Kelly has been a physical therapist for 7 years and lives in eastern Pennsylvania w/her husband of 5 years. Shortly after getting married, Kelly lost her period due to Hypothalamic Amenorrhea. After months of trying recovery on her own, Kelly joined Lindsey’s program in the summer of 2023 after realizing she couldn’t keep putting recovery on the back burner if she wanted to get pregnant ASAP. By the end of the summer Kelly had not only gotten her period back, she found out she was pregnant! Listen as Kelly and I visit through her experience going from no period to pregnant in 8 weeks!
In This Episode:
- Linkage between Physical Therapy and a potential pathway to developing HA
- Leaning into your gut feeling that something is off with your body
- How weight status can impact your body’s ability to get a period
- Flipping the script on weight gain: tips and tricks to reframe your mindset during recovery
- Achieving pregnancy naturally in 8 weeks after going 4 years without a period
- Lessons learned from HA recovery that can serve you well in pregnancy
Lindsey Lusson 00:00
Kelly has been a physical therapist for seven years and lives in eastern Pennsylvania with her husband of five years. Shortly after getting married, Kelly lost her period due to Hypothalamic Amenorrhea. After months of trying on her own. Kelly joined Lindsey’s program in the summer of 2023, after realizing she couldn’t keep putting recovery on the backburner if she wanted to be able to get pregnant as soon as possible. By the end of the summer, Kelly had not only gotten her period back, but she found out she was pregnant. Listen as Kelly and I visit through her experience from going from no period to pregnant in just eight weeks. 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 01:03
Hey, hey friends, welcome back to another episode of the Period Recovery and Fertility Podcast. I am so stoked that you’re here listening along, and if you are a fan, you’re plugged in and you’re hearing our episodes every other week, I want to invite you to take the next 30 seconds and leave us a quick rating and review. This helps tremendously in reaching more listeners and empowering women to take charge of their health and fertility by getting their period back. So thanks for being here, and let’s get into the episode this week.
Lindsey Lusson 01:28
All right friends. Well, I am joined by my past client, Kelly, who is going to share her amazingly inspiring recovery story with you all today. So welcome, Kelly.
Thank you so much. I’m so excited to talk to you and be here.
Lindsey Lusson 01:41
Yes, and, Kelly, I thought we could just kick off, in your bio, we talked about how your physical therapists. I get so many clients, I would say I get a decent amount of clients that work in healthcare, but in particular, from any other profession. Physical Therapists seem to be a pretty common career path that also happen to end up with HA. Any links or maybe just start by telling us how you got into this career path? And then we’ll go from there.
Yeah, so I actually don’t think that’s super surprising when I hear that. Well, I’ll start off with both my parents work in healthcare. So I, from a young age, I knew I wanted to go into healthcare, seeing what my parents do. Neither of them are physical therapists, by the way. They both do other careers in health care. But I knew I wanted to do medicine, and I was looking into different types of medicine once I got into high school and needed to narrow it down. And I took a sports medicine class, which was essentially anatomy and physiology and all that stuff dumbed down for high schoolers, and I loved it all bones and muscles. So my parents, obviously knowing what they know, we’re like, oh, you’ll love physical therapy. And luckily, went to college for it, and I did like a preset program. So it was college, physical therapy school altogether, and thankfully loved it, because once you’re in the program, it’s like, that’s what you’re going to be. But I loved that. And then I ended up finishing college, getting my doctorate and then starting out as a physical therapist, I’ve been a therapist for a little over seven years–seven and a half years. But of course, if you want to go into healthcare, obviously, you’re probably into health and helping people and healthy habits, and I think sometimes, there’s a line of healthy habits gone too far. Not that we’re a nutritionist by any standpoint, but we do take nutrition classes, I think two or three throughout the whole program, just to be able to educate our patients on what they should be doing with their diet while recovering and while exercising or recovering from an injury. And then the other thing is, we do a lot of hands on as physical therapist. So in school, we are very hands on with each other, you have a partner and you’ll be doing everything. And to be honest, it’s intimidating in the beginning because you are in class with–I mean, we’re physical therapists, so we are in sports bras and Spanx shorts and doing tests on each other. I mean, who wants to be stripped down to a sports bra an Spanx when you’re not looking great, right? So I think every girl in my program was going to the gym and doing all the things, and I think it probably rubbed off on each other too. That definitely can’t be everything, but I think it’s something. It’s a part.
