Exercise Less, Eat More

My new goal: exercise less, eat more.  Sounds kind of contradictory to what a healthy living blog should be promoting, huh?  I’m usually the one that is telling my husband that he doesn’t need that eleventh cookie he is about to eat or reminding my clients that they need to exercise and move more.  Needless to say, it won’t (and hasn’t been) easy to exercise less and eat more.

I debated back and forth if I even wanted to go into all of this on the blog.  It gets into some personal stuff, and it’s probably been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with and accept.  However, it very much goes hand-in-hand with my food and fitness habits, which is what my blog is all about!  That being said, I decided that sharing my new lifestyle changes is most definitely blog-worthy.

At this point, you’re probably like, “What the heck are you even talking about, Ashley?”  Ok, well let’s get down to the nitty gritty here.  I mentioned several weeks ago my struggles with the absence of my menstrual cycle and how I was going to make some changes to my diet in hopes of things turning around.  I’ve also been in contact with my doctor and have been getting some tests done, so we’re in the process of figuring out some more concrete details.

In the meantime, I have decided to drastically decrease my exercise and increase my calorie intake (particularly in the form of healthy fats).  My exercise will mostly consist of walking, hiking, doing the elliptical, riding the stationary bike, doing yoga, or hiking for no longer than 40 minutes each day.  I will also focus on getting at least 2-3 rest days per week.  This also means no running, which also means no half marathon.  Yep, I’m super bummed and sad about this.  I plan on talking about my decision to cut out running and back out of my half in a future post, so stay tuned for that.  You can see on My Daily Workout Log that I already implemented these changes this week.  It’s been hard.  I’ve cried.  A lot.  I love high intensity exercise, and I miss it a lot already.  But I also know this is what is best for my body right now.  It needs rest.  I’ve over-worked it for far too long, and now it’s not doing what it’s supposed to be doing.

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Eating more hasn’t exactly been easy for me either.  I thought I’d enjoy it since I naturally have a bigger appetite, but I can’t help but worry that I’m going to get “fat” as I’m noshing down the extra calories.  I don’t necessarily need to gain weight, but my body needs those extra calories (especially in the form of healthy fats) to help my body and brain to start functioning normally again.  So yep, I might put on a few pounds through all of this, but is it worth it to me to be able to have children someday?  Absolutely!  I guess I have an excuse to eat even more peanut butter now and embrace those cute flowy sundresses. Winking smile

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Wrapping my head around all of this has been extremely difficult and quite depressing at times to be honest.  Taking away one of my most beloved hobbies (running & high intensity workouts) and gaining weight are two of my biggest fears in life.  I suppose this is a time where I need to step back and realize that there’s more to life than getting in my run for the day or fitting into a certain size pants.  This is about fulfilling one of my biggest dreams in life: to be a mother.

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Comments

  1. says

    Amen amen! I can only imagine how difficult this must be to do, but it will be 100% worth it in the end! Just like you said, there is more to life than exercise and “looking your best”, and the satisfaction you will get from being HEALTHY and having children is worth so much more.

    Thank you for opening up and being honest with us, Ashley. Seriously– as I mentioned before this is an issue that I deal with too. I’m not trying to have any children at the moment, but I’ve been more conscious of over-exercising lately because I know that I most likely will someday!

    Best of luck, girly. I will be praying for you! <3

  2. Marla says

    Hi Ashley! Thank you so much for sharing! I am actually going through a similar situation. I completely understand if you don’t want to share but is there a calorie amount you try and hit every day? It’s so hard for me because I’m eating healthy and trying to incorporate more fats and I feel like I’m eating enough (I don’t feel hungry) but I think I’m supposed to be eating more but I have no idea how much more? How much is too much? I don’t want to be obsessive calorie counting either but I also want to make sure I’m getting what I need. Sorry for this confusing comment! Hopefully I made some sense!!! Regardless, thanks for opening up about this!!

      • Marla says

        Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my comment! I found that article really interesting! I appreciate your honesty so much and that you put it out there. It’s all I think about and is always on my mind and it’s hard to talk to my friends about it since it’s not really an immediate concern for them and they can’t really relate. It’s also hard because I thought I was doing so much to be healthy – eating right and exercising – but now it looks like it may have been hurting me in this department! Thanks again! You are such an inspiration!

