Exercise! - Overtraining/Undereating... Worst Case Scenario

12-14-2010, 07:11 PM
Theres been a lot of discussion lately, whether specifically or generally, about overtraining... it seems many are uneducated about how serious it can be, how easy it is to do, and what the warning signs are..... Many assume that if they lose X pounds eating this much and working out this much, they can lose 2X pounds eating lerss and working out more.... sometimes that works..... many times it doesnt....

Of course, there are many many numerious factors that come into play with regards to what constitutes overtraining for YOUR body, and what symptoms you get or dojnt get..... many people dont realize the very direct impact overtraining has on fat loss (or more accurately, lack-there-of) and many other functions in your body, from metabolism and reproduction to your immune sytem, hormones and psychological and emotional well-being..... But i digress....
i wanted to share my own personal experience and the dire circumstances i now find myself in.....
to very briefly sum up, for the past year and a half i have been suffering symptoms of overtraining, as a result of not eating enough, and training too much with little to no-recovery. I trained for and ran 3 marathons on approx 1200 cals a day... i didnt know any better.....
fast forward to the present...... i havent had a period in a year and a half and went to go see an endocrinologist, believing my thyroid functioning had been compromised. After 3 weeks of testing, my doctor has determined that tho my thyroid hormone levels are *normal*, my estrogen level is undetectable, and whats even more frightening, my pituitary glad has stopped working. For those who dont know, your pituitary glad is like the control center for your hormone production in your body.

in a nutshell, i now have a tumor in my pituitary gland.... at 30 years old and i have progressed to a menopausal state, with an on-set of osteoporosis.
This is not "genetic".... i literally did this to myslef.......

12-14-2010, 08:36 PM
Sorry, I hope you can find a doctor or treatment plan to help you.

12-14-2010, 09:01 PM
*big hug.* I'm wishing the best for you. Thank you for making this post - it's easy to get carried away.

12-14-2010, 09:28 PM
I saw this on the home page and the first person I thought of was you MK. Big hugs and thanks for posting to try and get some education out there. I think those of us who've been overweight can be extremist and slide right over to what you're describing. I sure hope the dr is able to help you find a solution and I hope you're being kind to your body. Hang in there, I truly believe that just as with the issues that come with obesity those that come after can be reversed by establishing good habits.

12-14-2010, 09:37 PM
Wow. I'm so sorry.

12-14-2010, 10:12 PM
MK, I am very sorry to read this. Did you just hear from the endocrinologist today? So you are still processing what this means.

I'm trying to understand your situation better, too, myself. You mean that overtraining & under-fueling oneself can literally lead to a tumor growing in one's pituitary gland? Tumors are so mysterious to me; I always thought their cause was very hard to determine. But maybe not here.

I may have mentioned in a thread on which you posted that my period stopped many years ago for about 18 months, after I lost 100 pounds, couldn't stop losing compulsively, and developed anorexia. This all happened when I was about your age. I did not run marathons, but I did exercise for three hours daily, speed walking, stationary bike like a demon, and oh, the aerobics classes, specifically step classes, a great big fad of the time. (I didn't do weight training. Didn't know any women who did, really: Just the pink Barbie weights during some aerobics routines.) At the same time, I dropped my calories really low. I have no idea how low because I didn't count them. But describing what I ate in the course of a day (or didn't eat) would appall most people here. At any rate, when my eating disorder changed from overrestricting & overexercising to bingeing, and I couldn't exercise off the weight from the binges, and gained back about 15-20 pounds, my period returned. I didn't have the sense to go to an endocrinologist, as you did, but I did see someone at Planned Parenthood, who shrugged it off & told me basically to come back to see them if it never came back, ever. So I have no way of knowing if our situations are analogous; they may very well not be. But I do want to repeat to you, I did get my period back once my body composition changed.

Did your doctor give you any sense at all that your situation is, if not reversible, then somehow able to slowed or alleviated with medication or diet?

I should have mentioned before now, I'm so glad you're here, because I like your posts a lot, and you come across to me as someone who's become very educated about training & fueling. Also, since I am someone who once had an eating disorder, I am very troubled by people posting here who I think may be going the same way, often without realizing it, and I am glad for a strong, sane voice speaking up with the facts.

