5 Benefits of Healing from Hypothalamic Amenorrhea
Here’s the truth, recovering from hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA) or an eating disorder is hard. It can be long, unpredictable, full of wins and setbacks, and even be extremely uncomfortable and confronting at times.
But it is also the most rewarding, life-changing thing you’ll ever do.
If you’re really clear on your “why”, or your motivations for committing to recovery, it becomes easier to push through the challenges and harder moments. That’s because you’re recovering for a reason: you want freedom, and to live the life you deserve and dream of.
If you’re on the fence and not sure you’re ready to take the leap into recovery, then it can be helpful to know of all the positives you’ll gain from the experience. Here are five benefits of regaining your period and healing your relationships with food and exercise.
1. You can heal your hormones and your body
HA wreaks absolute havoc on your hormones, along with so many other body functions and processes. Your poor body!
During HA, you’re not giving your body enough energy to maintain some key body functions, including your menstrual cycle. This leads to a deficiency in oestrogen, along with other reproductive hormones like GnRH, FSH and LH, which means your hormones can’t maintain ovulation and menstruation.
Essentially, your reproductive hormones come to a stand still. Over time, this can cause serious harm to your fertility, bone health and heart health, and increase your risk of injuries and fractures, as well as depression and anxiety.
Not a healthy or happy situation to find yourself in! So by diving into your recovery journey, you’re able to work towards undoing some of the damage HA has caused to your body and your hormones.
Over time, you can restore your hormones (and therefore your period and menstrual cycle), as well as improving your general physical and mental health!
Your body needs and deserves nourishment and care, so when you begin to provide this it will thank you in return!
2. Your relationships can thrive and deepen
Have you ever felt isolated or alone on your HA journey, or with your disordered habits or thoughts? Ironically, you’re not alone there.
Disordered eating and exercise behaviours can be extremely isolating, leading many people to withdraw from friends, family and loved ones, and spend an increasing amount of time on their own, as far away from food-related social situations as possible.
This means saying no to fun dinners with friends, turning your partner down for a Friday night cocktail, and feeling unable to enjoy a weekend away for fear of breaking your exercise routine. When you’re missing out on all these chances to bond and spend time with the people you love, inevitably your relationships will feel the strain.
But when you commit to recovery, suddenly you give yourself the opportunity to save these precious relationships – and even to strengthen them.
By opening up to the people you love about what you’re going through and how they can support you, you invite vulnerability into the relationship. This is so important for deepening bonds – in fact, the people around you might surprise you with just how much encouragement, comfort and motivation they’re willing to offer!
The main thing is, by truly diving into recovery, you allow yourself to restore a healthy relationship with food and exercise, meaning suddenly all the things you didn’t allow yourself to enjoy are back on the table! And that’s not just your favourite foods – it’s also spontaneous nights at the pub, cocktails with the girls, camping trips or weekend getaways.
A whole new world of possibilities opens up, and along with it comes the chance to restore and deepen your relationships, and really open up and engage with your loved ones again.
3. You’ll have more energy
Spare a thought for your poor, precious body – it has been neglected for far too long!
Think about it this way: if your body isn’t getting enough energy to even sustain key processes to maintain your health, how on earth can you expect to feel energised throughout the day?
Whether you’re not giving it enough energy in the form of food, or you’re exercising to the point of exhaustion, you’re depleting your body of nutrients, energy and the love and care it deserves every day.
Until you commit to your recovery.
Once you start nourishing your body and showing it love, compassion and care in the form of adequate energy intake and rest, you’ll feel energised both mentally and physically. This means you can make the most of each day once more, without constantly feeling drained, fatigued and exhausted. How good does that sound?
4. Your world gets bigger and brighter
During HA, have you ever noticed your world becomes increasingly centred around food and exercise? What meal will you eat next? When is it acceptable to have another snack? What workout will you do to earn that dinner out or ease your anxiety?
It leaves little room for much else to enter that marvellous mind of yours. In fact, as your world gets smaller and narrower, it becomes just you and the damaging behaviours or thoughts, isolating everyone and everything else from you.
This not only lets the disordered behaviours sink their claws even deeper into you, it actually means you lose aspects of your identity – since you simply don’t have any time or energy leftover that isn’t being committed to the damaging voice in your mind.
And yet, when you truly recover from HA, suddenly your world begins to grow and expand. Your thoughts aren’t entirely consumed by food or exercise. You aren’t constantly planning your next meal or workout. You aren’t forever body checking, or spending hours and hours in the gym.
So basically, you have more time and energy to reconnect with yourself and the world and people around you! Gradually, you begin to remember interests, hobbies and passions you had. You deepen old relationships and form new ones. You start listening to the news again, because you have the time and the mental capacity. You’re more interested in the lives of the people around you – because you can be!
Your world is so much bigger when you choose to recover – and what an exciting, incredible opportunity that offers you.
5. You get your life back
Last, but definitely not least, you can rediscover YOU! So much of HA and eating disorders centre around the fact that the damaging thoughts and behaviours become your entire identity. They permeate every thought and action, and it becomes near impossible to separate yourself from the endless thoughts and pressures you feel.
However, when you recover from HA and disordered eating, you reclaim yourself and your life.
You can be present again.
Like we mentioned before, HA and eating disorders consume so much of your headspace and your energy, that you’re never truly “there”. Even when you are sitting down to a meal or coffee with your loved ones, part of your brain is analysing what you’re eating, or what you will be eating later that day.
Instead of enjoying the moment, a part of you is forever distracted. And news flash: the people around you can feel it too! You’re not fooling anyone.
The truth is, being present and truly in each moment is the key to happiness. The moments where you’re present are those filled with laughter and joy; they’re the moments of pure connection with others.
If you commit to your recovery, you can experience this presence for yourself. You can achieve the life you’re fighting for – one where you live in the moment, and feel grateful and joyful each day.
This IS possible. In fact, it’s a reality – if you choose for it to become one. Will you choose to recover, and fight for the life you want? The decision lies with you.
Ready To Improve Your Relationship with Food and Get Your Period Back?
Sarah King is an Exercise Physiologist and Health Coach specialising in helping women recover from Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, disordered eating and eating disorders, and body image concerns.
Her signature 8-week program Healing Hypothalamic Amenorrhea is the go-to course for women wanting to recover their period for good, rediscover food freedom, find balance with fitness and feel more body confident.
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Hi future friends, I’m Sarah King, an Accredited Exercise Physiologist and health coach.
Science, not trends is the foundation of my approach. By nourishing the body and mind with scientific facts we can build foundations for a life of realness, not just wellness.