What is PCOS?

One of my biggest goals over the last 9 months has been trying to understand my body. I was diagnosed with PCOS at the age of 14. In the past I have gone YEARS without a period. It seems despite my best efforts, no matter what I do I cannot lose weight. For a long time the only thing doctors told me would help was weightloss, but how do we lose weight when our bodies want to pack on the pounds??

What is PCOS anyway? PCOS is a hormonal disorder in women leading to facial hair, acne, weight gain, hair loss or thinning (on scalp), infertility, painful and irregular periods, abdominal pains and so much more. It also has been linked to anxiety & depression.

Living with PCOS (or Piece of Shit as my husband likes to call it) is a struggle. Waking up everyday you never know if you will have energy or not. How many chin hairs do you need to pluck? wax? shave? Our self-esteem seems to always be at an all time low. Not only do many women suffering from this disease have to struggle with self confidence but infertility is a big hurtle that many times is barely even touched on. Add in that depression and anxiety that comes with PCOS and you have a perfect storm.

I have struggled with the symptoms for many years, ever since my diagnosis I have slowly packed on the pounds over the years. With a few nutrition classes from college under my belt, a certification in medical assisting, and a bachelors degree in biological sciences I want to test some of my own theories and see for myself what works for us and what doesn’t.

If you type PCOS into google search millions of pages will pop up, some of these are scientifically based studies, others are blogs from women who preach diet and weightless strategies with PCOS. I’ve tried many different strategies throughout the years, but I have never really stuck to anything. Do these diets/workouts/old wives tales really have any merit to them??

THE EXPERIMENT:

Over the next 12 months I am going to give myself one challenge per month and see for myself if any of these theories have actual science and truth backing them. I’ll be discussing the controls and variables to each experiment and sharing my documentation in real time through this blog.

We will explore the Keto diet, Low Carb diets, & the Mediterranean diet as well as different combinations of strength, cardio, and low impact workouts to see what balance works for me. I may also explore essential oil combinations, acupuncture, tongue scraping, meditations and natural supplements. If you have PCOS I encourage you to try the experiments along with me and share your results in the comments.

I will keep a diary of the food I ate, how I feel, and what exercises I did that day.

At the end of every month I will be answering the following 10 questions regarding my experience:

  1. did I get my period? / am I pregnant?
  2. how many breakouts do I have? what zones are they in?
  3. weight
  4. measurements
  5. is the hair on my chin course or fine?
  6. Am I losing chunks of hair or experiencing minimal hair loss?
  7. do I have energy or am I lethargic?
  8. What diet did I follow?
  9. What was my weekly exercise routine?
  10. what new supplements and natural remedies did I try?

The Controls:
I will be consistently using Slim & Sassy EO from DOTERRA used topically.
Daily Medications: Metformin 850mg BID | 4,000 IU Vitamin D3 | 1 prenatal vitamin
Drink at least half my body weight in water everyday.

My Hypothesis: PCOS can be cured through a specific combination of diet, exercise, and eastern & western medicine when following a regimen tailored to your body.

My 10 questions answered prior to starting the experiment:

  1. I did not get my period & I am not pregnant
  2. Minimal breakouts, mainly in the T-zone
  3. 215 lbs
  4. High waist: 34in
    R Bicep 15.75in
    R Thigh: 25.5 in
    Hips: 47.5 in
  5. chin hair: course and thick
  6. losing medium amount of hair off scalp daily.
  7. I am energized
  8. balanced diet per HHS.gov & 2000 calories per day
  9. yoga 3-5 times per week, cardio 2 times per week, strength 1 times per week
  10. None

Do these diets really work? Will I feel better in one year or will I learn that my disease cannot be beaten? Let’s fucking beat this.

Cheers to a healthier future, PCOS babes! xo

-Gabby

Living with Infertility in a World that Doesn’t Understand.

With social media we are bombarded with pregnancy announcements & baby photos and our lives are constantly being compared to others. I’m going to give you one piece of advice that you will probably roll your eyes at right now, but I hope by the end of this post you might find a new perspective.

You are exactly where you need to be.

Ever since my infertility journey began, I have felt pulled away from my faith. I couldn’t put my trust in God, someone/something I couldn’t see. As a trained scientist I have always struggled with my faith but praying for years to a God that never answered was my breaking point. I was at my lowest. I struggled with suicidal ideations, I cried constantly, and I had never felt so cynical, angry, hurt, and frustrated at the world. I needed to find some type of hope, but I was grasping at straws. This tormented me. After 2 years of trying, I finally met a wall.

