“Fitness” Made Me Infertile

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I’ve contemplated for many months if I should publish this or not. It’s a story I’m not necessarily proud of, but at the same time, I am proud because it’s my journey and I’ve come a long way. Besides, if my experience can help just one soul out there, it’s worth the vulnerability of exposing this to the world.

So here goes nothing. Put your seatbelt on, because this one is quite the ride.

For the past ten years, I’ve been slowly killing myself.

Weapon of choice? Kale and running shoes. No, really. This is true. The ironic part? I thought I was the healthiest human in the world. I was toned, I had a six pack, I never skipped my 5-mile daily run, and I did crunches and push ups every night before I went to bed. I ate heaping piles of “lean protein” and vegetables and devoured berries, bananas and apples daily.
Fit
People told me I was skinny, and complimented me on my ripped arms and quick WOD times in crossfit. I could beat the guys at pull-up contests and I could hold a plank for 6 minutes straight. I was known as the fitness girl, and I was unstoppable.
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Occasionally I would wonder if I was pushing myself too hard. That maybe when I had a sinus infection or a pulled muscle I should skip my morning workout routine, but I was addicted. I was addicted to the rush of pushing myself physically and mentally, and I liked how I looked. I was comfortable with the number on the scale and I secretly felt proud of myself when I turned down a piece of cake because that meant I was healthy.

My mind was sick.

And so was my body.

I hadn’t had a natural period since I was 14, but I’d been on birth control for years, so I figured everything was fine.

I began to have horrible digestion issues and was diagnosed with IBS and SIBO. Of course I didn’t correlate this with my low weight and malnourished body. Instead I restricted further, cutting out gluten, dairy, sugar, all processed foods, believing that these were the culprits behind my gut distress. Things only got worse.
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When I went off birth control and didn’t have a period, I got my hormone levels tested. My blood work came back reflecting the levels of a post-menopausal woman. I was 22. I was advised to get a DEXA scan to test for weakened bones because of the lack of estrogen in my body. That’s when I learned that I had osteopenia. If I didn’t do something to improve my bone strength, I would have osteoporosis at the ripe old age of 30. I was devastated and scared. I heard that weight-bearing exercise helped strengthen bones, so I increased my exercise, jogging the track while carrying 20 pound plates. I truly believed I was helping myself to heal.

I was able to sustain my rigid lifestyle for those 9 or 10 years, but then, at 23 years old, my body hit a wall. I started to have chest pain, weird heart palpitations. I wasn’t sleeping well, my hair was thinning, I was anxious, stressed out and very unhappy.

And I wanted a baby.

But turns out you can’t make a baby when you’re infertile. “Fitness” had robbed me of my fertility. Instead of a baby I had six-pack abs, osteopenia and hypothyroidism.

I was broken.
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After some Web MD-ing (I’ve gotten too familiar with that website) I diagnosed myself with hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA) and started researching. HA occurs when your hypothalamus (a region of your brain) senses that your body doesn’t have enough resources to keep living. This can come from overexercise, under-eating, mental stress, or a combination of the three. In order to help you survive, your hypothalamus shuts off your reproductive organs, slows down your thyroid and down-regulates your metabolism. That way your brain and heart have enough energy to keep you alive.

Our bodies are so smart.

In my research, I learned that in order to reverse HA, I needed to make my body trust me again. I needed to gain weight and stop exercising. I needed to let my body have what it had been craving for years…food and rest. And lots of it.

I’m a very determined person, so I told myself I could do this. I sat on my bum and ate ice cream for two months. I cut all exercise besides walking and yoga. I gained 20 lbs. It was hard.

But I started to feel good. I had energy. My heart palpitations started to disappear. I felt a freedom I hadn’t felt in years because I was no longer a slave to my morning workout routine. I no longer planned my day around my workouts, instead I did yoga if I wanted to and if I didn’t feel like it, I’d skip that day.

It was hard to watch my body change. Good bye abs, hello cellulite. My clothes didn’t fit anymore, and I felt huge. But occasionally I would get a glimpse of my now slightly curvier body and think “hmm, this is how a woman is supposed to look.”

