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Health & Wellbeing / Claire Blackmore

We Salute Alice Liveing For Busting Period Myths

Alice Liveing, aka Clean Eating Alice, is the foodie, fitness trainer and author that’s built a following with her super-sensible wellness tips that bust a whole load of body myths in the process.

To hear Alice talking about our favourite topic – periods, we tuned in to her recent Insta-live with women’s health doctor Anita Mitra – The Gynae Geek. Check out the highlights of their informative chat on missed periods and fitness.

ALICE LIVEING: “Something that came up a lot on my instagram post, was amenorrhea. Can you explain what it is?”

THE GYNAE GEEK: “Amenorrhea, means not having periods, and there are lots of reasons why this might happen. Hypothalamic amenorrhea is one of these reasons and it’s something that’s getting a lot of press at the moment and a lot of people are talking about it online – it’s when the hypothalamus (an area in the brain) isn’t sending signals to your ovaries so your periods will stop. It’s quite common in the fitness industry, but also just in general.”

 

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ALICE LIVEING: “I can’t tell you how many people I come into contact with who become unaware of their cycle. A week goes by, three weeks go by, six weeks go by and before you know it can have been a couple of months and suddenly you’re like, “Oh I haven’t had a period.”

THE GYNAE GEEK: “It happens. Obviously we’re all exercising a lot more which is amazing, but we have to remember that a lot of us are training like athletes these days, and we don’t live our lives like athletes – they eat a lot, they have naps, and they don’t go to the office for ten hours a day after their training. If I was to say the main things in this modern life that are causing women to have hypothalamic amenorrhea – over exercising is one of them definitely, but it’s also not the only thing. I know a lot of people who are told by their doctor to stop exercising but I disagree to an extent, because there are lots of other areas that you can look at. Are you eating enough? If you are training super-hard, doing classes like bootcamp or weights, you’re burning so many calories.”

ALICE LIVEING: “It’s not just what you do in the class either, the energy that your body has to expend to actually recover from a hard training session – that can take up to 24-48 hours post-exercise. So your body is still having to work to recover.”

 

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THE GYNAE GEEK: “If you’re going out for lunch and picking something up, a lot of the meals will be around 300 calories – if you’ve been training in the morning then that’s probably not enough for your lunch. A lot of us are maybe under eating without realising it.

“The whole wanting abs thing, is another reason. We have to remember that some of our female hormones are actually made in our body fat – they’re not all made in the ovaries, so your body fat is actually an organ that makes lots of hormones. Not just oestrogen, it makes hormones that send signals back to our hypothalamus and if there’s not enough body fat, it gets signals to say ‘help I’m starving’. That’s one of the reasons why we get hypothalamic amenorrhea. It’s a sign to your brain that your body is not in a safe place to get pregnant – because that is what our menstrual cycle is designed for. Under-nourishment, not eating enough fat, or even having a very low carb diet can even have an impact.

ALICE LIVEING: “Yes, any restrictive diet where you’re heavily reducing a food group can lead to it. Stress too – we’re all so stressed these days.”

THE GYNAE GEEK: “Yes, we don’t give ourselves time to relax. It’s almost a badge of honour to be busy.”

 

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ALICE LIVEING: “In the last six months, I’ve put my finger on the pause button more and more and begun realising the benefit of just letting my body stop. It’s almost like a competition with some people – like, who can be the busiest.”

THE GYNAE GEEK: “It’s so true. Relaxation is so important. Stress can actually stop your periods because it sends signals to your brain that says ‘we’re too stressed, we can’t do this’ but also progesterone is one of the ingredients for cortisol. So your body needs cortisol to survive, but it doesn’t need progesterone to survive. Our bodies are weighing up all these things but we aren’t doing it consciously in our lives.”

 

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ALICE LIVEING: “So how does the body recover? By scaling it all back?”

THE GYNAE GEEK: “This is the question I struggle with because you are the only one who can work out the balance and it takes time to chip away in lots of the domains. If you do exercise really hard, it’s unlikely you’ll stop – but you can think about why you’re training. What does each session give you? Are you punishing or improving yourself?”

ALICE LIVEING: “Exercise is a wonderful thing but as with anything in life, moderation is key. As shown through losing your period by over exercising, there can be too much of a good thing.”

 


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