Today’s episode of Holistic Health Radio is a collaboration between myself and Ciandra Birnbaum, a recovery coach based in the UK and host of the podcast Recover to Flourish.
Ciandra was kind enough to have me on her podcast to share more about the intersection between eating disorders and hypothalamic amenorrhea. In this episode we discuss:
- Our own personal experiences with eating disorders and missing periods due to hypothalamic amenorrhea
- What causes hypothalamic amenorrhea and which types of eating disorders or disordered eating does it impact?
- Discussing the reasons why a person might be afraid to recover their period during eating disorder recovery
- Common misconceptions and dispelling myths such as a missing period making you “sick enough” or a recovered period signifying full recovery from an eating disorder or disordered eating
- Types of exercise which are safe to engage in during hypothalamic amenorrhea recovery and which types to avoid
- Tips for anyone beginning their hypothalamic amenorrhea recovery journey.
Sarah Liz King (00:00:01) – Hi everyone. Welcome back to Holistic Health Radio. I’m your host, Sarah Liz King. I’m an exercise physiologist and health coach, empowering you to find your healthy balance with food, fitness and your body Through my 1 to 1 and group coaching programs, both myself and my team help women regain their periods, find food freedom, and have a healthier relationship with exercise, all while gaining body confidence. Today I am sharing a collaborative episode that I recently did on Recovery to Flourish with Ciandra. Ciandra is an amazing recovery coach based in the UK and I know you are really going to enjoy this discussion that we have on eating disorders and hypothalamic amenorrhea. Ciandra is an experienced eating disorder recovery coach who is incredibly passionate about guiding individuals towards a life of freedom, balance and self-love. She is incredibly dedicated to helping individuals who are struggling with eating disorders to overcome their challenges and find healing. I’ll be sure to pop all of her links so that you connect it. You can connect with her in the show notes. But without further ado, let’s dive into the podcast.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:01:13) – Hello Sarah. It is a pleasure to have this conversation with you on this collaborative podcast episode, which is going to be all about periods and eating sort of recovery. So welcome.
Sarah Liz King (00:01:24) – Thank you so much for having me. I’m, I’m really excited to have this chat.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:01:29) – Yeah, definitely. And I think, you know, I’ve done a couple of these collaborative episodes before and it’s a really nice way to both, you know, share to our audiences things that they they need to know and probably unanswered questions on their recovery journey. So, um, you know, I’ll tell I’ll tell the listeners a little bit about myself in a minute and for your audience. But um, for the case of my audience, Sarah, what can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sarah Liz King (00:01:57) – I am an accredited exercise physiologist, so I live in Australia and I know that exercise physiologist also exist over in the UK as well. And I am also a recovery coach just like you. So I work predominantly with women who are seeking food freedom, more of a balanced relationship with exercise, regaining their periods and that want to reach full recovery, whether that be from an eating disorder, disordered eating or just hypothalamic malaria.
Sarah Liz King (00:02:33) – So that’s a little bit about me outside of work. I have a cute little dog, Henry, who is staring at me and you might hear him whimpering or playing with a toy because he wants attention. And I live in beautiful Bondi Beach, so I’m definitely a girl that loves Summer. I love my morning walk, grabbing a coffee. It’s what sets me up for a really wonderful day. And then I would say on the weekends, my favourite sport is coffee shop trying, which is not a sport, but I love to kind of like explore new places to eat, to grab coffee, to hang out with my friends. So that’s what keeps me pretty balanced.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:03:14) – Amazing that I wish I could go to Australia right now. And I was saying before this episode, we have got a very grim summer. I think we had probably two weeks of sunshine and the summer and I think that’s it for now. Um, but lovely to, to get to know you a little bit more. Sarah Um, coffee shopping is definitely my, my one of my favourite spots too.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:03:38) – It is just perfect, especially in different cities. Um, but um, yeah, for the cases of your listeners, I’m Ciandra. I live in the UK. I was going to say sunny UK, not sunny at all. I am an eating disorder recovery coach primarily. Um, I’ve been in within this space for about a year and I’m also trained as a counsellor and which is a therapeutic practitioner in other, maybe other countries. Um, but I also work as a social media manager, keeps me balanced for a sleep a sleep meditation app, which is slightly, slightly different, but it’s fun and just keeps me keeps me balanced and keeps that difference in my life. And but primarily I work as an eating disorder recovery coach online and provide resources to a lot of different people outside of outside of work. I adore travelling. That’s like my sport. Um, I live, live to travel. I love seeing new cities and experiencing new cultures and the foods there. And I also live in a place called Yorkshire, which is a big, a big county in the UK up north with my partner and we have a house there.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:04:49) – So yeah, quite a, quite a relaxed, um, life.
