I share my very personal journey because I feel God has called me to not hide it. I seek to encourage and bring light to an area many women feel alone in. It is my job now to help other women on their journey to what a well balanced, healthy, and active life looks like for them.
These last 4 months seemed like ages! I actually thought it would take me longer, so I was pleasantly surprised. What I've come to realize over the years is that God's timing is always best and He has always proven himself faithful. I grow stronger from my trials, they don't weigh me down. Now, please understand that if I were to do my past all over again,I totally would, but I would have done it smarter which you will understand how later. Also, know that this is how my personal body responded to the things I put it through therefore it’s not to say it will happen to you but I am now aware of how common it is in our world today for women to suffer with what is known as Hypothalamic Amenorrhea. Basically the nuts and bolts of it is, a women who over-exercises, under-eats, and has high levels of stress is very likely to lose her period. Note for the guys: You all know it’s a part of the female body so don’t think it’s weird for me to talk about it. This may help you in the future if you see your significant other struggling with something like this so feel free to keep reading. It can be for you too. ;) I never considered myself to be that kind of gal really, but when I faced the reality of it and talked it through with my husband I soon realized that, that all basically summed up my life all of last year. But here’s the kicker, I haven’t had a normal period in 5.5 years!! Yep, since basically I was 19. I had a semi normal cycle on the pill but that doesn’t count in my book. You’ll hear more about this as you continue reading. Once I got clear on the fact that it was me who had to change if we wanted more children I then had to figure out what to do. I ended up posting in some mom’s group and someone referred me to a support group and a book called “No Period, Now What”. I was floored when I got added to the group at the number of women in it, I was even more taken away after I had gotten the book and read through it. Women of all different backgrounds, eating disorders, addictions, unhealthy habits, etc. It sure opened my eyes. I am first of all so incredibly thankful for all of you beautiful souls in a support group and for the woman who created this safe space for us to share some deep dark stuff. I had to learn to face the truth and stop denying it. So here is my back story:
How it all started:
I was pretty active in my growing up life and in sports. I played a variety of sports, did lots of chores around home, I had many siblings to help take care of but my period was normal. I always had self esteem issues and was conscious about what I ate but bc I still lived at home I wasn't fully in control of my diet and what was served to me. I slowly gained a love for running in my junior and senior year of highschool and then it became a passion that turned into 5k’s and half marathons. I got married at 19 and knew I didn't want to have children right away so I did what I thought everyone did and that was get on the pill. Looking back I regret it but I can't change the past. Now, I would never take anything that would screw with my hormones. I started the pill in November 2012, got married in January 2013, and then my whole world changed. I was able to be in control of it all! My grocery shopping choices, my exercise, everything! I fell in love with weight training and started a 21 day fix extreme program, still ran, and ate less. I still gave myself treats and allowed myself to feel like I still ate what I wanted but being honest I just punished myself with feeling guilty and having to sweat it off the following day. So basically once I started on the pill I then shortly after began increasing my exercise, and lessening what I ate. ( all unknowingly how it was affecting my hormones and such)
After I stopped taking the Pill:
We decided we wanted to have kids so I stopped the pill in May 2015 and I received one period in June and thought all was good but then nothing, and nothing, and the next month nothing. It took us almost a year to get pregnant and it was painful. I would try to be so happy for the next person to tell me their good news but then I would go sob in the bathroom or feel completely jealous. I sought out a natural doctor in February 2016 who had me doing some crazy things but also advised I do only yoga and walk, and to eat a higher fat diet ( similar to the book I was reading). So, I followed her protocol as best I could and before even getting a period back I surprisingly found out I was pregnant and that I conceived in early April! That was a miracle except in the back of my mind I was frustrated with never having gotten my period.
My pregnancy was glorious, I had a natural birth, and would do it all over again. I worked out and ran (till 6 months) the whole way through my pregnancy bc it just felt good. I think I was at the gym like 3 days prior to delivering and broke my water while doing yoga haha. After delivery I was cleared to exercise 2 weeks PP and I did. I was able to get started training for the triathlon I signed up for before I gave birth. It was my goal to do my first one after having a baby. Here’s what I all was trying to accomplish during the first 6 months of my newborn’s life...I trained faithfully, studied to become a personal trainer, taught 3 classes at the Y, did other workouts/running events, and was running my own health and wellness business ALL while being a new mom who was low on sleep, and breastfeeding. I’m sure I may have missed something else but you get the general idea. I WAS STRESSED and my plate was FULL! I completed my triathlon 6 months pp and then began training for my first marathon which I ran 8 months pp and qualified for Boston. I started macro tracking somewhere in between there. I lost a lot of body fat from adding in some fasted cardio as well. I lost all the baby weight and then more. I felt good though and didn't feel like I starved myself but maybe it was just me being blind to it all. I eat healthy, I train well, and am a busy mom and entrepreneur.That was where I placed my identity. But I lost my sex drive, I was always obsessing over food and when I got to eat next, I was addicted to exercise, and just never sat still mentally or physically. I nursed all the way to a year ( which is a HUGE blessing) BUT never got a period during that time or shortly after. I was back at square one and I felt helpless. I never put it all together until I was told about this Hypothalamic Amenorrhea group and the book.
