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  • My attempt to finding my way

    Hi all, my name is Brittney. I have been lurking for a couple of months and attempting to learn how to use diet and exercise to deal with what feels like a life sentence for me....a recent diagnosis of PCOS. I guess I should start with a bit about me. I am 18 years old, and graduated from high school less than one year ago. This is supposed to be the time of my life where I start living and enjoying growing up, but it feels like I have so many restrictions placed on me now, and I am terrified.

    I have always been athletic but with a tendency to put on weight easily, so I exercised a lot and cut calories, carbs and fat, with the understanding that to lose weight you need to cut calories and burn fat through cardio exercises. This managed to help me maintain my weight for the most part, although I did end up having huge carb cravings and would have my binges so my weight has been more of a yoyo kind of thing. During periods of stress, I tend to gain weight very rapidly even though I don't really eat that much extra. For example, a couple of years ago I had a very traumatic breakup, and gained 16 pounds in 3 days. It just doesn't make sense to gain so much, especially when I was only 127 pounds at the time. That was a significant jump.

    It took me a long time to lose that weight, although I was definitely emotionally binging for a good year after, but I was exercising fanatically to try and combat it. Like 2-3 hours, and occassionally I would even do 5 hours in a day. I was stressed and worn out but hated being heavier than I liked. I was managing to lose weight, but very yoyo like. It took about a year to get down to my goal of 120 pounds. During this time, I started skipping periods...around every second one. We didn't think too much of it since I am young and periods can be a little irregular plus I was exercising a lot. Around February of last year, my periods stopped all together. When they didn't start again, we went to my doctor who said, it wasn't unusual and that I should go on birth control just to start my cycle again and things should be fine. So I did. Taking the pill made me feel really ill, but they did restart my cycle again. I could only do it for two months as I felt awful and then quit. My period then stopped again but mostly things seemed fine and the doctor said it could take some time for my period to restart after coming off the pill. Then about two months after that, my weight started to rise again quite rapidly, even though I was still exercising 2-3 hours a day and eating very little. A 3/4 cup of spelt cereal in the morning with unsweetened hemp milk, small serving of chicken breast and veggies at lunch and dinner...the occassional granola bar when I just couldn't starve myself any longer. But really, not many calories at all.

    Needless to say I have been stressed and depressed. I felt really horrible and gained about 20 pounds in 5 months. I went from being fit and having good muscle tone, to watching my muscle disappear and the weight pack on. It has been terrifying for me as I don't want to be fat. My self esteem has never been high, but it has bottomed out. I am jealous of all my skinny friends, who eat whatever they want and never gain an ounce, while I starve and struggle and gain. I went to see a doctor who ran tests and has said I have pcos as my progesterone is very low and I have elevated LSH.

    So after doing research, I found that many women with pcos find following a primal/paleo way of life, have been able to lose weight and lower symptoms. So two months ago, I quit the crazy exercise as I figured my body really needs the break, and have been far gentler to myself. Walking, roller blading with friends, I am incorporating some weights back into my routine, and occassionally going to bikram yoga. I also cut out eating the spelt cereal, and am eating very primally. No sugar, grains, dairy, processed foods...I am eating all organic meats and veggies and added more fats in the way of olive oil and avacado. I am limiting my coconut oil currently as I have read saturated fats are bad for women with pcos.

    I haven't really lost any weight yet that is noticeable, although I am currently not weighing myself as it just stresses me out more to see those numbers so high up from where i was not long ago. I assume I have insulin resistance since it seems to be common and would explain my tendency to gain weight, I think. So now I am looking for ways to combat this problem and return to my former weight and shape. If anyone has advice for me, I would be very grateful, as I am so scared right now since I have read that obesity is common with pcos.

    Since going primal, I have started having a period again, although I have no clue whether I am ovulating or not. I feel better mostly, but again, haven't seen any weight shift. I see how many calories most people eat, and can't even come anywhere near close to that as my appetite is so small. So now I am not sure whether to push myself to eat more, or if I should just eat to satiety. I think having pcos might make things different for me than people who have normally functioning metabolisms. I can't eat beef as for some reason it makes me feel bad and swell up, but I have no problem with chicken, turkey, buffalo, fish. Eggs make me feel "blech" too. Breakfast is so hard for me, but if I skip a meal then it is really hard for me to add calories. Currently, I tend to feel like I am stuffing myself full, and rarely come close to 1000 calories a day. I have read that starchy foods are bad for pcos suffers, but maybe a small serving of yams would help up my calorie content?