Sarah Liz King (00:04:55) – And I love, I guess, talking to people in the UK. I have so many clients in the UK, so I get to know about all the little different pockets of yeah, all throughout Europe, but the UK predominantly. So it’s so good to connect.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:05:10) – Definitely. And yeah, I think, you know, obviously you work primarily within the hypothalamic amenorrhea space. You know, you have your group healing, which again you’ve got so much, so much knowledge on it. So I thought given we’ve probably both, given our lived experience, we’ve both shared, you know, some, some of our own struggles with with food and potentially period loss that, um, it would be actually quite useful for our listeners to actually understand our, our own journey with, with periods. So yeah, I suppose, you know, firstly for, you know, you know so much more than me about this, what is h.r. And what is its impact and i suppose how does disordered eating impact cycles?
Sarah Liz King (00:06:00) – Yeah.
Sarah Liz King (00:06:01) – Well first of all it is such a mouthful to say hypothalamic amenorrhea. I had no idea that this condition existed for the ten years that I had a missing period. It was never really brought up as a condition or even a consideration. And I saw so many different doctors and so many specialists. Um, obviously I have a full range of podcasts on my story in particular, if your audience want to listen to that or my audience, I will put those links for you below. But hypothalamic amenorrhea is a type of secondary amenorrhea, so. That essentially means that you have had a period at some point in your life and then you have lost it again for a period of three months or longer. So three consecutive months or longer. And hypothalamic amenorrhea in particular is diagnosed through a diagnosis of exclusion. So basically that means we have to rule out a whole bunch of other potential causes of a missing period before we land on hypothalamic amenorrhea as the diagnosis. Now there’s a little bit of, I guess, information in the name that tells us what is causing that amenorrhea and the word is hypothalamic.
Sarah Liz King (00:07:32) – So that refers to our hypothalamus, which is in our brain and it is kind of responsible for making sure the environment is all safe and sound. So it kind of takes information from the body and lets us know if there’s enough energy around to keep particular processes going. And if there’s not enough energy around, then what happens is the hypothalamus down regulates the production of our sex hormones. It goes, Let’s keep this body alive. Let’s make sure that we protect all of the absolute fundamental processes, like making sure that we breathe and that our heart beats and, you know, that we can digest the food that we eat, even though that slows down. But it is trying to keep you alive and it goes Reproduction is absolutely not essential right now. So we can down regulate that or shut it down. Right. And that’s what causes a missing period. So there are those three main factors that often feed into it, which is under fueling. Over exercising and too much stress and stress can either be psychological stress or it can be physical stress.
Sarah Liz King (00:08:52) – And both do impact the body.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:08:57) – Definitely. And I suppose physical stress and I’m guessing around that you’re meaning high high intensity exercise. Or would that also be. I suppose for anyone that doesn’t know, is is that a range of different physical stressors?
Sarah Liz King (00:09:12) – Yeah. So physical stress is obviously high intensity. Exercise is one of them. But we know physical stress is also things like weight suppression. So placing your body underneath where it feels it can function most optimally and you can weight suppress at any body size if you are pushing your body underneath where it prefers to be. And I feel like that’s quite a common thing that occurs is, you know, even if a person doesn’t even quote unquote, lose that much weight, they might be pushing themselves and being really. Either consciously or unconsciously restrictive with their. Their food intake and quite either dedicated or obsessive with exercise. Like I said, we see so many people affected by hypothalamic amenorrhea. People that have disordered eating is definitely a big subset of that. But then there are people that fall into it simply because they are unaware of how much their actual body needs to function and to thrive.
