What PCOS Looks Like

Let’s talk about PCOS 💙

PCOS, PCOD, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Polycystic Ovarian Disease, Stein-Leventhal Syndrome…These are all names for a disorder that has impacted nearly every aspect of my life. 

There are many misconceptions about PCOS. Some believe it’s “just bad periods,” or “just not having periods.” Others believe PCOS is a result of being overweight, or that losing weight will cure it. There are even those who believe that PCOS is only a problem when you’re trying to get (or stay) pregnant. And guess what? All of these people are just. plain. wrong. I am not insinuating that people who say/think such things are mean or malicious. Most of the time, they simply don’t know. And how could I expect them to? Many doctors don’t even fully understand PCOS. 

****Before I get into the nitty-gritty of it all, I would like to make a brief disclaimer: I understand that things could be much worse. There are people in my sphere who have been through inconceivable amounts of grief,  pain, anguish, etc…My health problems are inconsequential compared to such things. My health problems are also inconsequential in comparison to those dealing with issues like cancer, Alzheimer’s, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, lupus, even type 1 diabetes. I am, in no way, under the impression that having PCOS is the hardest thing a person can deal with. I am simply sharing my experiences in the hopes of bringing awareness to a disorder that impacts millions of women, but is rarely talked about, and receives virtually no research dollars.****


Despite the name, not all women with PCOS have cysts on their ovaries (although most do). PCOS is a hormonal disorder that is marked by an increase in androgens, a decrease in progesterone, and the body being less responsive to insulin. These hormonal changes can cause a vast amount of different physical, emotional, and mental symptoms. 

No one knows exactly what causes PCOS (although there is a genetic link), and there is no known “cure.” However, medical, dietary, lifestyle, and herbal interventions can help with the severity of symptoms. 

The difficult thing is that there’s been so little in-depth medical research on PCOS, and the research that does exist is conflicting.  Doctors genuinely don’t know what to recommend to women.  This is why “trial & error” ends up being the default for many women with PCOS.

A few of the most recognizeable symptoms of PCOS are ammemhorea (lack of periods), unexplained rapid weight gain, and severe pelvic pain. 

When I was around 16, I started gaining weight rapidly. I had no idea why. I was a cheerleader, so I was working out in some capacity everyday. I didn’t eat candy, soda, or typical “junk foods.” I rarely ate processed foods because I was on a very low sodium diet. I was eating less than I had in previous years, but I was gaining weight. I can distinctly remember trying on my choir dress in my room and crying because it didn’t fit. I remember the humiliation and shame I felt when I had to get the dress altered. I didn’t know why I was gaining weight…. I felt so out of control. 

Around the same time, I stopped having a period, and I didn’t have one for over a year. I began experiencing severe ovarian pain, that, on some days, was debilitating to the point where one side of my body would collapse and I could barely walk.  On my birthday three years ago, I had uterine pain so severe that it sent me to the emergency room. I was chronically fatigued, my skin was awful, my hair was falling out, I was depressed, and I felt puffy & inflamed constantly.     These are not all of my symptoms, but the ones I have discussed so far are the ones that have impacted me most. 

I’ve had kidney stones twice. Something many people don’t realize is that having PCOS makes you more likely to have kidney stones. Women with PCOS are also far more likely than other women to develop type 2 diabetes, heart disease, endometriosis, uterine cancer, and ovarian cancer. 

Through the help of different naturopathic doctors, personal research, prayer, and a lot of hard work on my diet & lifestyle, I have been able to deal with some of my symptoms. I have a semi-regular period, my skin is mostly cleared, and my severe ovary pain is not as frequent as it used to be. But I do still get ovarian pain, although less frequently…I am still  fatigued most days, my hair still falls out, I still have issues with my weight, and, when I do have periods, my PMS is horrible. 

PCOS is more than physical, though. Mental and emotional health also play a role. Anyone who has ever been around teenagers in puberty, a pregnant woman, or a woman entering menopause knows that hormones can make your mind and emotions a little “wacky.” For me, this could look like crying for no reason whatsoever, feeling melancholy, or getting angry & frutrsrated quickly. 

Women with PCOS often suffer from anxiety and depression. These are both things that I deal with in my own life. Sometimes I’m more depressed than anxious. More often, though, I’m more anxious than depressed. Some days, though, I’m neither, and I feel blessed to have those breaks. There are many women with PCOS who are in constant, unending states of anxiety and/or depression. 

