Have You Met My Hormones?

I can barely talk, I’m biting my tongue SO hard to keep from complaining. Good thing I can still type!

I was enjoying about a week of normal energy levels, appetite, and joie de vivre. But yesterday, when my female hormone cycle took a left turn, the thyroid hormone bus careened to Mehsville – and promptly broke down just shy of the depot.

I spent all day yesterday in my pajamas, fighting to keep my eyes open. This morning, when the alarm went off for class, I was Pavlov’s dog: Synthroid, water, workout clothes, drive… no thinking. If I had been thinking, I might have stayed home. PotAto, PotAHto. I did the workout.

And it was a doozy.

CrossFit Women Workout
3 rounds, 20-minute cutoff:
20 burpee box jumps
20 push press, 65#
20 sumo deadlift high pull, 65#

After the warmup, I knew even attempting the RX’d weight was a no-go, so I opted for 55#. That’s Fight Gone Bad weight, so it didn’t feel like a cupcake. And because I’m coming up on my one-year anniversary of the 20″ box jump, I put a plate on top of the box to make it 22 inches.

It was a misery. I almost cried twice.* I fought for every rep. They were all singles. Not pretty. Not nice. And, in hindsight, perhaps not smart. But you know how it is in the early morning: autopilot gets you to the gym; past performance helps you choose a weight for the WOD; a combination of ego, awesome coaches, and expectations pushes you through the workout.

When Crystal called “time,” I’d finished two full rounds, 20 burpee box jumps, and 14 push presses – which is about what everyone else did, too.

I felt a little woozy and “not right” on the way home… ate my post-workout omelet, took a very long shower, and crashed straight back into bed for two hours. I feel like someone has been beating on my head with a sledgehammer. It’s sunny outside, but my personal weather forecast is foggy with chance of napping.

Today is the start of my third week on the Synthroid. I knew when I was feeling great last week, it might be short-lived. EVERYONE who’s been through this before has cautioned me that it takes a few months to sort it all out. I’m not discouraged or disappointed. But I am damn sleepy.

*The mid-workout crying is a special phenomenon. The tears are not brought on by the usual suspects – fear, pain, self-recrimination, frustration. Instead, it’s as if my whole system is just overwhelmed, and the only way to mitigate it is to release tears from my eyes. I don’t feel sad or scared, or even think, “I’m going to cry.” My mind is still engaged in the workout – I just feel the tears spring into my eyes. I experienced something similar in the past – at the end of a triathlon, at the finish lines of the half marathons, and a few times after long training runs. If anyone out there has some science on exertion + tears, I’d love to hear it!

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  • girlblake says:

    This one was beastly. You brought a big old smile to my face with my special new socks! I'm so proud of you and impressed that you just keep pushing through the fog. I'm so glad you've had sunny days to celebrate lately, and I know more are on the way. xoxoxo

  • ~Melisa says:

    WOW…what a workout, and kudos to you for sticking it out!
    I have experienced exertion+tears many times. I feel like a big softy and a dork when it happens. And yes, it's usually during a race, right before or after I finish. Sometimes, just thinking about the race. OR even when I watch the televised Ironman on TV, I get chills and emotional, and tear up a little.
    It's a weird feeling you can't really describe to someone when this happens…it's like the sense of accomplishment, all your hard work, pushing the negative thoughts away, and finishing what you started all roll into one big ball of emotion. Weird!
    Hope your body shows those meds who's boss soon!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    BLAKE! I kept meaning to say something encouraging to you when we were doing burpee box jumps — could you tell? I was THINKING, "Good job, Blake!" but swear to all that is good, I could not get it together to make the words come out. So, retroactively, "GREAT job, Blake!"

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Melisa –> Thanks for making me feel less dorky for my weird exertion+tears condition. It would be interesting to know what's going on hormonally when that happens. And thanks for the well wishes; I will get my hormones to fall into line somehow, someday (soon).

  • Melissa says:

    You're not alone on this one…

    I think the tears are an overwhelming of some sort. I've been there several times at crossfit. The worst is that I feel stupid because there is nothing 'wrong', I am just so spent physically that I can't hold the mental together and it has to come out somewhere. This has been really surprising and hard because I'm not usually a super emotional gal. Its been hard work to learn to not beat myself up about it and realize its apparently what my body needs to do.

    Hang in there, I'm sending good vibes your way!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Thanks, Melissa. Do you think this is a phenomenom known only to CrossFitters named Melissa?! We're going to have to start Mels' Club.

  • Erin says:

    Tears here… and on a LOT of other women I know. The way I see it, this stuff is so carnal… it's impossible to some extent not too.

  • gnat23 says:

    I've personally broken into tears in the middle of a hilly 60mi bike ride and during my first (and last) birkam yoga class. Like overwhelming uncontrollable emotional response. Still don't understand it.

