Pushing Past The Discomfort Of Weight Gain To Finally Recover 

Dec 9, 2023 | Recovery Stories

Rachel is a pediatric speech-language pathologist who lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with her husband Alec, and their dog Sloane. Rachel grew up with a very positive relationship around food and exercise; however, her desire to “lose a little weight for senior prom” spiraled into an eating disorder and she was diagnosed with anorexia her freshman year of college. After going through treatment and weight restoration, her period never returned. She was placed on birth control and was told this would “jump start” her cycle and protect her bones. A few years later, she developed an exercise addiction as she won half marathons and became an Orangetheory fanatic, all while restricting food and living with many food rules. These behaviors continued for nearly 10 years. Deep down Rachel knew there was still a problem, but her doctors never seemed concerned and assured her she would be able to get pregnant when she was ready. 

Rachel began reading and researching all things HA last year. She got married in January of 2023, and a few months after she said “I do” to her husband, she said “I do” to going “all-in” for period recovery. She attempted recovery on her own for 2 months but ultimately needed more support and direction. She joined Lindsey’s program, and with the guidance, encouragement, and support she received, her period returned in just 8 weeks.

In This Episode:

  • Recovering from an ED but still no period
  • The temptation to “put off recovery” until after your wedding
  • Digging deep on why you want your relationship with food to change
  • Tips to keep going when you feel uncomfortable in your body
  • Going years without a period and recovering in just 8 weeks
  • Recovery wisdom for when you’re feeling stuck 

Connect with Lindsey Lusson: Instagram: @‌food.freedom.fertility
Website: www.foodfreedomandfertility.com/
Twitter: @LindseyLusson
Tiktok: @food.freedom.fertility

Transcript:

Lindsey Lusson  00:00

During your time in the group, Rachel, there were a lot of fears and a lot of tears over body changes. Talk to us about why you kept going, what gave you the strength to keep choosing recovery?

Rachel  00:12

As far as body image goes, I was not in a healthy body for my size and my genetics. And I think my biggest fear was that I was going to go back to the weight that I was before I had my eating disorder. I will say, now recovered three cycles in, I’m probably back to that weight that I was before my eating disorder. Now I know that’s a healthy weight for me. Genetics does play a lot into it. My body’s working the way that God intended it to. He created me to be a female and this is something I’ve kind of always held on to. He created me to be a female to have a cycle, and for it to work. And if I was created in His image, and I’m diminishing that part of me, then what am I doing? So that was something, the biggest thing for me that helped me push through. 

00:58

Welcome

Lindsey Lusson  00:58

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  01:30

Okay friends, welcome back to another episode of the Period Recovery And Fertility Podcast. I am super excited for you guys to hear this past client story. I am bringing on Rachel. Rachel is a pediatric speech language pathologist who lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Rachel grew up with a very positive relationship around food and exercise; however, her desire to “lose a little weight for senior prom” spiraled into an eating disorder and she was diagnosed with anorexia her freshman year of college. After going through treatment and weight restoration, her period never returned. She was placed on birth control and was told this would “jump start” her cycle and protect her bones. A few years later, she developed an exercise addiction as she won half marathons and became an Orangetheory fanatic, all while restricting food and living with many food rules. These behaviors continued for nearly 10 years. Deep down Rachel knew there was still a problem, but her doctors never seemed concerned and assured her she would be able to get pregnant when she was ready.  

Lindsey Lusson  01:40

Rachel began reading and researching all things HA last year. She got married in January of 2023, and a few months after she said “I do” to her husband, she said “I do” to going “all-in” for period recovery. She attempted recovery on her own for 2 months, but ultimately needed more support and direction. She joined Lindsey’s program, and with the guidance, encouragement, and support she received, her period returned in just 8 weeks, which is a textbook recovery story. And I love it. So Rachel, welcome to the podcast. 

Rachel  02:30

Thank you. Thanks for having me, Lindsey. 

Lindsey Lusson  02:59

Absolutely. And I think that there are so many really wonderful gems of information from you know, your past and your recovery journey that listeners are going to find super, super helpful. So I just appreciate you coming on and sharing your story with everybody. 

Rachel  03:14

Absolutely. 