Sarah Liz King (00:10:21) – So. We see it a lot in athletes or people that are just recreationally very active and, you know, potentially taking on a lot of information surrounding like what is quote unquote, healthy eating. But that actually sets them up for failure because it means, you know, after following these healthy eating practices, their body is just not getting enough energy in.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:10:46) – Definitely. And I think you know that there’s another term that I’ve I’ve fell upon a couple of times is red. So relative energy deficiency and that’s the female athletic triad which again is very very similar to hypothalamic amenorrhea. But it is. And to be an athletic athlete, you don’t need to be in the Olympics. It could be your regular gym goer. Um, but I have forgotten the name of somebody who shares some really, really good information on Red, but I’m going to leave it in the show notes because there is, um, there is a lady that’s like a sports dietician who’s talked around red before that. I’ve also had some, you know, real, real insight from again, it’s slightly different because it involves, you know, I suppose maybe addressing those exercise exercises, the main trigger of period loss.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:11:41) – But again similar and overlap.
Sarah Liz King (00:11:43) – Yeah. It’s not is it really?
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:11:45) – McGregor Yeah. McGregor That’s exactly who I, who I was thinking of.
Sarah Liz King (00:11:51) – Yeah, she’s fantastic. She’s got a lot of great resources. And um, the endocrinologist that she regularly works with, Dr. Nikki K also a really great wealth of information on this topic. So if anyone is listening, definitely go check those two people out because they are incredible humans in this space for sure.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:12:15) – And I think with anything, once you understanding is one of the main keys to recovery, if you don’t understand what’s going on, you, like you said, in your own journey, it’s like I didn’t even know what hypothalamic amenorrhea was for ten years. And once you understood, that’s when you can make a change. And I think it’s similar for myself, I for me I and it maybe it was, maybe it was a different component of my disorder. Part of me was scared to get my period back. It was part of my eating disorder that my period loss was a marker of achievement.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:12:53) – Again, that is not something now I think I would be incredibly fearful if I lost my period because it’s now a marker of health. It’s something that I had to go through my journey of recovery. But I do see it from time and time again in in clients being like, but I’m scared that that means now I’m healthy. Does that mean I don’t have an eating disorder anymore? And, you know, I just want to preface saying you still have an eating disorder whether you have a period or not. Some people never lose their period. That’s another thing. Um, I know for myself, I still had work to do and weight to regain. Even though I had my period, I got my period back underway. Maybe my body, that’s how my body worked. And I don’t know, you know, how much you, I suppose, can can tell the audience about the connection between periods, health and eating disorders and why it’s different in other people.
Sarah Liz King (00:13:44) – And think it’s so good that you shared your experience of potentially, like, you know, being nervous to regain your cycle and what that meant about how well or unwell you might be still.
Sarah Liz King (00:13:57) – And like like you reiterated, you can still have an eating disorder, regain your period and still need to do a lot of work. And similarly you might never lose it. We know with hypothalamic amenorrhea there’s quite a strong genetic factor in in there. So we know that some people are just more predisposed to losing their cycles or being more sensitive to that relative energy deficiency or sometimes called low energy availability. But there is also quite significant links to disordered eating. And I think when most people think about hypothalamic amenorrhea and disordered eating, they immediately jump to welts only restrictive eating disorders or it’s only for people that are under their bodies preferred optimal weight for functioning. And that is absolutely not true. We see crossovers between hypothalamic amenorrhea and all kinds of eating disorders. We know that irregular patterns of eating are stressful on the body. We know that struggling with your mental health is a psychological stress and that is a stress on the body that can impact your hormones and your cycle. So people that might struggle with binge restrict cycles might also have hypothalamic amenorrhea.
Sarah Liz King (00:15:26) – Or people that feel like they might struggle with binge eating, could have hyperthermia, amenorrhea or any subset of disordered eating or eating disorder can be impacted by it. So there is no single one eating disorder that says if I have this, then I will have hypothalamic amenorrhea. And then within that we also know that it is very much genetically or there was a genetic element to it that makes some people more predisposed to losing their cycles, which means they need more work and more support for their body to regain them.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:16:07) – Definitely. And I suppose. You know, within within your own practice. You know, like like I mentioned, many people in recovery may fear regain in their cycles or not know what to expect. So I suppose how do you address these like fears and misconceptions within your own, you know, coaching approach?
Sarah Liz King (00:16:29) – Yeah, I think that the biggest one is to just validate how people are feeling and their experiences as completely common, right? They think that they are the only person that doesn’t want to regain their cycle.
