Morning workout: 1, Snooze button: 2 = Let’s Be Real

Have you ever noticed that everyone always shares the best version of themselves in social media? While I understand that to an extent, I find it frustrating that people can’t be honest when things are not going as great as they would like. We live in a world where perfection is king…even though it is so unattainable.

That being said, I will honestly tell you that I did not get up and workout today. I don’t even have any excuses, except I was just not as motivated as I hoped. The rest of the week is out for morning workouts, so I am hoping I can get back into the groove this weekend.

As many of us journey to be the best versions of ourselves, I think it is important to be patient with ourselves. Between what we wear, what we eat, how we act, how we perform, how we make others feel…there are several challenges we face every single day. Even though Facebook and social media says you should be perfectly killing it with all these items, the reality is that we are strong women with a lot on our plate.

Next week is a new week. Instead of drowning in disappointment, I plan to celebrate my victories this week like being really great about sticking to 110g of carbs a day.

For those things that have been more challenging (like waking up and working out for me…):

What are some of your victories this week?

Exercise: Getting into the groove is harder than I thought

You guys know I am trying to workout. The doctor says 20 minutes of exercise a day…and I am still struggling. While I had some success following these tips to get up in the morning and exercise, I have had a difficult time maintaining the routine.

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Writing to you guys about working out motivated me to get up in the morning and do it…hopefully, this post will help inspire me and some of you to keep that fitness motivation going.

Need an instant dose of inspiration? Take this quick, healthy-habit quiz. (I’ve used diet as an example, but you can plug in any behavior that you’re trying to maintain). Answering these questions often helps to boost motivation just enough to remind you of why you started the diet in the first place…

If I stop my diet, how will I look in six months or one year from now?
If I stop my diet, how will I feel in six months or one year from now?
If I stop my diet, what will my health be like?
If I stop my diet, how will my family and friends be affected?

This mini-quiz definitely puts exercising into perspective for me. If this isn’t enough, here are a few more tips to keep that motivation going:

Drink more water.

This is something I can do throughout the whole week to help set me up for success.

For years, dieters have been drinking lots of water as a weight loss strategy. While water doesn’t have any magical effect on weight loss, substituting it for higher calorie beverages can certainly help.

Food with high water content tends to look larger, its higher volume requires more chewing, and it is absorbed more slowly by the body, which helps you feel full. Water-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups, oatmeal, and beans.

Cells that don’t maintain their balance of fluids and electrolytes shrivel, which can result in muscle fatigue. “When muscle cells don’t have adequate fluids, they don’t work as well and performance can suffer,” says Guest.

 Drinking enough fluids is important when exercising. Follow the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for fluid intake before and during physical activity. These guidelines recommend that people drink about 17 ounces of fluid about two hours before exercise. During exercise, they recommend that people start drinking fluids early, and drink them at regular intervals to replace fluids lost by sweating.

If you think you need to be drinking more, here are some tips to increase your fluid intake and reap the benefits of water:

  1. Have a beverage with every snack and meal.
  2. Choose beverages you enjoy; you’re likely to drink more liquids if you like the way they taste.
  3. Eat more fruits and veggies. Their high water content will add to your hydration. About 20% of our fluid intake comes from foods.
  4. Keep a bottle of water with you in your car, at your desk, or in your bag.
  5. Choose beverages that meet your individual needs. If you’re watching calories, go for non-caloric beverages or water.

Change your perspective

Shift your thinking from couch potato mentality to thinking like an athlete. This may sound like a big challenge, but it’s not as big a leap as you think.

Try to think about exercise as a blessing rather than a sacrifice. Find inspiration in others—looking outward for extra motivation. Take inspiration from everyone you meet—even people who can’t be physically active.

Here are some great articles that helped inform this post:

Insulin Resistance and PCOS: Medication

I am not a doctor. Or even close. But I have been blessed with amazing doctors who are helping me get my PCOS and Insulin Resistance under control.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS FEEDBACK IS NOT ADVERTISING…trust me, these drug companies have no idea about this blog. This post is just my pure, honest feedback on my medication.

That being said, I do want to say that the combination of medications I have been placed on (along with my 110g a day of carb diet) has turned my life around. I am currently down 11 pounds in 2 months and have regained a menstrual cycle…both of which seemed impossible 2 months ago.

Overall, I will say my side effects have been very minimal. It is hard to pinpoint what medication is causing these effects..but as you can see, the list is pretty short:

  • Nausea- this was probably the worst during the 1st month of medication. My doctor explained that PCOS was causing increased testosterone making my 30-year-old body think I was going through menopause. These medications helped balance my testosterone and estrogen levels, so body basically went from thinking I was in menopause to thinking I was pregnant. When I told my doctor of this side effect, he was happy to hear this because it meant the medication was working.
  • 2 periods per month – this one has been extra fun. My guess is that since PCOS stores up your eggs (since you are not regularly ovulating), I am thinking that now my estrogen levels are normalizing, my body wants to ovulate as much as it can. This is definitely something I plan to discuss with my doctor in my upcoming appointment. This side effect could be considered a benefit for anyone trying to get pregnant!
  • We are not trying to get pregnant, but if we were…my doctor mentioned all these medications are OK for pregnancy except for the diuretic (Spironolactone)

Here is a rundown on the medications I am prescribed based on info I compiled from Drugs.com. Please check out the links at the bottom of the article for risks and side effects…AND PLEASE DISCUSS THESE OPTIONS FOR YOU WITH A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL AS I AM NOT A DOCTOR.

