Overcoming denial & making changes to support fertility

Mar 31, 2024 | Recovery Stories

Overcoming denial about your habits and finally making changes to support fertility

Beth is a registered nurse and nursing professor with a background in obstetrical nursing from just outside St. Louis, Missouri. In an effort to “get in the best shape possible” before she and her husband tried to conceive, she unintentionally set herself down a path of severe disordered eating, over exercise, and consequently developed HA. After two years of no period returning after coming off hormonal birth control, seeking fertility assistance with a REI, and attempting recovery on her own, she made the decision to join Lindsey’s program to get the additional support, guidance, and encouragement needed to get her period back and get pregnant naturally!

In this episode:

  • Taking your fitness journey too far and losing your period
  • Maybe tiny tweaks and not getting results 
  • Being tapped out on fertility treatment and getting serious about recovery 
  • Thinking about period recovery as a prescriptive diet 
  • When you need more than spousal support to recover
  • Getting pregnant in under 3 months after over a year of infertility 
  • Taking pride in healing from disordered eating to be a role model for your kids

Have a question you want me to answer on the podcast? Add it here

Ask the REI: Diagnosing HA Episode 52

How your partner can support you during recovery Episode 15

Connect with Lindsey Lusson: 

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

Transcript:

Lindsey Lusson  00:00

What would you say to somebody who feels like, well, I don’t want to be in community because I don’t want to talk about this stuff. What would you say back to that person or maybe even that version of yourself at one point in time?

Beth  00:11

If you’re unsure, honestly, just do it. Just take the leap, join the program, get the support that you really, truly do need. I think part of it for me was I was very fearful of questions and perceptions of judgment from friends or family that I did not at all experience in the program. So having those people to again, hold you accountable to uplift you commiserate with you. 

Beth  00:36

Just make the leap. In the long run, it’s going to help you rather than hold you back. And that community is just going to be another tool in your tool belt with all of the other things you’re already doing to get to where you want to be. Whether that be getting just your period back or getting your period back and getting pregnant. Plus you make some really awesome friends along the way.

Lindsey Lusson  00:55

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  01:26

Hey, hey podcast listeners. Welcome back to another episode of the Period Recovery and Fertility Podcast. I am so excited you’re here and so excited to get into this week’s client success story. My client Beth is amazing and you are gonna love hearing her story about how she struggled with infertility for over a year. She was able to get her period back naturally and get pregnant in a relatively short amount of time. 

Lindsey Lusson  01:48

But before we jump into this week’s episode, I want to invite you to take the next 30 seconds if you are a plugged in listener and you are benefiting in any way from this podcast to take a quick second and leave us a rating and review. It helps tremendously in reaching other women and empowering them to take charge of their health and fertility through period recovery. 

Lindsey Lusson  02:06

And oh hey, by the way, I’m answering some of your listener questions at the very end of this episode. So make sure to listen to the entire thing and be on the lookout to see if I answer your question on this week’s episode. And with that, let’s go ahead and jump right in.

Beth is a registered nurse and nursing professor with a background in obstetrical nursing from just outside St. Louis, Missouri. And an effort to get in the best shape possible before she and her husband started trying to conceive. 

Lindsey Lusson  02:31

She unintentionally set herself down a path of severe disordered eating over exercise and consequently lost her period and developed HA. After two years of no period returning after coming off hormonal birth control seeking fertility assistance with a reproductive endocrinologist and attempting recovery on her own, she decided to join Lindsey’s program to get additional support, guidance and encouragement that she needed to get her period back and finally get pregnant naturally.

Lindsey Lusson  02:55

All right, and welcome Beth. Thanks for being here.

Beth  02:59

Thanks for having me.

Beth  03:00

Well, I love getting into clients stories. I think that it’s our favorite listener episodes to have, because they’re so inspirational. And it really just helps people to feel like they’re not the only one. They’re not the only one going through this. So Beth, if you can, for listeners, paint us a little backstory. How did you end up losing your period and developing HA?

Beth  03:19

Sure. So admittedly, I don’t know. 100% when I lost my period, because I was on hormonal birth control for 19 years, maybe almost 20 years. A long time. But during COVID, I think probably a lot of people, you’re stuck in the house. You don’t have anything to do. So my husband and I started to work out together. Working out pretty frequently, we converted our basement into a home gym. 

Beth  03:46

So it was a great time for us to just hang out together. Get to do stuff inside the house, when you couldn’t leave the house. And so I started to see all of these positive effects of working out and eating healthier. And I had kind of used that mindset. I had also kind of had the mindset. I probably am going to want to start to have a baby here soon. And so I thought this is perfect, I’m gonna get fit, I’m gonna get healthy. 

Beth  04:14

Admittedly, I was in my mid 30s. I’m 34 at this time, and I’m like, I’m gonna get in the best shape of my life to get pregnant. So this is perfect. So we’re working out and seeing all of these positive effects. And when we did decide to actually start a family in October of 2021, I came off of birth control, and never had a period. We thought, well, we’ll come up with birth control, actively start trying in early 2022. 

Beth  04:42

That’ll give my body a couple of months to regulate the cycle because I knew it could take a couple months. I just never got a period. By February of 2022, I was due for my regular appointment with my OB. And he’s like, Yeah, you’ve you’ve lost some weight and I admittedly had lost some weight. even from my, fitness getting the best shape of my life journey, but he seems very unconcerned. He’s like, it can take up to six months for some people. And I’m like, okay, he’s like [indecipherable].

Beth  05:11

I think what’s interesting is that he even brought it up. So it’s almost like he was thinking about it thinking about going there, but then was like, it’s fine. Because, I’m assuming he said that in response to the fact that you hadn’t had a period. Is that correct?

