Sunday, September 3, 2017

Best News Ever — For Two Of Us

Two parts to this post:

Part 1

I got the "best news ever" on Sunday morning from a client that I have to share. I had an initial consult with a lovely lady on Tuesday, and it was another case of female athlete hypothalamic amenorrhea. She'd been following me and the things I preach for a while but was still stuck. This gal has achieved a lot athletically -- the Ironman World Championships, Boston Marathon, and tons of other races in a relatively short time frame; you name it, she can do it. But her body suffered. Now here's the thing, ever since Kona last year she's been working on recovering and has done a lot of the right things, like adding much-needed body fat to her frame and beginning to relax on intense SBR training.

When I got her intake questionnaire, it seemed to me like THE MIND was still a big issue with her because physically her numbers looked generally good and BMI/body fat percentage excellent, but I still saw red flags with food issues, stress and exercise addiction (that her mind wouldn't let go of). So for an hour straight on our consult I laid out everything she needed to hear, and also gave her the confidence that she was on the right track already, just a few more tweaks needed. For example, she was eating vegetarian, and I strongly urged her to add back in animal protein, among many other ideas for her situation.

So on Sunday, I woke up to an email from her titled "Best News Ever" with a big thank you and that she got some strong takeaways from the call and started applying my recommendations right away (good on her for going outside her comfort zone to do this!). She's almost a day ahead of me (living in Europe) and at the end of the email she said, and I paraphrase:

"On Sunday I did a hike, strength trained (with lots of rest instead of crossfit), ate a turkey burger AND I GOT MY PERIOD!!!"

Ahhh! Now that's what I'm talking about! She was so close, I knew it, and she just needed that final push. Considering her body was ready, I didn't expect think it'd take long before her period came back if she followed my recommendations. I had something similar happen to me once -- I had a setback in 2015 with 3 months without a period mostly due to heavy run volume (ultra training) and stress. But then I got the flu, rested for a week, ate a ton of white rice, coconut water, and bananas, and got my period back right away. I learned my lesson and it never left after that, until I got pregnant of course.

I'm so proud for her and so excited, also because I know she and her husband want to start a family (soon) and this is the best step in the right direction to making that happen!

~ ~ ~

Part 2

So speaking of starting families... a pregnancy/life update.

18-week bump! As I said on my Insta post: God bless Lululemon!

19-week bump, sporting my favorite Inside Tracker
lulu tank, and in a new house (we moved; see below)!

I also got some "best news ever" last week that confirmed what I thought to be true:

My subchorionic hemorrhage is GONE! Baby continues to look perfectly healthy and safe and everything's ok...

I hadn't had any bleeding for 4 weeks when I got an ultrasound this past Thursday, and I had a strong gut feeling that everything was ok and healed even before it was confirmed in the scan. I had recently been adding in a couple extra (short) walks to my daily routine, at most walking a mile at a time at a snail's pace, as well as taking on a few more physical tasks like holding Finley, aka Mr. Buff Guy, on walks again, as well as using a bit more strength in daily household chores, such as carrying stuff up and down the stairs, carrying heavier grocery bags, picking things up, and just moving around more at home. Still, my routine was as mellow and easy as it's ever had been in my life and I didn't mind it one bit.

So the u/s was the 20-week anatomy scan (I got it a bit early at 19 weeks) and all was great! Baby is looking good and they indeed confirmed the hemorrhage is gone.

I'm still waiting to get the green light from my midwife that I can exercise again, so it'll likely end up being 8 weeks of zero exercise and pelvic rest. Maybe TMI, but, I've honestly missed sex more than running during this time (if you've been pregnant you probably understand what I mean lol).

Meanwhile, I've felt great. Second trimester is dreamy. The only very noticeable pregnancy thing lately (besides the growing bump-boobs-body) is that I'm very emotional and cry A LOT. It doesn't matter if it's something funny, sad, happy, crappy, or emotionally neutral, I will burst into tears over anything and often it ends up in some laughing through the tears because of how silly it is. My appetite is also growing, even with low activity level, and I'm not holding back, but I'm eating well (with a few extra treats) and gaining weight at a very normal rate.

Oh yea, and I am feeling the baby kick! So dang cool.

Also last week, we moved! It all happened so fast, it's a long story, and I was very stressed for a few days there and didn't like that feeling one bit. The crying episodes certainly ramped up a bit too. I felt so bad that I wasn't able to help much physically and John did the bulk of the move in the biggest heat wave of the year. I contributed by doing massive organizing in the new place :) It's a rather big change for us -- we're no longer in Laguna -- and while it's a exciting and welcomed change, it's still change and it took some adjusting. My old friend insomnia even came back to visit, that's how stressed I was! I haven't missed that level of stress, but it happens, and already I'm back to my zen-mama self again.

We didn't buy the new house. We choose to still rent cuz we're just not ready to buy something and "settle down." We have other ideas and plans before we pull the trigger on a forever(ish) home. I also have no idea where I'd want to buy something, and John feels the same. Moving is a bitch, but mixing it up by living in new places over the years is fun.

Plus, overall we absolutely love love love the new place and we're so glad we were able to move well before baby arrives. It's been a ton of work to get settled, and most of all I'm already feeling my nesting instincts setting in BIG TIME. All I want to do is get this new house ready for baby's arrival haha.




Ohhhh, and we also know the baby's sex, in fact I've known for over a month now, but I'll save that news for next time.

Finishing it off today by sharing a pregnancy craving I gave into. As I said, I'm eating very healthy, as usual, but I'm also being more flexible than ever and listening to my body. This morning it was something I haven't eaten in 15-20+ years, and I had two.... they were so enjoyable and no fretting about what this food usually symbolizes (not to mention they had delicious, fresh, gluten-free ingredients).


If you're in the Costa Mesa area, I highly recommend
taking a stop by this place. They always have a GF option.

As usual, John couldn't wait for my picture before taking
a bite.

Donut #1 of 2.... with eggs. An example of balance perhaps?

The older I get the more I realize that the key to life really is about finding the right balance, not extremes.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Guest Post: How Amélie Got Her Health Back

I get "thank you" emails from female athletes all the time on all things health, hormones, nutrition, exercise, self-love and so on. It's usually: "Tawnee, I can't believe how similar our stories are. What you went through is describing me." They've heard me talk on Endurance Planet, as a guest on others' podcasts, or they read this blog. Some emails are heartfelt thank you's for the voice I give to women's health, and for also being open with my journey and providing inspiration to make positive changes when needed. Others are inquiries from women who want to work with me to help with their needs, training and/or recovery. Either way, it's always such a pleasure to know that I'm positively affecting lives, even if it's simply getting women to think about how they could treat themselves better and with more love and kindness, or that their missing period isn't a non-issue.

