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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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February 26, 2016

Five Years After PCOS Diagnosis, I’m the Healthiest I’ve Ever Been

By Guest
72 Comments

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

real_life_stories_stories-1-2I’ve been debating sharing my story for over three years now! I’ve never felt like I was at a “good enough” point to submit it. I kept telling myself to wait just a little longer to share my story. I know I am far from “perfect”—but I also know that I have a lot of be proud of.

My journey started in 2010/2011. I was at an average weight, but I wasn’t my healthiest. I had serious digestive issues. I blamed my problems on lactose, as many people do. I recall having to run out of several college classes just to use the bathroom. I thought it had to be the big glass of milk I had at breakfast—I never could have imagined that whole wheat bagels and toast were the issue!

My symptoms only marginally improved by starting to avoid lactose. I thought that maybe this was normal, that maybe everyone had issues like this, and we just didn’t talk about it. I didn’t know how to get healthier—so I dabbled in vegetarianism, ate a ton of soy and a ton of grains for a few months. I actually felt worse!

At only 20 years old, I went to the OB/GYN complaining of irregular periods and weight gain. I had a history of ovarian cysts, I miserably failed a three hour glucose test, and my A1C was far too high. I also weighed my heaviest—178 pounds. I couldn’t believe that I could be so unhealthy at such a young age. I was incredibly confused. I thought to myself: “I’m not that overweight, how could I also be pre-diabetic? I’m eating how they say I should eat, why am I having so much trouble?”

ashley1

These were really hard questions to answer. Luckily, I had a pretty proactive physician who referred me to a PCOS specialist. This wonderful nurse practitioner helped me learn to count my carbohydrates. While I wasn’t Primal yet, I was instructed to eat no more than 30 grams of carbs for every 3 hours, and to always pair carbohydrates with protein and fat. I was also put on Metformin, a diabetes drug. This approach helped me to lose about 20 pounds and get my glucose levels under control. It was a start, but it wasn’t good enough. I gradually become more proactive about my health and began to open my eyes to all of the ways I had been hurting my body with sugar and chemicals. I started to form healthier habits by quitting diet soda, reading ingredient labels, buying organic, etc.

weddingdayAfter about 10 months of carb counting, I came across Mark’s Daily Apple. At first, I was skeptical. I told my family and friends about it and they were pretty incredulous. I often heard the phrases, “But, you need ‘X’ amount of carbohydrates! You need grains! It’s too difficult!” Regardless, I jumped right into Primal eating. After a week or two, I’d never felt better. I lost more weight and realized that gluten was the culprit of my digestive distress. After a few months of Primal eating, I was able to eat dairy again, as my gut stopped being so irritated from so much gluten. I almost never have any digestive issues anymore—only if I eat out and somehow my meal is compromised. I even had my husband (fiancé, at the time), get on board and he loved it too. I also paired my eating style with lots of walking. By the time our wedding came around, I looked and felt pretty wonderful. I was certainly the healthiest I had ever been!

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homeThanks to Primal, I was able to easily maintain my healthy weight even through tough times. Shortly after my wedding, my husband deployed and I started a stressful new degree program. I was thankful for my healthy eating habits to keep my body sane, even when my emotions and intelligence were pushed to their limits. Through this time, I even explored acupuncture therapy to help with my PCOS and irregular periods. I always thought I would have a hard time conceiving because of my medical history, so my husband and I both figured children were something we would consider in the distant future. Surprisingly, upon his return home I immediately became pregnant. Even more surprisingly, I became pregnant with twins!

Pregnant

Thankfully, I had a very healthy twin pregnancy and found a fantastic physician who agreed to my birth plan. I carried my girls until 36 weeks and five days, and had a very natural birth, free of pain medication and many of the common interventions. I gained 50 pounds and had two, beautiful six pound babies. I also have been committed to giving my twins the best Primal start possible—as we are now at almost 15 months of breastfeeding! I’m very thankful that they are adventurous eaters and love to try new things as well.

