We often receive amazingly honest, heart-breaking and/or inspirational emails from our readers. We recognize that reading others stories can be really valuable for other women out there who are going thru similar (and different) things. Sometimes it can be really helpful to know you are not alone. So, over the next few months we will be posting stories from our readers who have expressed an interest in sharing their stories with you. We are very grateful to these amazing, brave women. Here is the first in the series:
On returning to NZ from living overseas, I began a healthier approach to life and started at the gym with a personal trainer and meet with a nutritionist. With newfound knowledge, I naturally adapted to the new lifestyle. I followed a paleo lifestyle, exercised every day, ate vegetables galore with green smoothies every morning and loved how I felt when and after I exercised. My body weight also started to drop which encouraged me to do more. I’d made gym buddies who did similar amounts of exercise so didn’t think anything of it.
However, the more I researched the more restrictive my diet became. The nutritionist suggested I cut out carbohydrate (including fruit) to lose weight. I was 75kg then and wanted to get to 72kg but he told me I should be 69kg with my height and physique. When I then started crossfit, I was encouraged to add carbohydrate back to my diet given the amount of exercise I was doing but I just figured I’d lose more weight if I left them out.
I later decided to come off the pill as I’d been on it for quite a while. My period didn’t come back though so alarm bells started ringing! I couldn’t understand what was wrong with my body as I thought I was the healthiest I’d ever been. Family, friends, work colleagues, naturopaths and doctors told me to take it easy on the exercise but to me this was like the opposite of someone trying to take up exercise for the first time. I would vow to do 5 gym sessions only for the week but I was always able to justify (to myself) why I should do that extra hour of exercise. Clearly, I had lost the balance between a healthy and unhealthy lifestyle.
Eventually, after 18 months, I saw an endocrinologist and also happened to pull a hamstring in the same week so also sought the advice of a physiotherapist. They both made me write down every piece of exercise I was doing and what I was eating. It turned out to be close to 2-2.5hrs a day 5-6 days a week and I wasn’t fuelling my body for the amount of exercise I was doing. It seems so plain and simple looking back now and I think deep down I knew that then too but I chose not to listen to my body because I thought I was leading the perfect lifestyle. I couldn’t believe that I felt the best I ever had about my body but that this could possibly be harming my body. I liked how I looked and felt when I exercised and didn’t want to put on weight.
Due to my hamstring injury I had 4 weeks off exercise which was the hardest but probably best thing for me. My first morning off the gym I was grumpy and lethargic all day, I felt mildly hungover even! I was lost for a few days then I started going to the gym a couple of mornings a week to do my physio exercises and started to fill my other mornings with meeting friends for breakfast or staying in bed for a bit longer, which i’m still not particularly good at!
It took 5 weeks of no exercise and gaining 3kg (to 72kg) from this point to get my period back. I loved it when I was 69kgs and would love to always be that weight but now acknowledge it is unrealistic. I am now back at the gym 5 days a week only but the difference is I keep it to 1-1.5hours and I fuel my exercise. It can be as simple as adding a couple of pieces of fruit or some kumera to my salads at lunchtime. I’ve even had a charm added to my bracelet which is a set of scales to remind me of the balance I now have in my life just in case I forget.