September is PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) awareness month and I would like to share with you my experience with PCOS, how I was diagnosed, how I got to controll it and what I think about “My Big Fat Fabulous Life“.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, is a condition in which a woman’s levels of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone are out of balance. This leads to the growth of ovarian cysts (benign masses on the ovaries). PCOS can cause problems with a women’s menstrual cycle, fertility, cardiac function, and appearance.
According to the U.S. HHS, 1 in 10 women of childbering age suffers from this disease – 5 Million women in the US alone!
I was 14 years old when I was diagnosed with PCOS by my uncle – I was lucky to have someone in my family, who had the time to explain me and help me through the process. At that time, I was about 25 pounds overwheight and my mom had decided I should do a check up before starting a diet. With the hormone treatment and a change of diet I was able to lose the weight within 3 months (thanks to a balanced diet and daily walking) and my PCOS was under control within 8 months – and it stayed under control until I turned 21 (a number of studies shows that weight loss of 5-10% of initial body weight improves metabolic, physiological and psychological aspects of PCOS.)
Life in College is quite stressful and often students don’t have time to cook healthy and balanced meals, the same happened to me. The second time I realised I had to restart the treatment, I was also putting on weight but this time losing weight wasn’t as easy. What many women don’t realise is that elevated insulin or insulin resistance are often behind it -they are not a part of the diagnostic criteria for this disease but the majority of women with PCOS have one of them. After a check up I found out I wasn’t insulin resistent yet but I had elevated insulin – and I have Hypothyroidism too. The feeling of having your body working against you is so terrible and puts you down.
This time my doctor advised me to start a low carb diet but I decided to change my habits instead. The insuline problem is not just a carb problem, it is a refined and processed carb issue – so just eat carbohydrates full of fiber such as whole grain, vegetables, fruits, and beans.
Sport is also a very important aspect in controlling PCOS, at least in my case it is. One of the things that helped me in losing weight was to start training twice a day, not too long though. My mornings start with 30 minutes Nordic Walking and 10 minutes HIIT (high intensity interval training) and in the evening I add 10-15 minutes of body weight training and a walk with the dog.
To celebrate this month, I will share with you here, in this post, every day of the next week what I eat, recipes and some habits that helped me to keep PCOS under control and I hope that I can inspire you and give you hope whilst you are going through all the changes that come with PCOS.
My Big Fat Fabulous Life
I am not a big fan of reality TV but MBFFL has brough awareness to this disease, that is so common yet so many people don’t know much about it. Whitney Thore shares her hopes, her struggles and how she deals with all the fat shaming and hate she gets on a daily basis – she is a fighter.
Whitney portraits the reality of so many women around the world – she had to deal with misdiagnosis and having to give up her dream of becoming a dancer because of her weight and discovering that she still can follow her dream if she works hard for it.
PCOS turns it more difficult to lose weight and in it you will find the struggle because without losing weight it is almost impossible to control the disease. BUT it doesn’t make it impossible to lose weight though! If you are going through it as I am too, try to change your lifestyle and you will succeed, it may take some time but with every change you make in your life, diet and exercise you will be one step closer to your go.
- Talk to youy gynaecologist and your GP;
- Start a treatment and follow through with it (hormon treatment worked for me!);
- Change your eating habits (more: fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grain food; Less: fast food, sugar, pop, saturated and trans fat.
- Move your body – cardio workouts are great but it alone ain’t enough! Try to add body training workouts to your daily sport – it really works and as I told you before, 10 to 20 mins a day is enough. Remember: Muscles burn more calories – even when you’re at rest. The more muscle you build the more fat you burn!)
- Find ways to motivate yourself: set a realistic go (go shopping/ have a spa day everytime you lose 6 pounds, for eg.) and find a motivational quote, mine is “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu
Do you have PCOS? Do you have any question or wanna share you story? Please comment below or send me an email, I would love to hear from you!
Hi Elle – I follow you on VCB and love your blog! This post has prompted me to comment for the first time. I am a cancer survivor and I have auto-immune issues. I eat healthy and exercise and take care of myself. I think the MBFFL girl is NOT a role model. Great she is raising awareness, but eating yourself into oblivion is the real disease. She’s using PCOS as an excuse. It’s great to “love yourself” the way you are, but is living such a destructive lifestyle REALLY loving yourself? YOU my dear Elle are the true role model. You are the one saying, yes, I have this disease, but I live a healthy lifestyle and you can too. No excuses. You back your words with action. I honestly hope that you use this venue for additional advocacy. Keep up the fight. Hugs, Holly
Thank you so much for your kind words, you are such a beautiful soul, a brave woman with a very inspiring story. I’m so glad you commented here <3
I believe that although we often are not responsible for the stones we find along the way, we are responsible for the way we deal with it. Whitney has chosen her way to deal with it, it is a different approach to PCOS than mine but it's good that people are learnig the signs of the disease (cause she stated that many doctors couldn't diagnose it). However, I also wanted to show that although PCOS makes it easy to put on weight and difficult to lose it, we can do it!
I hope that I can reach those who are struggling and show them that sometimes we just have to change some habits - eat better and work out, listen to our body and give it a time to heal.
Thank you for your support, I wish you all the best and many years to come, cancer-free!!