What's Wrong with "Hope" in Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Recovery?

In case you were not sure, I do mentoring calls with folks who think they might have Overtraining Syndrome or Hypothalamic Amenorrhea. Last week, I finally got to speak to someone who had been referred to me about twenty times in the last year or so. She has not gotten a period in forever and you know...runs a shitton. I know that she wasn’t ready to talk to me or to think about a different way of life until now. Truthfully, I am still not sure that she is. But, I believe. That’s what I do.

After about an hour of conversation, during which, she told me that she has lost another (another?!?) 9% of the actual bone that makes up her spine (confirmed by DEXA scan) and that she usually starts her day with a pre-run banana followed by a post-run green juice until lunch (Oh, mama)...it seemed like maybe something in her would shift.

She wrote me an email to thank me for the time and wrote something that kind of breaks my heart. In closing she said, “I hope I surprise myself and make some good choices”.


You might look at that and think differently. You might see someone who is hopeful about changes...isn’t that good enough?

No. Hope, in this case, is a discussion of busted priorities. Hear me out.

When you are a runner or a bodybuilder or however you identify, do you “hope” that you get your miles in or that you get your workout on? No, you do not. The miles get run. The workout gets smashed and it gets smashed no matter what. Tell me I’m wrong. You can’t. In fact, I’m pretty sure that you are complimented regularly for your dedication and resolve. You wake up every day with one mantra banging in your ears: Get it done.

And you do.

And she does. She does so often, in fact, that this has become her normal...to the point where it would actually be surprising to her if it were not. Despite not having a period, having her bones eat themselves insider her own body, feeling foggy headed and exhausted, she would be surprised if she made good choices.

Is this hopeful?? I want it to be.

How did we get to the place where the action we do take is actually the worst thing we can do for ourselves? And how did we make it so that we have to “hope” that we do the thing that is actually good for us?

It’s because we decided that the pain of training is not as bad as the pain of not training. And so we are resolved. We have weighed the options and made the decision. If I don’t run today I will not be able to stand myself. I will not be able to cope. I will be restless. I will be sad.  I will be lost.

We are left with the desire to wish upon a star that we can temporarily undo years of conditioning that has told us that we need this one thing...just long enough to see a glimmer of what it would be like to NOT need it. And it’s not enough.

What would be enough is to finally put it down, put it aside, accept that you may not yet know the best thing about your life. What would be enough is to come out of the fuzzy cloud where you’re forever young and strong and where there are absolutely no chances of stress fractures, curved spines, heart disease, or cognitive decline. What would be enough is to believe in yourself; to put the value of your body and mind above that banging in your ears.

So let’s fix this priority problem and quit hoping. Don’t wait to be surprised. Do it today.