Today I want to share a yarn that holistic nutritionist Kate Callaghan recently shared on her blog. Kate is a loved member of the I Quit Sugar family and worked in the office for some time before moving to New Zealand. She gets it. She lives it.

She also has a few things in common with me. We both eat low carb, we have a history of over-exercising and we both have had hypothalamic amenorrhea. I’m going to get Kate to explain what this is all about and how all the factors interconnect. And also about how her journey to heal herself pivoted around, yes, learning to eat more and coming to terms with putting on weight.

Kate: For reference purposes, here is my before and after pic to show my progress. Please excuse the hair in both pics – one was scraggly beach hair and the other sweaty post-workout hair. But it’s not about the hair (although it is thicker and more lustrous nowadays).

Kate’s journey started a year ago. I remember sitting at the I Quit Sugar kitchen table and chatting to her about it. Her lunch reflected her mission…but I’ll let her tell you more about this. In an upcoming post I’ll also share where my own (similar) journey has wound up. I’m not ready yet. Soon.

Over to Kate….

“Who knows when my body image issues started?! Until recently, I have never really considered them as “issues”.

I have always had a very athletic physique. I started competitive gymnastics at a very young age. In primary school I had shoulders wider than most boys my age. I could beat my teenage brother in a push up competition. And I had a six-pack.

Throughout high school and until now, I have always been more active than most. At times in my life I have taught up to 16 hours of group fitness each week. This is not normal. I have maintained my flat, six-pack abs throughout my life (aside from a brief 6 month beer-drinking stint in college). To some, I have the nick-name “abs”.

Before you think I’m an absolute wanker, let me get to my point. I have worked hard to get these results….at a significant cost…..

A year ago, aged 29, I was diagnosed with hypothalamic amenorrhea.

Hypothalamic amenorrhea basically means your brain stops communicating to your lady garden. Female hormone production slows and menstruation ceases. My period stopped two years ago. Some of you may be thinking this sounds fantastic not to have a period each month. Trust me – it’s not. Especially when you are considering baby making.

What causes amenorrhea?

The research has suggested a few factors:

  • Under-eating
  • Over-exercising
  • Too much stress
  • Oral contraceptives (the pill)

Tick, tick, tick, tick. Yep, for the amount of exercise I did (way above what anyone should do), I’d not been eating enough food, despite eating quite sizeable, regular meals each day with plenty of fat and protein. I have always been an over-stressor. And prior to 2011, I had been on The Pill for 10 years.

Why was it so vital that I fix this problem ASAP? Well there are two complications that can arise as a result of this condition:

  • Permanent infertility
  • Osteoporosis

Shitballs. Not something you want to be faced with before the age of 30!

How does this all relate to having a six-pack? Well – the treatment for this is simple, or so it would seem. Eat more. Exercise less. Stress less. Get off the pill. Over time, I’ve been covering each of these off. I went off the pill in 2011. I now exercise less. I meditate every day to control my stress.

But to the eating…now that’s something recent and is really the key to treatment. The research suggests, in most cases, this condition can be resolved by adding on a few kilos.

What diet changes did I make?

  • I ate more in general. Previously, while my diet was a healthy, nutrient-dense paleo diet, it was too low in calories – around 1400 on some days, which was the amount of energy I needed to lie in bed all day, not do the strenuous exercise I was. I now try to get 2000 calories per day, more if I exercise
  • I ate more carbs. Many people assume the paleo diet is low carb. I certainly made this mistake. The trouble is, during times of stress or if you’re exercising a lot, some carbs such as sweet potato and quinoa help to keep our blood sugar levels stable and help us to replenish glycogen stores. When no carbs come in through the diet, the body is forced to release cortisol to breakdown protein in order to make glucose during these stressful times. The trouble here is that cortisol will be produced at the expense of sex hormones. Ergo low carb can go hand-in-hand with low sex hormones, infertility and amenorrhea. Going low carb also caused my thyroid to blow out, and I am now on medication (thyroid extract) to kick it back into gear. Fun times. Now I eat a smoothie made with ½ cup blueberries, a few spoons of yoghurt, a tablespoon of coconut oil, a scoop of vanilla protein powder, mixed with either coconut water or milk as a snack.
    My lunch/dinner plate looks like this: ¼ animal protein, ¼ starchy vegetables (e.g. sweet potato, white potato, parsnip), ½ green and colourful veggies (e.g. broccoli, kale, capsicum, mushrooms). If it is lean protein, I will add a good dob of butter to my veggies to help absorb the fat soluble vitamins.
  • I ate more regularly. Again, due to my stressed-out state, my adrenals were shot. As were my hypothalamus and pituitary (major hormonal control centres in the brain). I needed to give my adrenals some love and minimise my reliance on cortisol to keep my blood sugars stable. I did this by beginning to eat about every 3 hours, whereas I might have eaten every 5-6, even 7, hours previously, because that is what paleo man apparently did…
  • I continued to eat plenty of fat and protein, as these are essential for hormone production, and I still followed a general Paleo diet template, as I wholeheartedly believe that is can be an incredibly healthy way to eat…when it is done right.

So did it work?

Cut to now. I just turned 30. It has been an interesting journey of progressing from someone who was constantly trying to change her body to meet some unrealistic ideal, to someone who actually loves the skin she is in. And I am not just saying that. For the first time in my life, I actually really love my body.

Check out the before and after shot above. On the left, you will see “Check out my 8-pack, I look healthy and fit , but my fertility is in the shitter” Kate. I showed this to a friend the other day and she said “Oh wow! What were you training for?”. Nothing. I was training for my elusive “dream body”. Pfft.

On the right, you will see “check out my boobs, I look healthy and feminine and my internal state reflects this” Kate. There are two things that I do not like about this pic – 1) My lack of tan (although I have that many layers on here in Wanaka that a tan would not even get noticed) and 2) The selfie pose. I hate bathroom-half-naked selfies. It makes you look like such a wanker. I apologise. I am doing this for reference purposes, not to show off or entice more Instagram followers.

OK, so aside from having boobs (seriously, I’m still obsessed with them), what is so great about my new body?

  • My cycle is getting back on track. Thank God, because that’s the whole reason I headed down this road. It’s not perfect – about 40 day cycles, but compared to the nothingness of about six months ago, this is a pretty significant improvement.
  • I have unbelievable energy. I used to have to take regular naps throughout the day, just to make it through. Now, I can soldier through, completely sans-caffeine. Funny what happens when you start to eat enough.
  • The whites of my eyes are crystal clear. They used to be constantly bloodshot and my vision was blurry. I relied on ClearEyes and I wasn’t even getting stoned!
  • My skin is clear and wrinkle free. Previously, it would look kind of dry and lackluster.
  • My nails are thick and strong. For the first time in my life, my nails are not snapping off as soon as a little bit of white appears. I used to have vertical ridges (signs of adrenal fatigue) and horizontal ridges (signs of thyroid issues). These ridges are almost non-existent now.
  • My gray hairs have disappeared. Now this one I find quite odd and did not think it possible. I used to have quite a few gray hairs, and my hairdresser can vouch for this – she kindly pointed out a patch of grays on my head that I would have otherwise been unaware of. Thanks Leigh. Those grays – all gone! Bizarre, right?
  • I can do crazy yoga shit. Seriously – handstands and backbends and balances and all sorts of awesome stuff. I am loving it! I would never have gone down the yoga path if I wasn’t forced to sort out my stress and pull back on the chronic cardio that I was doing.
  • I am so much more in tune with my body now. I listen to how it feels and I respond with understanding and respect, rather than saying “Harden up! It’ll be worth it”, because sometimes, it won’t be worth it.
  • My hubby thinks I am sexy and tells me this all the time. I know what you are thinking – he has to say that. Maybe, but he could just say nothing at all. I asked him if he preferred me the way I used to be and he said “Honestly, you were almost too skinny for me”. Interesting. I find the male response to this whole thing very intriguing. Any males out there who want to chime in on this, please do – obviously not telling me I’m sexy (unless you want to), but just commenting on the whole female body thang.
  • I am now in the position to be a positive role model for other females, both young and old. My previous body was unrealistic and unattainable for most. It took a lot of hard training and strict eating and wasn’t even healthy. I was practically a male! No boobs, no period, no hips. Sounds pretty masculine to me!

