It’s been two weeks since I released my first ebook, “Fit and Fertile,” and I thought it was a good time to give you all here on the blog a little overview of what the last two years of my life have been like behind the scenes — all of which is in the ebook in way more detail. You see, it took all of this time to figure out what was going on with my seemingly healthy body and ultimately get pregnant after being diagnosed with and recovering from hypothalamic amenorrhea. And yes, it actually took more than two years, and they have been the hardest of my life, with some major ups and downs.
Now let me start this by saying that this blog post is merely an overview — my full and entire story, including personal details, super-helpful tips based off of my experience and all of the nitty gritty will remain in the ebook only. It’s a complete journey, from beginning to end, and I won’t be putting it all out there on the blog. You see, it’s A LOT, and while I love to share my life (and nearly all of the good and the bad) with you here, I have to leave some of it behind a barrier. And that’s what “Fit and Fertile” has been for me. A place where I can give absolutely everything and spill my heart and brain out, and it takes just one extra step and bit of commitment from you to unlock.
And I must say that writing my ebook has been the most therapeutic thing ever. I honestly feel like I can close the door on all of the struggles, hardship, confusion and sadness that I had been dealing with. My life has turned around entirely, and I’ve never been better. Woohoo!
My journey to get pregnant
But for now, here’s the gist …
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 from Orlando (which was just about five years ago — OMG, shut the front door, etc.), that’s when I got way 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 every day).
Fitness soon became more than just my hobby, but it also became my job and my entire identity. And also became one of the main topics on my personal blog here … which is now my business. And I’m guessing that many of you reading this ultimately found A Lady Goes West because of some of the fitness-related things I’ve written.
Well, everything was dandy, until about two years ago, when Dave and I decided we were ready to start a family. It was at that time that I figured out that my love for and involvement in all things fitness had actually unintentionally 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 and every body is different!).
And those of you long-time blog readers may remember, I used to teach back-to-back one-hour Les Mills high-intensity classes and also take a Barry’s Bootcamp class in the same day, just for fun — all the while walking more than five or six miles with a backpack around the City. It was way too much, and the increase happened gradually, so I didn’t realize it had gotten to be too much. I was working in fitness and loving it, so how could it be bad for me?
Getting diagnosed with hypothalamic amenorrhea
After multiple doctor visits and blood tests and a few other assessments, I was finally diagnosed with hypothalamic amenorrhea, (the loss of a menstrual cycle — where your brain basically tells your body to stop the reproductive process because the scene in the body is too dangerous) brought about by way too much exercise. And hypothalamic amenorrhea can also be brought about by too much stress or not enough food — often seen in people with eating disorders as well. Having this condition also meant that my hormones were totally shot, but I had no idea I’d been doing anything wrong — thinking I was active and healthy.
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. I read countless bloggers’ accounts of stopping all movement except for walking and swapping their whole-foods diets for fast food and high-fat convenience food just to gain weight. But, being a healthy lifestyle blogger and a level-headed person, 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. And I also knew that I wanted to continue working in the fitness industry, so stoping all exercise was not an option. There was no manual out there to help me … it was up to me to do it.
Making changes to my lifestyle
First, I made some changes to my diet by increasing my healthy fat intake (helllllllo avocados) and doing a few other food adjustments. 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. (And no, I never outright said here on the blog why I had cut back on my workouts or why my diet had changed, and I also never mentioned the acupuncture or supplements. I was confused. I wasn’t sure if my plan would work. And I just wasn’t ready to put it out there yet.)
While it didn’t happen overnight, maintaining this routine and keeping the faith (which wasn’t easy) eventually led me to get my first natural period in who knows how long — ending my battle with hypothalamic amenorrhea. 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 more than 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, after originally being told by a medical doctor that I couldn’t, 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 either. 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!
Sharing my success story with others
All of this is why I’ve written my ebook. This ebook 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 exactly what and how many workouts I did, to how I went against the grain to heal my body while taking my own advice and not the advice you find online.
As I was struggling for the past two years, I knew the silver lining would eventually be sharing my journey. And so I’ve written it all down, spilling more secrets than 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 you are ready for a baby or not) and learn how to be as healthy as you possibly can — while being proactive about and protective of your fertility.
The thing about hypothalamic amenorrhea and fertility struggles is that they affect way more people than we’d like to think. But it’s not an often-talked about topic. And I want everyone to know that you need to monitor your body and your hormones, because if your hormones are off, you are in for some trouble.
I took the long route to get pregnant, and I can say that I would 100 percent do it again if I had to. There is NOTHING better in the world than knowing you have become your healthiest version, have educated yourself and are forever changed for the right reasons.
And my friends, if you haven’t yet, I would love for you to read the whole story, full of tips for you where you are right now in your life. Here’s your gift: If you’d like to buy “Fit and Fertile,” enter the code blogfriend for a little discount off your purchase, and you can do that here. I appreciate each and every one of you! Thank you for being here!
Questions of the day
What’s something that has been therapeutic for you in your life?
If you wrote a book, what would it be about?