Triathlete Jamie Berry overtrained and under-fueled, and suffered serious consequences as a result. With medical attention, proper recovery, and better fueling, he eventually came back stronger than before. Find out how Jamie overcame RED-S and used TrainerRoad to break through a longstanding fitness plateau in episode 29 of the Successful Athletes Podcast.
Topics Covered in This Episode
- How Jamie went sub 4hr30min for his first Half Distance Triathlon
- Jamie’s athletic background
- How Jamie fit in training with a busy school schedule
- The early signs of RED-S and how Jamie recognized them
- What Jamie did to return to health
- The nutrition changes Jamie made to get faster and healthier at the same time
- How Jamie used TrainerRoad to come back to an all-time FTP and W/KG high, as well as a 40k TT PR
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Great hearing your story Jamie and congratulations on your success and prioritizing your health. Thanks for sharing.
Very useful info and congratulations on your success and recovery of your health…
Thanks for sharing your story Jamie. This resonates with me on many levels and I guess this can resonate with A LOT of us, even if one was not so far at the end of overtraining spectrum.
I destroyed my hormones due to overtraining (#EverydayisZwiftRaceday) and underfueling (due to leaness obsession). I got on the right tracks mentally with help of TR podcast, especially thanks to Amber’s approach to nutrition. Patiently waiting for my body to catch-up, despite having T-gel perscribed. Want to give my body a fair shot to recover first, not take the easy way out - it’s a marathon not a sprint.
27yo old here so I had this conviction that I can throw anything at my body and demand only progress.
Hope I’ve learned my lesson and that we’ll both be the fastest and healthiest version of ourselves to date!
Sounds like we both went down the same path and found help in the form of the podcasts! The ‘race everyday’ mentality/approach towards training coupled with an obsession to be lean was always going to be a dangerous game, but at the time I got a weird kick out of it. Some reassurance in knowing I’m not the only one out there and strongly believe that the more it is spoken about and light brought to the area the better. FWIW, I too was on T-gel for some time (Thyroxine as well) took about 4 months to actually feel a noticeable improvement.
Actually found out yesterday that my most recent bloods came back with levels all within acceptable ranges again, despite not having taken meds for 2 months!
Very similar to what I’m going through. Very low testosterone together with having Anemia. I went through MRI scans and dexa scan. I was very under weight as low as 49kg but now a healthy 55kg and finding the TR training progressive but manageable, whereas before I would have struggled to recovery from a few training sessions.
Oh sorry I missed that you actually did go on HRT (hormonal replacement therapy). Would you mind sharing a bit how that went? Have your levels dropped after you stopped T-gel, are you know barely within the range or are you in the healthy 19 yo male ranges? I always thought HRT is kind of a 1 way ticket and you can’t just stop taking it.
I was under the impression it’d be for life as well, at least that’s what the endo said. Levels seemed to be in the normal ranges for a male. Have not taken anything for 2 months but I guess I’ll truly find out in the next round of bloods I do.
The first 5-6 weeks HRT, mainly the Thyroid meds, was awful. Actually felt like I was getting worse. Was no doubt my body beginning to adjust to them. From thereon, as the dosage of Levo got upped and upped things began to feel normal again. The main thing I noticed from Thyroid levels normalising was I that I wasn’t crippled by depression/anxiety anymore. It kind of just stopped. The Testosterone side of things was super chill, no longer felt like I was going to break to pieces if I walked into the end of the table.
Never actually got bone density tested but there were times when I was certainly worried about it. Was in exactly the same boat with you Visa vie weight gain and training. Instantly punched through a plateau and could hands the load of the TR plans. Not sure if you experienced the same but the weight gain had quite some impact on my mental health?
My dexa scan showed that my bone density was borderline so although I don’t have any treatment for it, I will need regular scans to make sure it doesn’t get any worse.
My mental health has improved 100% now that I’m a healthier weight. I sure the 2 are linked. Good to hear you are in a much better place and hear to a Happy and Healthy 2021
Thank you for sharing your story and great work with your recovery.
I find myself in a similar situation - 2018 very low testosterone, part recovery after weight gain and reduction in training volume. However, now in 2020 find myself in the same position and working v hard (but not hard enough) to gain lost weight back. Really liked the point regarding removing intensity to allow you to continue to train.
I’d be really interested in your day-today diet at the start of your recovery - did you find yourself having to ‘force feed’ to some extent?
great podcast! im from the uk myself and looking to do a HIM next year, and was wondering what race you did and whether the course was particularly fast to get that speedy time!
Was a race called ‘Yorkshireman Middle Distance Triathlon’ up near Harrogate.
IMO it is not a fast course; Swim is in a river (half upstream half downstream), Bike is quite rolling and follows some of the roads from the UCI TT World Champs but definitely a TT bike course, Run is a 2 lap’er on a pretty flat loop.
Thanks for sharing your story with everyone Jamie, really valuable to make these experiences more known in the community.
My story sounds quite similar to yours: crashed my hormones, and also to a lesser degree my immune system and iron/haemoglobin by way underfueling and losing a lot of weight.
I’ve spent the last 2 years+ now trying to get back on track with diet and reduced training, recently with the help of a sports doc too. But it’s been extremely frustrating with a lot of set backs and ups and downs.
How have you been doing recently? Are things still going ok after coming off hrt?
Hey man, sounds like you’ve got it really rough too. I was fortunate enough to not run into any problems with my immune system/iron so I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like.
Coming off HRT was a bit of strange one. For like 6 weeks I forgot to take my meds and genuinely felt great, almost pre-overt training great. Turns out levels were pretty much normal again which confirmed my hypothesis. But you are 100% right, there were some highs but some very dark lows on the path as well.
At this moment in time, physically I’m doing great, but the mental health deteriorated massively. Anxiety associated with overtraining somewhat disappeared but the depression is certainly still there. Disordered eating has got significantly worse so that is the battle now.
That’s rough to hear, although good that you physically feel alright.
Some of the mental parts have felt a bit like opening pandoras box to me, like even if you’re being fairly mindful of things it’s still easy to drop back into those mental ruts now that you know that they’re there.
Think it’s sometimes just a case of waiting, not being hard on yourself and trusting that things will improve with time - hang in there.
I enjoyed listening to this. You sound an amazing athlete so best of luck with your races this year - I hope they can go ahead. Sorry to hear you’re still struggling with depression and eating (I guess lockdown really doesn’t help these things), I hope you feel better soon.
I don’t know if you’re reading this-but was curious on your thoughts on the IOC Consensus statement on RED-S ( IOC consensus statement on relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S): 2018 update | British Journal of Sports Medicine (bmj.com). In it, they have an equation for Energy Availability and state that 45 kcal/kg fat free mass/day is needed to sustain health. For me this would be 2700 calories not including training sessions for me at 5’10" and 69 kg, roughly 11% BF. It seems like a lot!
The last few months I’ve been eating 1500 kcal + power meter calories (25 kcal/kg FFM), and was getting into fights with the scale trying to keep my weight level plus blowing up during the 3rd week of a training block and not being able to pedal for almost a week each time. Threshold power has hit a little bit of a plateau. Also would binge on the weekend and have ravenous hunger. For reference, was training between 12-15 hours at 800-1000 TSS.
Just looking to avoid going into full blown RED-S, I’m not confident in the local medical resources to pinpoint this one since no one locally seems to know what it is. Thank you for sharing your story.