  • meghan says:

    Sandbags make me cry sometimes. It's quite cathartic actually.

  • Team CS says:

    Love, today was my day for crashing too. I went to my workout and then started coughing and sneezing uncontrollably – so I decided it was a day to stay home and rest. My body was flagging me down.

    I remember crying during the Zooma half-marathon last year, when I could tell I was getting close to the finish line (saw the hotel). I must've looked pitiful – I couldn't stop crying as I continued running. It was freedom.

    I also remember I cried after the third event in a CrossFit Spring Challenge I did in Houston. I had plenty of time to finish the workout, but the last part of the wod was a sandbag run and I couldn't feel my legs and wanted the wod to be over with. My counter amused me by reassuring that I had enough time, but once I started I couldn't quit – and I cried all the way to the end.

    Recently I cried after doing my first fran a couple weeks ago. My chin didn't make it over the bar on the seven of the nine reps because my hands bled and it hurt so bad. EVERYONE was finished with their fran, so it was even more daunting that I had all these faces looking at me, wincing after looking at hands. I finished…eventually…and I sat down on top of a 20' box and cried involuntarily. There was no explanation – just a release after fighting so hard.

    I love you, Mel. Keep fighting.


  • Erin Clare says:

    well, coming to the thread late here, but ummm… I got scared and wanted to cry when I read "box jump burpees". What the hell are those? And why do I have envy for not being there to discover it?

    You got more heart and more fight in you than anyone I know. I keep thinking what you told me Miranda said one day during your Parkour session. And I think that was the best expression to understand the phenomenon.

    But ask me when my hormones start flying and I may give a different response. 😉

  • Anonymous says:

    Melissa I can totally relate reading todays post was like a light going on! when my thyroid was at its worst b/f the synthroid started working I was a reck. Crying at a drop of a hat, it was crazy!
    All I can say is things will get better trust me. The water works will end:)

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Wow. This is such an interesting thread. Y'all are the strongest, most determined women I know. I'm formulating a new theory about tears. They're not a sign of weakness; they're a sign of commitment and strength and, as that sweet angel Maranda said, "bad memories leaving the body."

    Thank you, everyone, for sharing your stories and reminding me, as always, that we're all in this crazy-hard adventure together.

    Carla, you are the very definition of fighter. I've watched you duke it out with so many WODs and come out victorious. I love you, too, sweet pea.

    Erin Ammon Clare, it sucks to not see you everyday. And yes, burpee box jumps are just what you think: do a burpee, jump on the box instead of just into the air. They are the work of an evil genius. I love-hate them. But I just LOVE you.

    Anonymous –> Thank you for the perspective. I know I just have to ride this out. Three weeks and counting…

  • Aaron and Marcy says:

    Late to the party also, but I wanted to add my own experience of crying whilst pushing myself: when my swim coach deliberately gave me a time he knew I couldn't beat.

    I will always remember – 6 50's on 55 seconds for everyone (this may not be fast to anyone else – definitely wasn't to the others swimming with me). I made the first couple with a few seconds to rest, but after that I had to push as hard as I could just to get to the wall in time for the next send-off. Tears were streaming out of me under water, into my goggles, but all I was thinking about was pushing harder and finishing each lap before the time ran out. To the amazement of my coach, I made all the laps. Of course I was not thrilled about climbing out of the pool and exposing my ridiculous tears, so I beelined for the locker room – my coach worried I wasn't going to show up to the next practice!

    The crying was, like you said, not out of frustration or disappointment, but the result of sheer determination!

  • Anonymous says:

    Please go read up on (the general uselessness of) what we "in the know from experience" call SynthCRAP! Synthcrap contains only T4 — which is the "storage" form of thyroid hormone: if your body can't convert it (well enough/at all), then you're NOT treating your hypothyroidism!

    You want to be taking (T4 and) T3, which is the active form. Ideally, you'd want to be on a natural dessicated thyroid — which contains T4, T3, T2, T1, and calcitonin (you know, like your thyroid actually makes?!). It used to be we'd just recommend Armour — but they changed how they mfg it — and it's not working for a lot of people anymore. (It might work for you, and it's worth trying, as it's easier to get than, say, Canada's "Erfa Thyroid," which you can legally import with a prescription.

  • Kylie says:

    Wahhh! I almost cried last night. Skin-the-cats. ON A WARM UP.

    I can't do them… Yet.

    Then I had to use the only bar that isn't beveled, so my weights wouldn't slide on for clean/jerks.

    I wanted to go home and pout.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Kylie –> Skin-the-cats during warmup is just cruel and unusual punishment. I hope you indulged in a little pouting 😉