Beth  05:28

Yeah, yeah, I had brought it up. Because we came up with birth control in October, I fully anticipated that I would have had a period within a month or two. Then I’m like, Okay, well, it’s only been four months, you hear three months. I’m like, Okay, well, everybody’s body doesn’t follow the textbook. Fair enough. And my OB was so laissez-faire about it that I thought, okay, sure. I work in obstetrics. But he’s been doing this so much longer than I have. I’m sure he’s seen many more patients in similar situations. 

Beth  06:00

He knows. I’m just going to be unconcerned about it, even though again, he had recognized that I had lost a bit of weight in my fitness journey. He was just like, Yeah, if given another couple of months. And if you still don’t have a period, reach out, and I’m like, Okay, fine. I’m just gonna keep going about what I’m doing. Because the doctor tells you everything’s fine. So you just keep going about your business. So by May of 2022, I had reached back out and like, Hey, okay, by this point, we’re at six, seven months, still no period. 

Beth  06:34

So he had me come back in and they did an ultrasound, they saw that my uterine lining was very thin and did some lab work and decided to put me on oral estrogen. Okay, perfect. Now we’re moving about things. I was on oral estrogen for six months, and after six months, I got to be like, November of 2022. I’m like, I can’t stay on oral estrogen forever, something else is going on. I still haven’t had a period. So they put me on transdermal estrogen. And, again, this is like November of 22. And he’s like, in May, he had even kind of mentioned, maybe eat an extra 100 calories here or there, maybe gained just a few pounds, but again, very relaxed about like

Lindsey Lusson  07:20

A little bit. Just a little bit. Not too much. Yeah.

Beth  07:23

Just a little bit, have an extra snack every now and then. And I’m like, Okay, so again, obviously, I’m not doing anything too wrong. So by November, my BMI was technically in normal range, low end of normal, but normal range. And I thought, well, I’ve done all of the things and the OB said, Well maybe reach out to a reproductive endocrinologist and fertility specialists. He’s like, not that you need it. But sometimes they’re hard to get into. Might as well see if you can get on their books. Yeah. And admittedly, I got on their books, the next month or so my husband and I spoke with an REI in December of 22. And that’s where I got the diagnosis of HA.

Lindsey Lusson  08:01

Okay, if you are listening, I’m not sure when we’ll exactly or this but Episode 52, we interviewed a reproductive endocrinologist out of LA and she said that it is more likely to get the right diagnosis from REs versus OBs, so if you’re listening and you’re struggling with actually getting the diagnosis, doctors are on our teams here, for the most part, especially as a dietitian, I can’t diagnose you. 

Lindsey Lusson  08:24

So if you need that, I think that that’s where we need to go. What happened with the REI, did you guys start fertility treatment right away with the HA diagnosis? Beth, what were the next steps? Was there any more talk of wait food habits with exercise at all, or not necessarily?

Beth  08:44

In the first consultation, meeting with the REI it was my husband and I, and the doctor even mentioned, she’s like, do you think you have a problem with diet or exercise? And I said, Well, no. Because looking back I know I subconsciously I did. But again, in my mind, I’m like, I did what the OB said, I gained a couple pounds. I was in a normal BMI. I had eaten some more food. So no, I didn’t have a problem because I did the things I was supposed to do. Sure. 

Beth  09:16

And she immediately went through like, Okay, you really don’t seem like a PCOS patient. It doesn’t seem like there’s any other things. She did all of the testing. She did lab work, all of the ultrasounds to make sure that my uterus was fine and my fallopian tubes were open. I had a brain MRI to make sure it wasn’t like a brain tumor. And because I had said like, Well, no, I don’t need to do anything different with diet and exercise. We started with ovulation induction and timed intercourse. And we started that in early 2023. Like January, February of 2023.

Lindsey Lusson  09:52

Yeah, were you able to respond to ovulation induction?

Beth  09:55

I never did any ovulation test OPKs, things like that. I was going in routinely and they were measuring my follicles and my body was responding at least seeing the follicles, and tons of follicles. They were growing and maturing. So it seems like my body was responding. But we did three rounds of ovulation induction and timed intercourse, and never were able to get pregnant.

Lindsey Lusson  10:20

Did you get periods like withdrawal bleeds after the ovulation induction?

Beth  10:24

I did.

Lindsey Lusson  10:25

Uh-huh. Yeah. So that sounds to me like you did respond, because they were probably monitoring you by ultrasound seeing if ovulation did occur. And then obviously seeing if there was I assume they were testing progesterone or doing ultrasound looking for a corpus luteum. So it sounds like we did respond. But we didn’t get pregnant. And after three cycles, what was next?

Beth  10:45

So after the third cycle, we knew that the next step would have been kind of going up the hierarchy of fertility treatments. IUI. And admittedly, they did let us know that the likelihood of getting pregnant with ovulation induction wasn’t super great. But my thought as an RN, I want less than more. So let’s start low-tier and move our way up.

Beth  11:08

I agree, I would do the same thing.

Beth  11:10

Yeah. And I thought it’s going to work, why would it not work? I’ve done all of the things. right? And it’s gonna work. And so after three rounds of it, my husband and I decided to take a couple months off at this point, we were continuing the summer time, and my full time job is actually as a nursing professor. So I teach at a local university. And we thought, okay, let’s just take the summer off, we’ll even work on maybe eating a little bit more, exercising a little bit less, doing a little bit more myself, and we’ll just take a summer to not do any fertility treatments. 

