This week on the podcast I’m answering several listener questions including:
- Can restriction or over exercise ruin your metabolism?
- What are some tips for navigating bad body image days?
- How to deal with sluggish digestion and feeling full during recovery?
- What’s the difference between menstrual spotting and a full period?
Hi everyone, welcome back to Holistic Health Radio. I’m your host, Sarah-Liz King. I’m an exercise physiologist and health coach empowering you to find your healthy balance with food, fitness and your body. Through my one-to-one and group coaching programs, both myself and my team help women regain their periods, find food freedom and have a healthier relationship with exercise all while gaining body confidence.
Today I’m going to be answering some of your questions that you have left for me over on Instagram. Normally I only do one question per episode, but today I’m going to do a few. As always, I’m only giving general advice. So if you need more specific recommendations in regards to your own personal circumstances, it’d be best to book in with a health professional who can guide you in the right direction, whether that is myself, one of my team.
or someone else that you’re already seeing to manage either disordered eating, in eating disorder, or hyperthalamic amenorrhea. So let’s get into the questions that you have left for me. And the first one is, it says, I’m walking too much each day, but it doesn’t seem to make me lose weight. Is my metabolism ruined? Now, this is such an interesting question because what we know about
any form of restriction or creating an energy deficit or I guess, exercise is that our body is reflexively responsive to the environment that we put it in, which means that it will get to a stage where a certain level of exercise will not cause any further changes in kind of your weight. Now, normally this happens because your body will basically
down regulate your metabolic rate to save as much energy as possible when it’s not getting enough calories in. So it isn’t really as simple as the equation of calories in versus calories out. Now what I said is you know your body is reflexively responsive to the environment that you put it in. So is your metabolism ruined? Absolutely not.
But what we know is your thyroid hormones get really impacted by being really stressed. So, under eating and over exercising is a significant form of physical stress, which means that those hormones are going to kind of, I guess, taper themselves down so that you’re not losing too much weight and you can survive what it perceives as kind of starvation. Now, when you reverse that,
when you provide your body with enough nourishment and adequate amounts of rest, and you do exercise in a more flexible, balanced way, then your thyroid hormones and your metabolism will regulate back up to where they are more optimal. So it’s not that you have, quote unquote, ruined your metabolism, but that it has down-regulated itself to kind of keep you alive. So it will change and it will improve as you
continue to recover and you re-nourish your body adequately. So that is the answer to that one.
Top tips for managing difficult body image thoughts and feelings when it feels impossible to choose peace. So body image struggles are probably like the number one thing that I talk about with clients day in, day out. I would say that my top tips would be…
get a dog because obviously they will bring you sanity and if you’re watching on YouTube, you will just see that my dog Henry absolutely just needs to be in today’s video. So he will stay in because that is where he wants to be. So my top tips for managing kind of a bad body image day would be to…
not necessarily always just rely on having to kind of constantly change your thoughts or your beliefs, mostly because it might be too difficult on that day in particular when those body image thoughts are really, really strong and your negative inner critic is really loud. So I would really think about how can you make that day as easy as possible to navigate from all different sides. So choosing
that are more comfortable for you to wear and that don’t constantly bring further kind of negative thoughts about your body to mind. So avoiding really, really tight clothing, really, really restrictive clothing, and even thinking about having almost like a bad body image day uniform. So a particular outfit that you can go towards that you know is comfortable, that fits easily, that you don’t really have to think about.
just choosing that so you don’t even have to think about it on the day. Similarly, if you’re having a really negative body image day, it might not be the day to kind of throw yourself into the deep end with multiple challenges related to challenging your fear foods or, you know, enforcing yourself to do something different with exercise or whatever it might be. Maybe this is a just a day where you maintain all of your recovery habits.
without kind of extending beyond and really kind of stretching yourself. There’ll be plenty of days where your body image thoughts are reduced and you can go and do those things, but Teh, kind of give yourself some grace that you don’t necessarily have to go and do those things. So prioritize your nutrition 911. If you’ve never heard me talk about nutrition 911, it’s all those meals and snacks that you know are gonna hit the mark in terms of your energy requirements, but feel.
really easy for you to eat so you’re not thinking about food all of the time. And then if you do have those really strong negative body image thoughts come up, figure out a way that you can get them out of your head and either onto a piece of paper through journaling or talking to someone else about them. Because a problem shared is a problem halved, or at least if you can’t tell someone that is close to you or a therapist or a health professional that you’re working with,
At least you can get out of your head and create some distance from those thoughts so that you’re not kind of accepting them necessarily as truth. I hope that helps in terms of those questions. Um, all right. How to deal. So tips for dealing with sluggish, digestion and uncomfortable fullness in recovery. This is such a good question. So,
When the body becomes undernourished, as it does often with restrictive forms of disordered eating and eating disorders and hypothalamic amenorrhea, it affects the gut function. So one of the really common side effects is gastroparesis. So that is slow transit of food through basically the digestive system.
You can also feel full really fast on a small amount of food because your stomach obviously adapts to the amount of food that you’re having. Those stretch receptors, they don’t really kind of get that much use and so you can feel really full really fast. And that fullness can last a really long time because of delayed gastric emptying. So taking longer for food to leave your stomach and enter your small bowel.
