What Losing Your Period Can Teach You About Life, Sports, and Your Body.
Two triathlons later, I sat in my doctor’s office and listened to her tell me that I’d probably never get my period again. Having gone a few years without a period while I was racing, she thought I had forced my body into early menopause. As someone who wanted the option of having kids one day, my world came crashing down.
I had spent the first couple of years out of college trying to do and be it all. Whether I was on the race course or at the office, working in the fashion industry, I got such a high from working hard, persevering, then coming out at the top.
I approached my diet and lifestyle with the same amount of discipline and determination. I ate a diet of mostly grains, fruits, nuts, vegetables and some fish. Alcohol? Sometimes. Chocolate? Never-ish. And, before work I’d run for miles up and down the East Side Esplanade of Manhattan. Most of the time I ran with my boss who kept close tabs on my size 0 body. “If you gain weight, you’re out” she’d say to me and laugh. Though, everyone in the office knew she wasn’t joking.
At that time, ‘winning’ at my job, having already been promoted to the most coveted office in the company, wasn’t enough. I decided to get into the sport of triathlons. So, after a long day at work I’d often squeeze in a swim, bike or (another!?) run with my boyfriend who called me “Speedy”.
I’m one of those people who love to reminisce, so I could go on and on. But the point I want to make is that, I thought I had it in the bag when it came to being healthy.
Career? Check. Diet? Check. Exercise? Check.
Deep down I knew, though, that things weren’t lining up:
How was my energy? I was starting to feel burnt out. I had less and less of it each day.
Moods? Up, down, and all around.
Cravings? Out of control.
Menstrual Cycle? Missing. Except for the occasional spotting, whatever that meant?
For too long, wasting precious time, I had refused to accept what was happening in my body. I bounced back and forth between being mad at her for ‘holding me back’ and completely ignoring what was happening in hopes that I'd feel like myself again and my period would magically reappear.
That never happened. But, eventually, I stepped up to the plate and set out to heal. Along the way I came to understand that exercise was a form of stress and too much of it (especially certain kinds of it) could take a toll on the female body and reproductive system. Slowly, I surrendered to my need to try to be and do it all and traded in triathlon training for long walks, restorative yoga and getting to know my body. For the first time, I felt like I intuitively knew what was best when it came to things like what to eat and when to move or even rest.
I not only began to feel better than I ever had. But, I went on to fully restore my cycle naturally, later on get pregnant easily with a precious daughter and now I help women around the the world to do the same.
And, soon, I’d like to do another triathlon. I can already picture my husband and daughter waiting for me at the finish line. This time though, what feels best for my body on any given day will rein over what particular workout was scheduled on my training plan. Because, my body knows best. And my motto wouldn’t just be work hard but it’ll be to rest well, too. In place of some of the long cardio workouts which can significantly raise stress hormone levels I’ll incorporate weight training, HIIT, yoga and make sure there’s time for good doses of R&R. Having lost then learned so much about my cycle, I’ll adjust my workouts depending on where I’m at in my menstrual cycle.
While I can look back and say that things worked out beautifully for me, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that you and I have crossed paths right here, right now. I want to give you the chance to hear what I would’ve told myself in my twenties that made an impact on the rest of my life: Your female body is your best asset. Love her hard. Then move her, feed her and rest her well. Starting now.
Author: Stefanie Kleinburd
Stefanie is a Women’s Menstrual Health and Fertility Coach. With her passion for women’s reproductive health, and personal experience in how to apply it to her own life, she created and diet and lifestyle program which helps women have healthy, feel-good periods and be their most fertile self if and when they’re ready. Grab your copy of her guide “3 Things You Need to Know About Your Period Now” for exclusive information about your cycle that you won’t find anywhere else.