Afraid to Stop Exercising?Amenorrhea, RED-S and Weight Gain Fears

Healthy Habits That Turn Bad

A healthy habit of working out can easily slip into being too much for your body. There is a thin line between over exercising and Exercise Addiction just like there is a thin line between Disordered Eating and Eating Disorders. There is no secret recipe for how much one’s body can handle. Some people can handle two a days and some people get burnt out from 5 days a week.

My Story

I have always loved exercise so for me it wasn’t a big deal to exercise everyday until I took it too far. I began to cling to exercise and became so fearful of gaining weight and becoming deconditioned if I took rest days or time off from the gym. I used exercise as an outlet for me to get away and relieve stress.

So a bit of my backstory in regards to exercise. I have been lifting and doing cardio for as long as I can remember. Initially it was always to change the size of my body but I found that I loved it once I started. I wasn’t into organized sports but loved Taebo (that was a thing!), kickboxing and lifting weights when I was in middle and high school. Fast forward to when it became too much. It started when I was dropping weight for my wedding. I was barely eating and lifting moderately. Ironically, I never lost my period at that time but my body didn’t stay long at such a low weight. I bounced up in weight not matter how hard I fought it. Years later I fell into overtraining again when I was trying to have a baby. I was on a ton of fertility meds, doing a lot of cardio and weight lifting in between IVFs to loose the weight I put on during the IVF cycles. I was doing Jamie Eason’s Livefit program and I was always keeping calories low and it would send me into binges.

My very pregnant self still working out.


Finally, I took it down a notch let my body gain and I finally got pregnant on my 5th IVF cycle (a FET). I lifted throughout pregnancy ans was very fearful of the weight gain after the baby. The overtraining began again postpartum. I was lifting 5-7 days a week despite not sleeping with a newborn, breastfeeding and exhausted and definitely not getting enough energy through the calories I was eating. I was scared to cut back in exercise. I got back to my prebaby weight but I kept going. I loved eating so I didn’t want to have to cut back on exercise and was just so fearful of gaining weight if I did. I kept pushing myself harder and harder. I would do lots of active rests where I would be doing jump squats, jumping jacks, box jumps whatever I could do to burn more calories. I would do more than what was on my planned program to get better results or what I thought was better results. I felt like I just couldn’t really control it for all the fears I was feeling if I would stop. Obviously, I never got my period back after my daughter because my body was in shock.

RED-S and Overtraining Syndrome

What is over training syndrome? It is when you can’t recover appropriately and in impairs performance. There is a lot of controversial information on this so I am going to stick with RED-S which is more in line with amenorrhea. RED-S is Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport. You don’t have to be an athlete to have this. You can be someone that is just heavily involved in working out like runners, cardio bunnies and lifters and not eating enough to withstand the amount of energy that you are burning .

The cause of this syndrome is an energy deficiency created from the amount of energy that is burned from exercise and daily activities in relation to what one is eating. Psychological consequences can happen either before or after you have RED-S. By the way RED-S has basically replaced the female athlete triad because you don’t need to have all three to have it.

There are multiple signs of RED-S very similar to Hypothalamic Amenorrhea

  • Fatigue
  • Hormone Issues
  • Injuries and acute inflammation
  • Insomnia/Sleep Disturbances or Wake up unrefreshed
  • Moodiness or Depression and Anxiety
  • Loss of appetite

The psychological impact can be thoughts around exercise, food and weight gain which tend to lead into the unhealthy obsession. Fears if you do stop that you will gain or lose your strength. In the back of your mind you may want to stop. You may feel an uncontrollable urge to train. You may have disordered thoughts about earning your food. Fears because it’s your way to decompress or manage stress so you don’t want to stop.

I remember in the past researching over training and exercise addiction. That right there should have been a clue that there was something. I didn’t think I had it because I still had energy to workout.

Are you exercising too much?

If you are teetering if you are doing too much or you are trying to recover your period you most likely need to cut back, cut it out or at least ask yourself on a daily basis “Is my body rested enough to exercise today?” Many people fall into the trap that more is better with exercise. Remember, more isn’t always better. This is the exact opposite of the what you have always been told. It’s all in the audience. If you are that person that pushes the limits and is an overachiever you may be doing too much. I recall Bret Contreras, the “Glute Guy,” saying one of the biggest mistakes he sees most of his female clients make is exercising too much. Imagine if you could actually exercise less and get better results? If you are unsure if you are exercising too much start asking yourself the following questions:

Do I have any of these symptoms?

Am I scared to stop training?

Am I exercising despite being exhausted or not sleeping enough?

Do I enjoy it?

Would I feel a sense of relief if I were forced to stop?

