One of the most common questions I get asked is "How did you pick yourself up after understanding your diagnosis of Premature Ovarian Failure (POF)?". So today I've decided to address it head on.For those of your who don't know what POF is, it is more recently described as Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) and essentially means the ovaries have stopped functioning the way they are intended to. Some would describe it as Premature Menopause; however, physiologically speaking that is incorrect. But let's just put it this way - the symptoms are pretty much identical. 

In my opinion though, understanding the disorder is microscopic in significance when compared to understanding the psychological aspect. Women who are diagnosed tend to experience a constant roller-coaster of emotions and unfortunately, some women never find a way to prevail.

My hope is that by sharing the thought process I used to triumph over my diagnosis, I may be able to help inspire a new way for other women to view theirs.

So here it is:

How did you pick yourself up after understanding your diagnosis?

Dealing with this diagnosis is extremely tough.

What many POF patients, and many onlookers, don’t seem to realize is that in order to move forward, the diagnosed woman needs to go through an entire grieving cycle. This should be approached just as a death is – you must let yourself grieve.

In case you are unfamiliar, the grieving cycle looks like this:
  • Shock stage: Initial paralysis at hearing the bad news.
  • Denial stage: Trying to avoid the inevitable.
  • Anger stage: Frustrated outpouring of bottled-up emotion.
  • Bargaining stage: Seeking in vain for a way out.
  • Depression stage: Final realization of the inevitable.
  • Testing stage: Seeking realistic solutions.
  • Acceptance stage: Finally finding the way forward.
(http://changingminds.org/disciplines/change_management/kubler_ross/kubler_ross.htm)

Some people go through the cycle fast, and some people don’t. I, personally, went quite quickly, but that isn’t always the case.

There are many places where we can get stuck in this cycle and there are many places where we can find ourselves right back at the beginning. It all depends on the person and their support systems. I can’t tell you what you need to do to get there, but I can tell you how I personally arrived at ‘acceptance’ myself.

What I realized one day is that I had to let it go. This was the body I was granted with and the situation I was placed in. I can’t control whether or not I actually conceive naturally one day, so instead I decided to seek for what I could control – I re-focused. What I eventually established is that I could control two things: My health/wellbeing and my mind.

In my mind, I still have hope to conceive naturally one day (I would NEVER suggest giving up, or losing hope), but instead of weighing myself down with thoughts such as “why me?” and “this isn’t fair” – which are nothing but added weight on my shoulders – I’ve decided to put energy into building the healthiest me possible.  

By becoming healthy and strong physically, I have the peace of mind in knowing that, should my path in life result in a spontaneous pregnancy, I am healthy enough to carry it to term. And this, in turn, has made me healthier mentally.

I made a conscious decision to not let this diagnosis define me. I am not Kristen Adamson with POF, I am Kristen Adamson and I can be whoever I want to be.

Just because I have this diagnosis does not mean I cannot be a mother someday.

Truthfully, it is often the dwelling that bears down on our bodies, creating unnecessary stress. And when our bodies are under stress, chemical reactions occur within that can hinder its ability to work effectively.

So, I have chosen to remove that stress and allow my body to work on functioning the way it was intended to, and to support that decision, I have decided to nourish it with nutritious, whole foods and happy thoughts daily.

I know it isn’t easy, and in all honesty, I still have really really tough days - and that's completely normal when faced with this type of circumstance - but what I remind myself regularly is that I cannot focus on the outcome being ‘getting pregnant’ and having a child that is biologically mine. My focus must be on accepting me for me. I have to love myself in my entirety. And should I be destined to be the biological mother of my children someday, that will be the cherry on top.

Deciding to accept it was a conscious choice I had to make. I had to decide it was time to move on and focus my energy on something positive instead.

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Whether we choose to notice it or not, I believe that every day at least one thing makes us happy.

Happiness is a funny thing. We are lead to believe that one day we will experience it or that at some point in the future we will achieve it; when really, happiness is everywhere.

It’s not some big ‘a-ha!’ moment in our lives, but rather, it’s a tiny little spark of emotion that we can either choose to foster, or ignore.

Let me explain.

I sat down tonight and randomly decided to make a list. I don’t know why, but I just felt like I had to follow this instinct.

The list was to be of things that make me happy. And it began like this…

·       Watching ‘Friends’ episode re-runs at every opportunity possible
·       A glass of red wine with my love or my friends
·       Soaking in the tub, listening to music
·       The smell of coconut oil
·       Watching cartoons or animation movies on Sunday’s
·       Etc. etc. etc.

