How I Cured My Hormonal Acne By Quitting Running
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Hormonal acne is a special kind of beast. While I’m normally an agreeable person, the amount of rage I have felt for these tiny cystic acne bumps over the years should only be allowed in Hulk movies.
For over 10 years, I tried every toxic face cream, naturopathic remedy, and diet change. I went on and off of birth control, continued to increase my dose of Spironolactone, and took every supplement that had even the slightest chance of helping acne.
Nothing worked. Ever.
The Birth of My Hormonal Acne
I adopted my worst and most persistent strain of hormonal acne after a year long bout of hypothalamic amenorrhea. I was living in El Salvador at the time and not a huge fan of the food. Running was my way to destress and get away from the chaos of my travels.
Little food + Lots of running = not good.
It wasn’t long after I got my period back that I realized I had done some serious damage to my hormones and that it wouldn’t be easy to fix it.
Life with Hormonal Acne
If you’re also a loyal member of the hormonal acne club, you’re very familiar with the ongoing battle with your face. And chest. And back. And, sometimes, arms? Yes, even arms.
Like I mentioned, I tried every chemical and natural acne remedy on the market. I spent hours reading about acne and trying to understand why my adrenal system hated me so much. I mean, I was eating enough and getting my period again, what else could I possibly do?
As a goal oriented type A obnoxiously stubborn person, it was such a struggle for me to have a problem I couldn’t solve taking over my face.
Suddenly, I Woke Up
In my head, I understood that over exercising caused hypothalamic amenorrhea and issues with hormones. But, I was getting my period, so that couldn’t be the problem, right?
I also had cut back my running to less than 30 miles a week, which was much less than any other time before. Not only had I cut my miles back, I was running slowly. I figured that if I wasn’t even pushing myself from a running perspective that I had to be on the right track towards healing my hormones.
But, it obviously wasn’t enough. I needed to stop running completely and do a full hormonal reset.
I Stopped Running and My Hormonal Acne Went Away
To be clear, I’ve been exercising in other ways. In general, I have scaled back, which I think was an important factor, but I still do 3 bootcamp classes a week to keep myself in shape.
From what I can tell, it was the long bouts of cardio that were having a negative effect. Now when I workout, I make sure to do tabatas, intervals, strength training, and anything that won’t put my body into an extended period of work.
I can’t tell you exactly why this worked for me and if it would work for others. All I know is that I did a lot of research and introspection about my body. Even then, it took me years to find a solution that was staring me right in the face.
Hormones are complicated and can take a while to get back on track once they’re out of whack. It seems that I was letting my hormones run in “emergency dysfunction” mode, giving my body enough fuel and rest to regulate my period, but not enough to kick my hormones back into gear.
I needed to stop completely in order to give my hormones a fighting chance to straighten themselves out.
While I believe that running was the key to my hormonal acne, I just want to give a shout out to this serum I started using at the same time I started this experiment. While no cream, serum, or chemical is likely to impact your hormones in a positive way, I like how this serum feels on my face and dries up any stray bumps that come around.
Stay tuned! My plan is to take the next few months to avoid running and let my hormones have as much time as possible to recover. I will be continuing my bootcamp classes and trying to maintain a decent level of fitness.
Once those few months are up, I want to start running again. It’s something I love too much to give up entirely. I don’t know what that’s going to look like, but what I do know is that I’m going to be hyper aware of any sign that my hormones are starting to show a negative impact.
I’m hoping that I can find a balance with my running so that I can continue this sport I love without having to go back to the hormonal acne world.
We’ll see! You can follow along with the updates here.
Have you struggled with hormonal acne? Have you found anything that worked?
Hey, I’m Diana! I’m an occupational therapist and a long distance runner. I’ve run more races than I can count from 5ks through full marathons, including the Boston Marathon. Right now, my PR for the marathon is 3:09 and 1:26 for the half. I’m a bit obsessed with running and sharing what I’ve learned along the way. Let’s crush some running goals together!