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What the heck is Hypothalamic Amenorrhea?!

That's quite literally what I said after seeing an Instagram post comparing PCOS to Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (HA).

I had never heard of the condition, and yet, what I was reading sounded exactly like me...

Seemingly fit, healthy women with slim bodies, eating 'clean' who ALL had hormonal imbalances to the point where they lost their period.

I immediately downloaded the book 'No Period, Now What?' and spent the entire weekend completely engrossed in new learnings.

It was confronting.

It turns out, my clean eating and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) which I'd recommenced during COVID-19 was doing more damage to my health than good.

I had lost my period. Having being branded with having PCOS, I figured the stress of COVID-19 had impacted my cycle (as it had done to many other women).

But I soon realised, during my research that actually, it was more likely that I was under fuelling my body. I wasn't eating enough, I was working out too intensely and I was (inadvertently) restricting food groups - aka simple carbohydrates.

'Energy balance is essential to survival. The energy we consume in the form of food, fuels critical functions: pumping the heart, energising the brain, and keeping cells working. After that, fuel is provided for "nice to haves" such as growth of hair, nail, immune cells, and bones, as well as keeping body temperature up. Finally, the most expendable: fat storage and reproduction'.

This information hit me hard, it was like a slap in the face ...

I noticed that my hair had thinned, I had brain fog (too much), I was cold all the time, and often after a workout, I would black out (oh gosh, so not ok!). I realised my portion sizes had shrunk and I wasn't waking up hungry anymore like I used to... plus on top of all that - i'd lost my period.

Then the guilt and shaming commenced - I am a health professional, WHYYY didn't I realise this. I KNEW this information. I've studied physiology at university for christ sake! But like a lot of us, I thought I was doing the right thing by eating 'healthy' and working out.

When I spoke to a girlfriend about this I realised how restricted my food choices had become. I didn't eat potatoes, rice, noodles, pasta ... I didn't eat cereals, drink milk or eat ice cream. In fact, I had never bought ice cream from the grocery store, ever.

It was shocking when I realised this. It's still confronting for me to write this and admit that about myself. But, I thought I was doing all the right things.

I'd done the IQuitSugar movement, I was Paleo for a while, I embraced clean eating and plant based, whole foods. I had the foundation knowledge, I just wasn't eating enough, I wasn't eating often enough and I was being too restrictive in regards to carbohydrates.

So, im learning, or re-learning how to eat intuitively again.

It's a journey.

I still forget to cook rice with my curry, and go without lunch on the weekends, but i'm getting there. And - I bought ice cream from the grocery store the other day.

A couple of days later, I got my period back.

It only took a couple of tweaks and this is how my body looks now - healthy, happy and ovulating :)

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