Posts Tagged ‘weight loss’
I feel that my situation was pretty typical of what a number of female athletes go through. I was prescribed Ortho Tri Cyclen* when I was 17 because I hadn’t had a period for more than two years. Not wanting to put anything artificial in my body and being scared about the hormones, I didn’t actually start taking the pills until I sustained a stress fracture in my foot during my freshman cross-country season at college.
After the fracture, a doctor convinced me that it occurred because my bone density was low. He said my bones were suffering because I didn’t have periods. This was the case because the absence of menses meant that my body didn’t have enough estrogen… and estrogen was the key to calcium being absorbed by my bones. He told me that my estrogen was low because I ran so much. And he said all this could be corrected by taking the birth control pill because it would supply my body with artificial estrogen that would keep my bones strong.
The Female Athlete Triad- of disordered eating, amenorrhea, and osteoporosis- was a relatively new buzzword ten years ago and doctors, trainers, and coaches were quick to jump to the conclusion that the birth control pill was the easiest, quickest-fix band-aid solution to the most bothersome part of it. I wish that I could say that as a community, sports medicine has made tremendous progress – that doctors, coaches, and trainers know a great deal more about how to address these situations with their athletes, but I don’t really believe it’s much better. Birth control pills are more than ever being prescribed to young athletes (and non-athletes alike) as a quick-fix solution to problems that require a much deeper and more comprehensive look at the whole system.
When I look back at my own situation, I realize that the Doctor made a lot of assumptions in his hypothesis. First, he assumed that my stress fracture was due to having low bone density, though he never measured the density of my bones. In reality it was my training that changed significantly – I had gone from running maybe 40 miles per week on dirt roads in high school in Colorado to running 70+ miles per week in college mostly on pavement.
The other reality about my situation was that running or body fat percentage wasn’t the cause of my amenorrhea. I was always a very active teenager and a “late bloomer.” I played 3-4 varsity level sports during high school. I only had a couple “regular periods” when I was 15 years old and they ceased when I left to be an exchange student in southern Brazil. In Brazil I wasn’t allowed outside of the house alone. It was, by far, the most sedentary I have ever been at any time in my life. And like all exchange students, I gained a few pounds. And yet this is the time in my life when my periods stopped. When I returned from Brazil, I embarked on a 30-day wilderness education course backpacking across Colorado’s San Juan Range. But still my cycle didn’t return.
Over the years I stopped taking birth control twice for several months at time to see if my period would return on its own. Each time I noticed a marked improvement in my mood and digestion, but each time a friend or doctor encouraged me to go back on the pill because I needed it for my bones. I remained on a mono-phasal birth control pill until the age of 25. At that point, my digestive problems and allergies were so bad that I wanted to try anything to alleviate the situation. I read as much as I could find on the subject, scheduled a bone density scan that came back on the low side of normal, and quit the pill for good. It was a liberating feeling!
Eventually, about 7 months later, my cycle returned naturally for the first time in over 10 years. For the first year or two it was not consistent- some months it wouldn’t come, some months it would only last a day. However, the overall trend was one of progress.
Acupuncture has been the single most helpful tool for me in finding hormonal balance and regulating my periods. I highly recommend it!
OK, I admit it…. I watch the Biggest Loser. It is the only reality TV show that I’ve ever really watched and certainly the only the one I’ve been hooked on. And yeah… I’ve been there since the beginning. In all fairness, we cancelled our cable last year- so I had to give up my food network addiction (Alton Brown, I miss you!) and my love for HGTV. I love making fun of the mainstream advice that the trainers give, not to mention the mini-commercials that riddle the episodes.
Like Bob really eats Quaker’s Weight Control Oatmeal EVERY day for breakfast. At least in this week’s pop quiz, all the remaining contestants knew the calorie equivalent of a pound (3500 Kcal). Before this show, I’m sure most of them stayed as far away from that knowledge as possible.
The way the producers have stretched this show into a two-hour infomercial is almost inspirational. And yeah, the writer’s strike probably had something to do with it, but it is definitely the most brilliant marketing move ever made by 24-hour fitness.
The irony of Ian and I watching this is certainly not lost on me… he is pretty scrawny and I am not exactly huge….we’re both underweight according to our BMIs. We joke about him going on a show for Biggest Gainers, where they take skinny guys and see who can gain the most muscle.
But seriously, there is something very inspirational about the positive underlying message. These people are taking their life in their hands. They are doing something, they are motivated, they are making changes. I also can’t believe how hard these obese contestants can push themselves (you know the casting crew must do some serious testing on these people to make sure they can handle that type of physical activity). And I do love the before & afters.
I am addicted to the Biggest Loser the same way I love shows about remodelling and flipping houses. (I would watch Extreme Home Makeover, but Ian won’t have it). In the end there are worse things than being left with a compulsion to do core exercises and scrub the bathtub.
I guess this is the time of year when people when people get sick. For some reason this year it seems like everyone in Portland has been sick in the last month or 6-weeks. I am actually finally feeling better after two weeks of achy-tired-yuckiness. Did I say tired? I meant exhausted. It took me a week to realize that I was actually sick, and not just suffering from some strange sudden-onset of chronic fatigue syndrome.
That all being said. The lack of energy inspired me to think about my thyroid again…. and I started surfing to see what I could find. This was my big discovery:
Wow. I love the idea that doctors need to start treating the symptoms again and not just the lab results. I do think most of us are under-medicated when it comes to the thyroid. (I keep holding out hope that the celiac disease has caused my elevated thyroid antibodies… and that if enough time goes by on my gluten-free diet, my thyroid will magically be better again! but that is beside the point)
Hypo-thyroid patients used to receive enough medication so that their symptoms were alleviated. Now, as most of us know, doctors shoot for our TSH to be in a targeted range. The problem is that where you feel your best can be at different places within that range. It turns out TSH is pretty individual.
One thing is certain: Doctors like tests. They like hard “science” and measurable data. They like numbers they can monitor. (kind of like cholesterol, but that is another can of worms entirely)
I would love to find a good ND to compliment the treatment I already get. It is an avenue that I haven’t really explored, but one that seems like it might be very beneficial.