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What I’m Struggling With At The Moment

By Rachael Attard, Updated Aug 18, 2020

Everybody’s fitness journey is different, but they do all have one thing in common. Everybody struggles at some stage and no one’s quest to a healthy and fit life is without it’s challenges.

I have been struggling for quite some time and I didn’t really know why, until recently. When I first started really getting into fitness and started my fitness Instagram account, I was in great shape, I trained hard, ate healthy, and I was happy and loving life.

Around 2 years ago, I noticed things changing. It’s hard to describe, but I gained weight, craved bad foods, binge ate, got a bit depressed, tried all different workouts. But I was just going up and down like a yo yo, not sticking to anything. When I would get really serious and say “right, no junk food, no binge eating, and workouts every day,” I would actually follow it for a few weeks. But ABSOLUTELY nothing would change physically.

In the past, if I wanted to lose a few kilos or tone up, it was so easy for me. I started thinking it was just that I was getting older (I’m 29 this month), that my metabolism had slowed down, that I didn’t do as much cardio as I used to.

But I realized that this wasn’t the case. I guess I wanted to share a bit about my health journey and what I have struggled with in the past and what I’m still struggling with now. I think a lot of issues that I’m experiencing are quite common in young women. So if you’re having any of the same issues I mentioned, and are having trouble with your weight, it could be because of some of these reasons.

Gut Health

I have already written a whole blog post on my gut health, so I won’t go over it again in detail. But having poor gut health has a HUGE effect on your entire health. It made me feel constantly bloated, gain weight, feel depressed, feel really lethargic, I had constant pains in my stomach, I developed SO many food allergies. It was terrible.

I had leaky gut syndrome and dysbiosis for probably about 4 years undiagnosed. This chronic illness probably contributed to some other health issues I’m having now. But after seeing a naturopath and FINALLY getting the proper testing and treatment, I recovered from this quite quickly.

If you have some of these symptoms and are you are having issues with your gut (you would know what these are – gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, all those fun things), please go and see someone! They won’t go away until you do and you get treated.

Anyway, I thought all my troubles would go away once I had fixed my gut health. I had put on maybe 5-7kgs (my weight fluctuates a bit) and I lost maybe 1-2 kgs after I recovered, but still could never get back down to my normal weight.

The Contraceptive Pill

I had been on the contraceptive pill for about 9 years. I was told that there were no risks involved, so I didn’t really think twice about it. I took it religiously.

After getting engaged, I was determined to get back down to my normal weight, so I ate PERFECT, exercised every day (with a mixture of resistance training and cardio) and I felt pretty amazing. But I didn’t lose ANY weight, which was really frustrating. I knew that I was doing everything right.

I started thinking that there might have been something else going on, so I did some research online.

OMG I wanted to absolutely kick myself for staying on the pill for so long. It causes SO many issues that no one seems to talk about. And probably also played a part in all of my gut health issues.

But the good news is, since coming off the pill, I’ve had hardly any cravings and no desire to binge eat.

Hormone Imbalance

Having a hormone imbalance can cause weight gain and difficultly losing weight, plus a whole range of symptoms. I wrote a blog post on hormone imbalances and difficultly losing weight, because there is a lot to be said about it.how a hormone imbalance can cause weight gain

My hormone imbalance was caused by the contraceptive pill. After I stopped taking the pill (August 2016), I didn’t get my period for 5 and a half months! I saw a naturopath and got some testing done and started taking some natural medication. They kinda worked as I got my period back, but it is still not regular.

My naturopath was a bit confused as to why the medication wasn’t fixing my issues, so we did more testing…

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is essentially an underactive thyroid. Your thyroid controls your metabolism and other metabolic processes in your body. If you have an underactive thyroid, you will find it VERY difficult to lose weight and you will likely gain weight.

Turns out this is actually common for women on the pill too. I don’t really know what else causes it, but mine has most likely stemmed from using the pill long term, and then coming off it.