Lindsey Lusson 04:48
Totally, I could see that being triggering and thinking back some of my ex fez labs in grad school. I remember that part of it. I remember we would take our body fat percentage and that was you down and it’s not to say that those things are going to be cause for disordered eating or eating disorder, but I do think that could be a contributing factor. I’ll also just toss in that the job the nature of a physical therapist, especially work inpatient. Correct, you’re lifting patients, you’re doing a lot of physics
100%. Yeah, I tell people all the time I lift people for a living.
Lindsey Lusson 05:23
Right, and people are probably exercising outside of their jobs. So I think based on its career path, it’s just a high level of physical activity, and then if there’s some piece or any sort of insecurities about body, it can set the stage. So this is all making a lot of sense. To rewind and talk a little bit more about you and your missing period and your recovery story, you shared that. I think whenever we met for the first time, I think, you not getting your period came as a surprise, because you had normal periods, went on the pill, and then came off, and then it was like, what’s going on? Is that right?
Yeah, yep, I did. So I got my period, probably 15 or 16, something like that. Maybe on the little older side, but still normal. And I’ve been on the smaller side since forever. So when I was getting my period, when I was in high school in college, I was still tiny, but I was probably just squeaking it by with cycles that were normal. When you’re in high school, I didn’t think too much of it but I was getting it monthly, and it was what it was. And I was a dancer and a cheerleader, very active. And then in college, maybe halfway through college, I would say, maybe around age 20, I went on birth control for non-period issues, because I didn’t have any just for actual birth control. And I was on it until my husband and I got married around 25, we got married. So I was on it for about five years. And then I got off it just because I was like, well, I don’t really want to be on this anymore, and I’m married, so what happens happens. That’s fine. And then I forgot about it, because I was used to just being on birth control, and then I realized, wait, I should be getting a normal cycle back now, and I wasn’t. And then I read online, oh, it could take a couple of months. And then some things say, oh, it could take a year, everything you read online, it’s gonna say something different. And unfortunately, I wish I wasn’t saying this, but I was just “let it go, let it go.” And then I was in the mindset of it will come back, even though I was doing nothing to change it. I just thought it was gonna magically come back. And I probably would say I let it go for, gosh, three and a half to four years. And then in April of this past year, almost a year ago, that’s when I was like, okay, my husband and I have been married for four years. Now, the pregnancy thing is starting to come across our minds and be a talk. And unfortunately, I wish I would have dealt with it before it was a pregnancy thing. But yeah, that’s, to be honest, why it was because it was “oh my gosh, wait, you can’t get pregnant without a period.”
Lindsey Lusson 08:21
Right, and I hear that a lot. It’s this convenient problem to have for some people for a finite amount of time, whether it’s you’re hit with a osteoporosis diagnosis, or you have a stress fracture, or feel awful, you’re a ton of digestive issues, right? Everybody’s body response. [indecipherable] loss differently, and fertility can really light a fire under [indecipherable] bottom for getting into recovery. Do you think in hindsight, there was anything–when you found out about HA, I guess my question is, Kelly, is this shocking? Or were you like, “oh, that makes sense.”