    If anyone who could help guide me a bit, I would appreciate some input. I am currently overwhelmed by all of this and can't seem to sort through what seems to be an endless amount of contradictions over how to deal with pcos.

  • #2
    By the way, I am 5'4". Are there any ladies in the same situation as me who could offer any advice?

    Comment


    • #3
      Some things I question:

      I don't really like breakfast because I can't stand eating meat and veggies in the morning, plus eggs don't agree with me. Would a whey protein shake be alright for someone with pcos, and trying to lose weight.

      Should I do IF with my hormones all messed up? I could easily do it as my appetite is small, but then I wonder if I will just mess myself up more

      any thoughts on a natural progesterone to counter estrogen dominance? Would balancing that out help me burn fat?

      I read conflicting information on dealing with insulin resistance. I hear either to IF or to eat several small meals? Do any of you ladies have success in this area?

      Comment


      • #4
        Hi Brittney

        I do not have PCOS, but I can relate to the appetite issue. I feel like I eat nothing these days compared to what I used to. I wouldn't worry too much about IFing at the beginning, they usually suggest making sure you are healed and ketoadapted first. I don't IF, but I don't eat until I am hungry, which is often not til 10-11am.

        Around here people usually don't eat many small meals, but they eat when hungry and stop when full. It sounds like you are starting to get your hormones sorted out if you started your period again, which is great, I would say to stay on the basic primal plan for now and give your body a chance to heal up.

        If a whey shake sounds like a good idea for you, why not? I am happy having eggs and meat, so that is not an issue for me. In fact, I will often eat leftovers if there are any.

        I am eating sweet potatoes, rice or potatoes most days, but just not heaping portions, and I am staying around 70g carb a day, which is well within the weight loss sweet spot. I found that adding a bit more carbs to my diet (I was at more like 30-40 for a while) actually kickstarted weightloss after a month long plateau. If having sweet potatoes sounds good, I'd go for it.

        Listen to what your body thinks sounds good - it probably knows the best. If you find things don't work, just chalk it up to a learning experience and try something new.

        Congrats on trying this way of eating, and I wish you all sorts of success!
        Karin

        A joyful heart is good medicine

        He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. - Jim Elliot

        Mmmmm. Real food is good.

        My Journal: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread29685.html

        Comment


        • #5
          Thank you so much for responding. I keep worrying that I am doing things wrong, and get no help from my doctors. They have basically told me to go on the pill and let them know when I want to get pregnant. I don't want to go on the pill as it seems like everything went bad after being on it only 2 months. I am not sure if I am insulin resistant as I haven't been fully tested for it, but it seems like it with the weight gain, but then I don't know if that is just from over exercising and underfeeding myself for so long. The test I had for blood sugar was only the fasting glucose and it was in a normal range, but does that tell the whole story?

          Is it possible that there could be something wrong with my thyroid that could mimic pcos. My TSH was 2 so the doctors said its fine and left it at that and wont do the other tests. I don't know if I should get the other thyroid tests myself to see if there is a problem, and how I would interpret them. I have ordered a book "Why do I still have thyroid symptoms" based on recommendations on this site, to hopefully see if there is something in there that would help me understand. I will probably get the other tests done just to rule things out, if the book shows me how to interpret them. I have concerns as my hair seems to be noticeably thinner these days. Not in a regular pcos way, but an all over thinning. (thyroid? or just from low carbing, stress from previous over exercise/poor diet?) I want to know if I have thyroid issues as I have read on here that thyroid work better with a little extra carb...one of the reasons I am considering adding yams. Currently I am mainly getting my carbs from salad, avocado and some broccoli and such...doesn't add up to much in a day. I am wondering if the occassional day of higher carbs might help me. Not a leangains amount, but higher than my typical day. I worry about adding more carbs though as I do not want to gain any more weight. The pounds I have on now are so hard for me to handle. I cry every time I put clothes on. Its basically summer here now, and I don't want to wear any of my summer clothes.

          Comment


          • #6
            Heya, Brittney! Welcome aboard.

            I can't give you any specific advice (I had to google PCOS, for instance) and, not being a doctor I wouldn't want to, but there's lots of support around here, especially in the journals forum. Just do yourself a favour and steer clear of some of the other forums, like Nutrition. They can be more than a little confusing. A lot of self-styled experts and extremely divergent opinions. Anyhoo.

            In terms of carbs, I don't think you'd stand to lose out by testing the waters. Add yams/sweet potatoes to a few meals a week and see what happens. Also, if you haven't had your thyroid tested, that might be a smart next step. You don't stand to lose anything by knowing one way or another and thus eliminate a possible source of issues.