In addition to the chemical/hormonal ways my mental/emotional health is impacted, my emotions are impacted by the physical symptoms of PCOS. With PCOS, it’s easy to feel less than worthy or less than what a woman should be. It’s also easy to feel incredibly discouraged. I mean, working 4x as hard for a quarter of the results can be frustrating. Eating healthier than everyone I know and not looking visibly “thin” is kind of a bummer. I realize, though, that if I didn’t work so hard, my PCOS would get out of control. I’d be miserable, in frequent pain, morbidly obese, and, more than likely, have type 2 diabetes. 

I thank God that He allowed me to discover I had PCOS, so I could change my life & health accordingly. I deal with my PCOS everyday, but everyday I also try to learn & grow, and take more and more steps toward better health. I don’t let discouragement or frustration get the better of me. I am able to keep my held high and trust that the God’s got it handled 😘 

Do you have PCOS? Do you know someone that does? Did you learn anything from this post? Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments below or connect with me on Instagram/Twitter @girlgonecrunchy

Stay Crunchy!
-m

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WFPB? Vegan? + Health Update

Hello Friends!

Guess what? I’m VEGAN!

How did this come to pass? Well, just keep reading to find out.

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I have been vegetarian…or, I suppose pescetarian would be a more accurate term (I occasionally ate fish), for about a year now. When I first took meat out of my diet, my body responded incredibly well. My hormones started to balance out. I had more energy. My skin was better. I had less uterine and ovarian pain. Things were going really well.

Then, suddenly, toward the beginning of this summer, I started to feel stagnant. I have had more ovarian and uterine pain. I have felt more bloated, and my digestion has been off. I have had more issues with my cycles…and I have felt fatigued and exhausted the majority of the time. {Some of you  may be thinking, “You probably feel tired because you’re not eating any meat.” Well, I can assure you that is not the case. In fact, long before I gave up eating meat, consuming meat in even moderate portions actually left me feeling lethargic. Also, I’m always cognizant of my protein and iron intake.} Many people fail to realize that fatigue is one of the most prominent symptoms of PCOS. So, when my PCOS isn’t fully under control, the horrible fatigue and lethargy take over. PCOS is so much more than just, “lady problems,” or “period issues.” It’s a disorder that impacts nearly every aspect of your health and life.

A few weeks back, I basically started feeling “sick of being sick.” I realized that what had been working was no longer working. I needed to do some digging and try to figure out what the issue was.

When examining my diet from around January until recently, I can identify a pattern. My consumption of dairy, and, to an even greater extent, my consumption of eggs went up exponentially. I may have been a vegetarian, but my diet was ridiculously heavy in animal products. Historically, dairy has never been a big part of my diet. My Mom discovered I was lactose intolerant at a young age, so, growing up, I usually had rice or soy milk products. (Tofutti Cuties for the win!!!!) I had some dairy, but never a lot. However, once meat had been out of my diet for a few months, that changed. It wasn’t a conscious choice, but looking back, I can see I was putting cheese on just about everything I could. With eggs, this situation was even more extreme. There were some days where I would end up eating 5 eggs (and that’s without taking into account any eggs I consumed via my healthy cookies or muffins).

After examining my diet, heavily considering the way my body has reacted to certain foods in the past, researching like crazy, watching movies (*cough cough* What the Health *cough cough*) and, in all seriousness, praying, I feel like a vegan diet, specifically a whole food plant based diet (WFPB), will help me deal with my PCOS and general health in a more effective way.  {I should also note that I have just begun a new supplement regime specifically to target my PCOS, my MTHFR gene mutation, and my kidney health.} And from a Christian perspective, I also love the life preserving and good stewardship aspects of veganism. I’m really looking forward to being innovative and creative with new recipes and seeing how my health progresses.

So, as of a few days ago, I’m vegan!

Stay tuned for more health updates, lots of vegan recipes, and all sorts of shenanigans.

Now, I want to hear from you! Are you vegan? Have you ever been? What are your thoughts on veganism? And, to my PCOS cysters, how have you been using diet to manage your symptoms? Comment down below or connect with me on social media to let me know.

Stay Crunchy!

-m

Follow Along:                                                                                                                            Instagram & Twitter: @girlgonecrunchy

 

Pancakes & Waffles!

Just like the lovely Leslie Knope, I LOVE BREAKFAST FOOD. Pancakes and waffles are absolute favorites of mine, but we all know neither of those things are good for you. It’s for this reason that I worked hard to create healthier recipes for these delicious breakfast treats. My waffles and pancakes are gluten free, lactose free, and refined sugar free.