Sarah Liz King (00:16:45) – And I think there are a wide range of variables that can be the reason behind why a person doesn’t want that for themselves. And I’m always someone that has this aspect of non-judgmental curiosity, like, let’s get curious about this and just see if we can, like open up the conversation around it, because oftentimes these are deep rooted beliefs and fears that people keep very, very close to their chest. And sometimes even verbalizing it feels really scary and really daunting because then it is real and it’s their reality. But once we actually put it out there, then we can, you know, once there is awareness, then we can kind of see if there is a way of thinking differently about this situation or thinking about what your values really are and how we work towards that. And if your goals are really aligned with period recovery, then maybe it’s the thoughts and beliefs that we kind of just have to slowly tweak and change. But I think it is something that you just have to take really slowly and gracefully and know that there are going to be moments of breakthrough and moments of breakdown and you can feel really overwhelmed and really excited.
Sarah Liz King (00:18:14) – And all of that is a completely normal part of this journey. But I think if you feel apprehensive, I want you to know that that is completely okay. Nobody goes, Oh my God, I’m so excited to go on this journey where I’m expected to make a lot of changes that are going to be really difficult. You might feel it’s incredibly important and at the same time be. Completely terrified. And that is okay for sure.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:18:43) – And it’s not something you know, it’s again, going into the dark a lot of the time, you know, and kind of rummaging about and trying to find that key or that light. And that is scary, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not possible. And I think a lot of the work that I do with clients is more around the identity building aspect, the identity outside of an eating disorder and and what that actually means and, and maybe regaining a period if you lost it and is part of that, you know, rebuilding that self-worth and that actually having having a cycle is so important.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:19:19) – I mean, I suppose it would be useful to know what you know. I know a couple of things, but I’m sure you know a lot more. What is the role of having a period and why is it so important, um, for the female body?
Sarah Liz King (00:19:32) – So most people think their periods are for fertility and they would be correct. Menstrual cycles are there for our fertility as one aspect, but there are many roles that our hormones play in our overall health. So when we’re thinking about the menstrual cycle, we are thinking about two kind of main hormones. But the one that gets all the limelight is estrogen. So estrogen plays several roles within the body. And one of the biggest ones you’ll often hear about is how important it is in bone health. Right. We don’t typically think about our skeletons all that much. We can’t really see them. But estrogen is one of these hormones that ensures that our bones are well looked after. Right? So it helps with bone building and also slows down the process of bone breakdown, which means that we are able to achieve and maintain optimal bone health through those reproductive years.
Sarah Liz King (00:20:42) – If we’re kind of generally active and looking after ourselves and having calcium rich foods and sunlight and all of that jazz. So a period isn’t just about fertility. In fact, many of the people that I work with do not want to get their periods back to immediately have fertility or full pregnant. They are for a variety of other reasons. Another one is estrogen cardioprotective. Right. So it is beneficial for our heart health to have sufficient estrogen levels floating around. And then we think about other things like estrogen. And progesterone are also really helpful. As you know, within our mood and our mental health, we see a really strong correlation between rates of depression and anxiety and people that have hypothalamic amenorrhea. Beyond your bone health, beyond your heart health. We also think about your musculoskeletal system. So estrogen is helpful with a process called protein synthesis, which is the building of muscle and the maintenance of muscle. So if you have a missing period and you’re a person that is, you know, an avid exerciser and you really enjoy working out, I’m always saying to people, I’m like, You will actually get so many more benefits if you press pause now and you work on this portion of your well-being.
Sarah Liz King (00:22:07) – And then you return to exercise slowly, safely. When you get back to doing what you were doing before, you will have exponential and better outcomes. Yeah, better outcomes, better energy. You’ll enjoy it more. And then we do have other things. So estrogen is one of the estrogen progesterone. LH Testosterone, all of these things. We know that they have a role to play in libido or sexual desire. So sometimes low libido is pretty common when you have hypothalamic amenorrhea. So those are all the things that you can expect to improve that are directly related to your hormones themselves. And then we have all of these other benefits that come alongside just being re nourished. So those are kind of whole body aspects of better energy, better sleep, um, hair, skin and nail growth.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:23:08) – Mood regulation was a big thing for me about feeling happier.
Sarah Liz King (00:23:12) – Yeah, yeah. And that’s the thing, you know, we expect ourselves to be elated, but we actually don’t recognize that all of those neurotransmitters, dopamine, serotonin, they require a lot of energy for our body to make and we have to go.
