Healing from disordered eating & miscarriage trauma – Marathon Runner to Momma

May 12, 2024 | Recovery Stories

Marathon Runner to Momma: Healing from disordered eating and miscarriage trauma

Sam lives in Charlotte, NC with her husband and GSP dog, Millie. She was a collegiate runner turned marathon runner which inevitably led to disordered eating and unhealthy exercise habits. In January of 2023, she and her husband decided they wanted to start their family. After going off birth control, it became clear this wasn’t going to be easy as her period was nonexistent. After over 10 years of a missing period, Sam was able to recover her cycle naturally through the Food Freedom Fertility Society. Healing from disordered eating & miscarriage trauma Sam is now happy to share she is expecting her first baby boy in September. 

In this episode:

  • The athletic background that can set the stage for period loss
  • Red flags of hormone imbalances that are often brushed under the rug
  • Why your Obgyn won’t be the one to tell you how to get your period back
  • Why you can get weight and still not get your period back
  • The mental prison of disordered eating and exercise obsession
  • Overcoming the fear of what others will think if you gain weight
  • Why it’s so hard to push yourself to eat enough when you’re working on your own
  • Getting pregnant again after loss and avoiding relapses into disordered eating 
  • The magic of getting a positive pregnancy and re-establishing trust with your body

Connect with Lindsey Lusson: 

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

Transcript:

Sam  00:00

I also wanted to do it naturally. I wanted to have that intimate moment with my husband telling him Oh, we’re pregnant. And it’d be a surprise, like I’ve always wished for that. So that was really my motivation to start this journey. But I will say kind of like backtracking one of the scariest things for me was the thought of losing my identity of who I was before. 

Sam  00:24

I was always known as the runner, the fit person through family, friends, people at the studio. It was just who I was. And so it’s like, what are these people gonna think of me now that I’m gonna have to stop running. I’m going to be probably gaining a significant amount of weight that is noticeable. I was so worried about the outside world. And so that was one of the biggest things that was holding me back. 

Lindsey Lusson  00:50

I love this because I think this is where a lot of people get stuck is “Who am I if I’m not the fit girl, the healthy one?”

Lindsey Lusson  00:59

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. 

Lindsey Lusson  01:16

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  01:30

Sam lives Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband and GSP dog Millie, she was a collegiate runner turned marathon runner, which inevitably led to disordered eating and unhealthy exercise habits. In January of 2023, she and her husband decided they wanted to start their family. After going up birth control, it became clear that this wasn’t going to be easy as her period was basically non existent.

Lindsey Lusson  01:51

After over 10 years of a missing period, Sam was finally able to recover her cycle naturally through the Food Freedom Fertility Society. And is now happy to share that she is expecting her first baby boy in September of this year. 

Lindsey Lusson  02:04

All right, and welcome, Sam. 

Sam  02:06

Hi, thank you for having me. 

Lindsey Lusson  02:08

Well, I’m so glad that we get to reconnect and record this. Your story is such an inspiration to people that are on this journey to get their period back and in particular, get pregnant. There’s so many things along the way that I know people are going to relate to and find encouraging. So thanks so much for coming on and just being an open book, as we were talking about before I push record.

Lindsey Lusson  02:27

Yeah,

Sam  02:27

Yeah, of course, I’m glad I’m finally on the other side of podcasts.

Lindsey Lusson  02:33

Well, and I think Podcasts can be such a powerful tool during recovery, because they can already make you feel not alone. Because you’re like, oh my gosh, other people struggle with this. But it puts a whole layer of the community when you’re actually interacting with people regularly that are on this journey. So we’ll talk a little bit about your experience in the group. 

Lindsey Lusson  02:51

Set us up a little bit more kind of about your background. So when we started working together, I mean, background, you are an athlete, you’ve run marathons. And you’ve just always kind of had a high activity level. Do you feel like that was really the main contributor to period loss for you? And how did we kind of recognize that this was a problem?

Sam  03:12

Yeah, I mean, I definitely think my lifestyle was the leading factor in why I lost my period. I was a collegiate athlete, and then went on to run marathons after college. And especially not really having that structure with a team going from college to just regular everyday life. I definitely pushed my limits there. And I just got overly obsessed with exercising and what I was putting in my body.

