Haley Pope is originally from Virginia but is currently deployed in the U.S. Navy. She loves Jesus, the beach, baking, yoga, and spending time with loved ones. She has also been a fitness and nutrition junkie her whole life. So much so that her friends, family, and co-workers all referred to her as a “health freak.” Unbeknownst to them, this was masking an eating disorder that turned into HA. Haley didn’t have a cycle for 5 years. When she asked doctors about her missing period, she was told her weight, workouts, and eating habits were normal- and to just go on the pill. But after being diagnosed with amenorrhea, she decided to take matters into her own hands. She found Lindsey’s program reports, “It has changed my whole life.” While the road ahead is still a long one, Haley now enjoys ice cream guilt-free and doesn’t obsess over missed workouts.
In this Episode:
- How an eating disorder can be misunderstood as “discipline”
- Recovery challenges when you have a very active job
- Overcoming comparison in your recovery journey
- The power of community in feeling connected
- Pushing through discomfort by clinging to your faith
- How tracking your weight holds you back in recovery
Working out in the gym and I did miss it. But I also had to remind myself you know, we’re all on like our own path and like our own. And, like I don’t even know who says the quote, but it’s like Comparison is the thief of joy.
Lindsey Lusson 00:15
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 at a woman Lindsey lesson.
Hi hi friends welcome back to the period recovery infertility podcast. We are bringing on a past client of mine Haley to share her recovery story with you guys. So Haley pope is originally from Virginia but she is currently deployed in the US Navy. She loves Jesus the beach baking yoga and spending time with loved ones. She has also been a fitness and nutrition junkie, her whole life so much so that friends, families and co workers all referred to her as a quote health freak unbeknown to them. This was masking an eating disorder that turned into ha Haley didn’t have her cycle for five years. When she asked doctors about her missing period, she was told that her weight workouts and eating habits were normal and to just go on the pill. But after being diagnosed with Eva Maria, she decided to take matters into her own hands. She found Lindsay’s program and reports that it changed my full life. While the road ahead is still a long one. Haley now enjoys ice cream guilt free and doesn’t obsess over missed workouts. Thanks, Haley and welcome to the podcast.
Oh, I’m so excited to be here. Absolutely. And I know that your story is going to resonate with so many people because we’re going to kind of talk about all things ATA recovery, we’re gonna talk about like comparison, we’re going to talk about having an active job, we’re going to talk about coming to terms with like, this is what’s going on with me. So like all kind of a common struggles with, I think kind of getting to the point of choosing recovery. And you shared in your bio that you went five years without a period and like not a whole lot of direction. Just go on the pill. It’s like such a common thing. So many women are told, what was your breaking point, though, where you kind of decided, like, I’m done with the pill. And there’s got to be a better way. You know,
I didn’t even know really anything was wrong. I lost my period. And doctors were like, oh, you know, that’s kind of common for women that are so active and you work out a lot. You’re in the military, you have an active job. So for the first like three years, I didn’t have a period, I didn’t really care. And then I started noticing just like my energy was down. And then I was noticing my like obsession around food and how much I was starting to restrict. And I just started wondering, I’m like, Are these two related? Something’s gotta be like, you know, so I started getting bloodwork done. And that was been like the pill came in. And it was actually right before deployment. And the doctors were like, Yeah, everything checks, good. We’ll just throw you on the pill and see if it comes back. And when you get back from deployment, get off and see if it stays and so I went on the pill, I got my period, I got back from deployment. I got off the pill, and I didn’t get my period. And yeah, I just didn’t care again. And then I guess probably the beginning of like, 2022 I was just like really starting to research Amande Korea, what is it? How can I like fix this because I like really don’t want to live this way for the rest of my life, because it’s just really affecting how I live. And then I found you on Instagram. I don’t even know how I really don’t, I guess maybe just like Googling and searching all of these things. And I finally found like food freedom, fertility, and I looked into it. And we met that first time. And I was so hesitant at first because it was gonna really just uproot my whole life. But I just knew that I eventually do want children. And that’s not going to happen if I don’t have a cycle. And so that’s how we got here. Yeah, yeah. And so
Lindsey Lusson 04:23
it sounds like while the period wasn’t something that was like red flags going off in your mind that this is unhealthy. It sounds like there were other symptoms and things that you were experiencing that made you realize, I just don’t feel good. Like this can’t be like something’s off. What were you mentioned, kind of like the low energy and the fatigue are there any other things that like kind of pop into your mind when you think about that period of your life when you were like eating very healthy and maybe overdoing it on the exercise? Like what other things kind of come up for you when you think about like the discomforts or the things that you were like, This can’t be right.
