Addiction, Denial, & Fixing Irregular Periods to Get Pregnant

Jun 10, 2024 | Recovery Stories

Addiction, Denial, and Fixing Irregular Periods to Finally getting Pregnant

Shannon is a retired division one soccer player who struggled with her identity outside of being an athlete. After college, she turned to weightlifting and became a certified personal trainer which made it easy to mask her health and exercise obsession. Shannon got married, quit working and now travels around the country with her husband who is a professional baseball player. She had always dreamed of being a mom and with the help of Lindsey her husband and she will be welcoming their baby girl later this year in September! Let’s hear Shannon as she shares her story of Addiction Denial and Fixing Irregular Periods to Finally getting Pregnant.

In this episode:

  • How the athlete mindset can set the stage for disordered eating
  • Signs of underfueling even when you do get your period 
  • Overcoming the fear of under eating if you don’t track your food 
  • The overlap between eating disorders and addiction 
  • Calling out the lie “I won’t care about gaining weight once I’m pregnant”
  • When a full exercise break is necessary for changing your mindset
  • FINALLY getting pregnant after a 2 year infertility journey 

Connect with Lindsey Lusson: 

Instagram: @‌food.freedom.fertility
Website: www.foodfreedomandfertility.com/
Twitter: @LindseyLusson
Tiktok: @food.freedom.fertility

Transcript:

Lindsey Lusson  00:00

You have such a great mindset going in. But one of the things, one of the habits that you were still doing when we started working together was very meticulously tracking food and tracking macros. Can you remember that time when I was emphasizing to you that we might want to start stepping away from that? And what did that feel like for you?

Shannon  00:15

It was a control thing. I was nervous about not eating enough food. And again, that was just a fear of failure.  That’s something that definitely follows me is what if I’m not doing enough? You started to really explain it to me, “if you don’t separate from this, you’re going to continue to use these scales for the rest of your life. You don’t want your daughter or your son to see you doing that. That’s not normal, so that was a big driving factor, too. I was like, I can’t live like this. No one does this. At that point, I didn’t care what happened, I had fully surrendered to the fact that I was gonna gain weight.

Lindsey Lusson  00:50

Welcome to the Period Recovery and Fertility Podcast. Here we discuss the challenging, rewarding and life changing process of recovering your period and finding freedom with food and exercise. Whether you’re hoping to regain your cycle to get your health back on track, or you’re ready to become a mama, this podcast is for you. While the recovery process isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, it’s my hope to bring you both information and inspiration during your own recovery journey. I’m your host, registered dietitian and fellow HA woman, Lindsey Lusson. 

Lindsey Lusson  01:22

Shannon is a retired Division One soccer player who struggled with her identity outside of being an athlete. After college, she turned to weightlifting and became a certified personal trainer, which made it easy for her to mask her obsession with health and exercise. Shannon got married, quit working and now travels around the country with her husband, who is a professional baseball player. She has always dreamed of becoming a mom. With the help of Lindsey and her husband, she will be welcoming their baby girl later this year in September. 

Lindsey Lusson  01:49

All right, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the Period Recovery and Fertility Podcast. I am so excited to bring on one of my past clients and now friend Shannon. Welcome, Shannon!

Shannon  01:59

Hi. Thanks for having me. I’m so excited to talk. 

Lindsey Lusson  02:03

Yes. Well, we’ve been planning this for a while, but you being out in another country and now finally being back in the United States and being in similar time zones just made a lot easier for scheduling. 

Shannon  02:12

Absolutely. I was worried about the scheduling thing. So I was like, “let’s just push it off till I’m home.” And I get on a good sleep schedule. So here we are. 

Lindsey Lusson  02:21

Yes, yes. Well, Shannon, I read your intro and we were talking about how you’re past division one athlete. I’m curious how you kind of feel that pathway because we work with so many athletes, especially Division One athletes, and people who even do some sort of sport. Even outside of college after. People who are really serious about fitness and really dedicated and really good athletes. How do you feel just kind of that mindset or that background played into your struggles with losing your period and infertility? 

Shannon  02:52

Yeah, I mean, I think that a lot of women especially struggle with this. I think the mindset is definitely a huge part of it. I also think that there’s a lot of people giving advice, food advice, nutritional advice, that really aren’t educated and don’t have the right credentials. Making those statements to groups of women who are on social media are looking at all these celebrities and all these different diets. They latch on to these things, and then it spirals and they don’t realize where they are, and how it even really started. 

Shannon  03:26

I definitely had some friends that I played with that we all kind of were doing similar types of things. Once you normalize that, it takes on a head of its own and you end up somewhere you didn’t realize. But for me, I’ve always had a super obsessive personality. I’ve always wanted to be better.