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Despite what they tell you, breastfeeding alone did not help me lose the baby weight. About 25 pounds came off within the first week or so, but the rest lingered. I wasn’t following the Primal principles because I was too exhausted with two newborns to care for. I stayed strictly gluten-free, but wasn’t eating as clean. I didn’t feel like myself and it was a very difficult time. To add insult to injury, we experienced a very stressful move—4,000+ miles to Hawaii with two, 4-month-old infants. I struggled with my postpartum image severely. Feeling great had become pretty effortless prior to becoming pregnant, and this was a whole new challenge that I needed to conquer.

babybjorn

Come July 1, 2015, I decided I was going to get serious about exercise. I started doing CrossFit-type workouts in my garage during the twins’ nap time. At first, it was very difficult. I could barely do air squats and lunges, I felt so incredibly weak. However, for the first time in my life I really wanted to dedicate myself to getting stronger. I felt really empowered after becoming a mother, and luckily had my husband coaching me through. I kept with my workouts five to six days a week, usually mixing it up between crossfit WOD’s, boxing, and a stroller mom’s running group. Seven months later, I never thought I’d be able to do any of the crazy things I’m doing now! We also recently started adding in intermittent fasting with great results. I am stronger and faster every single day and I’m happy to be healthy and fit enough to chase around my two, one-year-olds. I may always have my stretch marks and a little extra skin from carrying two babies, but I’m trying to be the strongest and fittest version of myself.

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Thank you, Mark, for doing what you do. I’m so grateful I stumbled across your site in 2012. It has been a great 3+ years of healthy living, and I hope I can inspire others to stick with it and always strive to be their best, no matter what challenges they may encounter.

Ashley

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72 Comments on "Five Years After PCOS Diagnosis, I’m the Healthiest I’ve Ever Been"

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Mary
Mary
7 months 4 days ago
Great story! And what adorable babies. I can totally relate to how you felt postpartum – the weight doesn’t come off with breastfeeding like everyone tells you it should. I didn’t feel like myself after my second baby, and felt like it was my fault that the weight wouldn’t budge. I spent so much effort trying to get “back in shape” that I got really sick and stressed out. I regret not just chilling and enjoying that time with the babies – the weight did come off when I weaned him, and I could have spared myself all that needless… Read more »
TF
TF
7 months 4 days ago

I’ve read elsewhere that it’s normal to hold on to a little extra fat when breastfeeding as a sort of insurance for your milk supply and apparently a lot of people don’t lose it until they stop breastfeeding.

Ashley
6 months 28 days ago

I couldn’t agree more! We definitely need to enjoy our babies and not make ourselves sick over it. I still have a few pounds before I make it down to my pre-pregnancy goal, I’m sure it will go away once I wean them and totally not letting it get me down!

John
John
7 months 4 days ago
Hi Ashley, I am always most inspired when I hear of young mom’s and dad’s getting healthy and thus raising healthier kids. Somewhere on the WestonAPrice.org website is a procedure for making whole wheat sourdough from scratch including amking the sour starter. And the claim is implied that this bread doesn’t trigger gluten intolerance? Right now I am raising some soaked flour, freshly ground whole wheat bread. This is based on the claim that pre-soaking the freshly ground flour is beneficial. I have been doing this for a while now and I seem to have more energy [I am MUCH… Read more »
Angel
Angel
7 months 4 days ago

Even organic whole wheat that is soaked and prepared in a traditional manner can cause problems for people who are sensitive to wheat. It really depends on the person.

Ashley
6 months 28 days ago

Hey, John!

I have heard from WAPF that sourdough might be OK for those with gluten intolerance. I know I feel better without it, but definitely trust your gut (literally) and do what feels best for you!

I do sometimes consume organic rice and quinoa, and (gasp!) occasionally a gluten free goodie. I consider these treats and try not to do it all the time.

I’m so glad that you’re doing your research and taking control of your health. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Irish butter is so darn tasty. 🙂

Best,

Ashley

Shary
Shary
7 months 4 days ago

Good job, Ashley! The stretch marks will fade to the point that they aren’t noticeable, and the loose skin will gradually tighten up.

Ashley
6 months 28 days ago

Thank you, Shary! I sure hope so. They have definitely gotten better as time goes on. I think I reached my max baby capacity at a certain point!

Marc
Marc
7 months 4 days ago

Great story! Good for you!

Marc

Ashley
6 months 28 days ago

Thank you so much, Marc! 🙂

Elizabeth
7 months 4 days ago

Love this Ashley!!! So great to see how these principals worked for you even after giving birth to twins! I gained 50 pounds with both of my pregnancies so I can relate! And what an amazing start you are giving your babies by breastfeeding!

Ashley
6 months 28 days ago

Thank you, Elizabeth! So glad others can relate to my story, it’s tough growing tiny humans. Our bodies are amazing!

Renee
Renee
7 months 4 days ago

You look great. Congrats on an inspiring story. And good for you for nursing your twins. It’s the best food in the world for babies.

Ashley
6 months 28 days ago

Thank you, Renee! It sure is!

Kelly
Kelly
7 months 4 days ago

Awesome store and beautiful mama and babies! Thank you for your service as a military wife – I know it’s a difficult road.

