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Thinking Out Loud- NEDA, Finding Balance And Amenorrhea

   

Amanda suggested we Think Out Loud today regarding National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDA). This year’s NEDAwareness Week theme is “I Had No Idea” to raise awareness towards the significant impact eating disorders have on individuals, families, and communities across the nation.

You see “eating disorder” and immediately think anorexia and bulimia. You automatically think of someone who hasn’t eaten in days or someone who binges on cookies and then purges.

What many don’t realize is that there is gray area to the definitions as well as other forms of disorders.

Thinking-Out-Loud

Yesterday’s workout: 10 minutes on the elliptical followed by 4. 25 miles on the treadmill. I felt great and could have continued but I ran out of time. Don’t feel bad for me, I run out of time just about every morning….on purpose.

I am a true morning person and a lover of starting my day with a run. I could very easily run a bit later than I normally do which would allow me a lot more time and a lot more miles.

On purpose though, I only give myself a MAXIMUM of 50-60 minutes (except for Saturday’s long run, of course). This window keeps me from doing too much. Most days I probably average about 45 minutes.

Monica over at Run Eat Repeat recently shared a link regarding running addiction. Any runner (or frequent exerciser) knows that the endorphin high can be addicting.

It seems as though the benefits of exercise far outweigh the negatives…Endorphins, reduced risk of disease, a method for weight loss and weight management as well as boosting confidence and overall self-esteem…

But at what point does it become too much?

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I don’t have a direct answer for this question, I just know that for me, limiting my running time most days of the week keeps me from finding out.

You like my little plan, don’t you. It’s clever isn’t it? Self-inflicted time constraints. Genius, I know.

If you recall from my post about why I gave up the scale years ago, I dealt with amenorrhea as a direct result of not eating enough for what I was burning off.

It is a slippery slope friends, especially for me. My body is super sensitive. One extra mile and one less calorie and my systems will shut down and go into self-protection mode.

I know I am not the only person who has struggled with this. Many female athletes go without their periods for months, if not years on end. Click here to learn more about the Female Athlete Triad.

You may enjoy not experiencing your monthly visitor, feeling all PMS-and-tampon free… but unfortunately, the torture it brings every 28 days is actually a sign of a healthy body.

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On the outside, you don’t realize the damage you are causing to your insides when you miss a cycle. It didn’t matter what the doctors told me; I heard it, I sort of understood it but I didn’t actually SEE IT.

Not getting your period affects all of your other organs and bodily processes. My blood tests at the time indicated that my liver enzymes were through the roof along with my cholesterol – the bad cholesterol.

Not only was I not a drinker of alcoholic beverages, I certainly wasn’t eating fatty foods to spike my cholesterol levels. My liver enzymes were high because my liver was basically eating itself as a form of fuel. The high cholesterol was being produced by my body to make up for the lack of fat in my diet.

Sounds scary right? The good news is that it was all reversible. Once I ate more to make up for what I was burning off, everything went back to normal and I was able to have a baby when I wanted a few years later.

The funny thing is, and what I am trying to point out here today, is that I never missed a meal back then, I just didn’t eat ENOUGH at each meal.

I also never over-exercised. Avid exerciser yes, over-exerciser, no. In fact, I run much more now than I ever did back then.

I really wish I could offer you the magical meal plan for your pre and post workouts, how many calories to add to your diet to make up for the miles you are running.

Finding the balance of calories in/calories out is a million dollar question. The media blasts us with meal plans and calorie slashing techniques and recipes that promise to make us run faster and farther while allowing us to drop the pounds.

If you want my opinion, take the pressure off and just, well, eat…

 

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…Balanced of course with plenty of complex carbs, nutrient dense foods, loads of fruits and vegetables and lean proteins and healthy fats….but allowing yourself to enjoy your favorite foods and cravings, such as dessert, as I did last night, is mandatory.

I know they say a “minute on the lips forever on the hips” but I don’t buy it.

One brownie sundae will not do you in. But it will make you happy.

There is so much more to say on all of this and I should probably continue to cover it in future posts. I struggled a bit to write this post because there are so many topics (especially fueling your body and workouts) that deserve undivided attention. Please let me know if there is anything specific you want to me to further discuss and I will be happy to do so!