Lindsey Lusson  03:15

Yeah. Well, before we started working together, obviously and you said this in your bio that you did struggle with an eating disorder growing up yet, you know, you recovered, weight restored, but you were still struggling to get it period. You know, hindsight is always 20-20, now that you have your cycle back. But what any insight that you have now about why maybe that is your eating disorder recovered, you were weight restored, but you still weren’t getting a cycle? Any thoughts about why maybe that is? 

Rachel  03:45

Yeah, so when I was going through eating disorder recovery, I actually had just turned 18. And honestly, I probably should have went to like an inpatient facility. That’s kind of what was recommended for me, but I was 18. And I chose that I was going to do it outpatient laws, and I was going to do it on my own. And I think although I had a great treatment team, I hit kind of the white restoration piece from an insurance standpoint, if you will, and wasn’t able to kind of fully recover. Although I felt like I gained enough weight to kind of move on, still, there was a huge piece of the mental aspect of everything where I wasn’t fully recovered. So that kind of led me to years of restriction, exercise addiction. And I wasn’t able to fully feel like I had complete food freedom and/or a good relationship with food and exercise after that. 

Lindsey Lusson  04:38

Okay, I love this because I feel like this is a big flaw in the system of eating disorder recovery. And there are a lot of flaws and there are a lot of good, right like without these programs, people wouldn’t be able to even get, you know, to the point of being able to function, right. However, that brings up such an interesting point about how you’re gonna get discharged from programs when your weight restored, which if those aren’t familiar, that’s typically when somebody reaches a minimum BMI to be considered “healthy”, which for a lot of people may not be where their body genetically is happy, hormonally and functioning optimally.  And that was definitely the case for me and part of my story. And so I think that there’s a lot of parallels for our stories there. And I think that this is an important piece. My point here is, if anyone is listening, and they can relate, oh, my gosh, like, “why don’t I have a period I am weight restored? I have recovered from my eating disorder”. The answer is there are a lot of reasons and they can be different per person. But yes, I agree with you, Rachel, I think that that’s a big gap in kind of the system of eating disorder recovery. 

Rachel  05:44

Absolutely. And a lot of just kind of underlying work. I wanted to get back to college, get back to my studies, and I didn’t really tackle the underlying issue. I stopped going to therapy, which I probably should have pursued, you know, it was just kind of like a hard stop all at once. And I was like, “Okay, I’m done. This is over, write it off on my story. My book closes in that chapter,” you know?

Lindsey Lusson  06:06

Yeah. I mean, I also want to say that, like, I do think that some people hit a wall with eating disorder, recovery, right? If somebody’s been in recovery from an eating disorder for, you know, two years, it might just be like, I feel like everybody, not that I encourage anyone to ever be in quasi-recovery or stay in quasi-recovery, I do feel like mentally you kind of just hit this wall where you’re like, I need a break, or I need, you know, some time and so even though again, maybe that’s not like the, you know, ideal route to go, I just want to kind of, like, empathize with having been there and recognizing that, like, yeah, like, you needed a break from that time, and you had made progress, and it’s okay to like, sit for a little bit. 

Rachel  06:51

Right. And that’s exhausting. You know, like, it was mentally being like a college student and dealing with that, too, you know, it was exhausting. So I do feel like, I needed some time, but it ultimately led to relapse in my eating disorder a few years later, and then never completely recovering and being kind of where I was before I started working with you. 

Lindsey Lusson  07:14

Yeah. And, you know, I see people live in kind of a quasi recovery, quasi recovery, meaning that like you aren’t, you know, sick enough, I’m using air quotes, if you’re not watching video abortion, but you’re not sick enough to qualify for eating disorder recovery, or you’ve been through it before, you’re better than you were, but you’re not 100% healed. Some people do kind of just, like, live in that space for a while. But you mentioned relapse, and I want to talk a little bit, because I think this might be intertwined in there. I work with a lot of newlyweds and/or people who are engaged. So I know, and I can empathize with this. Especially when I first started my business, I was kind of freshly recovered. And I was like, “Well, yeah, like, I wouldn’t choose to try to recover my period, while I was trying to get ready for my wedding, like, I want to look my best.” But now being further into my own recovery journey, and now just seeing so many benefits of recovery, and having worked with women who are engaged, not yet married, and they’re like, I’m recently engaged about a year until my wedding, and I don’t want to wait, like, I want to, like, get this done, which I think is beautiful and wonderful in the ideal way. However, you’re like me, Rachel, and you were like, I’m just gonna focus on getting married, I’m gonna, you know, have the wedding, you know, the body for my wedding dress, whatever. I mean, and you’re like, so normal in that, right? Like, so many people feel that pressure to look a certain way in the dress.  Talk to us about how that played into, you know, your eating disorder, recovery and a barrier to you getting your period back.

