PCOS- is a hormone disorder called Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome and it is stated in the most recent study by Women’s Health.gov that it affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age. Women with PCOS are often insulin resistant, which means their bodies can make insulin but can’t use it effectively. The body compensates for this by increasing insulin production, leading to hyperinsulinaemia (excess insulin in the blood).
Women with PCOS have higher levels of androgens, can have irregular periods, acne, thinning hair, excess hair growth on their body and face, among many other symptoms. The cause of PCOS is unknown but does seem to run in families (if your mother or sister has or had it then the chances are higher that you will to).
Approximately 50% of women with PCOS suffer from obesity and an increased risk of several different cancers, Type 2 diabetes, Hyperlipidaemia, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.
There currently is no treatment for this syndrome and the management is complex and lifelong.
However, the good news is by gaining control of insulin levels, many symptoms of PCOS and their risk of complications is significantly reduced. Most individuals are put on Metformin which is a diabetic medication that helps lower blood glucose levels by improving the way the body handles insulin.
MY Personal Journey with PCOS
I was diagnosed with PCOS about 12 years ago despite begging my doctor to test me in my mid 20’s following 2 early miscarriages and infertility while trying to conceive a third child. For me it happened fast after giving birth to my second daughter, I noticed weight gain that was hard to get rid of, acne that I didn’t even experience in my teens, crazy cycles, mood swings, and skin tags.
While trying to diet down for a figure competition, my body developed a very large, life threatening cyst and that is where we began the serious journey of controlling PCOS. I was put on Metformin, which I was on for only 6 months, I stopped taking it shortly after because it was lowering my blood pressure to low and I was almost to black outs while teaching boot camps. Once I asked for alternatives, my endocrinologist at the time was speechless and told me I couldn’t control it any other way (he didn’t know my personality, very well… Sounded like a challenge to me).
From that moment on, I read everything I could find about it, which wasn’t much at the time and I experimented with different training models, different diets and what I found that worked the best was learning to relax. So I added taking yoga 4-5 times a week, more steady state cardio in place of my normal high intensity, and I changed my workouts from fast paced intense sessions to heavier weight supersets with a little longer rest period. I added in my grass fed and hormone free proteins, more vegetables and healthy fats and watched my carbohydrate intake, and eliminated processed foods and excess sugars, and this has been the answer for my body.
PCOS isn’t easy and it never goes away. I don’t ever weigh because it fluctuates rapidly and it isn’t worth the stress that it causes. PCOS can create up to 15 lbs of inflammation at any one time (that’s not body fat, its inflammation) which is extremely frustrating, especially in my line of work. I work out 6 days a week; get in movement everyday with walking and yoga, because the whole goal is to keep my body calm. I work very hard at getting in enough rest and limit my coffee intake (which I love coffee).
I call myself the PCOS Trainer because a majority of my clients have PCOS and want to fight it naturally. It is a disorder that can cause depression and you have to really learn to listen to your body and recognize when that is happening and pull yourself out it. I admit, it is very frustrating and at sometimes you feel defeated in all your efforts and just want to quit. I can’t tell you how many times I cried or didn’t want to leave the house. I have come to the conclusion that maybe I have this disorder so that I can understand other women who are also suffering and I can walk them through the fitness journey on becoming healthy and understanding it without going through all the wasted trials and errors that I had to go through.
I no longer use it as an excuse, I use it as FUEL to keep managing it and to become the healthiest version of myself that I can be despite what I was handed. I am no way an expert but I have gained a lot of knowledge throughout the years and have done my own personal studies with my clients.
I am always open to anyone that needs someone who understands to talk to.