In 2010, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, PCOS. At that time in India people had hardly heard about PCOS. Doctor say that 1 woman out of 10 women have it. Immediate question my Gynaec doctor asked me that was if I was planning for kids. It would be an issue if I am planning for kids otherwise, I can get my periods by taking the Birth Control pills or hormone pills and if not pills then wait for days for periods to come.
Hearing the big words Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOD -Polycystic Ovarian Disease) I was broken and disappointed with life. Being on Levothyroxine 125mcg for hypothyroid from the age of 27 was not enough and one new more pill to start to get the periods that too with lot of side effects. My Doctor said me three friends often invite each other if you don’t take care or act soon with periods irregularity or menstrual cycle. I was struck with sadness. The three friends were Hypothyroid, PCOS and Bad cholesterol. I was already having one of them the Hypothyroid and It invited PCOS in my body. Doesn’t sound like a joke or anything hilarious. But a sad truth. I was devasted with this.
The only treatment my doctor provided me was to get on the Birth Control Pills or to improve lifestyle by doing exercise. I knew about side effects of BCP and I don’t want to be dependent on a pill and its use didn’t seem to solve the issue from the roots.
The most common PCOS symptoms are
- Irregular Periods (sometimes no periods, or periods that last for months)
- Facial hair
- Easy weight gain (Abdominal area)
- Inability to lose weight
- Insulin resistance (dark patches on skin, especially on neck)
- Loosing Hair
- Thinning of hair.
- High Cholesterol
- Anxiety/ Depression
- Mood Swings
The list goes on
Being a full-time working mom, I could not go to gym for taking care of my health. At least I started to include walking in my routine, exercise at home and started doing Yoga. I was avoiding eating at restaurants, avoiding going for parties or social occasion. I was consistent with walking, Yoga and eating homemade food for years. But nothing was working. Weight was stagnant and periods were irregular. Then the two friends invited the third one-Bad cholesterol. My Blood reports were out of range. Sugar was not in normal range; bad cholesterol was high. Remember the three friends, Infact they were four friends who come along. Hypothyroid, PCOS, Cholesterol and Diabetes. Being in Pre-Diabetic range I was put on Metformin 500mg, cholesterol pill and was already taking Levothyroxine 125 mcg. With all the increasing stress and workload, I get tired soon and no energy left in me to enjoy in life. My sleep was very less. With PCOS, my major issue was no regular periods. My cycle was like 45 days, 60 days and sometimes 90 days. I was doing my best to lose weight by walking, doing yoga, exercise at home, healthy eating. For few months I was on diet of consuming only either boiled or soaked green grams without oil or salt or any spice. I did not lose weight, but I did lose my skin glow, energy and was craving spicy , junk and sugary food. My situation worsened more. I did try Homeopathy medicines, fasting but nothing was working for me. But my weight was not going down. Good thing It didn’t move up either. I was stuck at 178 pounds for years.
Learnt the fact that a normal person would lose weight easily but for a person With Hypothyroid, PCOS and bad cholesterol It was more difficult and challenging to lose weight. It’s rollercoaster journey of emotions, stress, anxiety where a normal person would hardly understand what a person with hormonal imbalance is going through. Fast forward my life moved with PCOS, Hypothyroid, overweight, sluggish metabolism, inflammation, hyperacidity, little acne, back pain, thinning of hair, hair loss, little hirsutism.
Then I came to USA. With this big change in life, it was big change for body and mind to adjust to new region and new climate. Due to all the changes my period cycles, sleep was messed up. My PCOS symptoms worsened more. I started getting acne, gained more weight on my belly and upper body, hyperacidity, back pain, hair fall was drastic, getting dandruff, anxiety, depression, irritability. I was desperate to get my periods back, so I tried the option of taking Birth Control pills. I took the BCP for 1 year and got my periods regularly along with side effects of feeling of bloating, hot temperature, anxiety, depression and insomnia. I was tolerating all this side effects to get my periods on regular time. But somewhere in my mind I knew this was not curing me, it was like a temporary band aid on injury. My PCOS symptoms list was growing day by day.
