Post # 1
So, I’m like 3 weeks behind on my usually fairly regular period. I think I can safely call it “missed” at this point. I know the first thing you’d think is that I’m pregnant but I don’t think that’s possible as my husband has been deployed since Feb so no sex for me and I’ve had my period up until this point. I also took a couple pregnancy tests just to be super duper sure.
So I did a bit of Googling. There are reasons for missed periods that can do with health issues, or certain medications. However I’m fit as a fiddle and the only med I’m on is Spironolactone for acne (brought on by my last foray into the wonderful world of hormonal birth control which I stopped last year). The only thing I started thinking may be causing it is my recent diet/exercise routine. I’ve been going to the gym since husband left in a bid to get slim and fit again as I’d gotten a bit tub since wedding bliss. After a few months of doing that I realised I actually wasn’t losing any weight even though I was getting stronger. So I switched up my routine completely starting end of May. I started seriously watching my calories and limiting myself to 1200 a day. My Base Metabolic Rate is around 1650 so that would put me in a decent deficit. However I also added on some high intensity training 6 times a week with a mix of ballet cardio/strength training and High Intensity yoga (BUTI Yoga). I have a Fitbit and I’m often around the 1900-2000 calories burned mark everyday with a calorie consumption of 1200 (so a deficit of between 700-800cal a day). Sometimes going over that if I add in walking which I do now and then.
Now that I write it out I guess it could seem extreme, but I’ve honestly felt amazing. I have energy, I feel strong, I’m looking much better (I can see abs for like the first time in my life!). I also eat healthily, so lots of good fats and protein and a decent helping of carbs. I practically never feel hungry. I don’t know precisely how much weight I’ve lost as I don’t own a scale, (and it wouldn’t be accurate anyway as I’m gaining muscle), but I do measure myself occasionally and I have lost around 3 inches everywhere. My waist (the smallest part) went from 28.5″ to 26.25″since the end of May. My mother came to visit recently from overseas and reckoned by looking at me that I had lost anything from 6-8kg (13-17lbs).
So all in all I have felt great and accomplished. But, I’ve missed my period. And now knowing that sudden weight loss can cause this cause it mucks up your hormones and looking at my numbers (probably at least 13lbs lost over only like 6weeks with extreme calorie deficits), I’m wondering if maybe I’m messing up my body, even though otherwise I feel fantastic.
I will go to the doctor eventually but want to try sorting it myself for a bit first since the exercise thing seems to be the most likely culprit.
So I was wondering if anyone else has experienced this while working out and/or dieting? And if you have, how did you treat it without completely giving up your routine or weightloss accomplishments? The last thing I was to do is stop everything and pile it all back on again. I’m going to give the intense exercise a break for a while and up my calorie count to just below maintence level and see if that helps for now. Or has any other explanation that could explain a missed period in an otherwise healthy regular woman?
Thanks for any advice!
Post # 2
Honestly, you should really consult your doctor. It sounds like female athlete triad may be a possibility. Which if it is, can be very detrimental to your health. I’d also look into working with a nutritionist and exercise physiologist who can offer you guidance on how to take care of your body properly while exercising.
Post # 3
You’re looking at this in extremes. The only options aren’t hours and hours of exercise on 1,200 calories per day or stop everything and gain it all back.
Eat more calories and cut down on some of your exercises. You’re going overboard.
You may feel good now, but it definitely won’t last if you keep going like this. You’re body simply can’t function under these conditions. It could cause permanent damage.
Post # 4
You may have some problems in your thyroid which is causing abnormal hormone levels. I would consult with your doctor and get some blood tests done to insure your hormone levels are normal.
Post # 5
You’re right, I do tend to think in those terms. I tend to be an all or nothing sort of person (I think cause it makes me feel like I’m more in control), but I will definitely try to cut back and eat more. I suppose I’m nervous since before I would do an hour or more at the gym and not see any results and I’ve finally found something that works, so it’s hard to think to stop. But I will cut back, my health is more important. I guess I didn’t really realise how much I was doing or that it could have a detrimental effect like this.
Thanks for the advice. I have heard of that but never thought I would have that issue to be honest. Now that I know I’m going to be more careful. I will talk to my doctor about it next time I go and see if they can refer me to someone who can give me better nutrition advice. Up till now I’ve been relying on asking my gym-rat friends for advice lol, maybe not such a good idea.
Post # 6
saccarabird : no problem! Again, I’m no medical doctor, but if it the chance that it is female athlete triad, it can be resolved and a menstrual cycle will return once you start taking better care of your body! It’s just dangerous in the long run because of the risk of osteoporosis. It could also be tons of other things, such as hormones, medications, etc. To which I know very little to nothing about 😉 Totally worth looking into a nutritionist or sports nutritionist, though! Be well, bee!
Post # 7
I’d consult with your doctor to make sure you are okay healthwise, but I’ve heard stress can also lead to missed periods. I still remember missing a period when I was in college and it was due around finals. Nothing else was different and I wasn’t having sex and my period returned the next month. I never did talk to a doctor, but google and stress was the only reason that fit my life. It never happened again for me.
Id still go see a doctor with the exercise Vs calories and someone who knows you commenting on your weight loss. Eating disorders can sneak up on you and really damage your health. If you’re starting to suffer from one, it would be best to start working on it now instead of waiting.