Rachel  08:51

Yeah. So I had the book No Period, Now What? since 2017. So I’ve had it and I’ve known like what HA is for a while. I’ve opened that book and closed it so many times, because I just didn’t want to hear what it had to say. And I knew I knew it was me. I knew I related to it, but I was just not ready. And what I would say to people that are like struggling to figure out when to fit period recovery into their life, would be like there’s no perfect time. And so the best time to jump in is probably now. Like I said, I had that book for seven or so years. And I’ve, you know, didn’t really do much with it. I think as far as like wedding planning goes, my perfectionistic self knew that I would not take this leap when I was dealing with all the things that wedding stress had to be and…

Rachel  09:40

I don’t know, I don’t feel like it was as much like fitting into the dress per se but it was kind of like the control aspect. You know, like I wasn’t in control of a lot of things in my life. And so letting go of everything that was normal during that time would have been another thing derail for me.

10:00

Yeah, that

10:00

makes

Lindsey Lusson  10:01

Yeah, it makes total sense. And I do think that like, while the more obvious reason, like for some people is like, well, you know, I want to look a certain way for my wedding or I don’t want to gain weight not fit in my dress. And you know, side note, like the dresses like can be altered, and they can be let out there is always, you know, a little bit in an inch or so of material where it can be led out if it needs to, the dress is made to fit your body, you’re not supposed to fit into the dress. So just a little side note there. I love what you said too, about, like, at the end of the day, like yeah, there’s fear of weight gain, there’s fear of body changes, but like why, right and going a level deeper, and what comes up for so many people is control and needing to have control over your body or control over something. And it’s a it’s a coping mechanism. I think that that’s important to really address is like, you know, what are we really afraid of? Or what are we really afraid of losing here? 

Rachel  10:54

Absolutely. I think another thing for me was kind of like my identity with being like, the fit girl or the runner or the Fit brand, you know, losing all of that, while I’m also losing, I mean, you know who I was as a single person like “losing my last name”, I guess, but also, just like, so many changes at once. I was like, There’s no way.  Living with someone new, all of those new things and this on top of it, I was really scared. Because I really started listening to your podcast about four months before my wedding. Knowing that after my wedding, I’m doing this after my wedding I’m doing this. And looking back, I’m like, I look back on my pictures on my wedding day and I’m like, “Oh, my goodness, that poor girl”, you know, like, I would have had a very, I mean, my wedding day, it was the best day of my life. I mean, absolutely hands down the wedding of my dreams. But looking back at some of those pictures, my heart kind of hurts for her, my heart hurts for the girl that was waking up at 5am every day on her honeymoon to go work out at the gym. You know, my heart hurts for that girl, you know? So that part, I’m just like, “Oh, if I would have put in the work, you’ve done this before? What a difference that European honeymoon vacation.”

Rachel  12:12

Whatever, you know, like, how

Lindsey Lusson  12:14

much more free could that be? Oh, absolutely.

Lindsey Lusson  12:16

Yeah, I’ll share one more bit on you know, the whole do I wait until after my wedding? Or do I you know, pursue recovery before a really like sobering moment for me was after my wedding and having my wedding dress preserved and now being a mom of two girls. And I’m like, Oh my gosh, I’m so glad that like, I have my dress, maybe one of them can wear it. and my husband was like, “Lindsey, like, you were so small at your wedding? Like, do you really think our girls are going to be able to fit into that dress? Or like, would you ever want them to?” And I was like, No, and like, that’s so sad. You know, that’s not something that I think that people really think through. I mean, how could you? But yeah, I think that that’s just kind of like a really sobering thing to think about if anybody is engaged in planning their wedding and feeling like, “oh, I need to, you know, be this certain size, a certain weight” is like, okay, but like, if that’s not natural for you, and you do ever have a goal of becoming a girl mom, and you want to have let her have the option of wearing your dresses, like she’s gonna look back at this wedding picture, she’s gonna watch your wedding video, she’s going to, you know, potentially have the option to wear your dress. And if you have to explain to her why mom was so small. I mean, to be fair, I plan to use it as a really great teaching moment. But yeah, just another perspective. Another thing to think about if somebody’s listening and kind of struggling with that. 

Rachel  13:39

Yeah absolutely, and I like didn’t realize how small I was at my wedding, you know, until you get those pictures back and you’re looking at them and you’re like, “what was I doing? Who is that?” You know? And not that I would ever, like want to redo my wedding pictures, you know, but sometimes you look at them and you’re like, “Oh, my goodness, my heart hurts for her.” You know? 

Lindsey Lusson  14:03

Definitely, definitely. And I think that that just kind of goes with like the laser focus that can go with disordered eating and eating disorders is you get so focused on this goal, you almost have your blinders on to being like okay, but wait, this is not healthy, this is not natural. This actually doesn’t look good. But you’re, you know, the dysmorphia can really set in. Yeah, well, now your job is a speech language pathologist, working with children. And I remember when we started working together and get to me that one of your biggest motivators to really heal from disordered eating was to be able to model a healthy relationship with food for your future kids. You want to share a little bit more about kind of what that means to you, why that is and you know how you’re feeling maybe a little bit about your ability to do that now being recovered?

14:47

Yeah,

Rachel  14:47

Yeah, absolutely. So as a speech pathologist, I work in a children’s hospital and a lot of my children, I feeding therapy with. So I don’t really do much of the speech side of it. So food is a part of my everyday life. So I’m working with kiddos that have swallowing issues or texture, sensory issues or are on feeding tubes. And so my number one goal with kiddos is to make them feel comfortable with different types of food and all types of food. And so it’s so ironic that like me coming from my history that this, this is my job, but part of my history is kind of what led me into this role into wanting to develop these positive relationships with food. And so I do that with kids. And it brings me I mean, it brings me so much joy, like you don’t know how many times I’ve like cried with parents as their child ate their first chicken nugget, you know. And then I like think about me, and then I think about my kids that I work with. And then I think about my future kids. And a lot of what I do is a lot of parent coaching when it comes to food and modeling those behaviors. And I’m like, What would I model to my children? You know, and what does that look like? And so for me, it was just so important to kind of get this under control before I bring kids into this world. To know that they are going to look at what mommy’s eating and not think anything about it. Like I don’t want them to be saying, “Why is Mommy not eating ice cream with this? Or why is Mommy not having pizza tonight?” You know, like, those are things that some of my best memories growing up are around food and you know, like s’mores at the campfire or, you know, hot dogs for cousin’s birthday, you know, and those are all memories that I cherish from my childhood. And I want my future kids to have that. 

16:40

Right,

Lindsey Lusson  16:40

Right, right. You don’t want to be the mommy at the birthday party not having cupcakes with all the kids or around the campfire and not having this s’mores. Kids pick up on stuff pretty quickly. Absolutely. “No, mommy doesn’t eat sweets. Why does mommy not eat sweets?” Oh, well, mommy’s always trying to lose weight or mommy’s always, you know, talking this way about her body, you’re talking this way about other people’s bodies. And yeah, I mean, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to pick up on some of these thoughts and behaviors. And there’s so many listeners who have a past have an eating disorder or disordered eating, they want to model a good relationship with food for their kid. And they want all the tips and tricks on how to do it. And I just want to say that it starts with you, like it starts internally, regardless of what your intentions are about what you’re trying to model. If you are deeply struggling with your relationship with food, there will be subtleties that come out, that you’re not going to be able to control. And so I love this as a motivator. And I’m so proud of you for like, you know, the progress that you’ve made.

Rachel  17:43

 Thank you and absolutely, the relationship with exercise as well. You know, that was a huge barrier for me. I was waking up before 5am every morning to go work out no matter what, you know, I had to get that in, I had to get that in. And I just think now about like how many slow mornings, I would miss with my kids and just like enjoying that and being present and not always being stressed about what time of day am I going to get my workout in. And that was something that I honestly feared, like looking into the future for like my postpartum self. Like, I know what they will say, you know, like the recommendation for how long you’re supposed to take from exercise after you have a baby. And I was always like, “oh, yeah, that won’t be me”. Like, I’ll be able to get back into it sooner. And I look back at that girl and I’m like, “what?”

