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.”
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.
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.
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.
So what am I going to do?
- Eat more. Like, EEEEEAAAAAATTTTT.
- Decrease exercise and intensity. Only walking, yoga, low impact bodyweight strengthening (barre/pilates). No burpees.
- Gain weight (fat, not just muscle).
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.
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.
Thank YOU for your support, encouragement, inspiration, and prayers. If you ever need a friend to talk to about this issue, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope you all have an awesome day!
So tell me: Whatever you’d like. 🙂