Reflecting on My Exercise…Again

Deep breath. This post is important.

I’ll start by saying this: I genuinely enjoy exercise. I have learned this past semester especially (through my anatomy course and just through lack of time to work out) that I truly love exercising because it is a blessing to be able to move, sweat, produce endorphins, and do something good for my body. I no longer see it (primarily) as a way to burn calories or “look good.”

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While my relationship with exercise has improved during my freshman year of college though, one thing has not. My period. (Sorry, TMI for the fellas.) This is straight-face talk, and it’s very similar to my talk on this blog about a year and a half ago. I haven’t had my cycle in nine months, and I’m sure that my amenorrhea (absence of menstruation for an unusually long period of time) is due to a combination of school stress and— unfortunately—exercise stress. My history with an eating disorder very likely contributes as well.

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Another big reason why I think exercise is causing my amenorrhea is because I got my cycle last summer after only walking and doing yoga and eating more for a couple months. However, I have a hunch that I jumped back into intense exercise way too quickly, and although I had this hunch all year during school, I was in denial.

Finally, after reading Emily’s post about amenorrhea and Julia’s post about how she gave up exercise, I realized that I’m definitely putting too much stress on my body. Those two ladies are incredible— humble, honest, and inspiring. Ashley, Sam, and Courtney also have experience with hypothalamic amenorrhea, and they have been amazing resources.

(If you’re wondering why I don’t just check with my doctors, it’s because I did that last year for this same reason. All of them say my bone density is fine, my thyroid is fine, my weight is fine. They say exercise is fine, but I know in the depths of my being that my current exercise regime is not fine. See this article for more information.)

Even though I view exercise in a healthy way currently, I’m eating plenty, and I feel 100% healthy, I’m not actually quite where I need to be. Honesty is the best policy here on Moves and Grooves, and honestly, there has been pride involved in all of this too. All my friends see me as a healthy and active person, so if I stop exercising intensely, I feel as though I will lose this “image” that they all have of me.

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But I must remember that ultimately, fitness is not about lifting myself up— it’s about taking care of my body in order to lift up glory to God. Fitness is not what makes a person beautiful, and I firmly believe that. I have to believe that about myself too.

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So what am I going to do?

  1. Eat more. Like, EEEEEAAAAAATTTTT.
  2. Decrease exercise and intensity. Only walking, yoga, low impact bodyweight strengthening (barre/pilates). No burpees.
  3. Gain weight (fat, not just muscle).
  4. Pray.

Yes, I’m bummed. Yes, I question whether this is even worth it. What woman wants a period anyway? But alas, it’s important, and I don’t want my lack of menstruation to have future repercussions on my health/fertility. I am beyond thankful that I still have the sheer ability to move.

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For a while, I was disappointed that I would lose my fitness progress that I had worked so hard for in the past couple years. I’ll be losing some stamina, endurance, and strength. However, I realized that I have come to love the journey of reaching fitness goals, not just the result. I have learned to appreciate and celebrate progress. So wherever my body is when I start increasing my exercise again, I will hopefully be less frustrated with my slow start.

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Thank YOU for your support, encouragement, inspiration, and prayers. If you ever need a friend to talk to about this issue, email me at dailymovesandgrooves@gmail.com.

Hope you all have an awesome day!

So tell me: Whatever you’d like. 🙂

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46 thoughts on “Reflecting on My Exercise…Again

  1. Alison, this is SPOT ON. I went through all the exact same emotions you did, and when I took off exercise for 2-3 months and just walked and enjoyed regular activity it was one of the most freeing things I ever did. It humbled me, drew me closer to Christ, and my period has been far more regular than it had been in 4 or 5 years. Go for it. This is a new challenge that God WILL give you the strength to overcome!

  2. Well, I’m happy you’re finally deciding to hold yourself to your word Ali 🙂 . I have definitely picked up on your passion for fitness along the way (those reps and squats and circuits that make me go “yeeek!”) …but I’d just like to assure you that nothing bad comes out of doing your body good [resting] . Or maybe we need to redefine “bad” in the dictionary of our minds? Give this resting thing a chance – you might be surprised to find it doesn’t have to feel frustrating at all. Cheers ❤ !