Yeah. So I would say it was, like I was saying, it was last April. I remember my husband and I were just casually talking about it. And then I was like, okay, now I have to do something about it, right? I was waiting for it to come back on its own. And I remember stumbling across your Instagram just on my own. I wasn’t even following you. It just came across luckily, and I was reading some of your latest post and I was like, oh, yep, mm-hmm, check, check, check, check. And then that’s when I was like, okay, I’m gonna read more about this. And I remember telling my husband, come look at this. I think this is a solution for us. So I started following you. And my first thing was like, well, I just want to see what I could do on my own. So I would say from, I wouldn’t say I was all in with it until maybe May, so from May to June for the first two months, I just was following along your posts, reading things. Whenever it said you should do this, I would go and do this. So I think that that actually helped me recover faster because I did it on my own timeline. And I started being in the mindset on my own before I even joined. So once I did join your program, I was like, more than all in.
Lindsey Lusson 10:26
Right, right. And I do think that that’s an important part of recovery is getting in the right mindset [indecipherable] recovery. And that time from–sometimes people have a denial period that this is going on. But I would say from the time of the light bulb moment going on, this is why, and people taking true action, that timeframe can look really different for different people. It sounds like, for you, it was relatively quick. What made you realize that you needed more support with coaching?
Yes. So, like I said, I think it was about two months that I was doing on my own. And I was in the right direction, because I was noticing changes, like my digestive issues felt so much better. I was gaining weight. And I wasn’t weighing myself, so I don’t know how much I did. But I could definitely tell my clothes fit different. I was looking different. So I was definitely in the right track that way. But I wanted stuff happening faster. And I knew that I needed more support. And I also felt like, okay, well, I’m following an Instagram, I probably need to do more than follow someone’s Instagram. I haven’t even spoken to anyone. So my husband has a great support system. He’s been helping me with everything. And the greatest support system since the beginning. But still, he knows nothing about this. I wanted more people to talk to and more formal, I guess.
Lindsey Lusson 11:55
Yeah, yeah. Something more structured, than loosely following tips and tricks and a support system. I have my husband, which was gonna support me with anything, right? If I run a marathon tomorrow, he’d probably be like, yeah, I do exactly. Oh, you need somebody who can really sit with you when when the rubber meets the road, and what actually does need to change back. So I love that. And obviously, that can be a key difference in somebody having an eight week recovery time versus an eight month recovery time is having some clear instruction. Now, when I first started working together, you were already at a normal weight for your high, you had weight [indecipherable]. But one of the fears that you came to me with, which is so common for everyone that goes to this process that it had sounded like when we first started visiting over the summer that you mentally had this block of “I have gained all the weight that I need to and [indecipherable] more.” How did you personally overcome that and keep going so that you can get your period back?
Yeah, I definitely remember having that conversation because–I’m just gonna make up numbers here. But say, okay, well, I already gained 15 pounds. So I felt okay with that, and that amount seemed good, but 15 more just seemed, oh my gosh, no. And that’s probably what was the most scary because talking to all the girls, everyone, you never know, when it’s going to come back to see you never know how much you’ll need to gain how much your body’s going to change, you just have to go with the process. So I would say that I just kept thinking to myself like, well, you want to do this for your health, but you also really want to get pregnant, so what is more important, like, is not having a baby really–is that more important than 10 pounds, right? No, I just had to think big picture and know that this process will work whenever it works. If it’s a month, if it’s six months, it will work. So just, whatever, just lean into it.
Lindsey Lusson 13:58
Lean into it, and you had a lot of faith that it would work because I do feel like a lot of people in combination with the fear of gaining more weight than they already have and feeling potentially more light in our heads, right? I’m going to feel comfortable with my body, the more weight that I gained, the weight gain is never going to stop. I also think a lot of people have this fear that it’s not going to work or it’s not going to work. They are the magical unicorn that this just thing just doesn’t work for they’re the exception to the rule. But it sounds like you were really confident. Were you confident from the get-go or did being in a program being surrounded by community add to that confidence?