Lindsey Lusson  18:39

Well, and like, there are really safety precautions, depending on the type of birth that you have about, you know, not getting back to exercise until at least you know, six weeks. And I’ll also speak to like being a mom of young children now. And like my kids aren’t young young like, everybody, everybody should sleep through the night. But like, you know, my kids were in bed with me at 4am last night because the power went out. And so when my alarm went off at 5:45, to, you know, go either workout or have a quiet time. It’s kind of I alternate between it was like, no, like, I’m going to push news. And like, I think that having that flexibility in your life, whether you want to be a mom now or never. I think that just having flexibility in your routine is really, really important just in caring for your body holistically. Because if you’re waking up at 5am or earlier every single day to work out like what are you compromising? If you’re compromising sleep, that may not be the healthiest thing for your body? And I think that that’s a hard truth that people really have a hard time digesting sometimes. But I also love hammering that point home. 

Lindsey Lusson  19:45

During your time and the group and the food freedom fertility society, Rachel, there were a lot of fears and a lot of tears over body changes. Talk to us about why you kept going what gave you the strength to keep choosing recovery.

Rachel  19:59

Yeah, so Lindsey may say I have cried on more calls than any client she’s ever had. But I went through a lot of emotions during that time. And a lot of it was kind of touched on before losing the identity piece being the fit girl, being the Fit friend. And a lot of that was around body image. I think for me, and I’m always been the person that, like, you have to give it to me straight, you know, no, fluffing it up or anything like that. And that’s always been me. And one thing that like, kept me going is “Rachel, are you wanting this body more? Or are you wanting to have future kids?” you know, and that was kind of like my, like, straight line, no bones about it. I hate that that’s what I had to use to get me through this, that fertility being my ultimate goal, you know, that’s what I wanted. But that’s what brought me to ultimately doing HA recovery at this point is to one day have future kids. But just looking at, like, the whole picture and being like, you are prioritizing, your workout over breakfast with your husband in the mornings, you know, like looking at the bigger picture. 

Rachel  21:17

As far as body image goes, I was not in a healthy body for my size and my genetics. And I think my biggest fear was that I was going to go back to the weight that I was before I had my eating disorder. That was like one of my huge fears. And I will say now recovered, three cycles in, I’m probably back to that weight that I was before my eating disorder. And like, now I know, like, that’s a healthy weight for me.  And genetics does play a lot into it. And my body’s working the way that God intended it to, which is, you know, He created me to be a female and this is something I’ve kind of always held on to. He created me to be a female to have a cycle and for it to work. And if I was created in his image, and I’m diminishing that part of me, then what am I doing? You know, so that was something the biggest thing for me that helped me push through? 

Lindsey Lusson  22:18

Yeah, definitely. And, you know, I think that if somebody is coming at it from a faith perspective, I think that it is really wonderful to reflect on the truth that like, nobody’s bodies look the same. And that’s not by accident, right? Like, we have a Creator who is creative, and He has created us to all look different for a reason- to be different people and to be individuals. And if you’re not looking at it from a faith perspective, thinking about it, like genetics or other points, right, like, our bodies have genetic setpoint, weight ranges that they function most optimally. And if you’ve lost your period, you’re probably not in that range. And while it can be scary to, you know, go back to, you know, the weight that potentially you felt uncomfortable at, or you maybe even have some past trauma of bullying, or where it’s said to you about your body, like that is a real fear. And that might be where your body needs to be to function. 

Lindsey Lusson  23:13

Rachel, what would you say back to, I know there were so many listeners, and I know that probably both you and I, at one point in time, would fight back with this, “Yeah but It is not fair. That’s not fair.” It’s not fair, that there are women who can be fat and be thin and still get pregnant, why do I have to gain weight to get my period back and get pregnant? What do you say back to that person? 

Rachel  23:37

It doesn’t seem fair. I mean, those feelings are truly valid, but I mean, deep down, you have to just recognize kind of the setpoint weight theory, but also like where your priorities are, and what is most important to you, and there’s so much more life out there than if you are at working so hard to achieve this certain body type. And it takes that much work and you lose your period, then that’s not the healthy body for you. You should not have to work that hard to keep the body that God intended you to have, right. But yeah, I think you just have to take a step back and look at where you want to be in life, or do you want to be, I saw something the other day that said, like, “Do you want to be in the nursing home counting macros”, you know?  10 years from now, do you want to have kids or do you still want to be dealing with possible broken bones from osteopenia. I think, and like I said, I’m one of those people that you just have to give it to straight but those are the ways that I have to look at it.  Especially being like in the medical field, looking at that at it that way. 