AFTER

(Note: these are the two and ONLY mirror selfies I will ever publish to the internet, so…ya. Don’t judge.)

I almost gave up, multiple times. When it had been 6 months and still no period, I started to slip back into my old exercise routine, figuring it was too late for me to get my fertility back. I had ruined my body and now I had to pay the consequences for my decisions.

But just as I was giving up for good, I stumbled on a book called “No Period, Now What.” It was just the push of motivation that I needed. With the incredible support of the online HA community and the knowledge and motivation the book offered, I decided to go “all-in” for a few more months and see what happened.

I took a deep breath, and settled in for the long haul. No exercise. Minimum of 2,500 calories a day.

Rinse and repeat.

I’ve been facing this fight for 9 months now and my battle is not yet over. I still have to wake up every. single. day. with the determination to eat ALL THE THINGS and don’t stop till I’ve won. I know my body is waiting for me to get to its “happy weight”…the weight where it finally trusts me again. Only then will it give me my fertility back.

That day might come tomorrow, or it may come with another 20 lbs of weight gain. Only God knows my plan, so for now, I just wake up and try to face each new day with faith and a big bowl of ice cream. It’s so hard to be patient. It’s hard to trust the process and be ok with the weight gain. But I know it will all work out how it’s supposed to.
climbed

Looking back, sometimes I feel angry at myself for letting this happen in the first place. But then I remember it was all done in innocence. I never meant to harm my body. I had just compared myself to my “skinny” friends and saw photos of “fit” people on Instagram and told myself I wanted that. I truly believed I was living a healthy lifestyle. Oh how wrong I was.

True “health” and beauty are so much more than having 6-pack abs and wearing size 2 jeans. Who ever decided that was beautiful anyways? Just because society has put a stamp of approval on restrictive diets and skinny girls taking gym bathroom mirror selfies doesn’t mean that’s something we should strive for. I did strive for that and guess where it landed me? In the doctor’s office with weak bones, infertility and a disordered mindset of what’s healthy and beautiful.

Now I am the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life. I kissed my six-pack abs goodbye months ago. I had to throw out my entire wardrobe and I canceled my gym membership. (For now at least).

But I am happier than I’ve ever been in my life, because now I am free. I no longer base my worth on how many calories I did or didn’t eat, how many miles I did or didn’t run or how my skinny jeans do or don’t fit. Now I value myself because I am a daughter of God and a wife to an incredible husband. I am meant to be a mom someday and that’s what really matters. I value and respect my strong body that is so, so forgiving and resilient. And I’m sorta thankful for the extra fat on my body because it means I am healthy, happy and full of life.
Me
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I’m not saying I’m done with “fitness.” Oh, heavens no! I will always love being active. Once my body is healed, I will continue to hike, run, lift heavy weights and rock climb. But now I have a much more balanced idea of what “fitness” looks like. It doesn’t control me like it used to. Now I see fitness as a luxury that I get to enjoy when my body is rested and properly fueled. Everything has changed for me. And for those girls out there who are struggling with a toxic mindset of what “fit” and “healthy” is, I pray things can change for you too.

I hope you can stop comparing yourself to photoshopped models and Instagram fitness accounts. UNFOLLOW THEM. Get them out of your phone, out of your head, out of your life. We need to stop forcing our bodies to conform to our idea of what beauty looks like. Instead, honor what your body wants. If it needs ice cream, eat the dang ice cream and don’t look back. If it needs a day, a month, a year away from the gym, honor that.

BLOG-Balance
Throw your scale away and eat food. Lots of it. And please, by all means, don’t go down the road I did. I learned the hard way so you don’t have to. You are more than the size of your body! You are YOU, so love that, flaunt that and live the life God intends you to live, which I can promise you, is not one full of celery and treadmills.

*Note: Edited on 08/14/17 to add “lean protein” because of some comments I received. I wanted to clarify that I actually was eating animal protein before my weight gain, not just fruits and veggies.
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90 thoughts on ““Fitness” Made Me Infertile

  1. You are amazing Sarah! This was a beautiful expression of everything you have gone through! Loves โค๏ธ

  2. Thank you for sharing your journey. It’s hard to accept ourselves as beautiful just the way we are. It’s hard to stop comparing ourselves and pushing ourselves to conform to societies idea of beauty. Your journey is beautiful and something I will remember. Thank you.