Beth  11:44

It was admittedly a lot to be driving up to the fertility clinic multiple times a week where I live and where the doctor was that I was seeing was about 40 or 45 minutes. Yeah, it’s quite a dry it to do that multiple times a week and trying to fit that in with your work schedule. So we took the summer off, decided not to do any fertility treatments, I was just kind of working on things myself. And by the end of the summer, we kind of had to make a decision of what was going to happen next. And I kind of came to my husband like, I don’t think I can continue this, I can’t continue with the idea of fertility treatments. It’s just not something I’m interested in.

Lindsey Lusson  12:22

Beth and you did such a good job of following the advice of your OB. Eat a little bit more, gain a few pounds, get up to at least X BMI, and you did those things. They didn’t work. We had some optimism going into ovulation induction had done all that, this is supposed to work. And so when you decided to take a break from fertility treatment, or I guess, actually my question is in doing all the things that the doctor said, because when we first met, I got to meet with both you and your husband, which was so cool. 

Lindsey Lusson  12:52

It seemed like he had observed this fitness journey and had observed your fertility journey too, and had a different perspective. Do you think in hindsight, maybe there were some things that other people maybe thought you could have been or should have been doing with regards to recovering your period that you either, 1) didn’t have the knowledge or, 2) didn’t have the right level of support to do?

Beth  13:16

Yeah, definitely my husband, he was saying, probably need to exercise a little less, you need to eat more. And he kept saying it, and admittedly, I knew it. But I just wasn’t willing to make the change at all. I just was not willing to make the change. And God bless my husband for his support. And he knew it, but I just was not going to listen to him. It was something I needed to come to on my own. And I was not at that point, until the end of summer where I kind of had a breaking point of fertility treatments just aren’t an option. We need to talk about something else. I’m just not [indecipherable] beautiful thing for people. They’re not the thing for me.

Lindsey Lusson  13:54

Yeah. And thanks for bringing all that in. And I think that we can all relate to that, I kind of know in the back of my mind, it’s not that I don’t know, it’s that I’m not yet willing to admit. So God bless your husband, God bless our partners for sticking with us in our time denial phase, when you said, I don’t think that this is the route I can go with fertility treatment. What was his response? And what was next for you guys?

Beth  14:21

Yeah, he was amazing. So it was the end of July last year. So in 2023. And I think I had just been really thinking about, we’re nearing the end of summer, we were going to have to make that decision of what was next. I was thinking about, Okay, this semester is going to be starting back up. I’m going to be going back to work full time, because I’m blessed to have the summers off. And I’m like, I got to figure out what what we’re going to do. 

Beth  14:46

And I woke up one morning it was a Friday morning, my husband was off of work and I unloaded on him at 7:00 or 7:30 in the morning and I’m like, I can’t do it. I’m really sorry. I don’t know what it is but I felt such calling that IUI, which I knew was not going to work, I just knew in my heart, I was not going to work. I’m like, we’re going to spend all of this time all of this money and efforts, and it’s not going to get us any closer, we’re going to have to do IVF. And I really don’t want to spend that money. 

Beth  15:14

I don’t want to pursue that, if that’s what we have to do to have a family, I’m not sure we’re meant to have a family. So I’m telling my husband all of this, in the morning, we’re bawling my eyes out in the kitchen, unloading on him. And he said, the best thing in the entire world, he goes, Well, what do you need from me? I’m like, That’s exactly what I needed to hear. And I’m like, so I follow this girl on Instagram. I know how this sounds, I promise I followed her for months. I think I have started following you at the end of like, 2022 or something like that. Okay, month? Yes. 

Beth  15:51

I think I want to do what she suggests, which is, admittedly exactly what he had been saying. And he even was like, I mean, that’s what I’ve been telling you. I’m like, Yeah, but, you don’t work in healthcare. You know what you don’t know, she has experience and her program is specifically tailored for HA and all this stuff. And so I was telling him about that. That’s where I made the decision to go all in. So my husband again, he’s like, so what do you need me to do, and I’m like, I need you to go to the refrigerator. 

Beth  16:22

And I need you to throw away every single thing that says, low fat, fat, free, anything like that, I need you to go take the scale out of the bathroom, because admittedly, the scale is a huge trigger for me, I need you to hide it, throw it away. If it’s in the bathroom, I will find it. I will use it and it will halt my progress. So he did all of those things.

Lindsey Lusson  16:44

Okay, now, these are great tips. You guys, listeners, write these down. If you want to go back to Episode 15, I also interviewed my husband on how he supported me through my recovery journey. If you’re looking for more tips or partners, God bless you if you’re listening, some things that maybe you can support your female partner with to during this recovery process. 

Lindsey Lusson  17:04

]I’m curious that in the time of your fitness journey from 2022, to the, I can’t do this anymore, I need you to throw away my scale, was there a tape playing on the back of your head saying I’m harming my fertility? Was that thought in the back of your mind as you were engaging in some of these behaviors?

Beth  17:27

Admittedly, no. Looking back, I don’t know how I didn’t think that I was harming my fertility. But I thought, I mean, I’m doing the things that I would recommend to patients, as a nurse or providers tell you like, Okay, be healthy, exercise, everybody tells you to exercise, right? And I’m exercising, I’m getting heart pumping, and I’m getting strong and eat healthy. I’m like, I can’t eat any healthier than what I’m–I’m doing all of the things that the textbook and all of the medical providers tell you to do. 

Beth  18:01

I’m not harming myself, I’m doing something to help me there’s something else going on. So I don’t know how I didn’t have that. But I think the the thought that I was doing the right thing. And admittedly, seeing what I received is very positive results, at least physically, as bad as that sounds trumped any thought of negatively impacting fertility.