All of that can lead to a variety of different digestive issues, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, um, just like pain, discomfort, all of those things are really, really common. And I think a lot of people instantly jump into, Oh my gosh, like what foods do I need to cut out? What foods do I need to avoid in order to make my digestive issues better? Now, the really difficult thing is we know that
re-nourishment, enough energy and enough food is actually what will help repair the gut most. And even if you’re on board with that, you’re probably thinking to yourself, yes, but like, how do I get that energy in if I’m feeling so uncomfortable? The first thing is you need to be thinking about kind of reducing down any of the things that might be adding to the bloating. So kind of reducing down an excessive
fiber or vegetable intake. You know, if you’re overloading all of your meals and snacks with like loads and loads and loads of fibrous veggies and fruit and lots of berries and you know, going for whole grain, everything you might be kind of overloading your system. So there is a balance between having, I guess more refined carbohydrates and you know, still having your veggies, but maybe just kind of reducing down how much you’re having. So.
you don’t feel like you’re overloading yourself. The second thing would be focusing on energy density and not volume. Again, similarly, like not overloading with big green leafy salads, like this might be the time to have, you know, a fried rice meal for your dinner and just have like a handful of veggies thrown in and have more of a carbohydrate based meal. And then again, not choosing the brown rice, but choosing the white rice that’ll be a little bit easier for your system to kind of
digest and get the nutrients from without upsetting your digestive system further. If you’re feeling really, really full all the time, but you know, you still need enough nutrition. That is when really nourishing drinks can be quite helpful. So these are things like smoothies, juices, up and goes, even things like ensure or for to sip can be really useful depending on what your energy requirements are.
And then it’s also really helpful to know that yes, you can make a variety of different nutrition changes, but also you might need to have some kind of medications that you use in combination with these nutritional changes that you make to help your system. So there are definitely some medications that you can talk to your treatment team about that will help improve the transit time so that you’re not kind of sitting with this discomfort all of the time. And the changes that you need to make nutritionally,
Those are gonna be very individualized to you. Different people will have different trigger foods and if there are certain foods that you are avoiding or think you need to avoid, it’s best to speak with a health professional first before cutting those things out because you might be missing out on key nutrients. For example, if you cut out gluten, you could be missing out on really, really good sources of carbohydrates or if you cut out dairy, you could be missing out on really, really good sources of calcium. So definitely don’t do that before seeking advice from a health professional.
Hopefully some of those tips are helpful for you. All right, I’m gonna answer one more question before we wrap this one up. And I’m going to try and pick…
something slightly different. So this person writes that I have had a second round of spotting 28 days after the first. So it sounds like you had one quote unquote period, but it was just like some light spotting for five days. And then that happened again the second time 28 days later. Could this be a very light period? So a quote unquote normal period is defined as anything.
between kind of two and seven days where you lose up to 80 mils of menstrual fluid. If you are only quote unquote spotting, it’s unlikely that it is a full period. So I usually say to people, you should be changing your period products kind of two to three times a day during a normal flow, like normal regular period products. If you don’t really have to change those at all throughout a day,
then it’s more likely that you have an ovulatory spotting. So you probably haven’t reached that ovulation point. Your body’s trying to do something, but it hasn’t quite gotten there. And you’re having some winter or bleeding, but it’s not the normal period that you would get if you did ovulate. So if we’re thinking about a menstrual cycle, so 28 days, the kind of key defining factor of a healthy regular menstrual cycle is
ovulation. And ovulation is what creates this downwind effect of our progesterone levels going up, making sure that our endometrium stays like nice and thick and healthy. And then if, you know, no fertilization occurs, then the shedding of that uterine lining. Now what leads up to ovulation is obviously having sufficient levels of FSH, follicle
which tells the ovary that it needs to develop a dominant follicle. Now, as that dominant follicle develops, that is what is increasing our estrogen levels, which is helping with the building of our endometrium and all of the above. Now, if we have a dominant follicle that reaches the size that it needs to, and our hormone levels are sufficient, then we ovulate. So that’s what spikes our LH levels, that’s what leads to all of those downwind effects with
progesterone and then that leads to our healthy menstrual cycle of losing enough blood. So what I would say is your body is definitely trying to do something but it is something possibly related to kind of what you’re doing with your nutrition, what you’re doing with exercise, things that are related to stress, could be your body weight, could be body fat levels, could be a variety of different things but there’s
probably something else that needs to change in order to get your body over the line and actually reach ovulation, which will then help you get that healthy menstrual bleed, not just spotting. Spotting means that your hormone levels are probably still a little bit low, you probably still have a little bit more work to do in period recovery. So hopefully that helps. Again, get more personalized advice, take.
what you’re currently doing to someone like myself or another health professional you’re working with and get some kind of confirmation around what you need to change and start making those changes. And it’s likely that, you know, you will get that healthy menstrual bleed within a couple of months, even a couple of weeks. So do not despair if you have really light bleeds or spotting, your body’s definitely trying to do something, but we probably need to make some changes with your nutrition, with your exercise, with your stress management, maybe a few other factors.
to get your body doing the full thing. So I’m gonna leave that Q&A episode here for today. If you found this really helpful, make sure to leave a five star rating and review wherever you are listening on the podcast. If you’re watching this on YouTube, make sure to give it a thumbs up. It really helps support the channel. Obviously click subscribe so you know, don’t miss out on a new episode and take a screenshot wherever you are listening or watching, tag myself at Sarah Liz King.
and I’ll be sure to reshare those stories on my Instagram. Until next time, take care of yourselves and I will be back next week with a fresh new episode. You can wrap your ears around.
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