Ugh, I seriously hate this quote.
I've learned & grown a lot these last 6 months. I hit rock bottom, realized that it was a huge blessing in disguise, worked through it (still am) and I'm a million times happier today because of it. Am I completely free? Nope. Do I still struggle? Yep. But, I'm finally on the right path and I'm ready to share a little bit of my story. Maybe someone out there needs to hear it or can relate.
We should all have goals to be healthy, whatever that looks like to YOU. For me, 6 months ago it meant being super strict on my fitness & food to try to look a certain way. It got out of control. Today it means a healthy mind, body and soul. I'm a lot more focused on my mental health these days.
Warning you now, I'm really sharing my heart in this post and we're also talking periods ;) I plan on writing a little bit about my journey on this blog to hopefully help others. In the beginning, the biggest help for me were a few bloggers I found. I'm so thankful they opened up and shared their story. It helps to know that you aren't alone.
Let's back up a little.
Every month in 2015 just seemed to get worse and worse. I'd been trying to figure it out on my own, which was really only making things even worse. I'd gone all year without a monthly cycle, and I knew I wasn't pregnant. I was suffering severe anxiety, and this was something new to me. I became very depressed. I developed severe digestion issues resulting in a hospital visit & a gastroenterologist. I was so obsessed with eating "right" and working out all the time. Not because I wanted to, because I felt I had to. I was so stressed & anxious all of the time, I was completely miserable. I knew something was wrong, but I had no idea how to get out of it. I had completely isolated myself. I had every workout and morsel of food planned & prepped for days. I laid in bed at night stressing over the next days food choices, how I couldn't eat an apple or banana because it was too high carb for that particular day. Regardless of the fact that I just wanted an apple. Maybe Thursday I can fit it in? WHO'S AFRAID TO EAT AN APPLE?! It was bad. It got to a point where I felt so crazy, trapped & miserable that I remember thinking numerous times "If this is my life, I don't want it. I can't live like this for the rest of my life!"
So in August 2015 I finally broke down and went to my doctor. I had blood work done and when my results came back, my levels were that of a postmenopausal women. My estradiol level was at 1o.
I wasn't shocked. I knew something was seriously wrong, but what in the heck did this mean?! I was diagnosed with Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (HA). This is when a women who has previously had a normal period, doesn't have one for several months/years because of issues regarding the hypothalamus. The Hypothalamus is the part of the brain that controls reproduction. My brain was saying that my body wasn't a safe place for a child so I stopped ovulating. I was also scared of that fact that women with HA are high risk for osteoporosis.
What typically causes this? Extreme weight loss, physical and/or emotional stress and/or not enough fat on your body are the most common causes. I had a few issues to face. I was not anorexic or severely under weight. I was considered a "healthy weight", but I'd lost about 50 lbs over 3 years and never gave my body a break. I was a size 4/6 but still hated my body! (I cringe typing that) My body was hungry & tired. I was under eating and over training and I was restricting my food pretty bad. This was causing some bigger mental issues. I was so concerned with eating the "right" foods, but at the same time I was afraid of overeating them. I was dealing with Orthorexia and it was going to have to change. I knew I had a long road ahead of me trying to unlearn all of the disordered eating habits and made up rules that made me fear food.
So what was step #1? My doctor agreed to let me try to regain my cycle on my own, before trying any hormone treatments. We talked about a plan. I had to stop working out, truly relax my body and eat. I had to do this until I regained my cycle. Sounds easy right? Not for someone that is so obsessed with working out & eating the right diet. Gaining weight scared me. I'd dropped 50 lbs and still wasn't happy, now I have to possibly gain a little back? However, greater than that fear was the thought that my body was that unhealthy. That a "perfect" body and obsession with eating right had done this to me. It was scary to know that it was currently impossible for me to get pregnant because of this.
My mindset very quickly shifted. I realized pretty fast that this was a good thing, God was answering my prayers by giving me this diagnosis and opening my eyes. I knew I needed a way out of this prison that I was currently living in. I was determined, I was going to fight this and I was going to win. With God's help, of course.
2 months later, on Oct 1st my period returned. I never thought I'd be so excited about a period showing up... 60 days later I got another one, 35 days later a 3rd, then another 36 days later a 4th! The body truly is an amazing thing ladies. Those 2 months were the most freeing & relaxing 2 months of my life. It was incredible to finally just relax. Something I'd longed for but felt like I didn't know how to do anymore. Some women struggle with HA for years and it breaks my heart. I am so fortunate that I sought help, recognized my problems and made changes. I don't take that for granted. It's not easy at all and I 100% understand why women can struggle for so long.
I plan on sharing more about HA & Orthorexia in the future. I see new women almost daily joining the support groups, newly diagnosed and searching for help & support. What is really heartbreaking is when a women gets off of the pill because they're ready to start a family, only to not regain her natural cycle and have to start on their HA journey instead. So many women don't even know their body isn't healthy due to having a period each month from the birth control. I'm not 100% and still struggle a lot with food issues & guilt, but I'm 100 times better and I know it's about progress not perfection. I'm just now easing back into working out & the gym but it feels different this time around. I want to workout because it's good for my health, but I don't ever force myself anymore. I want to eat nutrient dense foods because I want to be healthy, but I'm trying to learn to not obsess over my food choices. Balance is something I'm really trying to achieve in 2016.
Fitness & health is now about loving myself enough to want to take care of my body.
Before I hated my body & just wanted to change it.
Please don't get caught up in what society & social media make you think you have to do or more important, be. Don't ever compare yourself to someone else. We ALL have struggles, every single one of us, even when it may not appear that we do. There is so much more to life than a number on the scale, a pant size, a perfectly planned & portioned meal, a workout or a to-do list with a check mark next to each & every item. Relax, invest in the relationships with the people who love you, eat the cake at the party & enjoy your life. Whatever makes you happy, do it, and do it often. Just live in this moment and do you. Because often when chasing your so called definition of perfection, you might actually just end up miserable....
Please don't hesitate to email me if you want to chat <3
In no way, shape or form am I saying fitness, macro tracking or healthy eating is bad. Of course not! Every single person is different, every single person deals with things and reacts to things differently. I took it too far, I'm not saying every fitness guru does the same. So again, DO YOU and just stay self aware. If something causes your mind or body harm or if you aren't happy, reevaluate.