  3. Sarah thank you for being so transparent. All
    Women everywhere and of all ages need to hear this. We are horrible haters of our bodies and how sad for our Father in Heaven to hear the mean thoughts we have about the beautiful gift he gave us. I love you and appreciate your vulnerability.

    1. Thank you Kristen! I really hope this will resonate with some women out there. We are so hard on ourselves, and it’s just ridiculous. Thank you for your support and love! It means SO much. XO

    1. Oh my goodness! Congratulations on your pregnancy Kaylee! That is SOOO exciting. And thank you so much for your sweet words of support. It really means a lot to me. Sending hugs to you and your future babies ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. While I like your testimony at the end I wonder why didn’t ever consider that maybe the birth control that you “were taking for years” that is responsible for directly impacting hormones couldn’t have been a cause of infertility and hormone imbalance. Also, she sounds maybe like you might have suffered from anorexia (your “malnourished body” and “over exercising”, and “osteoporosis”),(http://www.webmd.com/search/search_results/default.aspx?query=anorexia) which yes, does lead to infertility. Health or fitness, do not, eating disorders do. Healthy mommas during and before pregnancy actually lead to healthy babies….the fetus gets exactly what the mom puts into her body.

    1. Hi Sally! I’m happy you took the time to read my post. To address your points, I initially went on birth control because I wasn’t having a period, so no, the birth control did not cause my hormone imbalance/infertility. And no, I did not suffer from anorexia. I suffered from the female athlete triad, which is quite different than anorexia. Maybe “orthorexia” is the term you’re looking for, and yes, my situation could maybe be labeled as orthorexia if it must have a label. I agree with you that health and fitness is a beautiful thing! I’m a personal trainer, and preach health and fitness every day to my clients! What is not a beautiful thing is when health and fitness becomes an obsession and begins to rule your life. And yes, as a certified fitness nutritional specialist, I know how important it is to nourish your body with real, whole, healthy foods, ESPECIALLY when you’re growing a baby. I’ve just learned through my experience, that eating a cookie along with real, healthy food, is NOT going to kill you, in fact it’s actually very good for you to enjoy a sweet or two with friends and family. I respect your opinion of course, but I must say, I know countless women who are not “anorexic,” but have taken “fitness” too far, resulting in infertility, osteoporosis, etc. Anyhoo, thanks for reading my post! It means a lot. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Sally and Sarah, technically you are both correct. Anorexia and the Female Athlete Triad have the same health progression.They both start with insufficient calories (or specific nutrients) which leads to amenorrhea and then to bone mineral loss. The difference in the terms is anorexia is considered a psychological disorder (body dysmorphia) which causes the person to think they are fat and results in under-eating. Someone with the Female Athlete Triad wants to perform well and assumes that either being lighter (distance runners carrying their body weight over long distances being lighter lets them have a higher aerobic capacity) or lower percent fat (let’s you see those six pack abs – remember you still have those abs now they just are hidden under some subcutaneous fat). There are many experts in the Female Athlete Triad who believe that those diagnosed have a form of body dysmorphia but as you explained your’s was an obsession with being muscular not just weight as it is with anorexics. The other difference is recovery. The focus for the anorexic is psychological with the other parts secondary while someone with the female athlete triad is nutrition first and if there is a psychological component (body dysmorphia) treating that too.

        My other concern with your post is the only things you mention for eating while you were gaining weight was ice cream. While I know you were being dramatic it sounded to me like you were an incompetent vegetarian – meaning not getting enough protein. You only mentioned vegetables and fruit for your “healthy eating.” Protein is the most common deficiency in both conditions with fat being the second. Bone structure is protein filled in with mineral salts, muscles is protein. When either is injured a higher intake of protein is required. Healthy fats and cholesterol form the sex hormones. Iron is very important for blood and muscle formation and that is one of the most difficult minerals to get as a vegetarian. Red meat is the best and because of the “fear” of saturated fats that has become the meat of choice to eliminate from the diet. It only requires 3oz of red meat per day to provide the iron necessary.

