My Crazy Hormone Story and Why I Eat Carbohydrates

Courtney Bentley Fitness Expert

I have a confession to make..

I went through a period in my life where I did not had my period for 5 years..
Courtney Bentley Fitness Expert

Yes, you read that right..I had not had my period for almost 5 whole years until I was 27 years old, for reference I am now 28. As scary as that sounds, to be honest, I thought it was pretty cool up until about 5 years ago after I got married and wanted to have babies and start a family with my husband.

This will be a long post so I apologize if I bore you with my story but I really want to share my story because after the 2 years of Dr. appointments, cancer scares, tests and doing everything besides pumping my body full of estrogen pills, I learned that I am not alone on this and that 1,000’s if not more..other women are dealing with the same exact thing. This post is not a doctors recommendation nor am I claiming to have a cure or a magical remedy to what to do if you miss your period, but it is my story in its entirety in hopes that someone googles it and finds they too are not alone…

It all started in 2008 when I started regularly going to LA nightclubs and hanging out with the most beautiful people in the world (literally) that I started to look at myself differently. I knew I was not the “prettiest” most “gorgeous” or hottest thing in town, but I was pretty confident in my appearance. Boozing and drive thru fast food at 2 AM every night makes for a little pudge and like most 20 year olds I started to put on some weight. I had slowly become bulimic and anorexic in high school but was never “hardcore” or down that black hole, like I became that year. Hanging out around the club scene in LA is a lot like high school. It is all about who you are, who you know and the total “whose hot..whose not” etc. and of course you always want to be in the “in” crowd.  You somehow get pressured into doing what needs to be done to fit in. In my case, I needed to lose some of that excess baggage I was carrying around. I knew I had to “eat” and wanted to be “normal” so I realized that bulimia was the way to go. I started to lose weight of course and started gaining more attention and getting more stares and looks so of course I continued. I also found out that most of my “friends” were doing the same thing so of course I got in even deeper and deeper until it became an addiction. My addiction was so bad there were days I could hardly move from my bed except to go to work for a few hours where I would knock back 2 or 3 red bulls and pick at some food. I was also vegan as a way to control my food and have an excuse as to why I was not eating. I would just eat a few vegetables some days or would go on a binge roll at Trader Joe’s to then run to the nearest restroom to undo my what I felt was my damage. I of course lost my cycle, but knew in my head that if I wanted it back all I had to do was stop. I knew I was hurting myself but in my eyes being thin was all that mattered and if it took harming myself then so be it.

In 2010, I started working at a lounge as a bartender where I met my now husband who knew something was up with me. He started taking me to the gym and making me eat meat again because he knew that I was not eating meat because of my disorder not for ethical or religious reasons, he also knew that if I started lifting weights and working out while eating that I could have a hot body without harming myself. Long story short, this is why I ended up becoming a trainer because I learned to love my body through nourishment and movement vs. junk food, binge eating and self harm. This ignited me and became my passion to share this knowledge with other women. After a straight solid year of working out and lifting weights, I continued with bulimia but only on occasion when food intake got out of hand. I went from an everyday binge cycle to maybe 1-2x a week after a dessert or treat. The last time I committed self harm was the day before my wedding which was May 4,2015 and I have not thought about harming myself since that very day.

My husband and I moved back to Los Angeles a few months after our wedding and now my “baby” mindset was turned up HIGH. I researched online and knew that after all that damage I did to myself I would have to give my body some time to readjust and heal before expecting it to carry a child. A year went by and nothing really happened so I started to do some research and found a doctor that specialized in people with my case. I went and spoke with her and she told me I needed to gain some more weight before we started to run any tests or spend money on nonsense. When I went in to see her I weighed about 90ish lbs. In about 4 months time, I gained a steady and healthy 6 lbs. [You can read how I did that here].