Definitely both. Definitely once I was in the program, and hearing–because the nice thing about if people that are listening to this are not familiar, it was like a rolling program. So when I joined there were girls that was seven and eight weeks in and about to finish and I was meeting them for the first time and then going to say by next week, and hearing where they were and then hearing where people were in the middle ground. Maybe there was a couple of people who just got in hearing all these people that were further along than me, I feel like that really helped to that it wasn’t we weren’t all just new to this and, oh my gosh, what’s going on. To see on the Facebook comments, got my period, got my period got my period, I was like, okay, this is working for other people, why isn’t it gonna work for me? It is.
Lindsey Lusson 15:18
Yes. 100%, and that’s one of the reasons I’ve designed that program that way is because you can see yourself six weeks in the future eight weeks in the future. And you got your period back really fast, like under [indecipherable].
I did, yes. So I got it back three weeks into joining. Yeah. So it was the first week of July. And I was like, okay, I don’t want to wait any longer. I’m gonna go on and join. And then I had literally from the day, I think, I clicked on to sign up in a meeting with you two days later, talk to you on that first Thursday call. And from there, I think it was exactly three weeks. So again, I think it was a mixture of my body was getting ready anyway. And then I just pushed myself so hard in those three weeks that it just put me over the edge. And I knew exactly, my body knew exactly what to do. So yeah, it was pretty crazy how fast it all happened.
Lindsey Lusson 16:16
Right. And you had done so much work already with the weight restoring and you were already following some tips and tricks. I do remember us filling in some gaps, especially when you’re really busy work schedule was just logistically figuring out how do we how do we fit all the food in your body?
That, 100%, was definitely what was helpful for me the timing of everything and, oh, wait, we could just fix it so that I’ll do lunch way later than normal people, but I’m having enough snacks and calories before that, so it all worked out. So that was the scheduling of everything to make sure that I was staying on track, I think was 100%. What brought it for me.
Lindsey Lusson 16:57
Yeah, because when you had the plan, you were super consistent. And everything just clicked really fast.
Yeah, yeah, definitely following the meal plan. And then also following what we talked about with our timeframe. Because, just for listeners, I do home health PT, so I drive around all day to different clients. So my lunch is–well, I used to eat lunch in the car in-between clients, which was probably a very minimal lunch, then I switched to, okay, well, I could just snack in-between each patient and eat my actual enjoyable lunch once I get home, which was typically around 2:33, but we still made everything work, and clearly, it worked.
Lindsey Lusson 17:38
It was just a white lunch, and we just figured out logistics and why we work with so many people in healthcare people who are in surgery for eight hours at a time and things like that. And so if anybody’s listening, and they’re like, oh well, it’s my work schedule, or there’s just no way I can fit all the food. And we we can guide and we’ve dealt with lots of different scenarios there. Kelly, we’ve had several clients magically get pregnant before they even see their period return. But you are one of maybe the only people that I can think of maybe two or three that have gone from having a recovery period and a positive pregnancy test in an eight week span. What was that like?
It was really crazy. Like I said, it was all happened so fast. I remember it was Fourth of July weekend, I told my husband we’re doing this. I’m signing up with Lindsey. And by the third or fourth week of August. I was showing him a positive pregnancy test. It was absolutely insane. But yeah, so right after, like I said, I wanted to get pregnant yesterday, as I’m sure half the people listening to this do. So we pretty much said, Well, we’re ready. So my missing period was the only thing that was deterring us. So we said once I get it back, let’s just start trying and then in the program there’s a lot of emphasis on tracking your cycle tracking ovulation. So it made it so easy because I knew I was ovulating actually, even the first time before I was getting my period. I think I mentioned to you I think I see signs of ovulation. I don’t want to get excited. So then right when I got my period, I was like, okay, it’s go time. I have the Tempdrop. So I used that and I really liked that. It’s like the armband and it track my temperature every morning. So that was helpful because I could see a couple of things. I could see my cycle tracking and I also was able to confirm that I did ovulate when we did try the first time we saw signs of ovulation. We tried to get pregnant and we tried on the four or five days that they say you’re fertile and it clearly worked on the first time which I’m so blessed saying that but yeah, and then after I confirm that I ovulated it was just like a waiting game and then I tested the day before I remember we Were supposed to have a meeting that day. I tested an hour before the meeting just because I was like, I was supposed to get my period the next morning if everything was, quote, perfect, and I was like, yeah, I’m not waiting for this. So yeah, it was pretty crazy.