So how did I do it? How did I go from hating my body at 57kg (172cm tall) to loving it at around 62-64kg (not exactly sure what my weight is – I broke up with the scales a while ago)? Well, it wasn’t easy. I didn’t just suddenly wake up and go “Hurrah! I am woman, hear me roar!”. These are the things that were invaluable to complete body image backflip:

  • Support. Lots and lots of it. From loved ones, and from you folks through the interwebs – thank you!
  • The knowledge that I might be helping others in a similar situation – this was a massive driver! I truly hope I can help others, even if it is just one person.
  • The realization that menstruation is a sign of fertility. Fertility is a sign of health. Body fat is needed for menstruation. Ergo body fat is healthy.
  • Self-love. I know this sounds really woo-woo, but it truly helped me understand the underlying thoughts I had about my body and how to change them. Gabrielle Bernstein’s May Cause Miracles, and Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life are invaluable resources. Get them both. NOW!
  • Yoga. Yes, I am well and truly a hippy now. I even have crystals throughout my house. Candles too. But back to yoga. Aside from being able to bend and balance my way into poses that I was once in awe of, yoga taught me how to focus on my body’s ability, rather than it’s aesthetics.

This is my body. In your eyes, it may not be perfect. I have cellulite. I have stretch marks (in fact, I had cellulite and stretch marks before putting on weight). I don’t have abs. Or a thigh gap. But in my eyes, what I see and how I feel, for the first time in my life, I am completely and unashamedly happy. This is 100% me. I am not a replica of someone else, nor am I trying to be. I am confident and I am healthy, and I hope that I have sparked the desire in you to love, accept and appreciate your body exactly as it is.

Kate is a holistic nutritionist specialising in hormone healing based in Wanaka, New Zealand. If you have any questions for her (or me), post below and we’ll both endeavor to help!

Have your say, leave a comment.

  • Den Fullman

    Wow Kate, wishing you all the best luv and you certainly are determined, And yes I believe ,what you eat is what u become . <3

  • Amanda {The Savoury Soul}

    Such an inspiring story! I went through something very similar and now have to be very aware of how much I am exercising and eating AND allowing lots of rest. Thank you for being open and honest!

  • Abbey

    I’m a 21year old track athlete currently battling a something condition. At 172cm i currently weigh 51kg and am training upwards of 2 and half to 3 hours a day, yet not nourishing my body at all. I know that this needs to change as its taken over all aspects of my life and i need to get back on track as it is no where near healthy or enjoyable. Thankyou for sharing your story with us. Your success is motivating and makes me realise that sometimes what we think are healthy choices are actually harmful ones. How did you get over your fear of increasing your food intake and developing a healthy relationship with yourself?

    • Hi Abbey,

      Thank you for your kind words, and I am glad that you found my story motivating. I had a pretty strong driver (wanting to have kids) in helping me to get over my fear of increasing my food intake. I made sure I told all of my friends and family (as well as the inter-webs through my blog) as I realised that I would need support through the process. I think a lot of the fear comes from what we feel others will think of us but, in reality, those people that really matter don’t mind and those who mind, don’t matter (thanks, Dr Seuss) when it comes to what size you are. Also, I became a lot more spiritual and realised that I needed to show myself some love on a daily basis, even if I didn’t feel I deserved it initially. Making this a habit has changed my perspective on things. Finally, if you only put on 5kg, you will still be leaner than I used to be….I think what we think we look like is somewhat different to reality. I hope this helps. Good luck with everything. x

  • Mary Mizzi

    Beautiful story, we as women suffer in our heads with body issues but once you find that pure love within your soul it all falls into place. Regardless size age or who we are physically it all comes down to love and compassion for human being.

  • Turtle

    Love the second pic!! My ideal body!
    Have been mostly a clean eater and paleo dieter (meat and three veg) for about ten plus years. Also thought that if my sleep patterns and cycle was off it was diet based.

  • Marie

    Interesting article, thank you for sharing. I’d love to gain some healthy weight too, how to eat more when you get full easily?

    Also, just throwing this out there, I would love to go off the pill, but the only option I can see for me is an IUD. What does everyone else use?

    • Hi Marie,

      Gaining weight can take time. If you get full easily, maybe try eating smaller meals, more regularly and be sure to add plenty of fat, protein and carbs.

      In terms of birth control, obviously this is up to you, but I have found Natural Fertility Awareness very effective. Once we get in touch with our own body’s signs and symptoms, we can know when we are fertile and when we are not. Hope this helps. x

    • Sophia

      Hi Marie,
      If you are curious about ceasing the OCP, a great website to look at would be Nat is a TCM doctor (traditional chinese medicine/acupuncturist) & helped me make the decision to stop the OCP almost two years ago. There is some very useful info on her site. Hope this helps!

  • Amazing story. I have been underweight my entire life but I am not at all athletic & don’t have the amount of problems you have faced. Thank you for sharing.

  • Shruti

    Great article, and very inspirational Kate. Would love to know more about going off the pill, alternative contraception and just how your body dealt with it in general?

    • Hi Shruti,

      Thank you. When I went off the pill, I felt horrible for a couple of weeks. Not the usual skin breakout and emotional issues that you hear of, but more so flu-like symptoms as my liver was detoxing from the artificial hormones. So, in saying that, the liver needs a lot of love when coming off the pill!

      In terms of birth control, I recommend looking into Natural Fertility Awareness. It is fascinating to learn more about our bodies and be so in touch that we know when we are and are not fertile. Hope this helps. x

    • Sophia

      Hey Shruti,
      If you are curious about ceasing the OCP, a great website to look at would be Nat is a TCM doctor (traditional chinese medicine/acupuncturist) & helped me make the decision to stop the OCP almost two years ago. There is some very useful info on her site. Hope this helps!

  • Melissa

    What a great post! Loved reading it 🙂 I have polycystic ovaries and as soon as my doctors found out they put me straight on the pill. My acne (side effect of PCO) has cleared up but I want to have a baby over the next few years which means I need to come off the pill. I know this is different to what you have Kate but I am wondering if you know anything about PCO and if you recommend anything for me to try? I was very self conscious about my acne before and I am very scared to come off the pill. Sounds like you had some good guidance and/or self knowledge on how to manage your illness holistically which is exactly how I would like to manage mine 🙂

    • Hi Melissa,

      PCOS has similar characteristics to hypothalamic amenorrhea, however I would treat it differently. As I am not sure what your current health status is, I can only offer basic suggestions. First, get off the pill – it is not treating the underlying cause, it is just masking the symptoms. The longer you stay on it, the harder the condition will be to treat. Second, as PCOS is a condition of insulin resistance, make sure you avoid all sugar and refined carbohydrates. I often recommend a low carb paleo style diet for my clients with PCOS, however whether or not this is right for you depends on your current situation. Load up on foods rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, such as veggies, meats, seeds, eggs, fish, as well as probiotic-rich foods such as sauerkraut and kombucha. Hope this helps! Please feel free to contact me through my website if you would like some more structured guidance. x

      • Melissa

        Thanks Kate, REALLY appreciate your comments. I would love to get some structured guidance so I will contact you via your website 🙂

        • Hi Melissa, I recently got diagnosed with PCOS too, picked up because of my ever persistent acne. Just wanted to let you know that I;ve been ‘paleo’ for a year and while my acne started to clear up, it certainly wasn’t going anywhere. It wasn’t till a few weeks ago that i decided to finally cut the sugar completely – that is, all fruit (except for a serve of berries once a day), all honey, coconut sugar, even rice malt (it gives me headaches) that my acne has FINALLY started to actually disappear. I have had compliments on how healthy I look from countless amounts of people, just in the last week or so. It’s been incredible because I have been trying to heal myself for so long, being told by the doctor that the only way to fix it was by horrible chemical laden topicals or creams or going on the pill. Look down some more avenues, try quitting the sugar – for good, and see how you go. Good luck, wishing you all the best.

  • Loved this! Good for you, I too agree you look much healthier and happy! Beautiful story, I wish you the absolute best of luck as far as the baby making goes! 🙂

  • Steph

    Hi Kate (and Sarah)! Your story has really touched me – I fit pretty much each of those criteria that you were going through… I’m completely stressed out, very dedicated to my low-carb, Paleo-style diet, must exercise every day (if I don’t, I get the guilts) and have effectively turned myself into a lean, mean fighting machine. Only problem is, I’m pretty sure I have adrenal fatigue, and my feminine side has gone completely MIA.