Lindsey Lusson  18:27

Yeah, for sure. Well, and I think maybe that was a silly question. Because, if you thought that, of course, you would have stopped doing what you were doing right. But you brought in a really important part that I hear so many of my clients struggle with, especially people who work in the wellness field or who work in healthcare is I was doing everything that I would tell my patients to do. 

Lindsey Lusson  18:48

Tell us a little bit more about anything you or having been in our program for a while now and observing other people connecting with other people who work in healthcare, what kind of challenges could you see someone who works in health care with patients, encouraging them to exercise encouraging them to eat their vegetables? What kind of different challenges could you see that throw a wrench into the into their ability to just put stuff into practice and recover on their own?

Beth  19:17

Yeah. So I think if it’s somebody that works in the healthcare field, we have to really remember that every person is very individualized. And what a best practice or a textbook or a medical provider tells you is best isn’t always best for that person. And that’s what I really had to wrap my mind around was, the nurse, I come up with a plan of care for a patient and it might be very different, one patient to the next, even if they have the same or very similar issues or concerns or problems and it’s my problem. 

Beth  19:48

My diagnosis isn’t what other people’s are. So what’s best for me isn’t what’s best for other people. And that’s where I really struggled and really had to come to terms with Okay, so Yes, exercising and eating healthy are important things for a lot of people, but it’s not what’s going to get me what I need. And it’s not what’s best for me right now, not that I shouldn’t eat healthy things, and exercise. But that’s not what is my plan of care right now.

Lindsey Lusson  20:18

Right, right. Another way, I’ll usually frame it to people to that work in healthcare is like, there are going to be different diets for different conditions, right, somebody who is in renal failure is going to have kind of some weird restrictions with potassium and sodium and sometimes even vegetables, right. And these are ones that we would typically give out to the general public. And so when you have period loss with Ha, your prescriptive diet is going to look different than what the dietary guidelines say, or whatever wellness guru that you follow. 

Lindsey Lusson  20:52

And they recommend for the general public to be healthy, it’s going to look different, because you are in a unique situation, and we have to treat, if you will, what’s actually going on with your individual body? So thanks for sharing that perspective in that and it sounds you have been following along for a long time. So you kind of had a lot of information, you had this breakdown moment and told your husband, hey, we got to do XYZ. At what point did you recognize you needed more support than just his support?

Beth  21:23

Yeah, I think I kind of knew, when I made the decision to go all in that I was eventually going to need some outside support. Again, baby steps, let’s ease into this. And admittedly, I did see some very positive changes when I made that decision to go all in on my own. But I’m a very private person where I hadn’t shared any of my HA diagnosis, any of my disordered eating habits, anything like that with friends and family, it was very siloed to my husband and I, and again, he’s amazing. 

Beth  21:59

And he was saying all the right things. And he was saying all of the things that I was seeing on your page. But I’ve really, after a couple of weeks, unlike I think I need to talk through things more, but people who actually are experiencing the exact same thing, because I was having all of these great conversations with my husband. But as much as he could try to empathize, he just didn’t know.

Lindsey Lusson  22:22

Right. And he’s not the one having to eat the bagel, having to not exercise having to watch his body change, right. So even though he can empathize and listen, he’s not experiencing those things firsthand. And so it feels different.

Beth  22:39

It does, I felt very much in a silo. And again, some of that have looked up my own making in my desire to not kind of share some of that with friends and family. But I’m like, I really want to talk through what I’m going through and see what other people are going through who are going through the exact same thing. So by mid August, after I had been all in for maybe what, two or three weeks. 

Beth  23:02

I’m like, so remember who I followed on Instagram, I want to join her program. And I was really nervous because we’ve already spent all of this money on, fertility treatments. And admittedly, it wasn’t as much as we could have. I’m like, I really want to join her program. I know I’m doing all of the things but I want to have community support. And he’s like, Okay, do it. Okay, good.

Lindsey Lusson  23:30

Yes, yeah. Yeah. And I think too, sometimes that can honestly be a burden of relief for our partners do right, because as much as they want to be here and be our sounding board, they also know that they’re not women. They don’t have guarantees. They’re not carrying the weight of this, My body is broken. I can’t have a baby. We can’t start our family all because of me. They’re not carrying those things like we are when we’re struggling with this. So I love that he was all for it. And I love that you joined. What was your what’s been kind of just your favorite part about being part of the Food Freedom and Fertility Society?

Beth  24:04

Getting to connect with other women who are going through the exact same thing. What’s so interesting is every single one of us I felt like had the exact same personality. We could not be more OCD type, A anal, retentive individuals, and obviously, all of these women get it, they really get every single thing that I had thought and felt and experience and it felt so great to have that community support and having questions and then having people to bounce ideas off of and getting advice and tips. 

Beth  24:40

And truthfully, it was so motivating to see other people’s positivity. So when somebody got a period, I was like, that’s going to be me, I’m going to be that person or when somebody got pregnant. I’m like, that’s gonna be me. I’m gonna get pregnant that is it was so motivating.

Lindsey Lusson  24:57

Yeah, I know that. I think that that energy is so important too because I think that A) recovery can feel really isolating, and B) it can just feel like you’re doing all of these things that suck. That is not fun. And this is not to paint a picture that, oh, just join, Food Freedom and Fertility is a society and everything turns around and nothing’s hard anymore. That’s not true. But I think that whenever they’re, I think that when you can flip the script on things, weight gain is uncomfortable, and it’s going to be closer to a baby. 