What Going All In Meant I Had To Do:
I immediately ordered it, got plugged into the group and soaked it up like a sponge. I decided if mine and my husband’s goal is to have more children then it was up to me to change. He couldn’t make me and I thought to myself, how selfish can I be to keep doing what I’m doing if it isn’t working? I also just wanted a normal healthy functioning body. The thought of giving up Boston was the hardest thing I had to do mentally in order for me to go all in! But I was specifically told I could only focus on one or the other not both. I made my decision and went all in starting in February 2018. I sat on my butt a lot, tried to just keep eating, and massively addressed my stress and anxiety. I never realized how bad it was. I decided in my mind that I will gain the weight from eating healthy whole foods bc I personally believe that was best for me. I had to eat 2,500 calories a day as best I could, not stress, and relax more than I ever have. Eating healthy fats and more healthy carbs, but I still did protein shakes and bars for quality nutrition and easy added calories, and ate giant salads. I half tracked my food, and ate freely and eventually stopped tracking (I more did it to make sure I was eating enough) Some days I did great and others not so great. I did allow myself to just eat the ice cream or pizza and decide to NEVER feel guilty about it or beat myself up for it. I just didn't feel like I needed to go to the extent of eating myself sick or filling it with junk food. I never overate but I never under-ate. I felt like if I just mastered all 3 areas (stress, exercise, and more food) then my body would respond and just the right time. My husband was THE BEST support I could have ever asked for. Seriously, he was a huge encourager and reminded me on the daily how beautiful I was and to keep going!
IT CAME!!!! ( or as my mom used to say, Aunt Flo showed up in her red truck lol)
I gained about 15-20 lbs and got back to 24.5% bf which seemed to be just what I needed bc I got my period a week ago for the first time naturally in 5.5 yrs. These last 4 months I dealt with a lot and felt like I just didn't fit into anything, I looked fat again, cried in the mirror, had knots in my stomach when I’d see runners or hear of all the races going on that I wasn’t a part of. But now that it is here I feel so empowered, my clothes fit just fine, I am actually happy with how I look, and feel healthy, and that’s all that matters. It was a hard journey of letting go of the identity I placed in my health and fitness and while they are still very important to me I can't wait to go back to it all with a better mindset, eating more, and maintain my period, oh and try for children again soon. I did some crazy self development and joined a course that up leveled my life, business, and mindset. I was able to start managing my stress and I also had chiropractic care since March. I will continue to maintain what I’ve been doing while adding in my love for fitness again. I seek to have 2 to 3 recovery periods before trying to conceive in order to make sure all is functioning properly in my body. I’ve learned so much about being so in tune with my body and looking for the signs that tell me what part of my cycle I am in . I never thought for one second I would get it but I DID! I got resourceful and I just plugged along tracking and testing and doing all the stuff I thought was silly. WOMEN, our bodies are SOOOOO amazing. Like, seriously! I am so amazed at our Creator and how He designed our incredible body. Don’t ever take it for granted. Period! (no pun intended!)
"Trials teach us what we are; they dig up the soil, and let us see what we are made of." - Charles Spurgeon
My parting thoughts and encouragement:
I know that I was given this journey for a reason, I will find a way to reach women who struggle with this but feel alone, and I will show up every day for myself knowing that I fed it, rested it, and loved it well. God is so in love with you and He wants you to believe that 100% and once you do and let go of what everyone else (including you) thinks, then that is what I call true freedom and health! I battle the norms that society has placed on women in terms of the way their body should look bc I am heavily involved in the health and wellness industry. I help others bc it’s still a passion of mine but I now see a new perspective and hope I can bring to all women to not feel in bondage to the body they don’t have. It’s so tiring and so hard to keep up so why even keep up with what we know is just FAKE and honestly just not what the everyday person can handle. I am learning to love the love handles, the little extra weight, that burger and fries (the bun and all!) and the time I choose to rest if it means that my body is healthy and fertile. I hope this was encouraging and helpful. If you EVER need to anything or have questions please message me, I am an open book and love talking about it. It's been good therapy for me, so I also encourage you to talk about it as well if you are struggling in any area of life. Don't hide it. I am learning on the daily what it means to always live with my identity in Christ! I show up in this healthy, well-fueled, properly rested vessel to do His work. I will come back now stronger than ever and ready to show up for this world in a BIG way! I am sure I could keep going but thank you for taking the time to read this and for all your support in this season of my life.
Blessings of Health and Happiness to you all <3