PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome) effects roughly 22% of the population, and is a growing epidemic. Hormone imbalance, processed foods, and stress are products of our modern world that contribute to the increased number of women battling PCOS. Combating PCOS naturally is the safest and most effective path to a healthier body and hormonal balance. I was diagnosed with pre-PCOS this year, at 29. This is after 3 years of eating no gluten, and 2 years of no sugar, wheat, or lactose with limited processed foods. I absolutely think my lifestyle has kept the intensity of my personal experience with PCOS to a minimum, but there is still an uphill battle to be won and it is about more than just diet!
PCOS causes hormonal imbalances that can lead to acne, weight gain & trouble losing weight, hair loss, fertility problems, insulin resistance, and depression. So Yeah, all that SUCKS! However, MANY studies have been published showing the effectiveness of exercise in combating PCOS. In fact, this study shows that it is EVEN more important than diet. Further, lifting weights specifically helps women with PCOS because insulin resistance is addressed through BODY COMPOSITION (think more muscle than fat) and not by mere weight loss (whoops to the previous 28 years of my life). If you have PCOS or suspect you might, start by exercising 30-60 minutes every day. According to latest studies, if you have PCOS and as a result of years of insulin resistance, need to lose weight in order to feel healthy, then you should exercise 90 minutes a day. Go on a 40 minute walk with your dog or your best friend! Do a 25 minute yoga stretch on You Tube, lift light weights and stretch in front of your favorite nightly TV programs, or go to a local swim or aerobics class. The bottom line is that you MUST prioritize physical activity when it comes to PCOS. Lift! Lift! LIFT! But before you do, Stretch, Stretch, Stretch! Haha. You will not get bulky if you lift 3 days a week, I promise.
Now let me tell you a fun story! I started going to acupuncture after a bout with Vertigo last year. It was my first experience in which modern medicine was baffled by my symptoms, and I turned to some great resources provided by my Internal Care doctors at UNC. In Acupuncture and Yoga, and many other Eastern doctrines, we learn about our Qi (chee), the life-force that flows through our bodies. My Acupuncturist, Andrew, told me that my Qi was in stasis, thus my lymph was in stasis (dizzy vertigo) and my blood was also in stasis (irregular periods). So it’s the dead of winter, and Andrew tells me to exercise as much as possible, lifting weights daily in order to feel better and combat stasis. Oh and he says to never EVER touch wheat again (Ok, I get it!). 2 months later, I was diagnosed with pre-PCOS via blood work for my thyroid by my beloved Western Doctor, Louise, and told me to be conscious of this developing and the possibility of developing symptoms. BUT Andrew already knew that was coming, you see? Through my energy and Qi, he knew my blood was in stasis, and he knew my body wanted to be stronger, not just leaner, in order to function properly. Eastern and Western Medicine are such beautiful compliments to each other in this way. I also REALLY recommend acupuncture for everyone out there trying to get a handle on their health. I have some great resources for anyone in the triangle area. Today, I’m actually going to a “real” doctor at UNC Healthcare who practices acupuncture as a supplement to her primary care services 🙂
As you guys know, I’m still on that journey and some days it is really tough. I pulled my lower back working out with weights last week and now I’ve been set back for my strength and flexibility yoga goals for this month. And then there’s the body stuff. I don’t get to eat the things other people get to eat. I don’t get to indulge or skip daily workouts…and all that hard work may never really show to other people because I’m fighting against insulin resistance and abdominal bloat. I will probably never be a size 2, but there is a a greater reward at the end of the road! And trust me, the feeling of improving your health through natural means and using drugs only when necessary is an empowering feeling. I can’t wait for my next 21st day blood tests this fall! My cycle is back in sync with the new/full moons, which is a sign of fertility and I’m increasing my muscle to fat body composition ration every day. Little by little. Step by step.