Today I wanted to share a story with you, from a beautiful client of mine, Erin. It’s one of those testimonies that leaves me in awe. It begins similar to so many other women’s story. One of dieting and restriction and years of unintentional abuse that can leave a body in a bad, bad place. A place that makes starting a family an incredible challenge. The difference in Erin’s story is that she decided to do something about it and used Nutritional Therapy and healthy living to change the direction of her (and her husband’s) health journey in order to conceive naturally. When Erin emailed me to share she had become pregnant, I literally cried my eyes out! What a gift and what a powerful testimony. I am so grateful that Erin was willing to share her story with us and I hope that it encourages and inspires you to continue on your path toward a healthier body and better fertility!
“My hormonal problems started long before I realized how crucial hormones actually are. When I was about 13, I became very body conscious and desired to be thin above all else. At that time, I associated being thin with being healthy. The thinner the healthier was what I thought, so I got very thin. I did so by eating less than I had ever eaten before and exercising as much as possible. I would eat an apple before school, a banana with a slice of fat-free cheese for lunch, and a salad with fat-free dressing for dinner. I feared fat in all forms. This behavior continued for several years and, when I look back, the saddest part for me is that I honestly believed I was “healthier” than my friends who were eating three normal meals. I thought I had accomplished something by eating less than 1,000 calories per day and was proud of myself.
By age 14, my menstrual cycle had disappeared completely. This should have been a huge red flag that I was not, in fact, healthy but it did not bother me one bit. Prior to college, at age 17, during a physical at my pediatrician’s office, the nurse asked me when my last menstrual cycle was. I giggled and responded that it had been years. Her look of concern frightened me. The pediatrician, however, told me not to worry and prescribed me birth control pills to “bring on a period.” I started the birth control pill, got a monthly bleed and was happy to continue my restrictive ways. I wish so badly now that the pediatrician had done more investigative work and told me the importance of hormonal health.
Over the next years, I met my husband, went through college and dental school, got married and started a new job. All this time my nutrition and lifestyle did not change. I ate about 1,200 calories per day, exercised vigorously 7 days per week, and was under chronic stress from school and work. I often thought about wanting children one day, but I always seemed “too busy” to worry about it at that time.
When my husband and I decided we wanted children, I went off the birth control pill. To no surprise, my period did not return. After 8 months of no cycle, I went to the OBGYN and had blood work performed. At the age of 27, my hormones were that of a post-menopausal woman. I was diagnosed with Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, which means essentially my brain stopped communicating with my reproductive organs due to the stress signals it was receiving. My doctor informed me that my lifestyle had caused this and that I would never conceive on my own. He told me that, when we were prepared, he would refer us to a specialist for assisted reproductive technologies. I did not want this at all and was willing to change whatever I needed to make it happen naturally.
I knew in my heart it was time to make some drastic changes. I did a great deal of research on Hypothalamic Amenorrhea and made lifestyle changes. I quit intense exercising, ate more calories, and stressed less. After 15 years of no period, my cycle returned, albeit irregular. At this point we knew it was game time for trying to conceive.
During my research on hypothalamic amenorrhea I came across several holistic health blogs, podcasts and books. The more I learned, the more I realized how much I do not know! Of course this led me down the path of more research as I learned exactly how critical our nutrition is to our own health and that of our offspring. I realized, my body was craving specific nutrients and minerals to build the healthiest DNA possible. I also learned that my husband’s health was just as important as mine, as he will be providing half of the DNA for our children.
In mid- 2016 one of the holistic health podcasts that I listened to, The Colorful Eats Podcast, did an episode on preconception health. I listened to that episode three times in a row and hung on every word. I was fascinated by the fact that my husband and I have the power to influence the health of our future children before I was pregnant! Changing what we eat and how we live our lives now could protect our future children from illnesses and give them a healthier foundation. This sounded like a no-brainer to me. Now that we knew it was possible to impact the health of our future children, we had to take every advantage of this opportunity.
Justine from Alo Wellness had mentioned on The Colorful Eats Podcast that she was passionate about preconception health. My husband and I discussed reaching out for guidance on our journey and decided to set up a pre-conception game plan with Alo Wellness. We drastically changed many aspects of our lives from nutrition to sleeping to cleaning products. My husband jokes we added the “B’s” to our lives… butter, bone broth and Beautycounter!
One of the simplest, most impactful changes we made was changing the products we use in our home. After learning how quickly the toxic chemicals from everyday products can enter our bloodstreams and influence our hormonal health, we were adamant on only using non-toxic products. I began reading about products on the Environmental Working Group’s website (http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/). We purchased safer, non-toxic cleaning and personal care products. I did a beauty product dump and purchased all new products from Beautycounter.
We also made many diet changes. We focused on getting a balance of carbs, fat and protein with each meal as well as a variety of vegetables each day. We began taking whole-food based supplements rather than the synthetic supplements we had been taking for years. We added bone broth to our daily diet to promote gut health, which has been shown to be extremely important in overall health. Finally, we cut back on our caffeine consumption to support our adrenal health. Amazingly, caffeine is no longer a daily necessity for either of us, but rather an occasional, special treat.
We implemented these practices religiously for 6 months before we went to see a specialist about our troubles conceiving. It turns out, while they were running tests, they told me I was already 6 weeks pregnant! I am currently 18 weeks pregnant and could not be happier. All babies are miracles, but I truly believe this baby is a miracle and a testament to the power of lifestyle changes that we can make prior to conception!” Erin, North Carolina
Wow, what an incredible testimony of healing and the power that real food and healthy living can have within your life and on your fertility journey. It’s surely not always easiest route, but it’s always worth it!
If Erin’s testimony touches your heart and you’d like to create your own path to better fertility, naturally, I’d love to help support you! I support couples who are preparing for conception, are struggling with infertility issues or are looking to begin assisted conception and would like to get their bodies as healthy as possible. Learn more on our Preconception + Fertility page.
Have questions? Not sure if it’s right for you? I’d love to schedule a time to talk and see if Nutritional Therapy can support you! Email email@example.com