We then moved to Bangkok where I gained a few about 7-8 lbs easily with the stress of the move and going out to eat and drink often. I started off by going to a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor who spoke 0 English and only Chinese off the beaten path in Bangkok, where I was told through an iPad translator to drink this crazy herbal tea two times a day. He also pointed out to me I had a pituitary gland problem, a gut problem and a stress problem which all turned out to be my problems but I will get to that later. I drank this tea which made me feel like I was stoned everyday for about 3 months before giving up hope. I was stinking out my husband with my brewing tea which smelled like the most disgusting thing EVER and wanting to throw up every time I had to drink this tea which again was 2 TIMES A DAY! (read about my tea here)

Courtney Bentley Fitness Expert

Fifteen pounds heavier with a few months that went by I knew I needed another doctor’s opinion. I did mounds of blood work with a doctor who specializes in hormones and he told me my thyroid was hypo, and that doctors probably did not recognize this because someone with hypothyroidism usually has a weight problem no matter what they do. I had 0.25 estrogen where normal rate is about 18.0 and many other factors were out of whack. After 6 months of hormone therapy, which made me a crazy, depressed, pimply faced teenager all over again, I STILL had no period. I also took some time off of working out, cried daily and was in complete depression for no changes whatsoever. I took a blood test about 6 months into the program with little change to my hormone levels. Several thousands of dollars later, I decided that this might not be the right path for me so I went to a private hospital to see an endocrinologist who specializes in hormones.

This doctor told me that I all of this may be happening because I have cancer in my pituitary gland. I was horrified, scared, frightened and if you can imagine your entire life flashing in front of you in an instant this is like that and exactly what happened to me. I had to wait a week to get an MRI scan and let me tell you I woke up everyday that week with chills. I called everyone in my family and pretended to be normal, but really I was calling them to keep myself calm. I went in for my scan where they injected me with this ink that left bruises all over my left hand and I can sometimes still feel where they placed the needle in my left hand randomly. I waited for several hours and the news returned that I was cancer free! I was overjoyed but upset that this doctor just assumed the worst before looking at my other factors.

This entire time I kept on my thyroid medicine because before I started to take T3/T4 I would feel like someone hit me over the head with a brick every morning and felt like someone sucked the life out of me at 5 PM every single day no matter how many coffees I drank. The medicine made me feel normal, so I continued on it.

Courtney Bentley Fitness Expert

Then I went to another doctor which was recommended by a friend who also was having fertility troubles so I went and checked him out. He sat me down and gave me hope. He told me that I still have my eggs, I am young and it is still possible for me to get my cycle again, I just need to take some synthetic estrogen. I took this estrogen home, threw it under the TV and never looked at it again. I know a lot of women who have trouble take these pills and have success after many years of nothing else working and I have nothing against them at all! I knew I had another way and deep down inside I knew there had to be another more natural way.

Just a side not, my husband supported me the entire time and was my rock through this whole situation. It was just as hard on him as it was on me and I am so grateful that he stood by my side through every doctor appointment, every disappointment and every crying fit!

I looked inside myself and knew there had to be another way..

After all of this I took a break and went back home to Southern California where I had some time to reflect, relax and connect with my family. I came back to Bangkok with a clear head and ready to take on another adventure. I started to work with an acupuncturist named Sandi (you can read about her here) who discovered that I had adrenal fatigue, was deficient in zinc and needed to put more emphasis on fats in my diet. I started to drink bone broth, eat Brazil Nuts and slow down a bit in the gym as well as adrenal support herbs and weekly acupuncture treatments. She also focused on healing my gut because after several years of harming my insides my stomach acids were all messed up and I was not absorbing as many nutrients from my food as I should. I also had to heal my leaky gut which I did by cutting out dried fruits, eating bone broth and chewing my food more before swallowing. She taught me to calm down and to focus on my health with healing foods and herbs. These treatments really helped me to understand my hormones and the importance of chilling out.

Things were becoming much more difficult for me to handle emotionally so my husband and I spoke of surrogacy as an option to having children. We did our research and even interviewed a company in Nepal, but learned we would have to move there and not be able to leave until the child obtained a US citizenship which could take 3-6 months. All of this was too much for us and with what happened in Nepal (pray for Nepal), and not to get all religious but I swear God always has a plan!

I took a look in the mirror and knew I had to get back to me and “re-find” myself again..

After a year and a half of 0 results, I needed to take a break and do something for myself so I went ahead and did a fitness competition. Acupuncture was working for me but at this point I had worn myself thin and needed to take on a new goal. I placed third in my division and was so proud of myself for competing and was happy that I got quick results from working hard. I knew if I truly focused on my goal of getting my cycle again I could get it all by myself without forcing synthetic hormones or loading my body with estrogen. I did not give up on myself!

