODATE THE EXTRA FOOD INTAKE! And they will eventually find a "happy", healthy weight to sit at.

Anyhow, even if this helps just 1 person, then I am glad I posted this rambly "discovery"."


"We have to remember:
a) we will never be 'fat' or even 'overweight'! And even if our weight gets a little higher than we'd like, we can make it come back down after we achieve our dream.
b) Never underestimate your willpower - you will never loose that desire to run/exercise and eat healthily. It's just on hold for a while while you TTC and reach your dreams. For ages i thought if i let it go, i may never get back my motivation. Now i realise that it's harder for us to go the other way, we are going against what is natural for us.
c) While we think we are turning into whales, the difference isn't all that significant. DH/partners will often comment on our long lost boobs. They look at the positives.
d) Pregnancy = weight gain. Temporarily. And to get to to the BFP, we have to start the process.
e) I'd rather have HA than some other forms of IF, like early menopause, severe fibroids or endometriosis. Or even some other unexplained form that is so rare a cure isn't known. We can reverse our HA with lifestyle changes and failing that, there are meds available that make us ovulate to give us as much chance as anyone. We are 'potentially' fertile, our eggs are just waiting for us to get our body into a healthy place ("reproductively" healthy!).
f) When i'm feeling down, i look around everywhere... not just at the people i want to be like. If we really look, we'll see that our bodies are still 'lean' and attractive. I'm not all "love yourself on the inside", because i know how much our appearance on the outside can control the level of happiness within. It's a combination."

Jambaby 12/17:

I'm re-inspired to keep plodding along. Here are my reasons to STAY POSITIVE/LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE!!!!!

1. DH and I booked a trip to Disneyworld for February, and if I'm not pregnant by then, at least I won't be miserable with pregnancy nausea, and I can ride all the hardcore roller coasters
*And if I am pregnant by then, well I will be so thrilled about it that I won't mind touring the park at a slower pace/missing out on rides :P

2. I am tallying up how much extra money we will pocket for every additional month without a BFP. Essentially, the longer it takes till I go on maternity leave, the more paycheques I will receive, so the more it pads our savings account.... which means paying off our mortgage sooner, maybe I will treat myself to a nicer stroller (after a loong TTC journey, we all deserve nice strollers, lol), etc.

3. If I don't get pregnant in the next few months, I'll be able to squeeze in one more fun vacation with my hubby this summer, without being very pregnant (and therefore unable to fly) or overly uncomfortable.

4. Reminding myself that I am in the HOME STRETCH now. The worst part (denial, weight gain, getting over body image issues, waiting for my first period) is over. Now that my period is back, it really is just a matter of a few more cycles! And 1 year from now, it won't matter at all if baby was conceived 2-3 months sooner.

5. Knowing that many girls with HA have lower bone mineral density, I am using my pre-pregnancy months to STOCK UP on calcium and vitamin D... replenishing what I lost during my HA days, and stocking up so that I have lots of calcium & nutrients for pregnancy requirements.

6. I have only been at my current job for 1 year. The longer I am at it, the better I will get at it (making it easier to return to after my maternity leave), the stronger my professional reputation will be, the less sheepish I will feel about announcing my pregnancy, etc etc.

7. If I end up having a December baby (conceive in March or April) or later, it means my maternity leave may actually be 1.5 years (instead of the standard 1 year leave here in Canada). I work at a school, and it seems like around here they grant your leave until the following September - less disruptive for the students.

Jambaby 9/19/10:

I am making a list of Reasons to Stay Positive because I always feel better reading other girls' posts like this

*Out of all the causes of IF, this really IS the "best" one to have. Reversible, our parts are in working order (but just on hiatus right now!).. DEFINITELY a reason to be grateful. I HAVE OVARIES! I HAVE EGGS! I HAVE A UTERUS! Score!

*It's a life lesson: Because I am so motivated to get pregnant, I am motivated to gain weight. And through this, I've learned that LIFE IS TOO SHORT to restrict calories. Life is too short to cut out giant bagels and alfredo pasta from my life....
And after I eventually have a baby and try to lose the post-pregnancy weight, I will not go back to my old habits. This experience has taught me all about BALANCE... and that truly, nobody cares a little extra wobbly bits on me!

(If not for being SO MOTIVATED to get pregnant, I really don't think I would have ever dared to gain weight/get over my fears! This is truly a liberating experience....)

*In fact, this is a genuine wake up call that it really IS healthier to have wobbly bits. The media and health/fitness industry sure can skew us into thinking you need a flat stomach to be "healthy".