Recently, I had an email from a lovely lady that I thought was so cool. I didn't know her at all, but she's been devouring my blog and podcasts, and using my resources to guide the changes she needed to make in her own life. With my example, she realized this recovery process is not as scary as some make it out to be. She's had immense success, in a relatively short time, and I thought it was so rad that she's not even a client of mine yet the resources I've put out there were enough for her to reach her goals in health, hormones and happiness. I was so inspired by her email that I asked her to write a guest post about her journey and how my work has helped her...

~~~

Taking the Balanced Approach To Healing
By Amelie C.


“Stop running, eat more, and gain weight”. Easier said than done, right? That’s pretty much the advice that I received from 2 different doctors at the beginning of 2017, when I finally decided to talk about the fact that I hadn’t bought a single box of tampons in 3 years. It also summarizes the advice that I was finding most of the time when I started desperately googling “how to recover from amenorrhea."
Now that I think about it, when I look back at my life of those past 3 years, I realize that I had put together the best cocktail for amenorrhea:
  • Moved to the US at the end of 2014. That was quite a change for me, moving away from my family and all my lifelong friends and literally starting a whole new life in another country. That certainly brought some stress in my life…

  • New job, very stressful and demanding. I was working 70-80 hours/week in my first year in the US.

  • While working like crazy, I trained for and raced in many half marathons, 4 full marathons, and also some triathlons including 2 half-Ironmans. I had been an avid runner for almost 10 years and recently discovered triathlon and I was doing pretty well. I love it so much! But when I moved to the US, I found myself very lonely at first so I trained much more than ever before. And Southern California weather makes it so enjoyable to train outdoors all year long!

  • On top of all that, yes, I was under-eating. Not that I was restricting or dieting, but sports and stress seem to suppress my already small appetite so I wasn’t even feeling like I didn’t eat enough. I was also (and am still) dealing with gut issues, so I had banished a lot of foods that did not make my tummy happy.


And then my blood test confirmed it: My estrogen levels were completely down. I sure was concerned with the consequences of too many years of amenorrhea on my bone density and on my ability to have a baby when time comes, but the “stop exercise” and “gain weight” part scared the heck out of me and held me back from taking concrete actions to recover. I was very confused, frustrated, and lost. Why does it have to be black or white, all or nothing?
The past few years up until 2017 were amazing triathlon and running years for me. I was often placing top-3 of my age group. I hit so many PRs in all running distances and qualified for the 2017 Boston Marathon on my first attempt at the LA Marathon in February of 2016. I had also dropped quite a bit of weight in the process and I must admit that I kinda liked it, even if I had never been overweight. But how can I go from Boston qualifier to couch potato to fix my hormones? No way. I was very stubborn.
At that point I had already started to realize that maybe excessive exercise, combined with under-fueling and stress, were the main factors that lead me to amenorrhea. So after the Boston Marathon, I decided to not sign up for any other long distance race and I made a commitment to myself that I would take some concrete actions to recover. But my only condition was that I would do it my own way. My point is, between the 70 miles/week I was running and…0 miles, there is a wide range. I thought I could certainly find a point somewhere between that, a point that would still make me feel good with myself AND allow my body to stop freaking out and resume my menstrual cycles.
In the meantime, I consulted with a sports nutritionist, to help me determine what my daily needs are, and see how far I was from there with my current daily food intake. I was concerned because I had often read advice on some websites that let me perplexed, like, "Eat more and eat all the foods." I understand the concept of eating enough calories when trying to recover from amenorrhea, but to me, junk food is still junk food. I have always eaten very clean (I love my veggies!) and I don’t think that eating cheeseburger, fries and ice cream is the absolute key to success here. Luckily, I had a great nutritionist, who helped me navigate through all of this.
But all my worries were still not addressed. I was always afraid to come to a point where I would have to stop all exercise completely if my plan didn't work. I thought I would lose my identity as an athlete and become fat. I was still not sure whether I was doing the right thing or not.
It was only at the beginning of June this year that I came across Tawnee's blog and started reading all the posts since 2013. One specific post about amenorrhea (“Is Amenorrhea That Big of a Problem?Helping Those Silently Suffering”) spoke so much to me! I couldn't have found better words to express my own frustration with traditional medicine's approach to my health condition. And I finally had a good example that, yes, it is possible to recover from amenorrhea and be cool with the process, with a gradual approach, without having to quit completely doing what you love, and while still eating pretty clean. I learned about REDS, a concept that was totally new to me, no doctor had ever talked to me about that. I also started listening to Endurance Planet podcasts and was learning a ton of other useful information. This is all it took for me to let go all my fears, continue to do my own thing, trust the process and not stress about it. It made me realize that it's not about giving up something you love, but it's about finding good balance, changing your mindset and training/fueling smarter. Gosh, I wish I had found this blog and these podcasts earlier!
It’s interesting how sometimes, when you let your fears go, everything seems so much easier. First week of August, I read Tawnee's post "My Full InsiderTracker Interview on Amenorrhea," where she talks about her experience with overcoming amenorrhea. And this happened to be the exact same day that I got my period back!! My first period in 3 years, while still keeping an active and healthy lifestyle (more on that below). 
Yes, there were some moments where I was afraid of losing my fitness because I wasn’t pushing myself that hard anymore. I was missing those Sunday morning long runs (because that was actually my favorite part of marathon training!) but hey, it's not like I can't go back to it. I also knew I had gained a few pounds compared to my weight before the Boston Marathon, even if that change was nothing that others could notice. If I compared my weight now with my underfed and constantly dehydrated marathoner's body weight, the change on the scale was inevitable. I had been obsessing over my weight for so many years, even dealing with some eating disorder issues back in high school. I knew this weight gain, even if it was small, would be a very hard pill for me to swallow. But those pounds are what I needed to start having menstrual cycles again, like a real woman. 
What helped me cope with that was to break down the weight gain in different gains: 
I had gained muscle (from lifting more often), and muscle = strength. 
I had gained wisdom. 
I had gained knowledge of my body and how it needs to be fueled.  
So really, this weight gain was not about me getting fat. These pounds were not undesired pounds from letting myself go. And as a bonus: My fiancé actually liked the fact that I did not have a pancake butt anymore, haha.

Tips for Recovery
Here are the gradual changes that I made and some tips that I think helped me recover so fast without quitting running. Turns out I probably did a couple things right after all!
  • Fuel: I never eat junk food because it doesn’t make me feel good. But I became much more conscious of my eating habits and my food intake. I increased a lot my consumption of healthy fats (avocado, nuts, PB, oils). When I had amenorrhea, I used to always train/run first thing in the morning, fasting. Even when I went for hard tempo runs, sometimes up to 8-9 miles, I wouldn’t eat anything before. I was too scared to have GI issues during my run. I now make sure to get a little something before ANY workout and I feel like I can get higher quality workouts. I prefer to deal with an occasional burp ;)

  • Running/training: I kept my runs short, and only ran about 3-4 times a week (it may seem like still a lot, but compared to my old training regimen, it was a huge change for me!). The other days I would usually swim (I found that when I swim, I never push as hard as when I run so that was a moderate to low intensity exercise). Or I would lift weights. I discovered a new passion for weight lifting when I realized how you can get very creative in the gym and make workouts fun!

  • Racing: I still did some races, just much less, and shorter distances, with no goal time and no pressure to perform. I ditched the Garmin, ran by feel only! I also chose races that I could run with my fiancé, who is a not an avid runner like me and therefore runs slower paces. We got to cross the finish line together which was fun! Something we had never done together before.

  • Stress: I learned how to chill to f… out. In life in general (got a new job, better work life balance), but I also stressed less with my training. I used to take it so seriously; all my time was planned around running/training. I mean, running is a hobby, it’s not like my paychecks depended on my performances (I once placed 1st woman in a small local race and won a Frisbee, that’s the only earning in my running “career” I can brag about lol), so why stress so much about it? I did not have a training plan anymore and no target paces. I just did whatever I felt like doing. If I woke up and felt like doing squats and planks in the gym, I went for squats and planks. Or if I decided I wanted to swim a couple laps in my pool, that’s what I went for. Get the idea? No plan, no stress, just appreciate keeping my body moving. At least for now.


Bottom line, I am not saying that it’s wrong to stop exercising. It is not wrong if it’s what the person needs. Some women may be suffering from injuries or extreme fatigue from overtraining who knows…and they may need that break. That being said, I have a lot of respect for women who chose to go all in. But in other cases, like it was for me, to stop all exercise would just bring more anxiety and negativity; I don't think it was the right solution for me. At the end of the day, it’s all about finding the right balance for you, and unfortunately that’s not how it was presented to me when I was diagnosed with amenorrhea.
I am still learning from this process. I will get back to long-distance running and racing when I am ready because this is what I love the most and I am still competitive, but I will do it with a different approach this time.
I really want to thank Tawnee for sharing so much on her own experience and the lessons she has learned. Without even knowing it, Tawnee, you really made a difference for me!


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Friday, August 4, 2017

My Full Inside Tracker Interview on Amenorrhea

Recently, Inside Tracker published an article on hypothalamic amenorrhea in female athletes, bringing more awareness to this subject, its prevalence and how to take action to heal. In the article they profiled Tina Muir and myself, sharing our stories from what led to our missing periods to how we recovered. Like any good journalist, writer Julia Reedy did a great job hacking away at my wordy responses and keeping the final article concise, to the point and very effective. But I do realize that many ladies out there often want to hear the full story. So in this blog I share the full interview transcript. Obviously I've shared my full story over and over, but why not share this too. Plus it includes links to relevant studies on the matter... Who knows, maybe someone new will stumble on this blog post and find it helpful. xo

PS - If you need/want more thorough blood testing, you can (and should!) get an Inside Tracker package here.