Sarah Liz King (00:23:29) – We’ve got to give it that energy so that it can make those things. So yeah, and stable blood sugars obviously helps with mood stability as well.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:23:37) – For sure. For sure. And again, I think a lot of the time, you know, people, especially if they don’t want to have children, which is a totally valid a decision, can oftentimes go, well, go well, I don’t need to deal with the period then. But actually, yes, it’s to help you have, you know, be fertile. But again, you like you mentioned a period role is not just for that. And I think that was very important for me to recognize and understand because otherwise I might have not seen the the role of it.
Sarah Liz King (00:24:09) – Yeah. I guess from your point of view, did you actively think about regaining your period or was it not something that was front of mind for you all the time?
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:24:19) – Um, it’s always been very front of mind, actually. Maybe not. At the start of my journey was when I was when I was very young because I developed my eating sort of when I was an early, early teen.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:24:28) – And when I was in, you know, our hospital facility, which was part of my own journey, it wasn’t it was just not even I was too, too young and naive to realize that the importance of a period, to be honest. And but as I got older and as I started being in relationships, I was like, Oh, I don’t really want to have sex. And to be honest, I was like, What is going on? This is not nice. And, you know, I’m a researcher by nature. So I was like, I know what’s going on. I’ve, you know, this is not right. And so, you know, my late teens was where I actively tried to get my period back. And I was quite, quite lucky that it was a somewhat easy process for me and not for everyone. Maybe because I didn’t struggle with my relationship with exercise. I think that was probably a part of why it was easier than maybe somebody who struggles with that excessive exercise part of their journey.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:25:24) – Um, but yeah, it was an active and active decision. And that being said, it’s very my period is very sensitive and it has been along the years I’ve had a period of being physically unwell just from, just from life. I got ill traveling and my period was the first thing to disappear just because it was under stress. So, you know, it got it came back very quickly. But again, what we’ve got to remember is when the body’s is under a time of physical stress, emotional stress, sometimes our period goes, um, and it’s a marker of, okay, things are not going, you know, are not right here. And yeah, so it’s, yeah.
Sarah Liz King (00:26:03) – And I think it’s so easy to jump into a state of like self blame when that happens. Like, oh my gosh, what have I done and catastrophizing when your theory goes missing again? And look, as someone that has had their cycles back for several years, I don’t I don’t know if that like period anxiety ever fully ceases sometimes when I’ve had like a stressful, you know, few months and I go like, oh, my body feels a little bit different.
Sarah Liz King (00:26:36) – Is my period going to come this month? Or I work with people for whom there are lapses in their cycle being regular and it really is just about kind of going, look, our body’s just giving us information. It’s not trying to sabotage us at all periods and our hormones are reflectively responsive to our environment. So if they sense an environment that’s a little bit stressful, sometimes they go into hibernation, but we know that we can get. And back.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:27:07) – For sure. And I think, you know, on that, I think there’s a lot of misconceptions and I’ve had a lot of my clients going, well, is my body broken? I’m never going to be able to have a period again. And, you know, I think the the straight answer is your body is not broken. But what can you offer as insight into that into that fear?
Sarah Liz King (00:27:30) – I think. Knowing that hypothalamic amenorrhea is a form of secondary amenorrhea. So your body’s done it before has you know, it’s good evidence that your body can do it again.
Sarah Liz King (00:27:44) – But I think the hard thing is that we don’t have a crystal ball. We can’t tell you that your period is going to return in X number of weeks or months time at X body size, doing X amount of exercise or eating X kind of way. And that’s often the most difficult. And I think that’s the kind of reassurance that people are often seeking that I’m willing to put in the effort if I know where I’m going to land with the outcome. And I feel like that is. It’s not something that we can offer as reassurance because we don’t know ourselves. But the thing that we can reassure people about is that there are, you know, a wide range of different professionals that you can work with to make sure that nothing else is preventing your periods from returning. And also, while you work on your periods returning, you can also rebuild other aspects of your life so that it’s not, you know, this central focus that you’re stressing about and thinking about 24 over seven, because we know that that’s not healthy either.
Sarah Liz King (00:28:54) – And I’m sure you see this in your coaching all the time, where people kind of almost make recovery like a part of their identity and like a central focus to the point of it preventing them from engaging in other areas of their life.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:29:11) – For sure. And I think that’s, you know, incredibly important is recovery. You’re eating soda. It’s you know, it’s something that it’s been a part of your life. And probably there will be, you know, aspects that you will never forget. And that’s also okay because it’s a marker of how far you’ve come. But it’s also important to, you know, really support that healthy relationship with self and life outside of outside of it. And I suppose something we’ve not really, really touched on is what how how does one start to work on getting their cycle back? Like, what’s the role of nutrition and exercise?