    How did you get diagnosed, and how would you recommend I start? I’m getting blood tests from my GP and have previously had ultrasounds etc, but I’m not sure she’ll pick this up as a potential diagnosis!

    Just to add some details, I’m 22, 5ft 6ish and somewhere around the 60kg mark… I refuse to get on the scales!

    • Hi Steph,

      Hypothalamic amenorrhea is a diagnosis of elimination. That means they rule out all other causes of amenorrhea, such as PCOS, hyperprolactinemia, pituitary tumor and structural problems. All of these were ruled out for me. Plus, my sex hormones were pretty much non-existent. If you have adrenal fatigue, combined with under eating and over-exercising, you will have problems producing sex hormones. Start by figuring out what you want in life. For me, I wanted to be healthy and fertile to have babies. For others, it might just be to be the healthiest they can be. Perhaps you want to have strong bones throughout your life. Maybe you want to stay strong and enjoy life. These are all good reasons to heal your body. Also, make sure you tell your friends and family – support is essential. Please feel free to contact me via my website if you would like some more structured guidance. I wish you all the best. x

      • Steph

        Thanks Kate, that really helps – I’ll definitely send you a message!

    • Hi Steph, AF can lead to thyroid issues, it is a gateway illness, so truly important to get on top now. The best step is to do a functional adrenal and thyroid panel, done through a practitioner not a GP. I healed my own AF and treat people with it now with this testing and adrenal programs.

      • Dawn

        Hi Lauren!
        are you based in oz?
        having adrenal issues and would love to get the relevant tests etc.
        thankyou x

  • julia

    Hey Kate. I had hypothalamic amenorrhea and now have four kids! It works!

  • Jemma Pirrie

    Just like to say that there is definitely a marked difference between photo 1 and 2 – In your second one you look so much more feminine, soft, and beautiful. Strong too! So glad to hear you are happy in who you are now, and hope your diseases clear up pronto! This has been very inspiring 🙂

  • Sharyn Holmes

    Thanks for sharing your story Kate. Very informative. I’m not very fit, I look skinny actually. I’m 172cm and weigh about 53kg. My health and hormones are generally pretty good, I eat well but I could definitely do some exercise. I don’t do much more than walking. You’ve inspired me to do more in that area. I do miss yoga. Thank you. Adn ha ha, I have crystals everywhere too!

  • Merrin

    This is a condition I wish more women knew about. I loved training every day, being 48kg (165cm tall) and not having a period. This went on for four years, then I tried to have a baby. Another heartbreaking 2 years, 6kg extra, thousands of dollars spent on Western and Eastern medicine, and we finally conceived. Then we wanted to have another baby. Another heartbreaking 2 years, more drugs and then we almost gave up. Thankfully we didn’t because I’m now pregnant. I still yearn for my 48kg body and level of fitness, but kids, lack of time and an inner knowing stop me from going down that path again.

    • Hi Merrin. I wish more women knew about it, too! I am so grateful to Sarah for helping me to spread the word. Congratulations on your baby and pregnancy! How exciting! So much more exciting than being skinny! Remember that – there is SO much more to life than having a “perfect” body. Good luck with everything. Be kind to yourself. x

    • Wow. And congratulations for listening to your body!

  • meg

    Just wanted to say how much I loved your latest post. Having come off my birth control in January, it’s taken me six months (and a gain of 4kgs) to get my cycle back. I thought I was super healthy – until I realised I had been undereating, overtraining and constantly stressing my body. It’s been a bit of a struggle to be honest: to train myself to eat more, train less, and be happy with my body (with a little more at the sides)! but you realise there are more important things then having a six-pack. and you also realise how unhealthy and unsustainable the ‘healthy ideal’ is. Huge props for your story – clearly a common theme running through the women who are very into their fitness, and the response shows how important for you to have shared your experience. hope all is going super in NZ!

    • Thank you, Meg. I agree – there can be periods where it is difficult to embrace my new, more feminine body. However, slowly, those “fat days” are becoming fewer and fewer. Be patient and be kind to yourself.
      NZ is fantastic, thank you. x

  • Bessy

    I so want what you have achieved. I have had anorexia for about 7 yrs and already have osteoporosis and don’t get a period naturally. I just can’t seem to put in action wat I so badly want. I don’t want a life without motherhood..

    • Hi Bessy. Thank you for sharing. Anorexia can be really tough and is absolutely not something that you can get through on your own. I strongly encourage you to seek help in healing yourself. If you would like some more structured guidance in terms of diet and lifestyle, please feel free to contact me. I wish you all the best. x

    • Hi Bessy,
      Oh you poor thing. I don’t underplay at all where you are at. Allow what Kate and I have shared here to sink in…sometimes a shift in perspective can – maybe over time – make sense to your body. And shift will start to occur as it needs to. Don’t give up on yourself. In the meantime I’ll send you a humble prayer.

    • Hi Bessy, thank you for your openness and honesty. I just wanted to share that in anorexia there are changes that have occurred in the functionality of the brain and this makes it hard to change behaviour. It is not you! And it is not about your will power. There a physiological changes that make that shift harder than we wish it was x

  • AnnaFaraway

    Thanks so much for sharing this story. Just wondering if you think it’s possible for me to have both PCOS and Hypothalamic Amenorrhea? I was diagnosed 4 years ago with PCOS and proceeded to exercise more, eat paleo and lost 15kg. It was great for a while and regulated my cycle and helped with acne. But 18 months ago my cycle stopped and hasn’t come back at all. I’ve stopped exercising and make sure I eat well (including lots of good fat and protein), but nothing! My BMI is at 21… so I’m not underweight. Doctor put me on metformin 3 months ago but that hasn’t helped either. Any ideas?

    • Hi Anna. It is possible to have polycystic ovaries and hypothalamic amenorrhea, however you probably would not have PCOS (the “syndrome), which encompasses insulin resistance and elevated testosterone. In HA, all sex hormones are generally flat-lined. Also, you do not necessarily have to be underweight to have your period stop. If you are exercising too much and not eating enough, your brain gets the signal that there is insufficient energy for reproduction and so shuts off these energy-demanding functions.

      Metformin can help with the insulin resistance side of things, but it is not going to fix the underlying hormonal balance, which can take time and patience.

      If you would like some more structured guidance, please feel free to contact me through my website. I would be more than happy to help. Take care and I wish you all the best. x

  • Monique Nymeyer

    So great to read this. I came off the pill 9 months ago and am in the exact same hormone-less situation. Have just started on my path of more good carbs, less exercise and less stress. I’m also studying a bachelor of health science and agree this makes me a better role model! Really encouraging and motivating to stick with this and embrace some lady curves. All the best Kate x

  • Shon

    This is a great article, thank you for sharing.

  • Tracey

    Thanks for sharing your story Kate, it’s hugely inspirational. I love how healthy you look in the second photo. Good on you for keeping on your path and persevering to find answers! I have recently become interested in hormonal health and the influence of cortisol levels etc. on just about EVERYTHING. So it was interesting for me to be reading this and notice (for the first time) the vertical ridges on my own fingernails – yikes! I have been reading “The Hormone Cure” by Sara Gottfried and your post supports what she says. I was especially intrigued that, in the main, you have managed positive change through lifestyle change and nutrition. Respect!

    • Thanks Tracey. Sara’s book is fantastic! Full of useful information. And yes, cortisol is a bit of a b#@ch of a hormone when it is chronically elevated.

  • Kate

    Congratulations on managing to redefine your definition of “healthy” Kate. It’s crazy how sometimes “taking care of ourselves” can in fact have negative health effects. Out of interest, how does hypothalamic amenorrhoea differ from the amenorrhoea associated with anorexia and other eating disorders… does the same physiological mechanism underpin both?

    • Hi Kate. They are similar in terms of their outcomes (loss of period and bone density, increased risk of heart troubles), however anorexia is defined as a BMI below about 17.5. With hypothalamic amenorrhea, it is possible to be in the healthy weight range. The main contributors to HA are lack of energy availability (i.e. not eating enough to meet your energy requirements) and low body fat (leptin, produced in fat stores is necessary to signal energy sufficiency to the brain). Also, eating disorders are generally deliberate energy restriction. HA can be a case of not really being aware of your actual input/output. Hope this helps!

  • Mel

    Thanks for sharing such a personal story, warts and all. I’m going through my own health journey and it’s so great to hear how you have managed, and are continuing to manage, your health and wellbeing. Good luck and thank you for your honesty.