~~~

JR: Hi Tawnee – Thanks so much for taking the time to share your piece on this subject. We hope this blog post will give readers the answers to some incredibly important questions.
Do you remember how you felt when you first stopped getting your period? Did you feel different physically/mentally/emotionally? (This question is meant for the person who is wondering if they’re truly suffering from amenorrhea)

TPG: My story is a bit more complicated because my amenorrhea started due to an eating disorder (anorexia) while I was a freshman in college, which was a few years before I started racing triathlons. I was still exercising a lot during my ED but for calorie-burning purposes, not training. So that said, during my ED, yes, I was noticeably stressed, emotional, and my brain always felt like it was in chaos mode due to being starved for fuel--especially considering that I greatly feared fat at the time. I went from being a carefree, healthy, athletic, and intelligent teenager to a disengaged, forlorn, secretive and incredibly frail shadow of my former self. I played it cool on the outside to friends--I still partied, got excellent grades and was out and about daily--but I was not in a good place mentally, emotionally or physically, and I was very chronically stressed over my issues with food and weight. Truthfully, losing my period was an afterthought next to all the other problems I was facing at the time.

That said, when I got into triathlon I was in a much better place, but I was still not getting a period, and that started to weigh on me more heavily. I didn’t like that my body wasn’t operating as a woman’s body should. My relationship with food and my body had improved immensely -- triathlon taught me that food is fuel, and athletes need fuel -- but I still hadn’t learned how to truly listen to me needs and I was simply still not taking in enough calories for the demands of half-ironman training. I was still very lean and always hungry, clearly in need of more. I was eating probably 1,800 to 2,500 calories a day and I figured that should be enough, it was certainly more than I ate years prior! A couple years into racing, I started doing longer distances, in particular half-Ironmans, and I remember feeling like I was fit but borderline frail and always on the verge of injury, especially injuries related to weak hips and core. My engine was great but my frame was not sturdy, and my nutrient intake was sub-par. Years later, I connected the dots that my fueling and too lean frame held me back from getting closer to my potential.

Endurance athletes think that being lean is synonymous with better performance, but there is a fine line where being too lean (and underfueling to maintain this) is not going to be conducive for performance or health. You may still be performing well when you’re super lean and experiencing amenorrhea, and you may have no problem executing your workouts or races, but if you peel some layers you will see red flags that things aren’t all right and eventually the body will suffer from this imbalance. For me some other red flags were feeling like I was chronically “high” on cortisol that manifested in a revved up sympathetic state 24/7 -- even negatively affecting my sleep -- and an inability to relax into a parasympathetic state. Second, even though I was eating more as a triathlete it wasn’t enough and I was always hungry because I was constantly in an energy deficit (at the time I was still relatively low fat, which just made the “hanger” worse). Third, I still had a mental obsession with my incessant need to train; I wouldn’t let anything get in my way of training and I despised rest days and also purposely ate less on rest days (in other words, I let my workout load determine how much I could eat). Fourth, I was getting injured a lot and didn’t have the nutrient support to recover properly. Lastly, I was an aspiring coach and sports podcast host, so I felt embarrassed and ashamed that my body was not operating as it should and felt inner turmoil over my lack of menstruation. I only talked to my doctors who suggested that I quit exercising so much and eat more, and at the time that was not something I wanted to do, mostly it was the “exercise less” part that freaked me out since I was so in love (and obsessed) with sport and my training. I let my need to train trump everything else, and this is something I now see all the time in female athletes who are going through the same struggles. Thankfully, there are often other options!

As for the re-occurring injuries I faced, one study showed that “a lower daily fat intake and lower percentage of total energy from fat were associated with increased injury risk among competitive female runners.” (http://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-5-1) And thankfully I never experienced a stress fracture, but I know plenty of athletes who have and this injury is associated with low energy balance and amenorrhea. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16089273?dopt=Abstract)

JR: What health implications worried you most during your struggle with amenorrhea?

TPG: Most of all I was worried about infertility and whether I’d be able to have children in the future. This became more of a concern when I began dating my now-husband and said to myself, “This is a guy with whom I could have kids.” Before him, I had thought about having kids but not seriously. While infertility is certainly an issue that comes with amenorrhea, it’s one from which we can recover. At the time, no one was there to tell me that there is nearly a 100% chance you can recover from hypothalamic amenorrhea and that starting a family would be completely possible given that I take the right steps to recover my hormones. So I was spooked for a long time about our future, and alternatives like adoption even crossed my mind, that is, until I sought help from alternative health doctors, did more research and was able to get better answers from the proper professionals.