        I am a PhD in exercise physiology and have taught for 30 years. One of my research areas is the Female Athlete Triad and Anorexia so I know what I am talking about. Thank you for this post, Sarah it is really important for teenage girls especially to hear the message as they are in their bone building years!

      2. Wendy, thanks for your feedback! To address your concern about the ice cream/vegetarian thing, that was in fact just a dramatization. I just edited the post to include “lean protein” because you’re not the first to comment on that. Before I began my recovery process, I was actually eating a semi-Paleo diet, so I was eating lots of meat, eggs, fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, etc. I just emphasized the fruit and veggies in the post. And during my recovery, I have continued to eat a healthful diet including lots of protein, fruit and veg, I’ve just also added quite a few bowls of ice cream and other yummy treats to help me reach my daily caloric goal. Hope that clears things up. Thanks for your support! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Sarah – this is beautiful! I babysat you years ago and have always loved your family. I struggled healing from a very similar journey, it took a long time to change my mindset and I didn’t know if it would ever have children. After a lot of trust in my body and in a plan greater than mine, I have three – it’s worth the wait and the fight and its healing in a whole new way. Yours will come to a beautiful mama who knows and loves and longed for them! I will be praying for you and for your journey to get them here in the days ahead. Much love, McCall

    1. Hi McCall! Thank you for sharing your story with me! It means so much to hear a success story from someone who dealt with what I’m going through. Your sweet words are so encouraging, and mean more than you know. Congrats on your three beautiful children! And again, thank you for your prayers and support! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. This is really powerful. A beautifully written post. Thank you for daring to be vulnerable. So meaningful on so many levels.

  7. I’m definitely not the fittest person ever, but I had the same lack of a period problem after going off the pill. It lasted for months and I was perplexed. I was nervous I couldn’t get pregnant, but then someonow ended up pregnant (and gave birth to a healthy baby) without ever having had a period after going off birth control. I think I was about 6 months or so into no birth control and then ended up pregnant…no periods though. Just a thought!

    1. Hi Leigh! I hear that’s pretty normal to not have a period after the pill! Birth control does crazy stuff to our bodies, it’s kind of the worst. I’m SO happy for you that you were able to get pregnant! I was hoping it was just the birth control and it would come back within a few months, but after 4 months with no period, I got my levels tested and found out I literally had NO estrogen in my body, so a period would be impossible. But things are turning around for the better with this weight gain, so I’m feeling hopeful! ๐Ÿ™‚ XO

  8. Reading this was like a description of my life. I am currently in the same process as you are, haven’t had my period in 2 months and I am having so many digestive issues. Bloated to the point of looking pregnant for 4 months, struggling with IBS, trying to eat more and have my body feel good again. Just yesterday I went to the doctor for a colonoscopy and his answer was “eat more of everything, unhealthy things” I was so mad, thinking how trying to be healthy could actually make you sick, but now I am starting to open my eyes.

    1. Camila, I am so sorry you’re dealing with this too! It’s no fun. My digestive issues are definitely not resolved completely, but they have improved substantially in the past few months since gaining some weight! I’ve also changed my diet from massive amounts of veggies to things that are easier to digest, like bread and yogurt, etc. I know it’s so counter-intuitive, but our bodies can only handle so much fiber from veggies! If you think you may have HA, I’d highly recommend reading the book I recommended in my post, “No Period, Now What.” It was extremely helpful for me. I wish you the best of luck! I’m here if you ever need to chat. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Wow what a story. Thank you so much for sharing. I went through a similar journey, but luckily did not get quite as far into the weeds. You are a quite a beautiful person! Stay strong- I hope that one day you’ll be able to have that baby. โค

    1. Thank you for those sweet words of encouragement! I have been blown away by the love and support I’ve received since posting this article. I’m SO happy you were able to come out on top with your own journey. Thanks for your support, it means a lot. ๐Ÿ™‚ XO

