Thanks for the well wishes. It really is great to be able to train again two full years in a row after never thinking I would be able to again. The lows during those four years were super hard, and most people didn’t understand why I had such issues with it, you know because most people just would rather sit on the couch.
For all the lows and mini bouts of depression I found myself in during that time I also had a lot of positives such as getting my first dog, who is my absolute best friend. I got into coach while subbing and looking for a teaching job. I got married. So lots of good stuff when you get to pull up to a birds eye view now, but at the time…ugh! To answer your questions.
a) Were any of the doctors you saw helpful? What type of specialist or Eastern vs Western medicine did you find were the most helpful?
- None of the doctors were able to “cure” me. Taking different supplements like zinc + magnesium together to help with T levels did not do much. Blood work would show really low T within the first year.
A few months after first realizing I went over the edge I went for a physical and was told I was fine, but T levels were a bit under the normal range (normal would be like 350-800 whatever they called it). Went back in six months later for more blood work and that level had dropped to double digits, think it was like 93. Thats when I was prescribed testosterone shots. Obviously I could not compete, nor would I have during it since it would have been cheating but the doc wanted to see if that would kick start my body. Was on that for several months, and while it brought levels up, and had me muscle up a bit, it did not fix the overtraining aspect.
I also took an SSRI, which is a form of an anti depressant for a period of time because there was research that those had worked to treat people with overtraining syndrome to reset the switch in a person brain. I got off that after a few months because I did not like the numb feeling it gave me and I was not noticing anything.
I ended up having a massive PE a few years into this too which was out of nowhere. Basically lots of blood clots in the lungs, and one so large it cut off the lower lobe of one and killed it. Funny thing about that was the doc said because of my years of endurance sports my lungs overcompensated so I never knew I had the pain/issue, where a regular out of shape person would have felt severe pain months before I did. The hits kept coming.
The weird thing was within a few months of being on a blood thinner I started coming back. Not saying it was the medicine, could have just been the timing of enough had gone back and my body was ready. Not really sure.
Seeing an endocrinologist after my PE found nothing wrong with me…
b) Did anyone ever diagnosis this as REDS (Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport)?
Nope, I never had heard of that, or been told that was something to look into/might have.
c) Do you believe the root cause was a combination of stress AND calorie deficit and/or reduced amount of carbs?
- I do. I think had I not tried to do a super low carb/low amount of food during this it would not have happened. Should have just been throwing lots of food down my throat. The stress of the jobs really added to it. That was something that was always on my mind outside of training. I think had I not had that level of stress in work I could have kept going with what I was doing and more sleep would have helped, but in the long run it was still going to hurt me.
d) While you were training hard and reducing your calories, were you able to actually drop weight or did that plateau as well?
- My weight plateaued big time. I weight about the same now as I did then, but with a bit of a shift. Touch more weight in my legs now from just riding, and touch less muscle on my shoulders/chest because of no swimming. And this is with me eating all the time. In fact I have a good amount of ice cream a week, usually about 4-5 times a week. But back when I was doing this at the end of 2012/beginning of 2013 I found once I was at like 166-167 nothing else was coming off, so I felt like I needed to restrict more.