My journey to recognizing the power of female hormones began several years ago. I was competing in CrossFit, and was pretty darn good at it! I became pretty obsessed with it - I drank the “CrossFit Kool-Aid” as they say.
I first joined a CrossFit affiliate in May 2012, and competed in my first competition in January 2013. I was hooked and wanted to become better and better. I had always been a runner and played competitive sports, and had been weight training since age 19, but this was something much different. It combined so many things that I loved! I was learning so much, I felt so good, and simply could not get enough.
Quite quickly, my life began to revolve around fitness. But not just plain old nutrition and regular exercise, more like hardcore fitness.
I started training 7-8 times/week, tracking my macronutrients, avoiding alcohol, and prioritizing sleep. I took some necessary supplements diligently too. I was in naturopathic medical school at the time, and slowly added in health-promoting items to my regime as I learned them.
Although we dived deep into women’s health and endocrinology in my program, we never discussed female athletes and the important differences between females and males in this setting, or the fact that health and fitness research was primarily done on males.
I had inconsistencies in my training days, but they weren’t drastic enough for me to question. I also had quite irregular menstrual cycles, but assumed this was part of being a female athlete.
It wasn’t until my small inconsistencies started to get more dramatic, and my energy levels, appetite and ability to sleep started really affecting my life that I began to question things and look into why this was happening.
I was doing all the “right” things according to health and fitness research. I was able to help my patients feel great and achieve their fitness goals, so what was going on with me?
I remember doing a business exercise, where I had to take inventory on my patient base and investigate the demographics of the patients I was seeing. As it turned out, the majority of my patient base was male. I thought this was interesting, and that perhaps this was something I needed to look into. Could this be the reason my advice was working well for most of my patients but not for myself?
I started paying attention, I started doing research, and I started putting A LOT of effort into having a regular, healthy menstrual cycle. I stopped believing the lie that having an irregular or missing period was part of being a competitive athlete, and that the only way to get it back was to stop training. I began implementing all the strategies I learned in my training to become a naturopathic doctor, on how to regulate my menstrual cycle.
It wasn’t easy, it took a lot of patience, but I did it. I found a way to support my hormones, work WITH them, and keep up with my intense training and work schedules.