My doctor said that while medications help, diet is the most important factor in managing Insulin Resistance and PCOS…so more info to come in later posts on healthy, low carb recipes I love!

Metformin (Primary use for me: Type 2 Diabetes treatment)

 Metformin is an oral diabetes medicine that helps control blood sugar levels. Metformin is for people with type 2 diabetes and sometimes used in combination with insulin or other medications, but it is not for treating type 1 diabetes.

Spironolactone (Primary use for me: diuretic)

Spironolactone is a potassium-sparing diuretic (water pill) that prevents your body from absorbing too much salt and keeps your potassium levels from getting too low.

Spironolactone is used to diagnose or treat a condition in which you have too much aldosterone in your body. Aldosterone is a hormone produced by your adrenal glands to help regulate the salt and water balance in your body.

Spironolactone also treats fluid retention (edema) in people with congestive heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver, or a kidney disorder called nephrotic syndrome. This medication is also used to treat or prevent hypokalemia (low potassium levels in the blood).

Trazodone (Primary use for me: taken at bedtime to help me sleep)

Trazodone is an antidepressant medicine. It affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause depression.Trazodone can be used to treat major depressive disorder.

Propanol (Primary use for me: beta blocker taken as needed when PCOS/IR causes rapid heartbeats from stress)

Propranolol is a beta-blocker. Beta-blockers affect the heart and circulation (blood flow through arteries and veins).

Propranolol is used to treat tremors, angina (chest pain), hypertension (high blood pressure), heart rhythm disorders, and other heart or circulatory conditions. It is also used to treat or prevent heart attack, and to reduce the severity and frequency of migraine headaches.

Here are the resources I used to help inform this article:

Blogging while working is TOUGH: 4 Survival tips for balance

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” ~Thomas Merton

So…what’s up, friends? It has been a while. I promise I didn’t want to breakup with you…this breakup is about carbs, not my followers!

It has become painfully clear that blogging and working makes for a very difficult life balance. I found that my time with my husband and pups was getting majorly impacted and if it wasn’t that, then my sleep hours took a hit.

Like most things you love…I felt like something has been missing these last couple weeks without the happiness that writing to help others was giving me. With the hope to keep my account of my carb breakup in tact, here are some helpful tips and tricks to keep the blog going. For all you writers out there…hope this is helpful for you too!

1.) Carry a notebook with you. Sometimes you can get an idea for an excellent post when you are at work, hanging out with your friends or when you just woke up. While you won’t always have the opportunity to write this post right away you can jot it down in an old-fashioned notebook or even on your smartphone. When it is time for your next blog posts you will have an excellent idea waiting for you. I have found keeping a running list of upcoming topics has also been helpful

2.) Develop a routine that is non-negotiable. So much of my life is focused on schedules and deadlines. While I hate to hinder my passion for writing, I need to realize that to have balance…a set schedule for blogging will be key. My hope is to make this time either Friday afternoons (I am lucky enough to work for a company with early release every Friday) or Sunday nights. Since life is a moving target, I will be flexible with when I will write…but will commit to 2 hours at least every week

3.) Schedule daily posts. Once the content is written over the weekend, schedule the posts throughout the week so they are up and running without distracting from my day job.

4.) Work on your dream every day, knowing there are no guarantees and that it may take a long time to make the kind of progress that allows you to devote your full-time energy to your passion.

Here are some awesome articles from other bloggers on how to balance writing and working:

Morning workout: 1, Snooze button: 0 = FITNESS SUCCESS

It happened. It really happened. THE SNOOZE BUTTON GOT SCHOOLED BY A MORNING WORKOUT! I appreciate all the support and accountability you all have given me…it honestly is making me a healthier, happier person.

Since my Endocrinologist only prescribes 20 minutes of exercise a day to get started, I bought myself an awesome stepper:

Sunny Health & Fitness Twister Stepper with Handle Bar
by Sunny Health & Fitness
Link: http://amzn.com/B001IDZHF6

  • Twist stepper workout machine with handlebar and multi-function LCD computer
  • Twist action works and tones your bum and leg muscles with reduced bone/joint pressure (good for me because sore joints are a side effect I endure from Insulin Resistance and PCOS)
  • Computer functions include: time, calories, scan, and count
  • Adjustable stepping height; handle bar for balance
  • Very small footprint and lightweight making it easy to store

It was a great start and I am feeling very accomplished! Today was a great day at work…I think it has a lot to do with a great start to the morning! I will admit, now that we are into the evening I am EXHAUSTED. Even right after the workout, my pups tried to lure me back to bed as you can see from this photo…but I was strong:

Cute pups trying to lure me back to bed

Here are some of the tips I tried that worked great for me:

Laying out my clothes the night before 

By doing this, I really was mentally prepared for the harsh reality of the alarm. It also made getting ready much, much easier.

