TC46 Unplugged: Finding My Way Out Of PCOS & Things I Wish Other Women With PCOS Knew & Understood

By | November 21, 2021
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As a certified nutritionist and transformation specialist, I am a staunch believer in staying fit while eating clean and exercising regularly. As I retrace my weight loss journey and everything I had gone through, it dawned on me that I am not alone in this fight. There are thousands of women out there who are battling the same demons as I once did. I gained a lot of weight, which is natural after pregnancy, right? What was not normal was the problems that came along with it. With everything I went through, I decided to extend the same helping hand that I wish I had received during the lowest point in my life. That’s how Nourish with Sim came into being and ever since then, I have worked to help people find their fitter, happier selves by encouraging them to take one step forward towards a healthy future. 

Not all health coaches and fitness trainers have a history of clean eating and regular workouts. Some of them are shaped by conflict—years of eating junk food, a sedentary lifestyle, life-altering accidents—something which eventually weighs them down to a breaking point. I am one of them.

I thought that it was okay to put on a little weight after I got married. Then my husband and I decided to have a baby and the severity of my pre-existing Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) hit me. Conceiving became really hard because of my weight. I weighed around 65 kgs at 5 ft 7 inches. Ovulation and fertility issues from uncontrolled PCOS made my conception difficult and it was quite the nightmare from a ‘carry to term’ perspective. After 6 months of trying to conceive, I went to multiple gynecologists, most of whom dismissed me every time, saying that it would be nearly impossible to have a normal conception. Their answer was to always recommend fertility treatments or a laparoscopy.

I was devastated, to say the least, so I decided to try one last doctor. Blunt, to the point and as real as can be, she told me to spend the next 3 months getting fitter and healthier. Without any fertility treatment or laparoscopy, I eventually did conceive. The birth of my healthy baby boy was a blessing after months spent in agony, as I grappled with self-doubt. I got through my pregnancy, having faced multiple issues, complications and gestational diabetes. 

Post-delivery, returning to my previous lifestyle aggravated my PCOS. With it came postpartum depression, excessive hair growth, irregular periods, lethargy, mood swings and so much more.

But pregnancy and the resultant weight gain made it harder for me to move around. Additionally, I began eating without reservation, again. I kept telling myself that I needed to eat because I was feeding. 

Before I knew it, I was 20 kilos overweight and depressed. Little did I know that the added bodyweight would lead to grave consequences? What started as a bit of discomfort or slight inconvenience gradually escalated to drastic health problems which made me a prisoner of my own body and mind. Things got so out of hand that I found it difficult to even leave my house to go to the movies or visit the grocery shop.

As my self-esteem plummeted, I began avoiding social gatherings and continued binge-eating. But my weight and lack of strength soon began affecting my back. One day I just collapsed and could not move. I was alone with my three-month-old baby when this happened. The doctors diagnosed a bulged disc and a degenerated disc. 

The pain was so excruciating that I was forced to crawl around the house for a week. But since I was still feeding, I was unable to take muscle relaxants. Sitting beyond 30 minutes would cause my back to freeze. I couldn’t even sit down for dinner.

The aggravated PCOS coupled with a bad back pushed me to get my act together. I got into a regular fitness routine, started eating better, and in general, taking control of my life.

I resorted to dieting, which, with my limited knowledge, meant ‘eat less’. I lost a little weight, but nothing noticeable. More importantly, my back didn’t feel better, and I realized that dieting this way wasn’t sustainable. Then a close friend made a remark about my weight. I was hurt, but in retrospect, I am glad he spoke his mind. 

Although I always found the gym boring and was under the misconception that strength training would make me bulk up, I agreed to try it out. The first thing I did was reach out to a personal trainer.

I went back to doing it the tried-and-tested way: strength, cardio and a sensible nutrition plan, with Sunday being a rest day. At first, it seemed like too much food, but I persisted in eating balanced, healthy meals and snacks spaced out all through the day and avoided carbonated beverages, refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, fried stuff, refined flour and packaged food.

Additionally, I quelled the guilt I first felt at taking two hours away from home and my baby and was diligent about working out. I lost 4 kg in the first month. In five months, I dropped four sizes and 23 kilos.

With my transformation, the PCOS corrected itself, and now I have no back problems. From not being able to sit through a movie, I now go rock climbing. Now, I have realized how far I have come, and how important it is to be fit and not skinny. 

There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to treating PCOS. Every single case is different. 

We know that lifestyle modification plays the largest role in PCOS where a healthy diet that includes foods and meal structures that have an effect on blood sugar levels, is beneficial. A healthy diet coupled with adequate exercise and activity is essential to the management of PCOS. Lifestyle modifications make up the foundation of managing PCOS. Further complications must be evaluated by a medical professional.

I’ve lost over 25kgs with PCOS. It’s possible. 

PCOS affects nearly 20% of women causing hormonal imbalances and metabolism issues that affect overall health and appearance. It’s also a common cause of infertility but is easily treatable with basic lifestyle changes. I know because I struggled with weight gain, irregular periods and infertility. Not to mention the mood swings, insulin resistance and depression. It is frustrating and makes you feel helpless. We don’t realise how important nutrition and exercise is. It’s not just about weight loss. 

While PCOS causes weight gain, it’s easily manageable with diet and exercise. Exercise also helps with hormonal imbalances, metabolism and insulin resistance. You need to do at least 30 mins of continuous exercise a day AND stay active throughout the day. 

Simple Secret: go for a 30 min brisk walk daily.

PCOS is easy to control. Follow my simple steps and you will see change. Diet is one of the critical components, but as I always maintain, it is a confluence of various factors. I don’t recommend focusing on specific foods as everything has a cause and an effect. We have to become healthy in our outlook. Eat healthy. Exercise regularly. Both these in tandem result in weight loss. Better control of blood sugar. The lower your blood sugar, the better your PCOS management, the better your weight management and your overall demeanor.

Everything has to be sustainable as otherwise, it dies a quick death. You need to exercise regularly. Do what you enjoy. Push yourself there. It helps you achieve more and more as you strive towards your goals. It is easier to include activities in short spurts when your main activity is something that you either enjoy or learn to like.

You have to eat what is available easily. What your family likes. That which is affordable. The moment you cross this threshold, problems arise. It stops being sustainable. 

I learned very early on that I had to focus on eating right while still feeding my husband and my young son. They still had their likes and dislikes. I had to adapt. I had to make what we eat regularly, yet still, ensure that it was a healthy version. I still eat the things that I love. Moderation is the key. Having a plan is critical. Otherwise, no progress will be achieved.

I have always noticed how women forget to take care of themselves because they are too busy taking care of everyone else. Let me stop you right there. There is nothing good waiting for you at the end of that road. Your body is your first home; make sure it is clean and has a strong foundation. Take that first step, today. The best version of you is just around the corner.

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