My acupuncturist got pregnant herself and went back to her hometown of Australia and I was left again with some time to think about what I truly wanted in life. Both my husband and I were toying with the fact that having children may not be in our cards and we talked of getting to travel more and live around the world but deep down inside I knew we were both just saying these things to make light out of our situation.

I took on another fitness competition and while I did not place I saw it as another sign to take a step back and create some time to focus on myself again.

I took all the information that my acupuncturist gave me plus some new tips my friend who is in school to become an Ayurvedic doctor gave me and started putting them all into use.

  • I started to eat brown rice, sweet potatoes and beets all heavy in carbohydrates which support my thyroid and helps calm the adrenals
  • Gave myself self massage every single night using sesame oil with lavender and other essential oils
  • Ate organic ghee, grass-fed organic butter and organic yoghurt with probiotics
  • Woke up every morning a bit earlier to journal, dry brush and say my gratitudes
  • Started everyday with warm foods like bone broth
  • Stopped drinking so much coffee (I only drink 1 most days and 2 if I end up meeting a friend that day)
  • Took adrenal supporting herbs (read more about how I reduced my cortisol here)
  • Stopped eating cruciferous vegetables, these vegetables fight off estrogen and do not support thyroid function
  • Listened to classical music while working
  • Danced more and had more fun!
  • Reversed Dieted, using IIFYM (no I did not eat donuts to have to eat tilapia, I used it to make sure I ate enough carbs)
  • Took yoga classes
  • Stopped placing so much pressure on myself and comparing my accomplishments to others
  • Practiced Pranic breathing techniques everyday

Courtney Bentley Fitness Expert

Again, I am not a doctor and am not saying to stop taking your medicine or do what I did but this is personally what worked for me. Practicing all of this for about 2 months I am now able to not take my thyroid pills and will find out how my blood work is in about 2 weeks but feel completely fine and now have my period! (Who would have thought that having a period would make someone SO happy)

I wanted to share my story with everyone and as difficult as it was for me to share this information on the internet I hope that it reaches the right people. I know some people may read this and look down on my expertise but because of this I enrolled myself last year in women’s hormone courses and just finished a sports nutrition course to learn even more. Yes, I know I am a fitness professional and I give advice and I never talked about my issue because I did not want people to know that I had this problem, but right now I want to share because I know I am not the only one. I also wanted to open up more on my blog, I want to take the filter off and share with you who I am and what has gone on in my life for the last several years.

I feel like we live in a world where we have pressure to eat pizza and have perfect bodies while running a successful business and being perfect at everything. I want to show you that is not me at all and that doesn’t have to be you either. I love to workout, I love to rock out to Rancid, sleep with crystals under my pillow, wish upon the stars and dance in my office when the universe aligns me with a client I can help! I also wanted to share why I do what I do and where the passion stems from. I hope after reading this you learned a bit about me and I hope you can relate. I also hope you remove a little more of your filter and be as true to you as possible!

If you have any questions or just need someone to talk to I am happy to talk to you, I know that finding someone to talk to can be difficult! Also let me know if you like these posts, it can be difficult to open up but in sharing this story I hope it will help someone out there who feels alone (YOU are not alone!) I actually wrote this post over a year ago and kind of hid it on my blog a bit and never shared it! I was inspired to repost it with photos and share it because of my gal pals Krista of Hundred Blog and Annie of Annie Spano.

So I wanna know…

  • Are you someone who experienced this or something similar?
  • Did you enjoy this post?

  • Tania CuirFlor

    I can only imagine how hard and stressful all that was!!! Im glad you found your own way to get better. Me and my husband take exercise and diet very seriously, yea to look hot lo, but nourishing your body has more benefits than I can count. It impacts your body AND mind in so many ways. We lift very heavy haha and eat a lot of carbs(sweet potatoes, rice, oats, like you) and fats too! I am so glad you are also helping people with your story and knowledge! Good for you love!

    • Hi Tania! Thank you so much for commenting!! I am so happy to hear you eat healthy foods and keep up with a great routine in the gym, it is SO important!! xo CC

  • I can’t begin to imagine how this felt for you! This was such a beautifully written and honest post! I am learning now, the hard way, that nourishing your body and taking care from the inside out is so important and your internal health is key to your mental health as well. Such a brave post to write! Thank you for sharing! Glad you’re feeling much better now!