Lindsey Lusson  24:50

Yeah, definitely. And I think that that’s such a good point of like, this isn’t always easy to do, but like if it takes you exercising seven days a week and eating X number of calories to maintain the body size, you should not have to work that hard to maintain a healthy body. And so if that’s how hard you’re having to work to maintain exercise, that I think that that’s just further proof that like, that’s not where your body wants to be, because you shouldn’t have to, you shouldn’t have to work that hard. 

Rachel  25:18

Absolutely. I remember like before recovery, I was like, follow people on Instagram or whatever. And they’d be like, “yeah, took a week off, you know, of training and went to the beach or whatever”. And I was like, before, I would have been like, “Oh, my goodness, I could never do that. I would gain like 10 pounds”, you know. But like, realizing that now where my body’s at, it’s not fighting to achieve a certain, you know, my metabolism is working better now. It’s crazy what nutrition does for the body.

Lindsey Lusson  25:48

For sure. And I think that this is going to be something if somebody’s fresh into their recovery journey, this might be mind boggling. But I do think that once you’re a couple months in and you’re cycling regularly, especially as you’re settling into your setpoint weight range, you will be shocked at how easy it is to maintain your weight and body size when you’re in your setpoint weight range. Right? Like I empathize with you, Rachel and being like, I would see these girls on Instagram, and they’re like, “workout three to four times a week for 30 minutes.” And you know, they look a certain way. And I’d be like, how, like, what are they not telling us? Like, what are these workouts that they’re doing on the side? And I’m sure that that goes on to, right? 

Lindsey Lusson  25:48

Also, now, you know being recovered, it’s like, No, you really can’t work out three to four times a week and still be a healthy size for you. Right? Like, it doesn’t have to be that hard. So I hope that that’s encouraging, even if somebody is having a hard time wrapping their mind around that. 

Rachel  26:44

Oh, yes, absolutely. 

Lindsey Lusson  26:46

Well, Rachel, your hard work paid off, because you did get your period back in eight weeks. I know there’s some of our listeners that are like, “Oh, my gosh, I’ve been at this for eight months. So like, what the heck.” Do you feel like it was worth really committing to going all in? What would you say to somebody, because you said you read No [Period, Now What? for seven years, which makes me giggle a little bit, but I can also, I have a similar experience with, you know, digesting that information as well. What would you say to somebody who is, you know, feeling like, “I can’t go all in, I’m just gonna, you know, make tiny tweaks, and maybe it takes me a little bit longer”? What would you say to that person in terms of like, is that going to work? Or like, what would be the cons of taking that approach to recovery?

Rachel  27:30

I cannot imagine being in the mindset that I was in during recovery, and how hard that emotional part of my life was for that long, you know. Just the emotional stress that you have may be preventing you from getting your period back. Especially if every day you’re worried about “am I doing too much, am I doing too little”, you know, in trying to use the slow and steady approach. For me that would not have served me well. I mean, I was at the point where I was, you know, it was daily tears, daily struggles at work, at home and conversations with my husband. That was not something that I could have done long term. And I think I mean, for me, going all in, and now realizing how much more life I have to live now without having to worry about this, you know.  Like, if I drag this out for three or four years, and kind of worked on period recovery on my own, then that would have been less time I had to have kids less time I had to spend with my kids. And now I’m going on a trip this weekend, and I’m not thinking twice about the gym, you know, like all of these things that have coming up, I’m so excited about that I fully get to be present in those moments.

Lindsey Lusson  28:49

I love that. Another thing that’s coming up for me that I’m just now thinking about, we’re taking this like finance class through our church and the chapter or like the lesson that we had last night was on debt and paying down debt, and there’s like the Dave Ramsey’s finances that are like, you can pay off, you know, $90,000 worth of debt in 12 months, you know, and there’s like some extreme changes that people have to make with their lifestyle to do it. But the benefit is you pay that off faster, and you get back to living a normal life. And so that I mean, I think that that’s it right. Like to feel extreme to go from exercising six days a week, and you’ve done that, maybe the last 15 years of your life to not doing a whole lot of exercise, but you put in the work and you do it for eight weeks, you get your period back, you start cycling regularly, and then you get to figure out how to incorporate exercise back into your life in a way that is healthy and sustainable for you. And maybe that doesn’t look like exercising seven days a week. But I mean, it could potentially be you know, four to five or five to six, you know, depending upon your schedule and what makes sense and what feels good for you. So, I mean, definitely the benefit of really choosing recovery and diving all in is you recover faster. Obviously, and you can get back to, you know, whatever that helping your life for you. Yeah, yeah. 