*My definition of 'FITNESS' is much more sustainable and fun: Instead of working off as many calories as I can on a boring machine, fitness now consists of trying different classes (yoga, pilates, dancing).... much more fun, and who cares if I'm burning less calories per hour.... fitness is now something I can truly ENJOY for the next 50 years, instead of a chore.

*Realizing that EVERYONE has a struggle. Whether it's IF, whether it's financial, other health problems, relationship woes... we don't get to pick our tough spots, but we sure are in control of how we respond.

So really, this experience is making me:
-More patient... (which will probably also make me a better parent...)
-More grateful for everything I do have (good health, great husband, etc)
-A better understanding of "healthy" eating - it's about balance!
-More time in my day to be sedentary and read, knit, etc, without feeling guilty
-An appreciation for TRUE fitness - trying out different classes, being outdoors... NOT trying to burn as many calories as I can into my 30 minutes on a machine.

Jambaby 10/7/10:


5 years ago, I would have recognized that my period stopping = a sign that I need to cut back on the cardio/"healthy" eating, NOT interpreted a sign to feel like I'm a "real athlete" and "super fit" since I made my period disappear.
-Would not have gone on birth control to "fix" the problem.
-When I finally went off the pill this April, I wish I wouldn't have been excited by the fact that I wasn't feeling as hungry (no more female hormones in me?) which enabled me to get by eating less and inspired to lose another 5-10 pounds. Argh!


-Finding this board in July. I am SO glad I took immediate action. Including buying a massive tub of Nutella and finishing it within 2-3 days
-Enjoyed pigging out on unlimited junk food for a month to get a headstart on the weight gain, then went back to healthy food (but made sure to eat lots of it)!
-Discovering that there's more to life than visiting the gym every day! I will NEVER be the same person again.
-Also discovering the joy of cheese and pasta... YUM! Again, I will never be the same deprived person again...
-Really, the longer it takes to conceive, it means the more time we have to accumulate savings, which means we can pay off our house faster... which results in BIG savings down the road.
-Like Nico, who has been an absolutely angel and helping all of us here on the board get through HA, I want to pass the torch and spread the word so girls later down the road don't have to go through this alone.

Jambaby 10/14/10:

...I agree with you on the weight gain! I used to think it would SUCK to gain, say, 5 or 10 pounds... so much that I would choose Diet Coke, aspartame-filled yogurt instead of natural... etc etc..

BUT now, man oh man. For me, it has actually a blessing in disguise to go through this and gain some weight. I forgot how tasty lasagna is!
And how much more free time I have without the gym!
And how fun it can be to eat a cookie or two without secretly counting how many calories need to be worked off later!

And actually, my former "potbelly" that always bugged me (when I was at my lightest!) actually now looks in PROPORTION with the rest of my body - it doesn't make me look like a skinny pregnant woman anymore, which suggests that my body really was not quite balanced /properly fueled before!

YAHHH weight gain! (PLUS, As Nico said, it will be easy to lose some of the weight* post-baby. *But we must be careful not to go all extreme and develop HA again!)


Amanda said...

Love this. Go anita!!

Anonymous said...

This post brought me right back to what it was like to be in the middle of HA. And it made me realize I don't want to go there again. Thanks for posting this!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this. It's so much what I need to be reading right now and I hope (God I hope so such) that it shakes me up and helps put my mind in the right place.

Shayla Blumbergs said...

I'm just going through your posts Nico and came across this one - so inspirational and just what I needed to hear right now. This week has been really rough for some reason and I needed to read this to help me keep moving forward. And to remind me to keep up with eating to my hearts content and keeping my exercise to a minimum.

I especially love Jambaby's posts - wow so empowering! Do you know how she is? Is she pregnant yet? And if so, did she do it naturally or with injectibles/clomid? Thank you Nico for all this - you're an angel for helping us all here :)

Nico said...

Shayla, jambaby had a daughter in Feb of this year - all natural! :)

Janey said...

This is fantastic. Nico, I lurk on all the forums and posts and I have a question. I am concerned about recurrant HA because my period has not resumed after 24 months of breastfeeding. By now, most women experience menstruation. When I use OPKs I get only a faint line- or no line. Thank you so much.

Kelly C said...

I am so happy to find this blog! I was diagnosed with HA yesterday, after a year of no period, weight loss, lots of exercise, I'm at a weight I'm happy with, and now they tell me I need to gain! It's so frustrating. Can you recommend any books on how to gain the weight in a healthy way? I want my cycles back, I want to produce estrogen again, but I want to still fit into my pants! Any suggestions?? Thank you!

Lisa said...

Well said. Being skinny does not mean your healthy.