As Dr. Jennifer Gaudiani says, the question is, “Do you want to wait until something has actually harmed you before you make a change?” Why wait until you do have a stress fracture, a torn muscle, or a ruptured ACL to address the fact that you have RED-S / REDs (Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport)?
Losing your period is a major signal that your body isn’t functioning correctly, but Dr. Gaudiani explains the small signs that will give you a warning that something isn’t right.
Read the transcript
[Tina] I haven’t had any injuries and I don’t seem to have any side effects. Do I really have RED-S or do I really need to make a change?
[Jen] The question is, do you want to wait until something has actually harmed you before you make a change? When you’re driving your car and one of your warning lights goes on, do you want to keep driving it until the car breaks down, or do you want to heed the warning light and say, “Hey, there’s some system in my car that is letting me know that something is not right; let me address it now and prevent bigger problems later.” Because right now, it’s just a warning light, but it could end up becoming a non-functional car.
Similarly, we cannot ascribe to the idea that only if the most extreme thing happens is the problem real. Your body has all sorts of beautiful early warning systems to let you know, “Hey, things aren’t okay” and there are plenty of folks out there who happen to have what I call “survivor genetics,” meaning they are built to be able to tolerate a lot of indignity with relatively few symptoms. And that can be tough, because in the back of their mind, they’re like, “I’m probably not taking good enough care of myself, but everything seems to be good, so let’s keep going.”
There’s always something if you really look at it. It’s the insomnia because you’re thinking about what you ate or didn’t eat; it’s the tummy that gets more bloated when it eats foods you typically tolerate and you’re like, “That’s funny; have I suddenly developed a discomfort with those foods?” or actually, do I have a starved gut whose bacteria has gotten puny due to my inadequate nourishment of myself and my gut bacteria. It’s the colder hands; it’s the fuzz that starts to grow on your face; all of these things are going to happen well before your blood work says anything, and it’s likely to happen well before that stress fracture that sidelines you for the season, or the torn hamstring that puts you away for multiple weeks, or the ACL rupture because your tissues aren’t strong enough due to good nourishment to hold together during a particular incident of trauma when you’re playing.
Let’s address this early; let’s honor our bodies because, yes, this season is so important, but you know what else is really important is the capacity to play during the entire time that you want to and then further than that, the capacity to be in your body and remain joyful and adventurous for the rest of your life.
[Tina] So true, and I just want to add there that I think for me, I would put myself in that category of you said the survivor genetics, but the insomnia, I think, was honestly what broke me. It was that combined with the just discomfort in who I was. It wasn’t the lack of period, it wasn’t the injuries, it was that that snapped me, so even though those things are minor and maybe not the, as you said, traumatic things, they’ll get you if you ignore them for long enough. Thank you so much.
check it out
Recovering from RED-S is hard. It’s even harder if you’re working through it alone. Even if you have professional support, they’re not available 24-7, and that can lead to going down search engine rabbit holes that have the potential to derail everything.
Our online resource, RED-S: Realize. Reflect. Recover, will answer all those questions swimming around in your head about recovery. It will give you the opportunity to connect with the experts you’ve come to know here, and to surround yourself with a community of others who are going through it too. THANK YOU! to Athletic Greens and Tracksmith for supporting this YouTube series and RED-S: Realize. Reflect. Recover.
Go to athleticgreens.com/reds to get five free travel packs of AG1 and a free one year’s supply of vitamin D3+K2 with your subscription!
When you go to https://tracksmith.com/tina and use the code TINA15 at checkout, you’ll get free shipping and Tracksmith will donate 5% of your order to Rising Hearts, the Indigenous-led nonprofit founded by Jordan Marie Daniels.
more about Dr G:
Dr. Jennifer Gaudiani, CEDS-S, FAED, is an internist who specializes in eating disorders. She practices from a deeply anti-diet, weight-inclusive perspective and partners with therapists and dietitians around the country to ameliorate medical roadblocks in patients’ recovery journeys. Her book, “Sick Enough: A Guide to the Medical Complications of Eating Disorders,” is for patients, families, and practitioners. You can find Jen at https://gaudianiclinic.com