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!
6) 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.