Best wishes for coping with this thing. :hugs:

12-14-2010, 10:12 PM
Hopefully most of the damage is reversible. I think it very loving to share your story in the hopes of saving someone else from learning the hard way.:hug:

12-14-2010, 10:22 PM
Wow, I'm REALLY sorry you are going through this. I hope you find a treatment plan that allows you to feel good again.

With that said, there is NO connection between the two. Many People run and train aggressively and never get tumors on their pituitary. I was thinking as I read your post I was going to read something about an increased risk of several other factors like inflammation and injury but not tumor growth.

I just dont want people actually believing that over-doing it can cause those sorts of problems.


12-15-2010, 12:21 AM
I'm sorry you're going through this and I hope your doctors are able to get you back to normal.

In general, losing your period should be a HUGE HONKING warning sign that you're doing something wrong.

(Aside for the distance runners: Raise your hand if you were just a bit surprised to see both Paula Radcliffe [again] and Kara Goucher pregnant. Yeah, me too.)

12-15-2010, 08:01 AM
With that said, there is NO connection between the two.

This is from the link you provided:

"The cause of uncontrolled cell growth in the pituitary gland, creating a tumor, remains unknown".

Unknown...so we don't really know WHAT causes it...do we?

Many People run and train aggressively and never get tumors on their pituitary. I was thinking as I read your post I was going to read something about an increased risk of several other factors like inflammation and injury but not tumor growth.

As I'm sure many people do. Without taking my own personal poll of the millions of runners, how can anyone be sure?

I just dont want people actually believing that over-doing it can cause those sorts of problems.

...many people are able to do their own research, speak to their doctors, get medical testing and form "educated" opinions of their own without the benefit of other people's "opinions". I guess that's what is so amazing about "opinions"...we all have one.:)

12-15-2010, 08:55 AM
Wow mkroyer, I'm really sorrY to hear that you're going through this! :hug: please know you're in my thoughts and I hope everything turns out well for you.

As far as overtraining goes, I agree with everyone above who said that we who are trying to lose weight tend to be very susceptible. I still have a lot of weight to lose but I'd think nothing of working out (hard cardio) for 2-3 hours on 1000-1300 calories a day. And logically speaking if you still have a lot to lose, you may not notice any negative health effects now, but it's building a habit that could become a problem when you eventually reach goal! I don't consider myself an overtrainer because in my mind I don't work out hard enough (I'm not a competitive runner or training for any specific purpose other than weightloss and general wellbeing) so I tend to pat myself on the back on days when I do a long, hard workout and have eaten light, forgetting that my life and my health is more than the number I get to see on the scale on weigh in day and that food is more than a challenge, it's most important function is fuel so I can keep on keeping on.

Does this mean I am allowed to eat double the calories because I went for a jog? NO! But it does mean I have to try to be reasonable when allocating myself calories for the day, and up them a little on hard workout days. Someone brought up Paula Radcliffe earlier and I remember reading she ate something like 3200 calories a day while in training. And of course she did! She's probably working out hours and hours a day. (I'm not saying this Should be replicated unspervised by an amateur runner but just to keep things in perspective). But just as mkroyer did I bet the majority of us if we were training hard for a marathon and running hours a day would think nothing of keeping our calorie intake at 1200-1500. It's really sad how our battle with weight turns us normally rational and intelligent people into people that do things which if we removed ourselves from the situation, we'd realize were patently dangerous, things we'd never want our friends, sisters or children to do because they sounded too extreme to be healthy.

Mkroyer I hope you get well soon and I hope we also all make an extra effort to look after ourselves.

12-15-2010, 09:14 AM
This is a good article from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism

Health Issues for Women Athletes: Exercise- Induced Amenorrhea

I do not have enough posts to add the link. Hopefully you can google it and find this research paper.

12-15-2010, 09:45 AM
This is a good article from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism

Health Issues for Women Athletes: Exercise- Induced Amenorrhea

Here goes it:


Thanks...great article. But after reading it and some of the other comments here...I think I'm lazy and lack willpower!:?: First, I could not even IMAGINE doing more than an 1 - 1 1/2 hrs exercise in one day...Second, when I'm hungry, I eat...the more I exercise, the hungrier I get, so yes, I eat. I choose healthy foods like fruit, nuts, yogart, etc., but I do eat. If I were running a marathon (26 miles???:dizzy: ) I'd probably eat about 3,000 calories...EASY...NO PROBLEM THERE!!! HAHA!

