Friday, January 2, 2009

Welcome to the Journey!

Hey everyone, are you ready for this? I've been psyching myself up for this for several weeks now, this big commitment to changing my lifestyle and nutrition habits once and for all.

I will start out by saying this is not a blog about losing weight. It might happen, in fact, it is almost sure to happen, but you aren't going to hear me talking about it, and chances are, I am not even going to keep track of it for myself! Believe me, I would love to lose a little and be svelt and sexy, but that is decidely not what this is about. That being said, feel free to share when it happens to you and makes you feel good! I am quite sure I will be rejoicing, though perhaps privately, when I can fit into my fat clothes again! (I never really had skinny clothes...)

This is really all about saving myself from this really obnoxious issue I have with my health. Namely, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and insulin resistance (IR). These are by no means rare issues...I've seen estimates that as many as 1 in 10 women in the US has PCOS, and IR, well that is what is going on to one degree or another with basically all of us who are carrying a little extra around the middle! PCOS and IR seem to be linked - lucky us! All this puts a person at higher risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, you know, all those lovely things that kill people these days...usually slowly and painfully. When I first got diagnosed in April 2006, I went gung ho and changed all these things cold turkey for several months. I was extra motivated by the desire to overcome infertility. Well, it worked and I had a baby, and I totally fell off the bandwagon. But I've gotten to another breaking point lately, hence my final readiness to face it and truly change myself on a deep and permanent level. At least, that's what I'm going for - I know it won't happen overnight. I'm going to stumble and make mistakes, and I'm definitely going to need a lot of support. So thank goodness you are here - I need to hear from you!

So here's the plan. I'm going to be trying a multi-faceted attack strategy. I figure if there are a lot of things I am trying to do, I will succeed at least some of the time at some of them, right? Here are the main ideas, I am sure they will be refined and adjusted as time goes on and I learn more about all this:

1) Get rid of the Whites: White Sugar, White Flour, White Rice, and White Potatoes. I have done this part before and it is one of the hardest things psychologically, especially for a Candy Addict...but I really can't have any of these things in any quantity because of what they do to one's blood sugar. And especially, no High Fructose Corn Syrup - don't believe those commercials, it really is extra bad for you.

2) No more processed food: things from boxes, cans, and freezer trays are generally detrimental. Obviously some ok things come in this form, but one must be discriminating. Oh yeah, and no fake food either, like Splenda. A lot of people will be having a hard time with this, especially in the form of diet soda, but fortunately for me, I don't like carbonation. I also can't stand the taste of fake sugar. Only real candy for me...oh wait, not anymore...

3) Only healthy fats, and plenty of them: Good bye deep fried food, coconut oil is my new best friend. Anyone ever read "Eat Fat, Lose Fat"? Neither have I, but I heard its great. That one is definitely going on my Amazon Wish List. All kidding aside, I did actually go to a doctor and nutritionist (who did read that book) after I got diagnosed and she told me that I need to make sure I am getting plenty of good fats because hormones are made of fat (well, the steroid hormones are, at least) so it would help balance me out. And since she's a doctor, it must be true. (wink wink) So I'll be cooking (at low temperatures) with coconut oil, butter, and olive oil, and taking generous amounts of fish oil as well. No low fat, fat free, or margarine stuff for me, thank you. I know, this one is throwing you for a loop again, but I am really serious. Go read "Eat Fat, Lose Fat."

4) Speaking of taking fish oil, I need to start taking all those pills again: UGH! Honestly, this is what broke me the first time through. Months and months of downing probably 20 pills a day. When you're relatively young like me, it just doesn't feel right to have to tote around a pill box as big as my Grandma's. After a while you really start to wonder if they're even doing anything for you. Well, after going off of them I found out that yes, indeed, they were really doing a lot for me. So like I said, I've been psyching myself up to get back on track there. I'll be taking a multivitamin (prenatal, just in case), calcium & magnesium supplement (3 pills/day), probiotics (2/day), fish oil (2-4/day), garlic, B-complex, sometimes vitamin C, and Metformin (2/day). Metformin is the only prescription in the bunch, also known as Glucophage. Its a diabetes drug that helps your body be more sensitive to insulin, and it has also turned out to be a miracle drug for PCOS women. They don't really know how it works, but it does.

5) Do the organic thing: yes, its expensive, my husband calls this the Bankruptcy Diet. But frankly, I need to reduce the chemical load on my body and those pesticides are often endocrine disruptors...

6) No more eating out: oh man, this one is a toughie because a) I'm not a great cook and I hate cleaning up after myself, and b) my hubby loves eating out. Not that it would hurt him to do it less either... This one actually has double benefits though because in addition to being much healthier, it also saves a lot of money. Maybe even enough to cover the organic bill!

7) No more plastic: I've actually done this one for a while but have been a little lax about it at times. However, since PCOS is a hormone problem, and plastics often leach endocrine-disrupting chemicals into whatever substances they contain, its best to avoid it as much as possible. So, no more GladWare, no Dasani water, you get the idea... Glass and stainless steel are my new best friends. Oh yeah, this ban goes for styro too...

8) All natural body products: I've also been doing this one for a while as well, but I can always do more. Again with trying to reduce my exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Check out Skin Deep for more info on this one.

9) Hello, exercise! I am basically a lardo who sits on the couch under my laptop as much as my toddler will allow. Really, the only exercise I get is chasing him around if I happen to allow him out of toddler confinement (aka the shopping cart). I do have this nifty 20 minute Pilates DVD that has been pretty good for me in the past. I bought it because I thought I could probably manage an exercise that you do lying down the whole time, and that is basically true. Its just a matter of making myself do it. Oh yeah, and there's that $1500 treadmill with an inch of dust on it in the corner. Maybe I'll work my way up to that... But seriously, studies are showing that regular exercise can be as effective at combating depression as prescription medications! Definitely going to need to deal with that when I'm going through sugar DT's.

10) Explore multiple healing modalities: go to the chiropractor regularly, and if I can find any way to afford it, visit a massage therapist, a homeopath and an acupuncturist regularly as well, and maybe a naturopath or herbalist too. I have had very good results from these things in the past and they just make you feel good and help your body click along a little bit better. Probably the biggest barrier to this type of care is the cost, since its all out of pocket. So what ends up happening is that I rationalize my way out of going, booting myself to the bottom of the priority list and suffering along with stuff that I could most likely get rid of with the proper help. Its time to hoist myself up a few notches on that priority list, and convince myself (and hubby) that these things aren't just luxuries.

I guess I should put some sort of disclaimer on here since we are going to be talking about a lot of health related things. I am not a health care professional. Any information here is purely for support and education purposes and any changes you make to your personal care habits based on this blog should be reviewed by your health care provider. Your health is your own responsibility, and I am not able to take any liability for anything that may result from your following ideas on this blog. Though I will screen them for propriety, I also cannot assume liability for the content of any comments on this blog. Everyone's body is different and what works for me may not be appropriate for you. You always need to be your own advocate and do your own research before making health and lifestyle related decisions.

OK, that being said, what I am doing is pretty much common sense and is based on a whole food, close to nature approach, and as such, would probably be healthy for most people, PCOS or not. I do basically believe that PCOS and similar problems are a reaction, in genetically sensitive individuals, to our modern environment, and therefore can be helped a lot by avoiding man-made things and living naturally.

Well, I'm going to wrap it up for now. Thanks for sticking with me though this long intro post. From here on out, I'll be posting what I'm eating and doing for myself every day, along with some discussion topics, interesting info I come across, etc. Please, please, chime in and let me know where you're at in your journey, share recipes, etc. I'm looking forward to seeing the changes unfold!


  1. I think this is going to be an awesome blog and I can't wait to learn from it! From one "Cyster" to another, good luck to you!!

  2. Brava, Holly! I can't wait to read more. You know that I try to follow these principles also... from a health (and lifestyle, i think) standpoint, whole food/natural cannot be beat!

  3. wow.. i'm impressed by your dedication! i'm also afraid that this means that you'll never visit my house again. :)

  4. Wow Holly! I'm so impressed by your blog! While I don't have PCOS, I have every reason to try to follow what you are doing. Sugar is my vice! Oh how I love the white bread, white flour, potatoes and CANDY. Not to mention my little dirty Diet Coke addiction. Keep it up girl! I know you'll be successful!

  5. Very interesting I will be happy to follow you and maybe get some motivation myself for healthier living and exercise!

  6. Yay Holly!
    I so want to do organic, but the cost is the problem...someday, we will get there :)
    And white potatoes?

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Doh - Its MARY! Not my mom, also called Mary, who I knew was trying to get on here to comment!

    Well, Mary (not mom), yeah, white potatoes are bad news - they send your blood sugar sky high... :(

  9. Hey Holly! I don't have PCOS, but definitely have hormone issues going on that I found out about between having Anna-Lee and getting pregnant with Reese. So I'm interested in changing a lot of the same things in my diet for similar reasons.

    And I've got to say that regular massage and chiro visits made SUCH a difference between the two girls. I honestly credit it as a big reason why my hormones regulated enough so my pregnancy with Reese didn't end in yet another miscarriage. If you can't afford to get to your regular massage therapist (if you have one), and need a massage, just let me know. I do need all the practice I can get, after all! ;)