I crave change. Where I am right now is not OK and I can clearly see that I need to head in a different direction.
PCOS is an ugly beast. Most experts agree that it is likely linked to genetics and that it can’t be cured. The best hope for good outcomes is to manage and tackle the myriad of symptoms that cause issues.
Depression & Anxiety
Study results from Columbia School of Medicine suggest women with PCOS had much higher “psychological distress,” including anxiety and hostility. It even suggested that this psychological distress can be converted into physical symptoms. Another study suggests that 34% of women with PCOS have depression. It affects relationships, self-image and stress management abilities.
Solution: Mindfulness exercises and meditation to defend against psychological distress
Difficulty Maintaining Weight Loss
PCOS often manifests as hormone imbalances that cause insulin resistance. The cells in the body resist or ignore signals from insulin, signals that are saying to pull glucose (sugar) from the blood and put it in the cells as fuel to burn. As this resistance continues, the pancreas produces more insulin. The glucose that isn’t absorbed into cells to burn is stored as fat. PCOS-induced fat stores go mostly to the belly because there is too much male hormones floating around (and the midsection is where men tend to store fat). The more fat that is stored around the waist, the more the hormone imbalance worsens.
But it gets even better (sarcasm, it’s way worse). Johns Hopkins admits that patients with PCOS have a hard time losing weight and they don’t understand why. Some studies suggest it is because appetite-regulating hormones are impaired in women with PCOS. Extra insulin also creates intense hunger cravings.
Most studies suggest that low glycemic index diets and exercise have the best results, but it is an uphill battle.
Solution: Be very purposeful in what food goes in and know that my body is actively fighting me. I simply must exercise daily. No excuses.
Women with PCOS are often found to have blood markers that show low-grade chronic inflammation. Inflammation is an immune response in which the body is turning on itself. The fatty tissue stored around the belly is to blame. Androgens (male hormones) create more insulin, more insulin creates weight gain and weight gain exacerbates inflammation. Inflammation means fatigue, sinusitis, arthritis, etc. So those headaches, knee grumbles, seemingly reoccuring ear infections and stiff neck are all inflammation in action.
Solution: Avoid inflammation-triggering foods, such as processed sugars and carbs, dairy and caffeine. Inflammation will resolve with weight loss.
Major Take Aways
My body is fighting me because it is sick. I have to avoid listening to its wants because what it wants isn’t what it needs. I can’t trust my hunger cues. My friends and loved ones understand, for the most part, but this is really something I have to do alone. Prayer and meditation are how I plan to keep up mental strength to fight this battle.