I don’t know if I have full on hypothyroidism, but I have a severe iodine deficiency (the naturopath and doctors said it’s the worst deficiency they’d ever seen!) :( Your thyroid cannot function properly without iodine. My naturopath also said that this level of iodine deficiency is probably having a bigger effect on my body and playing a part in my reproductive hormones too. Great :(

Iodine really is vital, so if you’re having problems with weight loss, it could be worth getting checked out. Apparently lots of people are iodine deficient and don’t know it.

Adrenal Fatigue

There are several stages of adrenal fatigue. Stage 1 and 2 is when your body is under constant stress (can be mental, physical, emotional stress), so your body produces a lot of cortisol. Having very high amounts of cortisol actually causes your body to gain weight, especially in the stomach region. You also have many other issues, one of which being difficultly with sleep.

Stages 3 and 4 of adrenal fatigue is when your adrenal glands have burnt out and your body now has trouble producing cortisol. Your cortisol levels are very low and you become very very fatigued, can’t get out of bed in the mornings, you sleep a lot, get exhausted after just a little bit of exercise, have trouble standing up for long periods, etc. I’ve got that one..overtraining

My adrenal fatigue has probably been caused by long term chronic illness (with my gut health), being stressed, overtraining, and then the ridiculous amount of travel I’ve done in the past year (along with changing time zones a million times).

I am taking a few natural supplements to help with this, and really just focusing on getting good sleep and trying not to put my body under too much stress, both mentally and physically. I haven’t been doing any hard exercise as I just can’t handle it at the moment.

Gut Parasites

So just when I thought I had all of my troubles sorted (well at least diagnosed and treatment started), my doctor tells me that I have 2 gut parasites that are hard to get rid of (I just found out about these ones last week).

Summary

I am completely fed up with my health and I feel like it’s just one thing after another, and it has been like this for YEARS. But I’m trying to stay positive. This is actually the closest I’ve been to solving all of my health issues in 4 years or so, so at least I’m moving in the right direction. But it’s hard not to let it get you down sometimes.

In terms of my weight, I’m still a few kilos heavier than my norm (maybe 3kgs now) so I’m slowly getting back there. But fingers crossed I can be back to normal really soon. I’m taking lots of supplements to help with all of my deficiencies and issues, and I’m working with both a doctor and naturopath to help me recover. I couldn’t be doing it without them.

So in a nutshell, this kinda describes why I haven’t been so active on social media for a long time. I just don’t feel like posting photos of myself when I don’t feel happy about myself both on the outside AND inside. But I feel like I’m on the road to recovery.

I know I’ve only just touched on several topics. If you want more information on one of them, I highly recommend you do some research just by googling them. It’s amazing how much info is out there now! Otherwise, you can always ask me any questions you want J I have done an extreme amount of research on all of this because I’m super thorough and I get a bit addicted to the research haha.

Gee I just read back through this and it sounds a bit morbid. I am actually happy and this is the happiest I’ve been in a LONG time. My fiancé has been absolutely incredible, supporting me and sticking by me when I’ve been at my worst. And my family have been amazing too! I think having support like this can make a huge difference.

I have talked about a few of my issues in other blog posts and my weekly emails (to my email subscribers), and I have had a surprising number of women email me back or comment saying they are going through similar issues. So I know it is common. Please get checked out by a naturopath or doctor if you think you have any of these issues – I can’t recommend it enough! And of course, feel free to ask me any questions. I’m always here to help! xx

Picture of Rachael

Rachael is an Australian born certified personal trainer and nutritionist who holds a Bachelor degree in Science.

After struggling for years to find an exercise and diet program that is tailored to women striving for lean and toned body with no bulk she designed her Lean Legs Program. This program is tailored to each body type and focused on helping women get toned but feminine bodies, without getting bulky.

Her mission is to empower women and help them stay in shape in a healthy and balanced way.

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16 comments on “What I’m Struggling With At The Moment”

    Reem says:

    Rachael,
    Thank you for being so honest , I myself have suffered from Adrenal fatigue and I’m an endomorph body type and it can be so discouraging . Keep doing what you’re doing , your transparency and positivity is refreshing . Sending you love and best wishes from Canada , Reem.