Sam  03:46

It just got to the point where I knew deep down that what I was doing was not okay. But until we actually decided we wanted to start and try and have a baby, I realized that wasn’t going to be very easy. And it wasn’t possible right away. Because as soon as I went on of birth control, I did not have a menstrual cycle. So birth control definitely masks to that issue. I was on it for 15 plus years. I really didn’t understand the repercussions of what I was doing until really last year. 

Lindsey Lusson  04:22

Yeah, yeah. And we see this so often with our athletes is the loss of period. Were you put on birth control because you lost your period or just for birth control?

Sam  04:32

So I was actually put on birth control in high school because my period was so bad right when I got it. I was just really really sick all the time like missing school. Then I would have the bleed or whatever, from the placebo pills. Obviously, it’s not a real menstrual cycle. 

Sam  04:50

But I would have that and then once I got to my junior senior year in college, I never used tampons ever again. I just never got to… And I was like, Wow, this is awesome. B ut then I never understood what was actually happening. It was probably masked for way longer than that. So I truly never know when I actually lost my period.

Sam  05:15

But I mean, there were things that looking back now hinting on everything that came to fruition last year, when I went off birth control. I was always cold. I was always thinking about food 24/7. And I randomly broke my foot and 2020 just from walking. People were like  How’d you break your foot? I was like, I was just walking. 

Sam  05:42

And my father in law actually was like, You should probably get a bone density scan. That’s not normal, all this stuff. He’s a doctor. Everybody else kind of brushed it off. They’re like, You’re too young, there’s no way that you have any bone density issues. So it was really just brushed under the rug. 

Sam  06:01

And now looking back, it’s like, wow, those are all red flags that I should have been listening to. 

Lindsey Lusson  06:07

But those are also things that I think so many health care providers aren’t screening for. Right. And whether it was almost an ignorance is blissand  I’m not ready to face the music yet, or nobody bringing it to your attention are kind of a combination of the both. I do see this so often that the pill can mask it and there’s no…

Lindsey Lusson  06:32

In hindsight is always 2020. Because looking back, you’re like, oh I wasn’t bleeding at all. That’s a red flag. I broke my foot. That’s a red flag. I’m thinking about food all the time. But I think that when you get so used to operating in the… I’m just always cold. And it’s normal to think about food all the time.

Lindsey Lusson  06:48

You almost get used to operating in these states that maybe aren’t optimal, and maybe aren’t healthy. But it’s so normal to you, because it’s been going on for so long. So walk us through I guess it was beginning of last year that you came off the pill?

Sam  07:03

Yeah. So last year, I got off the pill in January of 2023. And as soon as I got off the pill, I just went off of it randomly, it was just a random day. And the day that I was supposed to get the placebo bleed or whatever, I actually started bleeding. It was a withdrawal bleed, I’m assuming. And in my head, I was like, Oh, wow, great. I already got my period. That was fast. Doctors say it could take three months to get it back. I’m so lucky. I just got it back. 

Sam  07:31

So in February, when I didn’t get a period, I was like, Wow, I must be pregnant. I mean, that’s the only… That was fast. That was easy. Really at the time, I had a few friends struggling with conception but it was for many other reasons. And all of my other friends got pregnant right away. My mom got pregnant right away. So to me, I really didn’t think it was going to be an issue. 

Sam  07:57

And so I took probably 20 pregnancy tests. Of course, they all came back negative. I was just pretty confused. I was like, Well, if that was my period and now I don’t have one, why am I not pregnant? So a few months went by. I finally took the leap of going to my OB GYN in June of that year. 

Sam  08:23

I pushed it off for a little bit because in the back of my head at this point I was like, I know, it’s me. I know that my past probably has something to do with this. But I was pretty much just delaying the inevitable, which was either he’s going to tell me to start fertility treatments, or I’m going to have to stop the lifestyle that I’ve been living for the past 15 years in order to get pregnant. And so I go to see him. And I was very lucky in the sense that he actually did diagnose me with hypothalamic amenorrhea. I know a lot of OB GYN…

Sam  09:05

Yeah, so he did diagnose me with that. But at the same time, I asked him, I’m still running a little bit I have backed down some… But is that okay? He’s like, Oh, yeah, runnings, totally fine. Stay healthy. I had a normal BMI at the time. So there really wasn’t anything that to him was a red flag.