With that said, and I've said this before...I think the true problem lies with the ALL or NOTHING attitude. Most people don't get overweight by exercising too much or eating too little (albeit some do from eating too little:^: ), we generally gain too much weight from eating TOO MUCH and exercising TOO LITTLE! When we try to reverse this process we quickly fall into the the reverse (exercising TOO MUCH and eating TOO LITTLE). It's a vicious cycle. MODERATION is key. Food is not bad. Food is energy. You NEED energy to exercise. Everything works in synergy.

Just some food for thought. It's only taken me 43 yrs to figure this one out!:dizzy:

12-15-2010, 09:48 AM
You're right, many people who have been obese or just overweight are extremists. All-or-nothing mentality runs deep around here. I personally appreciate the warning and am planning on taking that "break" we talked about very soon now. :D Looking forward to it!

Slim CB
12-15-2010, 09:54 AM
:hug: mkroyer I am really sorry to hear and I am sure many of us will be heeding your advice.

12-15-2010, 01:20 PM
twinmomma-- i disagree--- i would say that MOST people who train aggressively and undereat never develop symptoms to the severity i am dealing with.....
That being said, are you an endocrinologist? Im not trying to start a fight, believe me, but i dont feel its ever appropriate to make a blanket statement, such as ALL, or NEVERor NO ONE..... How can you say there is absolutely NO CONNECTION? Ther *might* not be....
However this tumor is benign, and my endo believes there IS a connection (though no one can know for sure) between my overtraining, loss of period, and the development of the tumor. The loss of my period very directly imfluenced the estrogen production in the pituitary (its asctually FSH hormone, i believe, but its related to the productionf of estrogen, etc) and its possible the tumor developed in response to plummeting sex hormones, becazuse there are 2 types of benign pituitary tumors-- those that secrect hormones, and those that dont (called non-functioning)
Some kind of Goiters, as an example, develop from inadequate iodine, resulting in overproduction of thyroid hormones... it is an environmental response to stress.... researchers have noted links between breast cancer and the elevation of certain sex hormones...

my point is, people shouldnt go around making blanket all or nothing statements, especially on a topic they are not an expert.

to be honest, i was offended when i read your post
[-, and i also thought i t was in poor taste to tell me flat out that i am wrong and that my doctor is wrong, especially given i was just diagnosed yesterday
Again, not trying to fight,m but that was my gut, honest reaction
i know develping a benign tumor on the very gland most asensitive to and affected by over ttraining is improbzble to most people, but if youll read the title of the thread, it says "worst case scenario", not "you are all giving yourselves tumors"
i made it a point to talk about how overtraining is different for EVERYONE, from its symptoms, to level of training one does to cause it. To be fair though, ammenorhea is not that uncommon, and thats how all my toubles bega...
it is also important to not that a woman really doesnt have to train aggtessively at all, to overtrain herself, IF SHE is NOT EATING enough

12-15-2010, 03:01 PM
I feel sorry that you actually think you caused this for yourself. I really do. I hope you find a peace within yourself that you dont blame your desires to run or train hard for something came back to bite you. I would love to know why you think I made the blanket statement when I'm clearly trying to say....You should not make the blanket statement, lol.

It's simple really my point really is. First......I'm sorry you are going through this, is humane and honestly guenuine human being I really hate to hear a person struggle. Secondly that I hope other understand that if you over do it it does not necessarily mean you will get a tumor on your pituitary. I dont need to be an endo to read the facts. Just saying.

I'm not going to refer back to this thread and keep willingly support the idea that you actually caused your own situation and accept the fact that others should be mindful of that too. Just rediculous to me. I will say a prayer that you honestly find the understanding that should NOT blame yourself for your tumor. Our bodys do things to defy us everyday without our own willful doing. I've lost loved ones to Cancer, I know!