  3. says

    Ashley! I love you girl! Thanks for sharing such a personal decision, you know I can relate to this so much. You re doing the right thing for yourself, your future, and your body. I too have been struggling whether or not to go to the doctor, but this post really encourages me to take that step and make an appointment. If you ever need to talk I am always here! xo

    • Ashley says

      thank you, jana. :) you’re so sweet. i would definitely encourage you to go to the doctor to at least get some tests done. i wish i had not waited so long!

  4. says

    I made the same decision about a month ago. I’ve been trying to figure out how to write about it because as you said it doesn’t really seem like healthy living. I’ve been hardly blogging because of it too. I feel like I need to write about this first because I can get on to good stuff. You did it well here.
    I’m still struggling with less intense workouts, but I’ve been doing lots of strong yoga and it helps. For the most part I feel good, but this morning I’m feeling bummed about not doing cardio and feeling “heavy.” I’m glad I checked into my reader this am, this post help!
    I hope it will help me write my own as well! Chin up girl – we can do this!

    • Ashley says

      i plan to write a post regarding this topic, but i’ve realized through all of this that healthy living is SO much more than getting in a hardcore workout. my definition of “healthy living” has completely changed in my mind since going through all of this! i can totally relate to your feelings… we got this! ;)

  5. says

    Girl, I definitely know what you mean about being sad, but you gotta do what you gotta do! Of course you will miss your running and such, but just think that you will be back to it in nooo time :) Enjoy that extra peanut butter!!! ;D We’re all here to help you though, so keep your head up!

  6. says

    Beauty comes from within, and regardless of a few extra pounds you WILL still be beautiful on the outside, too. Again, thanks for being so open and honest on your blog; you’re definitely an inspiration!

  7. says

    Ashley – you definitely hit the nail on the head when you said that life is so much more than “getting in your run for the day”….I think this is something that people so often forget, myself included. There is so much more to life than exercising….and I have faith that you are going to be an amazing mother someday. I can’t wait for that announcement on your blog…because it WILL happen one day :)
    Thinking of you, girl! Keep your head up!

  8. says

    Aw, I love you Ash!! I know that this has to be so challenging, but it sounds it’s just what you and your body need to do one of the most amazing things that we as women can do! Plus, the fact that you have a supportive husband by your side (who I’m sure thinks you will be hot no matter what) really helps! You know, it makes me wonder sometimes if I would have my period if I went off of birth control? It’s already so incredibly light (sorry for tmi!) but I’ve never really considered that I wouldn’t have it. I know you can do this girlie, and while your fears are totally legitimate, the outcome you are hoping for is far superior! If you need anyone to talk to…contact me :).

  9. Elizabeth says

    So brave of you to make the decision. You know that you are in control, so don’t worry about getting bigger than you’d like – you have so much room for the extra pounds that a few more will do nothing to your shape, and it will do so much for your future dreams of being a mother!

  10. says

    Good for you to listen to what your body needs! I know it’ll be so much better in the long run both for a family and for your health! I had to take off running for a month or two and only then realized how much I enjoyed walking — I started noticing and appreciating so much more of nature and/or beautiful neighborhoods! I was glad to take up running again but haven’t stopped enjoying the walks! It’s hard but it can be a beautiful thing to slow down so enjoy it!

  11. Emily says

    Thank you so much for sharing your story!! I am very happy that you will continue blogging, and I look forward to hearing how this helps. I went off BC in December, and have only gotten 1 period. I have also gained about 10 pounds, and it is nice to see that spun in a potentially healthy light. Good luck, and I will stay tuned : )

  12. says

    One piece of advice that has definitely help me is this: “This is just a little ‘blip’ of time in your life”…Ashley, you never know what will happen in the future. And if one of your biggest desires is to be a mother, then that can and will happen. Perhaps if you see it’s time to face your “two biggest fears in life” and you’re getting that chance now, then you know you’re going to be stronger for it on the other end. You will feel blessed when you reach those goals that have been set before you!