Ashley
6 months 28 days ago

I appreciate that so much, Kelly!

diane
diane
7 months 4 days ago

I just wanted to congratulate you on breastfeeding for so long! I nursed my kids for years and I have to say, they are so healthy! Also, when they got sick I never had to worry about dehydration or food because I knew they would nurse. Good for you!!!

Ashley
6 months 28 days ago

Diane, this is so true. It’s amazing what a completely perfect food breastmilk is. Congrats on giving your littles such an amazing gift. It can be really hard sometimes, a lot of people don’t understand extended breastfeeding. Glad there is such a great community of like-minded people here!

perennialpam
perennialpam
7 months 4 days ago

Mama, you look amazing. Great job.

Ashley
6 months 27 days ago

Thank you so much!!

Paleo Bon Rurgundy
7 months 4 days ago

Amazing! Great work!

Ashley
6 months 27 days ago

Thank you!!

Laura
Laura
7 months 4 days ago

Great story, very down to earth and inspiring!

Ashley
6 months 27 days ago

Thank you!!

Primal V
Primal V
7 months 4 days ago

I had a similar experience through and after pregnancy, it took a year and a quarter to get back to primal after giving birth. Sleep deprivation is a killer for keeping diet on track!

I’m glad to hear your success and hope the future holds many more good times for you and your gorgeous family.

Ashley
6 months 28 days ago

Glad to hear that my story resonated with you! I think it really did take an entire year+ to finally feel like myself again. I don’t think people adequately discuss how long it takes to truly recover from pregnancy. And yes, I totally agree – sleep deprivation is the worst!!!

Thank you very much for your kind words, they are truly appreciated 🙂

Egerland
Egerland
7 months 4 days ago

Hey, the stretch marks are battle honors! Well done!

Ashley
6 months 28 days ago

I agree! Thank you!

Mati
Mati
7 months 4 days ago

Hi,

I loved your story. You look wonderful! My daughter’s friend also was diagnosed with PCOS and she became pregnant (unexpectedly) after going primal for a few months. She was shocked! I wish you and your family the best. You motivated to continue exercising and maybe even trying Crossfit. And by the way, you made a beautiful bride. 🙂 I wish you the best always.

wildgrok
wildgrok
7 months 4 days ago

Beautiful bride indeed!!!

Ashley
6 months 28 days ago

Hahaha, had to laugh. My mom read this and the comments… she got very emotional with all these beautiful bride comments! There were tears! Thank you so much.

Ashley
6 months 28 days ago

Thank you so much! I really do think primal is the way to go for PCOS. I know a lot of people who don’t want to listen, they think they can’t make the change. It’s great to know that others have been successful in improving their fertility as well! Good luck in your exercise endeavors, it’s always great to try new things and challenge yourself. I so appreciate your kind words! 🙂

TF
TF
7 months 4 days ago
Wow, amazing story. My stretch marks look about the same as yours and I only had one (and only gained 19 pounds – he was 8 of that)! I felt so weak after my baby too, it took a while to feel like I had any strength again. I agree with the stretch marks being battle scars. 🙂 Mine basically popped up overnight in the last month or two. I thought I was one of the lucky ones who didn’t get stretch marks, then outta nowhere, whole lower belly. Oh well. :p I stopped caring about being “perfect.” We’re all… Read more »
Ashley
6 months 28 days ago

Mine were the same as yours, thought I got out of this deal stretch mark free, but they showed up right around the time my belly exceeded the “40 week” size measurement. (I think that was around 31-32 weeks! lol)

I love your outlook on it! It can be really hard emotionally to look and feel different after having a baby, we need to stop being so judgmental and start treating ourselves with love and care!

TF
TF
6 months 27 days ago

I totally agree, it took me a while to gain my confidence back despite losing the baby weight in the first week. You definitely do feel different after that, it takes a little time to embrace that. Best wishes to you and your family. 🙂

Tina
Tina
7 months 4 days ago

A-frickin-mazing, lady! THAT tummy carried twins?! Major fist bumps to you, and congratulations on your beautiful babies and for taking care of your beautiful self. Thank you to you and your husband for your service, and many good wishes your way!

Ashley
6 months 28 days ago

This made me smile so much, thank you! I appreciate your kind words and well wishes!

Dr. Dana Leigh Lyons
7 months 4 days ago

Beautiful, inspiring story, Ashley! Thank you for sharing!

Whitney
Whitney
7 months 4 days ago

Awesome Ashley! Great work!!

James
7 months 4 days ago

Super-awesome. Congratulate yourself and Grok On!

Robbin
Robbin
7 months 4 days ago

I was very moved by this. Thanks for sharing. It will inspire others and yes, you look great. Congratulations to you both.