            As far as calories go, if you add in more healthy fats, you'll boost calories without adding to how much food you're eating. It's a bit of Primal/Paleo trickery, of sorts. I wouldn't recommend forcing yourself to eat more than you're comfortable with, though. If your appetite is suppressed, it's a symptom of something greater that needs to be dealt with.

            Anyhoo... I've gone on more than I meant to. I only wanted to say hi and wish ya luck.
            August 2010: 207 lb, 37" waist, 25+% BF | Currently: 177 lb, 33" waist, ~15% BF

            I have a new site up and will soon be blogging at The Wayward Mind. (My journal is semi-retired at this point)

            Comment


            • #7
              Another thing that can cause hair thinning is low iron - that may be worth getting checked out if your doctor has not already tested for it.

              Making sure you are taking at least a good multivitamin is a good idea too, in my mind.

              Another thing that Mark talks about is making sure you are getting enough sleep and managing your stress. As a teenager, you may need up to 10 hours a night still, and I know most teenagers don't get it. As well, I understand you'd like to lose, and I am sure over time you will, but it usually takes at least a little while, particularly if you have health issues you are sorting out too.

              That picture of you is beautiful - even if you haven't lost the weight you want to now, you are an attractive young woman, and you should feel proud of yourself for taking responsibility for taking good care of yourself.
              Karin

              A joyful heart is good medicine

              He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. - Jim Elliot

              Mmmmm. Real food is good.

              My Journal: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread29685.html

              Comment


              • #8
                Thank you for the welcome. I think I will test out the higher than typical carb days for me on my weight training days, just to see if there is any difference..cut fat on those days.
                I do really think it will be good for me to check my thyroid fully and not just go by TSH. Even if it turns out that it is fine, at least I will know.

                I know what you mean about going into the other forums as it seems like I get more confused by what I read.

                Comment


                • #9
                  My iron levels were tested because they had been low previously, but they are fine now. I am taking a multivitamin sup, plus several others that I have read could be beneficial to me. And I have been getting a fair amount of sleep nightly as I know its important...about 8-9 hours. Stress is without a doubt a little high these days trying to figure this all out and worrying about my future. And sadly, the picture of me is at my grad, which is few months before my weight increased. It is where I am determined to get back to.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Well I tried the whey protein powder, which made me happy because it was a great way to have something non meat/egg in the morning. I took it for three days...unfortunately it was causing me to swell up, plus my skin broke out and I became moody. (I have had to avoid dairy for years) So I stopped it a few days ago and the swelling is gone, skin is better, and I feel better/happier. So I am back to eggs and meat for breakfast. Oh well. I will have to get used to it. I did my first weigh in, since going primal 2 months ago, yesterday. And while I have not lost weight, I have not gained weight either. Considering I was basically starving myself prior, doing chronic cardio for an average of 2.5 hours a day, and was still gaining 5 pounds a month, I am greatful for the lack of new weight. I am still figuring out what works best for my body food wise, plus I have been keeping my exercise VERY low key to give my body a break. Recently I have added back in some resistance training and did a sprint day. I have really missed the feeling of real exercise, so it felt great. I will never go back to the routine I had before...I can't even imagine how I did it now. Just desperate and determined I suppose. I do feel more confident that this new lifestyle is far healthier for me, and I will eventually lose the extra 19 pounds. Maybe not as quickly as I would like as my body probably still has alot of healing to do with my hormones all out of whack the way they are. I feel healthier though which is a good start.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Exactly. Some people need to heal up a bit before any weight comes off.
                      Karin

                      A joyful heart is good medicine

                      He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. - Jim Elliot

                      Mmmmm. Real food is good.

                      My Journal: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread29685.html

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I thought it was time for a little bit of an update. Shortly after my last post, I decided to step on the scale to see where I was at. To my shock, I had now gained a total of 30 lbs. To be honest, I was struggling with eating this way 100% and would allow myself cheats when I was with my friends. That was way too often. Seeing the numbers on the scale was truly my wake up call, so I decided it was time to get serious. I looked for posts from women who were having success, and tried out methods that were working for them. I found, for me, a mix of paleobird’s method of calorie counting/moderate fat mixed with JKC’s addition of a bit of rice or sweet potato plus a chromium supplement, is what works best for me to feel my best and lose weight.