  10. Amazing article and story! It is such a hard balance to find in society today, especially because of social media. I totally agree, that the key is pushing the unrealistic and fake off of our phones and out of our minds, and connecting with God everyday. It’s amazing to see the difference that when we do so, He begins to show us what true beauty is and then we see and feel it in ourselves. At least that’s been my experience. I’ve always been a runner and haven’t ever had a regular period. I found out I have PCOS syndrome and I’ve been working with my doctor for a couple of years now so that when I do get married and decide to have kids, my body will be able to in the healthiest way. I don’t know if what you’re facing has anything to do with that, but it might be worth looking in to. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hi Nicole! Thank you for sharing your story with me! I am very familiar with PCOS, as it’s something I had to consider when figuring out why I wasn’t having a period. I follow a lady named Stefani Ruper on social media who wrote a book called “PCOS Unlocked.” I haven’t read it because I don’t have PCOS, but I’ve read some of her other books and been very impressed. Maybe you could look into reading it? It may help. I hope things work out for you! Stay positive and let’s fight this together! XO

    2. Hi Nicole – Just so you know, hypothalamic amenorrhea is often misdiagnosed as PCOS. If you’ve always been a runner, it makes me wonder if perhaps you might actually have HA… Please check out my post on HA versus PCOS, and you can download both an info sheet and the chapter from my book on HA/PCOS… http://www.noperiodnowwhat.com/hypothalamic-amenorrhea-info/hypothalamic-amenorrhea-vs-lean-pcos and http://www.noperiodnowwhat.com/hypothalamic-amenorrhea-info/ha-or-lean-pcos

  11. Sarah, Thank you for sharing your brave journey. I walked, (well ran!) a very similar path and have since devoted myself to helping others in my therapy practice and in my writing. In the past 25 years, I’ve mostly treated teens and adults but alarmingly, in recent years, I’ve had clients as young as six-years old who are already obsessing on food and body image! What a tragedy. Thank you for your part in turning the unhealthy tide.

    Warmest regards,
    Andrea
    andreawachter.com

    1. Hi Andrea! That is SO cool that you’ve been able to turn your experience into a way of helping others. I’ve started to consider doing the same at some point. I feel so strongly about this, and like you say, it’s becoming an absolute epidemic in this body-obsessed culture. Thanks for reaching out and for supporting me! I wish you the best! XO

  12. Sarah, I am SO glad you shared this!!! I went through the same exact thing and was without a period for over 5 yrs. Now I am on baby #2. This rocked my boat major. I felt like the days went by so slowly as I was trying to heal and it was so hard to find my purpose in life even though I knew I was on the right track. It took me almost 2 years of trying to eat more and heal myself and I actually never got my period back on my own, I did it with doctors help. If you are still wanting a baby soon I SO encourage you to go to a fertility clinic to get help. Once you are at a healthy weight for your body, a fertility specialist can do what they call progesterone challenges. They give you the hormone progesterone for a few days and it is suppose to induce your period. It just helps give your body a small extra little push to start that period. Every time I failed a progesterone challenge (they can only do it once a month) I knew I should rest more and gain a few more pounds. This took 3 rounds of progesterone challenges and then I finally got my period. From there, with a period I was able to get additional help like clomid and that is how I got pregnant with my first. Looking back I am grateful that I was not able to get pregnant in such an awful calorie deficit state. I didn’t have my priorities in order. I am now heavier than I have ever been (but still very active and not overweight) but I am also more confident and happy than I have ever been. I hope you do the progesterone challenge and go to a fertility clinic for help!! If you ever need anyone to talk to about that kind of stuff please email me!! You are so strong. You are a huge inspiration. Thank you for sharing!! xox

    1. Hi Lulu! Thank you for sharing your story with me! And congrats on baby #2! SOOO exciting! Thank you for your advice. It means a lot. I’ve done the progesterone challenge a few times, but no withdrawal bleeding. However, since gaining this weight, I can feel my body waking up! I have faith that things are going to turn out! I’m going to give my body a chance to do things on its own for a few more months, and if nothing happens, I’ll definitely look into some more help from a fertility clinic. Thank you for your support and advice! It means so much. XO

  13. Thank you for sharing this powerful journey and message with us. I also wonder how much EMF and wifi you might be overly exposed to, more and more people are learning it is a variable in their health problems.

