Wednesday 09 February 2011
Hello everyone! For those of you who don’t already know me, my name is Sara and I am a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Fitness Consultant. One of my goals as a Holistic Practitioner is to raise awareness about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). It is a complex metabolic and hormonal disease and the number one cause of infertility. I have PCOS.
"I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome."
For more information on the condition, visit the PCOS Holistic Program section of my website.
I’m excited to share the discoveries I have made along my PCOS journey. It has been far from easy, and it took a while to get to where I am now, but my path to health has finally started to open up. Getting diagnosed with PCOS was a blessing in disguise, after all the years of guessing what was “wrong” with me. It all started during my prepubescent years. Through most of my childhood, I had always been a thin and fit athlete. I was also a competitive figure skater, which added to the pressure of being thin. I was not happy with the changes that were occurring to my body during this awkward time. I started gaining weight, growing excessive body hair and getting acne. I was experiencing severe mood swings, blood sugar spikes, as well as a severe lack of energy and motivation. I lost all drive to life. My menstrual cycle was either very irregular, or completely absent, and I lacked self-esteem. As a result of the pressures of life as a teenage girl, and experiencing of all these unpleasant bodily changes, I developed an eating disorder; Bulimia. This eventually lead to my being admitted to the hospital. During my stay, it was also discovered that I was going through a depression. Blood tests showed that my Prolactin level was through the roof and a further MRI scan showed that I had a small pituitary tumor. It felt like my world was falling apart! I was grateful to have a family doctor that didn’t put me on antidepressants. Those would have only been masking the symptoms of a greater issue; the route cause of my problem. Acute symptoms are, most of the time, signs that the body is not in balance, and that a chronic condition will eventually develop, or has already. My doctor suggested that I go talk to a professional.
After visiting a couple of different people, I finally connected with a down-to-earth psychologist. He was also a strict vegetarian and herbalist. What I loved about him is that he helped me overcome some of my health issues with whole foods, natural supplements, medicinal herbs and positive affirmations. He helped me begin to see the big picture; that any individual must be treated as a whole, and not symptom by symptom. He looked at everything. From the foods I was eating, the products I was using, the environment I lived in, to what kind of exercise I was involved in and my stress level. I started feeling much better once he helped me understand that it was not but one thing that makes us unwell, it’s a combination of everything. My life was getting better, I was eating well and exercising, but I hadn’t yet fully understood how to manage my stress.
I started my first year of University, and after the first semester, things started tumbling down again. Stress, or I should say the way I perceived and handled stress, started controlling my life, I was soon back to my old and unhealthy eating and lifestyle habits. I had overcome the eating disorder, but I was still letting my stress level and emotions control me. Again, I began living on primarily processed foods, refined carbohydrates, sweets, eating out a lot, eating and going to bed late at night, exercising excessively, or not at all, etc. I had an addictive personally. I was constantly swinging between an unhealthy to obsessively healthy lifestyle. Too much of anything, even if it’s “healthy”, is not good. That was my typical pattern. Many of my symptoms came back, but what affected my daily life the most was the extreme mood swings and lack of energy. Soon enough, I was back at the doctors office, sent to a few more specialists, like usual, and then back around the circle to the doctors office only to be told that there was nothing wrong with me and that it must all be in my head. I was sick of hearing that! So I decided to take action! I cleaned up my diet of refined, processed and packaged foods, started exercising regularly, doing yoga and took on a more positive outlook on life. But there were still times in a month when I felt absolutely full of vitality and health, and others where all I wanted to do was stay in bed, pity myself and eat.