Lindsey Lusson  25:25

I have to give up exercise right now. And my body probably could use a break, right? Kind of understanding the why and having other people to keep you accountable. And to do it in an uplifting way, rather than a “This sucks, drag me down. I have to give up everything. Why me” sort of way. So kind of flipping this, I think the mindset of having community is really huge. And I think that just like community is helpful in so many different areas, right? We talk about community in the gym, right? I love going to workout classes, because I feel more motivated. And I can get a better workout right? 

Lindsey Lusson  26:02

There is something about community that can really push you outside your comfort zone and do it in a really fun positive way versus being on your own. What would you say to somebody who is due, their partner is their number one support system? And they think, not me, I can’t because it sounds as a private person, it sounds like you kept a lot of this close.

What would you say to anybody who feels like, well, I don’t want to be in community because I don’t want to talk about this stuff? What would you say back to that person, or maybe even that version of yourself at one point in time?

Beth  26:37

Yeah, if you’re unsure, honestly, just do it. Just take the leap, join the program, get the support that you really, truly do need. I think part of it for me was I was very fearful of questions and perceptions of judgment from friends or family that I did not at all experience in the program. So having those people to again, hold you accountable to uplift, you commiserate with you. Just just make the leap in the long run, it’s going to help you rather than hold you back. 

Beth  27:11

And that that community is just going to be like another tool in your tool belt with all of the other things you’re already doing to get to where you want to be, whether that be getting just your period back or getting your period back and getting pregnant. And plus you make some really awesome friends along the way, which is a fun thing so [indecipherable] with people, which is really awesome.

Lindsey Lusson  27:30

And I think that that’s invaluable, too. Because when I think about what is make or break and somebody’s ability, right, because pregnancy is such a great motivator, but it’s also a temporal motivator, right? Because I have definitely worked with people who get their results. And then they have no support through pregnancy through postpartum, and they end up losing their period again, and what I’ve observed and my experience personally of a game changer for not only getting recovered, but staying recovered. 

Lindsey Lusson  28:01

It’s having the sound community of people that you can stay connected to, because there’s always going to be seasons and chapters, even after you get your period back, they’re going to be challenging, and you’re going to be tempted to potentially engage in behaviors that aren’t helpful and aren’t healthy for you. So I love providing that container and I love that you’re still part of our community. And I think that that’s, that’s gonna be really helpful for you. Another thing that you said was just the motivation, having that positive mindset. 

Lindsey Lusson  28:31

And I think that that also can play a role in recovery times because you get your period back really fast, and also got pregnant really fast. So tell us a little bit more about that experience. And also, how did it feel going from Gosh, what was it a year-ish, doing? Seeing different doctors doing some fertility treatment, feeling very hope less and then ovulating on your own and getting pregnant?

Beth  28:55

Yeah, I was very blessed to get my period back pretty quickly. I got my first recovery period, about two and a half weeks after joining the Food Freedom and Fertility Society. It was two and a half weeks. That was amazing. Getting that first period was, okay, obviously, this is working like my body can do it. It’s not just all of those other women I saw getting it like that’s now me too. 

Beth  29:21

Perfect. I’m doing the right thing, which just really helped solidify like all of the uncomfortableness that I was feeling because there was a lot of uncomfortableness with recovery. Eating that much and exercising less and just seeing your body change, but having that let’s just like a–okay, it’s worth it. Keep doing it. Stick with it. It’s obviously doing the right thing. And then yeah, we were able to we got our positive pregnancy test in early November. So it was less than three months after joining the program. 

Beth  29:49

I had had two recovery periods before I got the positive pregnancy test, which was amazing. So it was almost two full years after coming off of the pill. Trying see it on my own. And it was, gosh, in such a short amount of time I got what I wanted look at all of that time that I hate to say it was wasted. But all of that time that we didn’t have what we wanted, and look how quickly we got what we wanted.

Lindsey Lusson  30:13

Definitely, and I don’t think that that time was wasted. What I always tell people is you don’t know what you don’t know, number one, right? You we’re doing what you were told by the person that you trusted at that point in time. And I also think, too, for people who, sometimes people like to exhaust all their options before ready to admit what’s really going on. I actually see that more often than not, yeah. I mean, I would love it if more people came to me, and they’re like, Yep, I’ve been missing my period for so long. 

Lindsey Lusson  30:47

I’m not even gonna go fertility treatment route. Because,  I know that that’s not really what I need to do. But more often than I would love it if I had people come to me like that. But the fact of the matter is, it can be hard to really admit what’s going on. Because I think too, it can just be this radical overhaul, right? You were like, We gotta get rid of the scale, we got to get rid of all of the, things that are not real foods that I’m eating or things that are that are keeping me stuck in this space that actually is no longer healthy and harming my fertility.

Beth  31:21

Yeah, yeah. I mean, I agree. Like I said, I hate to say that wasted because I was not in a mindset to make those major overhauls. It was very much I needed baby steps. Okay, I ate that extra like 100 calories and gave a couple extra pounds, the doctor said, and then I, I did that even a little bit more over last summer, when we took the break off with fertility treatments. I am very much the person I needed to be eased into it. 

Beth  31:46

And then finally, when I came to the realization and the decision myself at the end of the summer, this ain’t work and we got to do something else. Then it was okay, now I’m fully ready. I’m at the point to make the changes. Again, my husband had been telling me this stuff all along, but I was just not in the mindset to to do it. I was just like, okay, sure, babe. Yeah, no, you really don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m doing things right. I’m doing the right thing. So yeah.

Lindsey Lusson  32:12

Yeah. What was the shift like for you back then? Because it sounds like you started following and 2020, late 2022. So, what was that nine months of following along before we decided to work together?