Lindsey Lusson  30:07

Rachel, any additional wisdom you’d share with people today, maybe that person who is eight months into recovery and feeling like, “I can’t commit, this is too stressful”, because I remember one thing that would come up for us often on coaching calls was “I’m making all of these changes, I don’t doubt that I’m doing everything that I need to to get my period back, I am eating X, I am not exercising, I’ve gained weight. But I’m so stressed about this. And I’m afraid that the stress that I’m feeling is going to prevent me from getting my period back”. Do you remember us like talking about that? And my response back to you was that “That absolutely could be at play. However, you know, the root cause of your hormone imbalance and your inability to ovulate is not stress. So it’s not mental stress, it is the nutritional imbalance and you are addressing the root cause of the issue.” You know, now again, being on the other side of that, what would you say to somebody who is feeling stuck on their recovery journey and feeling like stress and mental stress that they feel? Well, I hear this so often, “Exercise is my stress relief. If I stop exercising, I’m going to be so stressed that I’m not exercising, that’s going to prevent me from getting my period back.” What would you say to somebody who has that thought process?

Rachel  31:27

Number one, you need to find other things to do with your time, because that is not serving you well. And that was one thing that I would always like, if I had the urge to like, restrict, or if I had the urge to exercise, I would always take a step back and be like, “is this serving me well for this season of life?” You know? And is that going to get me closer or further away from getting my period back? That was kind of like what I always had to ask myself, you know. If there was any doubt, am I doing too much? Am I eating enough? You know, would this bring me closer to getting my period back or move me further away. And I think for me, something that I would say you notice someone struggling with it is just go all in, just do it, because you’re not going to regret it when you’re on the other side. And being in period recover, even though like the emotional part is hard, think about what’s driving the emotional part. You’ve been starving yourself for so long. We’re restricting or been in this cycle of exercise with no rest for so long. Your body is just trying to find that balance and is trying to find that homeostasis or equilibrium. So to those people, you know, you just have to look at it and realize that there’s so much more to life outside of the parameters that you’ve set for yourself. And, you know, going all in, even though, like, like I said, I cried every day of period recovery, I cried every day. And it was not easy. It was not. But one thing that you always told me was like, “Rachel, your body is just gonna take time, think of how long you’ve been doing this, you’ve been doing this for over 10 years, you are four weeks into the program, Rachel.” Like, it’s gonna take time, and your body just has to learn to trust you again. And that was like, the biggest realization for me is like, my body was starving for 10 years. Like, it’s amazing that in eight weeks, it can start to trust me again, you know, and not to say that it takes eight weeks for everyone. I mean, I was with people in the program, that it took longer, and people in the program that it took less time, right. But I do think it has to do a lot, you know, with your history and your genetics and how you, you know, deal with things because like Lindsey said, I was doing all the things, it just takes time and your body has to learn to trust you again.

Lindsey Lusson  33:41

Yeah. And you know, I think also if we can zoom out for a second. 10 years of restricting, eight weeks of recovery, like, you know. And that’s not to say that eight weeks may not feel like an eternity when you’re in it. But again, zooming out, having that perspective, in hindsight is always 20/20. But yeah, and I mean, I think that there’s just so many, like really great takeaways for people that are listening, and your story is so relatable. And we just appreciate you coming on today and sharing all the things so thanks for your time. 

Rachel  34:16

Thanks for having me. I enjoyed it. And if anyone wants to reach out, you can totally message me, because community is seriously the most important part of this journey. 

Lindsey Lusson  34:25

It’s such a game changer and such an important part. I always tell people it’s such an important part even after you’re recovered. It’s just having your people, whether that’s one or two people that you text, whether that’s being part of a whole, you know, Facebook group or community and other areas. Community is so important for so many things, especially during this recovery time. So thanks again.

Rachel  34:46

Definitely. Thank you.

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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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