My body likes me fat and lazy.
Let me qualify: my 3 month "save my period" experiment proved to be true - my exercise routine coupled with extremely clean eating habits resulted in Amenorrhea (the disappearance of my period).
At first, I thought I was going through early menopause and it manifested in many ways that led me to believe this - my skin dried out, my periods were inconsistent, very light when they did show up, or absent altogether. My sleep got shitty, my internal body temperature shot up (not quite hot flashes but pretty close) and I was always hot at night (not quite 'night sweats' but pretty close).
I was in the best shape of my life yet, hormonally my body was a mess. How ironic is that?
Looking back, a few things happened that led me to this:
(1) I was approaching 40 and was likely going through a mid-life crisis.
(2) I discovered, and fell in love with, muay thai.
(3) I wanted to see just how fit I could get...see #1.
From that, I set a goal for myself - to get in the best shape possible just to see if I could do it. I didn't set a time frame but my goal was to work out as hard as I could, eat as clean as I could and see what happened to my body. And abs, I wanted to finally see my abs; not just the obliques but actual 4 or 6-pack.
This goal wasn't a hard one to achieve either (I know, shut your face, Kathy) but hear me out -- I was already eating clean (had been since 2012) so the only thing that I changed was my fitness routine and muay thai made it really easy because I love it so much and because it's so much fun, it doesn't even seem like a workout. Two years flew by and I was the leanest I'd ever been - muscle definition everywhere, abs!! , my body fat% had never been so low (due to crazy caloric expenditure during muay thai) and I was at a weight that I haven't been since high school. I felt amazing, looked amazing and I felt so strong.
But despite feeling so good and healthy, I was actually sending my body down a dangerous path. At some point during this crazy routine, my body went into "overtraining mode" and stayed that way for about 2 years, even though it never felt that way. I was having such a good time working out and seeing amazing results that I ignored the classic signs of overtraining (consistent/recurring injuries, muscle strains and constant fatigue, joint pain etc) and ignored what my body was screaming at me. Keep in mind that only those in fight camp (those who are training for an actual fight) train at this level but fight camp typically lasts for 3-5 months; not 2 years.
My doctor told me that consistently low hormone levels leads to early osteoporosis so I kicked off my 3 month experiment in Dec 2016: I was going to gain a little weight and reduce my exercise frequency (and intensity) which made me nervous because well, I didn't want to gain weight. I was afraid of an expanding waistline, of losing my strength and having to start all over again and trust me, when you've worked as hard as I have to get to where I was, that's a pretty daunting thought.
Despite my fears, I knew I had to do it so I did. For three months, I loosened the eating reigns and actually ate liberally. I made cookies and ate them. Chocolate? sure! cupcake? sure, I'll have some, thanks. When I wanted another helping of food, I went for it. While I ate clean most of the time, indulging when I wanted to was actually fun.
So here's the current situation:
Previous weight: 124-126lbs.
Previous body fat%: 18%
Previous exercise schedule: 6 days a week muay thai, 1.5-2.5hrs per day
# rest days: 1
Current weight: 133lbs
Current body fat%: no idea at the moment but a bit higher than 18%.
Current exercise schedule: 3 days a week muay thai, 1 day a week strength training.
# rest days: 3
A 7-9 pound weight gain, more rest days (resulting in slightly increased body fat) gave me my period back; as in for 3 consecutive months, my period was consistent, normal, came when it was supposed to and lasted for more than a day (5 days, to be exact).
And guess what? I'm still happy. I'm still strong. I'm still fit. Being away from the gym more than 1 day has invigorated me and I go there wanting to smash pads and work even harder. Unfortunately, my abs aren't as defined (boo) but I'll take less-than-optimal defined abs over broken bones any day.