And that’s really where it started. I wanted to make the most out of my career. I knew I wasn’t going to play professionally, but I wanted to make the most out of my collegiate career. And I just I started running a bunch. After practice, I played center midfield, so I had to run a lot. But I just started doing extra practices after running practices, doing all my summer workouts, during the season. And I just got super lean. I couldn’t separate from, what was normal, I think it. It became my normal. 

Lindsey Lusson  04:29

Do you feel like you’ve performed better doing extra practices and starting to…? Did some of the restrictive eating start in college? 

Shannon  04:39

Absolutely. And yes. Unfortunately, I will say that when I started doing those things, my performance on the field was significantly better.

Lindsey Lusson  04:49

[inaudible] flawlessly. I’ve got to keep going or maybe even more is better.

Shannon  04:54

Absolutely. For sure. 100%. I remember just being like “I can run forever”. Which means I can get into every single play and I can be the center midfielder that I want to be. That was validating.

Lindsey Lusson  05:10

So a lot of this started in college. What happened after you graduated college and you’re no longer “Shannon, the division one soccer player”?

Shannon  05:19

Yes. So after college. My husband got drafted in junior year of college. So he left and then I had senior year to kind of play while he was playing. And I graduated early so that I could kind of have freedom after the December. I graduated in December of that year. So I missed the whole spring semester, because I played in the fall. Soccer’s in the fall. And I had no plan, really. I was like, “oh, Nanny, so I can go see him on the weekends.” That’s when I started really weightlifting because soccer was over. 

Shannon  05:56

I remember losing my last game was the quarterfinals in Disney and the next morning, I went for a run. And when I think back to that, I think about how crazy that was. I just was “okay, this chapter shot but I must continue and this is my new chapter”. So I threw myself into weightlifting and nannying actually helped me be able to control everything I wanted to eat. My workouts where; I always made it to the gym. It didn’t matter that there’s no work outside of nannying. Once I leave, I’m done. I hand that baby back and I can go to the gym. So that was really my life. That was important to me because I really wanted to be able to go watch my husband pitch on the weekends.

Lindsey Lusson  06:46

And this lifestyle of nannying, going to the gym, repeat, repeat, repeat, probably didn’t feel all that abnormal to you because it almost mimics maybe your lifestyle in college as a division one athlete.

Shannon  06:58

Absolutely. Yep. Yep. I mean, I just remember even  going from the gym to go pick up the kids from school before I had a six month old for a while after this. But I had two kids that were in elementary school, I would go to the gym and I would sit in my car and wait for them to be dismissed.

And I would be eating a rotisserie chicken, which is all I ate in college in a container. It was like rotisserie chicken, broccoli and white rice. And it was the most bland thing ever. I just sat in the car. Even talking about right now I can picture myself doing it and I can taste it in my mouth. Like this awful food that I was putting into my body because I knew “Oh, it’s so clean. I won’t get into away from this. And I’ll build muscle. It’s great.” But yeah, it was the same thing that I was doing in college. 

Lindsey Lusson  07:45

You mentioned something Shannon, I don’t even know if you did this on purpose or not. But we’re gonna go here. You mentioned with that this is so clean. This won’t make me gain weight. Do you feel like there was always an underlying theme of being afraid of gaining weight?

Shannon  07:59

It’s so funny because I never had any of those thoughts growing up ever. I never thought about it. My mom was not like that at all. I mean, she was skinny woman, didn’t really like to eat much food. But there was never comments. My dad, big eater, but we ate normal meals growing up. I always had an athletic body. And I always had a lower half that was bigger. I played soccer, I was running all the time. I had legs to play soccer, you know? 

Shannon  08:32

I really don’t know what exactly changed. But I got bit by the crazy bug of like, “you’re a division one athlete and you’re female, you should be super skinny and lean”. I don’t know what exactly it was, but I flipped a switch and ever since, it’s been hard to not think that way. 

Lindsey Lusson  08:57

Yeah, yeah. And you were living in your mind a really normal, healthy life. When did the red flags start popping up that maybe what you were doing wasn’t healthy?

Shannon  09:08

So the first one was senior year. I’ll never forget this. I don’t even think you know this story. But  I have practice and we fulfilled scrimmage, 11 v 11. Because we had a bi-week. I had gone to our athletic gym and ran like every single day that we had off. And I showed up at 11 v 11. It was super hot outside. I wasn’t eating much food at the time and I got into the ice bath with the younger girls in the team. 

Shannon  09:42

They were freshmen and I’m in the ice bath and I just get really woozy. I faint inside the ice bath which shouldn’t happen because you’re in cold water, that should never happen. The all the girls were so freaked out. I mean, obviously I don’t remember it, I was out. But my trainer, he was a male, thank God was able to pull me out and throw me on the training table, and I woke up. It was super scary, super scary. My husband was actually at a dinner. He was at his first cool dinner with his agent and all the big league guys. And I remember being like, “do not call him like, I’m okay, freaking out”. So I knew he was gonna freak out. 