  13. Megan S. says

    You definitely hit the spot when you said that life is so much more than “getting in your run for the day or fitting into a certain size pants”. I too look forward to motherhood someday and have started to get some tests done with my doctor in hopes of figuring out how to get my body on the right track again. Although I hate to see others go through this, it’s nice to know that someone out there is feeling the same

  14. Corinne says

    Thank you thank you thank you! I’m dealing with the exact same issue AND getting married in 3 months so it’s a constan struggle to eat more exercise less gain 5 lbs and fit into my dress. It’s like the opposite of what every bride wants to do. I find PB yogurt cereal and trail mix the easy ways to sneak in more healthy fats. I too want to have children and if cutting back on running will lead ms to that then I’ll do whatever it takes. I appreciate ur honesty on this and good luck!

  15. Laurie says

    Great post, Ashley. It’s really inspiring that you are so strong! You hit on a lot of people’s fears (especially those who read your blog and other healthy living ones), so I think you taking this step will make you a great role model for all of us :)

  16. says

    Ashley – I wasn’t expecting to be in tears this morning at work!! Your honesty about your fears, your hopes, and your desire to be a mother was so heartfelt and spoke right to me. I mentioned before, but it took me 3 years to finally get pregnant. And when I left that hospital I had the most amazing precious beautiful baby girl in the world, but also weighed the most I ever had in my life. I have since lost almost 50 pounds and am so excited about the happy healthy life I am creating for us, showing her what it looks like to love her body and give it food as FUEL so she can be strong and healthy. You are sooooo doing the right thing by listening to your doctors. And even if you DO gain a few pounds, you’ll work it off post-baby, I just know it!!

  17. Mirjam says

    Hi Ashley, I know how hard this is for you…if you want a good-mood workout idea, you should come over sometime and do ZUMBA with me…it’s fun, but not high intensity…and I always feel better afterwords..

  18. says

    Awww Ashley! I’m tearing up on the bus reading this! I know those fears are rough to deal wIth and I’m sure it feels so weird right now to be giving up high intensity exercise! But I think the key is whenever you feel anxious or overwhelmed just focus on your end goal. Having a child will be the greatest experience of your life and gaining 5 or 10 lbs can’t even be compared. And just think about how you can make that half marathon a goal for after you have your first child! Imagine how much better will feel than if you did it now: you crossing the finish line with Cody holding your baby and cheering you on! These are the thoughts that will help you through this!

  19. tamsin says

    hi ashley, was so nice to read this blog entry. as someone who is trying to gain healthy weight due to recovering from an eating disorder it really gave me an extra bit of motivation. the media is full of ‘diets’ etc and why you should strict your calories (!) that it can become hard to get focused but reading this makes you realise your health is what matters and eating too less calories just disrupts it. thanks tamsin x

  20. Jessica says

    Hey Ashley. I just wanted to let you know that your story has helped me a bit because I am in the same boat.
    I’ve DEFINITELY been stressed over the past couple months with starting graduate school in a brand new state away from family, friends, and everything familiar and comforting to me (and not to mention the endless amount of school work :P). I actually haven’t had a period since I moved here which really freaked me out since I have always been ‘on schedule’. I decided to see a doctor at the university’s health center and she ran some tests which thankfully came back normal. She then proceeded to prescribe me some medication to kick start things up again but I have yet to see it work.
    As far as changes, I’m also used to working out daily because it’s part of my morning routine and helps prep me for the day but I’m trying to cut back or at least do less strenuous activities. I also feel like I listen to my body when it comes to food and eat healthfully but maybe there’s something more there. Similar to you, I’ve read about the possible negative impacts of soy on female hormones and stopped drinking soy milk a couple months ago.
    It’s definitely difficult because I want to do what is best for me and my body so I’m trying change or improve on things that can help me be ‘healthy/normal’ again. At the same time though, I know that there is only so much I can do so I’m just trying to take each day as it comes and hope for the best!
    Thanks for posting this story! It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one going through a situation like this. I hope we eventually see some positive changes! :)

  21. says

    Ashley,
    I only met you briefly but I still greatly admire you- even more after reading a post like this. I find it interesting that we all have so many different struggles in life- and on so many ends of the spectrum. Sharing those struggles only means you’ll find so many supporters out there. I hope you can find that inner peace you need to reach all of your goals, physical and otherwise.

