Recovering my Period, my Body, and my Life: A Story of Recovery from Orthorexia

Today I am honored to feature a guest voice on my blog!  Ritta Shikwana is a Holistic Health Coach who helps people going through something she herself has recovered from — orthorexia.

Have you heard of orthorexia before?  While not officially included in the DSM-V, it is a condition that is running rampant in our society today and has serious health effects.  It is described as “an unhealthy obsession with healthy or ‘pure’ foods” that begins to get out of control, and takes over one’s life.  Eventually food choices become so restrictive, in both variety and calories, that health suffers – an ironic twist for a person so completely dedicated to healthy eating.

Read on to hear about Ritta’s desire to get pregnant and have a family, and what she has learned about the way eating disorders can threaten the things we value the most.

 

Recovering my Period, my Body and my Life: A Story of Recovery from Orthorexia

Have you lost your period? Do you want to get pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy? Not long ago I used to desperately search the internet on how to get my period back. I had lost my period due to excessive exercise and struggling with orthorexia (click here to take a self test to see if you might have some of these behaviors too).

Not feeling womanly, not having a period and not being able to get pregnant caused me to have so much more stress than I needed.

Focusing on numbers like calories, macros, body fat percentage, BMI, what time of day I was allowed to eat etc, was driving me crazy. I quickly realized that my addiction to exercise and being orthorexic came from me not feeling like I was in control over my life. I realized it was really never about food, but mostly about control.

I thought that by controlling those numbers, I’d feel in control of my life. But it was really just an illusion. You never have control over your life when you’re controlling the food you’re eating. You’re actually letting exercise and food control and run your life instead. It’s a false sense of control that you gain from doing this.

Perfectionism and Control

At that time I was trying to be a perfectionist and also had a lot of masculine energy in me. It’s very IMPORTANT to have masculine energy, but when you’re trying to get your period back, do you see how important it is to have a feminine approach to it?

Consider asking yourself the following questions:

-Where in your life do you have an unhealthy or unbalanced relationship with control?

-In what area(s) can you allow yourself to begin letting go of control? Maybe it’s going to a restaurant without studying the menu a million times before you go? Maybe it’s by going for a nice walk instead of going to the gym? Or maybe it’s as simple as getting on your knees and praying to God?

I wanted to share this part with you because I never found this kind of information when I was trying to get my period back. Every article out there gave me general information, such as eat more, exercise less.

But I needed something deeper.

Something that told me that my eating disorder, my exercise addiction and my amenorrhea (loss of period) really had nothing to do with food, but with not being nourished in other areas of my life. It wasn’t until I understood this and put it into practice that I actually got my period back.

At the time I was trying to get my period back, it wasn’t because I wanted to get pregnant. But the idea of not being able to have kids sure stressed me out because I did want kids one day! Once I got my first period back I did everything I could to maintain it, but NOT in a controlling way.

I will say that I’m actually happy that I went through this. I’m glad I lost my period, because firstly it showed me how smart my body is (it wasn’t trusting me to feed it, so it shut off my reproductive system) and I would’ve never learned so much about myself and my body otherwise. Sometimes we have to go through rough and tough times, get a kind slap in the face in order to wake up and get out of our heads.

Once I regained my period I knew that it also meant that my body was starting to trust me again. It was trusting me to even get pregnant which I am today!

Along the way, I had to make some physical and mental gains. I had to work a lot on eating more, exercising less, managing stress, meditating, eliminating caffeine, sleeping more, gaining weight, and accepting my new and natural body size. I knew that having a six pack wasn’t going to help me get pregnant, so letting my belly grow and gain some extra fat was important in order for a healthy baby to grow in there.

Improving my Sleep Hygiene

Sleeping more has made a huge difference in my health. I went from 5-6 hours of poor quality sleep every night to about 7 hours of quality sleep. It wasn’t an easy process. Having a very low body fat percentage, an eating disorder and exercise addiction affected my sleep.

Gaining weight has helped me greatly in getting better sleep. But I also put other things into practice to help me sleep better. I created a sleep sheet that contains my favorite teas for relaxation, favorite bed time yoga routine and a couple of affirmations. You can download that here if sleep is something you struggle with. You can also watch this video where I share the best tips on how to get better sleep. 

 

Feeding Ourselves Outside of the Plate

In order for us to regain our health to get pregnant, we can’t just focus on eating healthy.

We need to focus on feeding ourselves outside the plate. You can eat all the kale and broccoli in the world, but if you’re dissatisfied in other areas of your life you’ll find yourself relapsing and never feeling fulfilled. Mental health is just as important if not more important to work on than physical health.

One of the most important things I can tell you in order to regain your health is that no one in the world is smarter than your own body. You are your own best doctor. No one can tell you exactly what to eat, not eat, or how much you should work out.

Your body is the smartest bio computer, it knows exactly what it needs in order to feel its best. If you choose to listen to it, it’ll be the best thing you could do for your health. Just because a specific diet, a specific workout routine and a specific lifestyle works perfectly for someone else, it doesn’t mean it’ll work for you.

Listen to your body, make mistakes and through trial and error, and you’ll learn better lessons than any doctor/specialist can give you.

 

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Ritta is a certified Holistic Health Coach from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Her mission is to help women develop a healthy relationship with food, their body and exercise. Because she overcame Orthorexia, Depression, Exercise Addiction and Amenorrhea, she now coaches women who are going through similar struggles. You can connect with Ritta on here website rawritta.com. And also connect on social media at YouTubeInstagramFacebook