Lindsey Lusson 20:14
Yes. And we’ll link, Tempdrop in the notes. And I do think that that in the show notes, and I do think that that is a really good tool, it’s probably the only fertility tracking device that I recommend, for clients in recovery from HA. I like it for basal body temperature tracking, because it takes the stress and the room for human error out of it. And not only does it help, obviously, you’re tracking your fertile signs, as I teach in my program to identify when your fertile window opens. But having that confirmation that ovulation did occur, and you’re not having to stress and test and do more things, I think is is super helpful. So if anybody who is looking for a fertility tracker or something they can use during your recovery journey, definitely recommend temp drop. So thanks for all of that. It’s crazy. I know, I get a lot of questions from people, Kelly, who get their period back, and then they struggle to ovulate after that first cycle, and it might be several cycles before they realize, oh, there’s something else going on? Do you think that there’s anything that you did specifically, that allowed you to basically have a pretty normal second recovery cycle, obviously healthy enough to get pregnant on?
I would say don’t change anything. That was the biggest thing is I remember, the second you get your period back, you’re like, alright, I’m good. [indecipherable] back to my habits. And as much as I was dying to go back to a bar class and everything like that, I remember you saying, well, we’ll just wait a couple more cycles. And I was like, okay, whatever, I’ve been this patient. So I would say don’t change anything, because your body is probably still [indecipherable], one period is nothing, your body’s probably still going through every all the recovery process. So the second you change something you’re probably gonna go back to–so that was probably my thing is I tried my hardest not to change anything.
Lindsey Lusson 22:16
Right. Right. And understanding that the body physiologically is still sensitive. Yeah. It’s been through a lot of changes. There’s a bit of a adjustment period, and we’ll always be there we can go back to in the future. But yes, really honoring, the continued rest, proper fuel. Curious, being someone who comes from parents who worked in healthcare, and you work in healthcare, was there ever a side of you that just wanted to do fertility treatment and not worry about the missing period? Or what led you to choose pursuing HA recovery trying naturally versus considering or jumping into the fertility treatment route?
Yeah. So I, honestly, before getting into the program, and having a bunch of other girls that were talking about how they had gone through it, and it didn’t work and stuff. It really didn’t cross my mind. I don’t know, it wasn’t the route. I wanted to go down. Maybe if this all didn’t work, and I needed to go down that route. But I really just wanted to get my period back, get pregnant. I just, yeah, if it needed in certain circumstances, if it needed to happen, it needs to happen. But I just, I wasn’t interested in it. I don’t know.
Lindsey Lusson 23:29
Yeah, yeah. And I think to a lot of people that have HA, it’s almost deep down, you really know that, of course, there’s the doubt everybody has the doubt. But I think that deep down, you really know that you’re like, logically this makes sense, right? This should work. What I always tell people too, is if they’re in between the two is to focus on natural recovery first, and then if your body needs a boost, after, save, three cycles, then revisit it, then chances are you won’t need it. But if you do, you’re going to have a way better chance getting pregnant at a lower level of intervention with your period back versus [indecipherable] high levels of injectables and meds and things like that. So I love your path to recovery and your story. How’s pregnancy been for you so far?
It is great. It’s crazy. I will be 24 weeks tomorrow.
Lindsey Lusson 24:28
Oh, more than halfway through now. Okay.