  14. After years of yo yo dieting, being active, etc….I realized that when I’m focused on my body, focused on what others think of me and I’m not focused on God. I finally decided to give up that lifestyle, no matter what. I honestly believe that dieting and exercise have become idols to many. There is SO little in scripture about our bodies, but people have pulled those out and framed them and made them seem like they are most important. And they aren’t! It’s been difficult for me to reprogram my brain, not weigh myself every day, and learn to love myself as is…and physically, I’m paying with pain for things I did in my younger days when I got hurt being active. It’s not fun. I soooo appreciate you penning this and opening your heart and making yourself vulnerable.

    1. hi Becki! Thanks for sharing your story with me! It sounds like you can relate to my journey in some ways. It’s such a difficult thing to go through, but it will be so worth it. Thanks for your support and encouragement, I wish you all the best! XX

  15. Hi Sarah,
    The way you’ve shared your story is amazing and inspiring. My own path is similar, and I am currently working on a web comic about eating disorder and exercise abuse recovery to help elevate the voices of people dedicated to recovery specifically through the means you mentioned–rest, nourishment, willingness to let go and let God. I would be honored if you’d check it out and perhaps share your story with me in that format and allow me to draw your beautiful, healing self! http://www.reorderedcomic.com

    1. Hi Molly! Your web comic page is such a unique idea! I checked it out and found it very interesting! That is so cool that you’re taking actions to inform and inspire people about eating disorders. Keep up the hard work! It will make a difference.

  16. I, too, could relate to your words. Although I am not as young as you (I am 51 and have a 21-year old son), I feel ruled by the gym and what I allow myself to eat. It has always been so important to me to look good, so giving up the control is very difficult. I applaud you for your strength and courage.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story with me Allie! We hold ourselves to such ridiculous standards as women, and it’s such a toxic way to live. I hope that my post can inspire and motivate you to let go a little bit. Focus on the other aspects of your life and try to remind yourself that you are so much more than the size of your body! Let’s do this together. xx ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Thank you for sharing your journey. It takes great courage to go against what society “thinks” women should look like. I have always struggled to keep the pounds on! I have a very fast metabolism and people always say how lucky I am. I have also been addicted to running, only stopping when I got heart palpitations!! Exercise is good, but not to the extremes many of us go to. Thank you again for having the courage to share this with the world!!

    1. Maureen, it sounds like you can relate to a certain degree with what I’m going through. Balance is everything when it comes to fitness, right? Thanks for your support and encouragement, it means a lot! XX

    1. Hi Abbey! Thank you for sharing your post with me. I really enjoyed reading it and can relate to SO MUCH that you wrote. It was very informative and I know that it will help someone out there (it’s already helped me!) Congrats on your pregnancy! I am SO so so excited for you! ๐Ÿ™‚ It gives me hope that I’ll be able to get there someday soon as well. Thank you again for your support and encouragement, it really means a lot! XX

  18. Hey! I just want you to know how poignant and perfect your article was for me. It resonated with my experience almost verbatim. Mine was not for pregnancy sake, but the exercise/health addiction world is so real and validated instead of treated. I now work as a wellness practitioner and am in love with this work. It is so much more rewarding creating a space to support people working through their shit instead of being in a gym where they are made to feel less worth and to ignore their pain – emotional and physical so they can pretend to gain some self worth in the process. Woof! Anyway, your words spoke for me in such a healing way and I am sharing your article with all of my clients and followers. Kudos girl, I’m so proud of you. If you ever want a fellow recovering ‘addict’ to chat wellness and recovery with, I wholeheartedly volunteer :).

    Intothewoodswellness.com

  19. Thank you so much for sharing this!! I know how hard it must have been. I so appreciate your comments because I think they are so applicable to where so many women find themselves. I am coming from the opposite side, years of abusing my body with inactivity and overeating and yet, my struggles are the same…to not let obsession with someone else’s idea of healthy and beautifully overtake me. I have lost 30+ lbs in under 4 months by changing my diet and exercise habits and although I have a long way to go (and still feel disgusted with my body most days), I know that I have to work for balance. So thank you for sharing your story. I pray that you will always feel God’s hang guiding your life because I know He is!!