Shannon  10:21

The next morning, they sent me into the training room with one of the female trainers who used to be a bodybuilder. She had this whole conversation with me about eating disorders and like disordered eating, and like, “hey, I really think that you need to eat more. That shouldn’t happen and that’s really scary”. And all these things. I just kept looking at her like, “She’s crazy. That’s not me.” I was disassociating from like, “I’m not that bad”.

Lindsey Lusson  10:50

Yeah. Well eating disorders can really do that. They can really take over any sort of a rational brain and really convince us that we’re not sick, because we’re not as soon as that person or we’re not purging as many times as that person is. It’s not that bad, I take control, I’ve got this. And so that was kind of maybe the first introduction that was met with a big resistance. Fast forward to the time that you… because eventually, we started working together. And we realized we had a lot to work on, what are things that started coming up closer to the time that we first got introduced?

Shannon  11:26

SoI would say that in 2021, when my husband was injured, and we were at rehab in Arizona, I would say that’s when it really got bad. I think something that I try to do when I can’t control things, which is very normal for a lot of people that struggle with this, is what can I control. And it was I can control what I do in the gym, and I can control what I eat. It became this schedule of literally eating all this clean food and timing and giant black coffees, and two and a half, three hour lifting sessions. I was just so skinny. And I was literally measuring my waist, measuring my thigh Each thigh. Recording it. Doing my body fat percentage bi-weekly. I mean, it was really not normal.

Lindsey Lusson  12:30

Was there anybody that was like “Shannon, what the hell?” Why are you such extreme measurements? Or were you in a culture where other people were doing those things and it was normal? 

Shannon  12:43

No, no one else was doing that. I was just with my husband in the hotel room. And he was really going through a very traumatic thing we both were. It was a really hard time for both of us. We were both trying to control things. Because we felt like our whole world had been, just totally ripped out, the rug ripped out, underneath us. So he definitely was like, “this isn’t normal, stop doing this. This is crazy.” All these different things. He would try to talk to me, but he also knew who he was married to. I just do things. I’m very headstrong. And when I set my mind to something, I’m going to do it. So no one else was doing stuff like that. That was just me. 

Lindsey Lusson  13:32

There’s such a hard line in relationships, right? Because on the one hand, you have to honor who the person is, and hopefully you know who you married. And when somebody’s doing something that they’re hell bent on doing, nothing’s worse than like a spouse being nagging and telling them what not to do. But I do think that disordered eating and eating disorders, obviously caused a big rift and relationships. Are there things that you felt really suffered, and else marriage during that time that have changed since then?

Shannon  14:04

So I would say that I think what he does for a living and how he is definitely, not fueled what I was doing, but it made it a little bit more normalized. I definitely took it to an extreme but like, he’s a professional athlete, he’s going to do things like that. And Ithink I have hard time figuring out that I’m not the professional athlete. I don’t need to live like that and I would say now, he’s always been just so supportive and so, so honest with me. And I think that’s the best thing that you could have in a partner is someone that’s honest with you, and also willing to be in the trenches and do everything to make it better. 

Shannon  14:49

That was a huge part of going through your program and having him. I mean, he was the biggest advocate for me signing up with you. Because I was like, I don’t know if I can do this and he was, “I want you to, I need you to do this for you and making all the food for me when I didn’t want to eat all this”. He just did so much for me. Very grateful. 

Lindsey Lusson  15:10

Well, and when we started working together so to bring people up to speed a little bit more on like your fertility journey, when we started working together, although you did go through a little bout amenorrhea and not having a period. When we started working together, you had actually gotten your period back and you had had your period for about a year. Is that right? 

Shannon  15:27

That’s right. Yes, I had an abnormal period. I guess. I didn’t really know at the time that it was abnormal, because I didn’t really know much about it. My mom jokes, because I went through this program and the things I would tell her when we would go on walks about ovulation and these windows and these different… She would be like “I’ve had four children. I have no idea what you’re even talking about. I never did basal body temperature and all these different things”. She’s like, “how do you even know this step?” I was like, “I had to. I had to know these things to get to where I am.” 

Lindsey Lusson  15:58

Yeah. Body literacy is something that was lost on our Boomer generation mamas. But we’re reclaiming millennials and Gen Z. What were the red flags coming up for you? I visit with people often. Multiple people every single month. “Hey, everything that you’re saying speaks to me, but I actually get my periods. So can you help me?” What made you realize that you needed more help, and what helped you to know that this was the right decision to work with me?