Pancakes

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Ingredients:

2 cups oat flour
1/2 tsp salt
{Optional} 1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 tb maple sugar or coconut sugar
2 cups plant based milk
3 eggs
2 ounces of ghee, melted

Instructions:

In a large bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients.

Slowly add in your plant based milk.

Once smooth, add in your melted ghee. Continue to stir until there are no lumps or streaks.

Grease a pan or skillet with your oil of choice.

Spoon portions of batter into the pan and fry up your pancakes individually until desired doneness is achieved.

This recipe makes approximately 12 pancakes.

Enjoy!

Waffles

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Ingredients:

2 cups oat flour
1/2 tsp salt
{Optional} 1/4 tsp cinnamon
5 tb maple sugar or coconut sugar
3 tsp baking powder
6 tablespoons of ghee
2 cups plant based milk
3 eggs (pre beaten/fluffed)

Instructions:

In a large bowl, whisk together you’re dry ingredients.

Heat together your ghee and plant based milk.

Combine the ghee and milk mixture with your dry ingredients. Stir until no lumps remain.

In a separate bowl, beat your eggs until fully combined and foamy.

Gently and slowly fold your eggs into your batter.

When you no longer see any yellow streaks from the eggs, your waffle batter is ready to cook.

Using a waffle iron, cook your waffles until you’ve reached desired doneness.

This recipe makes approximately 8 large waffles.

Enjoy!

If you make these waffles or pancakes, post a photo on Instagram or Facebook and use #girlgonecrunchy

What are your favorite pancake/waffle toppings? Let me know in the comments below or connect with me on Instagram/Twitter @girlgonecrunchy

Stay crunchy!

-m

Almond Muffins {RECIPE}

Hello Lovely People!

I wanted to share a quick and easy muffin recipe with you. These delicious treats are gluten free, dairy free, & refined sugar free. They’re moist and sweet, and the almond flavor really comes through. 

These are great when you’re trying to stay on a good track with your health, but you’re craving a dessert! 


INGREDIENTS:

1 cup finely blanched almond flour

Pinch of salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

3 tbsp raw honey

3 tbsp unsweetened apple sauce

3 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp almond extract 

{OPTIONAL} 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips/stevia sweetened chocolate chips/carob chips

INSTRUCTIONS:
In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, salt, & baking soda until thoroughly combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together honey and applesauce. Add in eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts.

Pour the liquid mixture into the dry. Use a spatula to thoroughly emulsify the batter. 

Your batter should be smooth and silky. 

Mix in the chocolate chips. 

Pour into muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. 

Enjoy! 💗

Be sure to use #girlgonecrunchy if you try out this recipe. Follow me on Instagram & Twitter @girlgonecrunchy

And if you didn’t get the chance, check out my last post where I discuss the site’s revamp & new focus. 

Be Blessed!

-m

Exciting News! Blog Revamp!

Hello Friends! I’ve got some exciting news. I have revamped GirlGoneCrunchy, and am in the process of consolidating it with my other blog. 

For about a year now, I have been running this blog and another one dedicated to topics of a more spiritual, religious nature. 

Recently, I have realized that health is not limited to the physical. I want this blog to be a resource and community for people on the journey to becoming their healthiest selves: physically, mentally, and spiritually.

I have divided this site into three sections: body, mind, & soul, because I understand that being truly healthy involves so much more than our physical bodies.

In the BODY section of the site, you can expect all of the same wonderful GirlGoneCrunchy content. Delicious healthy recipes, nutrition tips, product reviews etc…

But, I know what you’re thinking. What about the two new portions of the site? Well, you can expect content similar to the following:  MIND: Tips for Managing Stress, Creative Expression, Developing a Healthy Relationship with Food. SOUL: Devotionals, Book Reviews, Bible Summaries.


I’m hoping that this revamp and consolidation will help me, and, more importantly help you, view health in a broader, more holistic way.

And, if you haven’t noticed yet, I took this revamp as an opportunity to “spruce up” the site with a new theme and design aesthetic. 

How do you feel about the additional focuses of the blog? What do you think of the new look?
Let me know in the comments below or connect with me on Instagram: @girlgonecrunchy

I’m excited to start this new journey with all of you lovely people.

-m

Oh My Gaia! {Northwest Living}

This is the first in a new series: Northwest Living. I’ll be featuring a great selection of natural products that are local to the Northwestern portion of the United States. I’m really excited about it, and I am so happy to start things off with a review of OhMyGaia. 

OhMyGaia is a company based out of Hayden, Idaho. They have created a line of hand-crafted, all natural deodorants, fragrance oils, and beard oils. 