I knew infertility treatments weren’t for me instantly. We gave it a good college try, but it didn’t fit with our schedules in a world that does not and cannot comprehend what it is like to want to be a mother and know it may never happen. I gained weight, I struggled with my emotions and it was draining my husband and I of our dignity and our savings. Infertility treatment was wrong for us and I am here to let you know, it may be wrong for you too and there is NO shame in that. If you are comfortable with the infertility treatment process and the way the world treats you, you can skip this lengthy blog post, but for some of us there is nothing wrong with letting go and learning to cope with the cards life has dealt you.

So, here are some words of wisdom to all the women struggling with fertility who can’t conceive and are looking for a little bit of comfort:

You are not alone. There are many of us out there and unfortunately the way our society treats infertility as taboo is painful and isolating. Many of us don’t have a good support system. Know you are not alone and millions of men and women around the world are suffering in silence beside you. I believe regardless of the way people will react, it is extremely important to be open and honest about what you are going through. We need to stop the stigma and start being vocal about the emotional pain we go through or the way people deal with it will never change. Be open with as many people as you can. Even though it is a difficult topic and no one wants to hear about it, it is very real. You might even help someone else struggling in silence along the way. Being vocal about my problems was an unspoken invitation to women who were suffering in silence to step forward and privately message their support. I found a strong support system of people who actually understood. A support system will help you heal and feel less alone, but you’ll need more than just women who understand around you. I also strongly suggest seeing a licensed therapist if you haven’t already and finding someone who specializes in Infertility is even better.

Ignore the ignorant. It’s true that unless someone has struggled with infertility they cannot begin to understand where you are coming from. You are going to get words of encouragement from women who tried for a year and got pregnant on their own and you are going to hear a variation of the following phrases:

-adoption is a great option!

-just get drunk that worked for me!

-It’ll happen when you stop trying, that’s life!

-why don’t you foster?

-just go to fertility treatments! My friend did one round of IUI and got pregnant right away.

-just get your doctor to prescribe Clomid.

-my one friend got pregnant after 2 years of trying.

-Have you ever tried manifesting it?

-Have you tried standing on your head/laying upside down for 10 minutes/putting a pillow under your butt/drinking fertility tea/(etc.)?

-JUST RELAX!

-Can you just get over it?

-You should get a grant or start a gofundme for treatments

Need I continue? Or do you get the jist?

Ignore it. They are ignorant and they don’t know what they are talking about. None of those methods are proven to be true for everyone and everyone’s body is different. If you are searching for help talk to a specialist and ignore the peanut gallery. This is the main reason I recommend seeing a licensed therapist. Other people are stupid, let them act a fool and laugh at them behind their backs, it’s kind of an inside joke between all us “infertiles” anyway.

Be the right amount of selfish. It is extremely important to take care of yourself and that means by any means necessary. Skip your family member’s baby shower. If it’s going to be painful for you to be around all the baby fever, then don’t go. Yes. I know it’s selfish, but if you cannot physically deal with the torment don’t go. Protect your mental health, send a gift, and go get a massage that day instead. Living with infertility is hard enough, you don’t need to have it shoved in your face. It’s not worth it and don’t do it to yourself.

Find your happiness. I can promise you; your happiness is out there. When you are struggling with infertility it can consume your life. It tends to suck the soul out of you and makes you a shell of who you were before. It might take a while but force yourself to find another passion in life. Once I had broken free of the chains, I kept in place for myself, I realized the potential of my life with or without children. As painful as it still is to consider what my life would have been like had I been able to conceive I was able to turn my shattered world into something bigger than me. The important thing to remember is that you are here to make a difference in this world, and you may have a bigger purpose or something you need to accomplish before a family is a possibility for you. The universe puts things in your path to strengthen you and so you can help others along the way. One of my favorite quotes is by Stephanie Sparkles, “I love when people who have been through hell walk out of the flames carrying buckets of water for those still consumed by the fire.”

After searching for a new dream to focus on, I realized I had a great responsibility to help other women who are just like me. Some women are comforted by the success stories of infertility treatments and natural conception after years of miscarriages or not conceiving, I was not. I know there are women like me who feel the same way.

I am in no way shaming women who decide to continue infertility treatments, continue fighting their disease, or want to continue trying to have a child. If adoption, infertility treatments, or faith in God is for you then you should continue your path and there are tons of books on infertility that have happy endings out there.

For some of us though, that happy ending isn’t the same. Contrast to what many of you reading this may believe, my choice to stop pursuing fertility treatment and children in general is still a happy ending for me. I have never been in such a good place mentally and physically in my life. I’ve chosen to pursue a path where I can spread awareness and help others in the same situation. I did not let infertility define who I am. I did not give up and roll over, I gave in and found peace. I am happy with my choice and where I am in life regardless of what other people think or tell me and you should find that happiness too. No matter what it looks like.

I promise you too can find peace. Don’t let the weight of infertility consume your life. There is so much more to live for.