Shannon  16:33

So I want to shout out one of my best friends, Michelle. She showed me your Instagram. She didn’t have a period for like 10 years and she really never thought she’s gonna be mom. Michelle is, God bless the mother of two beautiful babies. I just mether second daughter yesterday, she’s gorgeous. It’s amazing. But she stopped working out like right after she got pregnant. Right after she got married, and she got pregnant, like almost immediately. 

Shannon  17:02

And I was over there hanging out with her and her first daughter. I was in tears because we had been trying for, I want to say at this point, probably like 13 or 14 months, and nothing was happening. And I just completely broke down. She looked me straight in the face and told me the things I didn’t want to hear. Shesaid, “You need to stop working out, you need to stop working out, you need to stop eating like that. You need to be more free with yourself. And I really want you to look at this woman’s Instagram and maybe contact her.” That’s how it started.

Lindsey Lusson  17:41

Okay, how was it to hear that from somebody that you are so close with?

Shannon  17:47

She was probably the only person I was ever going to listen to, because she had gone through it. And she was somebody I looked up to. She’s probably one of the people that started me on eating very healthy. We lived together, it was just the two of us. She was always in great shape and she always made smart food decisions. And she was a beast on the soccer field. So I looked up to her and I still do. I still look up to her. But she had to go through those changes. 

Shannon  18:18

And I watched her do that. I knew that that was really difficult. So hearing it from her, I knew she was right.

Lindsey Lusson  18:25

Oh, and this is why I actually will always be an open book about my story is because I think that this needs to be talked about more often. Because even though your story has a really wonderful, happy ending that we’ll get to can you imagine if we could have nipped this in the bud and college or it wasn’t 13 months of trying to conceive? Right? So all that to say I’m just so happy that you’re here talking about all of this. 

Lindsey Lusson  18:54

We first started visiting, you have such a determined mindset. You were kind of like, “oh let’s do this”. Literally, you tell me to turn around in a circle three times and talk on my left ear like I’m gonna do it.  “I’m here to be coached”. So you have such a great mindset going in. But one of the things, one of the habits that you were still doing when we started working together was very meticulously tracking food and tracking macros. Can you remember that time when I was emphasizing to you that we might want to start stepping away from that? What did that feel like for you? 

Shannon  19:26

Yes, I remember being so nervous to step away from the food scales. I had three food scales. I had my one at home my one of my parents and my travel one when we were on the road. Everybody knew that Shannon weighed her food unless we were at a restaurant. It was a control thing. And then when you told me I had to eat a lot more food because I clearly was under eating for so many years. I was nervous about not eating enough food. And again, that was just a fear of failure. That’s something that definitely follows me is, what if I’m not doing enough? 

Shannon  20:06

So I think that was most of it, to be honest. At that point, I didn’t care what happened. I had fully surrendered to the fact that I was going to gain weight.  That was going to happen. I knew what my body setpoint was. It was nowhere near what I was sitting at for five years. So it was definitely a fear of not getting enough food. But then once you started to really explain it to me, “if you don’t separate from this, you’re gonna continue to use these scales for the rest of your life. You don’t want your daughter or your son to see you doing that. That’s not normal.” So that was a big driving factor, too. I was like, I can’t live like this. No one does this.

Lindsey Lusson  20:53

Yeah. So I mean, what am I even kind of hearing is like you had reached a point open enough to when we were having this conversation of recognizing this isn’t normal, yet you were still doing it? Do you feel like there was like ever… did we feel somewhat trapped? Or we had just never thought that there was another way to eat? 

Shannon  21:14

Yeah, I think I had gotten so comfortable doing it even though, I probably know exactly how much food is on a plate from weighing so much food all the time. I didn’t trust myself. I really don’t know exactly what it was. But once I did separately, I haven’t weighed anything. I don’t even weigh anything for like a protein shake anymore. Literally just like we’re gonna eyeball it.

Lindsey Lusson  21:46

What’s funny is, and I think that logically, any person that’s ever tracked their food, especially when they track their food for like years knows this. You can very closely eyeball portions and be pretty dang close to what you would have weighed like you just get to that point. And so what I always like to remind people in recovery is you already know how to eat this amount. You do. I promise you that you do. 

Lindsey Lusson  22:12

And I think that whenever we’re weighing food down to the gram, at some point, it does start to become self limiting, right, because we talk about a 2500 Calorie minimum. Well, that’s a minimum, right? People need 2800 calories, 3200 calories, 3500 calories, right? And so if we’re weighing everything, and there’s stress around hitting the numbers, and not going over, but not being under and then there’s all these body changes and all this discomfort. 

