Since my blog is everything to do with living life as a plus size / curvy / in-betweenie woman, I thought I’ll be open about my journey with PCOS. This is because I know so many women out there suffer similarly as I do, and some are not even aware that they have PCOS. So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!
WHAT IS PCOS?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine (hormonal) disorder affecting roughly 5-10% of women out there. Symptoms of PCOS include acne, obesity, hair loss, amenorrhea (lack of periods), excessive hair in unwanted areas, infertility, erratic mood swings, ovarian cysts and trouble losing weight. This invisible illness also causes major health problems, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, endometrial cancer and insulin resistance.
In my case, I struggle with almost everything mentioned above, with an added disorder – Hypothyroidism (Click to read more)
Talk about a double combo!
MY PCOS STORY
When I was diagnosed with Polycystic-Ovarian Syndrome, I thought my life was over. I thought I would gain even more weight than I had, have a face covered in acne for the rest of my life, and never be able to bear children. Being the hypochondriac that I am, I felt trapped by this unknown “disease” determined on ruining my life, which resulted in the anxiety that I am still battling today!
Let’s rewind to when I first found out I had PCOS.
That first day I cried, and I cried and I cried even more. My Gynae spent an hour just
schooling scaring me on the drastic changes I had to make in order to regulate this disorder that was going to change my life. She mentioned scary words like ‘cancer’ and ‘IVF’ which got me thinking of the worst at that moment.
Once reality hit me, I was mad that I had to change my diet. I’m a huge food lover and I thought it was bloody unfair that I had to
cut down STOP eating food that others got to enjoy so easily. I was envious of people around me who could eat any carb and sugary food that they pleased and my “treat” was going to be greek yoghurt with sliced fruit (ew). I also found it so frustrating that my friends could lose weight so easily when I would torture myself at the gym and still not shed any weight.I was also tormented with fear – fear of not having kids, fear of my husband (then boyfriend) leaving me for my wild mood swings, fear of having those crazy diseases, and of course fear of not living the life I was comfortable with. All of this contributed to my anxiety and mild erratic attitude change.
Now that’s a load of negative emotions! But even though it sounds like it was a rough period of time for me only, but truth is, it also was a rough period for my nearest and dearest people. I am absolutely thankful that I got the support I needed from my husband, family and friends because these wonderful people re-adjusted their ‘system’ for me to make sure I knew that I was not alone fighting this battle. My mother stocked up on brown rice for the days I would eat at my parent’s house and she also made delicious healthy dishes just for me (God bless that woman). My friends knew my dietary requirements so they would opt to hang out at restaurants that catered to my diet meals. They also understood my need for ‘time-out’ moments after I explained how tough it is to deal with all the changes I was making and that I needed my solitary time to just relax. Even with all the bitch fits I was throwing, I would find random encouraging notes stuck on my door!
I remember those random days I felt miserable about my situation but somehow I managed to get through it with the help of my loved ones. I stopped comparing my life with others because that was leading to more misery. I turned my emotions around and decided to be positive.
Now, I’m not going to lie and say it’s been an easy journey and that I don’t suffer bad days. I defo do! And sometimes that feeling of emptiness is unbearable. At the beginning of my journey, I would even tell my husband that he should leave me and find a woman who could give him kids! I no longer do that because, well what an idiot I was! On the upside of things, my husband and I have become a stronger and more understanding couple because of this challenge we face.
Despite those random days I have had, I can say I mostly feel proud of myself for taking care of my body. I don’t do it all the time and sometimes fail (i’m only human and humans have wants and needs!). Though I haven’t lost the weight I want to, I’ve remained stable. Every day I make choices about what is best for my health. I no longer obsess about what I put in my mouth as I do allow myself to splurge on greasy fatty food here and there. Ultimately, my goal is to feed my body nutritious foods that will regulate insulin and prepare my body for when I want to get pregnant in the near future.