Yeah, you know, I just I had a lot of brain Brain fog. And you know, I had like MRIs done I because I went to the doctors and I don’t want to say like hypochondriac they don’t like that word but very like health anxiety and health obsessed. And I went to the doctor for like, every little thing that was wrong with me. And they would do bloodwork and lab tests and everything would check fine. And, and so I was like, something is wrong, you know, I’m not like making up these symptoms. And so yeah, brain fog was a big one, like low energy. And just, I think, seeing I was just so restricted with my food and very obsessed over it. And you know, I’d bring food to places and see other people like not doing that. And I’m like, like, I don’t want to think about this all the time. Formal and so that was when I was like, something’s gotta gotta change.
Lindsey Lusson 05:51
Yeah, yeah. Was there ever a part of your, you know, you mentioned like, the way that you were with food in bringing food to places, right? It’s like people, maybe I mean, you, you you kind of fill us in here was it like, you would go over to someone’s house and they’d be cooking and you would bring a meal or like, you go out to eat, you bring a meal? Like how, like, what are the habit look like for you?
Both all of it? I would always I mean, I was kind of known to like any kind of like family function, or yeah, just anything, I would always like pack my Tupperware and the same thing, it would be the same thing. Always. My family always knew like, what it was going to be or even friends. And I will say, I’ll just share this like funny story. Last summer, I went to like a country concert. And it was like around dinnertime. And I was like, oh, man, like, what? There’s not going to be anything for me to eat there. So I brought my I brought like brussel sprouts and a Tupperware and I put them in my fanny pack. I look back now and my friend that was with me. She was like, that’s just Haley Pope. Like, that’s just like, you know, that’s just you. But yeah, that’s who I am. But also, there’s just like, that is my ha, just undercover.
Lindsey Lusson 06:58
I so appreciate you saying that. Because I think that we can all maybe you’re in it right now listeners and you think that like bringing your food somewhere as normal? I guess that was gonna be my question. Haley, was there ever a part of you that was just like, This is who I am. And like, look how healthy I am. I just bring my food everywhere. Like, was there ever a part of you that kind of justified it and was like, this is normal?
There was a time and you know, I just, you know, because friends and family were just, they were kind of, you know, they’re feeding like the disorder or the HA, because they call it you know, you’re you’re so like, disciplined? And so I just was like, Yeah, I am for the longest time until I learned so much more. And like, they’re, you know, it’s there’s a fine line. Like, there’s discipline. But there’s also like, obsession?