  3. Amazing. I think this shows how strong you are and that you ARE in the right place mentally with exercise, being willing to give up high intensity for your long term health. I had many experiences with amenorrhea as well and the thing that got it back was rest and more body fat (more than I thought I needed because even once I reached a “healthy BMI” I still didn’t have my period…doctors told me that this wasn’t the reason but I knew they were wrong). If you ever wanna talk about it I’m here too! ❤

  4. I’ve read your blog for a while now but never commented before… This post, though, speaks so strongly to me that I just had to! I’m going through something very similar. I struggled with an ED for my first 2 years of college, and I’ve finally got much of it under control. In fact, I ran a marathon in October, feeding myself (mostly) happily and healthily along the way. There was still one part of the puzzle that was missing, though, and it was my cycle, which has been missing for almost 2 years. Working with Robyn (thereallife-rd), I’ve cut out running in December and have been doing minimal high impact work, with mostly strength stuff for the past 5-6 months (and I’m still waiting for it to return… Fingers crossed, haha!). It has been so hard for me to watch the endurance I worked so diligently to build slowly fade away, but I know that one day it’ll be worth it. It can be hard to think so long-term (I don’t want a baby right now, so why do I need my period??) but I think you’re super wise in recognizing that fixing these issues NOW is so much better than fixing them later. No period = weaker bones and a greater risk of osteoporosis, in addition to fertility problems. Anyway, I didn’t mean to ramble on like this, just wanted to wish you the BEST of luck and to express that as someone who is equally committed to fitness as a way of respecting the body and everything it can do, I know how hard this decision is and you should be so proud of yourself for making it. I hope things go smoothly and quickly for you! Enjoy this relaxing time, knowing soon you’ll be able to hit it harder, better, stronger, and most importantly, healthily!

    • “I don’t want a baby right now. so why do I need my period??” <— EXACTLY that goes through my head when I'm feeling discouraged and tempted to give up on this. Thank you so much for your comment and readership, Ally ♥ I am praying for you and hoping all is well with you!

  5. Well done to you 🙂 i think thats a really wise decision ive gone through having long gaps between periods (never nine months though! Maximum 11weeks) and i decreased excercise and ate a bit more and i got it back 🙂 i would usually never post about this lol just hope it encourages you! ❤ xxx

  6. You’re a rock star you know that?!
    I admire and respect your honestly so incredibly much. Just remember this is such a short period of your life compared to the whole enchilada. And the benefits will surely outweigh the struggle. Aaand this struggle is part of your story that no doubt is going to be a best seller one day😉 So many metaphors today🙈
    There are so many meaningful components that make up Alison and that draw people to you and your fitness is 0 on the list!!
    Anywho I love you and respect you and now we can be non excerising eating machines together👯😘

  7. So proud of you for being so open, and that you are embracing the “You do you”. I feel I’m at a point of needing to talk about reaching that point in my life. I hope for all the best for you, and know you’ll still get your endorphins from walks, barre and pilates. ❤

  8. This.

    You may not realise this, but there is a fine distinction of your strength and success at overcoming your disordered eating past- Most people (this is quite the generalisation but meh) would have used the excuse of the doctor giving you good signs that they are fine and they are ‘special’ for not having normal bodily functions. You, however, have once again proved logic and self worth and doing what’s best for you.

    Continue being amazing. You have no idea just how much help your providing many out there with your frame of mind.

  9. I am SO proud of you Alison and you continue to be an inspiration in my life. Funny thing is, I read this last night, then went to bed and struggled to sleep. My whole body was aching, and I was so extremely tired yet couldn’t sleep basically all night. Then, it’s like I had this feeling I couldn’t shake that I have completely overworked my body. I only go to the gym 3 times I week, but I go hard, and on other days I am extremely active. I’m coming back to this post the next day, and I’ve decided to have a period of rest. Thank you for posting this and I want to go on this journey with you. I’ve only ever had one natural period last October, and then went on birth control a month later, which was a bad decision as I have a feeling my body hasn’t quite fixed itself in that avenue yet.
    Sorry for the ramble, I’m tired and sad aha, but anyway, you’re great ❤

  10. Thank you for such an open and honest post.

    I don’t know much (or anything) about over training and missing periods, although I do know I love exercise, all kinds. On a good week, and those have been few and far between lately, I may work out 4 times a week, and that usually includes some strength classes at the gym, maybe a run, definitely a yoga class. Lately life has been busy so exercise tends to get put on the back burner. Usually I’d rather hang out with friends or work in the yard, then squeeze in a run. That being said, I do use it for my stress relief so when it’s missing, I notice it.

    Hang in there. Keep on resting and your body will thank you and reward you.

  11. On POINT. Girl… if only more young women had your level of self-awareness and resolve, the world would be a healthier place. I lost my period for a good 4 years thanks to my eating disorder, and it was a huge struggle to get it back. But so, SO worth it. Exercise is wonderful, but only when it contributes to our health — not when it takes away from it. I don’t think enough women realize how harmful it is to not have a period or properly functioning hormones. They think it just mean they can’t have kids [at that moment], but it’s so much more than that. Hormones go on to affect every other system in our bodies, and we NEED them to be balanced for long term health. Anywho, enough rambling. Point is, you’re amazing. And if you ever need some advice or even support, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. It makes it so much easier when you have people to talk to that have gone through the same thing ❤

  12. So, so proud of you for making this decision girly! I know it’s tough, but you are absolutely doing the right thing for your body. It was hard to give up intense exercise for me too, and give up that image of the ‘fit’ girl – but knowing that my body is functioning properly is completely worth it. Also for me – I’m terrified of screwing up my fertility because I know I want kids in the future, so even that thought kept me going during the tough days. It’s weird to be in a position of wanting your period when we all know it’s an inconvenience, but to me, it represented really, truly getting my health back after struggling with an ED and disordered eating patterns for so long. if you ever need an ear, shoot me an email! (and thanks so much for the shoutout, by the way!)

    Also, I didn’t end up getting a lot of help from my doctor either – her solution was to give me estrogen hormones. yaaaaaa no.

    • Thank you so much, Sam ♥ I’ve already had some family members try to tell me to take hormonal birth control etc., but I am determined to get my period on my own, because I know it has happened before. And more than anything, this is about my mental health and smothering any lingering obsessions, just like you are saying. Thank you for sharing your whole journey, which has been a great motivation for me to progress in mine!

  13. Alison, you are doing the right thing. Absolutely- 1005%. The smartest decision (but also the toughest) was to fully commit to giving up exercise. I would never be where I am today, albeit struggling on occasion, without fully saying no. Easier said than done, but I am confident the Lord will provide you with adequate strange to endure these battles. You are capable of so much Alison, and I am excited to see you conquer this phase of your health.

  14. “…ultimately, fitness is not about lifting myself up— it’s about taking care of my body in order to lift up glory to God.”
    When you said that I immediately reflected back on my own life. Through my own struggles of eating sparked a passion for health, nutrition and fitness. I recently started blogging and I want my blog to bring glory to God. Thank you for the reminder. Have a great day today.

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  16. This is the first post of yours that I have read, and I must say it really strikes me deep. I too have history with an ED and am still awaiting the return of my period..like you, I’m eating plenty and have been given the go ahead but theres always that nag in my mind of ‘but what about your period?’ I think I underestimate how active I actually am, and you’ve inspired me to scale back on the intensity a bit too. No more hiit or crazy cardio sessions for me for a while to see if it helps! And I am going to increase my intake again too. I will be following your posts to see how you are getting on – I’m in this with you!
    Also, my perspective when i’m struggling – yeah I exercise because it is healthy and makes me feel good, but I am not healthy if I don’t have my cycle, so the regime I am using must not be healthy for ME! Its great if others can go ahead doing high intensity several times a week but every body differs and right now it is my healthiest option to forgo the intense workouts 😀 wah sorry to ramble I hope that makes sense!
    Best of luck in your journey!

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  18. Wow, this post really speaks to me. I especially relate to how your friends see you as an active person, and that has become part of your identity but one that is not necessarily right for your body at this moment. Giving up high-intensity exercise for the sake of health is hard. We’re “supposed” to exercise our bodies until they can’t move any more, we’re “supposed” to diet and count calories. But doing that isn’t true health. What you’re doing is: listening to your body. We don’t have to sweat until we bleed or anything like that in order to be happy, healthy, and active. Your words are what I needed to hear on my own journey right now. Good luck!