Making my bed right away

It isn’t quite as easy to go back to bed if it is made!

A burst of sunlight

The morning hours really are beautiful. By opening up the blinds, the sunshine really woke me up in a lovely way…I felt like I was getting a great head start to the day.

Coffee!

This was ready to go thanks to Keurig almost instantly after I was up. I will admit that I had to up the coffee intake today, but it was nice to start the morning with that jolt of java.

Now let’s see if I can make this work again tomorrow…

Morning workouts and the snooze button: An epic battle

It’s cold outside. Your blankets are extra soft. Your pet is extra cuddly. You stayed up extra late to catch up on your DVR. You are having an amazing dream that you can eat whatever you want and never gain weight. [Insert cheesy tropical ringtone.] All of the happiness and comfort you were experiencing just a moment ago is gone as you consider getting out of bed to exercise.

If you are like me, this scenario is all too familiar. My Endocrinologist prescribed me 20 minutes of exercise each day to truly fight Insulin Resistance and PCOS, but none of that seems to matter in the epic battle between morning workouts and my snooze button. After a few minutes of negotiating with myself, I determine that I will likely be late if I workout and that work has been extra challenging this week and I deserve the extra sleep. The snooze button is activated and I am reunited with the comforts of bed.

While lunchtime workouts are an option for some, my curly hair tells me that unless I want to look like I stepped out of a 1980s music video that was running short on hair product, lunchtime workouts are not an option for me. Every time I think I can squeeze in a lunch workout, I am reminded of the following: 1.) If even a drop of sweat comes in contact with my hair, major frizz is activated leaving me looking unprofessional and like I traveled to 2015 from 1985. Tying my 1980s quaff back only seems to make both of these statements even more true. 2.) My boss surely would not appreciate me taking a 2 hour lunch. All these things considered, lunch workouts are out for me.

Evening workouts have been something else I have considered, but since my work hours can be late and I have to brave a 45-60 minute commute in LA traffic, consideration has dwindled. Once I get home, working out is the last thing I want to do especially if PJs have been activated.

With morning and evening workouts ruled out, I am left with my battle of morning workouts vs. snoozing. I will admit that putting in writing that I cannot drag myself out of bed 20 minutes earlier to get healthier sounds ridiculous, but I assure you…THE STRUGGLE IS REAL. Research suggests the early morning hours are the best time to get your sweat on—fueling your metabolism, energy level, and mood all day long. So balancing research with doctor’s orders really seem to be great weapons to battle that snooze button.

My hope is that blogging about exercise will hold me more accountable. Tomorrow shall be the day that morning workouts triumph over the snooze button! It is documented now on the Internet, so it must be true.

Knowing the challenges I have waking up in the morning, here are some tips that I will hope help me (and maybe even some of you) wake up tomorrow morning. May the force be with us all:

1.  Prepare your gear the night before. This has two benefits – the obvious one being that you’ll free up another ten minutes of sleep the next morning. As you can tell by this article, I am all about that sleep, so I will take any extra ZZZs I can get. The less obvious benefit is that the feeling of preparedness should make you fall asleep a little better. You won’t have the, “I still have to get my stuff ready tomorrow” thought gnawing at the back of your brain as you lay in bed.

2. Stash Mints in Your Nightstand. Brett Hoebel, founder of Hoebel Fitness and trainer on NBC’s Biggest Loser season 11, suggests grabbing a mint the second your alarm goes off. The sugar in the mint will excite and your brain, and the mint itself will liven up your tongue’s taste buds and nerve endings, says Hoebel. “You can completely fool your body into thinking food is coming,” he says. The gist: You’ll get rid of morning breath and wake up your mind and body for a sweat session.

3. Get a blast of sunlight. When your eye senses light, it sets off a chain reaction in your brain that leaves you feeling alert and energized, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Soak up rays by standing near an open window, or position your bed so it faces east and natural light will wake you.

4. Hydrate. Did you know that you can lose up to a litre of water while you sleep? True story. Start every morning off with a big glass of water and return your body to hydrated-status.

5. Have a Pre-Sleep Ritual. Getting up is exponentially easier when you have had a good night’s rest. Insure a solid 7-8 hours by having a pre-sleep ritual. Caffeine has a pretty big impact on me, so I try not to drink any caffeine after 3pm to help me get a better night’s sleep.

6. Have a set of cues for when you wake up. Habit is an extremely powerful thing. Use it to your advantage by creating a set of cues that will make getting up a habit instead of having to rely on willpower. Here is an example–

Turn off alarm.

Open blinds.

Make bed.

Go to the bathroom.

Drink a full glass of water.

Make breakfast.

Watch the news for 5 minutes.

7. Coffee!!! You know that drinking coffee stimulates your brain, but one study found that just the scent of java can ease stress caused by sleep deprivation, potentially coaxing you into workout mode. If your coffee pot has a timer, set it to brew a few minutes before your alarm clock for an amazing smelling wake-up call.

8. Tell the world about your plans. Well, here’s to hoping this one works. But seriously, tell your family, friends, Facebook, Twitter, co-workers…anyone who will listen! By spreading the word you are starting a morning exercise, it holds you much more accountable. So go post on social. And maybe tag #MyCarbBreakup. Because that would be cool.

Here are some great articles I referenced on helping you wake up for a workout:

Do you have any tips on what helps you wake up in the morning? Share your advice in the comments!

Insulin Resistance Diet: 110g of Carbs a Day

If you are like me, you have tried multiple diets from some carbs, to all carbs, to absolutely zero carbs. It seems that most diets are hard to maintain and really vary in results. It can be so frustrating to work hard and long for a change in your body, especially as you watch most of the men in your life scarf down an entire pizza or 10 chicken soft tacos for dinner while you are eating what they affectionately call, “rabbit food.”

I have come to learn that dieting is a reality for almost every woman I know. It is fascinating how different everyone’s bodies react to food and even more interesting as I learn more about how my body reacts to carbohydrates.

Diets and I have never been the best of friends. I struggle with the self control, especially during celebrations, weekends, stress, work trips, restaurants…you get the picture. I am happy to say that the diet discussed with my Endocrinologist really has been significantly more manageable than anything else I have tried in the past.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a Dietitian or Doctor, but I am someone who has spent a significant amount of time wondering why I could not lose weight and am now happily to report I have found an attainable approach.

Here are my rules of the road for food when it comes to food while battling Insulin Resistance and PCOS:

Stick to 110g of carbs every possible day

Let’s be real…not every day can be perfect and slip ups certainly happen (I have no idea how those chips and guacamole ended up in my mouth last night.) However, it is important to try to stick to 110g of carbs (this is ALL carbs including veggies) whenever I possibly can.

My Endocrinologist broke up the 110g of carbs like this for me: 30g of carbs per meal and 20g of carbs for snacks.

This can be tricky, but with the right tools, it really is quite manageable. Here is the app I use to get a ballpark amount of carbs in each thing I eat:

Whether you want to lose weight, manage your diabetes or improve your health; there are no quick fixes and fad diets don’t work. It’s your everyday food choices that count. That’s where there reliable and convenient guides come in.

To make the smart food choices that lead to permanent weight control, you must become aware of what you eat on a day-to-day basis. The CalorieKing Calorie, Fat & Carbohydrate Counter is the most accurate resource for calorie, fat & carbohydrate counts.

Take it everywhere; look up foods before you eat, when eating choices count the most! With over 15 million copies sold, this pocketsize guide consistently receives the highest average reader rating of all books of its kind and is recommended by health care professionals.

If you are like me and love your apps, you can download the app for free!

The app icon looks like this:

The user interface looks like this:

These are some of the great features:

  • Calorie and carb counts for 70,000+ foods
  • Most accurate and up-to-date database
  • Includes 260 fast food chains and restaurants
  • Great for people with diabetes tracking carb intake

Over time, you will find that you can remember how many carbs are in some of your favorite foods. You will get very good at counting the carbs in your head and making the right choices accordingly. This may seem tedious, but you will find that it gets easier over time and that there still are many delicious foods with no carbs.

Enjoy the carb free/low carb foods 

Comparing this low carb diet to other diets I have tried in the past, I have found myself enjoying foods that were restricted before and that my friends on low calorie diet cannot eat. Remember, for people with Insulin Resistance, it is more about carb monitoring than calorie monitoring.

Protein

All naturally-occurring meats contain no carbohydrates; however, pre-packaged and deli meats are often processed with a sugar and salt solution or seasoning blends, conferring carbohydrates to the meats. Processed and cured meats, such as sausage, ham, bacon, and frankfurters regularly contain small amounts of carbohydrates. Reading package labels is essential to learn if pre-packaged products contain carbohydrates. In their natural state, the following contain zero carbs:

  • Beef
  • Veal
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Fish (such as salmon, trout, and halibut)
  • Duck
  • Goose
  • Fish
  • Shellfish (such as crab, shrimp, and lobster)
  • Mollusks (such as oysters, mussels, and clams)
  • Game meats (such as venison and elk)
  • Exotic meats (such as ostrich and emu)
  • Eggs

Condiments, Seasoning, and Oils

Most condiments contain carbohydrates. Likewise, salad dressings and mayonnaise often contain some carbs because they are made with vinegar and may contain herbs. The following oils and condiments do not:

  • Salt
  • Vegetable, nut, and fruit oils such as avocado, grapeseed, safflower, canola, and olive oil
  • Animal fats like fish oil and lard
  • Some brands of margarine and shortening – read package labels

Sugar Substitutes

Aspartame, sucralose, stevia, and saccharine are all advertised as low-carb alternatives to sugar. Because they are so highly sweet, it only takes a little of a sugar substitute to go a long way. While these are likely to contain trace amounts of carbohydrates, you can effectively consider them no-carbohydrate foods; however, sweeteners may affect insulin in the same way sugar does, so proceed with caution. Additionally, sweeteners in granular form may contain carbohydrate-containing fillers.

