Being healthy is a habit. At first, you choose to exercise every day because you know it will make you healthier. Eventually, “moving it” daily becomes a habit that keeps you healthy. It feels strange not to do it!
PCOS can often seem overwhelming. “Where do I start?” may be the question I am most commonly asked. In my practice, I often tell women, “Small hinges swing big doors.” The key to treating PCOS is to try making little changes here and there. “Getting healthy” can’t happen overnight. There is no magic pill, no shortcut. Make good choices and small changes; your little healthy habits will add up in to a happy and healthy life.
Here are the top 12 habits of women who manage their PCOS naturally and THRIVE!
- They do not consume sweetened (with natural sugar or artificial) beverages– Sugar (even artificial sugar) causes changes to your insulin levels with negatively cycling side effects. The more sugar you consume, the more sugar you will crave and the more harm it does to your body. In addition, sugary drinks (especially sodas) dehydrate you. They are diuretics that actually elevate your blood pressure and increase urination. You are not peeing because you are hydrated; you are peeing to get rid of the contaminants! Let’s not even get started on the toxic load the chemicals in these drinks put on your body. Try sparkling water or green tea. Add a wedge of citrus, some frozen berries or pineapple and mint for a refreshing change of pace.
- They move it every day. Movement is a habit that all women with PCOS must have in order to thrive. There are tons of effective alternatives. You just need to find a few activities that are right for your body and that you look forward to doing. Go for a walk. Take a swim. Take a class at the local gym or online at gaiamtv.com. Try HIIT, strength training or yoga! Movement releases endorphins that make you feel good right away and has countless positive long term effects on everything from cardiovascular and skeletal heath to reducing depression.
- They love themselves and their bodies now. Embrace who you are today- not who you will be after you get a better job, the kids move out, you lose another 10 pounds or you fit into your jeans from junior high. You must love and respect yourself and your body today and treat yourself with that love and respect. That respect will lead you to make important changes to benefit your health.
- They do not see themselves as victims. Women who thrive with PCOS are not helpless victims of their disease. They have the will and the power to overcome their symptoms and embrace their health and happiness. They choose to act and overcome.
- They educate so they can advocate. You must be your own advocate. Many doctors are not well educated about PCOS and look for the quick (chemical) fix. Educate yourself about the causes, tests and treatments, and be prepared to demand considered care from your health care providers. Start by reading the free PCOS Diva PCOS 101 Guide.
- They have a low dairy, whole food diet without gluten and processed soy. Many women with PCOS benefit from eliminating gluten, soy and most dairy. These foods cause inflammation which exacerbates PCOS symptoms. Eliminating gluten and limiting dairy may seem like big steps- and they are. Start small. Have a smoothie for breakfast instead of cereal with milk or a bagel. You won’t regret it.
- They get adequate sleep. Sleep is critical for body (and especially brain) function. Rest helps your body re-energize and detoxify. It is hard to maintain other good health habits if you are dragging through your day- too tired to exercise and taking in sugar and caffeine to keep you awake. No-one benefits from a drowsy, foggy brain. Hit the sack at night for at least 8 hours, and for your best sleep, turn off electronics 1 hour before bedtime.
- They manage their stress. We all lead busy and stressful lives. The way we approach the stress can make all the difference. Healthy women have learned coping mechanisms to take on less stress as well as to effectively manage and have a positive perspective on the stress they do have. Stress triggers the production of cortisol in our bodies which wreaks havoc on our hormonal system and PCOS symptoms and gives you belly fat! Who needs that?!
- They take high quality supplements. The most balanced and healthy diet still has gaps day to day. Healthy women understand this and fill in those gaps with high quality supplements such as a multivitamin, fish oil, vitamin D. Depending upon their symptoms, they may choose to also supplement with herbs like berberine or specialized vitamins like those in Ovasitol. Remember, not all supplements are created equal. Be certain that the supplements you choose are third party certified.
- They plan and cook meals. Planning is the key to a healthy diet. You are much less likely to enjoy a healthy dinner if you rush home from work and eat whatever is in the refrigerator. Careful planning can save you from a bowl of pasta on the couch or calorie, fat and sodium packed take-out. Plan healthy meals and cook enough for leftovers on nights when you will have no time to prepare an entire meal.
- They practice extreme self-care. The need for self-care cannot be over emphasized. Taking care of your mind, body and spirit is not selfish. You are more able to give your friends, family and coworkers your whole self when you have taken the time to refresh. Self-care means eating well and exercising, but just as importantly, it means taking a few minutes to yourself every day to recenter and relax. You may choose to meditate, take an Epsom salt bath or write in a journal. Whatever you choose, give yourself over to the experience wholly and see the difference it makes in your life.
- They practice progress not perfection. No-one is perfect; we all know that. Still, we often strive for perfection in our work, relationships and our bodies. This never ending pursuit causes unnecessary and unreasonable stress. Healthy women know that absolute perfection is impossible. There is pleasure in doing your best and loving who you are right now. Life is a journey, after all.