Second to that were concerns over my bone health, and this became a more prominent thought after I had a bike crash in 2013 in which I broke my wrist; a distal radius fracture. I was able to get in for DEXA scans, which showed my bone density in the spine and hips was normal, a huge relief and the broken wrist was just one of those freak things. I stacked up my good bone health to all the strength training and load-bearing exercise I had been doing for years. I really think the strength training saved my body and bones from getting too fragile during these formative years. Sadly, I do know athletes, even male athletes, who have suffered from osteoporosis in their 20s and 30s due to hormonal imbalances in the body related to being too lean and overtraining. I got lucky, but bone health is a very real concern and not easy to recover from, if it all.

Other long-term health complications honestly didn’t even cross my mind at the time (I didn’t even know there were additional risks), but after studying the research and learning more I discovered that there are important potential long-term health complications to be aware of that I now point out to women with amenorrhea. They include a higher predisposition to heart disease and cognitive diseases in later years of life.

JR: You mention that your PCP, like many doctors, recommended that you go on birth control, exercise less and eat more in order to regain your period. Now that you have so much knowledge on the subject, especially in the context of endurance athletes, what do you think would have been better advice?

TPG: Amenorrhea recovery is absolutely all about the psychology of what a woman is going through, and to tell a female athlete to exercise less and eat more is, in most cases, terrifying to hear and not something they’d be willing to do when it’s blatantly put like that--unless they're at their wit’s end. Amenorrhea is more complicated, mentally speaking, and it’s not so black and white. We have to be able to understand the female athlete’s unique psyche and work with her needs and use compassion and patience. As for taking birth control, most girls will realize this is only a band-aid and not a solution, and that’s why I personally chose to stay off the pill after a while and keep it natural.

It’s not that the advice of “eat more exercise less” is wrong, it’s the delivery in most cases. Female athletes may feel like their doctor does not understand that they are an ATHLETE and that their training and competitions are everything to them, as is adhering to a  healthy or “strict” diet. So in my experience, I’m not a doctor, but I’ve had immense success helping female athletes getting their periods and hormones back by simply relating to them, talking through their fears, answers questions that are unique to athletes, and providing emotional support during the process. The rest as far as actual recovery goes is pretty simple--find the appropriate energy balance and weight that allows you to menstruate, and this requires managing stress, exercise intensity/volume and food intake. Once an athlete is ready to tweak these things it’s not hard to get back on track. Only a couple times have I had more complicated cases that involved further health issues that required medical attention.

The success I’ve had started with coaching myself through the recovery process. I got my period back within 10-12 weeks of making the decision to heal. However, I also took a more gradual approach and didn’t quit training and racing to retire to the couch; thus, it took my body a while to achieve full hormone recovery and get back to regular monthly cycles. During my “transition phase” I got periods again, but they were not normal or monthly until about a year after my initial decision to recover. Every woman I’ve worked with has been slightly different in their recovery process, but usually with more food intake alone all will have signs of ovulation, a spike in hormones and a bleed. Research shows that women can usually maintain some level of training and get their period back if they just eat more (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25090245) and are ok with adding a bit more body fat to their frame. Often tweaking exercise habits (not necessarily quitting) are needed too, since I work with “extremist” endurance athletes. For women to make these voluntary changes, it’s all about mindset and they cannot fear the process or that in itself will hold them back. Likewise, I can’t force someone to take action, nor can their doctor--these women have to want to pursue recovery and teaching them that it’s not so scary adds to the success rate. We have to get them to want to love and respect their bodies and be comfortable in their own skin regardless of how fast they run or how much body fat they have.

We are working with sensitive, living, breathing human individuals, not just numbers or test results. And while doing the health tests are invaluable--all my clients are required to get bloodwork and often additional testing*--those data points are only a piece of the puzzle. Don’t get me wrong, a doctor is important and all my clients are working with a doctor or functional medicine practitioner, but what female athletes also need is a mentor, a friend, and someone to whom they can relate. Someone they can ask scary questions like, “What is it like to cut back on or stop training they way you know it?” “What if I don’t want to stop training completely, what can I expect?” “How long will it take” “You want me to eat what? But I eat ‘x, y, z’ for my training!” “Will I get fat if I eat more?” Also, I assure women that I’m not trying to steal their training away forever nor ask them to get fat and lazy, which is what it feels like you’re being told to do sometimes and that’s just wrong for this group of women. It’s about finding a better balance and exercise can be included in a recovery plan as well as a healthy diet--we just have to prevent these variables from continuing at unhealthy extremes.

*Blood tests for female should include the following markers: LH, FSH, Estradiol, progesterone, DHEA, testosterone, prolactin, TSH, T4 and free T3. I aso run a urine hormone and adrenal panel on my clients in addition to blood work, as this takes a closer look at the relationship between adrenal function, cortisol levels and sex hormones. TSH, or thyroid stimulating hormone, T4 and T3 are important to test because often we mess up our thyroid in the process of developing amenorrhea and it should not go ignored.

JR: It’s common for OBGYNs (including my own!) to claim that menstruation is not biologically necessary, and that not having your period is not detrimental to your health. From what you have learned, what’s your position on this claim?

TPG: Technically, it’s not a death sentence to not menstruate. Infertility and low bone density are some of the biggest side effects, and quite frankly there are probably women who don’t care about that if they’re more concerned with race performance. But I argue that menstruation is a normal part of the female existence, and why mess with Mother Nature by shutting down this process? Also, I mentioned the potential negative health consequences earlier; why take a risk on hurting your well being long-term? I understand that in the moment, we may not care what our life will be like when we're 70, but maybe we should. I didn’t care at the time, I only cared about performance and my body size, and I actually don’t regret that because I can at least educate women on why I was wrong and how to do it better. Now if you’re an athlete and you happen to skip a period once or twice a year while stress and training loads are high, and you know you’re not pregnant, I would not freak out over this, but I would take it as a warning sign and indication as to how much is too much for your body and proceed with caution (and try to eat more).

Also, a missing period is a symptom of more intricate problems related to the hypothalamus, pituitary and gonadal function. I work with a lot of athletes not just on hypothalamic amenorrhea but also hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis dysfunction, thyroid issues, and other health complications from extreme training and low energy intake, and these problems often do not lead to sustainable careers in sport and also make day-to-day living much tougher when you’re chronically stressed, fatigued, worn down and feeling like junk because your body is not operating optimally and is in crisis mode. So amenorrhea is a symptom of potentially worse issues going on inside, and I do not advocate that any athlete continue on this path long term. Women are actually lucky that they have a clear indicator they are pushing too hard (i.e. if period is absent); men do not have this luxury and often it’s gone too far before they realize they’re in a deep hole that they have to dig themselves out of. The longer your wait to change, the harder it may be to fully heal if there are other issues at play like HPA axis dysfunction, adrenal fatigue, varying degrees of hypothyroidism, gut dysbiosis and other complications that often are present in women with amenorrhea.

JR: Your recent pregnancy announcement (congrats!) almost feels like a flag stuck in the summit of Mt. Amenorrhea. What did your road to recovery look like and what advice do you have for women who are struggling with amenorrhea/attempting to heal?

TPG: Thank you. Becoming pregnant is not only exciting for my husband and I, it is also a victory for all women who’ve been through or are going through amenorrhea--there is hope. I was in a bad place for many years, my progesterone and estrogen were that of a postmenopausal woman, and I am proof that you can get your body back to functioning normally and start a family if you so wish. I hope my message gives hope to those who need it right now (I could have used it back then).

As for my recovery, I took a more gradual approach. When I first started making changes to regain health and hormones I had zero desire to get pregnant at the time; rather, I just knew it was time to repair my damaged body and be in a place where one day I could get pregnant when we were ready. I didn’t want to wait until we were ready to get pregnant and have to “cram” my recovery process; that sounded stressful. So, I didn’t go “all in,” and I still trained and raced for another couple seasons. However, I drastically changed my approach, mindset and the “environment” in my body. I took a bunch of pressure off myself, worked on stress management, fed myself better, raced a ton less (like 2-3 races a year instead of 10-12) and incorporated more parasympathetic mindful activity like yoga, walking, meditation, HRV measurements, and so on (those things were not easy at first since I was used to pushing hard all the time and striving for better performances each time I raced). I also stopped training so intensely and relentlessly as well, and started focusing more on recovery as well as an intuitive approach to training (before I would train no matter how I felt--it had to get done!). I started eating what my body craved in a healthy sense of cravings, rather than denying urges to eat certain foods and stick to a strict diet and caloric intake. Over the years, I had gradually switched from a low-fat diet to more of a low-carb high-fat diet, but when I began recovery I just focused on clean healthy eating and not so much on macros or calories, still including tons of healthy fats and moderate carbs. Sometimes the approach for amenorrhea recovery is to eat “all the food” (including sweets and junk) but I still wanted to keep it clean with an 80-20 approach.

Ultimately I quit doing any fasted training and really addressed my chronically high cortisol levels to get in a more balanced state--it was hard not to get at it early each morning as I was used to doing for years, but it was the best thing for me.

By this point I had “ditched” conventional medicine because I felt like I was going nowhere with them. I sought out functional health practitioners to help me and guide my health plans. They ran tests and recommended any supplements I needed (which expanded beyond hormonal issues and included gut repair, thyroid regulation, detox, HPA axis, and general health support). For hormones, I briefly used bioidentical progesterone when initially regaining my period. Then before getting pregnant, I went on vitex for a while to regulate my ovulation and cycle length. I would not suggest starting any supplements unless directed by a healthcare professional.

I continually ordered new health tests to monitor progress over the years; this included blood tests, urine hormone tests, saliva tests and gut tests (stool). It was actually very fun and exciting to see my hormones get back to normal levels for a woman of my age, and I’m glad I have that data. I would suggest quarterly or bi-annual blood tests and/or urine hormone tests for women in the recovery phase. I also tracked my menstrual cycles and ovulation and kept detailed notes on my personal recovery. I share this info with my clients.

Believe it or not, my actual weight didn’t change that much from 2013 when I started my recovery to 2016 before we started trying to conceive. I’d guess it was less than 10 pounds gained, which shows that for me it was more about balancing other issues in my life not that I was still too lean. (For the record, I had gained back 20+ pounds already by 2013 from my ED days.)

My periods were normal for about two years when we finally started trying, and I felt ready. Although, I was still at a low-normal BMI so I thought it’d help to gain a few extra pounds and I did, increasing my BMI to 22-23, which is known as the “fertile zone” according to Nicola Rinaldi, PhD. What I didn’t realize when we started trying was that I put a ton of pressure on myself to get pregnant right away since I was so “normal” again. It took a few months to relax, let go and take off all the pressure, and that’s when I got pregnant. Putting pressure on myself and creating stress within has never worked out well ;)

JR: How do you believe InsideTracker can help women ward off/recover from amenorrhea?

TPG: Absolutely, IT is a critical component to a female’s recovery. As I’ve mentioned numerous times already, having the data from blood testing is invaluable to set the baseline for where a woman is starting at and most importantly monitor progress and see if the changes she is making are working on the inside! As mentioned, I’d suggest quarterly or bi-annual blood testing during the recovery and even when the period returns, get blood work to measure hormones and set a new (healthy!) baseline. The feedback from bloodwork is invaluable.

JR: Anything else you’d like to say about the subject?

TPG: I was at a sports nutrition conference recently (and actually speaking on this very topic) and one of the presenters mentioned her study showing that elite female swimmers who were not menstruating ended and in an energy deficit had poorer performances relative to their menstruating teammates. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23846160) We know through the research that underfueling doesn’t work out well for female athletes, and I know athletes want to perform so EAT!

Also, this issue can not be narrowed down into just the female athlete triad, which is most traditionally cited in research and textbooks. The issues a female faces are on a spectrum and wide-ranging. They can vary in severity. For this reason, I like to look to and reference RED-S when discussing this topic. RED-S includes a broader range of symptoms and doesn’t narrow it down to just three issues as the triad does; it also ties in males as well.

Plus from a social standpoint, i can see why this is continuing to be such a big problem. It’s tough to be an athlete this day in age. With social media, we’re constantly inundated with images of the perfect body and perfect performances, and we feel more pressure than ever before to be perfect and achieve PRs every time we race. We compare ourselves to others and often go to unhealthy extremes to achieve the “impossible.” I’m hear to blast the message that moderation is ok; moderation is SEXY--you don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to be the fastest, you don’t have to live by the “no pain no gain” mantra, and you can be your best self with an approach of moderation. What I want for women (and men) is to just be happy and comfortable in their own skin.

Also, it’s getting better, but amenorrhea has for so long been a taboo issue and not something that women want to discuss, so they hide it and let it prolong (I get it, I was there). I want to change that notion--it’s ok for us to talk about our periods, or lack thereof, and you can hear me doing just that on my podcast enduranceplanet.com along with female counterparts who share wisdom and experience on my show.

Lastly, if someone is ready to get started but doesn’t know where to look next: 

I have a ton of resources on this subject for women on my holistic inner-circle website lifepostcollective.com and also on my free podcast enduranceplanet.com. If there are women out there who are still a bit afraid to make changes but just want a reliable source to turn to for information, I’d encourage them to check out lifepostcollective.com; you can get your first month free with code lpc4me. 

Or you can take the next step and work one-on-one with me; I offer consultations and coaching for female athletes on all things health, hormones and nutrition, and I've helped many women recover from HA. 

Last but not least, buy the book No Period Now What. This is another invaluable resource from my friend Dr. Nicola Rinaldi and this book alone may very well change your life. I read it long after my recovery but still learned a ton, and I continually use it as a resource. 

Thank you for the opportunity to contribute!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Another Diagnosis, But 'Good' News!

Last weekend was a whirlwind. Just as I was getting comfortable with my new routine of no exercise and lots of downtime as a result of the placenta previa diagnosis, things changed.

On Friday John left town for a bachelor party that would entail camping and backpacking, so there was a good chance he'd be off the grid at times.

Saturday I woke up and went to the bathroom as usual, at which point I discovered I was lightly bleeding (TMI - thankfully it was brown blood, not "active" red blood). Regardless, it scared the shit out of me and I paged the on-call midwife from my birthing center (there are about four midwives I see), and she got right back to me and was the sweetest. She told me to relax, not worry and just rest all day -- basically do as little as possible -- and drink a lot of water. I followed orders, and my day was as lazy as they get. I watched nearly two seasons of Schitt's Creek haha. Later in the day I did go to my parents and we went to the hospital to visit my grandma, who had just been admitted. That's a story for another day, but for now the good news is my grandma has since gone home and is doing ok.

My parents were also so awesome to help out with Finley and doggy-sit him while I was on rest. His 50-pound puppy energy was too much for me to handle when I needed rest. Finley loved it, as he just got a long weekend playdate with their dog, Ashe.

John was in the loop on all this but there was no need for him to come home early.

My bleeding cleared up but then came back and was even a bit heavier by Monday morning. This time the midwife said go to the ER to get checked and make sure everything's ok. Hearing her say that certainly scared me at first and there was a surge of uncontrollable tears for a couple minutes, but I did my best to hold it together and not totally lose my shit. This time, John was off the grid with no service and my mom took me to the hospital.

Long story short, here's what happened:

There is NO placenta previa anymore. If I did have it, it already cleared up and the placenta is no longer covering my cervix. it was very clearly in an anterior position away from the cervix. Seems like that shift happened really fast, but I'm not an expert on this stuff.

So what was causing the bleeding?

Turns out I definitely DO have a subchorionic hemorrhage, which is basically a blood clot in the wall of the uterus. It's the "most common sonographic abnormality and most common cause of first trimester bleeding (1)," and thankfully I was told it's "less threatening" than previa and should work itself out (i.e. dissolve and disappear) in a matter of days or weeks. The exact cause isn't exactly clear, but they said that it's possible the hemorrhage formed as the placenta was migrating.

Or, maybe it always the hemorrhage and never even previa? Either way, it was good that I started resting when I did!

I won't get another ultrasound for another 4-5 weeks, so in the meantime, I still have to be on the same regimen of lots of rest, no exercise, no lifting heavy things, and no sex. We don't want the bleeding to get worse and it needs to heal without me being overly active.

I was able to get ahold of John while at the hospital, and this time he did end his trip early and came home as soon as he could. I needed (and will need) his help especially if we want to have Finley home, which of course we do!

Despite the scare, all this gave me a huge sense of relief. I was extra grateful to my on-call midwife (she's everything a gal would hope for in a midwife!) and also the ER staff who was so kind and thorough in their assessment. Yea maybe I sat in the hospital for 5 hours, but what else would I have been doing?! This is my life, this is my baby's life, and he/she means EVERYTHING to me.

I'm confident this baby is healthy, I'm certain the hemorrhage will clear up, stoked the previa is no longer an issue, and excited to get on with my second trimester!


1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chorionic_hematoma

Saturday, July 15, 2017

First Trimester Placenta Previa

Just hours after my last post I had an ultrasound appointment for prenatal screening. I was starting to second guess getting this voluntary testing done at all (it includes bloodwork + ultrasound) but decided to go through with it and now glad I did.

Nothing is wrong with the baby, so that's the very good news. We got to see him/her flopping around (it literally did a 180 for us), moving limbs, and heart beating... it made my heart melt.

However, the ultrasound tech saw a gap by my uterus and said that it shouldn't be there. On the screen it looked like an inch-long black hole. She said she'd run it by the midwives and they'd contact me to talk it over. She was also asking how much I exercise, etc.

The midwife called me right away, in fact while we were driving home, and said the baby's fineeee but that I have placenta previa, meaning I have a low-lying placenta that's partially covering my cervix (not fully covering). I've had zero signs or symptoms of this; symptoms normally entail bleeding.

The midwife said it's soooo early on (12 weeks when I found out) so there is an incredibly strong and likely possibility this will self-correct on its own and never pose a real problem. Self-correcting means that as the uterus grows, the placenta will essentially migrate up and away allowing the cervix area to open back up, and everything will be back to normal. The placenta doesn't actually relocate since it's implanted, but when my uterus is bigger it'll have more room to live away from my cervix. From what I've been reading and also what my midwife said, this is actually incredibly common in the first trimester since the uterus is still so small and often the placenta has nowhere else to go. So what usually happens in cases like mine (i.e. when placenta previa is detected in the first trimester), it'll get out of the way long before labor and it's a non-issue. If this issue were found in the third trimester, it'd be a whole other story.

In the meantime, though, to be safe there are some things I have to adhere to:

  1. NO EXERCISE
  2. NO SEX


If you think I'm freaking out, I'm absolutely not. Not over the placenta previa diagnosis, not over the no exercise, not over the no sex. Ok, so I cried and worried for like 10 minutes but then I got rational about it.

It is what it is. The condition is 100% out of my control. What I CAN do is whatever it takes to make sure that everything remains safe, this baby is healthy and he/she stays in my womb as long as possible (pre-term births are an associated risk if the previa were to continue). I really didn't even bat an eye when she told me that exercise and sex are out (I won't tell you what John said lol). I mean, it sucks, for sure, and I was especially enjoying my #fitpregnancy routine so far, but hey this is real life and I'm a mature mama-to-be.

I'll have another ultrasound at 18-20 weeks to monitor progress and reassess the plan as needed. Until then, i.e. 6-8 weeks, I can walk but not much more than that. The instructions to avoid exercise may extend to even longer depending on how things evolve. I've never not exercised for months at a time, so this will be very interesting, but I'm looking at it as an opportunity to do life a bit differently and learn. I'll have more time to meditate, more time to work on that book I've been procrastinating on, more time to just chill out and rest this body, more time to do things for others... the list goes on.

Hopefully it clears up. If not, and it's still an issue in the third trimester, there's a pretty good chance I'd have to get a C-section, which would royally suck, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there. Let's put it this way, my midwife was not suggesting that I start researching hospitals and OBs ;) I'm not even thinking that far ahead. So much will change in before then.

The best I can do is live in the moment, repeat positive affirmations, treat myself with kindness, say loving things to my little one in there, be gentle and stress-free.

All these lessons pre-conception and since have been amazing for my soul and life outlook.


Friday, July 14, 2017

First Trimester Thoughts - Rolling With the Changes!

I'm 12 weeks pregnant today, which means my first trimester is winding down (already?!). All in all, preggo life has been a rather easy adjustment for me. You don't have a choice over your body feeling so different, it often acting crazy nor your new set of "rules" by which to live, but you do have a choice in your attitude, response and general mood. You can freak out and worry or just roll with it and enjoy this special time. I had one freak-out episode in the beginning and learned my lesson very quickly. Since then I've been rolling with it... every single little thing. I really have never felt so relaxed for a three-month period in recent memory.

New norm - double-fisting water while everyone else drinks cocktails.

Here are some thoughts and highlights from my first trimester:

Diet - Pre-Conception & To 6 Weeks


Turns out leading into my pregnancy, I was actually in a mild state of ketosis (not my first time), thus very likely in ketosis when I conceived (unless all those desserts and drinks I had at the wedding we attended the weekend it happened threw me out of keto lol). I was not trying to be keto whatsoever, but as I said in the this post, I had rather intuitively transitioned back to lower carb around late April and that combined with the other things I did, I was quickly feeling awesome, physically and mentally. Pretty certain I was still eating more than 70 grams of carb, if note more than 100 grams on some days, but apparently I was low enough to be pushing out ketones as confirmed on a pee test. The thing is, and why I think it worked out, is that my daily calories were consistency high, I was eating very nutrient-dense foods, and my "training" was moderate -- not too intense and about 7-10 hours a week including walking. So apparently this is one example of when ketosis/low carb can work out without negative ramifications when it comes to hormones, fertility and even stress management.

In fact, when I told this to Dr. Phil Maffetone, he said low carb/ketosis can work great for fertility and is safe for pregnancy. I'm not so sure that I agree with that across the board nor should we force anything that doesn't feel right, but given my own situation I'm less of a skeptic. I asked a very accomplished pro triathlete friend of mine, who's also currently pregnant, if she was still in ketosis when she conceived and if she's remained low carb. I know this diet approach worked wonders for her (she's one of the few), and it turns out she has stayed low carb all throughout her pregnancy so far (she's almost 3rd trimester), and she was keto when she conceived as well. She says she's had the easiest pregnancy, no cravings, no aversions, no nausea, able to workout but not "train." Wow. Must be nice, right?

All this doesn't mean I'm advocating ketosis for fertility, pregnancy or otherwise, I still think it's a very individual decision to go low carb and in many cases it can be playing with fire. Plus, on the flip side there are plenty of gals who've gone higher carb/higher calorie and not only fixed their fertility but got pregnant this way, just look at the evidence presented by Nicola Rinaldi in No Period Now What. Plus carbs are not the reason one would get more nauseous or sick despite what some may say; plenty of women who are higher carb also have easy pregnancies with little to no morning sickness. So it just depends. Regardless of macro ratios, what does matter, arguably the most, is that you're eating a lot of calories and not being underfed. I know that's Amanda, I know that's me, and I also know that's my friend Tina Muir who overcame amenorrhea and got pregnant right away (we talked about it on her podcast, which you can hear here).

Btw, a huge shoutout to Tina for her massive lifestyle changes that helped her overcome amenorrhea and achieve her next dream of becoming a mama. She hired me as a consultant in 2016, and we talked a lot about this stuff. I knew she'd pull the trigger when she was ready, and I'd like to think I had a tiny influence on her journey and where's she's at now. I couldn't be happier for her :)

Anyway, once I found out I was pregnant at 4 weeks, I didn't try to maintain or force low carb by any means, I just ate what I felt like, but little did I know things were really about to change...

Diet - From 6 Weeks On...


As soon as I hit six weeks my diet changed drastically! All of a sudden my carb cravings were literally THROUGH THE ROOF. Unlike anything I'd experienced before and I was dreaming of pizza, ice cream, waffles, granola, bread, you name it. Meanwhile my food aversions hit me like a ton of bricks. I went from loving sunny-side-up eggs, avocado, all the veggies and salad to being grossed out by all of that for the most part. I could eat veggies but only if they were hidden in a dish with other things like sauces and carbs (i.e. curry with rice... with some veggies tucked in), or pureed veggies in a creamy soup. To make sure I was getting daily greens I started drinking a lot of organic green juices.

I have not had consistent cravings; it seems like each week (sometimes each day) my body is asking for something else. I was digging granola and yogurt in the beginning and now it makes me want to puke. I was ALL about dairy for several weeks, like I NEEDED it, and now I can take it or leave it. I'll enjoy high-fat smoothie bowls for breakfast on some weeks and other weeks they make me wanna gag.

Overall I'd say I'm still eating really healthy, mostly organic (except if we eat out and I have no choice), and I'm avoiding shitty ingredients from junk foods. Personally, though, I feel like I'm eating crappier simply in the sense that the increase in carby and sugary foods are often replacing my usual greens, veggies and in many cases fats or animal proteins, but it's not like what I'm doing is unhealthy by any means, it's just different than my normal standards. Also on the eating out thing, my motivation to cook hit an all-time low and we've been eating out more than usual, like 2-3 times a week, so I'm sure I've been served vegetable oils and conventional meats and produce, but what can you do. I'm not trying to control everything and I need to just do what's best for me right now so if I don't wanna cook I won't (PS - John is busier lately, and picking up a lot of my slack, so I don't except him to slave over the kitchen too). I do my best to get in quality animal protein in most my meals, but there are times when I simply don't want meat and/or I'm incredibly picky about what meat I'll be able to eat. There's not rhyme or reason and it's always changing. One night I will looooove salmon, one night I just can't do it.

My favorite random cravings have included lobster bisque (WTF is that about), seaweed salads (iodine), sauerkraut (probiotics), pad thai, curry, waffles but NOT pancakes, pumkin pie (have yet to have any) and an old throwback to a childhood comfort food: egg sandwiches with strawberry jelly, mayo and butter. Yes you read that correctly, jelly and mayo together with egg on toasted bread with butter. You can ask my grandma about how that one came to be. I'm using sugar-free jelly (just the sugars from fruit), Primal Kitchens Mayo, Kerrygold Butter, pastured farm-fresh eggs and a gluten-free paleo bread from the farmer's market, so actually pretty darn healthy!

The days I feel most nauseous carbs are the name of the game, and often some interesting choices...

This was a real DINNER - three or four GF waffles and Halo Top ice cream, with tea. Word.
John had leftover chicken with his waffles lol!

I've also craved a lot of "normal-people food" like pizza (keeping it GF), ice cream, burgers, all the fruit, tortilla chips (not the healthy kind), rice bowls, "healthy" rice crispies cereal. I've had pizza (aiming for healthy organic ingredients) at least 8 times so far, more than I've eaten in the past three years likely!

By week 10 I felt like was feeling a lot better most days and wanting to eat more of my usual foods -- back to salads, avocados, and lots of veggies -- but usually still piling on more hearty carb choices. It's not that paleo.
One night I got my act together and made homemade green curry!
I ended up eating about 3x more rice than what's shown.

This was a good dinner.

Exercise


I'm so glad I love to exercise and that I started out my pregnancy out with a decent base -- not necessarily "fit fit" but very adapted to daily exercise. But weeks 5-8 I didn't do a whole lot of exercising at all (minimums like 30min/day, and lots of walking). At first it was likely because deep down I was a bit afraid to "over" exercise and risk anything. I got over that. Then it turned into minimum exercise because I wasn't feeling too hot. At the very least, I'd get out and walk every day with Finley, if not a couple to three times a day.