Am I taking rest days?

Am I seeing improvements in my performance?

So after answering all those questions you probably know the answer whether or not you need to stop or slow it down. If you are thinking HELL NO I am not stopping start to ask yourself why?

Are you worried about weight gain? Are you using it to earn your food? Are you wanting to eat more but fearing that you will gain weight? Are you fearful that it’s your way to let go of stress or that maybe you will lose friends?

Just take a deep look at yourself only you can answer this.

How to Stop?

The best way to stop is to try cold turkey if you are completely depleted and exhausted. You should at least try to take a week off. If I mention try to take a week off and you just got anxiety then you probably need to reevaluate what is going on with you. If anything cutting back on intensity, start taking deload weeks and take at least a week off every quarter.

Prevention for RED-S

It’s important that you learn to exercise mindfully and find a healthy balance. There are so many stressors in life like being a mom or if you have a high stress job or there are a lot of things happening in your life. It’s easy to use exercise as a crutch and say you can’t cut back or a way of controlling something in a world that feels so uncontrollable. I am by no means saying not to exercise for stress reduction but if you lost your period or have RED-S you may need to stop and then find your sweet spot once you recover by doing the following:

  • Balanced Training
  • Deloads and Periodization
  • Rest Weeks
  • Fueling Properly
  • Timing of Foods around exercise
  • Sleeping Enough

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3435910/https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/c7a1/83e2e89d257b3e62b6f0e6bb6fe0584eba42.pdf

What is Hypothalamic Amenorrhea and why you NEED your period back

If you’re reading this post you most likely are experiencing a loss of period or you want to understand what Hypothalamic Amenorrhea is and why it is important to get your period back. You can check out my video below or read on to hear about HA.

What is Hypothalamic Amenorrhea?

Hypothalamic Amenorrhea or HA for short is a type of secondary amenorrhea. The definition of HA is 3 months absence of menstruation. This means at some point you had your period and have lost it. This looks different for everyone. You may have been on birth control pills and tried coming off and never got your period back or you may have just started having really light periods or maybe the duration between periods started to increase more and more until you no longer have a mentrual cycle. In actuality the absence of periods is merely the absence of ovulation in most situations although you can have annovulatory cycles. The bleeding is shedding your lining because pregnancy didn’t occur. I have a lot of experience with this and the science behind it because I went through multiple IVFs ( 5 for my son and 1 for my daughter).

Either way you are probably starting to get concerned with what is going on. Where the hell is my period? What’s going on? One month passes and it seems like no big deal, one less thing to worry about and then more and more time passes and you begin to get nervous. Or maybe your are thinking no big deal it’s so much easier not having a period. For some, it could be a few months, a few years or even for some decades. The good thing is you are looking into trying to recover and that is the first step.

How is it diagnosed and reasons you may have it.


From all the research I have done and the doctors that I spoke to, HA is diagnosed by way of elimination. What this means is that they need to rule out any other cause of hypothalamic amenorrhea. They need to rule out a pituitary tumor, thyroid issues, any scarring or obstruction or some other ailment that is stopping menstruation.

The typical protocol for doctors is they will do some blood work, they may do an ultrasound and some may do an MRI if you have higher Prolactin levels to rule out a tumor. I would recommend getting a full blood panel from your Dr. That would include a full thyroid panel, Estrogen, Progesterone, Lutenizing Hormone(LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH ). A lot of times they may only check Estrogen and FSH and without the key indicator of LH you may lose the opportunity to see improvements.

The doctor will probably try around of Provera. Provera will induce a period in woman that have a lining and some women may get a bleed which usually indicates a less severe case of HA. If you don’t get a bleed don’t stress yourself out. I didn’t either when I was first put on it. If you don’t get a bleed it’s also a good indication you have HA which if your blood work aligns with it and if you can relate to some of the trends below. This is a great thing because it means it is most likely reversible

If you have gone to the Dr, you may have suppressed LH, low estrogen but for some these are on the low to borderline normal..


Women with HA seem to have some of the following trends:

  • Disordered eating patterns
  • Have lost a significant amount of weight or been on diets
  • Have history of restriction
  • May be binge eating
  • May have cut out certain food groups or macro nutrients-
  • Fatigued
  • Showing signs of overexercising or working out too much
  • May be an athlete or dancer but not required
  • May extremely active
  • Low body fat
  • High Stress Levels

If any of these sound like you and you haven’t gone to the Dr, I would go to get some blood work done but hear this you need to make sure you are your own advocate. Most likely the Dr. is going to put you on birth control which will actually suppress your hormones. If you go in there and you have done your research prior to the appointment you will feel equipped to ask for what you need.

Why should you recover?

