Stress & HA

This post originally appeared as part of a series on Sophie's blog 

I wrote this blog in July 2016 when I was feeling overwhelmed and had the urge to just write it all down. So here it is... raw and true.

My number ONE key factor for having hypothalamic amenorrhea is stress.

Stress plays so many roles in our daily lives wether they are:

  • Emotional, worry and anxiety
  • Physical 
  • Mental
  • Work and studies
  • Health

So I've broken down each one for myself, which was actually a very eye opening exercise.

I recommend you do it too even if you don't have HA but to identify your own stress levels.

The PHYSICAL STRESS due to my training program. This is a non-negotiable until the olympics have finish and I have given my absolute best. It's currently now only 30 days to go until the olympics and biggest event and races of my life, as I am writing this.

So this point right now seems unavoidable and most likely the prime cause of my HA, especially because I'm a lightweight rower and have to have my body weight down to 57kgs to be able to compete in my event. This contributing to my low body fat percentage AKA. body mass index (BMI) of 19.3 approx. In Kate's ebook 'Healing Hypothalamic Amenorrhea' she states that for the hormones and body to be functioning optimally as females our BMI should be up around 22, highlighting to me again my low body fat.

Plan of Attack: after the Olympics have time off to relax and recover, less cardio and intense training sessions (probably none actually).

Instead lots of yoga sessions which works out perfectly as I'm about to start my yoga teacher training in September.

As well as long slow walks in nature mainly because I love these and don't often get to do them when I'm training cause I'm to fatigued and sore.

MY MONKEY MIND

I can't focus on one thing at a time.

I am continuously on overdrive, thinking thinking thinking, planning, writing lists, checking off lists, getting anxious about whats coming up, things that are due, things I should of already done... ARGH, this is making me anxious just even typing it down. I try and do a million things at once and end up feeling like I've achieved sweet nothing.

For example.... I am currently watching a Ted talk (by Jack Delosa on Elle_fit_Active site) while writing AND editing my website (which hasn't even launched yet), checking my kindle app to see if I have 'Unwritten' which is the book of who is presenting my Ted talk, AND I have Facebook open, multiple other tabs related to shopping carts of online shopping AND I just got of Instagram on my phone now lying beside me open just in case I need to check it again.

Seriously this is not normal. 

But I am so used to doing this every single day, often the first thing I check in the morning is my phone see the notifications and then work my way through them. Well only after I've recorded my morning heart rate, athlete responsibilities come first. 

Plan of attack: meditation, more gentle yoga & breathe work for concentration. 

OVERCOMMITTING MYSELF TO 'THINGS' STRESS

Basically just like above I have the tendency to over commit myself to studies, work, training, cooking and baking, 'Megs + Soph' stuff etc.

Heres a rundown of my current situations:

  • Training full time for rowing for the past 4 years. As this has been my one main focus to reach the Olympics.
  • I haven't had time off studying for more than a week in over 5 years. Now I have about 5 different certificates and diplomas to my name and still studying in the background at the present time. Although I am really enjoying it becuase it's something I am passionate about - Nutritional Science.
  • I say yes to most opportunities to show case healthy living, eating and stretching when my energy levels are already depleted.
  • I run 'Megs + Soph', with my good friend Megan, a recipe website on the side and continually come up with new recipes. then have to take photos of it and write the recipes up then promote it. A lot more things happen in the background that people don't see that takes more time and energy. But it's our passion and we love it!
  • I am slowly working on producing these blog posts, designing the website and content.
  • social media, hey a girls got to keep up to date on the latest gossip. I'll admit I spend way to much time scrolling through Instagram screen-shooting things I want, you know the drill and Facebook.
  • Making time to hang out and chat with my friends and family, which I feel get neglected. Sorry guys I'm working on it!!

Plan of Attack: 

1. Make a schedule // calendar for work, blog and study times.

2. Weekends are for relaxing and hanging out with my boyfriend, friends and family.

3. Focus attention on one thing at a time. <- do this by writing a list the night before or in the morning after meditation of only 2-3 things that I need to do that day. By the end of the week I've finish over 15 priority things and feel much more accomplished.

 

EMOTIONAL STRESS

I often  have one of 'those days'  that involve...

  • wanting to cry for no reason at all
  • no energy
  • can't stop snacking although not even hungry
  • look in the mirror a million times and feel like s**t
  • feel sorry for myself
  • short temper and very blunt with people
  • reserved and quite
  • can't concentrate on one thing (hence the scenario above I just described in monkey mind)

Plan of attack:

  1. Gratitude journal, I am going to start writing down 3 things I am grateful for every night before bed.

  2. Ask for hugs and give hugs

  3. Meditate <- learning to sit with your thoughts and not think about them is hard but practice is key 5 - 10 minutes every morning and night.

  4. Let all the emotions out, don't hold them in to fester. It's okay to cry and feel vulnerable. Be honest, open and don't hold back. 

  5. Remember to buy tissues for number 3.

  6. Affirmations. even if I feel silly looking in the mirror and saying that I am ... (beautiful, happy, loved, kind, strong, grateful etc.)

  7. yoga every day 5 - 60 minutes worth, calming and as my muscle relax and unwind so does my mind (cheesy I know).

Resources to use of coping with my emotional stressor's have been really valuable is reading and listening to books by;

Louise Hay 'You can heal your life' 

Gabrielle Bernstein 'May Cause Miracles' (currently working my way through this book, it more of a 6 week course to creating miracles in your life and being happy).

Micheal A. Singer 'The untethered soul'

 

GRATITUDE MOMENT

I really need to emphasis the point that, by no means am I saying saying that I'm not happy in my life because I truely am, I love my life and all the opportunities I have and the amazing people I get to surround myself with. Its just that I do have the tendency to feel and get very emotional sometimes and need management mechanisms in place for when they do occur however I am hoping that by doing more of these exercises and mediation that these 'episodes' will become less frequent.

About the Author: Sophie MacKenzie is a Double World Rowing Champion & Olympian hailing from New Zealand, who moonlights as a qualified personal trainer, yoga instructor, & health coach. Follow Sophie's journey to Tokyo 2020 on InstagramTwitter and online