Lindsey Lusson  09:20

I think about 40% of women with HA will present with polycystic ovaries. So it is something that you know…. and it’s interesting because I think we’re in the midst of them actually revising the criteria for diagnosing PCOS. 

Sam  09:29

So I did get a ultrasound at his office and my follicle or my ovaries looked polycystic. So he was like, I don’t really know what to do with you because your bloodwork indicates you have hypothalamic amenorrhea. But the ultrasound indicates that you have PCOS, which, as we know, I mean, that…

Lindsey Lusson  09:58

So more to come there. But yes. I think I’ve explained this in kind of the podcast episode I did a couple of weeks ago on explaining typical labs with HA is if you have normal hormone levels, and they’re not like those frank HA values, you probably will have some follicles and because you weren’t ovulating regularly, you’ll probably have multiple follicles. I think it’s tricky. 

Lindsey Lusson  10:36

And I don’t know how we get everybody… Clearly I don’t know how to fix the problem from the disconnect with the medical providers. But I do think it’s also a disservice to patients who are exercising too much and under fueling to be told, keep doing what you’re doing, essentially, or just kind of the idea of pull back a little. So instead of running 50 miles a week, run 40, add some potatoes to your dinner. People really don’t understand what it takes to actually get somebody to heal from this condition. 

Sam  11:09

Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, if it wasn’t for me getting that actual diagnosis, and doing my own research, I honestly think about it a lot, where would I be now. Probably in the middle of fertility treatments, because I just didn’t know that much. It’s not talked about. 

Sam  11:31

My mom is a nurse, and she had never even heard of it before. And it’s just so “rare” even though I don’t think it’s as rare as we assume it is. It’s just not diagnosed as much. 

Lindsey Lusson  11:46

I think there’s a lot of people who get diagnosed with PCOS who really have HA. I also think there’s a lot of people who get diagnosed with PCOS who really do have PCOS. But they also have hints of HA that are going on with their PCOS. And so it’s definitely a bigger problem than it’s talked about.

Lindsey Lusson  12:04

Tell us a little bit more about your independent research journey and how you found your way to Food Freedom Fertility Society. Tell us about I guess, getting that in front of the time from getting that diagnosis in June to the time that we work together. What did that look like for you, what did you find? What did you try on your own? And what eventually led you to be like, Oh, my gosh, I need help. 

Sam  12:24

Yeah, absolutely. So after that diagnosis, I actually was referred to a fertility clinic. So I did go that route at first. They did the same exact testing. Obviously, the results came back the exact same. They pretty much said, you can start with IVF. And I just knew from that moment, I was like, this is not for me. I know I can do this on my own. It’s just a matter of digging deep and being uncomfortable.

Sam  12:57

So I got the book No Period Now What, which if anybody had researched not having a period, I’m sure they came across that. I read it. 

Lindsey Lusson  13:07

I feel sometimes that when buried in the Google searches, and it’s like, No, literally, this is exactly what you need to read. 

Sam  13:12

Yeah, yeah. I mean, I definitely skimmed over it a few times, I was like, Ahh should I get it? Should I not. And then once I got, I was like, Oh my gosh. It’s seriously the Bible of this. And so I read it in three days. And I realized, okay, I need to really change my lifestyle. So instead of running, I stopped running. I was walking a lot. 

Sam  13:12

And I started making small changes to my diet, instead of fat free yogurt, I was eating whole milk, yogurt, and just things likew that. Not measuring my peanut butter intake or almond butter or whatever. So I did end up gaining some weight on my own. And that was when I started to get pretty frustrated around August, September. I was like, Okay, I’ve gained some weight, my period is still missing. Maybe I’m just the unicorn. Maybe I’m just never gonna get my period back.

Sam  14:11

And that’s when I actually stumbled across people like you who do period recovery programs. I reached out to you. And I remember on our call you told me, How would you feel if you had to gain more weight? And I told you I’m not going to have to gain more weight. I just need help with eating better and things like that. And you’re like, Okay, sure.

Sam  14:39

But I was very wrong in that sense.

Lindsey Lusson  14:43

Well, I think that it’s a really important message to drive home for anyone listening who has gained weight and is a normal BMI. And maybe has always been… that the root cause of your missing period and the reason why your period hasn’t returned, isn’t because of the number on the scale. Your weight is probably fine. 