Links of interest:

Running On Empty – A runner’s story of how easy it is to cross line from eating smart to barely eating

Compulsive Exercisers – signs and symptoms

Orthorexia – when trying to eat healthy is taken too far

No specific questions today although I am interested in hearing your thoughts…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Amanda @ .running with spoons. February 27, 2014, 6:58 am

    It really is scary how easily women shrug off not having a period… and how many think it’s normal to miss your cycle when you’re an athlete. I mean, sure it’s convenient not to have to deal with it every month, but like you said — it can cause tonnes of problems that we may not even be aware of. I lost my period for YEARS when I was dealing with my ED, and it probably took me another year to get it back… I never even realized the goofy things my body was doing when my hormones were all messed up. And don’t even get me started on the diet and exercise “tips” handed out by the media. I can’t even imagine trying to get by on 1200 calories, and doing that while exercising? Yeah.right.

    • The Cookie ChRUNicles February 27, 2014, 10:17 am

      I can’t even read the links and articles I see about diet/exercise “tips” anymore. I just can’t go there. While they really may work for some people, I tend to just find them too restricting and not realistic.

  • pickyrunner February 27, 2014, 8:31 am

    I can relate to your story SO so much. My eating disorder manifested itself as compulsive exercise paired with anorexia. I never spent 4 hours a day working out, I just ran and went for walks for far fewer hours than I do now. I know these days I have a tendency for my exercise to get out of control and I get injured the minute that happens- my bodies way of saying enough. I like your idea of forcing you to be short on time so you avoid falling into that trap- that’s really such a great idea! Plus, refueling with giant pieces of cake or ice cream is one way to make sure the calories in=calories out in a tasty way 🙂

    • The Cookie ChRUNicles February 27, 2014, 10:16 am

      It’s so important to be in tune with our own bodies…what is fine for someone else, may be way too much for us….

  • Shannon February 27, 2014, 9:29 am

    This is a very inspiring post and I am so thankful to have read it. Most bloggers, I find, have over exercising tendencies that they seem to find ok. They do not sense a problem with exercising for hours a day while tracking every calorie they consume. After suffering from an eating disorder for eight years and still struggling with one, it is nice to hear that eating dessert every so often is OKAY! and also, that not spending four hours a day exercising is also OKAY. thank you for this!

    • The Cookie ChRUNicles February 27, 2014, 10:15 am

      Aww, you are very welcome…I am so glad that I was able to inspire you this morning. Dessert is more than OK – it is never a good idea to deny yourself what you love and/or crave. It will only backfire.

  • Meghan @ fitnesscrEATures February 27, 2014, 9:31 am

    Very insightful, lady. And it’s a really valid point that when you think disorder, you immediately go right to those two obvious ones – and those aren’t always the only ones.
    Thanks for sharing!! And yes, a brownie sundae will be just fine for you! 🙂

    • The Cookie ChRUNicles February 27, 2014, 10:14 am

      The sundae is fine when I don’t have to share it! My son took way too many spoonfuls last night!

  • lindsay February 27, 2014, 9:46 am

    I went without a period for years due to anorexia. I never shrugged it off at first, but unfortunately every doctor I went to did so I started thinking it wasn’t such a big deal. When I finally recovered and my period came back, I realized why I felt so awful when I wasn’t getting it. I feel so much better in so many ways now that my hormone’s are back in balance.

    • The Cookie ChRUNicles February 27, 2014, 10:12 am

      I remember the dr wanted to put me on the pill just to bring it on…In my mind, I felt as though that was only masking the problem. Isn’t it funny how some doctors don’t see how huge of a deal it is for the menstrual cycle to be present on it’s own? And I agree, I felt so much better when it came back and I was back in balance.

  • Davida @The Healthy Maven February 27, 2014, 9:49 am

    I think there are things that are good for your body and good for your soul. The brownie sundae is good for your soul which is equally as important as being good for your body! Keeps things balanced. Running can easily become an addiction but so long as you don’t push yourself beyond your limits (trust me, I did) and are fuelling your body right (Thank god for pancakes) then it all works out in the end.

    • The Cookie ChRUNicles February 27, 2014, 10:11 am

      I totally agree with you…Figuring out the balance and making sure you aren’t overdoing it is such a lifelong process and journey, which is exactly why one needs their brownie sundae (and pancakes) to keep from going insane!