Jessica
Jessica
7 months 4 days ago

As a fellow mom with 2 littles, you, my friend, get a big pat on the back (and a warm hug) from me. Your strength is empowering. Taking control of your health. Carrying twins for 36 weeks (go you!). A drug-free child birth (SO PROUD OF YOU)! Extended BF-ing TWINS. All while working hard to take care of….yourself. You are amazing and I lovelovelove this success story.

Grok on, sistah.

Ashley
6 months 28 days ago

Thank you, Jessica! So glad you can relate and like my story. I appreciate your kind words and feedback from fellow mommies means so much! 🙂

Geranium
Geranium
7 months 4 days ago

Ashley-beautiful job you’ve done, beautiful family, and good for you for breast-feeding!

Laura
7 months 4 days ago
You look awesome! What I like most is your beautiful smile; it reflects the joy and radiant person within. Being a mother of four ( three of those children are now adults), I know that I’ll always have my stretch marks and some loose skin. I seldom even think about it, and I’m not particularly fit. I keep returning to MDA each Friday for inspiration, and your story is part of that. For me, yoga is what I enjoy for strength training, but I need to actually DO IT! Congratulations to a strong, beautiful, healthy mom, and thank you for… Read more »
Ashley
6 months 28 days ago

Wow, Laura, thank you! I so appreciate your kind words. I am trying my hardest to savor each stage, but as you know, it’s not always the easiest. Thank you so much for reading!

Jessica
7 months 4 days ago

What a great story! Thank you for sharing your struggles and successes. It must be a whirlwind having twins, and my hat is off to you.

Mandy
Mandy
7 months 4 days ago

Hey Ashley,
great story! And you’re so beautiful!
My mood was kind of … ieeeh niggling … but then I read your story and got my ass of my couch, doing some Yoga and go for a little walk (best fresh air out here in Germany at night).
THANK YOU! Keep going, you’ll get managed everything.
Love, Mandy

Ashley
6 months 28 days ago

Mandy,
Thank you so much! Glad my story spoke to you. Thanks for reading!

Pam
Pam
7 months 4 days ago
Great story and you are lovely. I was told I had PCOS at about age 20. Back then (30 years ago) they suggested Atkins which was being maligned at the time. I wish I had the support and education on carbs way back then and had listened and stayed on Atkins. Now after being primal a couple years I am as regular as can be (every 26 days like clockwork). I know that is TMI but I really feel the PCOS, irregular menses and weight gain was just my body responding poorly to all the carbs, sugars and “healthy” grains… Read more »
Ashley
6 months 28 days ago
Pam, I couldn’t agree more. I definitely think Atkins had the right idea with limiting carbs – I tried it a little bit and it did work to lose some weight. I just wish their food plan focused on more healthful choices! I’m so glad to know that primal has helped your PCOS. I do not think it’s TMI at all! It is so important to talk about it. I think I read every success story on here before I felt convinced enough to try it. It is so awesome that you help couples struggling to conceive. Glad that you… Read more »
HillyM
HillyM
7 months 4 days ago

Yours is a beautiful story Ashley. And you and your body have been through lots of stresses and strains by the sound of it, and you look like you are doing a great job of keeping it healthy. And I have to say, for someone who has PCOS, carried twins to almost full term, delivered naturally, breastfed those twins, moved 4000+ klms away from “home”, your body is pretty amazing. You go girl – you’ve got this health thing nailed. Setting a wonderful example for those beautiful babies of yours too.

Ashley
6 months 28 days ago

Thank you so much! I definitely think your body can handle all of the stressors better when you treat it right! 🙂

Ubermama
Ubermama
7 months 4 days ago
Great story! You’ve done such a great job Mama! I’m with you on the breastfeeding and no weight loss. About 40% of us will hang on to every ounce. I recently had a baby at age 46 (my sixth) – I attribute my extended fertility to being primal (14 years now – I didn’t know it as primal for several of those). I gained no extra weight from pregnancy as I stayed primal throughout. I wanted to get back to my pre-ttc weight (I gained a few kgs to increase our chances) but breastfeeding meant I was gaining. Prolactin is… Read more »
Ashley
6 months 28 days ago
Congratulations on your new baby! 6 kiddos? You are a rockstar, mama. That’s amazing that you’ve been following the primal principles and reaping the health benefits for so long. I definitely think weaning makes it very hard to get back to that pre-pregnancy weight. I’m still a few pounds over and I’m pretty sure they’ll disappear upon weaning as well. I definitely think there’s something to what you’re saying! I hope there will be more research on the subject in the future. I know I went through a lot with ovarian cysts, weight gain, etc and I don’t want the… Read more »
Mat Herold
7 months 4 days ago

Great stuff. Grains and gluten cause me to have digestive issues as well and recently learned that so can an entire bag of corn based sweet potato chips inside of 30 minutes

wildgrok
wildgrok
7 months 4 days ago

wow beautiful, you made my good day even better!

twins, girls!!! green with (good) envy

Robert
Robert
7 months 4 days ago

Amazing what Love and good food can do. Grok on!

christina
christina
7 months 4 days ago

How did you keep your milk with primal. I started and my milk supply was compromised?

