PCOS Advocacy Day 2023 Is Today, March 2nd, 2023
In honor of PCOS Advocacy Day 2023, I wanted to take a quick moment to send a message out there to women everywhere who may be struggling with a diagnosis or learning that the diagnosis is in fact PCOS. I have lived for 17 years with this hormonal disorder. The name polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) describes the numerous small cysts (fluid-filled sacs) that form in the ovaries. I have had to learn to live with adrenal fatigue, inflammation, hormone imbalances, hair loss, hyperpigmentation and insulin resistance – to name a few. All because of PCOS, at 26 I went from a normal healthy weight and level of athleticism at about 128 pounds to over 220 pounds on my 5’5 frame – in under a year. It was really painful and pretty much awful to be honest. I needed physical therapy to get moving again because walking down the block was physically painful. It was also emotionally painful too because I had never felt so uncomfortable and ashamed in my own body.
I did not want to live in that body and feel those things but I was also so tired and felt so defeated all the time I didn’t even think I could take the first step. But I did just that – one step. And then another. And I have managed to get to 44 and feel pretty darned great, so I thought I would share a little of my journey. Remember I am not a professional and these are just some of my experiences that have worked for me. PCOS is complex and for some requires mental health professionals in addition to physical health professionals. Please know that all of it is out there and waiting for you 🤍
Working with the physical therapist was ultimately how I found my way back to riding, and a few really wonderful experts have guided me over the years to a program that really works for me to live with and flourish with PCOS. I live with this every day, and it impacts how I feel when I travel, on a long wedding day and even in the saddle. I live in a perpetual state of PCOS maintenance with the goal of healing the symptoms. The challenging part (one of them anyway) of PCOS is that no two women present the same – there are a variety of symptoms that can manifest in thousands of ways and because it’s a syndrome and not a disease you can’t necessarily cure it. But – you can create a program that works for you and heals the symptoms so you live a life on your terms that is also healthy for your body.
I have learned that PCOS can be genetic or environmental and that it is much more common among women than most people know. And while women with PCOS are more likely to develop certain serious health problems. These include type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, problems with the heart and blood vessels, and uterine cancer. Women with PCOS often have problems with their ability to get pregnant (fertility). You can read more here on symptoms. The Office on Women’s Health also has some good info on their website.
I travel with supplements and teas and a variety of homeopathic remedies (peppermint oil is so great for me when I fly! It calms anxiety and can also bring down a hot flash associated with anxiety and hormonal imbalance) and keep a little care bag in my backpack that I use at horse shows. I make sure to drink water – I prefer sparkling water because it feels like a treat for me. Especially since I try to never drink soda anymore. Fresh fruit and starches and delicious things still exist for me and I am really happy to be in a place right now where I can move and stretch and live and eat and feel good.
I pack some snacks for a long wedding day and make sure to wear good shoes that I can get around in comfortably. I also dress for the weather and am not afraid to take a moment and sit down if I need to. My team is incredibly important because they are who help me do everything I need to on a wedding day or event day for our clients. We cannot do anything alone, and PCOS definitely falls under that category. Having your support team is so important!
My husband has taken the time to learn about PCOS-friendly foods and various remedies that can help so he can be supportive as well. It takes a team so definitely create yours mindfully and with intention. I am very aware of what I eat at home – I read nutrition labels and try to make wise choices but of course, there are days when I eat the cupcake or drink red wine. But I have worked to understand what my levels of moderation are and you can too.
I have learned movement is key. Yoga, stretching, walking and weights are all excellent to include a little of daily. I find that eating throughout the day really makes a difference. Protein at every meal is a big one too. Even small movements like a walk in the morning with my dogs makes all the difference in my day – I love a good low-impact ride on my Peloton and of course you know I love my horses. I tend to stay away from lots of high-level activity like kickboxing or high-impact classes (I love interval training for this reason, the breaks are great!). I do cryotherapy and cold plunges whenever possible (shout out to Freeze Float Spa for teaching me so much about the benefits of the cold plunge!)
I have learned that self-care is vital to my health so I schedule the massage and go get the facial to keep myself feeling good inside and out. I did remove things like dairy and sugar from my diet, limit caffeine, and have a supplement regimen too that includes Vitamin D, Milk Thistle, Zinc, and Turmeric among others including berberine. I cannot recommend what you should take as I am not a medical professional, but I can say I did my research and found what works for me. Doctors are not always the greatest with the treatment of PCOS – I have had numerous suggest things like birth control to “correct” PCOS but found that personally the more hormones I put in my body, the worse the hormone disorder becomes.
These things along with doctor visits help me to be the very best version of myself. If you think you may have PCOS and you are feeling anxiety or depression, please know that comes with the territory and you are not alone. There are some blood tests you can ask your doctor for to determine if you have PCOS (I am including them below), and there are some wonderfully helpful resources online too that offer support and knowledge so definitely be your own advocate. Instagram has some awesome accounts to follow too like @pcos.weightloss and @thewomensdietitian.
Please know you aren’t alone, and that you can live a wonderful life with PCOS! I am proof positive 🤩
Thank you for reading about my PCOS experience. I am always happy to answer questions if you have any, so please reach out if you do. And please know you can live a beautiful life with PCOS, because I am! Sending love. xo