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:

#MyCarbBreakup Recipe: Baked Cheese Chips

Since breaking up with carbs, I have really missed chips and crackers. I prefer salty over sweet, and love a good crunch. I have mentioned before that cheese has been my saving grace to get me through my breakup…and cheese comes to the rescue again with this delicious, easy, low carb snack.

Pinterest is amazing and my saving grace. This (and likely all the recipes I share) will be brough to you by Pinterest.

In the original recipe, she shreds the cheese and adds seasonings. You can go all out and shred the cheese if you so choose, but I am all about simplifying, so I just took the cheese and sliced it into small circles.

Here is what you will need:

  • Cheese of your choice. This time I used mild cheddar
  • Parchment paper-must be parchment
  • Baking sheet
  • Paper towel
  • Sour Cream
  • Salsa

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. While the oven is doing its thang, cut up your cheese. 
  2. Lay the parchment paper on the baking sheet and place the cheese on the parchment paper. Don’t over crowd them, they will spread out.
  3. Bake until bubbly and brown, about 10 minutes. Once you take them out of the oven, place the crispy cheese on paper towel and blot with another piece of paper towel. You don’t realize how greasy cheese is until you cook or bake with it.

You can dip these in sour cream mixed with your favorite salsa!

Here is where I found this recipe:

Insulin Resistance and PCOS: Glucose Tolerance Test

Once I was diagnosed with PCOS, the next step was a visit to my Endocrinologist. In that appointment, we discussed the confirmation of my PCOS test results  and all the symptoms I had been experiencing. Like most doctor appointments, it is imperative that you share everything you can to give the doctor as much information as possible. While it is never fun to admit all the things that are wrong with you, it is so important to get the best possible diagnosis. Seems easy enough, but I know many people who struggle with communicating this type of information.

After we chatted and he completed a brief physical exam (heart rate, blood pressure, joints) he wrote an order for some blood work. Now, I will tell you that I AM TERRIBLE WITH NEEDLES.  (Triple emphasis definitely needed for this point). Going into the test, I really didn’t know what to expect. In my case, that was probably better so that I didn’t chicken out when it came time for the appointment, but I do wish there had been a better resource on the whole procedure.

Here is a breakdown of what exactly a Glucose Tolerance Test is, how my experience went, and tips & tricks to make your experience as good as possible.

What is a Glucose Tolerance Test?

Though no longer routinely used for diagnosing diabetes. The oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) was the gold standard for making the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. It is still commonly used during pregnancy for diagnosing gestational diabetes.

With an oral glucose tolerance test, the person fasts overnight (at least 8 hours, but not more than 16 hours). The next morning, the fasting plasma glucose is tested. After this test, the person receives a dose of oral glucose (the dose depends upon the length of the test). Usually, the glucose is in a sweet-tasting liquid that the person drinks.

Blood samples are taken up to four times at different time points after consumption of the sugar to measure the blood glucose.

The classic oral glucose tolerance test measures blood glucose levels five times over a period of three hours. Some physicians simply take a baseline blood sample followed by a sample two hours after drinking the glucose solution. In a person without diabetes, the glucose levels rise and then fall quickly. In someone with diabetes, glucose levels rise higher than normal and fail to come back down as fast.

People with glucose levels between normal and diabetic levels have so-called impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). People with impaired glucose tolerance do not have diabetes.

What about glucose tolerance testing and pregnancy?

While this was not the case for me, the glucose tolerance test is used for the diagnosis of gestational diabetes (diabetes that develops during pregnancy). It may be used if there are equivocal fasting or random blood glucose results, or to screen for gestational diabetes in pregnant women between 24 to 28 weeks of gestation who are not known to have diabetes.

You have an increased chance of developing gestational diabetes if you:

  • Have had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy.
  • Have previously given birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 lb (4.1 kg).
  • Are younger than age 25 and were overweight before getting pregnant.

The test may also be used in the postpartum period to detect diabetes in women who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Women who had gestational diabetes do not always develop diabetes later in life, but they should undergo diabetes screening at least every three years throughout.

My experience with the Glucose Tolerance Test

Fasting is no fun. At all. I live in Los Angeles and drove down to Orange County where my Endocrinologist is located the night before and had dinner with my family. At the time, I didn’t know what to expect for the test…I just knew that not getting to enjoy my normal Friday night vodka sodas throughout the evening was a bummer.

