tuna and spinach

We Lost Weight and then our Periods Disappeared for 2 Years!

In early 2012 we both lost a lot of weight, to get the ‘perfect body. We restricted calories, lived in the gym, messed up our hormones and… our periods went MIA. This is also known as Hypothalamic Amenorrhea.

Say Hypo what?

We only recently realised the negative impact our old lifestyles had on our health. And it was a real food, paleo inspired diet that helped us say see ya later to our unhealthy ways of eating. 

We had this unhealthy mindset for a looooooong time and we did some serious damage to our health, both mentally and physically.

The last straw was when we went on THE DIET to reach our goal weights back in early 2012. It was a 12 week calorie restricted eating plan (1200 calories allowed a day).

Our days were filled with chicken breast, tuna, broccoli, spinach, protein shakes and rice crackers. Oh, maybe an apple here and there.

we got skinny

We borrowed this diet from a friend who competed in figure modelling competitions.

Along with the eating plan we did high intensity interval training (HIIT) every week morning and weight training every week night. This 12 week diet plan helped us get the ‘perfect bodies’. We got skinny. We got real skinny.

We had the ‘perfect bodies’  but we were:

  • tired and cold ALL THE TIME
  • completely crazy ass moody
  • obsessed with food and counting calories
  • our periods completely stopped (yes pretty much at the same time) and our hormones were a mess!
We were obsessed with the number on the scales.

We were obsessed with the number on the scales. Facebook even knew all about it!

What is Hypothalamic Amenorrhea?

What we didn’t know at the time was that we both had Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (HA). As Kate Callahan, a Holistic Nutritionist explains…

HA is when your brain basically stops communicating to your lady garden, female hormone production slows and menstruation ceases.”  

HA is caused by (you guessed it) over exercising, under eating and stress. HA leads to:

  • infertility
  • decreased bone density
  • low energy levels
  • imbalanced hormones

Hypothalamic Amenorrhea is definitely not something to leave unnoticed.

The no period thing may seem like a good idea for a second… but really it just means our bodies are not functioning how they’re supposed to.

How to get your period back

Of course with any health issue we recommend talking to a professional… and remember we are all different. This is what we did to get our periods back… and we still do this!

  • Just eat real food. We fill our plates with heaps of veggies, some good fats and organic meats. We make sure we eat more carbs on active days. We definitely don’t restrict or count calories (hallelujah!).
  • Exercise less. We do yoga, BodyBalance and walk outside.  We’ve just introduced 2 cardio sessions per week and we’re also planning on adding 1 weights session per week.
  • Meditation. Stress is a huge contributor to HA, introducing meditation to our lives seriously helped us and allowed us to live more in the present

Avocado Stuffed Chicken Thighs Wrapped in Bacon2

Eating healthy does not mean boring, bland food! This Chicken Stuffed with Avocado and Wrapped in Bacon is delicious! And it features in our free recipe eBook.

How long did it take?

For Carla it took just over a year and for Emma it took 2 years.  We can blame our 5 x week cross fit stint and these some of paleo mistakes (like going super low carb, too many paleo treats, not enough veggies) for the healing hiccup but now we both have regular cycles! This deserves a YAY!

We put on weight

Since slowing down on exercise and the out of whack hormones we’ve put on a little weight and we’re not as toned as we’d like. 

We’ve made a conscious decision to not let this impact us negatively. We don’t weigh or measure ourselves. We simply check in with how we feel and also how our yoga pants fit.

We’re focusing on a balance of healthy food, exercise all while keeping a positive mindset. We’re working on a 4 week meal plan and program that will help you do the same… we can go on this journey together! Yay!

Although it took us a while to realise HA was an issue, we’re super grateful for stumbling across this way of living and excited to share our journey with you. Excited to inspire healthy, happy decisions.

Always merrymaking,

Emma + Carla

p.s we wrote more about our journey and exactly what we did to get our periods back HERE.