And the day came when I experienced my worst of PCOS symptom. I was bleeding for days continuously. I was almost zero on my energy levels and experiencing bad fatigue, mood swings, cranky, sad and was crying baby. As per Doctor I was having worst hormonal imbalance and I was put on some other brand of hormones and Birth control pills. But I was done with BCP trials on my body and was not going to test more BCP. Finally, I decided to quit BCP and to cure the symptoms by making lifestyle change no matter how long it takes.
To make life style changes and to give time for myself was challenging part but I need to be healthy and fit to be able to enjoy and live a good life with my family. Being a Vegetarian, it was challenging to eat healthy and protein rich food as options were limited. To top up the energy I started with organic protein powder smoothies with green veggies and berries. For some of food choices, I switched to organic options. The first change was switching to organic Diary items (milk, butter). As milk comes from animal and now a days to increase milk supply Animals are injected with hormones injection. I don’t want to consume more external hormones that would cause more imbalance of hormones in my body. Although my Diary consumption was very less, I reduced my intake of milk tea to 2-3 times a week. I started cutting down on all forms of carbohydrate rich foods like Indian bread (chapati), pasta, whole grain bread and included more greens and consumed lentils in my food. Then I made big decision of my life and started going to gym. From busy schedule, I somehow managed to attend gym for Zumba classes 3-4 times a week. I was attracted towards Zumba as music and songs makes me feel good and forget my stress and worries. I was surprised to find the energy that I experienced in myself by doing high and low intensity Cardio workout in Zumba. I gained more strength, stamina and confidence to workout. I don’t know why I delayed taking the decision to join the gym earlier.
I was following healthy eating habits (avoiding carbs), walking 10K steps every day, no more long sitting periods, 5-6 days exercise/gym along with my Levothyroxine and Metformin medication and continued my research on PCOS and Obesity. Months passed by, I was having good inch loss, but the weighing scale reading did not move below. I used to get disappointed with weighing scale. Then realized weighing scale is just a number. I was happy experiencing all good effects in my body by doing cardio especially High Intensity Interval Training workout. My skin was getting better, acne reduced, sleep improved little, was feeling energetic. I continued with my regime of healthy eating, walking 10k steps, exercise. After some months, I started having pain in my knees and hear the crackling sound when I walked. People suggested me to stop doing Zumba or high intensity workout. I did not stop though. I felt something was not right and got my Blood reports done. I was very low on calcium, iron and other vitamins. My Hemoglobin was very low.
Do you think why it is so hard to lose weight with PCOS and Hypothyroidism? We all have heard about Insulin Imbalance. But there are many other hormones responsible for stubborn weight. Have a read to understand “Important Hormones Imbalances – Reason for not losing weight with PCOS”.
For calcium and Iron, I was prescribed Vitamin D3 and Iron pill. I was doing my research on this and I got a breakthrough that if you are low on any of vitamins, minerals or calcium in body, you won’t lose weight. And I realized that this was happening with me and that’s why I was not losing weight despite of my continuous efforts on exercise, regular walking, healthy eating life style. I incorporated Vitamin D3 supplement, Multi vitamins and Fish oil capsules. Knee pain was gone. Continued with my daily schedule of working out and then Weighing scale reading did moved little. But still periods were not regular and was struggling with insomnia.
From years, my sleep was very bad. I faced difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, used to wake up at midnight after 3-4 hours of sleep and again difficulty falling back to sleep. Stress, Anxiety and Depression were taking toll on my sleep. To get good sleep I had tried many options like drinking milk with nutmeg, chamomile tea at bed time, Ashwagandha. But for me all had its limitation. Then I tried with Magnesium supplement that balances calcium intake and restore healthy magnesium level in body. After a decade, I was sleeping well. My mood started to improve. I was getting happier and emotional well being was improved too with good sleep. I understood the fact that Our body gets repair when we sleep.