Lindsey Lusson  15:05

The problem is the damage that’s been done from the history of the under fueling, disordered eating, and the mismatch of the prolonged calorie deficit. So it’s not weight in and of itself. And yes, most people do have to gain weight, even probably more than maybe they’re comfortable with at the time. But I do think that it’s not about the weight at the end of the day. And if we can take the emphasis off of that, sometimes that kind of softens the blow of some of the body changes.

Lindsey Lusson  15:35

Sam, you said somehow, in the back of your mind, you kind of always knew that this was going on. Even when you had that first withdrawal bleed after coming off birth control, and then you didn’t have your period and  20 pregnancy tests later, you realize, hey, I’m not pregnant. You said that it all kind of came to a head way even before that first OBGYN visit. Even before finding No Period Now What. \

Lindsey Lusson  15:59

Tell us a little bit more about your history with food. Were there things that you kind of knew deep down were unhealthy, disordered, restrictive? Tell us a little bit more about maybe rewinding to that time in college and marathon running after college. 

Sam  16:13

Yeah, definitely. So a little backstory on that in college is when I really started focusing on calorie counting, and what I was putting into my body and my mileage each week. I started to be… I was top on the team, I was breaking school records. And so to me, everything I was doing was working.  And so I just kind of continued that lifestyle post college when I started running marathons. 

Sam  16:42

And it got to a very over obsessive point. I think it was the only thing in my life at that time that I could control. And so it got really bad to the point where I was a few people had reached out saying you probably need help whatever. My mom actually reached out to a nutritionist who… I forget her title, but she pretty much diagnosed me with orthorexia at that moment. 

Sam  17:08

So this was back in 2017. And then 2018, I met my husband, and honestly, that’s complete, what changed a lot of my mind shift from going to underweight to a normal BMI. Having a better relationship with food, but still very disordered. I mean, we started living together, and obviously, I couldn’t feed him what I was feeding myself,

Lindsey Lusson  17:34

You kind of hide all of those, idiosyncrasies with food when you’re sharing your life with another individual, especially a partner. 

Sam  17:44

Right, exactly. And my husband’s most supportive person in the whole world. But he did catch on to, wow, she really is tracking her calories. She’s pretty particular about where we go out to dinners. I didn’t really realize how much of a burden that was on him and our relationship, honestly, until really last year. 

Sam  18:11

So through all of that I continued to run. I continued to have my restricted foods that I wouldn’t touch for whatever reason. They’ve truly make no sense. But it was a matter of I can’t go to this restaurant, or I need to look up the menu before I go in order to track how many calories I’m going to eat that night. It was just so obsessive. And it was the everything that  I just thought about it constantly.

Sam  18:42

It was just always on my mind. It was truly controlling my entire life. And so I knew that wasn’t normal. But I didn’t know how to get out of that pattern and that habit. Because breaking that was scary, but also doing it, I knew is also scary.

Lindsey Lusson  19:01

Yeah. Yeah, well, and I think you reach this level of comfort and functionality with disordered eating and eating disorders where it is really hard to break out of it because it feels normal. And I also want to take this opportunity to point out that tracking your food, budgeting your calories. A lot of these behaviors are actually really normalized. 

Lindsey Lusson  19:24

Like I think that there is a whole faction of the population that would be like, Oh, she’s just discipline athlete of course she wants to run faster. She’s going to pay attention to what she eats. And curious it sounds like really the only reason red flags were even coming up was because of being underweight. So it’s interesting how much worse this could have gotten, if weight always remain normal.

Sam  19:51

Right. Yeah, exactly. Once I was in a “normal BMI” for my height, I was constantly being told… I worked at a yoga studio and I was just constantly being told you look so fit. I want to look like you, I want to have your arms, I want to have your… It was just a constant feeding of… 

Sam  20:14

But deep down, I knew I wasn’t being fueled by those comments, because I knew I never even really liked my body. So it was kind of like this constant battle between myself like why am I doing this to myself when I don’t even like the way I look in clothes. A lot of my friends look so cute in bathing suits. They have breasts, they have boobs. And I just didn’t have those things until I just never even felt comfortable in my own body.

Sam  20:42

So it’s like, why am I doing this to myself when I don’t even like the way I look? 

