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

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story [1] 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 [2]. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

I’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?”

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.

After 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!

Thanks 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!

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.

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.

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.

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