OK so now you may know that you have HA. You’re thinking why do I need to recover? Periods are a pain. Maybe you aren’t trying to get pregnant right now so it’s not a big deal but HA can cause:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • No sex drive
  • Infertility
  • Mental Health Issues (anxiety/depression)
  • Perception of poor quality of life-
  • Exhaustion
  • Skin or hair problems

Please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns! Proud of you for taking the leap to start recovery!

My Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Symptoms (Can You Relate?)

I have had a number of symptoms when I was at the peak of Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (HA) before I started recovery. At the time, I thought there was just something wrong with me. I thought that my body changed after kids and this was the new normal. Month after month I started to think maybe this isn’t normal.

Now everyone is different so don’t judge whether or not you have HA, by my symptoms but what I do think it is good to hear someone else’s symptoms to know that this isn’t normal and that maybe you do have HA..

The first big flag for me was how cold I was. I have always been cold but not to the extend that I was experiencing. Another big symptom I had was Digestive issues Issues and elevated Liver Enzymes. This goes without saying but libido seriously takes a hit when hormones are off. Sleep and Insomnia was another issue that would not go away. I was exhausted both mentally and physically because of the insomnia and because my body was crying out. I had body pains and recurring injuries that wouldn’t heal.
My brain was so foggy that some days I could’t think of words.

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? Watch the video I made where I go into detail on each one of my physical symptoms.

Leave a comment if you shared some of these same symptoms and if and when they started to go away.


5 Tips to Start Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Recovery

Hi Everyone!  It’s been a long time I have posted and 3 .5 years after my last baby was born I am dealing with a new type of infertility.  Hypothalamic Amenorrhea!  The irony of never wanting my period to arrive and now I am praying to get it back.

I am currently working on recovering from HA (4 months all in) and I wanted to provide some tips if you are just starting your recovery journey from HA or your periods are starting to get sporadic.

I created a YouTube video on this topic if you would prefer to watch it here!

The first tip I have for your is to do your research:

I highly recommend Nicola Rinaldi’s book No Period Now what. The link to her site is here.  This book is the HA bible. There is no one more passionate with helping women get their cycles back than Nikola. She has a YouTube channel where she has a few videos and she has been on multiple podcasts. She has dedicated her life’s work to assisting and supporting women to get the periods back. I would be cautious with information overload when first diagnosed. It’s important to know that there is a lot of information out there that can be misleading or even damaging if you aren’t careful. Pay attention to the source of this information and make sure they are qualified to speak to it. I know that I turn to Dr. Google often but it can be slippery slope and you can end up spending hours obsessively looking for an answer or a quick fix.
Tip #2 Understand the Cause(s)
The second tip to start with recovery is to understand why you lost your period and when it happened. If you don’t know why you lost your period then it’s going to be really difficult to change the lifestyle behaviors to get it back or to understand the areas you need to work on. As I mentioned I don’t want to go into super detail in this video but the underlying cause will be some type of stress on your body. This stress is most likely related to an energy deficit caused by restriction on purpose or accidentally, it could be overexercise where your not fueling body and/or extreme stress added to the mix.
Tip #3  Don’t Compare
The third tip I have for you to start your recovery is DO NOT compare! This one is a non negotiable. I do think it is helpful to read stories about others that have gone through the same thing and got to the other side but I would be cautious because you can begin to hyper focus on how long it took others to recover, weight they put on to recover, how much they had to eat or if they could exercise to get it back. If you compare you are going to set yourself up for failure. You will look at those woman that only took 3 weeks to get it back that didn’t have to cut out exercise and only had to put on 2 lbs and you are going to beat yourself up when it takes you a lot longer or when you have to put on more weight and have to cut out all forms of exercise.
Tip #4 Find Support
The fourth tip I have for you is to find support. Support can look different for many people depending on your personality and where you are in life but I would recommend starting out with the HA support group that Nicola created.  If groups are triggering for you then drop out of it and consider some one on one support. If you need more you help on an individual basis you can sign up for coaching through Nicola and others like Kersten Kimura who I worked with.  There are also dietitians and counselors that can help you.
Tip #5 Create a Timeline for Going All In
I want you to create mini goals for yourself if you aren’t ready for the all at once approach. It may not be for everyone but I do think it can be helpful if you aren’t ready to jump all in or you are like most of us where the unknown of when you will get your period back will drive you crazy. What this is is if you aren’t ready to cut out exercise then give yourself a date when you will try to recover or slowly drop out days until your are “all in.
If you like these tips and would like more on HA or anything related make sure to sign up for updates.   What steps are you taking to recover?  Are there any other tips you have for newbies in this journey?  Good Luck.