Tanya
Tanya
7 months 3 days ago

I went primal at the worst time, 16 weeks, the killer growth spurt that makes every breastfeeding mum think her milk is going. I kept going and after a week or so feeding settled. So i think the key is to keep going and feed on demand until everything has settled.

gwen
gwen
7 months 3 days ago
This post was great. Congrats on getting it all back on track and for the 46 yo 6th time mom. Wow! I’m 42 at the four month mark post partam with twin boys (3rd and 4th). I stayed primal the whole pregnancy, gained less than either of my singles from my thirties, felt great huge energy, only an issue with pressure from being so big. Well they were. 8 lbs and 7lbs 6 oz. Stayed primal for first couple months after but gained weight. Super interested to here about the prolactin. Have been mainly grain free since but for some… Read more »
Ashley
6 months 27 days ago
Congrats on your twin boys!! They were such a healthy weight. Great job. Definitely need a lot of calories to breastfeed two babies. Sometimes some organic popcorn in coconut oil/grassfed butter is just the ticket! I remember my appetite waning a bit after the twins got established on some solid foods (around 9 months). At this point, I don’t feel like I’m eating much more than I would be if I weren’t breastfeeding. Keep on keeping on, mama. Feel free to follow me or contact me if you ever feel the need to connect with someone in the same boat.… Read more »
Sofie
Sofie
6 months 29 days ago

Eat plenty and nurse often. Milk production is based on supply and demand, so if you keep nursing a lot, even if there’s not much milk, the amount of milk produced will rise.

Ashley
6 months 28 days ago
Hey Christina, Sorry it’s taken me so long to answer your question. My milk supply has never changed due to primal, I even intermittent fast (now that my twins are over a year old and eating a lot of solids) with no issues. I know everyone is different, I would say the best thing to do is to make sure you’re getting enough quality calories. Sometimes I feel like people can unintentionally eat less when going primal. I really love to amp up my calorie intake with things like grass fed butter, coconut butter (try Nikki’s vanilla cake batter flavor,… Read more »
christina
christina
6 months 27 days ago

Thank you so much. I am a lactation consultant IBCLC. We struggle with mommies all the time who “loose” their milk when they go primal.I myself saw a decline in my milk and stopped the diet immediately. (i struggle with my milk supply so anything that will effect it including going back on birth control) I think its about its about cutting out simple carbs and sugars.

Vanessa
Vanessa
7 months 4 days ago

Great job Ashley. I wonder if you will always have stretch marks, I don’t really see mine anymore and my youngest is 13. I wonder if they just minimize over the years.

Caroline
Caroline
7 months 4 days ago

You look fantastic! And it’s great to see a fellow natural-birthing, sling-wearing, extended breastfeeding twin mum ????

Ashley
6 months 28 days ago

Thank you, Caroline! It is always awesome to know there are like-minded individuals out there. Thanks so much for reading my story!

feel free to follow me if you’d like to stay connected!

Noconago
Noconago
7 months 3 days ago

Geaux Ashley! Beautiful story.

Suki
Suki
6 months 26 days ago

You are amazing my friend! I have used an eating plan very similar to what you are doing, but when I tried to jump back on Plan after birth, I lost weight and my milk supply. Breastfeeding is coming along slowly. I figure that I will concentrate on eating and losing weight after I finally wean Braeden.
As for your stretch marks, I think they will fade over time, but if they don’t, just remember that they are your battle scars and you should wear them proudly. Love you–Kiss those girls for me!

Ashley
6 months 25 days ago

Hey, Suki! So glad to hear from you. I think you have a great plan. It’s so hard breaatfeeding and exhausting those first few months, I didn’t really start to even try to get back in shape until the twins were 7/8 months! I hope you guys are doing well, absolutely love seeing your sweet pics of Braedon. Wish I could have met him! I will absolutely continue to wear my scars proudly. Keep in touch!

Best,

Ashley

Tara
Tara
6 months 14 days ago

I have PCOS. I almost went to the ER after eating a sweet potato. What am I doing wrong?

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