Lindsey Lusson  20:47

I remember I would just be envious. People would be like, oh, you’re so disciplined or you’re so healthy or whatever. I was like, I kind of just wish that I could eat like you and put on a swimsuit. Even though maybe I don’t have the hottest body in the world according to society’s standards, I kind of wish that I could just exist. 

Lindsey Lusson  21:06

And it’s kind of like, and you people listening who are in this spot or have been here, we’ll know what I’m talking about. And people who don’t and probably aren’t listening anyway.

Lindsey Lusson  21:15

It’s like living in a little mental prison. Nobody really gets it because you’re in your head all day long about food, about your body about exercise. And because outside looking in, because you look normal, no one thinks you have a problem. So it’s a frustrating place to be. 

Lindsey Lusson  21:33

And honestly, the burden comes back on the client or patient to be like, wow, I gotta work on this. And a lot of times, it doesn’t come to a headway until somebody has a very serious stress fracture. A really scary bone density scan, maybe horrible digestive issues. I see that a lot on the fertility piece, which is probably the most common or at least what I see in my practice, because what I do.

Lindsey Lusson  22:00

But let’s talk a little bit more about your journey through fertility treatment, because it sounds like you saw the REI. Did y’all do any low level treatment? Or were they IVF is the only way and you were peace? Healing from disordered eating & miscarriage trauma

Sam  22:12

Yeah, so they pretty much said IVF is our best shot. And so I mean, one, it’s really expensive for it to probably not even work. It’s also really hard in your body. I mean, one of my best friends at the time was having to go through that because she has stage four endometriosis, and that was really the only way she could get pregnant. I mean, physically, emotionally, it’s not an easy way out.

Sam  22:48

And so, I was like, it’s going to be hard either way. Maybe I should take the free route and try to actually do it on my own. Because I know I can. I also wanted to do it naturally. I wanted to have that intimate moment with my husband telling him, Oh, we’re pregnant. And it’d be a surprise. I’ve always wished for that. So that was really my motivation to start this journey.

Sam  23:15

But I will say kind of like backtracking one of the scariest things for me, was the thought of losing my identity of who I was before. I was always known as the runner, the fit person through family, friends, people at the studio. It was just who I was. And so it’s like, what are these people gonna think of me now that I’m going to have to stop running. 

Sam  23:39

I’m going to be probably gaining a significant amount of weight that is noticeable. I mean, I’m not going to be working at the studio anymore at the time, just because that’s just not where I need to be mentally. It’s like, what are these people now gonna think of me? I was so worried about the outside world.

Sam  23:58

And so that was one of the biggest things that was holding me back. It’s well, if we do IVF it’s, at least it’s well, people just kind of feel bad for you like, oh, well, that’s how you had to go. That’s how you had to get through it.  

Lindsey Lusson  24:14

So I love this because I think this is where a lot of people get stuck is who am I if I’m not the fit girl, the healthy one. How did you break past that barrier? 

Sam  24:27

It was hard. And I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t so hard. I mean, I have gained everything that I wanted now, and it’s still hard. But it’s all so worth it. I mean, I think I started by telling our core group of people that were holding us up through this infertility journey at the time, and I’m really, really close to my parents. 

Sam  24:55

So obviously, they knew. But I just come from a very active lifestyle, a very active family, a very active set of friends. So it was something that still I don’t know if anybody fully understands what I went through just because. You really don’t know until you go through it. And that’s okay. 

Sam  25:19

But having that group of support that’s like, we understand what you’re going through, and we support you through this, even though we know it’s going to be hard. I think that was the first step was like, letting people know, hey, this is what I’m planning on doing. I just want to let you know, because I just need accountability and support. And also… I don’t know, it’s kind of like a forewarning of what was about to happen.

Lindsey Lusson  25:43

I did the same thing. And in my mind, I was like, I want people to know that I’m not just letting myself go. Not that you should ever have to have an excuse for why your body is changing or why or taking a step back from exercise. But I don’t know that to me felt a little security blanket of inner circle people to…

Sam  26:05

Yes, absolutely. It’s kind of like, okay, hey, by the way, I’m probably gaining a lot of weight. So just don’t ask me about it. Yeah, yeah. Don’t ask me. 