What I began to notice was that these things were in my control. And, yes, they may not be significant experiences that encourage an overwhelming sense of joy, but they are small occurrences that make me feel good.

So I asked myself, why am I just realizing this now? Why haven’t I ever thought about what inspires that little spark of positive emotion before? I thought, if I could just compile a decent list of these things, I could pick one when I was in need of a blissful boost.

So I continued making my list:

·       A cup of herbal tea, lightly sweetened
·       Knowing I can sleep in the next day
·       Reading fitness magazines
·       Watching babies make new discoveries
·       Stars in the night sky
·       Listening to the sounds of the waves
·       Sun rises and sun sets
·       Having my morning coffee
·       Achieving a new personal record in the gym
·       Etc. etc. etc.

This list making became super easy. I just kept writing and within minutes I had two hand-written pages of simple, controllable things that make me feel a sense of happiness. I literally had to stop myself or I wouldn’t have anything to write the next time I choose to do this – and I will. 

What this task reminded me was that life is truly what you make of it. We can either focus on what’s stressing us out and what’s out of our reach, or we can step back and focus on controlling what we can – our emotions, our outlook and our actions.

It reminded me of the wise words written by one of my idols – Karen Sampson. As a child, this woman inspired me tremendously, and continues to every day of my life.

In a document stored on her laptop, found after passing from a long term battle with Cancer, Karen at age 37 had written:

“By some absolute miracle, I learned early on that in spite of what was happening inside my body, I could control my mind.” – Karen Sampson

Yes, we all have our bad days. And yes, we all face stressful situations. But if we can learn to be in command of that little spark of emotion, we can create our own joy during even some of our toughest encounters.

So I encourage you to self reflect. What makes you happy? What ignites that flicker of enjoyment in your life?

Literally make a list for yourself and make it a goal to do at least one of these things every day. I bet what you’ll quickly notice is that you already do –you probably just weren’t aware of it before.

Like I said previously, I believe that every day at least one thing makes us happy. We just need to learn to foster it and appreciate it more.

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As you know, water is essential. But often, individuals are confused by how much to consume in order to be adequately hydrated. Is the standard ‘8-10 glasses a day’ enough for athletes? And how much is enough for an inactive person?

Well, worry no more! Follow these guidelines to figure out what our body requires to perform optimally:

Average, In Active Individuals:
· 1ml of water is required per kilocalorie ingested, per day
· For instance, 2200 kcal diet = 2200ml/day (9 cups)

Active Individuals or Athletes:
· 2500 to 3000mls (10 –12cups) per day, PLUS,
· 600 to 1200ml (2.5 – 5cups) during exercise per hour, and
· 750 to 1500ml (3 – 6cups) post exercise per hour.
· For instance, if an athlete were to workout for 1 hour on a particular day, over the span of that day they would have consumed 15.5 – 23 cups of water. This equates to 3.67 – 5.44 Liters.

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It may not be relevant to health and wellness, but it is an event that impacted millions  of lives. So, I feel it is my obligation to share with you a poem I wrote just weeks after September 11th 2001.

We Won’t Forget

We won’t forget September 11th - the day that changed our lives,
The screams of horror and pain we heard will never clear our minds.

We won’t forget the twin towers that came on crashing down,
And all the heroes that risked their lives for strangers in their town.

We won’t forget the passengers that warned the world about,
The hijackers that had no heart who started all the shouts.

We won’t forget the cloud of dust that made the people run,
And all the painful memories on the date of nine one one.

We won’t forget the innocent, who died in this event,
The pain their families suffered is still so evident.

From all of this we’ve come to see what life’s trying to say,
STOP the hatred and harmfulness and lend a hand today.

This poem is dedicated to all the people who suffered in this tragic event.  May your God give you strength.

 By Kristen Adamson

(written days after the September 11th incident)

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You’re staring at a pile of laundry stacked up to the ceiling and, frankly, you couldn’t care less. Just then, you get a text message from your friend, “I’m coming to pick you up, we’re going out tonight!” it reads. You’re excited about the invite, but there’s one tiny problem – your favorite shirt is dirty! Oh well, no big deal, you think to yourself – and without hesitation, you pop your shirt directly into the wash while you go get ready for your outing. If you’re anything like me, you have to find the motivation to do something before you will actually do it – and fitness and nutrition are no exception!

So why is it that when we embark on a fitness journey, we put so much focus and energy into perfecting our diet and training plans, but we tend to overlook creating a plan to help us stay motivated?

CLICK HERE to read more of my newest article on muscleandstrength.com and to learn how to build a motivational plan.