      Diana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Thanks for your amazing support lovely! I hope these tips were helpful. :) xx

      Love,
      Diana

    Tay says:

    Hi what are u taking for adrenal fatigue? And what probiotic do u recommend now? I also have severe gut issues, parasites, hypithyroidism with potential hashimotos and personally i believe i have a severe case of self diagnosed adrenal fatigue.

      Rachael Attard says:

      Hi lovely, I’m so sorry to hear about your struggles :( I tried a few different probiotics but the best ones are the really high dosage and multi strand ones. I’m taking Lifespace at the moment and another good one I used was Bioceuticals. Have a read of Dr Lam’s website on adrenal fatigue. There is sooo much information on there – he is the guru. I am having a consult with him tomorrow and hopefully will start treatment with him to recover from my adrenal fatigue. I have tried several different things but haven’t worked. As I said in my Instagram message, feel free to send me an email xx

    Shauna says:

    This was really encouraging to read and really honest, thank you! I feel like I can really relate to the hormone imbalance and feel like I have bad habits that I didn’t have before going on the pill. Do you mind if I ask what you think about IUDs or if you’ve had one? Or what you use for birth control now? If that’s too personal totally
    Just ignore me! Haha

      Rachael Attard says:

      Hi hun, haha no I’m happy to answer! I’ve never had a IUD. I won’t put anything into my body that releases fake hormones ever again. There might be different types of IUDs (i’m not sure), but if they release hormones and you’re already having issues with a hormone imbalance, I would avoid them. Also, I just track my cycle on a free app called MyDays and use good old condoms when I’m ovulating haha xx

    Jenna says:

    Hi! Thank you so much for sharing your story. Mine is almost identical. I’m curious about your experience with weight gain…did it show up like extra fat and cellulite? I’ve never had cellulite in my life until I came off birth control, didnt get my period for 9 months and just kept gaining weight.

      Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Jenna, I’m sorry to hear that! I know how tough it can be. My weight gain was all over but most noticeably my face, my lower stomach / hips, and thighs. It wasn’t really cellulite, just looked really puffy and not toned at all. But when I came off the pill I noticed a big difference. I didn’t get my period for 5.5 months but after I got it, I started recovering, but I was seeing other doctors / naturopaths for other issues as well. I hope you can find out what’s wrong and recover soon! xx

    Aya says:

    What kind of birth control were you taking, and what kind of cravings was it giving you? I am also on the pill and I’m experiencing bloating and strange carb cravings. After reading this blog, I am starting to believe the pill may be to blame. I am also having a difficult time losing muscle bulk.

      Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Aya, I was taking one that was good for acne. I’m not sure if they’re the same in every country, but in Australia it was called Diane or Estelle. I really craved sweet food like chocolate! It could be worth coming off it for a while to see if it is causing your issues. I noticed a difference really quickly, especially with my cravings xx

    Christina Gordon says:

    What supplements do you take?

    A. says:

    Well, no one would ever know you are having some challenges as you look absolutely perfect, stunningly gorgeous, and glowing with good health. We should warn more young women about the dangers of the birth control pill, including things like blood clots. And with food these days being so contaminated with things like glyphosate (GMOs), it is no wonder that so many people are struggling with their weight. I love your blog, one of the best I’ve seen. Congratulations on your engagement. Are you of mixed-heritage btw? I believe you are–my children are mixed, and I hope my daughters grow up to be as gorgeous as you. Thanks for the great blog post. xoxo

      Rachael Attard says:

      Aww thank you so much – you are so sweet! Yes I’m mostly Filipino and Maltese, but a mix of a few things. Thanks for your lovely comment xoxo

    Melinda Royce says:

    Thanks for being so real, so much of what one sees on social media is so fake, from pictures, to diet etc. I’m sorry you’re having to deal with all this and I hope you resolve it all soon. There are more important things in life than just having skinny legs and abs even though I love those things too, perhaps we encounter these other array of difficulties to remind us that we still have a heart that works without our instructions and we have our lives, our family and our friends! Much love to you. x

      Rachael Attard says:

      You’re welcome hun, and thanks for the support. I agree, having good health, family and friends is above everything else! xx