What I’m Reading: Woman Code by Alisa Vitti

Last spring my period disappeared. It completely freaked me out. And it propelled me to embark on a path to better understand my body, and what I can do to best serve it.

At the time, I was on a low-hormone dose form of birth control. Cumulatively, in my life, I had been on birth control for 13 years, with several breaks in between (basically any time I could get away with not taking it). And every month, without fail, my period came. When I stopped taking birth control shortly after my husband and I were married, I immediately became pregnant (much to my surprise). And as soon as I had Max, my period almost immediately returned (note that for some women, it can take months to come back, especially if you’re breastfeeding full time, as I was).

So two years later, a missed period was concerning to say the least. But that wasn’t the only symptom I had. I felt tired, hormonal, and really just not myself. I took pharmacy pregnancy tests, assuming I was pregnant, but the tests came back negative.

Weeks passed, and my period was nowhere to be found. I started feeling tired, to the point where my sleep doubled, and I noticed, on more than one occasion, the kind of clear discharge associated with a hormonal shift. I knew I wasn’t depressed (in fact, I was happier than I had been in a long time), and with several close friends battling their own unexpected medical conditions, I wasn’t willing to wait for things to worsen before I sought help.

What I'm reading | Demystifying the Female Hormone System - Woman Code by Alisa Vitti

So I went to my primary care doctor. She ran a series of blood tests to look at my thyroid, hormonal levels, vitamin levels, and of course pregnancy presence/ absence. All came back “normal”, with the exception of a hormone that indicates thyroid performance. It wasn’t within the range of a deficiency, per se, but it was enough of a concern that my doctor suggested that if and when my husband and I were planning to have another child, I should come in to her office to consider medical intervention (i.e. prescription drugs) to help bring my thyroid into optimal levels, as that may be he only way I would be able to conceive.

To cover all possibilities, she also suggested a consultation with my obstetrician to compare past hormonal levels (from my first pregnancy) with current results.

In the end, after 6 doctor visits, an EKG, and a host of blood tests, I was left undiagnosed, exhausted, and frustrated.

I knew, deep down, that something was wrong and that whatever it was couldn’t be solved by medical professionals.

So I quit birth control, started exercising regularly, and added yoga and meditation to my weekly routines. I continued daily walks, gave myself grace, and poured my heart and soul into some of my favorite creative past times. And when saw an advertisement from my favorite yoga studio about upcoming teacher training with my two favorite teachers, I started my path to becoming a yoga teacher.

Sometime during teacher training, I listened to The Jess Lively Show Episode #85, an interview Alisa Vitti, author of Woman Code and founder of Flo Living. SO MUCH of what Alisa introduced in the podcast spoke true to me: irregular periods, changes in hormones, and a long-suspected personal inquiry about the connection between what we eat, and how our diet affects our body. It was as if she was answering all of the questions I had that past spring. And I knew I was at the start of a big personal shift.

I immediately ordered her book from my local library and anxiously waited for it to arrive. But with what would end up being a 6-month wait for the book, and most of her Flo Living programs designed to women seeking help with infertility (something I was not interested in at the time), I decided to seek other alternatives while I waited.

That’s when I discovered Whole30: a diet that started as an experiment in October, a diet I fully adopted in November, and a diet I maintained though the holiday season. The results were amazing. And I was SO excited to share it, that I wrote about it here and started a coaching group to help other experience the joy that comes from eating for your vitality.

Little did I know that, in the midst of my Whole30 + yoga lifestyle, despite precautions to the contrary, I would unintentionally and unknowingly become pregnant with baby #2. It was a surprise to say the least. Not just because we were taking precautions, but also because after all the concern and mistrust I had developed about my cycle last spring, I was convinced that pregnancy would not come easy.

In the weeks that follow, I’m going to share my favorite points of wisdom from Woman Code. And I promise you that, just in the first two chapters, Alisa has already convinced me of the need to consider that all of the products, the food, and the choices that I make have a much deeper affect on my body than what I have allowed myself to consider in the past. And I cannot wait to share this journey, and her expertise, with you.

So join me, here, as we learn about the female body.





Julie Love Gagen

After unexplained illness, with no diagnosis, forced me to take medical leave of absence in college, I chose yoga as a path towards healing. For me, it was a gentle way for me to get back into my body. And the experience, and practice, gave me the confidence I needed to believe I could heal. It worked. And it’s been magic ever since. In 2012, I chose to do a personal wellness challenge – 30 days of Hot Power Yoga – in celebration of my 30th birthday. The studio I picked was Baptiste Yoga in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The studio which, just a few years later, would be the inspiration and the setting for my RYT 200-hr Yoga Teacher training. The style of yoga I teach is a little different from what you’ve seen before. In my class, we focus on strengthening your core, elongating your spine, and finding the ideal position for each body, regardless of what it looks like.

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