Lindsey Lusson  22:40

I’ve just found that it’s creating a lot of unnecessary stress around food. And we have to lower stress if we want to create this part of safety in your body feeling ready to accept and carry a healthy pregnancy. But it can turn obsessive very fast. And there are I think a lot of people who struggle with HA also struggle with various types of addictions, OCD. I see it a lot with people with compulsive exercise. So I think that for some people, we just have this part of our brain that really loves to latch on to numbers and control and things like that. And so I understand why [indecipherable] getting in the way feels very safe.

Shannon  23:26

For sure and I would be the first one to attest to the fact that my obsessive compulsive disorder with the food, with the exercise, all of it stemmed from addiction from my past, addiction runs in my family. I am currently seven years sober from alcohol, which is huge.

Lindsey Lusson  23:50

Amazing, praise God!

Shannon  23:51

Praise God. And it was the best thing I ever did, for sure. But it was super hard. That’s why I got so addicted to weightlifting and to controlling my food. Because when you get sober at 20 years old and you’re still in college, and everyone in their 20s are going out and partying, you feel like a weirdo. Truthfully. You just feel so strange. You are completely separating from your identity. 

Shannon  24:24

I used to be like the big party girl,so much fun, all this stuff, great time. But also not a good time. A lot of the times we got to the point where no want to be around anymore. So I had to reallyreinvent myself and I got addicted to being the fit girl. It became something where you’re not going to talk about me or think I’m weird because you’re gonna look at me and say wow, look at how fit she is and how skinny she is.  My insecurity, it was a wall to put up as like I’m over here, you’re over there type-of-thing.

Lindsey Lusson  25:06

And so on that note, you kind of already alluded to this before we push record. But how did it feel having to overcome an addiction and reinvent yourself and now you’ve created this identity… you’ve gone from Shannon, the party girl, a great time slash not a great time to Shannon, the fit girl. And now fast forward, you’re now having to let go of Shannon the fit girl identity. So a third reinvention of who Shannon is. How did that feel during recovery?

Shannon  25:39

Yeah, I would say that it was 10 times harder than deciding to become sober. I think I always knew I had a problem. Me and my dad have a really close relationship. And he had always pointed it out to me ever since I was in high school. I was always be like, yeah, yeah, yeah. Like shut them off and just be like, whatever. Then it got to a point when my husband now, he was about to enter the draft and he was like, “you need to figure this out. We can’t do this.” He was right. 

Shannon  26:13

And that was the day I called my dad and said, “I need help, I need to stop drinking”. I’ll never forget, he said, “hallelujah” and that was the end of it. Thank God. But I always knew, in the back of my head that the way I was living wasn’t right. I think finding the exercise and finding to  control the food and being in the gym and getting those highs that way, I thought was so normal and healthy.  It was always the alternative. 

Shannon  26:46

So, that was harder. That was a harder pill to swallow. I couldn’t do that. Like, you know, that wasn’t good. Now, this isn’t good. You know, why me? Why am I bearing all these crosses? When is it gonna get easier? Is who I am not okay? There’s just so many questions about my identity and that’s really hard. Because that’s everything that you are.

Lindsey Lusson  27:14

And I think one thing that makes eating disorders… I don’t mean to rate any sort of addiction and being harder to recover than another because alcoholism is incredibly hard to recover from and binge drinking is very normalized, especially in younger culture, college culture. However, with drinking or substance abuse, when you go to rehab, and you go through recovery, you never touch that substance, again, the end.

Like, if you want to stay sober, you can stay sober and just not drink.  I’m sure it’s a lot easier than just… With food, you can’t not eat.  Like you, you can’t just like turn it off and be like, okay, I’m just not going to have an eating disorder anymore. You have to heal from the eating disorder and then you have to reacquaint yourself into people dieting, and people commenting on your body, right? Like, it’s almost like this never ending recovery that you have to go through because food will always exist, and you have to literally have to eat to survive. 

Shannon  28:14

Absolutely. And I feel I got so much validation, when I started exercising and losing a bunch of weight and being so skinny and so muscular, and just looking like bodybuilder-ish. Everybody noticed. And you’re not human, if you don’t get a high from people’s compliments. Whoever says that they don’t care, they’re lying. It always feels good.

Lindsey Lusson  28:44

Yeah, yeah. And it’s not wrong. It’s human nature to want to be loved and validated. I think that we all have different… Maybe some people can write off a bit more than others, but everybody and kind of their core being wants to be accepted and belong and feel loved. So that makes so much sense. And I think a lot of people who develop HA do get maybe a higher level validation from it. I do hear that a lot from people about like, “well, I’m so scared of what people are gonna think if I gain weight”. Like, it’s not even about the person it’s like, “what are other people going to think of me”. I think that that is so challenging, because it can feel really frustrating to maybe in your core being be like, “I really shouldn’t care”, but like, “I really do care”.

