For many years, I’ve always been a healthy and fit gal, who loved to work out, eat clean and stay as active as possible. And after I moved to San Francisco, California from Orlando, Florida a few years ago, I got even more involved in the fitness world and became a personal trainer and started teaching and participating in multiple group fitness classes a week (in addition to walking the steep hills of SF on a daily basis). Fitness soon became more than just my hobby, but it also became my job and my entire identity.
However, about two years ago, when my husband and I decided we were ready to start a family, I soon figured out that my love for and involvement in fitness had actually made me “too fit” to get pregnant naturally, because my sensitive body was completely overwhelmed by the amount of physical activity I did on a daily basis (it was a lot!).
After multiple doctor visits and blood tests, I was finally diagnosed with hypothalamic amenorrhea, (the loss of a menstrual cycle) brought about by way too much exercise.
When I first got the diagnosis, the first thing I did was run to the Internet (as any smart gal would do), and I was incredibly disappointed to find article after article saying that the only way to heal the body was to stop exercising entirely and gain a bunch of weight through eating everything in sight. Being a healthy lifestyle blogger (I write A Lady Goes West), I knew that wasn’t the route I wanted to take, so I sought help from an acupuncturist and began forging my own path to recovery instead.
First, I made some changes to my diet by increasing my healthy fat intake (helllllllo avocados). Then, I reduced my workout load by about half, adding an additional rest day each week as well. And perhaps most significantly, I started going to acupuncture once a week and took a bunch of special herbal supplements regularly, all of which supported the healing and balancing of my hormones.
While it didn’t happen overnight, maintaining this routine and keeping the faith eventually led me to get my first natural period in who knows how long. But my adventure wasn’t over there … I still had a lot of work to do on totally correcting my damaged hormones before I was able to get pregnant, and it was nearly a year after my first natural cycle that I saw my first ever positive pregnancy test. (An amazing sight that I still can’t believe! YAY!)
And today, I can proudly say that I did get pregnant naturally, and I am healthier than I’ve ever been before. Going through hypothalamic amenorrhea while working in the fitness industry was not an easy thing. As I began to gain weight and work out less, I definitely experienced some ill effects on my mentality and my outlook — but I surely know now that it was all worth it. And I also know now that it’s a lot more common than people would like to admit in the industry. That’s why I decided to speak out!
Based on everything that I learned over the last two years, I’ve written an ebook, called “Fit and Fertile,” and it details nearly every event from when I first decided I wanted to get pregnant, to how I was diagnosed with hypothalamic amenorrhea, to everything that I ate and what workouts I did, to how I went against the grain to heal my body while taking my own advice and not the advice you always find online.
I’ve written it all down, spilling more secrets than many of my dear friends even know, and I’ve also put together three pages of tips for anyone who wants to heal their hormones, at any stage of life (whether they are ready for a baby or not) and learn how to be as healthy as they possibly can — while being proactive about and protective of their fertility. You can find out more here.