My nausea could come any time of day or night, but it would usually set in after breakfast before lunch so if I got moving around that time it helped. However some days exercise was not the answer and I needed a nap instead, so I'd go crawl back into bed and not even think twice about it. I've been incredibly proud of my flexibility and intuitive nature. I'm not letting anything bother me -- food choices, exercise choices, whatever -- and just rolling with it. If I take a nap before lunch, so be it. If I take a two-hour nap at 3 p.m., so be it.

I started feeling better and better, thankfully. At this point, I'm running about three times a week on average, between 3-5 miles, probably all at a 9:00-12:00 pace depending on heat and terrain. I'm not wearing a HR monitor but I am keeping my effort in check, i.e. aerobic, and not doing anything that feels too aggressive. I'll always walk if HR feels like it's getting a bit too high or there's a steep hill (and I end up walking at least some portion of every run I do). Some days I feel like a rockstar other days I feel like I'm carrying a ton of bricks.

I'm also strength training at home about 2-3 times a week, easy sessions of 15-30 minutes that include kettlebells, TRX, and bodyweight exercises. I'll usually round out these sessions with some mobility and yoga poses.

I have eased back on paddleboarding since my race, but started swimming again in July, and, oh man, for the first time in a long time I'm really enjoying the pool. So refreshing and especially a nice way to get moving and not overheat during this HOT summer. Since my form still sucks, I have to be careful to not let my HR soar due to inefficiency; I'm mostly doing sets of 50s and 100s -- and that's currently "endurance" ;)

Then there's lots and lots of walking, thanks to Finley! A lot of athletes talk shit on walking, and I can understand why, but I think they're wrong. Just sayin. I love it, I find it so beneficial -- mentally and physically -- whether in training or not. Science supports me ;) I've been taking short walks after meals, especially dinner, to aid in digestion, and that helps too.

Tonight I'm going to my first prenatal yoga class and excited to learn some new moves, and I hope to keep up with that.

I'm also getting massages, albeit much LESS frequently than when in training mode. But with the swimming and strength, I build tension and massages help. Thankfully my gal who I've been seeing forever is certified in pregnancy massage.

Energy


My energy (and fatigue) = a rollercoaster. I never know what to expect next; some days I feel so great that I wouldn't even know I'm pregnant and other days I'm so dead that I barely leave the house and take multiple naps. Thankfully overall I've had way more good days than bad, and on average I feel pretty decent, not normal, but decent.

I quit coffee the day I found out and that was a tough transition from a fatigue standpoint. I didn't get headaches or anything but I was wasted tired for like three days before coming out of the fog. Then I felt ok not having coffee but was still often slow to get moving and often finding it hard to focus and get shit done. I don't blame the lack of coffee for that, I blame the hormones and all the changes in my body!

I met with my naturopath during week 8, and she said it'd be totally fine for me to have a tiny bit of coffee each day, just don't exceed 200 mg/day (which is actually quite a bit so it's pretty easy to stay under that). Around week 9 I started drinking a shot of regular homemade cold brew per day, which I further diluted in water -- about 1 part coffee, 3 parts water. I'll sip on that after breakfast only (never on an empty stomach) and usually won't even finish all of it. But even having that tiny amount has been so nice and it does help me.

My work productivity has really suffered the past two months, and of all things going on as of late this is the one thing that's caused me a bit of stress. I don't like feeling like I'm not being productive or contributing to our family. I mean, I'm still working -- I have all my coaching clients (thus writing workouts, frequent communication with them, guiding health plans, etc.), doing some consults, writing for and managing my inner-circle lifepostcollective.com, etc. I took the break from the podcast, which was probably a great call, but I'm ready to go back to it and will return later this month. WOOT!

My original plan during this summer, even before pregnancy, was to get busy writing my first book. I've done a fair amount of prep, outlining and even wrote the first chapter, but I am nowhere near where I'd like to be by now, and I feel very guilty about that. Since it's on my shoulders and no deadlines, it's been easy to procrastinate... or go nap or scroll through social media instead when brain cells feel dead. Ugh.

Everyone says just be kind to myself and don't put too much pressure on myself during this time (especially the first trimester!!!). For the most part I've been living up to that (obviously I'm letting myself relax, take naps, chill, etc., rather than busting my balls) but I'm normally a go-getter and it's just weird to be so low-key and not living up to my usual productivity. I'm sure once baby is here it'll get even more chaotic for a while. Thank god I have a supportive hubby who always says, "don't worry about it" when it comes to work and stuff.

Meanwhile, we've been getting out a lot and not being hermits whatsoever. Parties, concerts, dinner dates, whatever... I'm not in the mood to just sit around and I can always find energy for a good social outing or live music. This weekend we're seeing Jack Johnson, hell yea.

My Body


I was already at a very healthy weight/normal BMI when I conceived, 142 lbs, which was up from my average weight of 135 in recent years, but apparently my body wanted even more "cushion" because I went through an initial surge of putting on another 5-6 pounds right away in those beginning weeks (averaging about 1 lb gain a week)... my naturopath and midwife said that's totally fine and normal (despite books saying that NO weight gain is often normal in the first trimester). No doubt my diet played a role, but I was just listening to my body's needs. Since then, the weight gain has tapered off to where recently I'm not even gaining a pound a week. Right now (at 12 weeks) I'm holding steady at 148 lbs... but by the end of each day I'm probably more with the bloating I usually get.

I feel really strong, in fact I feel like all that muscle under my fat has hypertrophied a tad (getting swole for baby!), but I also just feel so big already. I'm certainly NOT one of those petite pregnant ladies who barely gain any fat and who don't show until week 28 or something. Ha, anything but! Whether it's a food baby, bloating or the real baby, I certainly have a tummy bulge already and certainly have more fat everywhere... And I'm proud of it! No bump-only pregnancies over here.

Most my clothes still fit, although certain clothes I'm not even bothering with, and I have yet to try on my jeans (it's too hot anyway so why bother). While it's most comfortable to wear my baggiest clothes, I also don't shy away from a tighter stuff. I'll still run around in 2-piece swimsuits and wear tight workout tops or booty shorts (booty shorts = my shorts that used to be loose and baggy lol). I live in my lululemon run shorts (stretchy!) and sports bras over real bras all the way. Speaking of, I had to buy some new sports bras (all mine were size small) as I was getting smashed and it was starting to hurt. Some of my swimsuits fit, whereas some make it hard to believe I actually looked good in them at some point (hello muffin top). I will say, it's very nice to have bigger boobs, that I am enjoying ;)

I'm the type of person who gains weight all over, and that's holding true during this pregnancy so far, so I don't look too fat in any one area, just like a larger bigger-boned version of me. No shame, and I'm not trying to hide a thing. This is pregnancy, you're not supposed to remain rail thin!!!!!!

I know my mom was ginormous with my sister and I, so I expect that'll be me too. At some point, I'm sure I'll weigh more than John, and I'll proudly flaunt it.

12 week "bump" shot!


Anyway, that's my story so far. thanks for reading!