Shannon  29:36

100%. Totally. And I am somebody who has a very high self esteem and  high self worth. A lot of people who think about me think that I don’t really care about what other people think. To an extent, that’s true, but a lot of the time it was because I was in my head saying to myself, “I’m going to be so good at this. What are they going to say?” It was always backed in that way. So gaining the weight, I definitely struggle with not only just seeing myself, but I was one of those people too, that thought, “What is everyone going to think?” They’re gonna think I just let myself go crazy. That crazy thoughts and no one’s even thinking about you all that much. But to you, it’s the end of the world, you know? 

Lindsey Lusson  30:23

Yeah. Well, one thing that I always thought was really wonderful about you, Shannon, when we’re working together is, even though there was discomfort, and initially, it was hard, you seem to really be resilient in the sense of you gained weight, and you’re like, “I’m going shopping, I’m gonna buy new clothes, and my body looks different. But like, I’m still Shannon. I’m still beautiful. I can still rock this outfit.” There was this confidence that really came to life, as you really started recovering and getting your body to a healthier place. Talk to us a little bit more about where that came from. 

Shannon  31:00

Yeah. I definitely was so set. Like I said before,  I set my mind to something, I’m going to do it. And so I just took this as a new challenge.  I was going to do everything I could to make it better. If I couldn’t make it better by being in the gym, and lifting heavier weights, or whatever it was, I was going to go shopping and find new clothes that were going to fit that were going to make me feel good. Because everything that I had, they were like, from the Baby Gap essentially, like that was that was my wardrobe. I couldn’t wear that anymore. 

Shannon  31:40

So I was going to find stuff that was going to fit. And I also had accepted that I can’t wear stuff like that, for the rest of my life. I want to be a mother. I want to wear like not mom clothes, but more sophisticated stuff. So I just took it as a time to accept my new body and know that once I do get pregnant, I better get used to being pregnant. Because that’s going to be a challenge for somebody who’s obsessed with being super skinny. You’re growing another human being inside your body.

Lindsey Lusson  32:13

[indecipherable] I feel like a lot of people get really wrong is this idea that like, “I’m so scared of gaining weight. It’s terrifying. It’s the scariest thing in the world, but I’m not gonna care once I’m pregnant.” And it’s like, no, no, like, it doesn’t work that way. If your thing is control, you need to understand that when you enter into pregnancy, there’s a lot of things out of control, and that also is going to feel uncomfortable for you. 

Shannon  32:43

Absolutely. And I think that that’s why God works in mysterious ways. And for me, it was so important for me to go through your program, go through the three months, and do all of that, because I don’t know how I would have been if I had gotten pregnant on my own. 

Shannon  33:01

Doing all those things. I think I would still be doing all those crazy things and think that it’s completely normal. And that wouldn’t be healthy. So I think gaining the weight before really helped me now. I mean, I don’t care at all, I don’t think about it. I really don’t think about it. It’s just it is what it is. And it, isn’t it people Oh, you look amazing. I’m like, Yeah, great. But I’m not I’m not harping on it the way that I used to.  I’m just happy to be pregnant. That’s it. 

Lindsey Lusson  33:35

Right. And to bring everybody up to speed on your story. We work together for three months. Whenever we first started working together, your cycles were there. They were coming. They were on the shorter side. So we were dealing with potential and ovulation potential short luteal phase. Is that really what you [indecipherable]?

Shannon  33:51

Yes. You want me to explain? 

Lindsey Lusson  33:53

Yeah, go for it.

Shannon  33:54

Okay. Yeah. So when we first started working together, I actually had followed you. I was trying to do it on my own. I stopped working out in like, July for a month, and I was using the OPKs. And I thought I was getting surgeries. I was getting surgeries for like four days. It was very strange. The surges were coming at different times. They weren’t around the same time. So that was really odd. 

Shannon  34:20

But we were trying month after month and just wasn’t working. And then I thought, Oh, I’m doing well, I didn’t work out in July. I’m going to I’m going to reintroduce exercise in August, but I’m only going to work out three days a week and I’ll walk two miles only lift for an hour and no bar just dumbbells. That’s a big thing with me. I always try and convince myself that I wasn’t doing too much in my sobriety in my lifting. It was always the same. Then the result always became well, “you have to do nothing.” 

Shannon  34:54

And that’s when I started working with you. It was you’re just gonna walk and you’re gonna walk for like 30 minutes. And that’s it. You’re not doing anything else because I’m just not somebody… I can’t do moderation. That’s just not the way I’m wired. Once I start going, I just I just go. But I’m good now. I’m doing a lot better now.

Lindsey Lusson  35:17

Yeah, I mean, what I see with a lot of people that struggle with exercise addiction is there needs to be a temporary break to kind of reestablish what a normal workout routine could and should look like for somebody who knows how to feel for it. And if you’re somebody who says, oh, I’m just gonna go on like a three mile run, and then nine miles later, you’re like, how did I get here?  Sometimes having some very strict guidelines in the short term can help you get to a healthier place in the long term.