Lindsey Lusson  32:25

What did the shift look like from being like, there’s this information on the internet that speaks to me, but no, to I need to sign up for this program ASAP. What did that shift look like for you? And what were some kind of things along the way that really had you clue in like, Hey, she’s talking to me, and I know that this is what I need to do to get pregnant.

Beth  32:28

Yeah, probably. It was a while.

Beth  32:44

Yeah. I mean, I think I knew when I started following you that I had HA, I was looking at your Instagram page. And I’m like, That is me, I know for a fact. So when the REI gave me the diagnosis of HA, when I officially received that diagnosis, I already knew that. I knew exactly what she was going to say it was nothing surprising. But again, I still wasn’t at the point to where I was like, I don’t really need to eat that much extra calories, right? I’m eating some extra calories. I don’t need to eat the 2500.

Beth  33:18

I don’t need a full break from exercise. I’m reducing the exercise. I don’t need to do all of those things. I felt like, again, baby steps, even though I knew it, it’s just such a mind shift, you just have to get your mind there. And again, I have no idea what it was other than like, at the end of the summer, that breaking point of okay, I guess I really do need to do all of the things that I’m seeing on your page and in your program.

Lindsey Lusson  33:46

And I think everyone thinks that it doesn’t apply to them. Everybody thinks that I don’t need to do that I can cut a corner, I can eat less than that. I can still exercise. Every single person thinks that it is very rare to see all of this information that probably deeply challenges everything that you believe to be true about food, exercise and your body and to flip a switch overnight. 

Beth  33:52

If I had been honest, I don’t know that there was the support through that office to get me what I needed. And I don’t know that I was mentally at the point where I was ready to do–even though I had been following you at that point to actually join that program. I wish I had been. But I think even if I had said, Yes, I definitely have disordered eating habits, I need to eat more, I need to exercise less.

Lindsey Lusson  34:14

So if you are bargaining with this information, just know that you’re not alone and know that the longer you bargain, you are dragging your recovery journey out. There does have to be the August moment that Beth had, where you’re like, put the stuff away, put the scale away, it’s time to radically overhaul some things and potentially get some more support to the process. I’m curious, this is more a little bit more of a hypothetical question. 

Lindsey Lusson  34:42

And I don’t think we’re gonna get the answer to this, but I’m just curious [about] your thoughts. What do you think would have changed when the reproductive endocrinologist diagnosed you with HA and asked you, do you have a problem with food and if you were blatantly honest, at that point in time, you have the wherewithal ought to do it and you told her, “Yeah, maybe.” What do you think would have changed?

Beth  35:32

I don’t know that I would have been mentally, again, at the point to make the draft the changes that needed to happen, I think I would have again continued with the Okay, well, now I’ll add maybe an extra 100 calories, I’ll eat a little bit more, gain a couple more pounds, perhaps, maybe take it from an our long walk to 45 minutes or I would have just done a half-assed job, again with it.

Lindsey Lusson  35:55

Well, and that’s one way of thinking about it, half-assed, I mean, if you were my client, and you were to have come to me at that point in time, a group may have not been appropriate, but from a dietitian perspective, when somebody’s struggling with disordered eating, we are going to stair step you up, we are not going to say, Oh, you have an eating disorder, start eating 2500 calories and just go for it. 

Beth  35:57

All of it. Finally getting–finally seeing the baby and seeing the fruits of all of that labor and hard work. And just seeing, look at what I did. Look at how far I’ve come I went from massively disordered eating habits and huge body image issues to this beautiful baby that’s on the way. All of it.

Lindsey Lusson  36:18

That’s typically not appropriate, it would be interesting to know what kind of support they would have been offering you. Because I do know, some great dietitians that probably could have gotten you at least to the point where you were ready to join our program and work together and group. But I think that the things that you did, were important stepping stones to get you to have really being able to commit. 

Lindsey Lusson  36:45

And so yeah, I mean, I guess all that to say like, I think that there’s purpose in all steps of recovery, and if somebody’s listening, and they’re at the beginning, and all they can do is eat a couple extra 100 calories, that’s an important step. And there will probably need to be more steps in the future to get you the outcome that that has. What are you most excited about for giving birth? And obviously, you work in labor and delivery, or that’s your background. What are you most excited about for the birthing experience and the motherhood experience that awaits you later this year?

Lindsey Lusson  37:44

Yeah. Amazing. Yeah. Any last things you would leave listeners with? Let’s pretend let’s rewind the clock. And it is the very end of February in 2023. And you could encourage yourself with something What would you have said to 2023 that have been struggling with? I don’t know why my period is missing? What’s going on? What what lies ahead? What kind of encouragement would you have given yourself?

Beth  38:11

Take the leap, it’ll be worth it. In the long run. It’ll be hard. It’ll be challenging, there’ll be very difficult times, but you will get to that point of comfort and acceptance, and what your ultimate goal is so much quicker, so much quicker, just take the leap, just do it. Not that, again, fertility treatments are beautiful things. 

Beth  38:31

They’re amazing for so many people. And it’s not that those aren’t great options. But it doesn’t have to be your only option. And it certainly doesn’t have to be your first option. Trust your gut. If you really know deep down you need to be making these changes. And I think I did I just wasn’t willing to admit it. Just take the leap. Do it. You will appreciate it in the long run.

Lindsey Lusson  38:51

Yes, take the leap babies waiting for you later this year. So yeah, that’s amazing. Thanks so much for sharing your story. Again, with being a private person. I know that this is probably a little bit out of your comfort zone. But listeners appreciate this so much. And I know that a lot of people are going to find your story encouraging. So thanks again for your time.

Beth  39:09

Thanks for having me.