12-15-2010, 03:33 PM
There are definitely benign tumors/abnormal growths that can be caused by stresses or insufficiency in certain nutrients - for example, goiters (an abnormal growth in the thyroid gland) can be caused by lack of iodine in the diet (one reason that table salt generally comes with added iodine). The organ gets larger to compensate for the need to manufacture more of the hormone.

Twinsmomma, I wonder if you're interpreting "tumor" here as cancerous (and you're correct that cancerous tumors are caused by mutations in genes that control cell growth and death). The tumor that the OP is talking about is a benign tumor, and those can, in fact, be caused by body stresses and other factors.

Regardless, I think the OP's endocrinologist, having the most information about the situation, should be the most trusted source of information here.

It is true, of course, that not all overtraining will result in serious health consequences, but it definitely CAN do so (not just problems in the hormonal system, but in other body systems as well) I'm so sorry that you're going through this, mkroyer, and hope that you and your treatment team can work things out for the best.

12-15-2010, 03:38 PM
MK :hug: :hug: from another MK

12-15-2010, 03:52 PM
MK, thanks for posting this -- it's awfully timely. I had just charted myself a high-workout-low-cal plan for the next 10 days. Will re-evaluate for sure.

Take care of yourself. :hug::hug:

12-15-2010, 04:06 PM

I'm glad you're seeing an endo and getting some answers.

Thank you for the reminder. :hug: I hope we'll hear some positive resolution for this from you, MK.

12-15-2010, 06:22 PM
Twin, its NOT cancer, thats the point... please refer to Mandalinn's post, who is able to explain what is happening in a more objective manner

Oh, and your balnket statements..." With that said, there is NO connection between the two".
and "I just dont want people actually believing that over-doing it can cause those sorts of problems." well, they can, and they did

"]I hope everyone ELSE reading this can see that in no way am i suggesting you will all have the same consequences i am experiencing[/B]! I also sincerely hope that everyone of you will hede your bodies warning signs as we struggle to lose weight and strive for greater athletic achievments! Sometimes the signs are hard to interpret, but when your body is unhappy, it will let you know in so many ways!

I appreciate everyone's kind words and encouragemnt, and i will definitnely keep everyone posted as i learn more... after my MRI on sat we will decide whther or not surgery will be required to remove the tumor....(prob?)

Saef-- thank you for your words especially! :)
I know i can sometimes come off as abrasive, uncaring, B*&#hy, perverse, etc etc.... i really tend to tell things like they are though, ya know? There is so much support, and warm fuzzies going around on this site, that sometimes people really just need to hear what they dont want to hear, if that makes sense? Im not afraid to "tell it like it is" lol ANd i do consider myself well educated in training, nutrition, dieting, running etc, both through personal experiences, self-education, and working closely with more than one well-respected fatloss/training expert in the industry.

in anycase my point still remains that overtraining, combined with undereating can be serious.... isee alot of scary indicators arouind this forum sometimes, but i would really like to stress that my own experience really is the (worst) exception, rather than the norm, ya know?

HOWEVER, i cant stress enough that i truly believe so many of our fellow chickies are stalled and NOT losing fat as a result of their overtraining..... this is a very common side effect! Please, if youve stopped losing and your nutrition is in check, dont think that ramping up your cardio to 3 sessions a day is the answer!! its not! train smarter, not harder, eh? ;)

12-15-2010, 06:52 PM
[B]HOWEVER, i cant stress enough that i truly believe so many of our fellow chickies are stalled and NOT losing fat as a result of their overtraining..... this is a very common side effect! Please, if youve stopped losing and your nutrition is in check, dont think that ramping up your cardio to 3 sessions a day is the answer!! its not! train smarter, not harder, eh? ;)

I AGREE with this 1,000,000,000,000,000 times!:D I just tested this theory after a stall and ate 1 single solitary CHEAT meal...yes, CHEAT meal...I like the sound of that..haha...anyways, I dropped 3 lbs in 3 days after that.

I'm convinced that working smarter is the key...thanks again Mkroyer and I'm hoping all the best for you. Incidentally, my sister is going through very similar problems as you (goiter/several growths on thyroid, etc.) and has to has surgery, so I KNOW how scary this is. THanks for your no nonsense approach...I'm sure I speak for many when I say, "we really APPRECIATE you". Take care of yourself.:hug::hug: