The 30-Day Challenge

In my post last week, I mentioned that I would be starting a 30-Day PCOS challenge.  Well, it started yesterday and I’m pretty freaking excited!

I found this group on Pinterest as I was looking for PCOS friendly recipes.  The group leader was touting a lifestyle challenge that teaches people with PCOS how to eat in order to reduce symptoms.  After reading through the Facebook group, I found that the majority of the women who went through the lifestyle changes found a huge improvement in their overall health.  People that have had a hard time losing weight were finally finding success, and others who hadn’t had regular period in years were now ovulating regularly.  Their excruciating cramps, mood swings and fatigue are all a thing of the past.  The reviews abated my skepticism enough that I decided to give it a try.  After all, the challenge is free, so I literally have nothing to lose.

When you really think about it, it makes so much sense that the symptoms associated with PCOS can improve or worsen based on the way you nourish your body.  It’s no secret that heavily processed foods contain artificial ingredients.  Artificial ingredients  don’t provide substance and they can be engineered to create a sort of addiction to that food.  This results in people overeating and leads to obesity.  Eating fresh and organic is obviously the way to go, but try telling that to yourself when you’re hungover and craving the neon orange deliciousness that is Kraft Mac & Cheese, am I right?

One of the biggest hurdles for me during this challenge will be re-training myself to make food ahead of time.  I’ve started to get a little bit better at pre-packing lunches and making snacks to bring with me to work, but my problem is that I’m picky and get tired of food easily.  And I don’t particularly like pre-cooked or reheated meat.  I’m basically Gordon Ramsay in every episode of Kitchen Nightmares.  You give me a dish with something that’s been pre-cooked or reheated, I will come up with some cleverly vulgar way to tell you that it’s terrible.  So what does that leave me?  Probably tons, but for being someone who loves to cook, I’m not that creative.

Do you have any go-to recipes that you take with you to work each week?  If so, I’d love to hear about them.  Ideally, they would be dairy, gluten/grain and sugar-free or can be modified to remove those ingredients.  All recipes welcome!

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Finding Normalcy

I’ve spent a lot of time researching PCOS over the course of the last week, which has been an incredible eye opener.  I thought I had done a fair amount of research when I first started my IVF journey, but it turns out that was just the tip of the iceberg.

PCOS affects each woman differently.  Here I had been so convinced that while I had PCOS, my PCOS wasn’t “that bad”.  That’s not necessarily true; how my PCOS manifests itself is completely different from the next person.  My symptoms aren’t as visible as many other sufferers.  But they are most definitely there.

My depression, that seems to appear out of the blue.  My anxiety, that started rearing its ugly head in my late 20s.  The insomnia that comes in fits and starts.  The incredible fatigue that plagues me so frequently.  And my weekly headaches.  Here, I had been so focused on the visible symptoms of PCOS such as acne and Hirsutism; the symptoms I didn’t have.  “Surely, my case can’t be that bad, because of X, Y, Z.”  False confidence is a sonofabitch.

I came across a website in which a woman claims to have treated her PCOS enough to fall pregnant naturally.  While my PCOS isn’t the primary cause of our fertility issues, I figured trying to treat my PCOS and reduce my symptoms definitely wouldn’t hurt.  After all, our doctor said it wouldn’t be impossible to get pregnant on our own.  Not probable, but not impossible.  Cue my best Lloyd Christmas impression….

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The more I’ve researched PCOS, the more enlightened I’ve become about the different  types of PCOS: Insulin resistant, immune related, environmental, post pill, or perhaps, even a combination of all four.  We know I’m insulin resistant, and one of the best ways to cure insulin resistance PCOS is to lose weight.  Well, I’ve lost about 25 pounds, and yet there’s been no real change in my symptoms.  I’m still regularly irregular.  I say that because I am fortunate in that I ovulate regularly, it’s just in an irregular time frame.  Women who ovulate normally typically ovulate every 21-35 days, whereas I ovulate every 36-42.  See?  Regularly irregular.  And yet, despite that, I consider myself fairly lucky.  There are some women who go MONTHS without ovulating.

Hindsight being 20/20, I’m not surprised that my menstrual cycle didn’t become more regular with weight loss.  I’ve always had longer cycles, regardless of whether or not I’ve been at the target weight for someone of my height.  So, there’s got to be something else that’s also affecting my cycle.

My next thought is that perhaps, my PCOS is the result of immune related or environmental issues.  As such, I have an appointment with an allergist today to get my first allergy test done in close to 30 years.  My mom has been pushing me to have an allergy test for quite some time, and now that I’ve hit my insurance deductible for the year, it seemed like a good time to do it.  YOU’RE WELCOME, MOM.

In all seriousness, my mom has been an advocate of allergy testing for years.  I was the child that was allergic to everything as a young kid.  I grew out of a lot of it as I got older, but I randomly break out in hives and rashes somewhat frequently, so it might finally be nice to see what causes these outbreaks.  It’s possible that an undiagnosed food allergy could be producing a hormonal imbalance, which could affect my cycle.

Finally,  I’ve joined a PCOS challenge.  It’s a 30-day challenge that teaches you how to treat PCOS with diet and lifestyle changes. It starts November 17th, and offers meal plans, recipes and shopping lists to help with the overall success of the challenge.  The best part is that the first 9 days are spent learning how to implement the changes.  The implementation of the diet doesn’t start until day 10, so I’ll still be able to get weird with some turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing on Thanksgiving.

I’m excited to implement these changes over the next few weeks to see if they make a difference. For some women, these subtle changes can result in immediate relief from their symptoms.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I end up falling in that group as well.