Beverages

Many beverages contain zero carbohydrates; however, if they are sweetened with artificial sweetener, they may have some of the same caveats as listed above. Along with diet soda, Crystal Light, and other sweetened beverages, water, coffee, tea, and distilled alcohol contain zero carbohydrates. Use alcohol with caution, however, because your body prioritizes the alcohol first. This means that you burn alcohol before utilizing other fuel, including fat.

Don’t completely cut out carbs

Although reducing your carb consumption — when coupled with an increased protein intake — can help you control your overall calorie intake for weight loss and healthy weight management, your body does need carbohydrates on a daily basis to function properly. Consuming too few carbs can lead to nausea, headaches, dizziness, constipation, weakness and fatigue.

How carbs impact the body:

It is interesting to think abut carbs and how they play into the body.

You can appreciate this a lot more when you realize that there are eight essential amino acids and eight essential fatty acids required for life. These same nutrients are used all over the body for normal and constant metabolic processes such as repair of hair, skin, bone, muscle, red blood cells. Fat is used for energy purposes, protein only in ketosis.

Compare this to carbs, which have a very limited role around the body, in fact it’s only the brain that needs carbohydrates as a fuel source, most cellular processes are happy using fat. That’s one of the reasons why we are designed to carry so much of it around with us.

Carbs do provide us with fiber and minuscule but essential amounts of vitamins and minerals which are very difficult to store (unless they’re fat soluble), and if they’re not used at that time, they are passed through the body very quickly.

This means the main role of carbs is to top up the liver and muscles which are not as big a store as some people would realize. A closer look at the anatomy of a person reveals that the human liver can hold approx 80-100g of carbohydrates and the muscles can only hold 1-2% of carbs by volume, known as glycogen.

Be patient with yourself

Any change in your lifestyle takes time. Be patient with yourself and keep exploring trial & error as you navigate a diet that is best with you. With some patience and discipline, you will be on your way to a healthier you before you know it!

Here are some of the great resources that informed this post:

PCOS 101: How I found out about Insulin Resistance and the start of a health transformation

As women, we spend the majority of our lives trying NOT to get pregnant. We have countless ways we do this and countless nights we lose sleep thinking that these ways aren’t enough as we anxiously await our “Aunt Flo” to come visit. The feeling of complete relief of getting that “visit” after her “flight was delayed” washes over us and all is good again.

Last summer, I waited for this feeling of relief for my period to come for days. Not just a few…for nearly 160 days I waited. Like many women with PCOS, I was on birth control for 10 years (Minastrin 24 Fe) which masked the symptoms of PCOS. From research I have found, many women with PCOS had delayed revelations they had PCOS due to a birth control pill.

Ironically, Minastrin was prescribed to me because it works well for women with migraines and for me, the migraines were caused by PCOS. There are all sorts of chicken before the egg metaphors I could make, but I will simplify by saying that getting off the pill was what let me know for sure I had PCOS. To be honest, going off the pill was a complete fluke due to an insurance blip, but it ended up being the best thing that could have happened to me.

Since I know this is not an option for most, here is a helpful article on how to diagnose PCOS while on a birth control pill: http://www.livestrong.com/article/213652-how-to-diagnose-pcos-while-on-the-birth-control-pill/

If you think you might have PCOS, here is a helpful guide I found on Pinterest for PCOS symptoms:

PCOS

If any of these symptoms describe you, you should go to your OBGYN as soon as possible. Here is an account of what I experienced that fateful day I found out I had PCOS. I have provided details and tips in the hope it will make your visit that much easier.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor and each doctor is different…my hope is this will be a piece of a puzzle to help women get healthier and happier:

1. To pee in a cup. Because that’s how OBGYN’s roll.

2. A verbal exam with your doctor. Be sure to tell them in detail all of the symptoms you have been experiencing. For me, my highlights were the missed period.

3. An ultrasound – this part was probably the hardest for me. My husband was planning to go to the appointment with me, but since I assumed my period was delayed due to the amount of time I was on the pill, I didn’t think I would need him there for a standard visit. I was wrong.

There was no physical pain with this, but actually seeing an ultrasound of my ovaries, then seeing them filled with cysts was terrifying…especially because I was not sure what to expect. Here is a medical drawing of normal ovaries vs. ovaries impacted by PCOS:

Normal Ovary and Polycystic Ovary

Many of us have very negative connotations with the word cyst…I can tell you firsthand that when this fear washes over you, feel it. I am all about being true to yourself and your emotions…even if that means a good, old-fashioned ugly cry.

Once you have started to process the emotions, “keep your chin up” as my beautiful Grandmother used to always say. PCOS IS TREATABLE (for those of you who are new to my blog, I truly hate the triple emphasis in the workplace. It is very rare ALL font treatments are needed, so if I use it in this blog, it means I am REALLY  excited and passionate about the point.)