  19. This post was 100% me about a year ago I went through a time when I didn’t have my period for nearly 2 years. I was really young (15-16), so I didn’t see a problem with it. I wasn’t going to have a child any time soon, so I figured I was fine. I still didn’t get my period when I was 17, and by this time I completely considered myself healed from my eating disordered past. After googling the side effects of not getting my period back, I ended up stopping my usual long runs cold turkey, and I’m not going to lie, it was SO hard. Running was my identity. It was my therapy and something I truly loved to do, and I felt so lost. I ended up talking to my mom about it all (big surprise there), and she had no idea that I hadn’t gotten my period for so long. She didn’t lecture me about health or anything of the sort, instead she talked to me about how my body was a temple. More specifically, it’s God’s temple. She told me that if I believed that God truly lived in me, then not taking care of my body properly by overexercising was doing a disservice to him. This really hit me because when I really wanted to exercise or found myself thinking “I don’t even want to get pregnant now or anything”, I would think about how this isn’t just for me. I’m getting healthy so God can use me as his hands and feet. It takes time to get your period back, but just eat enough and make sure you’re giving your body the rest and love it needs and deserves. I assumed I was completely fine without my period, but the relief and happiness I felt when I got it back was so cool. I never thought I would be happy to get my period, but I promise you, I was SO happy. Also girl, I am so proud of you for sharing this. Being vulnerable and sharing your heart is absolutely terrifying, and you are so strong to do this. Thinking of you and sending tons of love your way always x

    • This is beautiful, Katherine. Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are such an inspiration of true poise, beauty, and joy. I am so glad that you found peace and happiness in giving your body the rest and fuel it needs. Thank you again for your love, girl ♥

  20. I was able to regain my period after almost 2 years without it. I didn’t want a child at the time either (nor do I now), but things were happening to my body that weren’t normal – hair loss, weakness and aches when I did workouts, etc. All of these things made me realize that having a period was normal [for me] and not having it was not right. I applaud you for making the decision because I fought it for so long to get the body I wanted so badly.

    • Thank you so much for sharing, Julie. I thought I was fueling myself well enough for a while, but now that I’m eating more and resting more, I feel more energized in just daily life activities. I would need EVEN MORE to be optimally energized during my workouts!

  21. Hi! I’m new to your blog 🙂 I’ve experienced not having my period for almost 4 years (off and on). The longest I’ve went without a cycle was almost 2 years. I went to so many doctor appointments trying to figure out what was wrong. Ultimately, I just didn’t have enough weight on my body. Slowly, as I began to gain weight, my period would pop up, but then my stress levels sky rocketed, which resulted in no cycle. Now, I’m working hard to reduce stress and not over exercise. I have a regular cycle and my body no longer feels like its fighting against itself. Many blessings to you on your journey and thanks for being transparent!

    • Thank you for sharing, Lady D. Stress is something that’s hard to keep in check, but we have to remember not to stress about decreasing stress too! 😉 So glad that your cycle is regular and that your body is in its happy place. I hope to get to that point one of these days!

  22. I love this. i am also missing my cycle and am so inspired by your commitment- not only to your health but to God. Tis really speaks to my heart. I am new to blogging but i’m so excited to meet girls like you ❤ cheers to gaining our periods 🙂 I'll be praying for you and all the other girlies posting 🙂
    -Jacqueline

  23. I have a past problem with restriction where I lost my period and a lot of weight but got better physically and mentally an have been okay for 5 years. I can feel that I have unintentionally lost weight. (Trying not to worry TOO much since I dinner have other symptoms). I think it’s from starting eating salads again for summer and being more active at work (without keeping my eyes on the calories) but I don’t like it. I’m self conscious of my weight and want to gain some. I’m really looking forward to following and joining you!!

  24. This is probably the wisest and most insightful post I’ve read on exercise in regards to eating disorders. At least I feel it is! It’s helped and inspired me so much. I keep going back to read this and remind myself of what I’m fighting for- true recovery, after 4 or so years without my period. Thank you! You’re an inspiration.

  25. I don have much to say bc this post is exactly me, except I was way undereating while working out, while I subconsciously knew, but my appetite was so small esp bc running/cardio makes me not hungry directly after generally. And….do you have it yet?

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