Ever since I was a kid, if there was one word to describe me, that would be chubby. Despite being a dancer and participating in various sports activities, I was a bit on the heavier side of the scale. But apart from subtle comments on my weight from my friends and family, I was never really bothered about my weight or my appearance. However, things changed for me after I entered adolescence. As I started noticing my body changing, I couldn’t help but feel “big” or “ugly” compared to my classmates who seemed to have it all perfect.
My Journey with PCOS
I have tried everything to shed the extra kilos off, ever since my high-school days: Skip meals and instead take meal replacements, go for walks, sign up for aerobics and yoga. Once in a while, the motivation to lose the weight would usually wear off after reaching its pinnacle, and here I would fall off the wagon and go crawling back to the comfort of devouring desserts. During the first couple of years of my adolescence, I began noticing an extreme breakout of acne over my face, groin, and chest. Seeing no results despite undertaking different hygiene routines, my mother and I dismissed it off as one of the side-effects of perhaps my menstrual cycle or the fact that my body is changing.
However, this persisted for more than 3 years until I began noticing that my periods had been irregular and I had gained an unhealthy amount of weight. I had been on homeopathy medication for my acne for a few years now, so on the advice of my doctor, we decided to get my blood work and sonography done. My doctor’s suspicions were confirmed- I was diagnosed with PCOS. At the age of 17 where the only thing I was worried about was getting good grades and losing my excess weight, the diagnosis seemed a little too chaotic for me, even if 10% of the world’s female population were diagnosed with the same, and that’s how I started my PCOS story. I decided that until my next doctor’s appointment, I will devote all my time to researching everything about PCOS i.e. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. I wanted to know and understand how to control my PCOS problem.
Facts about PCOS:
PCOS is caused due to hormonal imbalances which have a direct effect on the functioning of our ovaries, our metabolism, and the proportion of androgen in our bodies. Usually, our ovaries make the egg that is released as a part of a healthy menstrual cycle every month. However, with PCOS, the egg may not develop or not be released during ovulation. This is reflected by irregular or missed periods which eventually leads to:
- Development of cysts in the ovaries
As this information clouded all my rationality, the only thing that resonated in my ears was my doctor asking me to lose weight in order to get the PCOS under control, along with medication. However, here’s the tricky part. Weight management can become a gazillion times difficult for women living with PCOS since this hormonal imbalance in itself causes weight gain, which leads to a breakout of acne, thinning of hair, and even episodes of depression, to name a few.
My mom and my cousin were the most motivating people during this time, who made me believe that I could achieve this- I could lose the weight and get my health back. “How to control PCOS naturally”, was the question on my mind, but honestly all it required was a lot of patience, discipline, and consistency. My cousin, an avid runner, and a fitness enthusiast helped me understand the foundations of nutrition and the kind of workout routines that should be adopted in order to suit my long-term health goals. I began running by signing up for a couple of 5k races and formulated a running and training plan from the comfort of my home on a fitness app that I downloaded.
As I began noticing myself getting faster and not wearing out as easily as I did at the beginning, it only pushed me to keep going. For a year and a half, I continued training using free workouts on the app (I also attended a seminar once where I trained under a few celebrity trainers), sticking to my running plans and preparing myself for 10k races regularly, and worked on developing a healthy relationship with food.
The fundamental principle of losing weight is to always maintain a caloric deficit. This is true indeed, but what is more important is where your daily calories are coming from. Are the macros you are logging incoming from a healthy source or are you indulging in a 600-calories double chocolate chip frappe and skipping lunch? After a lot of research on how to efficiently track my macros and calories, I downloaded another fitness app that helped me set my daily (healthy) caloric goals, track the proportion of my daily macros and educate myself more on nutrition through its various in-app blogs. After a lot of trial and error, I now stick to 50% carbs, 25% protein, 25% (healthy) fats proportion for my daily macros, which help me achieve my nutrition goals.
Experimenting with cooking healthy meals, I have now developed an unexplainable love for a good bowl of salad. Whether I am training for a race or just getting my routine workouts in, I make sure to have a huge bowl of salad full of veggies, beans/paneer/sometimes tofu, and some complex carbs for at least one meal a day. I also started taking PCOS supplements that helped to boost my hormonal health. Having a crazy sweet tooth, I make sure I treat myself to something delicious by replacing its ingredients with lesser harmful substitutes. My favorite dessert which I treat myself to every-now-and-then is the protein chocolate chip cookies, which not only satisfies my cravings but also helps me hit my protein goals!
Today at 23, I am no longer diagnosed with PCOS. My menstrual cycle has become regular, my acne has drastically reduced. I have not hit my goal weight yet but I am healthier than I was at 17. Through these 6 years of my journey of battling PCOS, I have become more aware of my body, more informed about good nutrition, and fell in love with working out and I am glad that I am one of the PCOS success stories.
PCOS can take a toll on a woman’s life, yes the magnitude may differ from person to person, but what I have learned is it can definitely be controlled. So, grab that bottle of good alkalized water, get that workout in, cook a hearty meal and take one day at a time.
You beat PCOS with perseverance and patience! 🙂