Yeah. Which is insane also that I feel like I just finished up with your program, and I’m like, no, I guess it was 24 weeks ago now. But yeah, it’s going really well. first trimester was a little rough as it is for most people with the nausea and just the fatigue and stuff. But now it’s great. I’ve been able to incorporate working out a little bit as it’s been healthy and I’ve been doing really good. It’s so exciting.
Lindsey Lusson 24:30
Yes. Are there anything Kelly, that you feel like you’ve learned; life lessons, things that have made you more resilient for reason X, Y, or Z, things that you feel your recovery journey has taught you that you feel are beneficial you’re taking into pregnancy or you plan to take with you postpartum. Any, any gems that you wanted to share with listeners?
I think that going through recovery so soon before pregnancy was helpful, because there’s a lot of things that match, you have to realize that you have to prioritize rest. And if you’re not going to be going to the gym three times a morning when you are throwing up and I would get home from work. And normally on when I wasn’t pregnant, get home from work and go do X, Y and Z. Instead, I needed to take a two-hour nap. And that’s fine. And then just like your eating habits, there’s times when I wanted to come home, and I wanted and I felt nauseous and I needed salty chips on the couch. And before all of this, you couldn’t have paid me to sit there on the couch and eat chips. Yeah, but pregnancy just you need to honor your body honor your rest, what you should be eating or trying to for the baby at all. I feel like everything changes when you realize that you’re not the only one in this anymore.
Lindsey Lusson 26:19
Yes, yes, that’s so true. And I think that that can go, whether it’s your relationship with exercise or relationship with your body or your relationship with food I hear that from a lot of that are coming going through this process as they’re like, well, I don’t have a solid relationship with food. And I don’t want my kids to struggle with the things that I’ve struggled with. And so I think
Definitely agreed, yeah, yeah, that’s another thing is I feel either way, boy or girl, but especially because we don’t know we’re having, especially with a girl just because it’s more common. Yeah, I don’t want I don’t want them to have to deal with this. I want them to just, I don’t ever want to hear that they have a period issue. I don’t ever want them to struggle with body things. So it’s nice, because if I notice any of that. I want to catch on to it right away. And I want to make sure that they’re not dealing with any of that.
Lindsey Lusson 27:08
Yeah. So it sounds like the structure of recovery allowed you to be okay with listening to your body. It sounds like [indecipherable] obviously there’s fatigue, and there’s nausea, and if for those who haven’t been pregnant before, one of the best ways to combat is frequent snacks, and is to have bland carb foods, which are less that have struggled with this before, those are typically our off-limits foods. And so becoming more comfortable with having those things removing the guilt from having those things being able to lean into resting is so important pregnancy. And as you will learn in a number of months also really, really important as part of the two. So that’s all super amazing. Kelly, are there any other last just tidbits that you would share with somebody, let’s just rewind the clock and say it is January of 2023. And you are still missing your period, and you’re ready to have a baby. But all of those fears are coming up. What would you have said to encourage your past self this time last year?
To not wait any longer, you already know that it’s been X amount of years and that even when you’re going to the OB saying I don’t know why my periods missing like you do, guys, you all know in the back of your head what’s going on. So don’t keep pushing it. Just lean into this process. And don’t wait any longer. If you’re thinking about it, just go for it.
Lindsey Lusson 28:41
Yeah, especially knowing how quick recovery can be for somebody else, the physical part and you progressing through the mental recovery too. And I always like to tell people too it’s like a bit of a snowball effect, right? You start eating more and you start feeling better and then you start to see signs of your fertility returning and then your periods back and then you’re fully able to ovulate and then getting started and making sure that you are really addressing it and being honest with yourself, right? [indecipherable] at the back of your mind, we knew that that was what was going on. Yeah.
Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah.
Lindsey Lusson 29:13
Well, thanks for your time and being here. Of course we wish you safe and healthy delivery in a few months [indecipherable]. And thanks [indecipherable] inspiring story with listeners.