Post # 8
It’s happened to me before. At first I thought it’s great! I lost weight! For the first time in my life I was no longer overweight! Everyone complimented me! My period got lighter and eventually vanished — no more hassle! Until I realised the damage I was doing to my body…
You’re eating way too little for your activity level and lost weight too quickly, shocking the body into thinking it’s famine and to shut down your fertility. I would bump the calorie back up to at least 1800 kcal (preferably higher!) with nutrient-dense food. You’ll still be at a deficit, but your body will healthily adapt instead of fight against you.
Post # 9
Thanks everyone for your advice. I have made an appointment with my doctor so will hopefully nip this in the bud asap. I certainly don’t want to find myself in some sort of obssesive exercise/dieting cause I know how bad that can be for people. I just honestly didn’t realise how far I was pushing myself until my period was like “Later biatch”
Oh thanks! Glad to hear from someone who’s been through something similar. What you said makes sense. Did you talk to your doctor about it or did you just figure it out yourself? I must say my eyes bugged out at eating 1800cals haha I’ll have to really put effort into that. I eat 1200 very happily so bumping it up (while not involving junk food) will probably take some time. Hopefully I can speak to a nutritionist soon who may be able to educate me better. Is it more to do with the actual deficit itself though do you think, in your experience? Like I’ve been operating at a upwards 700cal deficit, and I should rather push it up to like a 200-100cal deficit? So if I do no exercise (I burn 1600cal just by living) and that day eat say 14-1500, but if I work out and burn total 1800, aim for eating like 1600 that day? Sorry haha I know you aren’t a doctor, just looking for opinions 🙂
Post # 10
saccarabird : I’m not a dietitian or doctor but I read peer-reviewed journals on the topic extensively for my personal health and interest. Obviously you should listen to the medical professional who eventually work with you, but you already realise what you’re currently doing is not right for your body, otherwise you wouldn’t have started this topic.
1800 kcal is nothing! I exercise far less than you do (weight training 2x/w, HIIT 1x/w, hatha yoga 2x/w, brisk walking the dog daily), but I eat on average 2000-2200 kcal! I’m only average height at 163 cm (~5’4), too. And no, I wasn’t “born lucky”; I’ve been overfat all childhood.
I didn’t talk to a doctor to figure it out; I knew what I was doing to myself when I overexercised and underate. I did it out of hatred and disgust because I was called fat and ugly by my mother through adolescence. Once I started to approach weight loss (and now weight maintenance) from love for my body, my body learnt to love me back.
What is your goal here? How “slim and fit” do you intend to be?
Post # 11
Oh that’s great you managed to find what worked for you like that! I feel like when I eat over 1800 I would definitely start to put on weight. If for example I’m only burning 1600 and eat 1800 I’ll gain weight no? But I will definitely try to work out the sweet spot for myself 🙂 . But I will mention it to the doctor when I go and the nutritionist and see what they say.
My ultimate goal I guess would be to be around 58kg (127lbs). (I’m 5’7″ if that’s relevant). That’s how much I weighed when I met my husband a few years ago and when I felt I looked my best. Although I know now that I’m focusing a lot more on strength training the scale itself wont really be accurate. I don’t actually even know exactly how much I weigh right now as I don’t own a scale. So it’s really down to just feeling better and fitting my clothes well lol.
But it isn’t all about the weight loss of course. I want to be strong and healthy and I’ve found exercising has helped me in so many other ways like I don’t have as many aches and pains and back issues (I’ve always had those and I’m only 25!) and I have way more energy and less anxiety. I love feeling like my body actually works for me rather than me being a slave to it’s weaknesses. So I certainly don’t want to stop that.
I’m sorry you had to go through your mother saying nasty things to you about your weight, but I’m so glad you’ve learned to love your body again!! <3
If you don’t mind me asking, what does your typical day look like food wise?
Post # 12
Stress can also be something that can impact your period. For me though it makes it come earlier by a few days but everyone is different.
You could wait one more cycle or consult your doctor. Your period should not be affected by weightloss unless your BMI has gone into the female athlete numbers range, which it doesn’t sound like you have.
Post # 13
Yes, I think you are overtraining and not getting enough calories.
(current student of NASM)
Post # 14
i used to be a sort of ultra athlete. i was into triathlons. did a half ironman, and LOTS of training (swim, bike, run) and strength training. if i wasn’t at work, i was working out. (this of course was before kids and tapered off as i got more serious with my now husband)
and let me tell you, i couldn’t eat enough food. i felt i was constantly eating and i was still losing weight.
so yes, with all the physical activity, 1200 calories is far too few. 1200 calories is about what a sedentary person needs to survive day to day.
Post # 15
1200 is in no way enough for you. I don’t think you should go more than about 20-25%% below your maintenance calories (see this page for info on picking the right calorie deficit), especially since you’re not obese and you are trying to increase/maintain performance and strength. You can find out what your maintenance calories are in two ways:
1. Look up a total daily energy expenditure calculator. I just typed your stats in (127 pounds, 5’7″, 6 days exercise) and got a suggestion of roughly 2200.
2. Buy a scale, increase daily calories by 100 every couple of weeks until you stop losing weight.
So yeah, even if the tdee is wrong and your daily need is more like 2000 or even 1800, you’re probably eating at a very aggressive deficit.