Living with PCOS

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As the colder days roll in, I wanted to reminisce on this beautiful sunny day spent at Folsom Lake with Emily of Ensemble Styles and our my photographer buddy, Susan Yee!
I met Emily at the Northern Ambition event held in Sacramento, meant to aspire change in the world through pursuing our passions and helping others find theirs.

The reason Emily and I connected from across the table was we first noticed we were wearing the same outfit but in reverse, see here. Then we got to talking and realized we’re both fashion bloggers and PCOS fighters! I’ve invited her to guest post on the blog today about her experiences and tips in dealing with this. 

***NOTE: I’m in no way a doctor. I just wanted to share my experience, provide awareness and hopefully connect with other women struggling with this.***

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What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, is a problem in which a woman’s hormones are out of balance. It can cause problems with your periods and make it difficult to get pregnant. PCOS also may cause unwanted changes in the way you look. If it isn’t treated, over time it can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease. Sited.

Most women with PCOS grow many small cysts on their ovaries. That is why it is called polycystic ovary syndrome. The cysts are not harmful but lead to hormone imbalances.

Symptoms:
hormonal acne around the jawline, diabetes, missed periods, trouble loosing weight, extra hair, infertility, elevated insulin levels, and depression.

Treatments:
birth control, progesterone, creams, metformin, more here.

Facts:
1 in 10 women have PCOS.
Currently known to be genetic and incurable.

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Let’s kick off Emily’s story…
About nine months ago, I decided to stop my medications and focus on an all natural approach to treating hormone imbalance. I talked about this in a blog post of mine back in September and stated that I know going off of medication may not be an option for everyone. As most of us women with PCOS know. PCOS can be pretty complex and we don’t all look and feel the exact same way so some symptoms may not be as intense as others. Therefore treatment isn’t always going to be the same as well.
The greatest advice anyone ever gave me was, “You never have to put anything in your body that you don’t want to.” So after months and months of feeling like my medication wasn’t making me feel better or doing anything for me, I decided to stop taking it.
Regardless of whether you take medication or not, here are some of the things that I feel have made a huge difference for me.
1. WATER! Water is your best friend! It has been the biggest ally for me in seeing an improvement in my skin! Not medicine! It took months and months of the right amount of water everyday and a clean diet before I really started to see a difference in my skin. Divide your weight in half and that’s how many ounces of water you should drink everyday! I have a favorite BIG water bottle that I take everywhere with me and I drink at least two of those a day. It helps you keep track.
2. A clean diet. I started changing my way of thinking with eating a clean diet. It’s not about dieting or loosing weight for me on why I eat a healthy diet. It’s about realizing that whatever I put in my body my hormones are going to react to. So why wouldn’t I put good, whole foods into it?! If they are injecting animals with hormones and I then go eat that, don’t you think that would affect my hormones in some way? Now you don’t have to vegan or anything like that. Just be aware of where your meat, eggs, milk, etc. are coming from. I try to stick with foods with ‘USDA – certified organic labels.’ There’s a nice article on Hormones in Meat and Dairy here: http://www.sustainabletable.org/258/hormones
3. Exercise! I also started changing my way of thinking with exercise. I think of it as building the strongest, healthiest body that I can and my body in return will reward me in so many ways! Stop thinking of it as, “I need to lose X amount of pounds!” or “I want to be skinny!” You’ll drain yourself and feel like you can never get there fast enough. Don’t do it for the wrong reasons because it’ll never stick. Our bodies were built to move so find an activity that you enjoy that gets your body moving!
Most importantly we need to learn to embrace the bodies that we were given. We are living with PCOS, the key word being LIVING! It’s okay to indulge in foods that you enjoy or get off track for a few days. If you find yourself getting down on yourself take a minute to reflect back on why you started changing to healthy habits. Listen to your body and how you feel when you eat certain things and when you’re active. Let that be your motivator. Remember that positive thoughts produce positive results and negative thoughts produce negative results!
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Haley’s Experience:

For me, I deal with PCOS by eating clean. I know most people make fun of “low carb” diets but it actually made a word of difference for me once I made the change. My acne improved and I lost about 30 pounds post college. It is super important for me, to watch what what I eat because a big part of PCOS is insulin resistance, which leads to diabetes.

When it comes to meds, I like to go natural, I took birth control for years and I don’t feel like it helped the symptoms. I prefer to put less medication into my body whenever possible. I currently don’t have a thyroid and have to take a replacement pill everyday, for the rest of my life. Call me a hippie, but I don’t want to be dependent on any other pills.

I love getting exercise, usually 3-4 times a week, this is the best way I know how to fight anxiety and depression. If I don’t go, my body starts to ache–it’s the weirdest thing (but also the best motivator!)

Please, please, please leave a comment with your experience or any advice, I would LOVE to read it!

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PS hopefully these photos don’t make this post appears like some television ad for Abilify. I got the idea for the PCOS topic after we took these. I SWEAR! haha

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Other great resources on PCOS:
NY Times
Huffington Post
The Curvy Blogger

 

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Comments:

  1. Allison Bruce

    Haley, I’m having more and more friends share with me their battle with PCOS. As I look more into it, I am stunned to see how many women silently suffer with varying symptoms. This particular blog is refreshing and encouraging, and I can’t wait to share it with them. A few of them are trying and seeing great results and natural management with plant-based Plexus products- have you ever tried them? It sounds like they would fit with your priorities. Thank you for being a light for the community!

    • haley

      Hi Allison–thanks for your sweet comment! Was this the product they used? It’s great to e-meet you btw! Have a great weekend!