    1. Hi Catherine! Thank you for sharing your story with me. While it is different than mine, I can relate completely to dealing with body image issues and a disordered mindset. It absolutely breaks my heart to hear you feel disgusted with your body most days…you have lost 30+ lbs, and that is a HUGE accomplishment! Seriously, that right there is cause for celebration. Focus on how far you’ve come, not how far you still have to go! We all have our own journey, but we are all united in the goal of overcoming negative body image issues! You’re not alone in this! Stay strong and remember how far you’ve come. And most importantly, remember that you are SO MUCH MORE than the size of your body. You are a beautiful individual who has unique talents and gifts and potential. Don’t let that get lost in the frustration of trying to look a certain way. Just BE YOU and if you can lose a few pounds to help your body be healthier, then great. But don’t do it for ANYBODY else besides yourself. If someone is judging you based on the size of your body, they are not worth your time. Best of luck to you! I’m always here to chat. XX

  20. Your courage and strength is so admirable. I went through a similar journey of “fitness” and pride of what i could make my body do. I’m so much better with being kind to my body and myself, but some moments and some days are still better than others. I wish you all the best with your continued journey! And I have to ask–are the photos from Iceland? We were just there a few months ago and the scenery looks so familiar!

    1. Thanks for your support Bonnie! I’m sorry to hear you had to struggle with this as well, but so happy to hear things are better for the most part. The photos were taken in Norway on the Lofoten Islands, but after Norway I went to Iceland for two weeks! It’s SUCH a beautiful place isn’t it?!

  21. Sarah, thank you so much for sharing your story! I love your raw honesty. It’s so common in the health & fitness industry to celebrate really unhealthy behaviours! Kudos to you for calling it quits! I have shared this on my page. Good luck with your healing. xx

  22. Wow this is so powerful. Thank you so much for sharing your story. With or without your 6 pack, your smile radiates through and reveals your real beauty โค Keep at it darling, I hope you can have your baby soon!

  23. ๐Ÿ˜˜ Thank you for sharing. You are beautiful inside and out. You’ve had a tough trial, but it gave you knowledge and strength to help others.
    You go girl! ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน

  24. I read this a few days ago and can’t stop thinking about your story. I’m 37 years and had an eating disorder for most of my adolescence which led to prolonged amenorrhea. Eventually, like you, I let go of my disordered behavior and began the hard work of letting my body know it could trust me again. It took a long time, but eventually I got my period back and today I have 3 beautiful, healthy children. Our bodies are incredibly resiliant. I hope that everything works out for you!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story with me! It gives me so much hope that I’ll be able to have kids someday, just like you. It’s been such a hard journey, but will be absolutely worth it in the end! Thanks for your support, it means the world. XO

  25. I was in a similar position 20 plus years ago, being addicted to working out. Don’t give up, I now have 5 children. It may take a few years but it is worth it.

  26. Thank you so much for this post. It was such an eye opening read and something i have often worried about myself with irregular periods and my obsession with high volume exercise and low calorie intake.. God created us for his design in creation, to care for our bodies as a temple, to glorify HIM… I can easily forget that. You reminded me. Thank you for your transparency since I am aware how difficult this post must have been ..

    P.S . Where is the photo taken of you on the mountain top! its gorgeous!!!

    1. Hi Nicole! I’m so glad my post was helpful for you. The photo on the mountain top was taken in Norway on the Lofoten Islands! SUCH an incredible place, I would HIGHLY recommend putting it on your “to-vist” list! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll be writing a blog post about our trip soon, if you’re interested in reading more about it.

  27. I love your story. I know others who have had similar experiences.

    I am not sure if you are interested but there is a clinic i know of that can help you with your fertility issues naturally. They are called american wellness. Google them.

  28. Hi Sarah, this made me cry, I relate to it so much.

    I have had such a struggle with my hormones, period, and trying to conceive journey. I never listened to my body when I needed to and I regret that. When I first lost a lot of weight, my period starting coming twice a month, and then NOT at all. I should have acted on that – but instead, I pushed my body even further. I remember going to the doctors and they said to eat more and gain weight but I did not want to listen.

    My naturopath suggested I’d benefit from looking at food from a nutritional stand point only, not a calorie standpoint – and so after years of meticulously weighing my food and myself, I stopped using my scales.

