When I was first diagnosed with PCOS, I had no idea what PCOS was or what was happening in my body. I was thirteen, scared, and completely embarrassed of my body. I had hair on my face, back and chest, I couldn’t shrug it off anymore as it just being a part of my “Italian Heritage.” I did the only thing I could do at the time – read about PCOS. I went to the library and got my hands on any books that talked about or even mentioned PCOS. You have to remember, mainstream internet was scarce and didn’t have as much information as it does today. My PCOS symptoms were extremely prominent and I knew I had to learn as much as I could.
Since being diagnosed over 19 years ago, I have spent countless hours researching and talking to experts and piecing together a PCOS management plan that can work if taken seriously and put into effect. I’ve already shared some of my experiences and knowledge on PCOS. Now, I want to share more of the things that I have learned with you so that you don’t have to spend all of your time researching and can spend more time doing things to better your PCOS symptoms.
Here are my ten tips to help improve your PCOS symptoms:
1. Get your Insulin Levels Under Control
We know that PCOS causes us to have some irregularities in our insulin processing. Not all women who have PCOS are insulin resistant, but it can affect them later on in life. It’s a bit of a double whammy because our bodies tend to over respond to carbs by releasing too much insulin and our ovaries respond to the insulin by releasing too much testosterone. So, if you can get some control of your insulin levels, you’ll have greater control of your overall PCOS symptoms.
2. Understand What Is Happening In Your Body
PCOS can leave us feeling confused and unsure of what is actually happening with our own bodies. There is also so much conflicting information out there on food, supplements, exercises, diets, and medications that we can use to get our PCOS under control. But, what should we start with and how do we know that something is actually right for us?
Well, the first step is to understand how PCOS affects you. Once you know what is happening in your body, you can work out what you need to do about it. Without that understanding as your foundation, you’ll always be at the mercy of the next fad diet or miracle cure, without the certainty of knowing what your body actually needs.
3. Get Up and Get Moving
PCOS does makes motivation go out the window. The fatigue it causes is insanely abnormal, but it is up to us to fight it. We know that we need to exercise to for our health and general well being but we also need to exercise to keep our PCOS in check. Even if you aren’t seeing any movement on the scale, your metabolic markers and hormones are still benefitting from your efforts and will help your symptoms.
4. Change Your Eating Habits
With PCOS our bodies tend to crave carbs and sweets, with some even salty foods. These are big No-no’s! We should definitely not eat empty carbs, not load up on sweets and the less salt the food has the better. The last thing you need is to retain water or fluid! So cut back on the bad foods and load up on the good foods. High fat and protein really works, but definitely contact a nutritionist that is familiar with PCOS for more information.
5. Remember to Take supplements
There are so many supplements that are available, many of which help with different aspects of PCOS. Also, women with PCOS tend to be deficient in a number of vitamins and nutrients that we just won’t be able to get enough of in our regular diets. So, supplements are important in addressing some of the underlying deficiencies and issues in PCOS and are an important piece of your PCOS management plan.
6. Know Your Reasons
When I was first diagnosed, my why was wanting to lose weight. I was able to accomplish that thanks to a nutritionist over that Summer – remember I was only 13. As I got older my why changed. I want to get pregnant and stay pregnant. I want to have energy and be there for my stepsons and future kids.
I also want to feel good about myself and enjoy all that life has to offer, unhindered by my PCOS. Making any kind of change to the way you eat or to your lifestyle can be challenging. If we don’t know why we need to make the changes, it’s much harder to do it. Your why is your reason for wanting to be healthier and in control of your body.
7. Have a Plan And Goals
Having a plan is important, whether it be a meal plan, craving plan, snack plan or eating out plan. It’s when we’re not prepared that we’re more likely to go for convenience and ditch our exercise routine or make unhealthy food choices. Also know what your current and long term goals are.
8. Get your team on board
You know the saying. “No man is an island”? Well, no woman with PCOS can or should do it on her own. We all need support, whether it be from our partners, family, friends, the medical community or the wider PCOS community. You need to build your team of supporters so that they can give you the encouragement, advice, love and sometimes tough love when you need it.
9. Just keep swimming
Dori from Finding Nemo said it so well when she said, “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.” There are going to be bad days and days when we mess up but it’s so important that we just keep swimming, swimming, swimming in the direction that we ultimately want to go in. Remember your why? That’s the reason that you get up and try again every time you fall off the bandwagon.
10. Celebrate the wins
With PCOS, our wins may seem small to others but they are huge for us. Having a period? EPIC! Losing 1lb? Brilliant! Getting out of bed and going about our day despite our mood swings or depression? A job well done.
We need to be real about our struggles and acknowledge when we’ve done well. We need to be kind to ourselves and show ourselves some love and celebrate the steps forward in the right direction, no matter how big or small they may be.
So, there are 10 ways that you can improve your PCOS symptoms. Some of them are very practical whilst others are a bit more on the emotional side. All are meant to get you motivated. PCOS doesn’t have us and never will!