4. Once we saw the cysts, my doctor wanted to be certain that it is in fact PCOS. She said to diagnose, they typically like to confirm 3 signs: Missed period, ultrasound, and then blood work.

As you will learn from my journey, I am TERRIBLE with needles (triple emphasis was definitely need for this point. I mean, truly.) We went back to the blood work room and about 3 viles of blood were taken.

INSURANCE TIP: One important thing to note that I learned the hard way (after many painful calls back and forth with insurance) is that you need to ask your technician to file the test to the lab as testing for PCOS, NOT for infertility. I remember getting the bill from the lab that was hundreds of dollars. To pour some more salt in the wound, reading the words “INFERTILITY” really did not help at all. I later found out if the test had been filed under PCOS, I would have been saved all this pain and time.

Since I have difficult veins and overall fear of needles, this process was much harder for me than it probably is for most. I remember the technician tried to draw blood in the typical inside elbow joint location with no luck saying my veins weren’t cooperating. Enter: uncontrollable tears. I kept thinking to myself, “Great, not only are my cysts not working, but now my veins aren’t either. My body is just a screw up.”

Looking back, I can tell you that this was a knee jerk reaction, but I did tell you that having no experience what to expect, emotions were heightened for me. I wish there was someone there that would have shared that 1 in 10 women experience PCOS which equates to about 5 million women as young as 11 years old. I wish there was someone there to tell me that it is  CURABLE AND NORMAL

My hope is that my account of what I experienced will help you or someone you know start rocking down that path of good health and healing.

Now that you have heard my account, here is a quick 101 on PCOS:

Polycystic (pah-lee-SIS-tik) ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a health problem that can affect a woman’s:

  • Menstrual cycle
  • Ability to have children
  • Hormones
  • Heart
  • Blood vessels
  • Appearance

With PCOS, women typically have:

  • High levels of androgens (AN-druh-junz). These are sometimes called male hormones, though females also make them.
  • Missed or irregular periods (monthly bleeding)
  • Many small cysts (sists) (fluid-filled sacs) in their ovaries

What causes PCOS?

The cause of PCOS is unknown. But most experts think that several factors, including genetics, could play a role. Women with PCOS are more likely to have a mother or sister with PCOS. Even though she wasn’t diagnosed, we are pretty sure my Mom had PCOS.

A main underlying problem with PCOS is a hormonal imbalance. In women with PCOS, the ovaries make more androgens than normal.  High levels of these hormones affect the development and release of eggs during ovulation.

Researchers also think insulin may be linked to PCOS. Insulin controls the change of sugar, starches, and other food into energy for the body to use or store. Many women with PCOS have too much insulin in their bodies because they have problems using it. Excess insulin appears to increase production of androgen. High androgen levels can lead to:

  • Acne
  • Excessive hair growth
  • Weight gain
  • Problems with ovulation

You can check out my 101 on Insulin Resistance here: https://mycarbbreakup.wordpress.com/category/intro-to-insulin-resistance/

So how is PCOS treated?

Once I received my blood work results and received confirmation I had PCOS, I made an appointment with an Endocrinologist. Insulin Resistance is so commonly mis-diagnosed as depression, anxiety, and obesity that an Endocrinologist is really your best bet to get proper medication.

I can tell you that after just one month on the medication prescribed to me by the Endocrinologist, I received my period for the first time in 4 months and was down 10 pounds. More to come on medication and healing!

Here is a great chart on living with PCOS from @HarmonyWithPCOS

PCOS rules for healthy lifestyle #changinghabits #healthylifestyle #health Embrace a new, healthier lifestyle. www.kangabulletin...

Here are some of the great references I used to inform this article. Happy reading!

Weekend food: Survival food guide from someone with Insulin Resistance #MyCarbBreakup

The weekend is here. We wait all week long thinking it will never come around, then just when we think we can’t handle one more work request, homework assignment, or water cooler small talk topic…the weekend comes and saves us like an angel coming down from heaven scooping us up into complete bliss.

For most, the weekend is a time for rest, relaxation, and FOOD. I don’t know about you, but the weekends are the hardest time for me to be mindful of my Insulin Resistance. Whether is out to a restaurant, at a bar, or at a friend’s house it seems that there is more temptation than we typically experience during the week. Everyone else is having a “cheat” meal, so why can’t we? I know I have fallen into that mentality many, many times.

It is easy to know what you should and shouldn’t eat for a low carb diet, but it is certainly a lot harder when you are staring right at those chicken tenders and fries that are being offered to you by that friend we all have that never seems to look overweight…no matter what they eat.

I am certainly not a doctor and I know that everyone’s body handles foods very differently. I am however a woman with Insulin Resistance that knows my body handles food very uniquely and that when I must cut carbs, I can still enjoy certain foods that my friends on low calorie diets cannot.

