What happens when women exercise too much? Here's a peak inside my personal fitness journey.
As women, we place so many expectations on ourselves. To do everything (all at once) and do them all perfectly. Life somehow turned into this balancing act we feel we can't keep up with.
To cope, us high performing ladies will do endless cardio and other types of exercise, pick ourselves up with caffeine and sugar, and calm ourselves down with our favorite cocktail. I've done all of these things.
Extremely active and stressed out women are far more susceptible to burnout because we rarely take time to rest. Drawing from my own journey, I can relate.
In my quest to achieve and be everything as a teen and young adult, I learned to cope by over exercising, something called compulsive over exercise disorder. At the time, I thought I was being healthy, I had no idea I was struggling with a disorder!
Running and cardio were my main drugs of choice. Those sweet, glorious endorphins are what I used to deal with life’s stress.
At my worst, I exercised 3-4 hours a day.
I would take, maybe, one rest day a month.
Never allowing myself to stop and recoup, I was in a constant state of mental, physical and emotional exhaustion.
This went on for 12 years.
The impact overexercising had on my mind and body were detrimental. It left my adrenal glands fatigued, my cortisol levels (a stress hormone) through the roof, and my hormones (and mood!) plummeting with that time of the month. This lead to many period problems, low energy, irritability, and hating my body.
When done in healthy doses, cardio and all types of exercise is amazing!
Exercise, as we know, has numerous benefits to help us deal with stress. But when you take it to the extreme I did, it has many negative effects on your hormones, and leaves your body in a constant stressed out state.
As a perfectionist and control freak, my obsession with exercise started after my parents divorce when I was 15. Under the circumstances, I chose to be separated from my parents and siblings and moved in with an uncle.
Running became a form of therapy.
Life felt so out of control and I only felt calm when running.
Yet, the more I ran, the more pressure I put on myself to succeed and the more out of balance my life became. On some level, I knew I needed rest, but didn’t know how to stop.
Society teaches us to celebrate exercise, and it should be when done in healthy ways. But one thing I hadn't learned was that too much of it would be a bad thing. I went for a long time not knowing this was a problem.
I honestly thought I was being healthy.
I was at my worst during my senior year of college when I was training for a marathon. I did it for all the wrong reasons. It gave me an excuse to exercise even more, and not feel guilty talking about it.
By the time I turned 25, things had peaked. I moved from NYC (where I started my career and lived for three years) to the San Francisco Bay Area in California. I left behind my cushy job and busy lifestyle in search of more peace and balance.
The move made me face my fears, and I finally chose to listen to my heart when it said to stop running.
My mind was blown!
In just three weeks, I lost 10 pounds. Talk about stress weight!
On the outside I always looked fine, but I didn't feel it.
Calmer exercise choices, rest, and adopting a Paleo diet, I lost another 5 pounds. This helped me address numerous food sensitivities I was dealing with, yet had no idea. I’ve been able to kept it off for the past eight years!
In my healing, I learned how to turn inward and connect with my body in a new way. Cycle syncing changed everything. It was like I could finally hear what my body was trying to tell me. I spent many nights writing in my journal, meditating, and trying to figure out the root of my emotions.
Quite literally - I dropped to my knees, surrendered control, and asked the Universe for guidance on a better way to live.
Exercise had been my excuse to run away from all my fears - of my past, my future, fear of failure, and not being good enough.
I learned to be “comfortable” with being uncomfortable.
Learning to set boundaries, knowing the science of my hormones and laws to the female body (you'll love our free Hormones 101 Masterclass), improved food choices, and recognizing resistance in my life, I finally feel at peace. When the world gets chaotic, I use it as a chance to check in with myself and ask for guidance.
The mind/body connection is one of our most powerful tools we have in navigating the chaos life can bring. And learning our cycles and body's rhythms is crucial for our self development.
This sense of inner calm and peace is something I now have dedicated my life to help other women find. I want to help as many women as possible understand their hormones and how their emotions are a key part to discovering what needs to change in their lives.
By holding on tightly to your to-do list and unrealistic expectations for yourself and others, you can set impossible standards, which leave you feeling disappointed and resentful.
Learning how to release control and surrender to your natural flow of life, you can recognize your actions and redirect your behavior to get more of what you want.
My story is not unique - it’s one many women face.
I believe this power begins by knowing and understanding your hormones. To take ownership and accountability for your actions, especially the way you take care of yourself.
Every action you take impacts your hormone function. Balancing your food, fitness, and daily habits is crucial to every woman to feel happy and healthy.