Lindsey Lusson 07:45
Absolutely, absolutely. And I think there’s a blurred line between disorder and discipline. And it’s hard when the behaviors that are disordered and are actually making you unhealthy or praised as health. And I think that that’s a big barrier for a lot of people and coming to terms with their bodies being unhealthy, right, because on the one hand, they might feel like crap, but on the other hand, they’re getting a high five from their doctor about how low their heart rate is, how low their blood pressure is, and not everybody’s clued in to the fact that some of these, you know, vital signs can be red flags, that somebody’s body isn’t working properly. And so it’s great, you know, that you sought out, you know, some more support, and you decided, like, Hey, I’m tired of feeling this way. I want to do something different. But you mentioned you were really hesitant because you knew it was going to be uprooting a lot of was it your routine? Or like, what do you think kind of the biggest fear was about joining my group and working to get your period back,
I remember the very day that I like met with you is actually going on a trip to visit my cousin and Savannah. And it was after that trip, I finally decided that I was like, gonna commit but that weekend, I kind of like talked with her about it. And she’s also a really strong Christian. So we share like that common faith, and she just, like, helped me point out like, the facts, you know, it’s gonna be uncomfortable, but you’re like in this comfortable like place right now. But are you really comfortable? And I thought about it. And I was like, No, I’m not. And I know this is like, really gonna shake up my life, but it will be for the better when it’s done. But yeah, the biggest fear was just the change because like most humans, I don’t really do well with change. Yeah,
Lindsey Lusson 09:29
for sure. For sure. And it’s so great that you have that support as somebody who could kind of even like, ask you this hard questions like, Are you like, are you happy? Are you comfortable? Like, I think that that’s a good question to ask yourself if you’re listening along in your feeling, you know, kind of scared to make changes is to ask yourself, like on a scale from one to 10 Like how is your quality of life like Are you happy? Are you energized? Are you writing like, are you going to the gym exercising and staying committed to a healthy eating plan and serve Driving? Or are you really thriving? Like, are there areas in your life where you feel like you are really excelling the job the it’s socially the like emotionally relationally I think that those are really important questions to ask yourself and uprooting your life. What might be like at the time who didn’t exercise can be a part of your life. But for a lot of women with ha, that’s like your entire life. And so many of the clients that I work with have active jobs like you being in the military, and they might even have exercise built into their job roles. Can you share a little bit more about kind of the challenges that you faced with like the movement side of recovery being like being deployed and being in the Navy,
I faced a few challenges, but not as many as I really thought, once I finally got the mindset that if my job is really active, then I don’t need to also go to the gym. But that was awesome. That was also you know, a work in progress. So in the beginning, it was kind of hard, because I have an active job. And I still don’t want it to go work out afterwards. But once I, once I really, like mentally got that piece together, I now look at my job is like, Oh, well, I mean, I kind of have to I don’t have a way out of like not being active in my job. But it’s my workout for the day, quote, unquote. And I’m not going to also go to the gym and just just put my body back into that like running off of your like stress hormones, basically.
Lindsey Lusson 11:27
Yeah, exactly. And that’s one of the things I really preach in my program is like, alright, you can’t quit your job, right? We’re not going to tell you to quit your job. But let’s focus on the things that we can control, do we really need to go do an hour workout on top of all of the physical activity we’ve done throughout the day, whether that’s walking, whether that’s lifting heavy things, whether that’s, you’re maybe you’re like, a physician, or physical therapist, like lifting patients, like all of those things are our activity. And so it’s interesting to like, what do you think during the time during the five years, we’ve had a period like, what do you think drove you Haley, knowing you had an active job to feel like you also needed to go work out at the gym after that,
like working out has always been like a big part of my life, even before I lost my period. So I think it was more just like routine and habit. But you know, the difference between the five years of like, not having my period, but before was I wasn’t under eating. And I wasn’t being like, over obsessive over it. I just was like in this like happy medium area, kind of. But yeah.
Lindsey Lusson 12:32
Are you struggling with understanding exactly how much you need to eat to get your period back, you are not alone. So many of the women that I’ve worked with that struggle with period loss and hypothalamic amenorrhea come from a background of under eating, it can be hard to conceptualize how much food you really need to eat, to get your period back and restore your fertility. This is why I have created my period recovery meal plan that has allowed over 200 women to restore natural cycles with AJ and go on to have healthy natural pregnancies. If you’re looking for more guidance around nutrition for period recovery, I want you to head on over to my website, www dot food freedom and fertility.com and download my free period recovery meal plan today. And do you think that I’m just kind of thinking the people that you work with, right, like was that common where people would go to the gym outside of like scheduled movements, scheduled workouts, like workouts that were like part of your stay? Were there people kind of doubling up on exercise to like you were
I mean, yeah, it’s I mean, I work in an active but like, not job, you know, some days is active. Some days, it’s less, but we’re also you know, people are working out in the gym, and I did miss it. But I also had to remind myself, you know, there are, we’re all on like our own path and like our own I, and I don’t even know who says the quote, but it’s like comparison, is this the thief of joy? Yeah,
Lindsey Lusson 13:58
I think it’s Theodore Roosevelt. Because I used to think that it was a Bible verse, And then I looked it up and turns out, it’s the Bible. But you know, why is Teddy and you know, on this note, though, because I’m just thinking about, like, part of being very active is part of like, the culture that you worked in. And I think that a big struggle for women in general, but especially women in recovery from AJs comparison, like, oh, this girl is still running five miles and lifting weights and she still has her period. Like, why do I have to you know, cut it back? And you could do the same thing with food, right? You know, this girl, you know, touts her macros and eat super clean. Why and she still has her period. Why? So like, how did you personally navigate just the comparison trap during recovery and like any tips for anyone listening that maybe feels really stuck in that trap?