Sarah Liz King (00:29:52) – Yeah. Yeah. So those two parts are obviously absolutely fundamental and a lot of people who hear the words hypothalamic amenorrhea or have read the book that, you know, everyone kind of borders, which is no period now what often come across this concept of 2500 calories.
Sarah Liz King (00:30:15) – Now I don’t often like talking about numbers because people get hooked on numbers and that is definitely not something that I would recommend. I’m not someone that promotes calorie counting. And if you’re someone that is fixated on that number, I want you to try and put it to the back of your mind as much as possible, okay? Because people need different amounts of food and sometimes much more food than people around them or than they’ve previously had in order to be well nourished. And I think the point of recovery isn’t, you know, to think about food as quote unquote, too much, but always making sure that you’re eating enough. Enough is always what we’re aiming for at every stage of life. Um, so that looks like regular adequate meals and snacks. So. Chris eating a baggie routine that you can live in that has some structure around having three really good nourishing meals and some snacks in between. And those snacks are probably going to be more than what you have been used to in the past, and that is okay.
Sarah Liz King (00:31:31) – So we usually work with clients to really kind of slowly but surely build upon what they’re already having and what they’re already enjoying to make sure that they are eating balance of good nutrition, but also they’re incorporating things that are satisfying, things that they enjoy, things that are soul fulfilling, because that is a really important part of having a good relationship with food as well.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:32:02) – So that soul food is so important. It just made me laugh because I remembered a bizarrely I love daal and rice like daal. If you don’t know what daal is like lentil stew with rice. And I remember this because my mum was brought up in kind of a my parents are hippies. That was just my, my upbringing. So they had a lot of like lentils, lentil, stews and curries growing up. So it was like my thing. I was like I my body craved and I was like, okay, I’m just going to go with this. And it was maybe the mix between fats and carbohydrates was basically what my body was wanting, not just almond rice.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:32:40) – I didn’t just eat that, obviously, but it was something that gave me a bit of joy when I was recovering my period.
Sarah Liz King (00:32:47) – Yeah, and you’re so right. I think you hit the nail on the head. So oftentimes protein is kind of like over promoted as a really important macronutrient to the point where we miss out on sufficient amounts of fats and carbohydrate, which are fundamentally important for our bodies to be functioning really, really well. So we kind of think about the way that we structure meals a little bit differently in period recovery. We want a really good sufficient amount of carbs, some good healthy fats, and then protein is going to be in there. But it doesn’t need to like be put up on a pedestal at every single meal and every single snack. So similar to you, I think I found my joy from two things. Like one was like a rice dish like you loved, which is Pokey bowls. Yeah. So like sushi bowl. Oh, like could have eaten them every single day or so much.
Sarah Liz King (00:33:46) – And sandwiches. I just fell back in love with, like, all of the different kind of sandwiches that I could eat, like sandwiches and crisps. Like, it was just such a fond memory of, you know, the kind of lunch you would have as a child. And your child.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:33:59) – Is.
Sarah Liz King (00:34:00) – This is great. This is so delicious. To be fair, a sandwich in Christ. This is still something that I still.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:34:08) – Something I enjoy. Yeah.
Sarah Liz King (00:34:10) – All the time. And then if we’re talking about kind of the movement piece or the exercise piece, and I like talking about more the movement side of piece because it can be both structured and incidental movement that we have to to look at. Some people have given up all forms of structured movement but might be moving incidentally quite a lot. So lots of walking, a very active job. Um, maybe lots of like domestic duties around the house and that might be keeping them kind of in that state of low energy availability. And then for other people it is more of those like traditional like gym style workouts or dance or running or another sport that might be putting them in that low energy category.
