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Zoe's RED-S Experience

With the abortion rights news splashing the media right now, our 4Performance yoga instructor Zoe was inspired to think about fertility more broadly and how our lifestyle choices can really affect how this functions. Here’s her personal story…

For 9 months of 2017 my monthly cycle stopped meaning I was infertile. At the time I was planning a wedding, about to quit my job with nothing else in the mix and after researching the benefits decided to try a weekly fasting diet, all on top of my usual rigorous weekly workout routine that consisted of gym 5 days a week, and yoga everyday.

I was BUSY.

So when I celebrated dropping a dress size the excitement was quickly replaced by anxiety as my periods then ceased to exist. What was happening? I didn’t feel like there was anything wrong and in fact, the fasting felt like a fantastic cleanse ready for the wedding!

After several blood tests to which nothing was found to be abnormal, I was referred to a gynecologist. Two rather uncomfortable examinations later and my diagnosis was as follows:

“Stop exercising so much and eat more. You aren’t giving your body enough fuel and rest to function properly and the mental stress is diverting much-needed energy.”

This was harrowing.

For a moment I was furious! What kind of advice is that?! Anyone could have said that to me including myself… but I didn’t. A trained professional who later mentioned that he has seen this so so often in young ladies that it was becoming a huge societal issue said this to me.

The condition is known as RED-S or Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S). It's caused by insufficient caloric intake for the amount of training an athlete is undertaking.

After dropping the fasting and cutting down the gym visits everything went back to normal and I can thankfully say I now have a beautiful son as a result of my functioning fertility.

I urge all athletes to not just focus on the results of the present moment, but always consider the long-term effects also. Sure, you may win that medal tomorrow, but if it’s at the cost of starting a family or generally being healthy a year later, is it worth it? If it is then just make sure you are truly taking care of yourself. Know your limits and stay attuned to your body and your mind at all times.

Yoga can really help with this balance as it allows time to focus internally and awakens the senses to issues before they really become a problem. If you would like to learn more about my classes drop me a message or join for a taster class on Saturdays at 9am at Rock and Boulder in Romford.



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