It Was Like a Light Bulb Went On...
(Oshawa, Ontario, Canada)
I've struggled with my weight for most of my life but once I hit my late 20s I really started to pack on the pounds and found it really hard to lose weight. I didn't think I was eating THAT much more than everyone else, but still it was my reality.
Then when I hit 30 I suddenly developed this problem with my menstrual cycles. Basically I started bleeding at random times throughout the month and sometimes without a hint of a warning. It was hell and I ended up having to wear pads anytime I wore light-coloured pants just in case it happened.
I went to see a specialist who said it was probably hormonal and that I'd just have to live with it. He also told me I was overweight, but didn't actually join the dots for me - i.e. 'if you lose weight, this problem will go away'. So I cried for a bit and tried to diet again, but soon fell off track again.
Well, then I got married in 2003 and it came time to try to get pregnant. I had a suspicion that we'd have trouble because I knew something wasn't right with me.
Sure enough, we tried for over 6 months and then were referred to a fertility clinic. It was a couple of months later, as a result of multiple tests I took, that I was told I had a mild case of PCOS. I had never even heard of it and when I looked up info online I was astounded!
Even though I didn't have all the symptoms I definitely had some, including the fact that my weight always gathered around my middle and that I had a hard time shedding it. I also learned about the connection between my ovaries and how my body dealt with insulin and sugar.
Low and behold the major culprits were sugar and bad carbs. For years I had subscribed to the 'low-fat' diet and thought I was being clever eating sherbet and popsicles every night for dessert (it was better than ice cream, right? Wrong!) I also ate a lot of bad carbs - crackers, rice cakes etc, again thinking I was doing okay.
So once I figured this out, I went crazy with my food. I bought only whole grain, whole wheat and really started looking at my sugar levels. I learned that my so-called 'healthy' yogurt I was eating for lunch every day had about 6 teaspoons of sugar in it! I was so mad!!!
I had been swimming now and then, so stepped it up to 3-4 times per week as well. To make a long story short, the weird bleeding stopped almost immediately and never came back, and I lost 30 pounds in about 6 months.
This together with some of the treatment I received -- I was on metformin for a few months (a diabetic drug), then on some ovulation drugs (can't remember the names now, Clomid and Ovidrel I think), and then finally we went for the insemination route - not IVF - just a little help to sort the good sperm from the bad and then make sure it landed in the right place - and BAM! it actually worked for us.
I know I'm no fertility expert, but I believe if I was younger (I am 36), I would have held off on the drugs and just let this new diet and exercise regime take its course, because the impact was unbelievable.
I always sort of knew my food was connected with my body, but never how much. Even during my pregnancy I only gained about 24 pounds and easily shed it within months of my daughter being born. She is now 8 months old and I've slowly gotten a bit off track (had to eat so much more when I was breast-feeding) but having found this site and read all the similar stories, I'm actually excited about continuing my weight-loss journey into the new year.
The really sad thing is that I figured this out on my own (after a decade of beating myself up over my inability to lost weight and then two PAINFUL years of infertility); none of the doctors or fertility specialists clued me into this.
When I told them what I was doing of course they said, "oh that's great, it can only help" but I feel like the first thing they should talk to their patients about is making these life changes. Maybe they don't trust that people will actually do the right thing when left to their own devices so it's easier to give them some pills.
Anyway, that's my story, I hope it might help. I know every woman is different and again I'm no expert, but if you have PCOS I would encourage you to give this a real try.
If you look online you can usually find info on low GI and high GI foods - just plan your grocery shopping around that and eat almost like a diabetic. You don't have to starve yourself by any means, just choose the RIGHT foods.
Best of luck to all.
Editor's comments: An inspiring story! We're big believers in the concept that what you eat and drink will significantly affect your PCOS symptoms, in addition to improving the probability of conceiving, reducing risk of miscarriage, and minimizing future risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.
We discuss low glycemic foods in chapter 4.2 of our PCOS diet book.