If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know I’ve done a few years competitive bodybuilding. In fact, I “prepped” (trained and dieted for) competitive bodybuilding shows in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016, doing several shows a year.
That’s a lot for the human body to take.
Two years on from my last comp, and I still sometimes feel a bit tired. I have no idea if all the dieting has left me with any wonkiness as regards hormones, digestion, or nutrient levels.
I haven’t dieted for ages, but I know it can take a long time for things to return to normal. Especially when you’re a 40+ drug-free female. If I tell you that I used to have just one period a year (in my competing years), you’ll get an idea of what the body goes through.
All this is to say that I’ve been idly curious about how my body is doing, now I’m settling into a post-competitive-bodybuilding phase of life. Not curious enough to go to the GP or anything. But when my friends at Medichecks had an offer on their Well Woman Ultravit test, I decided to go for it.
The Medichecks Well Woman Ultravit test looks at health markers for red and white blood cells, liver health, kidney function, bone health, gout, iron status, and diabetes, measures of iron storage, thyroid function and key vitamins and hormones. Also ferritin, vitamin B12, folate, vitamin D, thyroid function and magnesium, female hormones FSH, LH and oestradiol, menopause and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Things I Was Worried/Curious/Catastrophising About
- tiredness. I’m sometimes so tired, and there doesn’t seem to be a pattern to it. But then again, I stay up far too late watching Netflix, I scroll Facebook on my phone in bed, and generally do all those things I tell other people not to do when I write content for clients.
- gout (bloody gout!) I’ve had a painful big toe for about 2 years. I just can’t work out what’s wrong with it. I went to the GP when it was really bad, and he told me it was “probably gout” – which made me feel like Henry VIII or something. I don’t think it’s gout, but the GP said it “probably” was so… y’know.
- menopause. For a few months, I convinced myself I was in the early stages of menopause. This was based on the sum total of zero. But I’m 40, and I know the pre-menopause “things starting to wind down” phase can start up to 10 years before menopause. So, anyway, I was curious about that.
- general hormone levels. I’ve always assumed my hormone levels are bomb-diggity, because I seem to be able to put on muscle easily, and my hair grows fast, stuff like that. But it would be interesting to know for sure.
- nutrient deficiencies. I haven’t dieted in any way since I last prepped for a show, and I eat a pretty varied diet. But there’s always a chance I’m missing something, or that my years of harsh bodybuilding dieting is still affecting me.
- I am a generally nosy/curious person.
How It Works
The test I had needed a venous blood sample (blood drawn by a medical professional). Some you can do yourself with a fingertip pinprick test at home. All I had to do was go along to one of the partner clinics (a local hospital in my case), wait for a bit, get the nurse to take my blood, and pop the test in the post. The actual blood part took about 2 minutes. It didn’t hurt. I felt absolutely fine after.
Medichecks get your results to you very quickly – I think it was 24 or 48 hours after I posted the test. It’s all confidential and done online so you can log in and view all the results. They give recommendations and explain all the results clearly.
You get a comprehensive PDF, but there’s no point me putting screenshots here as it’s all very detailed and medical!
Fortunately, there’s nothing wrong with me at all. No gout. No menopause. No wonky hormones or gaping holes in my nutrition. Just low iron (as explained below).
Unfortunately, this means I have no excuse for my “tiredness” other than watching Netflix too late into the night. (But the new season of GLOW has just started!)
My friend and yours, all-round legend Dr Emil “Goliath” Hodzovic actually works for Medichecks. Emil is a medical Doctor (BSc Sports & Exercise Science, MBBCh Medicine & ISSN Applied Nutrition Student if you please) and a coach. He didn’t do my test, but I asked him to comment on the results from the point of view of someone who trains, has competed, and also knows the medical side of things.
Over to Emil:
Your creatinine is raised and actually a little high. This could easily be through muscle mass, having done a big workout, or dehydration (or use of creatine). But it is probably worth confirming that is usually normal for you. (FYI – eGFR above 60 is acceptable).
eGFR looks at the rate of filtration in the kidneys and uses creatinine as a marker. The factors above cause increased production rather than decreased kidney function but below a certain level, it’s worth making sure there is nothing else going on.
Your aspartate transferase is up a bit. This is entirely unsurprising in someone who exercises. Likewise with CK – creatine kinase.
Your transferrin is low and, actually, your ferritin is at the lower end of normal. This is definitely worth addressing via dietary changes and/or iron supplements. You are not anaemic yet (your Hb is normal) but I imagine if you continued it would likely go that way.
Your HDL and cholesterol ratio (Total Chol to HDL) are both great, reflecting both good genetics, exercise, and likely a good lifestyle.
Your magnesium levels are great, which suggests you are getting some from your diet as people who train hard can be deficient
Your thyroid hormones, thyroid stimulating hormone, and sex hormones are great.
Your Vit b12 is a bit raised. But this isn’t surprising as many supplements and energy drinks contain it, plus you are not vegan any more (!) so you’re getting plenty from diet too
And your Vitamin D is also great. This is another area where people can easily be deficient.
Your levels suggest possible supplementation (or just a lot of sunshine and being outdoors with all your dog walking!)
Thanks Emil. Not much for me to do really – except pay attention to my iron levels. I am terrible with supplements, by which I mean I just don’t remember to take them. I go in fits and starts with creatine, and I remember to take a multivit maybe 4 days out of the month. So I’ll take my multivit (which has iron in) every day. I know iron deficiency can make you feel tired, so perhaps this will address that issue. Or maybe I need to go to bed earlier and not take my phone into the bedroom… !
Everyday Health Is More Important Than #Beastmode
It’s good to know that simple everyday habits (like spending time outside every day, walking a lot, low stress levels, having a healthy and varied diet, and training) do pay off.
It’s worth noting I am definitely not a “fitspo” type person these days! I tran in the gym 2-3 times per week. I do yoga. I walk a lot. I don’t count macros or calories. I drink a lot of water. My point here is that I don’t think you have to be an uber hardcore fitness junkie to be healthy. Simple daily habits, done consistently, as part of a happy lifestyle, are the important thing.
Have you had a Medichecks test? Thinking about it? Feel free to comment – if I can’t answer your question, I’m sure Emil would pop back on with his expert hat on.
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 14 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.