Lindsey Lusson  26:16

Talk to me a little bit more about last fall. What led you to after applying a lot of the information probably literally having a very good idea of what needed to happen in order to get you to get your period back? What led you to be like, I need more help? 

Sam  26:31

Yeah, I mean, I got to the place where I was clearly what I’m doing isn’t enough. And I was just so tired of… We had been coming up on nine months of just nothing even happening. My body not doing anything. So it’s not even possible for us to start trying for a baby. 

Sam  26:51

And so it was that moment where I was like, What do I have to lose by joining this program? The worst that could happen is, it doesn’t take that eight weeks for me, and it takes me 12 weeks or 16 weeks. But at least I have the knowledge and support and I tried harder. So for me, I really had nothing left to lose at that point. And I was just so emotionally and physically exhausted and drained from just I don’t know, constant disappointment.

Sam  27:28

And I’m a very competitive person clearly with my past lifestyle. So I just knew I was like, I’m going to get to the finish line of this. I’m going to get to the end of this. And so yeah, once we connected, it was a no brainer. I was like, Yeah, go ahead, send the email, because I’m gonna sign up right away.

Lindsey Lusson  27:53

You we’re ready to jump in. And what I love is it didn’t take eight weeks, because you actually ovulated even faster than that. It was really us figuring out the last little tweaks to your plan. I also think sometimes too, cuz sometimes I’ll have people join my program and get their period back in a week or two. 

Lindsey Lusson  28:12

And it’s like, I love you. And I love that you’re in this program. Clearly, I can’t take 100% responsibility for you getting that quickly. But I do think sometimes, too, when you are working with a coach and an expert, it really just takes the pressure off of you. Right? 

Lindsey Lusson  28:28

Like you can kind of just be like, Okay, it’s not all me anymore. People here to support me. Somebody’s going to tell me what I need to do. I don’t have to do this all on my own. I think that taking some of that stress level down is also a really key factor. 

Sam  28:43

Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, I knew to a certain extent, what needed to happen, but it was a matter of… I stopped tracking calorie March of 2023. And so for me, I was like, I think I’m eating enough because I’m eating way more than I was. 

Sam  29:03

But I truly didn’t know because I had given that part of my life up and I wasn’t about to jump back into it. So with your program and knowing exactly how much I needed to be eating, and I actually needed to be eating more than what is like the minimum requirements. I think the minimum is 2500. And I mean, I was eating probably upwards of 3000 calories. 

Sam  29:27

But it took me a while to get there because I remember posting my food logs. And you’re looking, you’re like, Well, it’s pretty good. But we should maybe add a few tweaks here and here. And it’s just things that I would not have done on my own. And especially in those moments and in those weeks of discomfort and just a lot of change happening in a short amount of time when I thought I was doing all the right things. 

Sam  29:57

It was just everything I needed to have that accountability, to let me know I’m not alone in feeling the way I feel. Also, just having the support of this is exactly what you need to be doing. And if you’re not doing exactly that, here’s a little few tweaks that you can make to get there. 

Lindsey Lusson  30:20

Yeah, just kind of laying it out for you. I appreciate what you said too, about being really, you weren’t doing enough initially. And that was a big gap. That was a big thing that we worked on together. And even if, because I don’t think most people have the wherewithal to put that together. 

Lindsey Lusson  30:35

But I think even if you do, how hard is it when you’re already uncomfortable in your body? You are already gaining weight, how hard is it to push yourself on your own to be like one more snack, an extra scoop of peanut butter, right? Like no one do that on their own? Right? Like you’ve got too much going on in your head to be able to actually do that. 

Sam  30:57

Yeah, I mean, it’s so hard if it wasn’t for the Facebook group, and the phone calls. And I actually like one of the girls that I met through the program, she’s one of my best friends now. I mean, we literally talk every single day. And well, a few of the girls, we still talk a lot, but one of the girls, yeah, she we talk every single day. 

Sam  31:20

And I mean, just having that extra accountability, even when the program ends, I would not have ever met these people if I never even started. And it was just also having that knowledge of like, Wow, all these thoughts that I had for years and years and years. I’m not the only one that thought that. 

Sam  31:40

And I’m not the only crazy person that would do X, Y and Z. I mean, it was kind of reassuring in a weird way of not being the only one with the thoughts that I had.

Lindsey Lusson  31:54

I think it’s validating to know that other people struggle. I don’t exactly know why. Maybe it’s just the idea of Misery loves company. But I think that for a lot of people who have disordered eating, almost like you live this big secret for so long. And it can feel really refreshing to be like, Oh my gosh, I struggled with this.

Lindsey Lusson  32:15

And for somebody to say me too, it’s like, oh, my gosh, I thought it was the only person. Also when you’re tha… I also feel like it’s kind of a sensitive thing to share, right? Because if you’re sharing it, and somebody’s still very much struggling with disordered eating, and you guys are, it’s almost the blind leading the blind, but right up to people. 

Lindsey Lusson  32:34

And this is something that I’m very thoughtful and strategic about in my program, is I want everyone to be kind of on the same level with where they’re at and their recovery journey. Because if you have two people that are actively running towards recovery, you’ve got a best friend, and you’ve got the best built in accountability during the program and after the program. 

Lindsey Lusson  32:54

Versus somebody who could just potentially be triggering you, if it’s somebody who’s like, oh, kind of one foot in one foot out. And I love that because I do think that community is key for recovery. I think community is key for ongoing recovery.

Sam  33:08

Yeah, I completely agree. And if I’m being honest, I really didn’t think that I needed the community aspect before this. 

Lindsey Lusson  33:16

Most people don’t. Most people are like, I just need somebody to tell me what to do. 

Sam  33:20

Yeah, I just need a coach. That’s it. And I mean, looking back now, it’s the community aspect all makes sense. My whole life, I’ve been part of a community in some way. I was a cross country team, I was on a team in college, I joined and taught in took at a yoga studio here in Charlotte when I moved. 

Sam  33:43

I have always been part of a community in some way. So it just makes sense that in order for me to overcome this, I needed that community aspect. 

Lindsey Lusson  33:53

Yeah. Well, I think sometimes recovery or what’s led to period loss for a lot of people can bring up some shame sometimes. So I think sometimes people maybe shy away from community because they’re like, I don’t want to talk about this. This is my deepest, darkest secret. But I do think there’s power in bringing that to light. And there’s power in talking to people who can relate with bringing about change with those habits.

Sam  34:21

Yeah, I mean, if there’s anything that I’ve learned… I’ve learned a lot, but one of the biggest things is a lot of things I thought I was embarrassed about, I should never have been embarrassed about I should just embrace it and accept it and change it or move on. 

Sam  34:37

So there’s nothing to be embarrassed about by having to join a program like this. That was something that was hard to get over. I guess it was just a pride thing. But once you’re in it, it’s honestly something that I’m really proud of. It’s probably one of my biggest accomplishments. 

Lindsey Lusson  34:55

I love that and I love hearing that from high level athletes too, because you do have so many achievements and things that you can be proud of. To kind of tie this all up and put a pretty little bow on it, you said that you wanted to avoid IVF because number of reasons. 

Lindsey Lusson  35:11

It’s expensive. It’s injecting yourself with high levels of hormones that aren’t natural. But you said I wanted to have the opportunity to surprise my husband. I wanted to pee on a stick and show him. Tell us about that moment for you. 

Sam  35:23

Yeah. It was incredible. I don’t want to start crying.

Lindsey Lusson  35:28

You can cry.

Sam  35:30

I never thought that I was gonna have that moment. And I did. And now we’re 17 weeks pregnant and expecting our first baby boy in September. 

Lindsey Lusson  35:43

September’s my birth month, so that’s very popular birth month, New Year’s babies. Yeah. It’s nothing like that feeling of getting the positive pregnancy test. I mean, I think that there’s so much excitement with your first recovery period, of course. And that alone feels like Christmas morning. But there’s nothing better than the validation that your body works and that you do the damn thing.

Sam  36:09

Yeah, I mean, it was amazing. I did ovulate, I guess within five weeks of joining the program or was something around there.

Sam  36:41

It was something that in my old ways, I would have just reverted back to running controlling my eating habits well, this didn’t work. So it’s never going to work. But having that community and the people that I could text and reach out to, all I wanted to do is keep going.  Four weeks later, we got pregnant again, and our baby is healthy and growing perfect.