Lindsey Lusson  39:10

Hey, hey, podcast listeners, we are moving into one of my favorite parts of a podcast recording lately and that is answering your listener questions. So we are linking a Google form at the bottom of the episode in the show notes. If you have more questions that you want me to answer on a future episode, be sure to leave your name your email so we can remind you that we’re answering your question on the podcast and feel free to ask me anything, anything about your labs, anything about your fertility journey, anything about your period last dirty or overcoming disordered eating. 

Lindsey Lusson  39:42

I am happy to do the best that I can in combing through the information and giving you a little bit of advice to help improve your recovery journey and you reaching your goals. So with that, let’s dive in and answer a couple of questions.

Lindsey Lusson  39:55

So the first question I want to answer is from Caroline and Caroline says that “I am newly released Isn’t that I have HA, after doing a lot of reading and listening, I’m confused on one aspect of things, Caroline shares, I have had a period for most of my life, and I’ve had it at a lower BMI than I am. Now she shares, I kind of think that over exercise weight loss and stress, I lost about 10 pounds, and then my period disappeared is what led to my HA. 

Lindsey Lusson  40:21

So we don’t know if it’s possible to ever go back to that slightly lower BMI and exercise less, I think I am confused on how to be sure of what my setpoint weight is.” Caroline, this is a really great question. And I want to just first say that many of us are in a really similar boat, I work with a ton of clients. And this is something that I experienced myself, where you might be at a higher BMI today with no period, then the BMI you were at where you last cycle, what I always tell my clients is at a minimum, we do need to gain back to our previous cycle weight or our previous cycle BMI, understanding that because our body has been through the stress and the trauma of under fueling and over exercising to the point of losing our period. 

Lindsey Lusson  41:05

But our body is probably going to need a little bit of a safety net or a cushion, a couple of extra pounds, a couple of extra body fat, that might mean also being a BMI point or to higher than you were in the past, in order for your body to feel safe enough to ovulate, have healthy hormones have a regular cycle and be able to make a baby. So understand that biologically your body wants to feel safe and fertile. And it might need more body fat in order to do that. So I know that it’s hard. 

Lindsey Lusson  41:37

And I know that we could drive ourselves insane thinking about well, I did that one thing and I got my period back or I was leaner in the past and I was cycling, why do I have to gain more weight. Now, it can definitely feel very frustrating. But we do have to remember our history. And we have to remember that during recovery, our body is the one that gets to choose where it feels safe and happy and healthy and fertile. 

Lindsey Lusson  42:00

We don’t get to magically pick that. Additionally, I don’t have a whole lot of context on the time between when you had your period at a lower BMI versus now and not getting it. But to put some things in perspective, if for instance, you are now a 30 year old woman who is ready to start her family. And the last time you had your period was when you were a 16 year old girl in high school, your body is probably going to be at a range that’s going to want to be at a set point weight range that is higher as an adult woman trying to start a family than it was in high school when you were still growing. So we can’t always compare apples to apples, because of the stress factor. 

Lindsey Lusson  42:38

And because of the time that might have gone by and to go a little bit deeper into setpoint weight range. For those who are unfamiliar, your setpoint weight range is kind of like a thermostat. It’s a genetically predetermined weight range. And you all hear me when I say range, we’re talking kind of 10 pounds up or down. So maybe a 20 ish pound range where your body functions most optimally, if your body is going through a lot of stress, or you’re on a weight loss journey, and you dip below your setpoint weight range, it is going to do everything that it can to try to get back into that predetermined healthy happy range. 

Lindsey Lusson  43:13

And what it might do is start shutting down body systems to conserve energy, it might also ramp up your hunger hormones telling you, hey, we need to get Caroline back in his healthy range. And it’s also going to start to become very resistant to weight loss. This is why you can eat very few calories, exercise a time and still not lose weight because your metabolism has adapted. So as you’re gaining weight, and as you’re working on recovery, you’re going to eventually kind of hit that ceiling of your setpoint weight range and your body is going to become more resistant towards weight gain. 

Lindsey Lusson  43:43

Meaning that you’re going to be able to eat a lot more, you may not be exercising a lot, but your body is not going to be gaining weight as rapidly as it did in the beginning stages of recovery. And in time, if your body does overshoot, if you will, during the HA recovery process, it will probably work its way back down into that setpoint weight range. However, this is something that happens very naturally and organically. And it’s not something that you should have to force manipulate or try to change the take home message, Caroline, is to, number one, let your body be in the driver’s seat. \

Lindsey Lusson  44:12

Try not to predict where it needs to be to cycle and be healthy. Try not to play the what if games or why was able to cycle at a lower weight in the past what’s in the past is in the past focus right now on nourishing and resting and giving your body what it needs. And if you haven’t done this already, it’s probably a good idea to put your scale away break up with your scale and to remember that the number on the scale does not determine your size, your worth or your health.

Lindsey Lusson  44:36

All right, let’s switch gears and answer another question. I’m going to answer this question from Alyssa and Alyssa says “I’ve gained enough weight to get my period back. But my cycles are very irregular. I rolled out PCOS but I’ve heard it can take a while to regulate my periods and get my body ovulating. I’m currently taking inositol. What are your thoughts?” Well, Alyssa, I’m so glad that you’ve gotten your period back. 

Lindsey Lusson  44:57

And I do want to talk a little bit about what to expect after you get your period back in terms of getting your cycles more regular, as a general rule of thumb, it’s not uncommon to have a longer time to ovulation and sometimes a shorter luteal phase. What’s typical for clients following my food freedom fertility method is to ovulate around cycle day 18 To kind of cycle day 25 ish. And if you had at least a 10 day luteal phase, that would mean that your second recovery cycle was anywhere between 28 and 35 days, which is actually very normal. 