OhMyGaia deodorants are created using a base of pure oils and butters, baking soda, and various essential oils and natural fragrances. Their products are cruelty free and free of aluminum and aluminum biproducts. 

A lot of natural deodorants contain baking soda, which can make many people, myself included, very itchy. OhMyGaia has done something absolutely wonderful. They’ve developed a formula that keeps the baking soda, and the wonderful smell absorption properties it holds, but is ITCH-FREE. Obviously, this sort of thing is different for each person, but I really think OhMyGaia has come up with an amazing formula. 

In addition to being itch-free, their deodorants blend into the skin well and don’t leave a thick, white layer on your armpit. 

Their deodorants and fragrance oils come in a variety of tantalizing scents. I tried several and loved them all, but my favorite is the Cherry Almond. It’s such a unique scent for a deodorant, and I am positively obsessed with anything almond scented.

Look for a YouTube video next week where I go in depth on the profiles of all the different scents, and give a how-to tutorial on application of the deodorant!

But, I know what you really want to know….does this stuff work? The answer is YES. Please note that these are deoderants, not antiperspirants, so they do not keep you from sweating. However, they do keep you from smelling! I’ve used this product on days when I was running about town, days when I was chasing my nieces around for hours, and other various days when I normally would have STUNK by the end of the day. But with OhMyGaia? Nothing! Totally fresh & clean.

While deodorant is the star of the show at OhMyGaia, the fragrance oil I was sent was fantastic, as well. Who says only armpits should smell good? 😉 The oil isn’t greasy, and it has great staying power. 

Overall, I am very happy with the products I was sent by OhMyGaia and will absolutely be purchasing from them in the future. 

The lovely folks at OhMyGaia were generous enough to offer me a coupon code to give my followers. Through the end of June, use the code: CRUNCHY on ohmygaia.com for a discount off your purchase. 

Have you made the switch to natural deodorant? If so, which is your favorite? Have you tried OhMyGaia? Let me know in the comments below or connect with me on social media.

Stay Crunchy,

-m

INSTAGRAM: @girlgonecrunchy

TWITTER: @girlgonecrunchy

EMAIL: mattiethegirlgonecrunchy@yahoo.com 

**DISCLAIMER: I received these products free of charge in exchange for my honest review. I was not monetarily compensated or coerced in any way.**

Gingerbread Muffin {RECIPE}

Merry Christmas, my little crunchies! It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Christmas is such a festive season: movies, lights, music…FOOD! Ahhh yes, holiday food, the bane of a crunchy girl’s existence. It’s comforting, nostalgic, tasty, and completely unhealthy. It’s filled with sugar, refined grains, and too much dairy. So, what’s a girl to do?????

Create healthy versions of your junky favorites, or create healthy treats *inspired* by traditional Christmas goodies. 

That’s exactly what I’ve done here with my gingerbread muffins. They’re inspired by my Christmas Eve memories of making gingerbread cookies with my Mama and covering them with m&ms. 

I believe I’ve really captured the taste and aroma of a gingerbread cookie, “crunchy-fied,” it, and put it in a muffin.

 

Ingredients

Dry:

1 cup oat flour

1/4 cup brown rice flour

1/4 cup millet flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp cloves

Pinch of salt

Wet:

1/2 cup refined coconut oil

1 cup coconut sugar

2 tsp pure vanilla extract 

1 cup pumpkin purée 

1/4 molasses 

2 eggs

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (stevia sweetened, grain sweetned, or otherwise)

Directions

Preheat your oven to 355 degrees.

Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

In a small bowl, combine your dry ingredients. 

In a separate, larger bowl, add your coconut oil. Soften slightly in the microwave (about 15 seconds), and whisk until thick and creamy. 

Add in the coconut sugar and vanilla. Whisk until smooth.

Using the same whisk, whip in the pumpkin purée and molasses until well incorporated. 

Use a rubber spatula to slowly and thoroughly fold your dry ingredients into the wet. 

Once well combined, whisk in your two eggs. 

Continue whisking until you reach a loose, but slightly thick consistency. 

Fold in your chocolate chips.

Pour batter into your muffin tin. Bake for 20 minutes. This will make about 12 muffins.

*Pro Tip: Don’t be scared to use pumpkin in non traditional ways. The flavor we associate with pumpkin is usually just pumpkin pie spice. In this recipe, the pumpkin purée adds moisture, substance, and a healthy dose of beta caratene*

If you enjoy the flavor of gingerbread, these muffins are for you! Test out this recipe, and post it to social media using #girlgonecrunchy. Be sure to follow me on Instagram @girlgonecrunchy 💗
Stay Crunchy,

-m

Surf Sweets/Tru Joy Sweets {Healthy Halloween Haul #6}

It’s the night before Halloween, and this is the final installment of my Healthy Halloween Haul Series! 

