Hey guys, the long weekend is here! I hope everyone has fun plans. I am heading to my parents place tomorrow. So in my last post I mentioned that I may be quitting long distance running. Let me explain why, guys you may not want to read on as this deals with girly matters such as my period.
Last August I stopped taking birth control pills as I was no longer in a relationship and had also been reading about the negative health effects of taking the pill. Since going off the pill I have not had my period in the last 11 months. Last month I decided to see a doctor about this. I waited 10 months because I had heard it could take up to a year after going off the pill to get your regular period back. I also wanted to get my iron and B12 levels checked since going completely vegetarian in April this year.
I had some blood tests and the doctor phoned me the next day and left a message to tell me I was severely iron deficient. She wanted me to pick up some ferrous gluconate right away and start taking it 3x/day. I did this and had a follow-up with my regular doctor about the results a week later. I wasn’t expecting much more information but the doctor told me my estrogen was low and I was probably in early menopause. As you can imagine this is quite an upsetting thing for a 26 year old woman who wants children in the future to hear. I started to cry and asked her if it was common, if I could still have kids. She told me it wasn’t common but can happen. She said I could probably still have kids but would need help and would need to go on estrogen therapy. She sent me for another blood test to test my progesterone, booked an ultrasound, and an appointment with another doctor whom I believe is a specialist. I was in shock and didn’t ask her who or why and she didn’t offer anymore information.
I phoned my mom during my lunch break that day and after a good talk decided to get a second opinion. I slacked off at work that afternoon and searched the internet for a naturopathic doctor in Calgary. I found one with a great website in the area of the city I was planning on moving to. I phoned The Calgary Centre for Naturopathic Medicine and got an appointment with the doctor that owns the clinic the following week a few days after Sinister7. I had to drive all the way back to Calgary on a Wednesday and a visit with an ND isn’t cheap, but I was committed to finding another answer. I was not going to accept that I was in early menopause. I had to fill out an intake form with a lot of questions. On the intake form I was feeling so committed that I even put down that if I had to stop running I would and if I had to eat meat I would.
The past while I could feel that I wasn’t balanced and mentioned it here about a month ago. I had been prepping myself before my appointment with the ND that maybe I should stop the long distance running. Even though I love it, I could sense something was off. I have been feeling a pull towards yoga and figured it would be a good substitute if I did have to quit running.
My appointment with the ND was great. Everything made sense and fell into place. First of all the good news is I’m not in early menopause! Yay! My nervous system is out of whack though. The ND tested my sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is the one that initiates your fight or flight response. It increases your heart rate, dilates your pupils, dilates the bronchioles in the lungs and slows digestion. The parasympathetic does the opposite counteracting the fight or flight response. The ND showed me on a graph that normally your sympathetic nervous system is about halfway up and the parasympathetic is a quarter of the way up. Both of mine are all the way up on the graph, so it’s like I’m stepping on the gas and brakes at the same time. This is stressing my adrenal gland which is messing up my hormones. He thinks my estrogen probably isn’t even low and that my progesterone probably is. He said because I haven’t menstruated in so long it’s hard to tell where I am in my cycle and when they did my blood test I could have been at a point where estrogen dips.
Another side effect to my nervous system being over stimulated is disruption to my digestive system preventing me from absorbing nutrients properly hence why I’m iron deficient. I was honest with him about the binge eating I do at times and he thinks that it’s more biochemical than emotional, because it just happens and I don’t think about it or plan it ahead of time. He said because I’m not absorbing my nutrients and my body is in high gear it craves energy dense foods, which is why I can polish off half a jar of almond butter without thinking about it. This was amazing when he told me this. I have tried and tried to overcome this. I have bought books, talked to therapists, tried everything. I have all the tools to stop binge eating but haven’t been able to completely get rid of it. So to realize that it may not be an emotional issue made me feel so happy. And even if parts of it are emotional it will be much easier to overcome once I balance out the biochemical aspect.
How do I go about doing this? Well for starters I’m not allowed to run over 30 minutes, 3-4x/week. This just stimulates my already overly stimulated nervous system. He told me to focus on strength training. And surprise, surprise he wants me to eat meat for now. Eating vegetarian is just an extra stress on my body right now that it can’t handle. I am also to stay away from gluten and can’t eat raw veggies and nuts after 2pm as they’re harder to digest. This means no oatmeal, he told me to make smoothies for breakfast. I’m doing this for about 4 weeks until I see him again for a follow-up. He wants to see how my body responds. He mentioned doing a spit test for my hormones as it’s more accurate than blood to find out where I am in my cycle and then going on progesterone therapy. He also gave me some supplements, one being an enzyme to eat before each meal to help with digestion, and the other two are for adrenal support and stress. They are all natural of course. The ND even told me to stop taking my iron supplements along with the other vitamins I take (multi, B12 and B6) as my body’s not absorbing them anyways. He said on paper I look very healthy with the way I eat, but it’s just not working for my body right now. He also said he can probably get me back to eating vegetarian eventually too. I am supposed to do diaphragmatic breathing all day which helps slow the nervous system down. He told me to wear my heartrate monitor and everytime I see my heart rate go up to do deep breathing.
I am supposed to record my emotions, how I feel physically, sex drive, and when I binge over the 4 weeks until I see him again. This will help figure out where I am in my cycle as well. I’ve been grumpy and tired the last two days if that means anything! He told me in the next 4 weeks after our first visit I would have lot’s of extra energy that I will want to burn, but I can’t. He said my body needs this energy so to do something else other than running. He also said in the next three months are going to be hard because my emotions are going to be all over the place. I say I’ll try to embrace the emotions because it’s a sign that my body will be getting back in balance.
I am so glad I made this appointment and am excited to see where it takes me. My focus is to become as healthy as I can, which means different things to me now. Before health meant being very active and fit and eating a whole foods diet. It still does but now I see there is so much more to it and that being too active can cause too much stress on the body. The ND figures it links back to when I was anorexic 8 years ago and I never let my body recover from it with the long distance running and intense exercise classes. This is another reason I am excited to get to Calgary so I can get more into yoga. I have found two studios close by to where I will be living and am planning on going 4 days a week. Like I mentioned earlier I have been feeling a draw towards yoga and I think it will really help slow my nervous system down. I can’t wait! I just thought I would share this information in case there are other people having similar issues. My ND said he sees it all the time.
I know I haven’t been posting many recipes lately with pretty pictures of food. I promise my next post will involve food! Hope everyone has a great long weekend!