10 Steps to Healing with PCOS - PCOS Diva
10 Steps to Healing with PCOS

10 Steps for PCOSAre you ready to feel better?

If you are a woman struggling with PCOS, I have good news- there is hope! While you cannot cure PCOS, most women can reduce symptoms by losing weight through mindful eating and moderate exercise.  Lifestyle change is the key for women with PCOS whether they are overweight or not.

We need to be thoughtful about the foods we use to fuel our bodies, the exercise we choose, the toxins we consume and the emotional and mental care we take with ourselves.

Where do you begin?

1)    Educate Yourself.  You must become educated about PCOS. Learn to understand the causes, symptoms and possible treatments.  If you haven’t already, start by downloading PCOS Diva’s free PCOS 101 guide.  It will help you understand the causes and latest treatments for PCOS as well as how to be properly diagnosed and assemble your health care team.  With that knowledge under your belt, you are ready to start healing.

2)    Assemble a Top Notch Team: A coordinated group of practitioners can get you on track quickly.  Start by finding an endocrinologist and Ob/Gyn that are both current on PCOS research and willing to communicate with you and with each other.  Assembling a team you trust is critical.

3)    Load Up on Whole Foods & Supplement Your Diet:  Begin by eliminating as much processed food as possible. Food is medicine! Whole foods such as nuts, lean meats and organic fruits and vegetables are the foundation for rebuilding your health. The sugars (natural and artificial) in processed foods throw your insulin out of balance and trigger nasty side effects. PCOS can be well controlled with diet and exercise, but supplements can make it easier.  Check out the PCOS Diva store for a selection of the supplements that every woman with PCOS should consider.

4)    Dump the Dairy & Get Free of Gluten: Women with PCOS have specific dietary needs.  To get your hormones and insulin levels back on track, you must eat mindfully. Cut out inflammatory foods such as dairy and gluten.  For women with PCOS, these two categories of foods cause inflammation that triggers many of your symptoms from acne to insulin imbalance.  Check out my Seasonal Meal Plans for help planning delicious PCOS friendly meals.

5)    Make a Plan: This is one of my most important tips. Plan your meals, exercise, and self-care ahead of time.  You will make destructive food choices when hunger drives your food choices.  Don’t rush home from work and eat anything in the refrigerator or eat from the dreaded snack machine at work because you didn’t pack a snack. Exercise and self-care won’t happen if you don’t allocate time for them as you would a doctor’s appointment.  Plan and thrive!

Program-Jumpstart6)    Move It Every Day Find a way to move every day.  This isn’t just for weight loss.  Movement relieves stress and clears your mind.  Take a walk at lunchtime, try yoga, swimming, gardening or a strength training class. Any time spent moving is time well spent.  Keep moving in little spurts throughout the day- take the stairs, park far from the store, or stretch.

7)    De-stress  We all lead busy and stressful lives.  The way we approach stress can make all the difference.  Healthy women have coping mechanisms to take on less stress, and they manage the stress they do have with a positive perspective. 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?!

8)    Get Support   Studies show that you are more likely to stick with a lifestyle change if you have a supportive community. First, educate your loved ones so that they can offer support as you make important changes. Next, find a community of like-minded women. Consider finding an exercise or grocery shopping buddy with whom you can share your journey. My Jumpstart program is a 7-day lifestyle coaching program that helps you develop habits that heal as well as surrounding you with a supportive community of women to cheer you on in the months and years to follow.

9)    Make time for 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. 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.

10) Be Kind to Yourself: Rome wasn’t built in a day. The diet and lifestyle changes I suggest will improve your quality of life more than you can imagine, but you have to be kind to yourself while you do it.  Take baby steps and change one thing at a time.  If you make a mistake, remember that you are only one choice away from being back on track.  Try to spend a little time each day doing something just for you- take a walk or a hot bath, meditate, or read a book.  You must be your own top priority.

