It’s not surprising that lately I’ve received a number of emails and personal messages from women who are struggling with hormone imbalance. Many of them know I too have struggled with different challenges or seem to remember that I did, so they contact me asking for help.
Many of the most recent emails have changed a little. Going from “relating” to my challenges to now “noticing” that I seem more upbeat and back to my old self.
What’s funny about that is, when you are in the middle of it, you don’t really notice the changes, but when somebody points it out, you can’t help but stand back and take a better look. And they are right. I am feeling better. I knew was starting to, and I’d had many indicators, but I really didn’t analyze how that reflected in my mood, my actions, and definitely not how it came across in my communication through social media. The fact that others are witnessing the change through words says a lot. I must be close.
Some of the positive changes I’ve noticed along the way that were all good indicators were…
When I could get through the day and not feel compelled to take a nap. I haven’t felt like running away and sinking my head in a pillow to escape for a long time now. It used to be I’d be dragging by 2 pm. It would take everything to keep my energy up long enough to get Zane down for a nap so that I could join him – in my own bed. I’d count down the hours and minutes. I’d be gone as soon as I hit the pillow. My body was literally wiped.
Now there are times when I want to take a nap, but it’s more for selfish reasons. I want to do it because it “sounds nice.” Big difference.
It used to be I was incredibly paranoid. Oh my gosh was I ever. I noticed it most within my closest circle of friends. I was worried about what they thought, how they acted, if they still really cared about me, wondering why they didn’t play a more active role in helping me get better. I over analyzed absolutely everything, and I was really really depressed. I shared some of that with you but not to the extent I was feeling it, because I didn’t want to be the “Debbie Downer” we all loathe being around. I was in a bad place though, and now looking back it felt very real. At the time I completely felt that what I was experiencing was real.
Now I feel more like my old self. I’m confident, happy, independent, and honestly? Could care less about what others think. Yeah, I guess I do to an extent, but it’s more the way I feel it should be. As long as I am doing my best to be the best kind of friend I feel I can be with an honest loving heart, then that’s all I can do. Take it or leave it. Accept me or not, this is me. I can’t give more than that. Before I wouldn’t have been strong enough.
Before I turned to food…. a lot. It built up over the months and then it peaked right around the time I was writing about binging. Food became my solace. In a way it was my own self-therapy, but as I’d eat more, I’d be even more upset with myself. It was a very twisted and ugly cycle. I cringe thinking back.
Now, with my strength and vindication, I feel much more equipped to let those feelings go. I am strong. I am still tempted, but it’s by cravings, not by wanting to “treat” myself. I don’t see food as a way out of my problems. I see it as food – stuff I enjoy eating. It’s still more than simply “fuel” to me, but it isn’t what it used to be.
Stimulants. Lack of energy. Before I really did abuse them. I had no energy. I missed my energy. I missed being able to up and go non-stop all day. That was what I remembered, but at my worst during this trial I had nothing. I felt good in the morning for the most part (some days not so much), but then as the day continued, I dragged. I turned to stimulants. You name it.
Now, I can’t say I’m 100% in the clear, but I am so much better. So much. I’m more leery of caffeine and it’s counterparts in everything I consume. I still feel it was the stimulants that partly did the most damage to my adrenals. They no longer responded to the increased taxation. They just gave up. So I’d try more and more only to ruin them more and more. Cutting back was one of the hardest changes. Like any drug and any habit needing broken, breaking stimulants was a hard change for me.
Then there’s running – probably one of the biggest indicators of all. As I mentioned it didn’t all happen at once. My health deteriorated over a period of time. Little by little changes occurred. I remember clear as day running Top of Utah (a marathon) in the Fall of 2010. It wasn’t long before the race I went in to get my hair chopped off because I was so tired of it falling out. I had no idea at that time I suffered from hypothyroidism. I didn’t understand what was going on, but I figured if I chopped it off and got rid of the old, only healthy new hair would grow back in. Ha! That was an indicator.
