Friday, October 26, 2012

The Weight of it All

This photo is amazing. That is 30lbs of butter next to my beloved Paula Deen. As you probably know, news broke a while back that the butter-loving Paula Deen was having issues with her diabetes. A diet and lifestyle change followed the major negative press (poor Paula!). She made the cover of People Magazine after losing 30lbs, which is shown in the photo in the form of blocks of butter.

I love Paula. I always have and always will. After reading her biography several years ago (I want to read it again), I decided she is rad, super successful, hilarious, and I'd totally hang out with her given the chance. 

Paula and I have a few things in common. Most notably right now, we both had health issues and decided to make some positive changes and take care of our bodies.

As I wrote on my blog, I had some ovarian issues in July. During that time I also experienced my first miscarriage. During an ultrasound to look for the baby, I found out I had a large benign tumor and also TONS of large cysts and it really shook me. I mean, it's just not even fair that someone who already has PCOS, a miscarriage ALSO gets a tumor. I didn't do anything to deserve it and I'd already had one heck of a hard year. The tumor news amongst losing the baby made me feel really sad. I cried about it all and was frustrated that once again, my body was letting me down. The thought that I might never carry a baby successfully again broke my heart. 

After a couple days of being really bummed....that's an understatement, I woke up one morning with a big thought. The kind of big that makes you realize God is throwing you a lifeline. It was this, "maybe I should actually take care of and care about me for a change. Maybe I should take this bad news and use it as fuel to do whatever I need to do to be healthy."
I immediately felt motivated and like I could turn my sadness into drive. I started reading more about PCOS diets, chatting with friends who were successfully fighting their PCOS, and was really at the point that I wanted to change enough that I was willing to actually make the changes.

For me, this meant no pasta, bread, tortillas, white potatoes, crackers, candy, sugary drinks or juice, and basically no refined sugar. Sugars from fruits and veggies are OK, but not in juice form.

I remember a friend telling me she was doing this a couple years ago and I thought she was crazy. I mean, who gives up pasta? Is that even sustainable??? lol

The other BIG part of it all other than giving up carbs and sugars, is the importance of eating a lot of protein. 80grams a day is ideal, no less than 60grams for sure. Eggs, whey protein powder, salmon, chicken, turkey burgers, steak, beef, lunch meat, etc. Protein is key!

A lot of PCOS'ers give up dairy. I'm currently not one of them :) I drink milk and eat yogurt and cheese. For me, still eating dairy makes this something I can do long term. It majorly broadens my snack options and makes making meals for the whole family much easier. When I can find it at a good price, I buy unsweetened coconut milk and use that for my protein shakes. I use Show Me the Whey powder from Central Market as I avoid soy. Soy contains estrogen- not good for PCOS'ers who are already having hormone issues. Weston Price has done extensive research on soy. To read more about the soy-hormone issue, go HERE . So anyway, I avoid soy, which is tricky as most protein bars, especially the cheap ones, contain it. And soy isoflavones...the ones used in most protein bars, are actually the waste product of soy. I mean, think of super cheap hot dogs and the waste meat used. Pretty much the same thing. Not good! To read more on soy isoflavones, go HERE .

I started my food lifestyle change on July 19th. I hoped I'd see results quickly, but I had no idea as my body doesn't have a great track record of losing weight. When Eliana was  1 1/2 years old I took to walking 6 miles 5x a week (the hills in Manette). I did it for 3 months and I lost a whopping 8lbs. Then I was so pissed that I wasn't losing weight that I quit. I didn't realize that my body wasn't going to lose weight if I still have spaghetti or a baked potato or a quesadilla. I just didn't really get it. After the crap hitting the fan in July, I got it.

It's been three months. I've lost 33lbs. Some days I feel amazing and really proud of myself. Some days I feel frustrated that it's coming off slower as I get smaller and that I still have weight to lose. But I'm pressing on and seeing the plateaus as challenges and not allowing myself to give up even when I have 2 weeks of not losing anything. It seems like it ebbs and flows. I'll be stuck for 2 weeks and then BAM, lose 3lbs.

I haven't been this size in a very long time, like 8 years probably. I am 99% sure my wedding dress would be too big. I have more energy, I feel good about myself, shopping is fun again, and I don't feel invisible anymore. It was a shift in my thinking and way of life to put importance on myself again. I hadn't done that in way too long. My energy and time had to change a make room for me. It was an adjustment on my whole family. Trying to balance thinking and cooking and living for my health with also still doing all my motherly and wifely duties. Then there's the emotional side of losing weight. We can bury ourselves physically and emotionally under fat and baggy clothes. When those come off, things come to light and we either work through them or there's a good chance all that weight will come back on.