Comments 23

  1. I definitely think there is more to health than just a number – you are healthy now whereas before you were pseudo healthy/ societies perception of healthy. Good job girls! An important topic that isn’t talked about enough or even acknowledged as an issue by some doctors!
    For me, my true impact was masked because I was on the pill at the time. But I stopped taking it in January and had my first period a month ago. Now it may be a while before I get another one, or it may come tomorrow, who knows, but I never thought I would be so happy to see it arrive!

  2. If a post mentions periods I got to read that shit haha … love you gals and glad you got that crazyness sorted … one day soon I will be more focused on my eating plan but for now I am just trying to keep 3 children alive hahaha

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    We felt the same Jen! When we were younger we’d dread our periods and now it’s like WOOHOO! HAHA. We’ve gotten lots of emails about this post… it’s crazy how common this is and we’re so glad it’s resonating with people! So much more to health than a number. xoxox

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  5. Such a great post ladies! This is definitely not talked about enough. The amount of unrealistic #fitspo images and ‘role models’ out there is really fuelling this problem. So many people don’t realise the consequences of such extreme dieting and exercising. I believe that if you eat well and in the amounts required for you to have ample energy throughout the day, and you break a sweat a few times a week, your body will eventually settle into its perfect weight.

  6. Oh yeah, you are SO right on. I’ve been very thin before but also under-nourished and COLD all the time too. It’s like, “Yay! I’m getting skinny!” and “Lord, I feel like crap!” at the same time. 7 weeks ago I cut out all sugar and processed foods and I feel AMAZING. I love your blog… you two are so silly! Keep posting and working, I love it!

  7. You guys make me smile every time I read your stuff. Great job. My best friend and prom date in high school went through HA for years due to illness and room years to recover. Many of my Olympic teammates went through HA mostly from stress. Ironically the communist sport countries did tons of research on how to maximize the bodies performance during menstrual cycles which we don’t typically think of. Glad you two are healthy and happy now. Talk soon.

  8. Great article girls. Proud of you for focusing on YOUR priorities and not the messed up WORLD’s priorities! Health and happiness is what matters…not being super skinny for someone else’s benefit!

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    Heeh glad you like our site Valerie! And yes very silly 😛 That is exactly how we felt… so crap! YAY to eating real food and feeling amazing! xoxo

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    Thanks so much Irena xox YES… the #fitspo is definitely fuelling the problem. When we go down the instagram worm hole of accounts filled with these images it’s so easy to compare and feel crappy. Couldn’t agree with you more. xoxo

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    HA is really so common. AND WOAH that is so interesting re: the communist countries!! Hehe glad we make you smile! We saw you hanging out on periscope the other day! YAY! 🙂 🙂

  13. Go girls – such a great message to everyone out there. I long ago gave up the scales and opted for the “how do I feel today” approach. I’ve got an auto-immune condition that mucks around with my whole hormonal system so this is my way of being kind to myself. I’m very much on board the whole food train too.

  14. Thank you so much for writing this article girls…. I really needed it!
    I see so many programs that promote ideas like “Be the BEST version of yourself” (as thought he current me is lacking!) or “X amount of weeks till your perfect body!”, rather than advocating the idea that a healthy body can only come from a healthy mind. Coming from the background of an athlete, I stopped menstruating 3 or so years ago, and only gained it back earlier this year after a period of healing + relaxation. It is actually estimated up to 30% of female athletes suffer from what is known as “female athlete triad”, which is a combination of restricted eating, cessation of menses and poor bone health. I’d recommend you girls getting a bone density scan if youve ever had any issues with your menstrual cycle, as unfortunately without estrogen our bones cannot absorb calcium properly, and females only continue to augment bone density up until the age of 29. I was diagnosed with early onset osteoporosis in my spine, really hoping I have a few years left to strengthen up my bones as fractures are one of the biggest contributors to death in the elderly 🙁 looking forward to your program and I LOVE your mantras, I love how you incorporate all food groups into your recipes (carbs, fat, protein, veggies, even a bit of high quality dairy and natural sugars), and focus on what healthful benefits each of these ingredients can offer in moderation, rather than demonizing some and idolizing others. It really sets you apart from other health bloggers and you girls have a really awesome message to bring to the world.
    here’s an interesting article on female caloric restriction and loss of health+ potential if you’re interested! http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/08/31/435294539/to-thrive-many-young-female-athletes-need-a-lot-more-food?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20150831
    Keep on merrymaking!!!!