Then there’s the race itself. I was definitely prepared. I’d put in my time. I’d put in my miles. I’d done what I needed to. I even raced a good race that day – time wise. I brought home my best time yet: 3:42:41. But, it was the hardest race I’ve ever experienced. My head was swaying left and right and front and back. My commitment was 110% there, but more than anything I wanted to stop. It was a new feeling, and I didn’t know how to deal with it during the run, but I didn’t like it. It was a “labored” race. I think that word suits it nicely.
It was after Top of Utah I started to learn about my health challenges. I trained and ran Boston without incident. I was on medication at that time. Then in the Fall I ran the Halloween Half and hit my fast half yet which qualified me for New York. But I was tired – a lot more tired than I’d remember during previous halfs. Then Winter. And that’s when all these little “signs” came to a head. My body gave up. And I really could. not. run.
It wasn’t until just recently I started running to build up any kind of a base. I’d run now and again – but just short 3-5 milers and only once in a while. I’d do it just to see if I still could and to see how I felt.
More than anything I was scared that once I started running again I’d repeat the same old pattern that had happened last winter. I was worried my body would reject it and shut down. I was worried I’d be out of breath within a mile if I pushed a little harder (that had happened before). I was worried. Period.
And I talked to anyone I could about it. If that person was a seasoned runner and I valued their opinion, I’d pick their brain. Sarah, one of my best friends. Colby, my neighbor, my Publisher, a seasoned marathon and ultra-runner. The Iron Cowboy, not only a season triathlete, but someone who’d run 30 Ironmen in the past year. These were people I trusted. And there were more. I wanted to know what they thought. What did they recommend for me?
Colby finally got to the point where he told me not to worry so much. Just run.
Easier said than done. He hadn’t just had the year I did.
But soon enough the time had come to give it another go. Just run. Loosely using one of the longest (furthest out) and easiest marathon programs I could find (32 weeks), I started Jeff Galloway’s marathon program a few weeks ago. Of course, I’d already missed several of the beginning weeks. I started around week #24. The idea for me was to start building up a base early since I’d lost it. I didn’t even know if my body would remember what a good base felt like. I also wanted a program that wouldn’t kill me off. Last time I’d started with Run Less Run Faster, but this was at the height of my challenges, and the more I pushed, the more fatigued I became. Great program wrong timing. This time I wanted to keep it easy. I didn’t want to have to hit set times. I just wanted a schedule that I could follow that was easy and would allow me to put in the time and the miles and prepare me safely. Basically I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew.
And the first couple of weeks came and went as did their scheduled long runs – 6 and then 7.5, and both times I felt strong. I even ran the Oktoberfest 10k for my 6-miler, and I took 1st in my age group. **smile** But then there were the longer ones – 9 during Anaheim and a little over 10 yesterday. And guess what? Both times I felt strong. So strong. So amazingly strong. My legs felt like machines – not heavy like before. My breathing felt controlled and in rhythm – not sporadic like before. I felt good.
Just months ago I wondered if I really would ever be able to run a marathon again. Maybe those days were behind me.
And now I know I can and will.
And there’s even the little part inside me that’s starting to play around with wanting to run, or should I say jog, an ultra. At the right speed, the way I’m feeling, that just might happen some day. Maybe.
All in all, I’m on the right track. I can feel it. I never would have seen it coming. I hoped it would, but I didn’t necessarily plan on it. Yet here I am 18 months later from the start, and I’m feeling like me.
Why do I share all this with you? It helps me. It helps me process through my own journey, definitely. But I also hope that it will in some way help you. Don’t ever give up. Don’t stop believing in yourself. If your tunnel is dark right now, don’t give up hope for light. It will come. It will happen. Have patience. Do what you can within your own power to make the right changes. No one can fix you without you seeking the right help. Research. Read. Listen to your body. Make changes. The light will come.