It was hard. It was hard at first and I just really had to that was really where I like dove in until, like my faith. So I guess like if you know, that’s how you deal with things, then go to your higher power or whatever, but it’s just like having a release. But just like also reminding yourself that it’s okay, like we’re human. And, and we do that that’s just like how our brains work sometimes, but also just, you know, also having like a community, which is like where your group came in, because we could come on these talks, and just, we were all relating and feeling the same thing. And then you realize you’re not alone. But also, you know, just like really like reminding yourself that like your, your journey is not the same as somebody else is, we all have different genetic makeup, it’s going to take somebody else it could take, you know, so sad person two weeks to recover their period, another person never loses their period and works out all the time. And it’s just because we’re made differently. And I think that was what I had to just really remind myself,
Lindsey Lusson 15:58
absolutely something that I always say. And like, I think it might be kind of easier to say, than actually believe. But I’m a firm believer and like repetition, and like, just kind of we rewiring our brains, but I always say like, You’re not her and she’s not you. And that’s like the most obvious statement in the world. But I think that we get tricked into believing that if we just ate that certain way, or we just did that certain workout that we would then look like another person, but you bring in genetics and you bring in everybody’s different, the way that everybody’s body’s handled. Stress is differently. And so yeah, just reminding ourselves that our journeys look differently. Tell us more about the impact that community had for you on your recovery journey. Was it something like initially Haley that you were like, I need community? Or was it more of like a surprising benefit of the program?
It was Lindsey, it was definitely a surprising benefit. I had no idea that I was getting a community I really honestly, I mean, you had mentioned in our like, initial console that you would get the Facebook group and have like these meetings, but I really just thought I was getting a dietician that was going to help me get my period back. And then when we had the groups, and we all just connected, I was like, Wow, this was the whole missing piece of everything. Because I had no idea that there were like people all over the world that also deal with the same thing. I just thought I was like alone feeling this way and doing these things to my body. And, you know, I just it was definitely a surprise, but like the best surprise,
Lindsey Lusson 17:34
absolutely. I think most people come into the group thinking that too. Sometimes people come into the group and they’re even hesitant. Like, they’re like, Well, I don’t like like the idea of like talking about things with other people. But then you get in a group and then you realize how different it is to talk through what you’re struggling with, with people that actually get it right. It’s like one thing to say like, that’s really hard for me to like, order the burger instead of the salad because people that don’t struggle with this issue are going to be like you are insane. And I think it’s just so powerful to be able to come and talk about what you’re struggling with, and haven’t met with a knee to and head nods and hand raise versus feeling like you’re literally talking to a brick wall when you’re expressing like your personal struggles. So obviously, I’m a huge fan community. What do you think like the hardest part of recovery was for you like and maybe there’s multiple things but maybe even pick like top two? What would you say those hardest things were for you?
