My Experience with PCOS

Today’s post is about a topic that took over my life for nearly two years. I’m going to share my PCOS and health journey with you. I mentioned my experience briefly on Instagram and it seemed to spark a lot of people’s interest. Looking back on my journey, I know the one thing that helped me the most was hearing other women speak about their journeys and sharing what worked for them. My hope is that at least one person will benefit from hearing my story. PCOS and poor gut health took such a toll on my health, both mentally & physically. At my worst I had gained 35lbs, I had cystic acne covering my jawline, hair loss, and extremely low energy levels. I would wake up everyday feeling like a visitor in my own body, which is one of the worst feelings I’ve experienced. Before I jump into the details of my experience,  I just wanted to say that health, fitness, and your relationship with your body is such a sensitive topic and it is unique for each person. I’ll be chatting a lot about physical changes and showing a few photos of my acne and my weight gain but please know that I don’t think that version of myself is any less beautiful or less worthy than I am now. The transformation that I’m the most proud of was being able to focus on what health feels like versus what it looks like. 

The Warning Signs of PCOS

My body began to fluctuate my first year of college, which is to be expected. I noticed that I would get bloated after eating foods that had been a part of my diet my whole life.  As a result, I rotated between different diet fads for about 3 years. I went vegan, then tried the paleo diet, counted calories, tried a low carb diet.. You name it, I tried it. The bloating got better for a bit, but because I tried so many different fads, it totally threw off my digestive system. When I moved to LA after college, my health declined rapidly. In short, where the decline really began was when I stopped having periods for a few months. I visited a few different doctors and they all told me that my bloat and irregular periods were due to stress and lack of sleep. As my symptoms grew worse, my relationship with my body began to change.  At the time I was signed with a model and talent agency in LA. I cancelled all my jobs, I barely had any social life, I would obsess over what I could and couldn’t eat because I wasn’t sure what would make me feel sick, and ALL I could focus on was how unhealthy I felt. I had been so in tune with my body for my whole life and suddenly it felt like I was living in a body that wasn’t mine.

Finally, I saw a doctor who was able to give me answers, and was diagnosed with PCOS.  The symptoms I was experiencing were severe. My hair was falling out, I had cystic acne on my lower jawline and chin, my energy levels dropped, my hormones were extremely imbalanced, stress levels were at an all time high, everything I ate made me feel EXTREMELY bloated. To paint a picture for you, I could have one spinach leaf and it would look and feel like there was a bag of bricks in my stomach (yikes). My doctor recommended birth control, and medications such as metformin, spironolactone, and estrogen pills. After I did my research, I realized that the medications were just putting a band aid on PCOS instead of curing it. 

So I Decided to Heal Myself Naturally

 My first order of business was my bloat and my weight gain. As I mentioned earlier, I was in so much pain after eating, so I decided to get a food sensitivity test to eliminate foods that were causing any inflammation in my body. I was shocked when I received my test results. A few of my highest sensitivities were eggs, almonds, celery, flax seeds, and a few other whole foods that are considered healthy. Prior to this test, I thought I was doing my body a favor with a morning celery juice cleanse and almond milk lattes, when in reality, I was causing so much irritation. Knowing what foods to stay away from based on MY OWN test gave me so much clarity and control. After this test I also found out that I had candida overgrowth in addition to my food sensitivities. Candida is a natural occurring bacteria in the body; however, if your body overproduces it, it leads to severe bloat and inflammation.  I cut down on processed sugar, which really helped with my acne, energy levels, and bloat. I started eating more anti – inflammatory foods to ease my bloat and decided to focus on what foods that made my body feel good instead of going on a “diet”. I realized that it was so much more effective to rely on my gut for answers (no pun intended) rather than trying trending meal plans or juice cleanses. 

Fitness & PCOS 

 When I was gaining weight I was trying all different kinds of workouts and didn’t really have a workout routine. I was doing a lot of running and cycling but the high intensity workouts were actually spiking my cortisol levels. I’m going to link an article that explains this, but essentially, the intense workouts were actually counter- productive for my body. Once I realized this, I started doing hot yoga and hot Pilates which helped lower my stress levels and tone my body. I thought intensity of the workout would lead to quicker results however switching over to low impact workouts benefited me greatly. In addition to that, setting my intention before workouts was key. Even though I had things I wanted to change about my body, I chose to move my body in a way that made me feel empowered. In addition to slowing down my workouts I also started getting lymphatic drainage massages and acupuncture. The lymphatic system is basically a network of tissues and organs that help the body get rid of toxins. Because I had so much congestion in my lymph nodes due to PCOS, these massages helped my body get rid of extra fluid and water weight. As far as acupuncture goes, I went on a weekly basis to naturally stimulate my ovaries in order to eventually start a normal period cycle. 

Maintaining My Health

And this brings me to where I’m at now! I have a regular period cycle (yayy). When I got my first period back naturally, I literally threw a period party (LOL). I can eat ANY food in moderation without feeling bloated, and I cured every single PCOS symptom naturally. My point in telling you this is that although it may seem like I had to make a lot of changes, it was only temporary. It’s so hard to listen to other people tell you that the way you’re feeling is “temporary” when you’re going through something, but I am here to tell you now that it truly is!! And if you want to heal your gut or treat your PCOS naturally, there aren’t any shortcuts. The key for me was shifting my mentality into seeing this process as an opportunity to learn about my body inside and out instead of feeling sorry for myself.  There is SO much power in accepting where you are and giving your body the time it needs to heal. 

Here is what I’ve done to maintain all my progress! 

Nutrition: I pay attention to my sugar intake but I don’t restrict any foods ( slowly incorporated the ones I was sensitive to back into my diet) I LOVE sweets so I’ve found alternative desserts that have low sugar. I intermittent fast. I start my morning with water, I’ll have a cup of my all natural Brazilian “de-bloat” tea, followed by coffee, and then I have my first meal around 12pm. 

 

 Fitness/ Lifestyle: I take HIIT workouts at a training facility called Shred415! I workout in the mornings before I have my first meal. I personally feel better throughout my workout this way!  It was so vital for my body to  take a break from interval training but once my stress and hormone levels neutralized I was able to do my favorite workouts and started seeing results. I still do Lymphatic massages but I just do them at home on myself about once a week and it helps with any swelling or water retention I may have. 

 

As I mentioned earlier, the transformation I am the most proud of is my mindset. After devoting 2 years to my health, I can honestly say I’ve never felt more confident or empowered in my life. If there is one piece of advice you take from this post, it’s that you HAVE to make time for your wellness or you will be forced to make time for your illness. I hope some of the information I shared with you was helpful! It was almost therapeutic writing about my journey.  I completely shut the world out when I was going through everything and this is the first time I’ve been able to speak about it openly. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms I was, consult your doctor (obviously) but please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or message me if you just want to chat or if you have any more questions. 

 

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