Shannon  35:45

Absolutely, absolutely. So it was so important for me to do that with you. And so I just remember deciding, I stopped working out in September, and then I remember getting on a call with you. I told you everything that was going on, and we started working together. And I wasn’t getting the gold standard, cream of the crop, cervical mucus, that was the biggest thing. 

Shannon  36:11

And you had pointed out to me, like, I’m probably having an anovulatory cycles this whole time. And so from eating more food, and just walking, I was able to see more signs as we went. Then, I will never forget having my ovulation come a little early on the last cycle that we were working together when I was using doing the [indecipherable] testing. And I was freaking out because my husband was training in Arizona, and I was flying out in a couple of days. 

Lindsey Lusson  36:49

You have a lot going on during that…

Shannon  36:54

And I remember being worried because we had missed the last cycle previously, because we just didn’t line up. I was like, we’re gonna miss another one. I can’t believe this. But I saw the gold standard egg white cervical mucus that I had never seen, ever since even knowing what that was. And I remember, I was on a walk with my mom and I was losing my mind over it. She was like, “relax, like you don’t know the stuff the other thing.” And I got on the plane, and that was my ovulation day. That was the day we can see it, which is incredible. It was like cycle day 10, which was four days earlier than any other one. So, unbelievable. 

Lindsey Lusson  37:39

And it only took one time.

Shannon  37:44

Right, exactly. I had spoken to you I had the REI appointment set up for January 2nd. We were doing that. That was just happening because I had been so defeated… Yeah, yeah, it’s been almost two yearA I thought I needed answers. We had seen weird results with my estrogen like estrogen was like crazy high. And then I was like, slightly out of range for my eggs. I’m 27, it didn’t make sense but clearly my hormones, we’re still just not right.

Lindsey Lusson  38:20

And that’s the best way that I can make sense of everything that was going on at that point in time was just your body had been through so much. There had been so much stress. So many swings. So many just things that were going on externally to with just like moves across the country and things being up in the air and things between like your husband’s job and everything, that your hormones, we’re just kind of all over the place. And so it will definitely be interesting to see how cycles are postpartum. But ultimately, you’re pregnant now. And we do have a happy ending here. How do you feel like your relationship with food and movement has changed and what’s that look like for you in pregnancy?

Shannon  39:03

So it’s so much better? Thank God. I had a really rough first trimester in the sense that I was super nauseous. I was also in Taiwan. So smells were super different. Food was super different. I wasn’t eating all that much, but it wasn’t by choice. Carbs were the only thing I could really keep down. Yeah, but now I’m feeling so much better. I eat a lot of Whole Foods that’s still important to me, and not even just important to me, but it’s just, it’s what tastes good to me.

And I just am comfortable in that way. But I’m also, anyone that knows me, I love Italian food. I love Penny Lavaca like I’m gonna eat chicken farm like pizza in New York, bagels. Since this freedom, I realized how many rules I had for myself that were so outrageous. Bagels only on Christmas and Easter. No egg sandwiches. Egg sandwiches are literally like a Sunday ritual in New York. That’s a thing.  I deprived myself from that for so long. It was the first thing I got, when I got off the plane the next morning. I walked and got one and it was phenomenal.

So just a lot more freedom with that. And the exercise. I mean, I worked out today. I go slow, I use small weights, 510 pounds. And I don’t do anything crazy. I’m just not doing that anymore. Really trying to have balance and listen to my body and not just push through it.

Lindsey Lusson  40:45

Do you feel like you finally have that balance after everything you’ve done?

Shannon  40:49

I think, having the baby inside me and just being so nervous about everything definitely helps me to not push it and do all these things that was so easy for me to do prior. I will never get back to where I was. That I know is completely unhealthy. But exercise is a huge part of me, I do love it. And I love the way it makes me feel. But I do know that it can’t be the way it was. And I’m so aware of that. I’m so conscious of my daughter not seeing that crazy mom that her workouts more important than hanging out with me or whatever. I’m not going to be that mom. 

Lindsey Lusson  41:37

Well, luckily, once you have your little girl, you’re going to have this built in little accountability partner. Because you’re going to have limited time, you’re not going to be able to be dropping her and going to the gym for three hours and stuff like that. So I think that like over time, your relationship with fitness can really evolve. I throw out the word balance. Balance looks different during different seasons. And it’s ever evolving. 

Lindsey Lusson  42:03

The idea of having the perfect balance is kind of this mythical thing, right? Because there’s probably always going to be things that are dynamic and emotion trying to reestablish that balance day to day, week to week, month to month. But what I’m hearing is, we’ve gotten to a place where we’re able to feel at peace with food. 