    Ellie
    http://www.scotchandstilettos.com

    • Thank you Ellie, it can be scary to hit publish on these posts since I like to be light and airy and informative here on this space but I feel like this is something that needs to be addressed as I talk to girls everyday about this stuff and I know how alone I felt! Thanks for the love

  • emily

    Hey Courtney, I really enjoyed reading this post, Thanks so much for sharing your story and opening up to us. I am glad you took control of your life and health. I am also on thyroid meds myself and have adrenal fatigue, and I am trying to do everything on my part that I can to get better. What are the adrenal supplements that you took?

    xo, Emily (SCsister)

    http://bailylamb.com

    • I took Natural Factors Stress-Relax® Serenity Formula with Sensoril — 60 Capsules, meditation everyday/yoga every week, and made sure I ate before/after workouts and kept all my workouts about 30 minutes no longer. It really helped plus I cut the caffeine down and bone broth everyday!!! Feel free to reach out to me in the contact form, I’d love to share more <3

  • Christie Moeller

    Loved this post- as you know I am high stress and have hypo-thyroid so its great to hear someone else’s story with it and know you aren’t alone. I don’t think other people can really understand how much it messes with you mentally.

    xoxo Christie

    http://icanstyleu.com/blog/

    • YeS its insane how much our hormones control EVERYTHING and so unfair!! Thank you for the comment love <3

  • Azanique

    Thank you for sharing your story girl! You are so brave. I am so glad that you are better and are using your story to help others live a healthy love. You go girl!

    -xoxo, Azanique
    LotsofSass.com

    • Thanks Azanique I’m so happy you enjoyed my story and am blessed I am now able to share my story to help others! Thank you for your comments and love

  • Victoria

    Thank you so much for sharing this story. I can’t imagine how hard it was for you. I had some similar struggles and had to really change the way I was treating my body. I am all about carbs now. Really appreciate your heart.

    • Wow I’m so happy you shared that with me, it’s a rough journey and it’s crazy that the no carb thing is still such a hot topic. I’m all about limiting carbs but not forever and I saw the damage a 0 carb diet did for me so I always approach them the same, keep a healthy amount in your diet to feed those hormones’

  • Fabiola Rodriguez Licona

    Wow! You are truly a strong and brave woman. The human body is so strong and yet so fragile, and healing takes so much time and patience. You look great, and it’s wonderful to know you’re feeling better.

    • Thank you Fabiola! It’s been a journey that is for sure but I’m happy to share my truth! Thanks for your comment and support xo

  • Thank you for your story! It’s crazy to think how hormones control SO much and between the funky things we eat and stuff like birth control, so much can go wrong. Thank you for bringing attention to this!

    xx, Pia
    http://gymbagsandjetlags.com

    • Thank you for commenting Pia! It’s scary and I’ve been so inspired to share my story just through talking with friends and seeing others like Krista on Hundred Blog share hers!

  • Amanda Nicole Hughes

    Thanks for sharing your story! It’s amazing how it is different for everyone. I eat minimal carbs, mainly protein and veggies! So just interesting.

    • I did that for years and then one day it was like someone hit me over the head with a brick! Glad to hear it works for you

  • Thanks for the honest story, I haven’t experienced it but I loved hearing your story. We all have our challenges and I am happy that you are currently healthy and spreading knowledge.

    xo,

    I AM YASMIN

  • Jeanette Radmall

    I didn’t have a period for years while dancing professionally. It was nuts! It’s so great to see you being an advocate for and so proactive about your health, even when its a lot of work!

    • thank you so much Jeanette, I know the feeling and was in the same boat for so long! I am so happy to hear you are balanced now 🙂

  • Nargis Roshni Chowbey

    Thanks for sharing your story with us all! It’s inspiring to see someone go through so much, and learn and grow from it! We are all better through the challenges we face. This diminishes nothing about you.. This makes you a great, experienced, and even more knowledgeable personal trainer now!

    • so true, thank you for your kind comment! I was so nervous to push publish but I love being real and just sharing the truth! Thanks so much for the love <3