  • Jessica

    You are inspiring! I need to do the same, and for years just haven’t been able to summon up the courage/motivation. I’m a bit afraid of (ironically) losing my slender, bendy yoga body.
    You do bring home to me just how important it is, and I’m going to bookmark your story to come back to when I feel my motivation flag. Although I don’t want children now, who knows what the future might bring….

    Thanks and a heart-felt congratulations on your courage and your dedication to achieve (and share) this.

    • Thanks Jessica. I would strongly advise not waiting until you want to have kids to get everything sorted as it becomes unbelievably stressful (and heart breaking). Also, if it’s any consolation, I’m actually more bendy in yoga now than I used to be. Good luck! x

  • bodyandfeetretreat

    Thanks for sharing you story.

    It’s funny you say that your husband thought you were too thin. In 2007 when my husband was working in Taiwan, our daughter and myself went to visit him and have a holiday. I was so pleased to have lost a significant amount of weight while he had been away and I was feeling really happy with how I looked. When I got off the plane, I expected to see him with this huge smile on his face. It was there but it quickly faded away. When he got a chance to talk to me by myself, he asked me “Why didn’t you tell me you were sick ?” and I was “What ?” and he said “Why didn’t you tell me you were sick ? Have you got cancer ?” and I said “No, I worked really hard to lose the excess weight I was carrying” – he was scared to hug me most of that holiday because he was scared he was going to break something. I think often husbands have a very different perception of us than we have of ourselves.

    I’m so glad you are healthier and working towards your well being – good luck with falling pregnant !


    • Oh my god! I can’t believe he asked you if you had cancer! Men’s perspectives are so intriguing!

      Thank you and all the best with your health and happiness! x

  • l.danger85

    Thank you for your story. I saw a lot of myself in your pictures and story. Although the “now” photo is something I am still not really happy with. A small part of me still picks and it’s important to get perspective. Thank you thank you:)

  • lucy

    Hey Sarah and Kate. Your blog gives such insight into life and its challenges- thanks for continuing to write as well as your lovely guest bloggers.
    Thank you so much for this blog post! I’m currently struggling with anorexia; just out of inpatient and currently attending a day program. While I have gained enough weight to be medically stable I have yet to gain my period or a normal BMI. I struggle with the foods allocated within the program- high carb, liquid calories and sugar, bread, dairy, and all I can think about is how the food is going to poison my body, or make me gain weight. It’s a lot of anxiety and guilt- I’m in a tricky situation though where I know that I cannot manage to cope on my own, without a program. : ( I wish I was as strong as either Sarah or Kate and be able to gain the weight and restore my mentality on my own. Gaining weight is more hard than one might imagine. I just want to stay out of hospital, restore my fertility or be able to travel one day!

    • Elle

      Hey Lucy..I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for you but it’s good news you were well enough to leave hospital! Please don’t say you’re not as strong as Sarah or Kate. Anorexia is a complex mental illness and nothing to do with strength!!! Dealing with an eating disorder is incredibly difficult and I think it shows immense strength completing the program despite your thoughts about the food poisoning you/fear of gaining weight etc. Keep going and you’ll get there! x

    • Hi Lucy,

      I agree with everything Elle said. Anorexia is very complex and not something that you should have to manage on your own. I also agree with you – gaining weight can be very hard! Strong support from family, friends and health professionals is essential. Also, try to show yourself some self-love everyday – look in the mirror and tell yourself “I love you”. At first you won’t believe it, and it might seem a little “woo woo”, but make it a habit and you will begin to shift your perspective and self-esteem. Check out Gabrielle Berstein’s books and programs – she is amazing! I wish you all the best on your journey, Lucy. xx

  • Lashes78

    Hi, very interesting for me to read this as there are many parallels for me here. I also have always been very active, I’ve danced since the age of 7 and now teach fitness classes as well as being a personal trainer. I have the abs, but I also have no boobs and for the last 15 months no periods. I am 35, and have a history of PCOS, but this has never stopped my periods before.
    I am also on a very low carb ‘paleo’ type diet as this is what fuels me best for my current energy output (I do intense exercise every day, sometimes 2 or more hours)… I also react to a lot of foods so this is the only way of eating that my body seems to cope with. I have experimented with the diet a lot and I don’t believe

  • Cosette

    Thank you Kate for sharing this. I was diagnosed with hypothalamic amenorrhea one year ago. It’s so reassuring to read this story…so many (female) friends react strangely when I tell them about this…and not necessarily in a supportive way…(what’s wrong with you, they ask…to which I can only reply…my GP doesn’t know, but we think it’s probably a combination of things…and it might just take time)
    Thank you Sarah for putting this up on your site and Kate and other people for sharing openly. I’ve just started acupuncture and meditation this month…we will see if this helps.

    • Pleasure, Cosette. These things do take time, and patience and commitment to the cause. Acupuncture and meditation will definitely help! If I could recommend one thing to women going through this it would be meditation. I wish you all the best. x

  • crystal

    Thanks for the inspiration! You made my day with your story of your journey. Feel good story that shows what true self love can do. Thanks for bringing a smile to my face. I’m happy you’re happy and healthy….and just wanted to assure you that your sharing is such a gift to so many; equally as wonderful as it is for you. ?

    • Thank you so so much Crystal. Your kind words have warmed my heart. xx

  • Lashes78

    Cont… that this is exercise related as I’ve always had IBS, but after having trouble with gluten and initially cutting that out, I then noticed how sugar was affecting me, fruit juice masked my heart race, cannot have lactose without getting bloated etc etc. so I’ve had to restrict my diet more and more because I’m always in pain or uncomfortable.
    I am a little despairing to be honest, I want to enjoy my reactive foods again, but my energy is SO much better now that I am eating clean, I want my periods back but I also want and need to stay slim for my job and my self esteem, I’d really value your advice if you have any. And just for the record apart from my periods being shot, I’ve had pretty much evey blood test under the sun and

  • Lashes78

    My digestion being crap, I don’t appear to have anything wrong with me. I am and always have been a stress head and have a whole head of grey hair, which I believe is genetic… I’d love to feel calmer, meditation helps me but I cannot live differently due to finances and well I just don’t know how to change things I feel great apart from these two issues…

    • Hi Lashes,

      It sounds like you have a lot going on! While I completely understand that you feel you need to stay slim for you job, however your health is so much more important. I would suggest sitting down and figuring out what your goals are. If you feel great now and don’t want anything to change, then that is fantastic. However, if you do not feel so good, something needs to change – it is that old saying, “if nothing changes, nothing changes”. It took me about 2 years to finally decide to take action with eating more and exercising less and changing my stressed-out lifestyle. It was not an easy step, but it is certainly one that I do not regret. I hope this helps. If you would like some more guidance, please feel free to contact me through my website. I wish you all the best. x

  • Chloe McKellar

    Thank you for the inspirational story! I have been suffering from disbiosis and leaky gut syndrome, and have problems losing weight! Last year I followed a strict no grain, dairy, sugar, caffeine and alcohol diet and I felt amazing. I had tonnes of energy, stable moods and my skin and body felt great! I fell off the wagon after a holiday, and have struggled to get back on it. Ready your story has inspired me to be motivated again, so thank you 🙂 Keep up the good work! x

  • Melissa

    Love this!! I am 25 and have been struggling with different birth control options upon discovering adverse side effects to estrogen. I’m now on the mini pill but would really like a more natural option. Unfortunately I just feel like we don’t have any good options! I see that you practice FAM, but at this point I just don’t think its reliable enough for my current situation. Ugh.

    • Hi Melissa,

      After a few cycles of practising FAM and getting to know your body, it is very reliable. In times when you are not sure, you can always go old-school and use condoms! I know it’s not “sexy”, but it is so much better for your health and happiness. Check out Katie Singer’s Garden of Fertility. Nat Kringoudis also has great info in her “Debunking Ovulation” presentation which I believe you can now buy online. It is truly fascinating stuff! Our bodies are amazing! Not sure if this helps. Good luck! x

  • I have a very similar history and can relate to this a lot! I am now 25 weeks pregnant with my little boy, it was a 3 year battle, and in the end I did have to use some medication along with changes to my lifestyle and diet, including gaining a tonne of weight, but it was so worth it. Just so everyone knows you can totally overcome this and get pregnant at the end xxx

    • Thanks Laura, and a HUGE congratulations! Very happy for you. x

  • Janet

    I can relate to your story as I have had this too plus a lifetime of gastrointestinal issues which are finally being treated (at long last by someone who knows what they are doing!). I am finally starting to feel good. I also believe I have adrenal fatigue as I am so hyperactive and run off adrenaline so I need to do something about that and funnily enough looking into Yoga in the long term. I was skinnier than you (bones and ribs poking out) but am a healthy 60kgs and paranoid to go below that weight. I also malabsorp my nutrients so have to be constantly monitored and take a plethora of supplements to keep my weight on (my story could go on forever). Glad to hear you are healthy now. By the way, I am also allergic to sugar as it feeds the bad bacteria in my gut the doctors cannot get rid of (we are working on it but would never eat fructose or sucrose again if I could help it). So plenty going on but feeling stronger every day (besides throat surgery yesterday, just a minor setback!). All the best to you!

