While going through my journey over the last few years of realizing I was infertile, changing my mindset and behavior to recover from hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA), becoming fertile again, and now about to have my first child, I’ve done a lot of pondering and self discovery. I’m a believer in things happening for a reason, and that our trials are catered to us and our specific needs to mold us into the best versions of ourselves. While finding out about HA I was frustrated. I couldn’t help but think “why does this effect me and not the other girl?” “Why can’t I just keep living how I’m living and get pregnant?” It didn’t really seem fair. I heard of women living a similar lifestyle to mine and getting pregnant naturally or with medical intervention, keeping their fitness level in the process. It seemed very appealing at the time. However, since going through this process, I have learned so much about myself and discovered that this trial was EXACTLY what I needed to become a better mother, a better wife, a better trainer, and just a better me than I would have been without it. I needed to be pulled out of my obsession. I needed balance in my life. I needed a wake up call. 

In this blog post I want to focus on why I wouldn’t change a thing. These seven lessons are why I’m grateful I recovered from HA before getting pregnant and becoming a mother.  

  1. I learned to overcome my fears & anxieties around weight gain. When I was in the depths of HA, one of the things that made me most anxious about becoming a mother someday was having to sacrifice my workout routine and possibly gaining weight. I’ve said it before, but gaining weight was literally my biggest fear. Seems ridiculous now, but at the time it was real! Having to face that head on did wonders for me. I learned that my marriage didn’t fall apart (it actually got better), my clients didn’t leave me (we actually got closer), and I wasn’t miserable (this took time, but now I’m happier than ever!).

  2. I learned to accept and love my forever changing body. Part of my HA recovery I went through was the mental work of detaching my identity and worth from my body, and loving myself aside from what the scale said. Since I put in this mental work before getting pregnant, all of the physical changes that come with pregnancy hardly even phased me. Ya I’m not 100% stoked on how my body looks all of the time, but I know that if I would have become pregnant without going through this process, pregnancy would have freaked me out! When stretch marks appeared on my boobs and my butt, I sort of smiled and thought to myself “sweet, I’m joining the club!” Rather than it seeming like the end of the world, I’ve realized that their are MUCH greater issues that people deal with than a few stretch marks.

  3. I’ve learned more patience. I’ve been fit and healthy pretty much my whole life and have never had to struggle through a process of trying to fix or course correct my health. Through HA recovery, I learned that adjusting anything to do with hormones takes TIME. It took my body three months of no exercise, eating 2500+ calories, and relaxing my mind for my body to produce a natural period again (and 3 months was on the quicker side compared to most). {check out No Period Now What for more details on this process} It took 6 months after that for my body to Ovulate on its own in order for me to get pregnant naturally. Because of this process I know I’ll be more patient and understanding with my body postpartum. Had I gotten pregnant without HA recovery, I know I would’ve jumped right back into my old ways, stressed about losing the weight, and possibly caused permanent damage to myself in the process. 

  4. I learned to love exercise & movement completely aside from weight loss. Pre-recovery, my workouts were usually focused on how many calories I could burn, how much I was sweating, and how dead I was when I was done. From taking exercise out of my life for a season, I learned how much I just craved movement. I learned to appreciate a simple walk around the block, or a light yoga session. It became more about mental clarity and functionality rather than numbers to track. I learned to love exercising with people again rather than being so worried about my own results. I know this mindset will benefit my kids, my husband, and myself throughout our lives. 

  5. I learned to be OK with days that I don’t get a workout in. Working out has always been ingrained into my daily routine, and ask anyone who knows me - I was not a happy camper if I didn’t get a workout in. I would be irritable and antsy for the rest of the day, and anxious around food. With this process I had to learn to cope with my emotions without exercise as an outlet. I’ve learned that somedays you don’t get it in and thats alright. Somedays your body says, “let’s take the day off, stay in bed and cuddle with your cute husband”. I’ve learned to cherish those mornings because the old me never allowed that! If I need to be in bed all day caring for a sick baby, I’ve learned that I can live with that and my workout can wait. There’s so much more to life that we can miss out on if we’re just worried about looking good in a bikini.

  6. I learned to honor my bodies hunger cues and remove food guilt from my life. One of the most eye opening things about recovery was how much I had been unintentionally starving my body without even realizing it. I had been working out like crazy and depriving my body of the fuel it needed. No wonder I had a sweet tooth, my body was craving carbs so badly! I was used to this under fueling state, so when I did actually fuel adequately, or “over-indulge”, I felt like it was too much and there was some guilt associated with that. I would already be planning my workout for the next day to make sure I worked it off. With HA recovery, I was able to reset my bodies hunger triggers and I feel so much more in tune with what my body needs and am willing to provide that. I know this step has been so important for a healthy pregnancy, and will help me through breastfeeding and just being there for my baby with full energy. 

  7. I learned to be less judgmental and critical of myself and others. In my naive HA brain, I would see mothers gain weight with pregnancy and then be surprised when it didn’t just come right off afterwards. I thought it was just laziness and lack of dedication and discipline. I would look at myself and compare my body to other trainers and was rarely content with my current state. I’ve since learned how dumb I was. First of all, the “extra” weight on a women is exactly what a baby needs to grow and thrive. Not even just the baby, but our bodies thrive best with some extra cushion. When we have “a little weight to lose” we’re probably in a great spot as far as hormones, energy levels, sex drive, and mood are concerned. I’ve learned to view this as a badge of honor. I believe one of the best gifts we can give our children is a healthy relationship with ourselves. Showing them that we care for our bodies and health without criticism will go along ways! 

So there you have it. Seven lessons I would have never learned had I not faced Hypothalamic Amenorrhea recovery head on. At times during this process I was far from grateful for it, but now I can honestly say I am so grateful I went through this and the person it’s helped me become. If you’re struggling with a missing period or infertility due to over exercise, under fueling, or over stress in your life, then I highly recommend the recovery process. If you’re like me and want to start a family, I know that this process will do nothing but good for you and the sweet baby waiting to call you Mom.