 

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  • Li

    I find this all terribly hard, not because of the pcos which I have but because I suffer with 3 anxiety disorders also one which I know is also inherited separately from pcos, and is far more debilitating than pcos! the other 2 could be fueled by pcos I don’t know. I also have pre menstrual disphoric disorder, depression, ocd, panic, and levedo recticularis, which is severely mottled skin and has ruined my confidence in top of hirtuism underdeveloped breasts and fat around my middle and I between my shoulder blades like a hump!???? i also had ppd and have had 2 nervous breakdowns since! I haven’t had a period for 14 months and have only had a handful since I started at 13 ! I have never felt like a woman and I don’t know what a sex drive is! Never had acne though. Where do I start ???? ? Any support appreciated xxxx

    • Loz

      Hi Li. I’m sorry to hear things are hard for you at the moment but you’re not alone. I was recently diagnosed with PCOS (I’m 32), which came as a shock since I didn’t have any of the outward symptoms other than mild acne. I had also had 2 kids without any issue. I’m only now starting to see significant hair loss (think it’s quite a lot to do with stress though!). What I have suffered with my whole life (since about the age of 7) is anxiety and depression. I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder (GAD) a few years ago and have social anxiety too. I’ve had 3 nervous breakdowns since I had kids as well as postnatal depression twice so I really do understand. For me the anxiety is by far the worst symptom (although like you it’s not just caused by the PCOS). It’s very hard because it does all feed in to itself. I also wonder if perhaps I’ve been misdiagnosed and have NCAH! I do find that exercise and improving my diet helps to reduce the anxiety, as has mindfulness techniques. I found cognitive behavioral therapy a life saver initially but later on I switched to acceptance and commitment therapy techniques (you can google either of those and find books and articles about them if you haven’t tried them already). Acceptance is a huge part of dealing with anxiety (and PCOS) for me. Initially I found the anxiety disorder diagnosis helpful but it began to feel overwhelming when it became more than one disorder. As a result I just tell myself I have anxiety and leave it at that! I’m not sure where you’re living but there are quite a few mental health charities out there that can help with funding therapy sessions or for peer support (I found Anxiety UK helpful – I’m from the UK originally – there is also an Australian charity called Smiling mind that has a really great free app with mindfulness meditations). I hope this has helped a little. You really aren’t alone!

      • Li

        Thank you so much for your reply! Even though it sounds crappy sounds like we could be twins! I am going through a massive period of non acceptance I am starting to see certain anxiety traits in my son and I just think REALY!!? ???? this is why I can’t bring myself to try and even consider having more children he is such a beautiful soul and I don’t wNt him to feel the debilitation I’ve felt and the total lonely sad existence you can feel. On top of the fear of mental health issues.that could occur and coming off my medication I don’t think I could face it which makes me very angry I have to live a life of being controlled. The doctors where I live are crap it took 7 years to be diagnosed with pcos though I’ve never had acne there are a lot of other disorders that mimic the same symptoms as pcos but are disorders of the pituitary or hypothalamus I wish I could have that looked into the amount of anxiety I felt as a child leads me to think it damaged these glands and made them imbalanced?! I don’t know call it intuition. Thank you for sharing a part of your story I’m sure it goes way deeper like mine keep in touch xxx

        • Loz

          It’s funny you say that about your son. Seems we really have a lot in common! My eldest daughter has a lot of anxious traits, which in a way surprises me since she has always been such an independent child. But now she worries a lot (just like me). Funnily enough my second daughter seems to be the complete opposite! I was the first born in my family so I wonder if that plays a part in developing anxiety (?!). I was much less anxious with my second daughter during pregnancy and after she was born (I was in a much better place) although I still got pnd which came out when she turned 2 (just like the first!). The one positive thing about my first daughter is now that I have learnt ways of dealing with anxiety I’m in a much better position to help her deal with hers than my parents were with me. Anyway it’s good to meet some one having similar struggles! Would be good to stay in touch ????

          • Li

            My cousin suffered with post natal psychosis and that has scared the life out of me! I have feelings where my brain feels like it will shut down and it whirls and thoughts become mashed into one big pool of darkness and then can sometimes end in a anxiety attack! I don’t think being first born REALY contributes to developing anxiety it may? But I think it develops because of your inborn temperament and social anxiety because of increased self awareness. I personally think it begins in the hypothalamus it must be extra sensitive or attached to other glands much deeper in the brain like the pituitary/amygdala etc it fires off more quickly or because the emotions and much more powerful you feel anger fear disgust empathy etc more intense and we know the stress of emotions can have a knock on effect to your hormonal supply and distribution around the body. Other people don’t feel that! And in turn it creates symptoms physically and emotionally. Women who have a short period of stress can disrupt their menstrual cycle so it only makes sense when you are born with a sensitive nervous system feeling fear everyday, hormones will be disrupted. I just think in some cases there is more to it. If they would only look into these glands in the brain/ adrenals I think they’d find the culprit! Can I ask how social anxiety affected you? When did it start etc? Symptoms ? Xx

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