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lauraska

PCOS Support Thread

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Are there any other women here who are experimenting with Whole30 and paleo eating to combat PCOS?

I was first diagnosed with PCOS at age 16 and have battled it for the last 18 years. I have gained and lost the same 60+ lbs over and over again. I managed to get pregnant with my now-15-month-old son with some minor fertility assistance, but I was overweight at the time, suffered from GD and preeclampsia during the pregnancy, and am now at my highest weight EVER. I've finally decided to take control of this condition and really fight it tooth and nail.

Last week, I had my first appointment with an amazing PCOS specialist who was (surprisingly) the FIRST physician to diagnose me with insulin resistance (something I've known for years) and prescribed me medication to combat it. I know the Whole30 might frown upon using meds to help the process along, but my hope is that I can eventually stop taking the medication once I've lost enough weight and gotten my lifestyle in check.

My long-ish term goal is to have lost about 75 lbs by this time next year and to be able to start trying to get pregnant with #2 without ANY fertility help. My immediate and ongoing goals are to change my life and stop feeling trapped in a body that I don't think represents the real me.

So that's my PCOS battle in a nutshell. :) Anybody else?

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I always had irregular menses as a teen and ended up being put on birth control when I was 14 almost 15. That did seem to help and in my 20s I was diagnosed with PCOS and went on metformin briefly. I have changed pills several times over the years and then in my 30's every pill I tried seemed to give me month long periods. I am now on the mirena for birth control and am concerned that the years of hormones have hurt more than they helped. I have never tried having babies and pregnancy has never happened so I think I may be infertile.

In tandem with this has been overweight issues from the age of 6 and dieting off and on from age 9. I was always heavier and don't know what my size will be. Over the years I couldn't keep weight off for any real length of time and I struggled with sugar cravings and bingeing. I ended up at over 330lbs and finally woke up and started to get help and have lost 100lbs which has helped with the PCOS symptoms I think.

Now I think might have thyroid issues. I think if I don't lose weight on the whole 30 then I might have to consider looking into it more. I asked my doctor to check and they only checked my TSH and said that it was normal and didn't look any further so I am currently frustrated with my doctor and my health insurance for not covering practitioners that I feel might actually be able to help.

So I am not sure if I still have PCOS or if losing weight will fix it. All the doctors I saw kept telling me that losing weight would help and it wasn't until I was able to stop eating sugar and grains that the weight was able to shed. I do want to learn more on how that works and will try to do some more research and figure out where to go from here because I would like to be at a healthy weight for me and I think at 238lbs (the last time I weighed myself was a week before I started the whole30) that is still considered obese and I have a large tummy still and I think that carries some health risks there. I am looking forward to learning more and working towards better health!

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Michele, have you ever been on the soulcysters forum? It's an internet forum just for PCOSers. I don't follow it too closely most of the time, but it's where I found the amazing doctor that I'm currently seeing. Members are really good about letting people know who the good physicians are in their area. I do know that the doctor I'm seeing has had patients come to her from very far away, but I'm positive there is someone in MA who can help you!

Did Metformin make a difference for you? My doc said the only way for it to work is to stick with it through the initial side effects, which should go away after a few days. I have actually been okay since starting it, but I've heard other folks have a really hard time.

Regardless, I think we are doing the right things to get healthy, so keep on truckin'! :)

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I did okay at first on metformin then had a lot of stomach issues. My insulin and A1c is now in the normal range so my primary care doc was happy with it.

I will check out the soulcyster site! Thanks for letting me know about it. I also plan on taking a look at the Paleo for Women blog for info.

I am glad you found a good doctor! If I lived near Boston MA I think I would have an easier time.

Be Well!

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Where in MA are you? I went to college in Western MA. I miss it.

My doc was telling me that she's had people come from Pittsburg (which is hours and hours away from Philly), NYC, and CT, to see her. It's crazy how few doctors there are out there who know something about PCOS.

I'll check out the Paleo for Women blog, too!

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Hi ladies! I'm on day 8 of my Whole30. Was diagnosed with PCOS at 20 (34 now). I tried to get pregnant for two years with my son who is now 3 months old. I never thought it was actually going to happen, but here he is. Despite six months of fertility drugs, it was acupuncture that got my cycle going and one cycle was all it took!

I'm hoping that cleaning up my eating will help me rebalance my hormones so I can have a more regular cycle, clear up my skin, and resolve the other wonderful symptoms PCOS gifts us with. Oh, and lose weight - I need to lose a lot, as I started this at 270. So I'm trying to remember this will be a long process and that I need to look at many different success markers along the way. That said, I don't feel any difference in my clothes yet, but my skin seems a little clearer.

Hope you're all doing well and that we can support one another along the way.

Ali

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Alijac, welcome! Our stories are so similar, and we are the same age. I have the same goals that you do, too.

Vicky, thanks for that article. It was very informative and really gave more support to what I already feel was the right thing to do - change my diet to promote proper hormone balance. While I do acknowledge the value of herbal remedies and often use them, I am pretty happy with the changes I've seen since going on Metformin, which is a pharma drug. In fact, just the other day I had some spotting, freaked out a little, and called the doctor. She actually told me to be HAPPY about it. "Your ovaries are finally starting to work on their own. This is GOOD." I've always hated that every doctor's remedy for PCOS is to prescribe the pill to just basically mask it. I'm hoping this combo of lifestyle change and medication will finally help.

I'm so glad this board is seeing some posts and new viewpoints!

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Laura, thanks! It is nice to find some PCOS gals doing this program. What day are you on?

Michele, what steps did you take to lose all that weight? Did you get to a point where it wasn't working any more, or just decide to do something new?

Are y'all finding the program easy? I think it's pretty easy if you plan ahead, but I am getting really tired of cooking so much...maybe I need to simplify what I'm doing so I don't get burnt out and give in to an off plan meal out. What are you eating? How do you feel?

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You can find my log of what I'm eating, here: http://forum.whole9life.com/topic/979-lauras-whole30-log-started-7112/page__fromsearch__1 I've found it very helpful to have this public record of what I'm doing. It keeps me accountable and also allows for input and new ideas to help me make this program work for me. That section of the forum is for anyone to start their own log, so you could make one too!

I am on Day 16 (started July 1) and feeling great. It definitely requires a lot of planning and cooking, but I've figured out great last minute strategies to make meals that work from limited resources, either at home or out and about. I almost always bring food with me whenever I'm going somewhere just to make sure I have something. I've also been known to tote around coconut milk to add to a Dunkin Donuts black coffee when I'm on the road. :) What I do is try to cook a bunch of certain things at the beginning of the week - some sort of breakfast hash to which I can add eggs each day, a bunch of chicken cutlets, a couple pots of coffee thrown into a big pitcher and stored in the fridge. I prep my breakfast and lunch for the next day while dinner is cooking - I'm usually prepping my son's food at that time anyway, so I just lay out a couple extra containers and away I go. Another suggestion I have is to find those little jars of curry paste that Thai Kitchen makes (usually in the Asian aisle at most grocery stores) and buy a few, along with a bunch of cans of coconut milk. If you have have a bunch of veggies and a piece of meat but are sick of however you've been eating them lately, you can make a very quick curry/coconut milk sauce and throw it over just about any sauteed veggie/meat combo and have a delicious meal in minutes! My favorite is with chicken or shrimp, plus peppers, onions, and spinach.

Okay that was probably an info overload, but I hope it helps!

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Hi Ali!

What I initially did to lose the weight was join Overeater's Anonymous and I weighed and measured my food for a year and did not eat any sugar or flour. I did eat 1oz of grain in the morning usually oatmeal. When I learned about Paleo I switched to sweet potato instead of grain. So I was succesful with that except my constipation never cleared up and there were several times I felt impacted I think that was because they were having me eat 6oz raw 6oz cooked veggies for lunch and dinner and I think it was too much fiber for me as well as possibly eating eggs every day for a year (not kidding) for breakfast. The weight loss did slow way down and then I couldn't handle weighing and measuring and struck out on my own and have battled with frequent sugar binges.

So what was good about OA was the support and getting away from processed foods. I did struggle on my own until I finally found the forum and started getting active here. I am now on Day 18 of my Whole 30 and no binges and feeling like I have a clear head and heart again is wonderful. For me I just get a lot of protein and veg prep in on the weekends or evenings when I have more time and then just sautee and reheat for my meals. That way I am not cooking from scratch every day. I also carry meals with me and rarely eat at restaurants. It does take some practice to figure out how much to cook and what you will eat within a week so just do your best. The cookbook Well Fed and ISWF's Meal Map has some strategies for precooking that I have been implementing as well (same author Melissa Joulwan). So for me the Whole 30 feels "easy" because I had done something very similar to this for a year. Except now that if I am hungry between meals I will grab a snack of protein and fat usually or some fruit and I eyeball my meals and eat when hungry and stop when full, even if I don't finish what is on my plate. That was not allowed in my prior plan.

I am not sure what has been going on with my weight since I started the Whole 30 because I have not been stepping on the scale but my clothes feel like they fit better. I am more looking to how I feel around food and finding strategies to keep myself from turning to food to relieve stress and comfort me. I am not sure if my hormone issues have cleared up and I am looking for a doctor who will help with that. I also had some hypothyroid symptoms but my TSH was normal so my doctor didn't feel the need for further investigation. I think that is better now but it could just be that it's summer and hot here.

I hope this helps!

Welcome to the forum Ali!!

Michele

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Laura, I love Thai curries - green is my favorite - and the last one I Made had spinach, peppers, and onions. Maybe a few mushrooms, too. :). Michele, you've done an amazing job losing weight already!

So this is day 10 for me. I'm tired. I probably overdid it yesterday, running errands and taking my son to his pediatrician. I was so achy last night. I would probably feel better if I was getting 8 uninterrupted hours of sleep a night, but I'm doing the best I can.

I love the idea ofcooking ahead for the week; in fact, I've been trying to do it, but I only seem to get as far as making mayo and maybe one or two other things. This weekend it was coconut butter. Probably not the best choice to keep me going this week, but I had coconut and was curious what the fuss was about.

Are either of you doing the Whole30 with someone? My husband is eating whatever I make at home, but is otherwise doing South Beach when he's not with me. He doesnt sleep well and suffers from allergies and I think this would benefit him,too. But maybe if ihave really good results, he'll decide to do it then. Speaking of results, I am totally terrified I am eating too much and will have gained weight at the end of this month. I'm glad my hubby hid the scale as I requested because I would otherwise be peeking. I know there are other results to be considered, but that's the one I am always hoping to see moving in the right direction.

Hope you are having a great day!

Ps, Vicky, I have seen WAP's site a few times but never read the whole deal. That article was interesting. Thanks for sharing!

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I'm doing this on my own, although my husband eats whatever I make for dinner. He's a mathematician with a very science-oriented brain and has trouble getting past the "calories in, calories out" philosophy even though I've directed him to some of the more science-y stuff that relates to paleo and Whole30. He supports whatever makes me feel better and helps me conquer PCOS, but I know he thinks that some of this is bunk.

I have one neighborhood friend who is doing this, but what has been the most help is this forum and the FB group I joined (http://www.facebook.com/groups/401278326570677/).

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I am doing this with you all on this site!! But in the world I am on my own as well. My boyfriend is super supportive and when we have gone out to eat he checks in and asks if there is anything I can order and I will check the menu and select based on that. Usually though I cook for the both of us for meals and he enjoys the food I make and I enjoy cooking it and knowing exactly what is in my food. My family does not eat this way and the house is littered with junk food and I have my little sections of the fridge and cupboards with my coconut oil and veggies and meats etc. I keep good things for me to eat then I am not tempted by what may be in the freezer and the cupboards. Sometimes it is difficult then I read the ingredients labels and then turn to my real food. Blueberries and melon are in season for me and that helps too. :)

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Laura, i bet it's hard to debate the "calories in, calories out" philosophy, especially with a mathematician! I guess when you have great results to show from your 30 days, that may serve as some strong evidence this works! My stepmother is a dietitian who studied mostly in the 80's, and she's super stuck on low fat eating, though she now allows that olive oil is healthy. But saturated fat? Forget it! Fortunately, she's clear across the country.

Michele, that's great your bf is supportive. I still have non Whole30 food in the house, but I don't often have to watch anyone eat it (sometimes dh wants brown rice with a curry I make or whatever, but it's not a big deal.) sounds like you are doing great!

What day are y'all on now? How are you feeling? I feel pretty good after having some sweet potato with dinner. I guess I haven't been eating enough carby veg to keep my energy up, but I so want to be careful so I can lose! Hope you are doing great today!!! :)

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Hi ladies,

Just wanted to say hi since I'm new to the forum and relatveily new to the WHole30/paleo thing. I am on day 34 now. I got here after finding out last month via ultrasound that I have PCOS (although I've suspected it since I was like 18 due to various symptoms...I'm 31 now). My main motivations for doing this are in hopes of either eliminating or at least moderating some of my symptoms, the bigs for me being cystic acne, extremely oily skin, and infertility due to anovulation and irregular cycles (the infertility is what finally convinced my doc to send me for an ultrasound...so frustrating dealing with my doctor!). My skin suddenly drastically improved last week - since I've battled this forever, I almost think it's just a freak thing and will return, lol (fingers crossed this is actually working). My energy level and mood is so much better, too. Still waiting on the period, which I haven't seen in a few weeks but I guess that's a bigger problem and may just need more time. Trying to be patient!!! ;)

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Shannon, welcome to the group! Our symptoms sound a bit similar - definitely the acne, oiliness, and infertility. But, I beat the infertility, and I bet you will, too. You said you're day 34...are you going to eat whole30 style indefinitely, or try reintroducing some of the non-Whole30 foods at some point?

Re: being frustrated with your doctor - is there anyone else in the area you can go to who will be more helpful? At first I thought my GP had a good understanding of my PCOS, but once I started seeing a reproductive endocrinologist I got more help. If you need help finding someone else, there are larger communities on the web (www.pcoscommunity.com or SoulCysters, to name a couple). Forgive me if I'm telling you things you already know, I just try to be helpful as I figure we are better when we share our knowledge! :)

Btw, your wedding pic is beautiful! Gorgeous dress!

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Thanks, alijac...I wish there was somewhere I could wear my wedding dress again, lol. That's the only problem with them - they're so beautiful but you only get to wear them once!

I think I'll probably eat mostly Whole30 indefinitely except maybe for holidays or travel in which case I'll lighten up a bit and have some treats. I'm not in much hurry to change this way of eating because I've seen improvements and really don't feel deprived of anything. Also, I recently learned I'm allergic to gluten and eggs so that automatically cancels out a lot of processed, carb-heavy foods for me anyway.

Re: my doctor, yeah I don't find her overly helpful at all. Unfortunately, switiching to another GP is not really an option (I'm in Canada and the city I'm in has a serious doctor shortage right now...took me 3 years just to find a GP, which is typical). However, I did get referred to a reproductive endo and she's the one who ordered the ultrasound. I've only seen her twice so far and she seems nice so I'm optimistic. I knew about SoulCysters but not the other website - thanks a lot, I'll check it out!

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Sorry I've been MIA. I'm at the beach with the family, so my internet usage is sporadic.

So I'm on Day 26 right now, although I've definitely gone off plan a couple times during this vacation. I've had ice cream once and a couple alcoholic drinks (exactly two, to be precise). Otherwise, I've been Whole30 compliant. The wealth of fresh seafood has made that pretty easy. :) It's interesting, actually, I had a small ice cream and my stomach KILLED afterwards. I had two drinks and even though I don't drink very often anyway, I HATED how I felt after those two drinks. The Whole9 folks are doing an official Whole30 starting August 1, so I'm just chalking this month up to being a learning and experimentation month and will hit this hard on 8/1 with everyone else. Other than right after indulging in the cheats, I've felt AMAZING. My skin is clearer, my stomach issues are gone, I've definitely lost weight, and I just feel "cleaner" if that makes sense.

As for infertility, periods, and all that other stuff, I will say this - not only is this my first Whole30, but it's also my first cycle taking Metformin for insulin resistance. I was warned that my first cycle could be intense. And now that I have my period, let me tell you - it's INTENSE. I try to remind myself that this means things are working the way they should be after a long time of not working at all. I've never had sore breasts other than when I was pregnant with my son, but I've had them during this week. The bleeding has been HEAVY and I've had lots of cramps, but my doc assures me that this will regulate itself after a couple cycles on Metformin, too. I do wonder if my eating is having some impact on it, too. After all, I'm getting much more iron by eating this way. Regardless, I'm amazed at what a huge difference Metformin has made for me.

Shannon, definitely go to the reproductive endo! I went to one after trying to get pregnant for a long time and with her help I was pregnant within two cycles. I'm not guaranteeing any results for anyone, but I think the RE does two things - she takes a bit of pressure off and makes you relax a little AND she gives you the real deal so you know what needs to happen instead of being in the dark.

Sorry for the long and rambling post. I have to go wrangle a rambunctious kiddo!

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I am on day 28 and have gone off plan once when my boyfriend made fried rice for dinner for me and his daughter because that is one of her favorite dishes that he cooks. So far it has had no ill effect. For me the concern is more insulin spikes but I think eating this way has really stabilized my blood sugar levels.

It's nice to see thatI am not alone in this!! I was always told by my doctors that my PCOS symptoms would resolve if I could only lose weight and now that I am down 100 lbs I am presenting with hypothyroid symptoms. *sigh* I am in a much better place health wise I know and I have an appointment with my doctor to see if I can get some bloodwork done to see where I am at hormonally. It is definitely a complex system and for many years I was insulin resistant and metabolically deranged. So even what I have done so far is really a drop in the bucket compared with 30+ years.

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I think it's really interesting how many different experiences there are with PCOS. I have never tested as insulin resistant, but took metformin anyway in the hopes it would help my symptoms. I'm not sure it ever did ( but not sure it didn't either!) Laura, it sounds to me like you've done great while on vacation...that must be hard. I wish I would commit to the 8/1 Whole30, but with going back to work and my dad coming to visit, I dunno. Was thinking maybe I'd shoot for Whole28 out of 30...lol.

Shannon, what do you eat for breakfast? I need some egg alternatives, and I guess that's all you do. Would love some new ideas!

Michele, interesting that you're seeing more evidence of hypothyroidism. I have long suspected mine was off, but I always test normal. Though I have read that the "normal" range should be adjusted. Who knows. Getting bloodworm done sounds like a really good idea, though. I think I should as well. Btw, I love the advice "lose weight and your symptoms will improve"! Isn't that often the hardest part!?!?

I realized in my plug for my endo, I failed to mention that I didn't get pregnant with his treatments. I got tired of taking ovulation drugs after six months of doing it, and started going for acupuncture instead. Had my first unmedicated cycle after two months, and got pregnant that cycle. So, fwiw, thought I'd share my love of acupuncture - I think there's value in a combined east-west approach.

Super excited I made it to day 20! I should finish a few days before my dad visits from CA. Trying to plan ahead for a successful reintroduction phase. Happy Friday everyone!

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Alijac, congrats on making it to 20 days! I can see how having family visit would potentially throw you off the plan a bit. I'm off to visit family at the cottage for a week next week, which inevitably means alcohol and a bit of junk. I'm not gonna stress about it - food wise I should be ok but I do definitely plan to indulge a bit in some wine and (gluten-free for me) beer...as they say in the book, sometimes those things are worth it and it's about conscious choices. You gotta enjoy your time with your Dad, too.

As for my breakfasts: if there's anything I have missed not being able to eat during the Whole30 it's eggs! Having an egg allergy when eating this way is a bit inconvenient but I've survived. During the week when it's more hectic in the morning I normally just eat left-overs from the night before (I plan ahead and make enough for the next day). Or I'll mix some frozen berries and nuts with some coconut milk and cinnamon, heat in the microwave, and then have a chicken breast or something (I usually cook meat in batches and then I have some throughout the week). I've also had organic, pasture-raised bacon several times...I know this isn't exactly Whole30 but it is paleo and since I can't have eggs, I justified it, lol.

Re: the standard PCOS advice of "lose weight and your symptoms will improve". This works for some but I feel for many it just is not true. And for those of us who are in healthy weight ranges and STILL have PCOS (which I read is like 1/3 of PCOS-ers), doctors have even fewer suggestions or answers. I think PCOS is way more complicated than a weight/insulin-resistance issue (although that's definitely a factor).

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Personally, I think PCOS needs to be broken down into different types - I do think it manifests differently, like you said - there are the obvious differences (thin vs. not), and also differing degrees of severity, I think...some are completely anovulatory, where others have longer but more "normal" cycles. I think if they could classify us somehow, some of the studies they do would provide more meaningful data. Oh well, for now we can be research studies of one, as they say in the book!

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Yes, that's so true! Most of the recommendations in the medical community are a one-size-fits-all approach. I like how ISWF emphasizes the self-experimentation after completing the Whole30, and tweaking based on what works for each individual person.

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