PCOS: Struggled with weight, hair loss & extra hair in the wrong places for 20 years
(Surrey, BC, Canada)
I am 43 yrs old and live in Vancouver, BC, Canada. I have always been an extremely active person, involved in any kind of sport I could find.
I started gaining weight in my 20s and have yo yo'd many times by cutting carbs and desserts. But each time I was unable to sustain the weight loss because I didn't permanently change my diet.
I have never wanted kids so it was never a priority to figure out what was going on when I didn't get my "monthly friend" for years at a time and then had it for a month straight. I always felt fine and fairly athletic until I gained 30 lbs. after quitting smoking in 2004.
At the end of 2007 I became unemployed and decided to take some time away from the stress (I'm a banker) and concentrate on me for a change.
So I hired a personal trainer (2 days/wk), went to the gym and did cardio 4 days/wk.
Because I wasn't working I was able to take all the time needed to plan meals and prepare food and "go figure". I managed to lose 60 lbs.
It took me approx. 9 mo. but I have kept it off because I still exercise daily and I permanently changed my diet.
I am now eating approx. 1500 - 1700 calories per day but I am no longer losing, I'm just maintaining and still have 60 more lbs. to lose and I'm still working out 6 days/wk.
I had surgery in May 2010 to remove my ovaries and insert a Mirena so that I wouldn't have to take pills.
I just found your web site and purchased your e-book, wish I had found it before I had the surgery, but nevertheless I am very excited to start my new way of life.
I have read though some of your daily meal plans and I have a problem because I am allergic to nuts (that's all except peanuts and almonds).
In your diet plan there is a significant amount of nuts, I am hoping there is a substitute or perhaps a vitamin that can give me the same healthy attributes as nuts? Or maybe you can suggest other nut alternatives. Please help!
Editor's comments: Hi Karyn! First of all, congrats on doing what most people cannot do -- namely, lose a lot of weight and keep it off. That is truly phenomenal! Ditto for stopping the cigarettes.
Nuts are an excellent source of beneficial fatty acids, fiber, trace minerals and other micro-nutrients.
But since you are allergic to most nuts, you can to some extent substitute with seeds and legumes. The nutritional profile is not quite the same, but I wouldn't be too concerned about it. For example you could try pumpkin seeds, which are easily available. Or, you could put sesame seeds in your salads or on your food.
The main thing is to consume a variety of healthy foods.
There isn't a nutritional supplement that replaces nuts. As far as fats are concerned, most individuals need more omega-3 essential fatty acids (EPA and DHA), in the form of fish, or fish oil. There should be sufficient omega-6 essential fatty acids in the diet, especially if you substitute some seeds or legumes for the nuts.
As for legumes, I would tend to stay away from soy products, in part because the soy available in North America has been genetically modified. No one truly knows the effect of genetically modified foods on human heath, but the research so far with lab animals is troubling. Corn products are also under suspicion.
Since you live in British Columbia, I strongly recommend you get a vitamin D lab test to determine your vitamin D level. If it is below the mid-range of normal, vitamin D supplementation is highly desirable.
Vitamin D and the essential fats found in fish oil are very subtle but help to solve all kinds of health problems. They may even indirectly aid in further weight loss.
How long to you plan to continue the Mirena-based synthetic progesterone? All synthetic (non-natural) hormones have side effects. In contrast, bio-identical (natural) hormones do not. Although not as convenient as Mirena, you could apply transdermal natural progesterone and avoid the side effects. Bio-identical progesterone should be available by doctor's prescription and can be put into a cream by a compounding pharmacist.
PS: The PCOS diet ebook Karyn referred to can be found here.