Those were definitely the first piece was the giving up exercise and I know that so many people relate to that too. Because even in our group we we had everybody that said the same thing. Definitely that and then just the the weight gain body changes have been the hardest pieces. And a lot
Lindsey Lusson 19:03
of times those things are like interrelated right? It’s hard to give up exercise because we don’t want to give up control over our bodies and it’s we don’t want to give up control over our bodies because we like feeling fit we like feeling lean right? Like I think a lot of the times the two are very intertwined and so how did you push through that like what did you cling to in moments of like feeling like this isn’t worth it? I don’t like my body anymore just want to go to the gym like how did you push through that discomfort
Number one the group your group and I’m still like pretty much close with everybody that was like in our group so we still talk we’re still holding each other accountable which I just love that piece and then I’ve I’ve mentioned it before but my faith just really just like diving in to my faith with just this peace. You know, I’ve never really brought this peace to to the Lord and just really reminding myself that like I’m made in His image, you know, and actually, I had a quote that one of your past clients shared with me. And this is just like really what got me through when she mentioned this to me. But um, she says that she came to a place where she realized that the body she was fighting to have, didn’t have the capacity to hold what the Lord wanted her to carry. And she saw this as an opportunity to expand her vessel to just be able to have a spiritual and physical womb to carry, deliver, and cultivate all the things that God had for her. And when she told me that, it just like really resonated, and from that, like point on, I was like, That’s right, we’re expanding our vessel. But we’re gonna do
Lindsey Lusson 20:48
I want that phrase, first of all, but you know, if that doesn’t vibe with someone listening, like, I think that there are, I’m a big fan of mantras, and like having things that you can claim to as kind of like your like, again, like your mantra, like your phrase for recovery. And maybe it maybe it like evolves over time, too. But like, just having something that can really be, you know, your your go to statement one of mine. And I know that we, you know, kind of, we’re on different recovery journeys for different reasons. But a lot of mine with fertility being a goal of mine was just thinking about, like, chapters of my life and seasons, right. And so I kind of thought about my time where I was very into fitness and eating a certain way and looking a certain way, I kind of like thought about that as like, my, my season for like, abs like looking a certain way, right? That was like a chapter of my life. And then I kind of, you know, decided that recovery was a new chapter. And that chapter was about, you know, health and softness, and having a body that is fertile, which isn’t necessarily going to look the same as the body that I had in the previous chapter. And so whatever that is for you, you know, like thinking about a way to kind of separate the two and have something kind of positive that you can complain to whether it’s a statement, and then of course, like prayer and having a faith are so powerful to just kind of knowing that it’s not all on you to make these changes, and that there’s more support that you can kind of lean on. So I appreciate you sharing kind of that peace for you. Do you feel like there are things like, since we’re kind of on this topic, elite, about your faith that have changed since choosing recovery? Like, do you feel like we have a deeper faith? Do we feel like we have a richer faith? Like, do you feel like there’s anything that’s been purposeful in the struggle for you to kind of like, come on, on the other side, a different person
100%, my faith does feel like deeper. And I like how you use the word richer, like, feels richer, because I shared with my like, Life Group, my women’s group, kind of everything I was going through, like, pretty much everybody that is close with me knows exactly what I’m going through. I just like, throw it out there. And so they were so supportive, but also just like, having so many people praying for you for this outcome, you know, not necessarily just to get my cycle back, but to be healthy. Yeah. And it Yeah, it really has deepened my faith, for sure. Yeah, that’s wonderful. Because I’ve seen the power of it, the results, you know, I know that I put in the work, but it’s not just me, that’s been putting in the work I’ve had community also putting in work, you know,
Lindsey Lusson 23:31
yeah. And you being like, open and vulnerable with other women too, I think as is really important for recovery and whether or not you know, somebody wants to be open with a lot of people or if it wants to be like you, like you mentioned, like your, your small group. I think that just just like having more and more people kind of on your team and letting people into like, maybe this private part of your life, while I’m uncomfortable, it can be really helpful, I think, and kind of separating like, but I don’t want to live this way anymore, right? Because the more that we talk about it, the more that we can expose, like the former the former life and how in how we don’t want that to kind of be part of our identity anymore. So it’s like, kind of stating that we’re moving on. Yeah. One of the things I really remember about kind of towards the end of the time that we’re working together, Haley is you shared with me that you had kind of been weighing yourself during recovery as a way that I think at the time, correct me if I’m wrong at the time, you kind of thought it was like productive for your recovery, right? Because it helps you to in some ways feel like you were moving in the right direction. Is that right?
