Runaway Hormones – Nicky’s Story!

I’m a 48-year-old Mum, not yet perimenopausal but waiting for the shoe to drop at any minute. My hormones have always ruled my life! I can honestly say that I lived with a hormonal imbalance since puberty. Before becoming a Mum, it was just something I lived with. It’s only retrospectively that I see how much this imbalance influenced everything! 

My cycle has always been super regular, and with that, the time between symptoms (including wanting to rip my husband’s head off) always seemed way too short! As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gathered a new list of hormone-related sufferings, including anxiety, dense brain fog, body aches, trouble sleeping and excessive tiredness. All of which made for an exhausting existence. 

I also knew that my hormones were impacting my training, but I could never figure out how to overcome the blocks they were creating in my fitness path. Until I discovered Dr Mindy Pelz, that is!

The Discovery

In June this year, I listened to what will always be my favourite podcast. The most significant a-ha moment of my life! Steven Bartlett interviewed Dr Mindy Pelz on his DOAC podcast, and I lapped up every word of her teachings about hormone management. I had found my holy grail!

In a nutshell, Mindy believes that we can manage our hormones or restore hormonal imbalance, whether we’re cycling, have lost our cycle or are in menopause through diet and fasting. But the fix rests in what we eat and when. And how long we fast and when.

In the podcast, Dr Mindy referenced her book, Fast Like a Girl, so I jumped on my Kindle to download a copy. Once read (devoured), I ordered a hard copy! 

Excited to adopt this fasting methodology, I became curious about how I could weave this into my training and what I could achieve by doing so! At this point, I had already entered the Taupō 50 km. I needed all the help I could get! So, I did some research and found another podcast of Dr Mindy’s where she broke down how women should train according to their cycle. I flicked this podcast link to Char, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

A New Beginning

Ready to launch into the work, as soon as the book arrived, I marked my cycle and prepared to hit the 30-day fasting reset, Mindy’s advised path to establishing a fasting lifestyle. At the same time, Char and I mapped out my cycle in Training Peaks, and Char built my training blocks accordingly. You can read about the training journey here.

The 30-day reset started on day one of my cycle and ran through to the first day of my next period; this was a great way to settle into fasting and incorporate the different eating styles into daily life. Keen to benefit from the full impact of the reset, I followed it fairly strictly, but I do confess to not weighing macros. I followed some basic guidelines and my instincts. 

I’ve always been into good food and would eat well during any given week. I’ve never been too stitched up about being too strict, aiming to have my ledger sit anywhere between 60/40 and 80/20 – the higher number being good food, the lesser being the not-so-good. It’s been a million moons since I’ve eaten takeout, and I’ve never gone in for fizzy drinks or juices. Gin, Rose and beer, on the other hand? It’s not very often that I say no!

The most challenging part for me was figuring out how to fast and train alongside each other. I’ve always preferred to run on an empty stomach, but my question was, how do I manage this on the longer 15 – 17-hour fasts? The answer, I discovered, was that I needed to become fat-adapted; this is the point where your body burns fat for energy, not sugar. For me, this took about two weeks. Once I became fat-adapted, I was able to run for up to 1.5 hours on a 15 – 16-hour fast, breaking my fast after my run. As I became fitter and more established in a fasting lifestyle, I was able to push this out. I even tested it on a 40-min Tempo run at 22 hours fasted.

Once I became fat-adapted, I also found that I needed to consume fewer calories on my longer runs and could run for up to 2 hours before feeling like eating (tested up to 6 hours). What I eat and drink on my big runs has also changed. 

Sold!

After the 30–day reset, I became a passionate devotee of Dr Mindy’s fasting lifestyle and can honestly say that the past three months have been transformational! I fast daily and have embraced the food changes, welcoming them as nourishing rewards for my body. And regarding the food I no longer (or very seldom) eat, I view their omission as a gain, not a loss. The food I eat 80-90% of the time is my new definition of treat. After all, a treat has got to be good for you. Right?

Real Person Alert! In the month after the reset, I had two weekends away. One was a long-awaited girls’ weekend away, and the other was a good friend’s 50th. To say the drinks were flowing would be a HUGE understatement. Life can’t be all chia seeds and quinoa.

Since aligning this fasting methodology and Char’s training programme with my cycle, everything about my running has changed – my enjoyment, fitness and strength. I’m a fitter and faster runner, capable of so much more than I was three months ago. I’m excited to be living a life that supports my hormonal health, allows me to train with strength and achieve those fitness gains previously out of reach! And as for that 50km in Taupō, I did it! My goal was to do it in under 7 hours. My official event time was 6h54m! 

Are You Keen to Unlock Your Ultimate Potential?

If you’re keen to learn how Char’s female-specific training methodology can help unlock your ultimate running potential, jump on the link below to book a free, no-obligation call with her. She’ll take super good care of you and together, you’ll achieve more than you’ve ever imagined for yourself. I promise!

Resources:

Dr Mindy and Steven Bartlett – DOAC podcast

Fast Like a Girl

Dr Mindy Pelz

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