    I’m still working on not defining myself by the numbers on the scale, but on the quality of my life. It’s a hard battle and some days are better than others, but I know I am so much happier when I enjoy things like loved ones, hobbies I enjoy and getting a stronger relationship with God than when I focus on the scale.

    Good luck! You have inspired me to keep a better focus on what is truly important.

    • Ashley says

      thank you, kyna!! it’s SO good to hear from you! i miss seeing you regularly. you’re absolutely right in everything you’re saying here!! you’re in my thoughts and prayers. :) keep your chin up!

  22. says

    This post brought tears to my eyes….so so proud of you my friend. I KNOW you can do this – you have the faith, determination, spirit, and drive for it. There will be hard days, I was in your shoes not long ago and cried everyday on my way to work about it all, but once you put in the hard work it will pay off and good things will happen, I promise :) xoxo

    P.S. I wanted to tell you in my previous email that though you’re at healthy weight, you may just need to increase your body fat % and reduce your muscle mass. So don’t fear about gaining weight, you may just replace the muscle with fat (which is what happened to me) and maybe a few couple more pounds – which will be a GOOD thing – like I’ve said, fat=estrogen :)

  23. Rebekah says

    Good for you for taking care of yourself even when it means cutting out some of the things you love. I didn’t know that lack of a period meant not being able to get pregnant? You will be an amazing mother one day.

    • Ashley says

      yep, because if you’re not having a period, you’re most likely not ovulating, which means you can’t get pregnant.

      • Rebekah says

        Well, your commitment to healthy living is very inspirational and I wish you the best of luck in these changes that you are making. You definitely inspire me to try new things I have never tried. I have no doubt that you will become a mommy when your body is ready! Cheering you on, all the from Irvine, CA!

  24. says

    You are amazing! This is hard stuff-and I feel for you :( You CAN do this! I promise it only gets better–and sometimes trials are there for us so we can enjoy the peace, joy, and happiness that comes afterwards–and then we can be there for others.

    I am HERE for you if you want to talk. Boy I know how hard this can be…..sending MANY hugs and prayers your way Ash!!!!!! :) xoxo

  25. says

    I’m a new reader to your blog and found this post very touching. I really respect your decision. You will most definitely benefit in ways that aren’t immediately apparent, and your fears will vanish.

  26. says

    I had a feeling that this is what was going on with you … just from bits and pieces that you had been sharing. I am SO sorry that you’ve been dealing with all of this stress, fear, and frustration. But I am also SO proud of you for making a decision that long-term, is absolutely best for you.

    I’ll be praying for you, girl. If you ever want to talk more, email me … I’ll send ya my cell number. Hugs! :)

  27. says

    Thanks for sharing this with us! I think it’s great that you are modeling the proper attitude for situations like this, nothing compares to being a mother, so the extra pounds, if even, will be totally worth it. You are a strong woman with the right mindset about life and in the end your goal will be reached hun! ;-)

  28. says

    It will be so worth it! I had to gain weight over the last year a couple months for a few reasons, that being one of them. I was just too small to have kids- and not that I want them right now, but I think I do eventually!

  29. says

    I’m glad you wrote this post and I think what you’re doing is amazing. I’ve definitely been there and I think you’ll be surprised that you won’t really gain weight. You’ll probably just rev your metabolism, especially as all those body parts start to work again. It takes more energy than usual. It’s wonderful you have perspective about what is truly important in life to you, becoming a mother. You can do it!