Lindsey Lusson  42:25

We’re able to enjoy some of our favorite fun foods, while still feeling good about the intention that we put forth towards having Whole Foods and we’re not killing ourselves in the gym. Even though we’re pregnant and we got to our end goal, we’re kind of recognizing that, this is an ongoing thing of treating your body appropriately. And that doesn’t necessarily mean pounding and pounding out a workout every single day.

Shannon  42:47

Absolutely, totally. That’s where I am and I’m so grateful for it. I’m so grateful for you, I would not be here, I would not have seen what I needed to do if it weren’t for you. And being in the group, being around all… Listening to those girls talk, it was the most therapeutic thing. 

Shannon  43:07

Anytime I listened to anybody say anything about their period, or if they’re struggling with, I’m always the first person to say “Hey, there’s this woman, and she really helped me and we had this group, and it was great. And I mean, it’s just such a godsend.” I’m just I’m so grateful. I mean, this is all I ever wanted. And so if I tell you, thank you all the time, but I really… I’m so, so, so grateful. 

Lindsey Lusson  43:35

Well, I am blessed to always work with just the coolest clients, the easiest, the best people. But Shannon, what would you say to somebody who is a podcast listener maybe kind of plugged in to any of my channels, and they actually have their period. What would you say to somebody who’s like, “oh, yeah, I understand all of that. But like, that’s not me, because I actually get my period”. What would you say back to that?

Shannon  43:59

Um, I would say that that’s exactly who I was. I don’t regret my journey, because I truly believe that those are the things that make you and I’m a better person and growth is so important. For me, always, I have to go through a lot of hard things. I hit my face on the floor a couple of times, until I get the message. That’s just how I am but it would have saved me a lot of heartache. 

Shannon  44:28

Maybe I would have been pregnant a year earlier, but you can’t change that you can’t go back and I just think that you never think it’s you. You always think it’s not me, and that’s the biggest mistake you make. And it was life changing. Absolutely life changing. Your body is so incredible, and it’s so resilient. And if you want to be a mom, you have to sacrifice and you have to stop thinking about yourself because like that’s exactly what it’s going to be. 

Shannon  45:00

Like you said, there’s different seasons of life and that’ll always be waiting for you after.  But that biological clock, it ticks and you can’t get that back. You can always get yourself back into that gym. So, yeah, that’s that’s what I would say.

Lindsey Lusson  45:18

Yeah. And like, it’ll be so much more joyful to when you’re going at exercise from a place of, fun and, competitiveness but not being a robot and living in fear that if I don’t get this workout in, then I am losing all of my fitness. Or I’m gonna gain 20 pounds overnight, right? I think that I know, for me personally, that was one of the things that drove my exercise addiction was fear. It wasn’t about being fit, it wasn’t being about health, it was about being scared.

And it’s so much more fun to exercise now because I get to really check in with myself and be like, do I feel like doing lifting heavy or do I feel like going for a walk around the neighborhood? Or do I just feel like taking a nap or do I feel like doing something I’ve never done before. So I think just re establishing that relationship with fitness is really transformative. And I’m excited to get to check in with you again in a couple of months and to hear how those things are going.

Shannon  46:14

Yeah, me too.

Lindsey Lusson  46:15

Well, Shannon, thanks for coming on today. We appreciate you and we’re excited for you for becoming a mom in the fall. What do you think is one of the things that you’re most excited about for having a baby girl?

Shannon  46:27

Oh, there’s so many things. I don’t know, think about it. I think about it all the time. And I don’t know what I’m most excited for. I just can’t wait to pull there in my arms and just have my family around. I mean, it’s such an emotional thing for me. There were so many times where I just didn’t know who was ever going to happen for me. I’m just so grateful. I’m so excited. I can’t wait to just be around her every day. I’ve just always wanted to be a mom and I’m so excited to have a little girl. 

Lindsey Lusson  46:57

Yes, girls are so fun. I always love picking up girls. I love my son, I literally like get teary eyed thinking about one day, he’s going to have another woman in his life and he’s going to have this other family. But girls, I’m close with my mom. So I’m like, I’ve got two built in little besties and we’re gonna be in touch. So girls, the mommy daughter relationship is really sweet. 

Lindsey Lusson  47:22

Well, thanks again for being here. And thanks for sharing your amazing story.

Shannon  47:26

Thanks for having me.

Addiction Denial and Fixing Irregular Periods to Finally getting Pregnant

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MEET THE HOST
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I’m a fertility nutritionist and registered dietitian who specializes in hypothalamic amenorrhea. My passion is helping women trying to conceive find freedom with food and exercise, so they can recover their period, and get pregnant naturally.

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EPISODE 1: MY RECOVERY STORY

Jan 19, 2022

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