  • Charlotte

    Kate and Sarah thank you for sharing this post, it is refreshing especially when everytime you log onto social media you see a “fitspo” image.

    I am 26 year old woman who has been gifted with a slender body at 178cm tall, however I still battle with negative thoughts about my body when I compare myself to others through images posted on social media which are similar to the first image that Kate posted. I too have looked like that when I was strictly paleo and functional training 4-5 times a week. However a change in cities (thanks to work) has meant a new routine, new friends and a new body which is softer, more feminine. Whilst I am generally happier (partly because I can be so much more social when not being strictly paleo), it doesn’t mean that I don’t look in the mirror and sometimes criticise myself “for letting myself go” and wish for the model physique I use to have. Its an ongoing journey with constant reminders that the important thing for us all is to nourish our bodies and to have people in our lives who remind us of all our amazing gifts including physical, emotional and spiritual so that we lean into these positive traits and let go of negative self-deprecating talk.

    I encourage every woman to take up yoga, whilst you may feel hopeless and sore to begin with it has taught me so much about my body, but most importantly I credit it with bringing out my femininity which i now practice in every facet of my life (including the male dominated corporate world i am in 60-80 hours a week)!

    Please keep writing this type of material, it is so needed to balance out the messages that have evolved from magazines using unhealthy models to the social media paradigm where unrealistic images are posted and reposted so that it becomes the norm and we are all expected to take “bathroom selfies” for validation.

    • Love this! Thank you so much for your wise words, Charlotte. It sounds like you are heading in the right direction with your own self-image journey and I am so happy for you. x

  • karie

    Thank you so much for this post. I can identify myself in your whole story and I would like to email you and get some advice. But for right now, can you tell me how you changed your exercise routine? Did you change the intensity of your workouts or just frequency and duration?

    • Hi Karie,

      I used to teach 5-6 group fitness classes (Pump, Step, Attack) and then I would do some sort of weight training/interval training on other days. I might have 1 rest day…maybe. These days I teach 1 Pump class, I probably do 1 other slow weights session with lots of rest. If I do cardio, I keep it to 15mins max, so as to minimise the release of cortisol. I like Tabata training. I might do 1 cardio session per week. I also love walking and hiking. Getting out in nature is where it’s at! I can’t believe I have wasted all of this time in the gym!

      • Karie

        Thanks. This is my routine currently: 60 min intense leg training with weights 2 days per week, 1 soft sand beach run for 45-60 min, 1 total body weight training/circuit workout for an hour and 2 cardio interval/plyo workouts for about an hour. I take one day of rest. This is definitely too much without rest so even though I’ve gained 8lbs, it won’t help since I’m training so hard. How do you suggest I cut back on my weekly workouts while still getting in some exercise. I’m almost getting to the point where I’m afraid to workout because I feel like I’m causing more damage.

  • Rachel Favilla

    So relevant for me right now, as I am in the same process thanks to my AI disease delaying puberty, ta for sharing Kate xx

  • Chelsea

    Hey kate great article! Just a question, do you know much about pcos? Ive recently gone off the pill again (originally was put back on to regulate my period but was told I probably would never have kids) ive been reading and decided the pill does nore harm than good and with time my period will regulate just wanted some advice if you know anything about this as it sounds some what similar to your condition thanks! Chelsea x

    • Hi Chelsea,

      Yes I know a fair bit about PCOS. While it is similar to HA in that there is generally a loss of period and infertility, PCOS is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as acne, facial hair, insulin resistance and high testosterone, so I would treat it slightly differently to HA. Please feel free to email me through my website if you would like some more structured guidance. I wish you all the best! x

  • Stephanie Martel

    This was a fantastic post, Kate! (and Sarah!) I am intrigued about your thoughts on why your greys disappeared. I was diagnosed 2 years ago with a hyper-thyroid and corrected in naturally with nutrition and lifestyle changes, but the greys persist! Any insight on why they disappeared? I’m dying for a solution. (no pun intended, ha! Well maybe.)

    Also, you’re right on with the hormonal balance being an indicator of true health. When your hormones are off, EVERYTHING is off. Well done!

    • Hi Stephanie,

      I did not think grey hairs disappearing was possible! But I try not to question it – I don’t want to jinx myself! Haha! The only theory I can come up with is now I am more adequately nourishing my body and it has all the vitamins and minerals it now needs to function optimally. Hope this helps. x

  • Becki

    Two things I love about this article:

    1. Body Image Backflip <– genius
    2. The realization that menstruation is a sign of fertility. Fertility is a sign of health. Body fat is needed for menstruation. Ergo body fat is healthy.

    My Chinese Medicine mentor always says the period is a luxury. It's true when we think about having enough blood and nutrients (and energy) left over to prepare our bodies for growing another human.

    • Yes! The period IS a luxury! More women need to realise this!

      • Karli

        My TCM doctor says the same! About a year ago my nutritionist told me to add in more carbs (2 portions per 1 of protein, preferably starch) and ‘un-quit’ sugar (risky to say here!). My cycles went from 67 days to 30. I gained a dress size. I feel SO much better eating more and not restricting my diet beyond what I’m intolerant to. I’ve been practising FAM for 2 years successfully and feeling great knowing how I work going into baby making time now. I’m happier, less stressed and keep exercise to walking and yoga. Thanks for your great article Kate!

  • You look younger too, Kate. Bonus!

  • Steph

    Hey Kate, really interesting read and glad to hear you are feeling so great! How do you reckon you can balance feeling like your body is muscled and toned ( I know I run better when I’m strong and less prone to injury!) with not overdoing it. It’s funny, you know, I did the Michelle Bridges 12WBT program and ended up with some pretty great abs. I felt great too but addicted great. I feared being a loser if I put on any weight. And I still do I guess. So I guess the goal is then to be feel strong but think and act kindly. So hard!

    • Hey Steph,

      It is a fine balance and hard to get. When I first decided I was going to exercise less and eat more, I really pulled right back on the exercise and did notice my strength decreased. I am now back in the gym (a LOT less regularly and training smarter) to boost my strength. Abs are unimportant to me now. My fertility and health are number one. I also found that yoga helped with strength and also getting over any fears. Hope this helps! x

  • Meg

    I needed to read this this morning, perfect timing. Thank you – you have no idea how amazing the timing of this post is xx

  • rebeccaspeaking

    Hi Kate,
    I’m super happy for you that you feel more healthy, more happy with your body, as a result of the changes you’ve made in your life. Props. But I wonder if I could direct your attention to the kind of language you’re using to describe that body, and maybe point out why it might be a bit problematic for some?
    I’m being a little reductive here, but you basically use an equation of feminine = babymaking/babymaking = certain body shape = feminine. I’m glad for you that you’ve done what you needed to do to be in the position of doing the thing you want – have kids – but consider for a moment what it might imply when you set up that kind of relationship. Not all female bodies can produce babies, and there might be a hundred million reasons for that, not in the least would be which that there are of course plenty of humans living in female-identified bodies who were not ‘born’ female-identifying (that is, with the biological stuff that we’re told constitutes womanhood – vaginas, uteri, breasts, etc.) And not all people with female bodies want to produce babies – and that doesn’t make them any less ‘feminine’ – does it? And lots of baby-producing bodies look different from other baby-producing bodies, and it doesn’t mean that one of those bodies – or babies! – is better or worse than the other.
    I get a bit sad that in the 21st century we’re still encouraged to think in these binary terms of man/woman, male/female, masculine/feminine. They might be useful metaphorical constructs but I don’t think they express the full range of possibilities of human experience. No woman is more or less ‘real’ than another, certainly not on the basis of her body shape or child-bearing activities. We’ve been brought into a world which teaches us to judge and rank each other in this way, and billions of others, so I don’t think for a second that you meant any harm or hurt by it. But hopefully now it’s been pointed out, we can start to look for a way of talking about your success that doesn’t accidentally sideline or delegitimise people on the basis of their physical appearance or capabilities.
    For what it’s worth, I think you look beautiful in both pictures. Because both of them capture you the right body for you at the moment the picture was taken. Our needs and our bodies change constantly throughout our lives; it doesn’t make ‘one’ body more ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. There’s just needs and times. I think, anyway. Hope what I’ve said will be taken in the spirit which it is intended – I do wish you all the best and hope there’s a kidlet on the way for you.
    P.S. Ladies, come on – have we never heard of condoms?! Pretty sure they’re a perfectly effective non-hormonal contraceptive, if that’s a thing you’re worried about… xx

    • Hi Rebecca,

      Thank you for your comment and I am sorry if I offended you, or anyone else out there – that is the absolute LAST thing I was intending to do. I recognise that everyone is healthy at different shapes and sizes. I was merely expressing what I have found to be right for me and for many of my clients. It is my dream for every woman to be healthy, fertile and satisfied with their body type – whatever that may look like.