My amazing Endocrinologist has put me on a limit of 110g of carbs a day…that includes ALL carbs, even veggies. These doctor’s orders don’t care that it’s the weekend, so here are some of my favorite indulgences over the weekend. By no means do these replace the taste of a baked potato, chicken tenders, rice pilaf, and virtually everything at Del Taco…but they do help when I know all those previously mentioned carbs and I have to breakup.

Foods:

1. Cheese. Cheese. Cheese.

This has honestly been my go to snack and something that has really gotten me through a low carb lifestyle because MOST CHEESES HAVE NO CARBS. That’s right none. When it comes to counting carbs, this is one of those amazing foods that are so satisfying and leave your daily carb count preserved for other foods.

My personal snack favorites are the lowfat Mozarella cheese sticks – they are easy to grab on the go (honestly, they are my breakfast most days) and pretty fun to eat. I am more of a salty fan over sweet, so all kinds of cheese really are my favorite thing.

This is also one of those foods I was limited to on past low calorie diets, so it almost feels like I am cheating my otherwise good diet behavior. Of course, be mindful of saturated fat…but remember for Insulin Resistance, it is about limiting carbs and not calories.

Cheese contains a host of nutrients like calcium, protein, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin B12. For more info on health benefits of cheese, check out this article: http://www.healthyeating.org/Milk-Dairy/Nutrients-in-Milk-Cheese-Yogurt/Nutrients-in-Cheese.aspx 
2. Caesar or wedge salads
In a lot of situations, full fat dressings have less carbs than fat free dressings. To me, a crispy salad drenched in dressing like blue cheese, ranch, or Caesar is surprisingly satisfying. The other good news about these is they are always easy to find on menus, especially bars. The croutons that often come with these are my little treat…you will find as you embrace low carb your stomach will start hurting when you eat carbs, so small amounts of croutons like these really hit the spot in just the right amount.
The fats in most salad dressings are typically vegetable oils, so-called “good fats” that help lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol. Having some fat in the salad dressing helps you make the most of the nutrients in the salad greens and other veggies. Carotenoids like lutein, lycopene, beta carotene and zeaxanthin require a little fat for absorption. These fat-soluble compounds are not only fun to say, but are also associated with reduced risk of heart disease, macular degeneration and even some cancers.And while the calories may be lower in many low-fat dressings, the missing fat is usually replaced with added sugars and starches, fake flavors and color enhancers.
Translation = get yourself some delicious salad dressing, add something tasty like shrimp, and you will be enjoying a lower carb treat.
3. Bacon!
Nitrate-free bacon has healthy fat, the perfect amount of protein and minimal carbs. I am not a huge pork eater, so my personal favorite is turkey bacon. Bacon really is something most people love and can help spice up those brunches with friends.Bacon also has some great health benefits! Several university and medical center studies have shown that including bacon as a regular, moderate part of one’s diet naturally works to lower the body’s blood pressure and blood sugar levels, helping to prevent and/or alleviate the effects of diabetes, as well as heart disease, stroke and heart attack. You can read more here: http://bacontoday.com/top-10-reasons-bacon-is-actually-healthy-for-you/
4. Sweet potato fries
Let’s be honest…fries are so awesome. Since french fries from white potatoes are one of my biggest tempters to get back together with carbs, I thought it was worth mentioning why exactly white potatoes really are like poison for someone with Insulin Resistance or PCOS. Potatoes are fat free, but they are also starchy carbohydrates with little protein.
According to Harvard, the carbs in potatoes are the kind that the body digests rapidly and have a high glycemic load. That is, they cause blood sugar and insulin to surge and then dip. This effect can make people feel hungry again soon after eating, which may lead to overeating. The rapid rise in blood sugar can also lead to increased insulin production. Jarzabkowski said, “The last thing I’d recommend to a diabetic is a potato.” Well my friends, I am struggling to find a way to argue with Harvard.
That being said, I know I am a human that can crave fries. When those moments strike, I find that several places now offer sweet potato fries. Of course, I do not love them as much as white potato fries, but a lot of places make sweet potato fries pretty tasty.
There are also some great health benefits of sweet potato fries! One health benefit of sweet potato french fries is the fries’ fiber content. Dietary fiber improves your cardiovascular health, helping prevent high cholesterol that increases your risk of heart disease. It also helps stabilize your blood sugar after a meal, preventing a blood sugar spike that leaves you hungry again shortly after eating.Check out more on sweet potato fries here: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/health-benefits-sweet-potato-french-fries-2837.html
5. Dark chocolate
Yes, chocolate can be possible on a low carb diet! I should just drop the mic now.When it comes to chocolate, darker is usually healthier. Choose dark chocolate made from at least 70% cocoa solids or a low sugar white chocolate.How to choose your chocolate? Carefully check the wrapper and choose dark chocolate that hasn’t come in contact with any gluten-containing grains. Select chocolate produced organically by people working under fair conditions. Choose low carb chocolate by checking the nutrition information on the label for “net carbs.” And then…chocolate time.
6. Vodka soda with lime

Here is another great thing to enjoy on the weekend with NO CARBS. That’s right…none. There are of course many reasons why you should not over indulge in alcohol (including drunk dialing carbs), so be careful! When you are ready to enjoy a beverage, it is great to know that this is (like many other hard alcohols mixed with soda) your best bet. On days I am feeling extra sassy, I will do a splash of cranberry juice to spice it up. Just be careful when you order this…I have noticed most bartenders are pretty heavy handed with their cranberry pours.