Lindsey Lusson  45:26

Sometimes people will say kind of a 40 day cycle is even normal. But I like kind of a tighter range, kind of that 25 to 35 day range. And so if you aren’t there, let’s say recovery cycle to is like a 60-day cycle, I would definitely go back and kind of look at what you did to recover your period, it would be my guess that there might be some gaps in your period recovery plan, whether that’s not enough carbs, or the nutrient timing is off, or the overall macronutrient balance of your meals and snacks is off. 

Lindsey Lusson  45:52

Maybe there’s too much exercise, maybe we reintroduced exercise a little bit too fast. So kind of thinking about moving forward, I always recommend cycle tracking once you get your period back. This is something that I teach my clients to do inside my program, because we really want to get out of the habit of thinking, Oh, my period should come every month or my period should come every 28 days. Your period should come after ovulation. And if you haven’t ovulated yet, you should not expect your period. 

Lindsey Lusson  46:17

If you aren’t tracking ovulation, you’re going to be left in this very confusing where’s my period week after week, month after month game. So once you get your period back, it can really kind of serve as a monthly report card. This is something that we really work on inside my program is assessing how is your body responding to what you’re doing with food, what you’re doing with exercise your stress level your sleep. And if we start to see a lengthening of cycle longer time to ovulation shorter luteal phase we skip over ovulation, our 30-day cycle turns into a 60-day cycle. 

Lindsey Lusson  46:46

That’s when we go back to the drawing board. So your your cycle can be super powerful and kind of understanding how your body is responding to all that you have on your plate. And to answer kind of the tail end of your question about inositol, inositol is a supplement that can be helpful for getting cycles regular with PCOS, in particular, if you have insulin resistance with PCOS now, because you said you’ve already ruled out PCOS, I don’t think the inositol is really doing a whole lot for you. It’s probably also not hurting. So it’s kind of up to you about whether or not you want to keep it in. But that is not an evidence based supplement for regulating cycles with a chain.

Lindsey Lusson  47:22

All right, and then last one we’re gonna answer today is from Julia. Julia asked “About low AMH with HA, is there a possibility to get pregnant? And is it possible that I can increase my AMH?” I love this question, and I do think that AMH is highly over emphasized in the fertility world. So let’s talk a little bit about what AMH is, and when it might be helpful, and when it might be something you may not want to put a whole lot of stock in. 

Lindsey Lusson  47:47

So AMH stands for Anti-Müllerian Hormon, and it is an estimate, kind of a guesstimate, if you will, about how many eggs you have left, because there’s really no tests that we can do to see inside the ovaries and to see the eggs that you still have left, and there’s no blood tests for this, really AMH is kind of the best that we’ve got. And it’s an estimate of how many eggs that you have at one point in time compared to your age match peers, there is an age association with AMH. So we expect it to be higher when you’re younger. 

Lindsey Lusson  48:16

So higher age if you’re 22 than if you were 42. There’s also other factors that go into AMH, and I won’t get into that too much here, but kind of the take home message that you need to understand with AMH and HA is that AMH is not incredibly accurate when you aren’t ovulating regularly. If you have HA and your hormone levels are completely tanked out to where you aren’t growing any follicles, you could have a falsely low appearing AMH to which as you get your period back or hormone levels increase, you’ve got proper communication between your brain and your ovaries and you are able to grow follicles and those follicles are able to grow and mature, you can absolutely increase your AMH. 

Lindsey Lusson  48:55

So yes, it’s not the stagnant number. On the flip side, if you had more of these high or more normal rather, hormones, maybe you’re the person who’s going to their doctor and your soldier labs are normal. Or maybe you are getting some sort of cycle but you get four periods a year, you might have kind of a falsely high AMH if you especially if you have kind of that polycystic ish looking morphology if you had an ultrasound done, because you’ve got several follicles to which you could have this appearing high AMH, but once we actually get your body ovulating and your hormone levels start to regulate, then AMH could have maybe come back down into kind of a more normal range. 

Lindsey Lusson  49:35

Now when is AMH important or is it ever important? If you are preparing for an IVF cycle, the higher the AMH generally, the better, because you will probably be able to get more eggs or healthy eggs in an egg retrieval. Now if you aren’t doing IVF or you don’t want to go that route, AMH is not very important. And the take home message here is that it is not this stagnant number. If you are struggling with low or high AMH, supplementing and increasing your vitamin D status can be super helpful. 

Lindsey Lusson  50:06

There’s evidence that shows for women who have low AMH, taking enough Vitamin D has been helpful for bringing that level up. Of course, I would also with a really emphasize working on recovery working on your lifestyle nourishing while resting, getting your body actually cycling, I’d say that’s step one. And then vitamin D can be a helpful supplement and also with those who have higher AMH, supplementing with vitamin D has also shown to get that high AMH back in that normal range. So there’s a lot that you can do with lifestyle. 

Lindsey Lusson  50:36

There’s a lot that you can do with supplements. So the take home message here, Julia is that AMH is not the end all be all of your fertility journey. There’s a lot that you can do. And if natural fertility is your goal, you can absolutely increase your AMH.

Lindsey Lusson  50:48

Alright, so that’s it for our listener questions for this week. Guys. I hope that this is helpful. And if y’all have more questions, I’d love to hear from you. You can either ask them on a Q&A over Instagram, although there’s probably a higher likelihood that I’ll get your question answered on a podcast if you use our Google form that is linked in the show notes.

Lindsey Lusson  51:05

Thank you so much for tuning in and listening. If you found this episode to be inspiring or helpful, please share on social media and tag me @food.freedom.fertility, also don’t forget to leave a rating and a review.

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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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