                        I had my first visit with an endocrinologist in July, and at this point I had already lost 10 lbs and was feeling quite a bit better. He looked over the lab results that two previous doctors had taken, examined me, and then concluded that he did not feel that I actually have pcos. He wanted to run a test for celiac, but I have had the blood test run twice before with both times coming back as negative, so he didn’t bother. He said he was not sure why my hormones had been so messed up, but that he felt that they were probably falling back into normal ranges now. (he did not take tests to confirm this….this is Canada after all…erg)

                        Either way, I feel better than I have in years. When I have little cheats now, I notice it right away, so it just isn’t worth it. Luckily my sugar/grain cravings are minimal, and when I look at things like a muffin or coke, I think, “that would be tasty, but not worth the 4 days of misery that will follow.” Quite a relief to not having them screaming "EAT ME NOW!" anymore.

                        For exercise I am no longer doing my hours a day of chronic cardio. I walk daily, lift heavy things probably 2 times a week, and do the occasional sprints. Today I stepped on the scale and am down 20.6 lbs, so it is definitely working for me now. I did eliminate nightshades as they made my joints ache.

                        Apart from the weight loss, and apparent balancing of hormones, my skin is clearer, hair is shinier, nails stronger and my anxiety/depression issues are pretty much a non issue now. I am grateful my parents refused to put me on meds for that when my therapist pushed strongly for them a couple of years ago.

                        So I am not quite at my goal yet, but I am very happy with where I am at currently and feel no panic about losing the last bit.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Brittney, just wanted to congratulate you on your excellent results. It sounds like you've got your exercise and diet right where they need to be, and that all you need to reach your goals now is patience.

                          I was puzzled by your initial post where you said that both saturated fat and starch were bad for PCOS. Where else are the calories supposed to come from? How did you resolve that apparent contradiction? I have some friends with PCOS (though they are far from primal) so I'm curious to know what helped you. Or did the PCOS diagnosis turn out to be mistaken?

                          Originally posted by newlifejourney View Post
                          when I look at things like a muffin or coke, I think, “that would be tasty, but not worth the 4 days of misery that will follow.”
                          This is exactly how I have managed to avoid cheating for almost two years. Well, okay, I did cheat once last December (one milk chocolate and one tiny slice of flan) and ended up with approximately 4 days of misery. Sometimes we need to give ourselves a reminder.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            You know, I am not even sure doctors fully understand pcos as I have been given so much conflicting information. Different doctors look at the same results and have different conclusions. My family doctor and a gyno said that my results indicated I had pcos...almost non existant levels of progesterone and an fsh/lh imbalance of 3x...supposed to be about equal...and no period, weight gain. And the endo looks at the same hormone levels and says, by looking at me, and since I am now having a regular period and losing weight, that he does not believe I have pcos. I don't fit enough of their criteria for a diagnosis. He isn't sure what caused my hormones to mess up like they did and isn't doing any other tests to try and figure it out. So I am left not knowing for sure what the problem is or was.

                            I was told very little by doctors, besides "take these pills and watch that you don't let your weight go up...come see me if you want children and we can give you pills to help you try and have babies" It has been frustrating and stressful. I bought a book and it was the one that recommended low fat, low carb, avoid starches, eat 5-6 small snack size meals a day.



                            I go for leaner meats myself cooked in a small amount of coconut oil, fish, lots of veggies, small amounts of fruit, some rice and sweet potatoes, olive oil/apple cider vin on salad, small amounts of butter on cooked veggies. If I have bacon it is more of a flavoring than a meal. eg crumble a bit on salad or veggies. I eat 3 times a day and find it works well for me.

                            I actually found out about paleo/primal eating on a site for women with pcos. I went looking for women who were having success controlling their symptoms naturally and the best results seemed to be based on this way of eating. It made a lot of sense as I had always noticed I felt off when I ate grains, sugar and dairy....either just sick, or having major sugar rush and then the slam of the crash shortly after. I feel like a different person now and I will never go back to how I used to eat. Just so not worth it to me.

                            I am not sure if I can pinpoint one thing that helped the most, whether its the change in exercise or the eating, but I am pretty sure its combination of the two. I also take a good multi, probiotic, chromium, fish oil, vitamin D, B complex and digestive enzyme sups too.

                            I have no problem being patient with the rest of the weight loss as I am not unhappy with where I am right now and have not hit a real plateau yet.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by newlifejourney View Post
                              I am grateful my parents refused to put me on meds for that when my therapist pushed strongly for them a couple of years ago.
                              Two panda paws up for that decision! I know that they do help some people, but those pills just gave me so many more problems than they solved. All the advice that I can pass along about PCOS I can count on no hands, so I am just stopping in to wish you luck since I cannot be helpful.
                              JOIN THE PANDA SHOW!!! Primal With A Side Of FABULOUS and PANDALOONERY!

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