Being crunchy. Living naturally. Improving your health. Losing weight. All of it can be hard. Sometimes the number on the scale just doesn’t seem to be getting any lower. Sometimes you don’t see results right away. Sometimes you feel trapped when eliminating specific food groups. Sometimes the criticism and judgment of others can be tiresome. Sometimes it’s frustrating. Sometimes it’s discouraging. Sometimes it’s just plain hard.
Many people, in regards to health and weight loss, have been known to say, “the first step is always the hardest.” In some instances, I would agree, but in others, I would argue that staying on the path of healthy living is much harder than making the initial choice. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of changing your life, and soon after find yourself caught in a rut or distraught over not seeing the results you would like. I am a firsthand example of this phenomena.
I had been eating healthy and exercising vigorously for months to no avail. (To specify, my diet was free of all gluten, low sodium, low calorie, free of most refined sugars, low in dairy, free of most processed foods and 50-60% organic/non-GMO.) In fact, I found myself gaining weight. I was confused and depressed and felt like a complete failure. It seemed scientifically impossible that I was gaining weight in the midst of my new lifestyle. What was I doing wrong? I had no idea. All I knew was that whatever I was doing wasn’t working.
During those months, I had experienced various symptoms that I would not have thought to be connected to each other or my inability to lose weight. *TMI ALERT* I hadn’t had a menstrual period in nearly a year and was experiencing severe, debilitating ovary pain several times a month. My acne had worsened, my emotions were erratic, and my hair was brittle and breaking. These are only a handful of the many odd symptoms I was experiencing.
One day, after a lot of prayer and research, something clicked. It was almost as if I had been looking at a pile of puzzle pieces, trying to decipher each of them individually, and was finally awakened to the fact that the pieces were a part of one large picture. It was a moment reminiscent of one in the 1995 Disney Film, Pocahontas. Pocahontas, with the help of Grandmother Willow, realized that the disheartening spinning arrow she had dreamed of was actually a compass pointing her in the direction she was meant to go. I hadn’t been dreaming of navigational tools or spoken with any trees, but I, like Pocahontas, had a life changing realization. I had PCOS.
PCOS, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, is an endocrine disorder that often, but not always, manifests itself in multiple cysts on the ovaries…hence the name. PCOS manifests itself through various symptoms, almost all of which I had, but is most known for the hindering of weight loss, lack of menstrual periods, and hair growth/loss. PCOS goes hand in hand with insulin resistance, which is why losing weight is extremely difficult. Women with PCOS often have a hard time conceiving, and are at a greatly increased risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and endometrial cancer.
For many people, especially those trying to have children, PCOS is a devastating diagnosis. Interestingly enough, I was relieved. I was happy to know that I wasn’t the failure I thought I was. There was a legitimate reason that all my “toils were in vain.” After in depth research on “PCOS diets” and consulting with my naturopathic doctor, I had a plan in place. I am now on a high protein, low carb diet filled with lots of healthy fat. I rarely eat corn, potatoes, rice, or their byproducts. I try to keep my blood sugar balanced as much as I can, and have cut out all refined sugars, processed foods, and soy. I have continued to keep all gluten and most dairy (aside from raw or hard cheeses) out of my diet, and my food is now about 92-95% organic/non-GMO. My ND also created an herbal tincture to meet my specific needs. Slowly, but surely, my symptoms have alleviated and I have begun losing weight.
I feel blessed beyond belief that God granted me the perseverance to stay as healthy as I could with what I knew, despite not having the slightest idea that I had a legitimate problem inhibiting me from losing weight. Because of my PCOS, if I were to have simply lived as I pleased, I could have easily become severely obese and/or contracted type two diabetes. Eating well and exercising will do nothing but good for your overall health. It may not always result in rapid weight loss, but it will result in the prevention of disease, increase in energy, healthier organs etc…I know that not everyone discouraged by their lack of weight loss has PCOS. As a matter of fact, most don’t. Despite the cliché, though, many people do have “slower metabolisms,” or other issues preventing them from losing weight in a timely fashion. Even those without any such issues may simply be discouraged by their pace. The important thing to remember is that looks are not everything. The overall health of your body is more important than your size will ever be. You may not be losing weight yet, but you’re doing good for your body! Invest in a new lifestyle, not just to fit into your old jeans, but to become a brighter, healthier YOU! If I can do it, anyone can.