Elyse is a member of The HA Society and joined really early on in her recovery from hypothalamic amenorrhea. Today, I’m taking you through her story as a case study.
Elyse lives in country New South Wales, Australia. She’s a personal trainer and student.
“Being a personal trainer I genuinely thought I was healthy and fit but I also know now, obviously, I wasn’t. I also know now, looking back, I was suffering a lot from disordered eating and I had a very disordered relationship with exercise. But at the time you couldn’t tell me that.”
Aside from her background in PT and interest in health and fitness, she had been on the pill for 10 years.
“I don’t really know when my HA started so the pill definitely hid a lot of the symptoms and I just put it down to being on the pill for so long.”
Eventually, with the help of her fiance, she realised that her missing period was probably a problem. She discovered books, podcasts and joined The HA Society.
I remember first meeting her and getting to know where she was at in her recovery. Each week that she showed up to a call or posted in the group she was a little further along in her progress. It was really fun to watch.
She created a protocol for herself, but she implemented it gradually.
“I decided I needed to start eating more. I was eating about 1700 calories and for me to get to 2500 calories was a bit of a push so I did it gradually. I didn’t just wake up the next day and eat 2500 calories.”
During this process, however, as PT who loved and maybe relied a little too much on her movement, exercise was a bigger challenge to hurdle.
“I was going to go all-in and I did: cold turkey no exercise for that first week. I went back to my doctor’s absolutely miserable because I felt lost and so confused. I kept going back in my head being like ‘well do I actually have HA? Do I actually have to do this? Is this me?”
These questions and negotiating with yourself are common, but with the help of a community, both at home and online, getting clarity on the truth is easier.
“My doctor said ‘we have to look at your lifestyle factors’ and that’s when I had to take a really hard look at myself and realize what was going on and try not to deny it anymore.”
When she asked her doctor about balancing exercise throughout this process…
“She said yes if it’s coming from a place of enjoyment and not because you feel like you have to.”
With some attempts to exercise only from a place of enjoyment, Elyse realized that she wasn’t quite there yet. Exercise still had a hold on her and she eventually was able to stop completely.
“To rebuild your relationship with exercise you have to start from the beginning and that really means stopping for a while in order to get a proper reset.”
Elyse shows that just because you’re not able to give up some aspects of your exercise or dieting immediately, that you can still get there with time, patience and determination.
Once she did give up exercise completely, she made HUGE progress.
“I got my first period two weeks after I gave up yoga so that just validated the fact that my body did need the rest. That’s when the real work started – after my first period. There was a whole new level of hard afterwards because it took 62 days for my second period [to come].”
This is why I preach the work we do in The HA Society so much. It’s not JUST about working towards getting your first period. It’s also important to develop the tools and mental fortitude to continue on and get healthy periods after that – which Elyse learned first hand it isn’t as simple as we sometimes think.
She started to track her cycles to spot when ovulation was happening and anticipate her next period, but…
“I don’t think my first cycle was ovulatory, which I think is common in people recovering from HA”
She discovered that she had to keep working towards getting ovulatory periods now that she had experienced her first bleed. With time, however, and by being a constant participant in The HA Society calls and by being her own biggest health advocate, she sorted out the thingsA that were still standing in her way.
“After my first recovery period I didn’t really change anything if I’m being 100% honest. I think there was something subconsciously going on, I got my first period and didn’t gain as much weight as I thought I was going to gain and I thought “this is amazing I still look good, I still feel good, I didn’t have to gain ‘x’ amount of weight and I could tell just by my language that I was still hung up on the weight gain side of things, like I hadn’t made peace with it.”
“I came to the conclusion that I was still holding on to this control. Before, it was the exercise. I still wanted to control the walking and the yoga. And then with my second period, it was the control of my weight, I was scared to gain more weight. And in hindsight, I did gain more weight. And I’m okay with it because I knew my body needed it. After so many years of calorie restriction and over exercising and, you know, just being in that energy deficient state, my body needed the extra weight gain. And I actually started calling it weight restoration.”
After this journey, Elyse was able to restore her cycles to a healthy length WITH ovulation.
“I kind of approached recovery like I would approach any other goal. I thought ‘this is what I have to do and I only want to do it once.’ And I’m not saying I’ve done it perfectly at all, but I’ve just been open to listening to what my body needs. Because right now my body calls the shots.”
I am super proud of Elyse and feel really lucky to have her in our community.