Many of us think if we eat all organic food, we will get all nutrients and vitamins for organic vegetables and fruits. But it’s no more truth. We all know the fact that our lands are depleted of minerals due to pollution and other factors. The bananas that our great great grandmother ate had more magnesium compared to today’s age banana. So, we are not getting enough vitamins and needed minerals from the food we eat. Buying Organic food is always better choice to be safe from pesticides and other chemicals used in farming and storages. Apart from that We need to keep on supplementing vitamins along with healthy food we consume. For hyperacidity and bloating issue, I started drinking 1 teaspoon of Apple Cider vinegar (Organic with Mother) in 1 glass of water on empty stomach in morning. Also, I made sure that I drink enough water. This improved my Gut health and metabolism. Staying hydrated with water is very important as it will flush out the toxins.
For Insulin resistance, I started with Myo-Inositol and D-Chiro-Inosito (DCI). Both are part of the inositol family (Vitamin B Complex). Inositol is referred to as Vitamin B8. DCI is a secondary messenger in insulin signal transduction, and it helps reduce insulin resistance. It improves metabolism of sugar and sensitivity to insulin. It helps me to regulate ovulation, hormonal balance, healthy menstrual cycle, overall reproductive health and emotional well being. I was feeling more calmness and peace in me with all the changes going on me. I do not follow any diets. I eat healthy homemade food in portion control eliminating all refined or processed sugar, white flour, processed food. I do not eat any of Soy products like tofu, soya chunks or soy milk as it is not good for people having thyroid issues.
Along with necessary supplements I do follow natural remedies with the ingredients or Indian spices that I have in my home pantry. Give a read “Natural Remedies for PCOS & Hypothyroidism” .
To lose weight all these things (namely healthy eating, Metabolism, Sleep, Exercise, Yoga) needs to work in synchronization. Sleep is very important factor in journey for losing weight. We often compromise our sleep, in order to meet our commitments and working schedules.
People try to lose weight to be Healthy, but it is other way round. You will lose weight if you are healthy. So, you need to be healthy first and to do so all the things in the body need to be fixed one by one. I do take a break in my schedule of taking supplements or drinking ACV for few days so that body gets some change to feel. We are the best judge of our body to listen and decide for it that what’s the best and when you should stop or continue. This will come with discipline of following.
There are many researches that show that the Nutritional Supplements can help and benefit women with PCOS improve fertility as well as manage symptoms such as increased risk for heart disease, insulin resistance, aids in losing weight
So far, I have lost 16 lbs since May 2016, since I started my journey quitting BCP and accepting lifestyle change. My skin is much better than previous, acne gone, hair fall is reduced, hair volume has increased, black patches on neck have gone. Above all I am more energetic, healthy and happy. From last 1 year My Levothyroxine dose is decreased to 75mcg (earlier it was 125mcg). I am working on that to reduce the dose or to quit it completely. I have been able to do things that I was not able to do previously. I can walk for miles. From last 6 months I have been hiking in mountains. Started my Hiking journey with easy trails and now I am easily able to do moderate to Hard trails with elevation.
Do read on important blog post on “Weight Loss Tips for PCOS & Hypothyroidism” that I have gathered based on my personal experience that helped me lose weight. I am also following natural remedies for keeping the symptoms in control. Give a read “Natural Remedies for PCOS & Hypothyroidism” . There is no harm to try natural remedies and no cost to you.
I will continue with this lifestyle and keep updating this blog as and when my body keeps on changing. I am still on my journey to lose weight and reach my goal weight. I am loving my journey. I can understand the pain of not losing weight as I have been there. I wanted to share my experience of this journey with you all. If I can do it, you can do it too. Take the first step and move on. There is no looking back. Thank you for reading my blog.