My other go to beverage is red wine. Cabernet is one of the lower carb wines typically coming in at about 5g of carbs per glass. This can definitely add up, but I will admit I do really love a great glass of wine.

Here is a great article on alcohol on a low carb diet: http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/whattoeat/a/alcbev.htm

Here are some other great ideas for low carb beverages:

Here are some of the awesome resources that helped inform this article:

What are some of your favorite low carb weekend treats? Share them in the comments!

So what exactly is Insulin Resistance? Description, Symptoms, and the start of a journey from the eyes of a 30-year-old woman

Before last November, I had never heard the phrase “Insulin Resistance.” Once I was diagnosed, I found myself panicking when I learned it was considered pre-Diabetes. I thought to myself, “Pre-Diabetes?! How can that be? I work so hard to eat right, exercise, and think of myself as someone who at least ATTEMPTS to be healthy.”

Little did I know (due to a lack of information from a relate-able source) that while the diagnosis seemed terrifying, it truly is quite manageable. Here is a 101 on #InsulinResistance and how it relates to #Diabetes , #PCOS, and #WeightLoss…but coming from someone like YOU instead of a medical blog that leads to mis-diagnosis and fear:

Definition of Insulin Resistance (as told by Google):

Insulin resistance (IR) is a physiological condition in which cells fail to respond to the normal actions of the hormone insulin. The body produces insulin, but the cells in the body become resistant to insulin and are unable to use it as effectively, leading to hyperglycemia

Insulin resistance affects between 60 and 70 million Americans, many of whom are UNAWARE THEY HAVE IT.

Definition of Insulin Resistance (as told by me):

Time to breakup with most carbs, think of the bad carbs as poison, and fall deeper in love with cheese, fatty dressings, and vodka sodas. If I stay with carbs, side effects range from migraines, to mood swings, to no period. Which leads to my blog detailing #MyCarbBreakup

Symptoms:

These symptoms are what I experienced. I will detail these more in “My Journey,” but here is a start:

  • Migraines – I am talking unbearable headaches that lasted 48 hours and left me on the floor of the shower crying in pain.
  • Mood swings – my poor husband.
  • Sore joints – especially my ankles.
  • Rapid heartbeat – this would come out of nowhere and terrify me! Sometimes the rapid heartbeat would last for hours at a time.
  • Hair loss – initially I attributed this to the amount of peroxide and dye it took to make me a “California Blonde,” but this really was tied to IR.
  • Difficulty losing weight, especially around the belly – Diets, exercise…didn’t matter. Losing weight was EXTREMELY difficult.
  • Hot flashes – my body basically thought I was going through menopause. Super fun.
  • Increased testosterone levels – being one of the girliest girls I know, this was terrifying.
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) – this was probably the scariest. No period for 4 months and receiving an Ultrasound showing that my ovaries were filled with cysts? Yeah, that all happened.

Other common symptoms:

  • Some people who are insulin resistant have a skin condition called acanthosis nigricans. This condition is characterized by skin darkening and thickening, usually under the arms or in areas where there are skin folds.
  • Increased hair growth on their body.
  • Adult acne.
  • High blood pressure.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Depression:  Because carbohydrates are a natural “downer,” depressing the brain, it is not uncommon to see that women who are depressed also have Insulin Resistance.

Some of the more vague symptoms which probably describe 99.9% of the women I know, but I figure I might as well include them:

  • Brain fog.
  • Lack of energy.
  • Constant hunger (I think drinking amplifies these at least by double).
  • Difficulty focusing.
  • Feel tired and sleepy after a meal.

What to do if you have these symptoms:

GO TO AN ENDOCRINOLOGIST. IMMEDIATELY. (At work I hate when people do what I call the unnecessary triple emphasis. They include bold, italics, AND underline to make a point unless it is a header. I mean…come on. One of the three is sufficient. With this in mind, you can tell how excited and serious I am about this note.)

I was hesitant and wrote several of these symptoms off as being a result of a busy woman, but by going to the doctor I am finding a way to not only survive, but thrive.

More to come about my 1st Endocrinologist appointment so you know what to expect.

What it means for day-to-day living:

Insulin Resistance puts you at a five times greater risk for type 2 diabetes and place you at a higher risk for heart disease. This blog will help navigate these risks to help you survive and thrive! REMEMBER- INSULIN RESISTANCE CAN BE CURED. (Same triple emphasis note after Endocrinologist visit call-out applies here. Sorry.)

To try to help organize this blog, I will be creating a “My Journey” category detailing how I personally am fighting Insulin Resistance.

Since I am new to this whole blogging thing and want to be sure to give credit where credit is due, here is a list of sources that helped inform this article. Definitely check them out for more info on #InsulinResistance