    I have gained a lot of weight. I was a bikini competitor with ripped abs and now I am.. normal. I often look in the mirror and I feel disappointed with myself. I feel self-conscious of what others might think of me, as I am also a personal trainer and in the ‘industry’. I look at other girls who have amazing physiques and I am jealous that they can look that way and still have healthy hormones – but my body just won’t allow that.

    Just like you, I do believe I am meant to be a Mum, but my journey is going to require a lot of effort and patience. Over the last 11 months I have often thought “why me?” But I truly believe this – “everything you are going through is preparing you for what you asked for”.

    Please feel free to message me if you ever want to chat. And thank you for making me feel a little less alone.

    1. Hi Alana! Thank you so much for sharing your journey with me! It is SUCH a hard thing to go through, but it makes it so much easier to know we are all in this together. Comparison is a thing of the devil. Truly, it is. I’m trying so hard to stop comparing myself to others because like you said, it’s so easy to get into the mindset of “why me?” when tiny, active, skinny girls around you have a normal period and are completely fertile. It’s rough. But, looking at the big picture, it’s SO not important! When we’re 70 years old, we’re all going to be wrinkled and saggy anyway, and I guarantee we won’t be saying “I wish I’d been skinnier in my youth.” Nope. We’ll be saying “I am so glad I recovered when I did, because now I have three children and 10 grandchildren who can take care of me and who I love more than anything.” In the big picture, who cares about the size of your jeans?! (I have to tell myself this every single day when I’m about to eat a giant waffle or cookie, etc. haha) You’re not alone in this journey! Stay strong XOXO

  29. This is a beautifully written post. I’ve just started recovery from severe anorexia, and have been sick for about 7 years. No period in that long either. I exercise obsessively and refuse to go inpatient. But lately I’ve started eating more and forcing rest. It’s so uncomfortable and I feel like there aren’t any changes happening physically or mentally. But it really helps to read posts like this and find positive people like you undergoing a similar journey and pushing through. So thanks for writing – and you should write more often, too. You’re very talented. xx

    1. Hi Brittany! Thanks for reaching out! I’m so glad you enjoyed my post. Girl, I totally get it. This has been THE HARDEST THING I’ve ever had to do for myself. Seriously, in the beginning it was like a living hell for me. BUT…it gets easier. I promise it does. The thing that made the biggest difference for me was finding a supportive community and reading the book “No Period Now What.” (Link to book is in the post). Seriously, if you haven’t read it already, I highly recommend you do. Then join the Facebook group that goes along with it! It makes SUCH a big difference to have a supportive community behind you that is cheering you on and knows exactly what you’re going through. I am so proud of you for taking the first steps to recovery! That in itself is worth celebrating! Be patient, you’ve been sick for 7 years, you’re not going to recover overnight. I’m always here to chat if you need support from someone who knows EXACTLY what you’re going through. You got this girl! XOXO

  30. This is an AMAZING post. Thank you for having the courage to share your experience, you are a total inspiration to me and I’m guessing so many others โค

  31. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Iโ€™m going through the same thing. Your story is an inspiring one! I hope we can recover our menstrual cycles soon. Iโ€™ve been โ€œall inโ€ for barely a month and feel gross, but Iโ€™m sleeping better, have more energy/creativity, and donโ€™t feel guilty when I take handfuls of strawberries after most meals. This is a difficult thing to go through, and it sounds like youโ€™re doing an amazing job adapting to it!

    1. Anne! I’m so proud of you for deciding to go “all-in.” I’m SO thrilled to say that I started my period this week! ๐Ÿ™‚ The recovery plan works, so KEEP GOING GIRL!

  32. Sarah,
    I cannot relate to your situation, I have been fortunate enough to always have a healthy relationship with fitness, but know others who have not. I enjoyed reading your post and will keep you in my prayers. My husband and I tried for not a super long time, but nearly a year before we got pregnant with our son, what got me through is Philippians 4:6 maybe it will help you as well. God Bless!

    1. Thanks for your kind words of support and encouragement! It means a lot to me. And thank you for that beautiful scripture reference. It’s just what I needed to read today ๐Ÿ™‚

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