Sarah Liz King (00:34:57) – So with movement, it isn’t so much a one size fits all piece. And I think that’s really frustrating that some people do need to kind of cut out exercise altogether for their periods to return while other people can tolerate a level of moderate to like, physical activity. So, um, my biggest tip would be if you’re doing any high intensity exercise. To work on slowly cutting that out altogether. Give yourself a deadline, get an accountability body, find something else that can occupy your time that is not movement related. And then in general, if you’re doing lots and lots of incidental movement or you feel very attached to steps and amounts of walking work on cutting that down to a more reasonable amount. So a more reasonable amount definitely looks like kind of under an hour, most definitely. But I’m saying to people, if we’re thinking about, you know, guidelines for healthy living and the general population is recommended to get roughly kind of 30 minutes of movement a day, like 30 minutes is probably okay for you to get to.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:36:14) – Definitely. And I think a lot of people are like, I have to sit down all day, every day. But what we need to remember is we’re all humans. And especially if you’re, you know, you’re a working age population potentially, you have like an active job and you can, you know, recover your period in that way. But, you know, when working with a specialist like yourself, you know, or a coach or a nutritionist, that will be taken into account, your your energy levels might be a lot higher than somebody who says, you know, is in a sedentary job, for instance, because there is going to be different energy requirements. And then over and above what you what you at the what you actually need. And so everyone’s so different.
Sarah Liz King (00:36:56) – And I think within that we really have to be like super compassionate to ourselves and not compare to other people who might be able to do. A different amount or have to eat differently to us. And I think in a recovery space that can be really hard to do to kind of like stay in your own lane and put your blinders on and really just focus on yourself.
Sarah Liz King (00:37:23) – But at the same time, it is something that will bring you so much more peace if you are able to do that for sure.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:37:31) – And I suppose, you know, coming, coming and wrapping up this this episode, how what would you what would you give to people? Obviously, this this has been like a touchpoint enter into periods and eating disorders but what insight would you give to anyone listening who’s maybe starting that journey for, you know, the next steps, for instance?
Sarah Liz King (00:37:52) – Yeah, I would say that don’t overwhelm yourself with too much information because oftentimes that can create more decision fatigue around what you should be focusing on if support is available to you. Definitely invest in getting some personalized guidance around your nutrition and your exercise just because it can simply take away that decision making power and set you on the path for focusing your energy on just consistently nourishing your body with what’s being recommended. Changing your movement to what is a reasonable level for you and your needs. And it just makes the process so much shorter and less stressful.
Sarah Liz King (00:38:44) – I know that that’s absolutely not the case, that everyone will be able to do that, in which case, again, you know, there are support groups out there just being mindful of how much you engage with it and taking care of your mental health along the way is going to be super important for you. So that element of support, if you can get a tiny little bit of personalized guidance, it will make, you know, it will give you skills, coping skills, strategies as well as that kind of these are the right changes for you and you need to make. But that would be my best advice for someone just starting out. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Get some advice. Get some help. Get some support for sure.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:39:31) – And I think, you know, if you are, you know, lucky enough to have family and friends around a lot of times to be open with them, communicate your needs. You know, I’ve had some great people along my own journey who have just been like, keep me accountable, please.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:39:48) – I’m just going to tell you stuff. You don’t need to be there telling me what to do, but I just need to tell you. And you know, a lot of times people, people do do understand. So, you know, I suppose if you are listening, don’t lose hope. You have so much information, Sarah, on your on your Instagram pages and you know your podcast and you know you have your own groups. If you know someone is lucky enough to be able to have the resources that is there and the information is there. So for my listeners, all of Sarah’s details will be down below. Um, and you know, all of her Instagram and links and social media links. But for the purposes of this, do you want to tell the listeners where they can find you? And I’ll do do the same for you? Yeah.
Sarah Liz King (00:40:30) – So again, I’ll pop all of your details in the show notes for everyone listening on my podcast so that they can find you. But to get in touch with me, I am on social media at Sarah Liz King.
Sarah Liz King (00:40:43) – That is my handle on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. And my website is the same. Sarah Liz King So all very easy to remember.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:40:55) – Amazing makes it makes it super simple. And with my my name is slightly hard to pronounce and spell, so I’m at flourish with Kendra on everything again. But again, I’m sure Sarah will leave it in the show notes and I coach people um, recovering from eating disorders not, you know, specifically on period recovery, but it’s definitely something we touch on within sessions so there’s a lot of information out there. AAM yourself with that and you know don’t lose hope but you know thank you Sarah for for joining me on and I think this conversation was a great a great starter and and get get people on the right path to recovery.
Sarah Liz King (00:41:34) – That’s my greatest hope. So thank you so much for having me on.
Ciandra Birnbaum (00:41:37) – No worries. Thank you so much. See you soon. Bye.
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