TruSweets (Tru Joy & Surf Sweets) are sister companies owned by Wholesome Sweets (sellers of natural sweeteners and organic sugars). And let me tell you…this candy is the *REAL DEAL*.

You can hear more specifics about each candy in my “Healthy Halloween Haul” YouTube video, but take a look at these pictures: 

The organic fruit chews are *BETTER* than starburst. The texture is identical, but the taste is far superior. 

The fruity bears? A HUGE hit amongst my entire family. They’re just like little bear shaped “fruit slice,” candies….and they have a grapefruit flavor!!!!!!

The jelly beans are excellent, as well, and they also have a grapefruit flavor. All of these great tasting grapefruit candies have me *quite* excited, as you can tell. 

Spooky Spiders are great gummies that I think would be a huge hit on Halloween. 

Head over to TruSweets.com and buy as many of these as you possibly can and eat them as quickly as humanly possible!!!! (Okay…probably *don’t* do that, but you get the point 😉)

Follow @wholesomesweets & @surfsweets on Instagram 💗

Which of these sweets intrigues you the most? Let me know in the comments below, or connect with me on Instagram: @girlgonecrunchy

Stay Crunchy

-m

*I received these products free of charge in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated monetarily* 

Sjaak’s {Healthy Halloween Haul #5}

White chocolate skulls? Melk Chocolate? We must be talking about Sjaak’s!

Sjaak’s is a vegan/all natural chocolate and confectionary company based out of Petaluma (NorCal represent!!!) that sent me some treats to review. 

I received some of their filled chocolate bars, a white chocolate skull, and some Eli’s earth bars. 

The melk chocolate smells milky, and maintains a creamy texture. The dairy milk is *not* missed. These bars use rice milk as a base, which adds an extra dimension of flavor. The chocolate has a great snap, and a mouthfeel quite reminiscent of a traditional chocolate bar. The peanut butter filled bar was my personal favorite! Two thumbs up! 

The Eli’s earth bars were tasty, but they didn’t “wow,” me like the filled bars. There was nothing bad about them. They were good quality vegan chocolate bars, but, in my opinion, they didn’t have the same special quality the bars did.

The white chocolate skull was *AMAZING* It was creamy and not overly sweet. It used a rice milk base, and was sweetened primarily with brown rice syrup. Truly, a home run! This was the only thing (out of the entire Healthy Halloween Haul Series) that I didn’t share with my family. I’m greedy for good white chocolate hahaha


Head over to their website & order some for yourself ( Sjaaks.com ) If you live in Northern California…take a day trip to beautiful Petaluma, hit up the best farmer’s market around, and pop in to Sjaak’s storefront. 

Have you tried Sjaak’s? What’s your favorite vegan chocolate? Let me know in the comments below or connect with me on Instagram: @girlgonecrunchy

Stay Crunchy!

-m

*I received these products free of charge in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated monetarily* 

Glee {Healthy Halloween Haul #4}

Glee /gle/ noun; great delight

Verve is an awesome company that specializes in all natural, non gmo gum (Glee Gum) and gum pops (Glee Gum Pops). All their products are gluten free, vegetarian, and kosher, and their 6 classic glee gum flavors are certified fair trade.

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Glee Gum Pops were a huge hit with my family. Green Apple was my personal favorite. They were crunchy, sweet, and filled with delicious gum. Unlike a traditional blowpop, the gum center takes a bit of chewing before it truly turns to gum.
Glee Gum comes in a variety of traditional and non traditional flavors, including cinnamon, refresh-mint, mixed berry, and tangerine. They come in cute little squares, and are available in traditional and sugar free (xylitol sweetened) varieties. They’re flavorful, and have an excellent texture. My favorite flavor was tangerine.

Guess what?

Glee is so wonderful that they offered me a discount code to give you lovely people. Use the code: CRUNCHY for 15% off everything. (offer ends 11/30/16)

Use the code at their webstore.

Connect with Glee:

Facebook

Pinterest

Twitter: @gleeguy

Instagram: @glee.gum

Have you tried Glee? Let me know in the comments below or connect with me on Instagram: @girlgonecrunchy

Stay Crunchy,

-m

*I received these products free of charge, in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated monetarily. All opinions are my own.*