Lindsey Lusson  37:09

I appreciate you sharing that part. Because I know that miscarriage is obviously traumatic and horrible and scary. It is unfortunately statistically common one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, and if anyone’s listening and they have experienced miscarriage, there are dozens of reasons why miscarriage happens. Probably none of them are your fault. 

Lindsey Lusson  37:31

And it’s out of your control and out of your hands. But I also love what you’re bringing about is because if you’re coping mechanism to any sort of trauma or something that’s been out of your control in the past, if your coping mechanism is to over exercise and restrict food and try to control your body. 

Lindsey Lusson  37:50

Understand that if something like this happens, that’s a really sensitive, pivotal time in your recovery journey to make sure that you do have support. So I’m so glad that despite all of that happening, I mean, I think it’s just important that you were plugged in and getting more support with that and where it led to you. 

Sam  38:08

Yeah, exactly taking the time to grieve as you need to, but then in a healthy way. And I don’t know, I just know that this is not where our story ends, and we’re just so close to getting where. It was actually exactly a year on the day that I found that I was pregnant the day that I went off birth control.

Sam  38:32

 So it was it was very cool, very special moment. And it all makes sense now. 

Lindsey Lusson  38:37

What a journey! From year to year, and thinking probably about how much just mental growth there’s been from 2023 to 2024. What do you think you’re most excited about when you finally get to meet baby boy in September? 

Sam  38:54

Well, I’m just very excited to meet him. First of all, it’s kind of weird that I’m growing a human. I don’t even know who he is. But yeah, I mean, it’s something that now we’ve dreamed up for the last year. And I know some women have longer stories than that. So wherever your journey is, it’s just, it kind of seems surreal, honestly, at this moment right now. 

Sam  39:16

But I’m most excited about being able to take time with him and my husband and enjoy the slow moments and slow down in life not worrying about waking up at four or 5am to get my workout in. Just being able to have the food freedom to do what I want. 

Sam  39:38

Exercise when if I want and being really able to just enjoy life as a family. 

Lindsey Lusson  39:46

I love that and I’ve said this before, so I’ll just say it again. Because I think it’s really important that I really truly believe that the recovery process prepares you, obviously physically with being able to get your period back and get pregnant. 

Lindsey Lusson  40:33

Wait, how many carbs are in this? Or I can’t?  so there’s so many nuggets here? 

Sam  40:44

Absolutely. And I mean, even in first trimester, I could not imagine having the mindset I had last year, in the first semester that I had. Because it was really, really hard. I mean, there were some days that I would just sit on the couch and stare at the wall and not talk because I was just trying not to get sick. But it did get better. I feel very normal now. 

Sam  41:10

But um, yeah, I mean, I just couldn’t imagine I did not touch a vegetable or a fruit for probably 12 weeks. And that was okay, I was completely okay with that. I walked when I could if I wanted to. And I will also say I was always one of those girls that said, I don’t care how much weight I gain as long as I just get pregnant. I don’t care what my body looks like. 

Sam  41:36

Let me tell you, it’s still a mental journey. But it is so much easier now that I’ve been through what I’ve been through.  I couldn’t imagine having that mindset and then seeing all of these body changes happening now. It’s a lot. 

Lindsey Lusson  41:50

It is a lot. And I do think that that’s a lovely time to lie. But we’d like to tell ourselves during recovery process is like, I don’t really want to gain weight to get pregnant. But once I’m pregnant I just don’t care, I won’t care about the changes and we’ll all feel very purposeful. 

Lindsey Lusson  42:06

And it’s like bite changes with pregnancy are like,  even for people who don’t have disordered eating or, kind of food body issues in the past, body changes during pregnancy are really weird, and it can throw anyone into a tailspin. 

Sam  42:20

It’s anything you’ve never experienced before. I mean, you’re pretty much just bloated for the first…

Lindsey Lusson  42:29

I know that I’m pregnant, but nobody else does. 

Lindsey Lusson  42:36

Well, Sam, thanks so much for coming on and sharing your story. It’s an inspiration. It’s honest, it’s raw, it’s real, and it has a happy ending. So we so appreciate you.

Sam  42:47

Thank you so much, Lindsey, for everything. Truly you’re life changing. And I’ll tell you that over and over again. 

Lindsey Lusson  42:54

Well, I get to work with the best people. So thanks again for coming on. And thanks for just being amazing in person. You deserve everything that you have right now. 

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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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