  30. says

    I LOVE this. I am so happy to see that you are willing to gain weight to become a mom. Who cares if you gain 5 lbs, it is for something so much bigger than yourself and it is so selfless! Your husband will love your body that way as you are doing it to create and grow his babies :) . And honestly, your body will still be hot with a couple extra pounds!
    Both times I got pregnant it was around the holidays when I was eating way more and working out way less. I conceived over christmas with my first and thanksgiving with my second. I honestly think my body needs that extra padding to get pregnant. My body can also not handle running while pregnant, although I know some people can. I tired to run while pregnant twice and miscarried both times. With my first daughter I tried running, and that ended with being on bedrest for 16 weeks. My second daughter I stopped running the day I saw two pink lines and I had no bleeding whatsoever (sorry, tmi?). Do what is best for your body and enjoy that extra cookie :)

  31. says

    Thank you so much for posting this! I am really struggling on the fact that i need to increase my calories and decrease the intensity in my workouts. Why must this be so hard mentally?! I hope everything goes smoothly for you and seriously admire you for putting this information out there. Hopefully I’ll be able to do the same sometime soon. If you need someone to talk to, feel free to e-mail me. It’s great your doing what is best for your body and future life!

  32. Mo says

    First time commenter here :-). I’ve been in your shoes. A few years back I was ttc and wasn’t getting periods. I was over exercising and not eating to compensate. I cut back on exercise and increased my calories. One thing I had read was that dairy fats were important. I switched to full fat cheeses and ice cream. I will never go back to the fat free/taste free stuff again. I am now pregnant with our 2nd baby (and this one was a surprise- we weren’t trying! :-)

    Good Luck Ashley! You are showing an example of true healthy living!

  33. Hannah R. says

    Thank you for posting this. I’m struggling with a similar situation right now. About 3 years ago is when I started eating healthy and working out on a regular basis, I lost 20 pounds and my period. I haven’t had one since then and it worries me, even though I’m not quite ready for children right now I would still love to know that I am able to have them. It’s a constant struggle for me to find the right balance of food and excercise. I workout usuaslly 6 days a week pretty hard and I know I should be eating more to fuel and repair my body but it’s so hard mentally. Any tips would be greatly appreciated! I will keep you in my prayers. You are an inspiration and I just know everything will workout for you.

  34. says

    I’m proud of you for being so open about this. I agree that what you need to do to get healthy (mentally, spiritually, physically) to prepare your body to have a baby will be much more beneficial for you (and joy filled) than to be under stress (even if you didn’t intend to). Our bodies do not do well when we’re stressed from over exercise/under eating (cortisol levels sky rocket). This morning I remember a song from my childhood choir and for some reason, I knew God was asking me to rest a while and get my spiritual life under His authority before tackling any major fitness endeavors. (come, rest awhile…)

  35. says

    I am so, so, sorry you’re having to go through all of this Ashley. But it seems like you’re trying to keep a good attitude about it and I have no doubt that going through all of this is going to make you an even BETTER mother than you already will be! :) I know so many women end up getting in the best shape of their lives after having children, so I have no doubt you will still be able to ROCK a half marathon one day!

  36. says

    You would be a great mother, I’m sure things will work it out!
    Even if you exercised less and ate more, I know you will maintain healthy and look great because, obviously, you are a very healthy-minded person!!
    I’m happy that you are able to talk about it openly, we are all here to listen and help in anyway! :D

  37. says

    Wow. This post really struck a nerve with me because I have been dealing with very similar issues. My disordered eating patterns and views on food and exercise have been a struggle for quite some time. After losing more and more weight when I could absolutely not lose anymore, I’ve realized that I need to follow a very similar plan to yours. I’ve cut down my cardio, and am eating much more. It’s scary because it goes against everything I’ve “trained” myself to believe, but I need to keep reminding myself that this is for my overall health and well-being.

    Thank you for showing me that I am not alone and good luck with everything.

  38. says

    I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of you hun! Sharing this with the world had to be very scary and difficult. COming from someone who also took this huge step in doing what was right for myself, albeit totes terrifying at the time, couldn’t have been more rewarding. I still find it hard sometimes to go against what I was so used to, what I was so ingrained in doing for so much of my life, but with each day comes power. with each day, I get stronger and closer to getting to that healthier and happier and amazing place. If you ever need to chat girl, I am here. we can do this together! I know for a fact you will make one heck of a mommy one day ;)
    Keep doing your thang, sweety!

  39. Laura says

    Wow- what a great and honest post! I have been reading your blog for a while now and I really respect the honesty and thought that you have put into making this decision. In fact, this is one of the healthiest decisions I have seen a blogger come to in the blogosphere! I have been dealing with feminine issues too and I recently sought out the help of an endocrinologist to try and determine what the issue is! Good luck to us both!

