Arianna’s Story

I’ve wanted a lean strong body since I was about 10 years old. I remember begging my mom for this workout machine called the “gazelle” for my 11th birthday, I wanted to look just like the girl using it on the infomercial. Boy I had a lot to learn!  But instead my mom insisted she would get me a membership at her gym, I was so excited!! I was the youngest member for a long time.

A couple years later I was finishing 7th grade. My hormones starting fluctuating & my appetite was getting insatiable, I starting eating anything & EVERYTHING! I put on 25 pounds in about 4 months. That made a huge difference on my once slender frame, people noticed immediately & I was embarrassed & ashamed. I cried a lot during those years.

It wasn’t until I was about 16, when I started dating my now husband that I lost 20 pounds.

I was so in love I wasn’t really craving food like I used to & the weight just effortlessly & naturally came off without me really trying. I finally felt confident.

I got engaged at 20 and decided I really wanted to get in shape for my wedding. At that time my older sister and brother in law, were also getting serious into fitness as they began training for a competition. So I was fortunate to get help on proper training from them, they taught me how to really workout and not just float around the gym like I had always done. It only took a few months & my body had a new physique that I was very proud of!

I maintained that body for a few years until after I had my son, he was about 8 months old when I took it up a notch in the gym. I wasn’t focusing on dieting at this point just putting on muscle and enjoying my alone time at the gym.

Then, about 6 months later I  discovered a calorie tracking app and my whole life changed.

I cut out sweets and upped my protein intake and calculated I was eating around 1600-1700 calories a day. I was losing fat at a nice steady pace and had never felt better about my body! People couldn’t believe I didn’t even do cardio! My metabolism was very healthy. I felt really good at this point!

Things started to shift over the summer, I started to indulge on weekends and my appetite started getting a little more stronger, I began feeling really guilty as the scale shifted a few ounces here and there so I decided I needed to start being STRICT. I no longer ate intuitively but instead started planning and tracking the day (sometimes many days) before. I would limit myself to about 1200-1350 calories a day and kicking up workouts.

My body was fighting every second of it.

I was noticing many negative changes in my body during this time, my appetite started getting out of control, I couldn’t stop thinking about food and I would count down the hours until my next meal. I was cranky, depressed and tired all the time. My workouts were becoming miserable. My once full, defined muscles were now soft and empty.

My cycles were getting farther apart until January I finally had my last. I was still making no progress. My weight plateaued and then I decided I needed to change something about my diet. I started thinking “maybe I’m just underestimating everything I’m eating”. I began carb cycling as if my poor body hadn’t been punished enough. I weighed every gram of food that went in my mouth. I guess I was obsessed.

I was eating around 80 carbs on my lowest days. It was making everything worse. I went to a couple different doctors for my cycle issues. They asked me if my diet was healthy…”Of course!” I said. I didn’t eat processed foods, I ate plenty of fruits, veggies and protein, so no problem there! I wish they would have asked me how much I ate. They took blood tests, told me all my hormone levels were extremely low and prescribed me birth control.

We are now in June, I’m still eating the same and oblivious as to why I’m having so many issues.

Gosh I feel so dumb looking back!! My husband and I wanted to start trying for our 2nd child, but I knew with no cycle or hormones it was impossible. I started researching hormones on Google and came across a bodybuilders blog about her battle with hormones and her strict diet. It FINALLY dawned on me. My diet was the problem.

I started doing more and more research like a crazy person reading about all relative terms such as starvation mode, metabolic damage, female athlete triad and adrenal fatigue. I decided to start eating 1650 calories a day which was a huge step for me. I did this for a couple months all while adding in cardio sessions, to ensure I didn’t gain weight.

Well, I didn’t gain much weight but I also didn’t gain my cycle back which was the whole point. I don’t quite remember how I stumbled upon the term “HA” but I’m sooo glad I did. It was the beginning of August, and just when I thought I had learned it all, God humbled me, again.

I had no idea that I needed to eat that much in order to recover. I watched success stories on YouTube, read countless blogs, and joined a wonderful support group on Facebook. The day I learned how to recover is the day I began. I knew I was going to gain weight, it was inevitable. My metabolism was at a crawl.

I knew it was my only hope.

I began eating 2300-2800 calories everyday, maybe somedays 3000. I had a huge appetite the first few weeks and ate all the things I had denied myself for so long, it felt wonderful to just eat and enjoy it and to know I can have more if I’m still hungry. I took off a few weeks from the gym and let my body rest.

I was feeling sooo much better, my body temp was now at a normal 98.3 degrees, I had tons of energy and always happy. My family noticed too! I talked to my dr and she told me I could still incorporate a moderate amount of exercise as long as I replenish extra calories lost.

At 6 weeks into my recovery I had signs of ovulation, so I took some tests but never got a clear positive. I still was glad to see progress nevertheless. I was expecting my period to show up on a Sunday, 2 weeks after the potential ovulation but instead was greeted with nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. In the middle of the night I got up to use the restroom and thought I might as well take a pregnancy test, (not really expecting it to be positive) sure enough 2 pink lines showed up and I about fainted!! I woke up my husband immediately and we both never went back to sleep!!

I thank the Lord I have my amazing husband to lean on and my family that always supported and encouraged me!!

As for my body, I gained around 8 pounds. But I’m not stressing over it. It will come off in time. All I know is that I will never ever abuse my body like that again. I really tried to enjoy and embrace the process as much as I could but there were definitely moments I broke down. I just kept telling myself “this is only temporary“, and basically this is the only option, you either are miserable and infertile forever, or you give your body what it needs and deserves and you will in turn get your health and fertility back. I pray you all choose health above all else, because the reward is great.