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    Hi Nikki! Thanks of your comment… this blog post had been in draft mode for 5 months but we’re so glad we finally shared it! So many women in similar situations. <3 <3 yay for wholefoods! e + c

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    Thanks so much for your comment Britt! Yes, we’ve read about the bone density issues and that was when we totally started to freak out… and it blows our minds hearing about all the doctors telling women to not worry about not menstruating until they’re ready for babies! AHH! Those stats are crazy, we will give that article a read. Thanks again for your lovely feedback. xoxox e + c

  17. Thanks for the open and honest article, Emma & Carla. I also fell into this trap. I had a flat stomach and a very low number on the scales. But I too was tired and cold all the time, crazy and anxious, obsessed with counting calories and I lost my period for a little over a year.

    A little over ten years later and I look at nourishment rather than calories, and I have a much better attitude towards exercise. And I feel amazing! It’s about being fit and healthy, not super skinny and deflated.

    Good on you girls for finding a healthy lifestyle. Keep on merrymaking 🙂 x

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    Hi Sheena, thank you so much for your comment and for sharing your similar story with us. We’re so glad you’ve found a happy, healthy place now! It’s much nicer, isn’t it?! <3 We're so glad to have you here part of our community! <3 e + c

  19. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with me. I am currently going through a similar thing myself. I am in my mid teens and I haven’t gotten my periods yet (and to be honest I’m quite scared about it), I recently lost more weight that was not intended and lost a but of muscle mass. My parents are so encouraging and are helping me to get back to a safer weight (reducing exercise and increasing intake) and try to relax about calories and all that jazz. I’m really into healthy, fulfilling food and I love experimenting with difference recipes and stuff. I don’t eat a lot of unhealthy stuff (love my cookies and banana bread though haha), so to get back to a healthy weight, I have to eat larger amounts. To be honest, I’m probably a bit of a controller, hence I tend to try and control things, but I just need to relax and not stress over calories and not count that stuff, but just enjoy. This article really put a smile on my face 😀 thank you so much :)))

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    Hi Romy, thank YOU for sharing your story with us! We’re glad to hear that you’re making positive progress to feeling healthier. It’s great that you have your parents on board too, having support is really important 🙂 It’s our pleasure to share our experience with you. Look forward to reading more of your comments and questions <3 e + c

  21. Hi girls, it’s good to know that i’m not alone in the world with this problem. I’m insulin resistant, and i’m under medication. It was working fine, I’d started to have my periods but 8 months ago they dissapear again.

    I’m think its all about stress, I cant control stress because many factors, so what can I do? Does really the stress is a big factor? I’m desperate.

    Anny suggestions…thank you

  22. hey,
    I just found this thread and it resonates with me so much!
    I havent had a period for 6 months. I also lost 22 pounds in a year (a lot in 4/5 months as I got obsessive with dieting) and didn’t realise til recently that must have been why my periods went missing. I presumed it was solely from stress as I was in my final year of my degree.
    fast forward six months and its still not here but I have been eating normally and exercising less.
    when you say it took you guys 2 years. do you mean 2 years from when you started restricting your calories or when you tried to restore?
    Im also wondering if you had PMS symptoms without the period and if you had symptoms of lethargy etc etc throughout even when you started eating normally?
    any tips would be great too.

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    Hey Sophie, with anything like this it’s really important to work with someone one on one so you can get tailored advice and treatment – so many things can play a part and we really encourage you to do this for yourself <3 for us it took 2 years to restore everything back to 'normal'.

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