      And yes I agree – condoms! x

  • Rebecca Wilson

    Sounds like me never happy with my body at 50kg and feel over wait ,been off pill for 5mths no period , skin rashes to a lot of healthy foods don’t eat much carbs

  • Jemma

    Syncronicity is simply amazing, I am going through this right now, except I used to be a healthy 48-49 kgs, for my height this was great, over exercising and eating a vegan diet has left me at 42-43kgs, not great! I have done a massive turn around, now eating a paleo diet with carbs at lunch and dinner! I am feeling so much better already, can’t wait for the the kilos to come back!!

  • At last! someone who tells a balanced and intuitive truth about fertility, training hard, being feminine but also strong. I too have shoulders that rival my male contemporaries due to competitive swimming from a very young age. Getting off the pill and actually listening to my body through yoga, rest and meditation has been the best thing. Still got the grey hairs though…. will have to work on that one. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  • Brooke J

    such an amazing story kate – thank you for sharing. I personally can relate to the female issues you have raised (however mine is coming from overweight down) I have started a similar journey and reading your experiences has given me the extra motivation to continue and see how it all ends up.
    Thank you so much for sharing. 🙂

  • Kasia

    WOW!!!Thank you Kate for sharing!!you are a true inspiration <3 lots of love PS. you are gorgeous and sexy !!!

  • Great story Kate, thank you for sharing. I’m starting this journey of paying more attention to my body and eating accordingly, fuelling it with nutritious food, rather than eating for ‘body issues’ or trying to obtain the ideal body. I’m still practicing and I still drink coffee – what are your views on coffee and how helpful/damaging it is to this quest and fertility issues?

    • Hi Taranakichic. I love coffee, but unfortunately had to give it up as it was quite draining on my adrenals and further depleting my sex hormones. If you are struggling with reproductive issues, I would highly recommend taking it out until you are healed. Hope this helps. x

  • Lozza

    Thank you for your post. Sometimes I look at fitspo and wish I looked like them, and start researching what exercises I need to do, and what I need to eat. Then I wonder what it would add to my life to have a six pack and whether it would actually make me a happier person, and I think it would not. Though I am not super lean, and am kind of soft around the middle, I am healthy and fit and have all the energy to do everything I want. For this I am thankful. It was wonderful to read your post and thank you for sharing your experiences.

  • Gen

    I have had amenorrhea for years after suffering a short lived eating disorder in my late teens. My period has never naturally returned and I now have osteopenia in my spine caused from the length of my amenorrhea. After reading your story I am going to try to put on more weight- I’m currently a healthy weight but perhaps it’s still too slim for my body’s liking… can I asn how long it took for your periods to return after gaining weight?

    • Hi Gen. It took 6 mtgs of keeping the weight on, pulling back on exercise and really managing my stress levels. Good luck! If you would like some help on your journey, please feel free to contact me through my website.

  • Aubrey

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! Its just what I needed to hear. I have had been struggling with amenorrhea for two year, (I am currently 21). I have gained 10 pounds, but have not yet returned to my normal weight at which I had a period. Do you think full weight restoration is needed to be fertile. I also started eating 2000 calories a day but have a hard time calculating how much more to eat for exercise . I typically walk 2 miles every day and do 20 minutes of body weight exercise or weight lifting.

    • Hi Aubrey,

      While weight restoration is important, it is more important that you eat more than your body is burning through exercise. You could use an app, such as My FItness Pal to track your food and exercise, or feel free to contact me through my website if you would like some help.

  • Jessica

    I read this Nelson Mandella quote after reading all of the comments on this page and it struck me that this is what you are doing:

    “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

    Thanks again.

  • Benita

    This is a fantastic story Kate, what an inspiration. Thanks for sharing! x

  • Nat

    Hi Kate

    Could you direct me to a site for Natural Fertility Awareness? I have googled it but multiple sites come up.

    Thank you.

  • Tara | Treble in the Kitchen

    Such a great post. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Waltzing Raynolds

    Thanks Kate for sharing – I feel like my body has been in the state of having to put on weight to heal itself which I’ve heard Wilson speak of in her own journey. I am a professional triathlete and so putting on weight can really negatively affect my performance. However, 20-30hrs of training/ week previously with little to no carb and a high fat diet left me completely over trained and depleted. Now I have increased my carbs and more importantly have decreased both my anxiety and stress – my periods have not only returned but are regular and my performance is far more consistent and energy levels a lot higher throughout sessions. My anxiety levels were at their worse when I was put on a restrictive calorie intake. If I’ve learnt anything, if you are are training you MUST have carbs and replace what you are burning with quality real foods, but also and more importantly that everyone is different and must find what works for them dependant on their activity level, work, family, stress and environment. A stronger, healthier body will always conquer a skinny one … looking forward to getting to that place.

  • Florence

    If your periods are ‘regular’ it doesn’t mean that it has to come every month/4 weeks. For some people regular means every 2 months. It’s still regular. But great that you can love your body, which is definitely not something that most females can say.

  • Hayley

    Hi Kate and Sarah…I am gobsmacked because for the first time I think I’ve found someone who is echoing my situation. I love how you wrote this Kate and would love some input and info from you? Would you inbox me if that’s ok or email?

  • Karie

    Ive read that read that women with this disorder have to stop working out completely and eat 2500+ cals per day for their bodies to get back to normal. Is this true? If I workout for 1hr 6 days per week intensely, do I cut it in half or stop completely?

  • Jess

    Hi Kate,
    Is there somewhere that I can learn more about vertical nail ridges and other symptoms of adrenal fatigue?

  • Joy

    Amazing story Kate! I’ve had a thyroid disorder from the age of 11, have been the same weight since i was 16 and now at 26 i still struggle to put on weight. Most of my life I’ve been ridiculed for being ‘too skinny’, which hurts as its something completely out of my control. I’m currently eating up to 2000-2400 calories a day and just wondering if you could advise of any good supplements for muscle and weight gain? I’m quite active, gym 5 times per week, but avoid high intensity cardio as i’m scared i will just waste away so to speak.

  • Dani

    I had the same thing from the age of 16. I didn’t have my period for over 6 years and in doing so missed the vital hormones and nutrients released with each cycle – also missed by girls on the Pill. I have since come off the Pill, put on a few more kilos, am eating well to accommodate my ceoliac disease and have experienced the same benefits Kate has! I feel a million bucks and honestly feel that this is really a form of undiagnosed eating/body image disorder that so many girls can suffer without realising. Getting the message out there and support those suffering from it is so important!

  • Clementine

    Hi Kate, you’re incredible for sharing this – thank you! I’d be interested to read the article at your ‘research’ link: “Body weight, fat and ovulation”. Is this available to read online, or only via the database subscription?

  • funksis

    This brings me to tears reading this. Thank you! There is so much pressure us wan put on ourselves to look thin. We need more people like you to educate the young girls coming into life, to teach them early to love their bodies.

  • simonne

    Well done! I completely apreciate how hard weight gain is, even for health reasons. Im 26 and strugled with what they labeled anorexia . I was 38kg at my lowest and am now back up to 60kg however to no return of menstruation. I gues my question is how can I encourage my body to heal and also overcome the physical and emotional discomfort I experience even though logically I know Im at a healthy weight

  • Deb M

    Great article!!

  • Sherilyn @ The Perceptive Woma

    Great story Kate. As a fertility nurse and natural fertility educator I absolutely believe that we have to start having real conversations about our fertility and menstrual health such as this. And not only with each other but with our daughters too. Thanks for sharing. You gave great insight.

  • Kitty

    Good on you Kate. Very inspiring. I think I may be going through the same thing.
    I have exercised religiously every day for as long as I can remember. My diet is super ‘healthy’ though is very restricted. I have been off the pill for over a year and a half end have not had my period. My husband and I really want a baby but want to do it naturally, with no fertility/hormone drugs.
    I feel you have answerd my problems!
    My dilemma is how!? How do I change all the thoughts I have about being lean? How much exercise and yoga is too much and how much food should I consume.
    I feel trapped by my preconceived ideas of the healthy me!

  • Megs

    Hi Kate,
    What an inspirational story! My sister sent me it to me as I am battling a relapse of a terrible eating disorder I thought I had healed 10 yrs ago.
    I just wanted to say that, for me, your story would have had more impact and been safer without the height/weight numbers. I know a lot of us find them triggering. I think the pics are enough to illustrate your point.
    Congratulations on your courage and healing. It sounds like you are living the benefits every day.
    Big respect,

  • sophie

    You are so amazing Kate!!! I think stories like your are really necessary as too many people take such a crucial thing like their period for granted! I’ve thankfully gained mine back but I’m still trying to stabilise my weight. Reminding myself that time is a great healer!!

  • Emma

    Thank you. This is so good to read. We need to be role models of heath and wellness. And so good to hear someone speak about the importance of the regular menstrual cycle being a sign of health. We cant expect ourselves to have the muscular bodies of our male counterparts.

  • Georgie

    Hi, was weird to read your article- sounds similar to where I am right now- so desperately want to be on the other side… any advice would be greatly appreciated ( I live in Melbourne) Thanks for sharing

  • simonne

    God its sad how many people identify with this. Its crazy because by doing this to ourselves we are putting pressure on our female youth to live up to what is unhealthy, taking lives and robing the pleasure from life at the least. Those people we so envy are probably just as if not more physically and mentally exhausted as yourself. Is that something to envy? Im a “recovered” anorexic, everytime I feel myself slipping backwards I remind myself how much Im afecting others, not just those I know. If I made one girl think that what I was ideal and something to strive for that horrifys me. The discomfort and guilt of learning to eat healtier could never compare with knowing that i could influence someone into the same hell!

  • Carolyn Franzke

    Such a hugely important and inspiring post – thank-you Kate and Sarah xxx

  • Em

    Great to read your story Kate. And yes I believe what we think of our bodies and what reality is are very different stories. I have been through very similar experience to you, as a marathon runner and triathlete I have been very weight and performance conscience and have constantly overtrained and under eaten( not intentionally as I also had healthy food and reasonable portions, just not enough to counteract the energy being burned daily through exercise.) This has been part of me for almost 10 years until recently after suffering 2 pelvic stress fractures ( not totally uncommon in female runners but totally new to me)…after scans ,blood tests. And finally a bone density test it became obvious that I wasn’t the healthy fit person I believed in and strived to be. Also suffering from lack of menstrual periods this had affected my bone density to a very low level and I am diagnosed with osteopenia a prelude to osteoporosis. I am 44 and this is not what I expected or where I want to be. My dietary intake is not the problem as my range of foods and intake of calcium is pretty good it is more the low calorie and low body fat occurrence that has stopped the menstrual cycle and onflow effect on oestrogen levels which in turn then affects our bone density….etc . I have had to take on a whole new outlook as you have in nuturing my body and putting on 3-5 kilos which has really been hard mentally to accept this… But the upside is that within 3 months my periods are returning to a more normal pattern and my overall health is so much better.. Better skin, hair ,more energy, no cravings or low blood sugar and people commenting on my healthy look. I never knew or could see that I was looking scrawny and underweight…I felt fit and lean and healthy. Our minds are the biggest obstacle and we need to stop and think who are we trying to please… I am a amateur athlete trying to train like a professional ( ridiculous) . I am hoping to build my bone density back up to a safer level and I do intend to still run, but the quantity and intensity of my exercise has dropped to half of what I used to do and I take extra calcium and do a weights program. I am learning to be comfortable with my weight but that has been the biggest hurdle. I really wanted to share this ( sorry for the long saga) because I believe there are many women out there who will also have low bone density and not yet know it ( it is silent and you can’t feel it) I am actually lucky that I know and can take action now. If any of you feel you are in this category please have a bone density test!

    • Thanks for sharing, Emma. You are absolutely right. Most people link lack of menstruation with just fertility, but there are so many other implications, including lower bone density and heart problems due to low oestrogen.

  • Rachel

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I have recently stopped having my period due to weight loss and your story really encourages me to fight back! Thank you!!!

  • taryn

    This is so inspiring yet scares the living death out of me. I am currently in the same situation. I have a BMI that puts me in the anorexic category and I too don’t have periods and have not had them in a year now since i came off the pill. I eat so well however I do exercise and I know I am not eating as I should be. My partner is a huge family man and I know he is going to want children in the future and I worry that my obsession with exercise and not wanting to lose my six pack will eventually make me lose my partner.
    However this makes me want to change my ways and I hope one day I can be as inspiring as you! Well done.

  • Georgia

    BRILLIANT! post/blog/article, whatever you want to call it – this is great! Im sharing xx
    Thanks for baring all Kate – your honesty and knowledgeable info is wonderfully refreshing. x

  • Casey

    Great article, and I definitely relate. I think its important to note that gaining weight does increase your chances of regaining hormonal balance, but oftentimes it’s just eating at maintenance needs, while taking away the stress of over exertion. This is purely anecdotal as well, but after reading Leigh Peele’s “Starve Mode” I didn’t necessarily have to gain fat. I stopped with the crazy training and running, yes, but I didn’t overeat/gain fat, I just ate to maintain my new activity levels, increased carbs/fat over protein and chilled out. TADA. Took me 2 months of eating this way to get my cycle back. She is a great resource for anyone struggling with amenorrhea, or metabolic issues.

  • Shari

    How do I get in contact with this awesome lady?

  • Nik

    Thanks for sharing your story. I have recently began suffering a relapse of HA after 5 years of being healthy!

    I had HA for 2 years and wanted to have a second child so badly so I turned to the help of fertility drugs. I got pregnant on my first cycle with quadruplets. My quads were born extremely prematurely and weighed less than 2 pounds. They survived, but barely. Two of my children are permanently disabled. I felt an unbearable guilt because I felt that it was my fault that such a horrific thing had happened to my children- it was my own fault for trying to attain an unrealistic body image. I swore that I would never allow such a thing to happen again. It took every ounce of life in me to care for 4 medically fragile children and it consumed all of my time and energy. I had no time to think about what I looked like. I was in survival mode and could care less. Five years went by and I maintained a healthy weight, liked how I looked and had a regular period.

    As time went by and my children grew, I was able to breathe a little bit. I went back to work, they started school and life started to resemble something normal. A little more than a year ago, when I turned 30, I gained a few pounds and decided to just try to take them off. It was a very small amount, maybe 3 pounds and I wanted to get back to where I was. So…i went on a diet…this was like giving a beer to a former alcoholic. Now as it stands, I am in full blown HA again and working out 6-8 times per week, etc, etc. I hate my body more than ever and I am so mad at myself for letting this get out of control again. I don’t want this to take over my life again…I know i need help, but don’t know where to start. Do I find a nutritionist? Where to begin??? So sorry for my novel!

  • Ellie

    Thank you for this. I am 22 and have had similar circumstances being athletic and struggled to accept that I need a period to be deemed healthy. Thank you for inspiring me and encouraging me to accept a more ‘womanly’ figure.