Correct. I had never really been like, Oh way or like it didn’t really weigh myself until I started the program. And at first it was like okay, because I was you know, gaining weight but that’s like what needed to happen. You know, a few months go by still don’t have my period. And that’s when I picked up the new period. Now what book and I there’s a chapter in there, somebody says, throw the scale away, even though like you had been saying it the whole time, like I see it as a problem until I finally thought about it. And I was like, wow, like, holding on to this, like weighing myself is a form of control. Yeah, still, and I’m still obsessing over this, which is probably causing some kind of like stress in my brain, which is probably why we’re maybe having a little lack in return of a cycle still. So after I read that I finally like I was, I told myself the next morning because it was at night, when I read that chapter. And the next morning, I told myself, we are done, we are not stepping on the scale anymore. That was in January is April now, and I have not stepped on the scale once I don’t intend to, I have no desire to. And I don’t know, three weeks after that I got my period.
Lindsey Lusson 25:53
It definitely felt very connected. And I totally agree with you. And just that whole reflection is the exact reason why I don’t recommend weighing yourself in recovery. So we’re like, my clients that are already a, quote, healthy weight for their height, right? We know at that point in recovery, that you’re not having a period is it really about weight, right? It’s not really about the number on the scale, there’s no magic number you need to get to, and then your period returns, right. And so I think that when we do see ourselves continuing to weigh count calories, you know, anything numerical, or anything that we are doing that feels of some way that we’re still controlling things, and we’re not really letting our body decide where it wants to be how much food that it needs. I just think that it’s counterproductive, because the truth is, is that we can’t control everything and recovery. And so then we get frustrated that like, you know, the things that we’re trying to control aren’t going our way. And then there’s also stress and whether or not you know, I think everyone can admit this right away. There’s just stress for a lot of people. Not all people, but a lot of people have like an emotional response to the number on the scale. And if that’s you, like, Yay, I like the number I feel better about myself, or Wow, I’ve never seen this number before I feel bad about myself, right? Like if you have an emotional response, then wings, probably not like in your best interest. And so sometimes, sometimes it takes some of us like a while to like come around to just that whole idea.
Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. And I really didn’t see it as a problem until I read that like chapter and I was really like, connected them with control and like trying to control the number on the scale. And why am I trying to do that when I’m trying to recover? I’m putting in all this work. But yeah, that was the piece, I think,
Lindsey Lusson 27:47
what would you say to anybody who’s struggling with holding on to little bits of control in their recovery journey, whether it’s Hi can’t give up the gym or allow myself to gain weight, but only up to this number? Or I want to know how many calories and eating like what would you say to that person who’s still holding on to tiny bits of control in their recovery journey,
I would really just encourage you to look inward on why you’re trying to control it. And just assure you that on the other side of this, it is so much better and sweeter. And I honestly just feel like I have my life back. I feel like for five years, I just wasn’t myself. I’ve like come back to life in a way I don’t really know how to describe it besides that. And I just hope that encourages anybody that hears this and is struggling with like the control pieces. Like you’ll just be so much happier on the other side. And I just feel like I don’t know, for five years, I didn’t really feel like a woman. And I do now because I am doing what a normal healthy woman’s body is supposed to do. And I think that is like the biggest thing.
Lindsey Lusson 29:02
Absolutely. I don’t think that can be overstated. And I don’t think that anyone can understand that feeling of like not feeling like a woman because you don’t have a cycle unless you’ve lost your period. And so if you’re feeling that today, kind of deep in your bones, and what Haley you know is talking about really resonates with you. I hope you find this episode encouraging and Haley we just appreciate you like being vulnerable, sharing kind of the ins and outs of your recovery journey. So thanks again for your time and coming on today.
Thank you for having me. It was an honor.
Lindsey Lusson 29:33
Absolutely. 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 at Food dot freedom dot fertility. Also don’t forget to leave a rating and a review