I know that it may still be hard, but with time, I know making healthy choices will become easier. So far these few years of eating healthy, mixed with some ups and downs, have done more good than harm to me. So I thought sharing some tips on how I cope with PCOS would help some of you.
Here are a few tips I use to help me kick PCOS in the butt:-
1. Green tea-licious!
Green tea is a must for me, and I drink it religiously after dinner. I personally prefer Japanese Green tea because of the robust flavour, but any green tea is good. Green tea is loaded with powerful antioxidants and rich in a compound called L-theanine, known to reduce anxiety and soothe the mind. Green tea is also known to help burn fats more effectively and ever since I started drinking green tea on a daily basis, I found that my digestion was better and quicker, possibly helping in the burning of carbs I eat too!
One of the most important benefit of green tea for PCOS is that it improves insulin sensitivity because insulin resistance is the key cause of this hormonal condition. So, to keep those insulin drops at bay, drink more green tea! All in all, green tea is loaded with healthy nutrients that I had to make drinking it a part of my daily night routine!
Side note:I also have started drinking lemon and ginger tea as an afternoon sip for a while now. This tea blend has done wonders for my digestion as well as improved my complexion!
2. Work that body!
Ok,ok! I’ll admit it! I hardly exercise these days and although I have a ton of reasons for skipping exercise, it is all excuses basically! However, I do substitute it with more walking. I opt to walk up and down stairs instead of taking the lift, and I sometimes would park my car further away just to walk a little extra. Oh, I also do squats when i wake up!
Anyway, exercise is very important for counteracting weight gain, a common symptom for people with PCOS. The combo of PCOS and weight gain can result in diabetes, heart diseases, sleep difficulties and all kinds of cancer, to name a few. With just 20 minutes of exercise a few times weekly, you can drastically reduce your chances of these fatal health issues.
3. Oh Sweet Sugar!
Don’t get me started on this topic. I go through my day dreaming of indulging in endless supply of chocolate and ice cream and pudding and Stroopwafels and cakes!
But the sad reality is that people suffering from PCOS are insulin resistant, making diabetes a potential danger disease in our lives. By omitting processed sugars, we can decrease our blood sugar levels drastically, which also helps us cope with weight gain, severe acne, anxiety and depression and other annoying side effects.
What do I do to curb those sweet tooth pangs? Firstly, I use a reward system. I occasionally reward myself with an unhealthy sweet indulgence, which is a way I guilt-trip myself into refraining sugar the rest of the week. I also substitute unhealthy stuff with healthier options, such as dark chocolate, fruits and juices. At first it may be the hardest thing to do but as soon as you see results, you will be game on with the substitution trick, trust me!
4. Dude, where’s my carbs?
Nasi lemak, Pizza, beer, greasy fries, KFC!!!! I want them all!
But sadly carbs can work against insulin resistance just as much as sugar does. But this doesn’t mean one has to give up on carbs altogether! Using the same substitution method to reduce sugar intake, I reduce my empty carb intake by eating brown rice, whole wheat pasta, couscous and other surprisingly delicious foods that are actually good for PCOS women.
All of these sounds so difficult to do at first, but becoming innovative with recipes is fun and when the food you cooked turns out great, it’s the greatest feeling ever! Believe me, some of my recipe innovations turned out better than using unhealthy options. Oh, and my husband who is quite fussy with food, seems to be ok with “healthier” options too, so that is a definite plus point!
You, yes, YOU!
If you are a woman with PCOS reading this, please know that you are not alone. Educate yourself about PCOS and do what you can to look after you. Though there is no way to get rid of it, you are able control PCOS. If you want to lose weight or get pregnant, please don’t give up on your first few tries, instead, opt to try different methods if all else fail.
Also, talk about it! I made sure I talked about it with someone. Though most of my dear ones didn’t understand, they sure listened. Try to lift yourself up in whatever way you know (exercise, spending quality time with family, vacations etc). Talk to your boyfriend/partner/husband about it because trust me, it is also hard for them to understand so just take the time to explain to them how they can help.
Before i end, I would like to remind my fellow cyst-ers this: