Another month down :-)

The 2nd month of my experiment is gone.  I have to admit, I was terrible with my eating and hardly had my spearmint tea.  I’ve been really lazy.  I’m telling myself that it is justified because I’ll be so busy the rest of the year with my post-grad studies that I needed to rest before I started.  I really know that I was just being lazy.

Interestingly, this month is the first time in my life that I have ever had a late period.  My period was a week late and I had 2 negative pregnancy tests before it started.  I wonder if this was because I was so slack and my hormones were more out of wack.  I have had a bit more acne this month, but it isn’t too bad.

The worst thing at the moment is the return of nipple hairs.  So gross!  The extra hair growth with PCOS really makes me feel very unlady-like.  I often joke with my husband about him marrying a “man”.  Sometimes this gets me pretty down.   I think the trick to making myself feel better again is to be very girly (eg. dress up, wear make up, do my hair really nice, go shopping etc.).  Not only do these things make me feel good about myself normally but especially when my femininity is being challenged.

Do any of you do the same kinda thing?

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Dairy Free

I love milk!  As a child I hated soft drink and would have milk instead.  I remember going to Sizzler and my siblings would get soft drink and I would get milk from the coffee machine.  The past year I have limited myself to low fat milk (it just isn’t the same as full cream) but in my research on controlling PCOS naturally I’ve seen a few things on going dairy free helping.   There are hormones in dairy products which when they get into our bodies can worsen our already mucked up hormone problems.

I was very resistant to this.  I have read somewhere that women that drink milk whether it is full cream or light are on average a healthier body weight than those that don’t.  This is the kind of thing I have been telling myself.

However, I decided that I would give it a go.  I started just not having glasses of milk and drinking more water.  Now I have changed to almond milk for my muesli in the morning. I’ve cut right back on cheese except occasionally feta in a salad.  I’ve also started to get organic milk for my husband and also for when I want a cup of tea.  Almond milk is fine in my muesli… I think it blends in well because there are already a lot of nuts in the muesli, but it is awful in tea.  Too nutty!  So at the moment the only dairy I have is in my cups of tea and that is organic milk.

I’m liking my spearmint tea more and more, which is a blessing.  Acne is still going really good.  I have been really naughty with my low GI eating because of Valentine’s day and birthday parties.  But I think it is good to enjoy those things and not be overly strict otherwise I would be miserable.  My sister gave me a box of chocolates last night and they have been staring me down 😦  I’ll wait for my hubby to get home later before opening them because he will eat most of them and that way I’ll eat less.  I have 3-4 black chin hairs that have been growing back really quickly but no new ones have developed.  I’m lucky that I’m fair as my face is hairy but so light only I notice it.

Hope you all were spoiled as I was for Valentine’s Day!

Spearmint tea to reduce androgens

With all my reading into controlling PCOS naturally something fascinating that I came across was that spearmint tea haws been shown to reduce androgen levels.  Androgens are the male sex hormones that those of us with PCOS have too much of and cause the acne and hair growth.  I read this on a couple of websites and then tried to find some proper research on this.   The only study I found was this one http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19585478 .  This study was only done over 30 days, but it did show a reduction in testosterone levels.  They say at the end of the study that spearmint tea could be effective but the research isn’t good because the study was too short.

So if this works, spearmint tea will do what the pill was doing for me by controlling hirsutism and maybe acne.  I also did a search to see if there were any bad side effects from drinking spearmint tea.  The only thing I found was that if you have a lot of it your kidneys won’t handle it so well.  Oh, and if you’re a man it probably isn’t the best thing to drink for obvious reasons.

I then hoped on Ebay and bought a bag of organic spearmint tea from Germany (way cheaper than buying it in Australia).  Customs opened it and had a look.  It looked really bad opening my parcel at work and pulling out the black bag.  The girls all teased me about ordering drugs online.

I decided not to start having it regularly until I stopped the pill because I thought it would be a waste and might not be the best thing to double up on the anti-androgen stuff.  However, I had to try some as soon as I got it home to see what it was like.  I was greatly disappointed to find that it tastes pretty awful.  So, I didn’t touch it again until last week when I stopped taking the pill.

The recommended “dosage” that I read was 1 teaspoon to 250ml of water (let it soak for 5-10 minutes) twice a day.  I’ve had it at least once a day for the last week and a couple of times twice a day.  I still don’t like the taste, but I figure it’ll be worth it if it works.  I have been really bad with my food this week but I’m back into it now and this is what my breakfast looks like now.

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Hope you all had a happy and safe Christmas!

And so it begins…

Today is the first day in my journey to control my PCOS without using the pill.  The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a blur with hen’s party organising, the wedding and now getting ready for Christmas.

I really should have thought through the timing of this better because there has been an over-abundance of chocolates and other bad (but oh so good) foods readily available for me this past week.  Not to mention all the Christmas parties with all the free food.  I just feel like it is such a waste of free food to not eat something that I really enjoy and eat a lot of it.  After Wednesday that should all start to settle down.

I don’t expect to see any real difference until after 3-4 weeks, but I’ll keep you up dated on how it goes.  Hope you all have a great and safe Christmas time!

Lean women can get PCOS

lean and obese pcos

With my previous posts about exercise, I thought it would be best for me to clarify that I am lean and I have PCOS.  I’m not trying to lose weight.  I just want to be more toned and be healthier in general.

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This is me today.  I am 168cm tall and weigh 58kg, BMI is 20 (that is 5ft6 and 128 pounds, I think).  When I was diagnosed about 2 years ago, I weighed between 60-63kg (BMI 22).  5 years ago, I was 56kg (BMI 19).  According to the BMI (body mass index) scale, my healthy weight range is 52-70kg.  So I have always been a really good weight.

This post has taken me a while to write, because PCOS is so poorly understood.  It gets even more confusing when you look at lean women with PCOS.  Most things you will read on the internet will say that being overweight is a major factor linked to PCOS.  Approximately 80% of women with PCOS are overweight, this is often linked with insulin resistance and so most treatment/advice is targeted at weight loss and increasing insulin sensitivity.

Now, for women like me who have “lean PCOS” and are not insulin resistant this advise seems to say “you are fine”.  This is what my doctor told me when I was diagnosed, basically “don’t put on weight”.  But we still get symptoms, so what is the go?!?

The main thing that stood out in my research was that even “normal” levels of insulin in lean women with PCOS, without insulin resistance, will lead to higher androgen levels.  There is some indication that there is increased sensitivity of the “androgenic insulin path-way”.  So, basically insulin causes more androgen to be produced in lean women with PCOS than in lean women that don’t have PCOS, even if you have what is considered to be normal levels of insulin.

There was also a bit of discussion on BPA (bisphenol a) causing increased androgen production.  There are studies to say that women with PCOS have significantly higher levels of BPA in their system than women without PCOS.  I know I’m guilty of having a lot of plastic microwave meals.  However, PCOS has been around for long time and I’m wouldn’t think that BPA has really been a contributing factor in the past.

After reading through different studies, I think there needs to be a lot more study done into the cause/causes of PCOS, rather than just focusing on the treatment of symptoms (this is important but does nothing to fix the problem).  It looks like we just have to figure out what works for us.  I really would like to cut out as much processed or unnatural substances in my body.  And then just eat and live healthy.

Homemade Muesli

I’ve been reading about eating organic foods to help with PCOS.  Basically, organic or “real” food won’t have chemicals, hormones (eg. meats) etc.   Eating organically is healthier and better for everyone but with PCOS it is more important as our bodies are already out of whack and adding chemicals, hormone, etc. will make us even more out of whack.  That’s the theory.

I’ve been looking a lot at this blog http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/ & http://myrealfoodfamily.wordpress.com/, about cutting out processed food and that made me look at the ingredient lists on some everyday foods that I eat like my morning muesli.  I was suprised that my fairly natural looking muesli had chemicals and preservatives in it.  I then googled home made muesli recipes and came up with this combination that I love (especially with the fruit and cinnamon on top).

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10 cups rolled oats  (I think I’ll make it 12 cups next time to make it go further)

1 cup linseed

1 cup sultanas

1 cup almonds, slivered

1 cup pepitas or pumpkin seeds

1 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup chia seeds

Psyllium husks for more fibre

Add fresh chopped banana, apple or berries and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon per serve

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There is a store in our area that sells all these ingredients for good prices they have big tubs of different things and you scoop out how much you want into your bag then they weigh it at the counter.  It gave me some ideas I’ll have to try later on 🙂

Cinnamon is supposed to help with insulin resistance and glucose control so it is really good for PCOS too

Exercise up date

So I’ve been going strong with my exercise plans for just over a week now.  I’m loving the morning bike rides to work.  The fresh air and sunlight (fingers crossed it doesn’t rain) is beautiful.  I’m so unfit, my legs ache! it is pretty much flat along my route and I don’t go really fast so I don’t arrive at work too sweaty.  I don’t mind a good post exercise ache.

The Blogilates is great!  I love that you can feel your butt burning away lol.  I struggle with abs but I think I feel taller because working on the abs gives me better posture.

I am really tired at night though.  Last night, I was ready to fall into bed at 7pm.  I’m not usually a night person but 7pm is too early.  But I’m sure this will get better as my body gets used to it.

About 3 weeks now til I go off the pill 🙂 My exercise should be habit by then!