For me, with PCOS, I could gain back the 33lbs REALLY easily. If I were to eat 'normal' for one month....pasta, bread, desserts, etc. I would likely gain it all back. That's scary and frustrating, but it's my life.
I try not to impose my choices on other people. Craig still loves ice cream and brownies and the kids still eat pasta and tortillas. I just don't and that's OK.

The first couple of weeks were really hard. I felt super cranky for one thing. Then I read a study about how eating sugar releases serotonin, which is a brain chemical that makes feelings of contentment and happiness....and it was a light bulb. I was probably self-medicating unhappiness with eating sugars! ACK! And then you factor in that I have PCOS and my body doesn't know what the heck to do with sugars (and CRAVES them) and it just made a big fat mess for me. Literally. So I kept on and hoped the crankiness would subside. It did. Probably after the sugar remnants finally made their way out of my body and I no longer CRAVED them like breathing air.

A lot of people ask what I've been doing. I have heard the best compliments from people and that really encourages me. "You look like the Diana I knew 10 years ago." "Your skin looks so great and you look so healthy!"  This is all no doubt related to the kinds of food I'm eating. I feel like when I eat protein like crazy and truly don't eat the rest, I see a major change in not only my weight, but how I lose weight. It comes off in the places it should. My bra cup size has decreased by two full sizes. That is a hallelujah! I mean, I still have huge boobs unfortunately....but they aren't as huge :)

I was at the Gap with my mom the other day and tried on a darling coat in an was huge. So I tried on the L and it was great and not even snug (although about 2 inches too short). For me, being 5'10" and having a very large chest, fitting into a size L with room to spare, is pretty stinking awesome. I can wear juniors jeans and I'm almost (soo close!) into a single digit pant size. Also notable, my feet have shrunk a whole size.  I had to buy heel inserts for my Merell heels because I cannot bear to part with a $100 pair of super comfy stacked heels.

I've basically had to completely redo my wardrobe. I've sold almost everything on Ebay and have been going to Goodwill and sales at Kohls and Target to get things. Even my underwear is too big, but I'm waiting for the next Victoria's Secret sale :)

So, here' the gist of my changes:
Carbs should be max of 60 grams per day.
Protein minimum 60, goal is 80 grams.
Calories 1600-1800  (although I don't count).
Avocados are great.

Coconut oil is the best oil for cooking with.
Eat whole foods:
Whole grains: brown rice, quinoa, etc.
2 tbsp of flaxseeds per day...that is huge for PCOS women.
Dark green veggies.
Only 1-2 servings of fruit per day. berries, apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, and citrus
all other fruit is too high in sugar.
64 oz of water per day.
Supplements to take: fish oil, Ovablend, and Femrebalance, multi vitamin, and kelp.
Braggs apple cider vinegar helps lower sugars and helps with weight loss.
Organic cocoa powder and stevia for sweetening things (avoid artificial sweeteners).

I found the supplements to be cheapest on Amazon. Ovablend and FemRebalance are awesome and specifically made for people with PCOS.

There you have it!

I feel better than I have in years. The surgery was SO needed and helped me a lot. Being tumor free and mostly cyst free is a huge plus. Adding to that the diet changes and weight loss, wowza! 
I'll be 30 next July. Which kind of freaks me out, but it's a fact. Imagine being 30, a woman, and never in your life having had a period. That was going to be me! BUT, this woman has had her first ever not-caused by any sort of medication or residual clomid, period. Unbe-stinkin-lievable. Tells me for sure that my body is liking the changes and it encourages me to keep on. Who knows, maybe I'll someday get to have a baby without any fertility meds :)

***UPDATE 5/7/13 on the first ever period- I actually conceived that cycle and am expecting a baby boy in early August 2013!!!!

There aren't a ton of pictures of me from the last 8 years. Sadly, that's on purpose. I've been miserable and hated the way I've looked. This is really hard for me to it's embarrassing, gross, and just plain awful...but this is a picture of me on July 4th, 2012: 

Hard to believe I seriously looked like that. This was me a couple weeks ago, in my favorite coat from 10 years ago: 

And this was me yesterday:

Thank you, dear friends, for encouraging and supporting my journey. I will keep on keepin' on!

~ Diana

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