  40. says

    I love this post! It’s so honest and real…and what (I like to imagine) so many women struggle with. I’ve fought the same battle over the past few years, and am finally nearing the point where my husband and I are ready to talk about having kids…and I’m so incredibly grateful now, even for the hard days when I ate more and ran less. Keep strong, girl!

  41. stacey says

    Those are also my 2 biggest fears; gaining weight and having my runs taken away from me! i get super defensive when anyone says anything that pertains to that! ; I currently have random menstrual cycles since May 2010; I have birthed 2 children who are now ages 4 and 6; After my second pregnancy I really started to get into running and dropped about 10 lbs and its never been consistent; I do see the gynie once a year and they are aware of this but not concerned; I also have a very low libidio which doesn’t make my husband happy ;( I’m excited for you and this journey; I know you will feel so much better; And your body and mind will thank u especially when you are holding that beautiful bundle of joy in the future! xoxo

  42. says

    I love you SO much, Ashley!! Thank you for being REAL and making it okay to discuss taboo issues like this. So many women battle silently because society deems them TMI. But when we talk openly, we’re able to rally around one another, hold each other’s hands and provide the emotional support needed to overcome our trials and fears!! Like you, my two biggest fears in life are gaining weight and not being able to work out. A large part of my identity is rooted in my fitness habits, and I take pride in setting a good “healthy example” for others. But I’ve come to realize that we’re not solely defined by the number of miles we run, just as we’re not defined by our dress size. Setting a TRULY healthy example means taking care of our bodies, and in our cases, eating more and exercising less. Girl, I’m with you 100% on this journey! I’m so proud of you for confronting your fears and having FAITH. Stay strong, and if you EVER need someone to talk to, I’m here. Anytime. xoxo <3

  43. says

    I am so behind on the blogging world, but I did want to chime in and tell you that it takes so much courage to do what you are doing. Sharing things like this is so important! It’s hard to share it, but I believe that it incourages other women to look at their own healthy lifestyle. I know it has me. Thank you Ashley, so much for sharing your heart!!

  44. lily says

    hi my name is lily and i am devoted reader. i love your blog and all of your fitness and foods ! i am originally from california but have ben living in israel for 5 years. i recently faced a similar problem and i just wanted you to know that it gets better. i also wanted to thank you for sharing your fears with us, i went a couple of months with no period and i suffered in silence fearing the weight gain and the no running (blowing off steam for me) and it was horrible. it takes so much courage to admit the obstacles in life and i honestly feel like you do that in your blog on the daily. thank you for being you and sharing your life with us… you are appreciated and loved around the world!!!

  45. says

    YOU are courageous for being honest! I encourage you to check out my blog for similar stories on these struggles. YOU are enough, regardless of your clothing size and exercise routine : )

  46. says

    I have already emailed you with my concerns but I hope that maybe someone reads my comment and finds hope too.
    In a nutshell – I am a 20 year old college student that was just diagnosed with osteopenia and labeled high risk for endometiral cancer. I’ve had so many blood tests these past weeks. I haven’t had a period in five years. My doctors thought nothing of it since I wasn’t trying to get pregnant but it became a concern only when they saw a 15% decrease in my bone density. This is an issue that NEEDS to be fixed when it starts. BC isn’t the answer because it is just a cover-up, as my endocronolgist has stated. Am I a marathoner? Yes, I am. I run because I LOVE it. I’m now working with an RD & endocronologist to get my period back naturally because it can be done. Am I scared? Yes! But this issue needs to be talked about more. I hate that it is just pushed under the rug.

  47. says

    A few weeks ago I discovered that I had to eat more than I was eating if I wanted to continue exercising. I wasn’t eating any calories back, simply out of ignorance. My weight loss was very suspiciously slow, almost nonexistent, then literally came to a halt. I am certain, now that I’ve done some research, that my metabolism slowed down. But I can identify with what you said about gaining some weight back…I have gained some pounds back. However, I feel so much better after having figured out what my macros need to be and adding more “healthy” calories each day. I am just TRUSTING THE PROCESS and believing that my body will release the extra weight as my metabolism gets going again.

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