THIS IS WHO I AM- The struggle for perfection and the female athlete triad

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Reading through my fitness magazines I always feel bombarded with the message that the ideal female is ultra lean, big breasted, and in top physical form. This so called perfection however is not real. I wanted to let you in on a little secret; even those photos of me on this site were only what I looked like for a very short period of time. The appearance of physical perfection was not that at all. I want you to know, that even I struggle with body image, that I sometimes don’t follow all the “rules”, and that my decision to take on that appearance had its consequences. We are all human, we all have our stuff, and I’m hoping that by sharing my experiences I can help you reach your goals, and prevent you from making my mistakes.

​It all began when I started dieting down for the INBF show in August of 2011. My body was already physically fatigued from the stressors of day-to-day life as a full-time working mom and I had just barely recovered from a summer cold. I didn’t feel like the diet or added training effected me at all. I felt like I had lots of energy and was thrilled with the way my body was changing. At only a 1-2 lb. loss/week the change in body weight wasn’t even that drastic, however come September my menstrual period didn’t come. I disregarded this period loss as a normal fact of the competition scene, not really realizing the health issues that come along with it. As training continued, again, I felt great. I looked better then ever, and I was feeling strong and athletic. I was at the top of my game, but still, no periods.

​The Female Athlete Triad had taken its place in my life. Others around me could see I was overtraining, and I know deep down, I knew that too. But I saw the end in site, and figured as soon as I was finished competing everything would go back to normal. It didn’t. Post competition I didn’t have a period for two more months. I started taking herbs, going for acupuncture, reducing my training time, eating a well-rounded diet again, and going for bowen to try to regain menses. After a month of treatment, I got one period. Then again 6 weeks later, I got another. After that, my body weight returned to 15lbs higher then what it was during competition and I reduced my treatments again, thinking things were going back to normal. Again, I lost my period for 3 more months. Wanting to fix the problem, so that my partner and I could start trying to conceive, I decided it was time to get my hormones checked. After doing so, I found out my estrogen was low and my progesterone was especially low, and that I most likely was not even ovulating at all.

​I started incorporating more estrogen and progesterone forming foods into my diet, and trying to reduce stress in other areas of my life. A few more months went by and my period still hadn’t come. But to our delight, it was because we were pregnant. But shortly after finding out, I was exhausted. This is a usual result of the first trimester, but I was BEYOND exhausted. After doing my blood work at 8 weeks, I found out that my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) was too high. My adrenals were so fatigued trying to make that pregnancy happen, and eventually my hormone levels couldn’t keep up with the task. At nine weeks, I miscarried. The delight and excitement that warmed my entire being was taken away from me and I was left staring at a black and white screen at my empty womb.

When I got home, I sunk into a vast hole of self-pity, drinking wine to subdue my sadness. I decided to REALLY slow down this time and put a hold on all the things I had deemed urgent matters before and took a month to just be. After that month, I was ready to be me again. The real me, not the “perfect” me I thought I should be, but the me with flaws. The me that doesn’t have to do it all. The me that can miss a workout and not beat myself up, the me that can spend a night watching “Ellen” clips on “You Tube” lying on the couch. I have realized that I am not perfect all the time in the way that society deems perfect, but I am who I am supposed to be, and I do my best with what I have. That’s not to say, I don’t wake up some mornings and wish I could have that great six-pack that you see in my pictures. However, when my mind starts to travel down that path, I am reminded that the best goal in life is to be healthy and happy with the person I am inside and outside.

​As I am learning to, I hope you can love who you are this moment. To continue to grow and succeed in your goals, and to do so in a way that you are gaining a positive result in all areas of your life, not just in your reflection.

​If you think you may be over training, or have any symptoms of the female athlete triad. Please talk to your doctor, myself, or any other health care provider that can guide you back towards a healthy lifestyle.

The Benefits of Abdominal Massage

The abdomen is not generally a place where my clients ask to get massaged and for a long time I didn’t include it in my regular massage routine, to allow more time for the areas that my clients wanted to focus on. But recently I have been including it in more of my massage treatments and I am finding the more I treat the muscles, ligaments, and organs within the abdomen, the more benefits I see.