  • Dawn

    Hi Kate,
    is there anything specific you did/took to heal your adrenals?
    struggling with this right now! x

  • Anzjuli

    Hi Kate! I really enjoyed reading your story, its quite inspiring! I’ve had the problem that I’ve always wanted to look like you’re picture on the left – although I know its not really healthy and can’t be maintained long term but I always end up looking like the picture on the right (but add more fat on belly/thighs) I’ve tried low calorie diets and exercise plans (Michelle Bridges “Losing the last 5 kilos”) which helps me to strengthen and lose maybe 1-2kg of fat in the month its for, but I get lightheaded if I exercise more then her program says (I tend to do her program then 2 dance classes maybe 4x a week – I then cant put my all into ballet because I feel I have no energy left). I went from 55kg to 53.5kg and trimmed down but I want more muscle! I want to be strong and lean, legs of steel! (Your picture on the right would be a perfect place to be 99% of the time) but I cant stay on the 1200 cal plan and I either over eat or under eat – its exhausting! Any tips/ideas/help? x

  • someone

    A little random (but not really): My boyfriend (and most of the guys I’ve been with) prefer thin/skinny women. He says he finds them more delicate/feminine. He also adores flat stomachs.

    You say your husband likes you better at a certain weight. With that logic girls should lose weight for my boyfriend if they are not naturally thin. Here’s a thought: how about we simply leave that part about men out of this discussion? What they prefer is not always what’s best for us. Health is more important anyway.

  • S

    Hello Kate, your post is amazing and it has made me wonder about my own health.
    I have not had my period for over 7 months now and I do train a lot too! I have lost some weight about a year ago and I feel like I am having to eat less and less in order to keep the weight stable otherwise if I ate normally I would put weight on straight away and this has happened a few times. I am actually having to eat less than 1000 calories in order to keep my weight at where it is which is not normal I knowand I don’t know what is happening or what to do about it. I obviously would not like to put any weight on as I like the way that I am right now. I have also recently quit sugar and haven’t had any in 5 weeks but I seem to be getting more belly than I had before…any ideas why this may be?
    Hope to hear from you soon, I also hope that you might have some good advice for me!
    Thank you in advance

  • kristen

    how long did it take your hormones to become balanced enough for you to have a cycle etc?

  • Shell

    This article has really struck a cord with me. I am in a very similar situation as I have not had a period in three years. Thank you for sharing.

  • Aprilllaaa

    Thankyou or this!! Its so good to get this stuff out there! I havent had a period for 3 yrs now due to running 45 mins a day, only eating oats in the morning and veggies for the rest of the day and only getting fat n protein from natural preanut butter and Tahini (mmmmm yummm!). I eat more now and have learnt the importance of dietary fats, i eat a pritty much paleo diet I’ve gained 7 kilos but still no period… im now trying herbal meds but I’m feeling like I want to give up.. I dont want to weigh more than 55 kg (i am 1.62 in height) as i feel like i look good, i have fat on my tummy which I hate, I’ve got my butt back and even some boobs which i love! But I am so determined to getting my period back! Please God!!!

  • Danielle Josephine

    Hi Kate, were you not having your period on the pill and then decide to stop? I have been on the pill for 5 years now, and have often wondered how this will affect future fertility as well its impact on my overall well being. I am not ready to have children yet, but do see them in the future say in another five years or so. I am a repeat offender of running myself into the ground, I haven’t been diagnosed with this condition but i have a very sensitive body prone to inflammatory, stress and anxiety. Last year i underwent some testing for food intolerance and tried varied diets to understand what was causing my stomach to react the way it did. I recently made a promise to quit sugar and have found my reactions to the foods i thought i was allergic to was actually because of sugar and sweetners! During this time thought my dad sent me an article addressing the science between the increase of food intolerances in women and the contraceptive pill. I have a history of reacting to foods every since i was little but when i went on the pill i had noticed it got worse. My period has mostly been consistent, but i wonder for the sake of not getting pregnant how much I am actually putting my body at risk every day. I’d really like to know your opinion. thanks!

  • Marty

    It;s amazing.. You are amazing.. I am 21 years old, 157 sm tall and 42,700 kilos.. I run long distances and I got to the gym regularly. I know I have to put on weight but I’m afraid.. I think that is the greatest problem – I know what I have to do, but part of me don’t want it..I also don’t know how.. I haven’t had periods for years (maybe 2) I’ve been taking pills for 3 years.. or even 4.. I hope to change that and soon to be as you- healthy and happy 🙂

  • Gina-Nicole

    Kate, that is a wonderful story. You are beautiful inside and out, and courageous to add. I’ve had H.A. For five years now, and my doctor told me I have to cut my exercising to three times a week. I know this will cause weight gain, and I can’t seem to come to terms with this. I know I need to get my cycle back (I’m 27) but I’m having a hard time even considering the doctor’s recommendation. I’d appreciate any advice for starting out!

    Best wishes and continued blessings xoxo

    [email protected]

  • Sophie Alikorki

    Thanks for sharing your story, it was very inspiring!

  • Vivian

    Hi Kate! Thank you for sharing your story.
    I am currently 16 years old, I got my period at the age of 10 but lost it around the age of 12 when suffering from anorexia. After I was released from the hospital, I got my period back after about 6 months and I remember feeling so proud that I got it back on my own, without pills (but also conflicted because I thought it meant I was “fat”. However, after 1 or 2 cycles it disappeared again as my nutrition lapsed once again (not a relapse or anything, just did not eat enough. I live in California and went on a trip for a national golf competition in Georgia and did not have time to eat/ was feeling stressed about the tournament). That winter my mom was concerned about my period so we went to the doctor and she gave me birth control pills. I used that for a few months but it made me feel like crap, and I also cannot swallow pills, so I had to chew it every morning using food to mask the taste. I absolutely hated it, and now I also learned that getting your period back using the pill does not help with bone density, that is only if your body is able to produce a period on its own. I then got my period back in January and then June on vacations. Basically I only get it back when I gain some weight, but I gain weight very easily in my face and it makes me feel self-conscious. I am 5’4″ and currently around 97-98 pounds (about 44 kg). I am very healthy/energetic other than not having my period. I know I need to get my period back for my health and I also want kids someday but it seems every time I’m determined to and gain some weight, I cannot maintain it and always eventually lose it again. I do not suffer from an eating disorder right now but know I am not fully healthy yet either. I am definitely not afraid of food anymore and love eating out at restaurants, but am also a bit of a health nut. However, I do eat very a good amount of carbs, fats, etc. (some staple foods are sweet potatoes, bananas, apples, cacao powder, coconut flour, almonds, cashews, oatmeal, avocado, etc.) Feeling stuck in-between and would love some guidance.

  • kim

    hi kate, your story is truly inspiring.
    i am faced with a similar kind of a problem….i am an athlete and i was overweight in my childhood. i got conscious about my body in my ninth grade…got hooked to it…and stopped menstruating…
    its been about a year now and although i did get my periods back in between…i gained alot of weight…so i went on to resume intense training.
    i want to lead a normal life…my only fear is that of gaining weight again…can you suggest a healthy diet and exercise regimen for me? which somehow increases my intake of calories and also satiates my urge to exercise…and i love doing cardio..

  • June

    Thank you for sharing this… I too have gone through tough times of constantly worrying about my outward appearance. I used to weigh 92-98 pounds (I am 5 ft. 11 in.); now I exercise less and have allowed myself to eat more food, and now I am at a healthy 130 pounds. I continue to struggle with wishing I still weighed 94 pounds; your story has given me encouragement to love every pound and inch of my body. Thank you.

  • Tereza

    Thanks so much for this, I am going through the exact same thing having competed in bikini fitness bodybuilding competition last week. I now have ‘a dream body to die’ for and I am very happy with it but it came at a price.. I find the reverse dieting process of putting on weight into off-season shape very upsetting and difficult right now and this really helped me a lot, thank you again <3

  • Kristina

    I am going through exactly the same thing right now. Came off the pill 8 months ago, no sign of a period. Been diagnosed with PCOS and I have a history of under eating / obsessing exercising. I have altered my diet and this week I decided to ditch my 6 day a week weights/hitt routine and just focus on yoga and walking. It’s very hard mentally (and physically) for me but if there’s a chance it will help bring back my period, I am going to give it a god shot. Also, what I wouldn’t give for some boobs back!! Thank you for this article, it’s extremely comforting and given me a new wave of hope. x

  • Alice Halter

    Hi Kate and Sarah
    I never normally reply on blogs but am soul searching after coming off the pill at 34 and still not menstruating after 7 months; Kate I loved your post and your honesty and matter-of-fact sciencyness (if that’s a word). I’ve abused my body for a fair while, since going through some body image and personal loss issues, but it’s always seemed so robust and resiliant.
    Really didn’t think I’d have a problem coming off the pill. I’m married recently and really ready (and getting old!!) to start a family. Your post inspires me to look beyond my body stress and try to get back on track with life. Thank you.