We woke up very early the morning of the test and the hunger had to be ignored. No caffeine was also pretty rough.

Once we arrived at the Lab, some initial paperwork was filled out (signing away that you won’t sue the hospital in case something goes wrong is always super reassuring, especially when you hate needles.) We were then escorted into a room for testing. At this point, I am dead silent and look like I have seen a ghost. As a typically talkative person, this was a very different behavior for me. I was terrified.

Since it was early in the morning and my fear was empty with no upcoming appointments, they placed me in a room typically used for children. That’s right. I am that much of a baby. I will say they private room with comfortable chair was fantastic, all baby behavior aside.

The technician then described the procedure to me. I will tell you that either by my mother’s intelligence, an act of an angel, or likely both…I had no idea what I was in for. When the technician explained it was going to be 3 hours and I was going to get poked for a new blood draw every 30 minutes, I wanted to bolt. Every 30 minutes?! A new draw?! 3 hours?! Oh man.

At that point, there was no going back. An initial draw was done and I lost it. I started hyperventilating and crying. I know this is quite dramatic for many strong women who have gone through this, but I think that the reality that I had a health concern was really clear at that point. Days of eating nachos at 2 in the morning, drinking whatever I wanted, and just ignorantly cruising through life with carbs were certainly numbered.

After the initial draw and some time, the technician game in with the super sugary glucose drink. I chose the lemon lime flavor and it basically tasted like she dumped a pound of sugar into a Sprite. I was not into it. My stomach definitely hurt from the sweetness, but we had to keep going.

The remaining draws did not go well for me. In 2 of the draws, my difficult veins did not cooperate causing the need for a redraw after redraw. On the last draw, the nurse suggested we place a heating pad on the location of the draw to help the blood vessels to expand so the process would be easier. She was right, but it would have been nice she shared that info earlier on in the process. This is now a tip I will use any time that I need blood work.

Once the test was over, I was exhausted and pretty loopy. My mom ran to the hospital cafeteria and brought my some crackers which were the most delicious crackers I had ever tasted. I wish we had brought something with us from the get go.

After the test, I was exhausted. Initially, we were planning to go out to lunch and then have me go right back to LA. Instead, we went back to my parents’ house for lunch and I went back to bed. For 4 hours. After that, I was mostly back to my normal self, just tired.

What I wish I knew before the Glucose Tolerance Test

Ideal patient preparation and behavior before the test:

  • For the glucose tolerance test to give reliable results, you must be in good health (not have any other illnesses, not even a common cold).
  • You should be normally active (not lying down, for example, as an inpatient in a hospital)
  • You should not be taking medicines that could affect the blood glucose.
  • You should eat and drink as they normally would the day before.
  • The morning of the test, you should not smoke or consume caffeine.

What to plan during and right after the test:

  • The glucose tolerance diagnostic test may take up to 4 hours. Since activity can interfere with test results, you will be asked to sit quietly during the entire test. Do not eat during the test. You may drink only water during this time. Definitely bring something to entertain yourself like music, books, anything to help pass the time.
  • If you are like me and have difficulty with needles along with challenging veins, be prepared that multiple attempts for the multiple draws may be needed. I wish that we applied heat to the draw area from the start. If you can, let the technician know you struggle with needles and would like a heating pad. Or simply bring your own heating pad to help be sure that you will be set.
  • After all that fasting, you will be hungry. Be sure to pack a snack that you can eat right after the test. Cheese crackers were my saving grace.
  • You are going to be tired and perhaps light headed, so have someone come with you who can drive you home.

What to expect after the test:

Each year, 1% to 5% of people whose test results show impaired glucose tolerance actually develop diabetes. Weight loss and exercise may help people with impaired glucose tolerance return their glucose levels to normal. In addition, some physicians advocate the use of medications, such as Metformin (Glucophage), to help prevent/delay the onset of overt diabetes. Studies have shown that impaired glucose tolerance itself may be a risk factor for the development of heart disease, and whether impaired glucose tolerance turns out to be an entity that deserves treatment itself is something that physicians are currently debating.

  • Normal response: A person is said to have a normal response when the two hour glucose level is less than 140 mg/dl, and all values between 0 and 2 hours are less than 200 mg/dl.
  • Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT): A person is said to have impaired glucose tolerance when the fasting plasma glucose is less than 126 mg/dl and the two hour glucose level is between 140 and 199 mg/dl. This is sometimes referred to as “prediabetes” because people with IGT have a higher risk of developing diabetes.
  • Diabetes: A person has diabetes when two diagnostic tests done on different days show that the blood glucose level is high. This means either the two hour levels is greater than 200 mg/dl or the fasting glucose is noted as greater than 126 mg/dl. A glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) level of 6.5% or more also supports a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus.
  • Diabetes during pregnancy: A pregnant woman has diabetes if she has a fasting plasma glucose of over 92 mg/dl, or a two hour glucose level greater than 153 mg/dl.

More to come on my follow up appointment and the medication I was prescribed!

Here are some of the great resources that helped inform my article:

Progress Check-In: Eating late and weight gain

It has been my routine to weigh myself every Thursday, first thing in the morning, to check on my progress. As I continue down my journey of fighting Insulin Resistance and PCOS, I hope to document my progress every Thursday along with tips that can hopefully help you as you journey toward a healthier, happier you.

Before I jump into the specific progress of this week, I think it is worth capturing the progress I have already made. When I was first diagnosed with Insulin Resistance and PCOS, I was overweight and my testosterone levels were at about 90 (an average woman is about 40 and below). Since being on a low carb diet and taking medications prescribed by my Endocriologist, I am down 9 pounds and my testosterone levels went from 90 to 40 in one month. To keep this momentum, I have been working on the following goals:

  • Stay under 110g of carbs per day
  • Consistently take my medication (post coming soon on medication I am taking)
  • 20 minutes of exercise per day

We all know the holidays are a time for joy, love, family, and…weight gain. I was on a great path before the holidays of being down 12 pounds, but alas. All that egg nog and holiday cider caught up with me.

I have been on a great path this past week, but I am sad to say I was up 2 pounds since my weigh in last Thursday. Here are the successes and challenges of the past week that I believe could have led to this weight gain:

  • Got back to exercising for the first time in MONTHS. I committed to begin exercising yesterday and continued momentum this morning with another workout!
  • Cut out alcohol during the week. Trust me, this is a BIG success because nothing makes me happier than a glass of wine after a good day. Or a hard day. Or any day.
  • Stayed low carb for virtually every meal. That includes saying no to some delicious and free office treats

  • Continue the momentum of this week’s workout success and work to meet my goal of 20 minutes of exercise…every day. For next week, I will aim for 4 out of the 7 days. If 7 happens, then AWESOME…but in my experience, going from 0 to 60 is not very maintainable
  • Last night was an especially late night, so I did not eat until after 9pm. I think this is a BIG reason I was not down this morning’s weigh in.

Since eating late from time to time is a reality for most of us busy people, here is some info I found on weight gain and eating late to help keep me motivated that I am moving in the right direction.

Eating late and weight gain:

The truth is…

“A calorie is a calorie,” says Mass. “If your total calorie intake for the day is greater than what you are burning, this can lead to weight gain regardless of what time it is.” But if you eat healthy, regular meals throughout the day and typically have dinner around 8 p.m., there’s no reason to stress.

Problem is, research suggests that many women take in nearly half of their daily calories at—or even after—dinner. One study found that a third of people consume 15 percent of their calories after 11pm.

What’s more, binging close to bedtime can increase your blood sugar levels for a full 24 hours, according to one study in Obesity of Research & Clinical Practice. Meanwhile, research in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicineshows that noshing on high-calorie, high-fat snacks at night can make for restless sleep. The result: Overeating the next day in a feeble attempt to boost your energy levels, says Mass.

There’s nothing wrong with eating a light, healthy snack after dinner as long as you plan for it as part of your daily calories. To keep from overeating, pay attention to your food while eating, avoid eating in front of the TV, and choose a portion-controlled snack.

When you’re trying to lose weight, eat regular meals and consume 90% of your calories before 8 p.m.  The benefit of eating meals every three to four hours is it helps regulate your blood sugar, and thus control hunger and cravings. That should leave you about 150 to 200 calories to play with for a late-night (and guilt-free!) snack.

What this means for me: Hopefully, late night eating will be prevented as I learn more about my new job AND find a way to balance the blog with work. I will NOT get discouraged about my weight today and will keep on keeping on.

Here are some great resources on eating late and weight gain I referred to in this article:

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!