Even some of those articles that talk about hypothalamic amenorrhea, don't always tell you the entire truth… and that has annoyed me recently.
I'm a big advocate of taking personal responsibility for our health and mindset, as much as possible.
For example, I don't think it's helpful to blame social media or fitness magazines for feeding us certain stories and images of what “fit” looks like.
These stories and images aren't going to go anywhere, no matter how much we complain. The better way is to work with your mindset so that these things stop affecting you.
The diet industry will always be there, because there will never be lack of people who want to lose weight and are willing to pay the industry millions of dollars every year.
It's important to know that the diet industry is just a money making machine, that fitness images on Instagram are often photoshopped or showcasing people who are very lean but unhealthy — we just can't see that because all we see is the beautiful body.
But that's true in other areas of life too: not everyone we see on social media actually wakes up with the perfect make up and hair, has the most awesome digital nomad lifestyle, the loveliest pregnancy, most romantic marriage, the most gorgeous home etc.
We need to understand and keep in mind that so many of these things are untrue, and that we don't have to pursue them all in order to be healthy, happy and worthy.
HOWEVER. Sometimes this stuff still gets me.
Last week, I was triggered by an article that really got me feeling bad about myself and questioning, whether there's something wrong with me…
An Article about Hypothalamic Amenorrhea
It's awesome that the topic of hypothalamic amenorrhea is being discussed more, so that more people become aware about it. As you probably know, being fit doesn't mean only fitting in one certain body type or size. There's a lot of variety and we need to educate those who don't know, that pursuing leanness may cause you to lose your health.
So in that sense, this article was great. Educational and informative.
But if you read it, you notice how they mention that a healthy woman should get her period regularly, eat normally, have all her snacks, but still have a “normal BMI”.
But what if yours isn't “normal”? What if you need to push your BMI higher to get your period?
I was that woman. I started my recovery from hypothalamic amenorrhea when my BMI was very normal, 22.1, to be exact. There are women who start at BMI of 17 and have to get up to 22. Good for them, I'm really happy for them for getting their periods back! But there are also women whose BMI is already normal when they start the whole journey.
In the article, they also mention that your BMI may be normal but your fat percentage may be too low. One woman mentions that her fat percentage was around 8-10 when se didn't get her period. I get it, all true, but again, there are women whose fat percentages are 20 or more and they don't get their periods!
By not mentioning this, we make people think that hypothalamic amenorrhea happens to only those who have very low BMI or very low fat percentage. We forget our individuality and uniqueness.
How is this article supposed to make women, who are just naturally outside of this “normal” BMI category, feel? Whose fat percentages are not in single digits but who still have hypothalamic amenorrhea? Doesn't it make them feel that there's something wrong with them when they have hypothalamic amenorrhea?
They don't even mention that this is an option; the idea we get is that hypothalamic amenorrhea only happens to women whose BMIs or body fat percentages are very low.
Another misconception is often that hypothalamic amenorrhea only happens to marathon runners or gymnasts who train several hours a day (that's not what they said in this article, but that's one of the common misconceptions that is worth mentioning). Well this isn't true. You can have hypothalamic amenorrhea also when your BMI is “normal” and you work out 30 minutes a day! It all comes down to our unique bodies and a lot of times, how we have treated our bodies in the past.
Another thing that upset me were the images accompanying this article. All these ladies in those pictures are thin, some of them, at least to my eye, very thin, still rocking a six pack. Seeing this didn't make me feel good, as someone who needs a fat percentage of 27 to have a working menstrual cycle!! Would a picture of my stomach, that has some very noticeable cellulite on it, have been a good fit for this article? Probably not…
What to Do…
I felt triggered after reading this.
I was looking at the picture above — the picture of my not-at-all-lean back — and seeing that I am different. My body is bigger. My natural body is bigger, I just didn't know it because I was working out really hard every day to keep it smaller and leaner, many years of my life.
For the most part, these things don't bother me that much anymore, but sometimes they still do. You would expect that those who know about hypothalamic amenorrhea, would also know that this condition is not limited to only small bodies.
If you're in the same boat with me, I just want to encourage you to stay positive. Keep walking your path, whether you're in recovery or already recovered. Sometimes you just need to put your head down, carry on and ignore the noise around you.
Sometimes you feel hurt. Sometimes you feel alone. Many times you feel that no one gets you. In moments like this, know that your health is more important than your looks, and that your healthy may look very different from someone else's healthy.