I then remembered how much the whole foods and natural remedies suggested by my psychologist had helped. I wanted to learn more about what natural health had to offer, and how I could help others like he had helped me. I decided to attend The Institute of Holistic Nutrition to become a Holistic Nutritionist. Throughout this course, I made many self-discoveries about my own health. While listening to everything I was learning, I quickly came to realize that there was definitely something going on with me. I returned to the doctors office and insisted that more tests be done. My medical history, blood and hormonal tests as well as a pelvic ultrasound confirmed the diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
For the first time in my life, everything that I’d gone through started making sense. It was all connected, in one way or another, to this complex metabolic and hormonal disease. I was diagnosed in November of 2009, when I was 22 years old. I count myself lucky for having been diagnosed early on in my life. It paved the path to wellness for me. In saying that, what I mean is that the diagnosis allowed me to now found out what needed to be done for me to feel like myself again. Of course, the doctor told me there was nothing I could do and that I needed to take the birth control pill as well as a Diabetes medication called Metformin, for the rest of my life. I was also told that I would never be able to have children, and that I could eventually develop other serious illnesses such as Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Cardiovascular Disease, Osteoporosis, Obesity, Cancer, etc! Not even counting all the horrible symptoms I was already experiencing, it was a rude awakening. It did make me realize that I needed to start taking my health seriously. It wasn’t just about losing weight or controlling my excessive hair growth or acne anymore. I had to prevent further complications from this disease, and become fertile so that I could eventually have children. The ideal of depending on drugs for the rest of my life was not an option for me at all. I left the doctors office knowing that I would treat this syndrome naturally.
I began doing my own research, soon to discover that there were many natural therapies in the maintenance and treatment of PCOS. Along with the help of a Naturopathic Doctor specializing in PCOS, I started formulating my own Natural PCOS protocol. I started by switching to an 80% raw and strict vegetarian diet of organic whole foods, complex carbohydrates (while considering glycemic load), nuts, seeds, sprouts, fermented soy products, vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices, and plenty of superfoods. I also took a variety of natural supplements and medicinal herbs based on my individual symptoms, as it is a very complex syndrome, affecting many bodily systems. I continued to exercise moderately and practice stress management activities such as yoga and meditation. I’ve also discovered that staying on a good routine, going to bed before 10:30pm, fertility charting, as well as keeping a PCOS journal is very beneficial and keeps me feeling in control. Lastly, the most important aspect of treating my PCOS is surrounding myself with people who love and support my efforts. It’s important to communicate with your family, friends and spouse as PCOS can definitely affect all your life relationships if you or they don’t see it coming. The people around need to be understanding, but it’s also important for you to try to control yourself, and to educate and find what works best for you. That is why the journal and recording how you feel is so important. It helps you to see a pattern, and to understand your symptoms and mood swings, so that you can know when to avoid stressful situations, or give your loved ones a heads up!
Throughout my life, I had always been searching for the one thing that was causing me to feel ill. Through much education and personal experiences, I learnt that it’s not only one single thing that makes us unwell, it’s a combination of everything we do in our lives; from what we eat, how and when we exercise, which products we use, what environment we’re in, the people we surround ourselves with, etc. While some situations may be unchangeable, we must pick our battles and change the ones we have control over.
Treating PCOS naturally takes some time and effort, but it is well worth it, and becomes easier as it gets habitual. From the day I became proactive in my own health and treatment, positive changes started happening. I’ve never felt better in my entire life! For that reason, I’ve become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist specializing in PCOS, and helping women like myself, who need to go by life with the day by day struggles of this disease. I believe that I have gained the upper hand and control over my PCOS, but I do expect some pit falls along the way. There is no magic formula to completely cure PCOS. Living with PCOS will be a life long struggle that I have to accept and I hope that any issues arising along the way will be dealt with positively based on the natural resources that I have, and that are out there.
I would be glad to help anyone with a Personalized PCOS Plan, or simply having a girl to girl chat! Once again, please check out the PCOS Holistic Program section on my website. You can also join my Natural PCOS Solutions facebook group where you’ll be able to find daily tips and advice on treating and maintaining PCOS completely naturally, without the use of harsh medications, hormones or surgery. Lastly, you may contact me directly by clicking here.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a complex and life-altering disease, but there is hope. Your health is in your hands; heal yourself! Your path to vitality awaits you. Strive to achieve!