Improved Digestion: Struggling with what Dr.s always thought was just IBS for many years, and later finding out I was both celiac and had trouble digesting the proteins found in dairy, my digestion has always been a major issue in my life. Pain, feeling “stuck”, inflammation, etc. were always a constant. Learning self abdominal massage was a major relief for me. I would put heat over my belly and then give myself a massage, do some digestive yoga postures, and just focus on belly breathing. (Our breath is the BEST self massage)! After becoming a massage practitioner, I realized how many other people suffer with digestive issues and bloating too.

Once I began treating them with abdominal massage, I would get the most amazing feedback. “Feeling empty”, “Flat”, and many texts within hours saying that constipation had been relieved, and that they were pain free. (for both adults and the babies that I treat)

Abdominal massage always works with the natural flow of the large intestine, which helps to move waste products through smoothly. It also helps to relax and bring more blood to the digestive organs, which helps them function optimally. If you suffer with pain, bloating, constipation, etc, please don’t feel shy to let me know and I would be extremely happy to treat your abdomen with massage techniques.

Stress Relief: Im sure many of you have heard that our intestines are our 2nd brain. If you have ever had a pit in your stomach when stressed, or butterflies when your nervous, you can see the correlation between your thoughts and the way your digestive organs function. Stress can cause us to shallow breath which means our belly’s are not getting that wonderful natural breath massage, and we can start to feel..stuck! Stress can cause the muscles to be in a constant state of contraction which also wreaks havoc on the flow. Massage for the abdomen therefore, relaxes not only the digestive organs themselves, but also the mind. It helps refocus the breath and bring attention to full, deep, belly breathing.

Improved Reproductive Health: As part of my fertility massage, I always treat the abdomen. By massaging the abdomen and the organs and ligaments of the reproductive system, it can greatly increase fertility in both men and women. For woman, the ligaments surrounding the uterus can be tight causing the uterus to tilt or prolapse, which can cause reproductive organs to shift, constrict the flow of blood and lymph, and disrupt nerve connections. By treating the area with massage, it helps to relax the ligaments, which helps to restore the balance of the organs allowing for toxins to flush and for blood to come in and bring nutrients that help tone tissue and balance the hormones essential for a healthy pregnancy, labor and delivery. Massage also helps to reduce adhesions and scar tissue caused by previous surgeries, fibroids and cysts, and endometriosis. For men, massage helps to increase blood flow to the reproductive organs which can relive prostate swelling, varicose veins, premature ejaculation, and some impotency problems. Massage is recommended at any time, but can be especially helpful for fertility when timed with the womans menstrual cycle. I generally recommend both partners (if possible) coming in 6-8 days prior to ovulation, since this is the optimal time leading up to possible conception.

Post Natal Rehabilitation: Post Natal abdominal massage is extremely beneficial for new moms. After 10 months of the uterine ligaments stretching and loosening to accommodate those beautiful bundles of joy, they can become loose and weakened, causing tilting and prolapse as mentioned above. Also, during those wonderful months scar tissue can develop (or occur from C section surgery), the abdomen can separate, organs shuffle, digestion can be out of whack, sleep is disturbed and there is generally more stress. (Im not making this motherhood stuff sound great–but trust me, it is!). Abdominal massage is very beneficial in breaking down scar tissue, bringing in blood to help heal and repair, relieving stress and constipations and bringing back the body to balance. I recommend new moms coming in as soon as they feel ready after baby is born. It could be the next day even. I can check the abdominals for separation at this time and give a full body massage with the abdominal treatment included. Babies are always welcome to join their moms for the massage. Abdominal massage for moms who have had C sections, should wait until the 6-8 week check up, to insure that the incision has healed enough that there is no stress placed on it.

Having your abdomen massaged can seem uncomfortable at first, but once you try it a few times, I promise, you will feel the benefits! Let me know at your next treatment if you would like to give it a try!