Do you experience trouble with sleeping? Do you train hard with no visible results? Are you easily tired and irritated?
Having been in the fitness industry for nearly ten years it’s been clear to me for quite some time that women struggle with many issues that men simply don’t. They have more overall trouble with fat loss, seem to gain weight and fat more easily along with endless other differences.
I decided to write about PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and go through some of the do’s and don’ts. Also, I hope that if some of you are experiencing any of the symptoms below that you don’t hesitate to visit your doctor ASAP. The sooner it is diagnosed, the sooner you can make the necessary lifestyle changes to reduce the impact of the symptoms.
Many women suffer from PCOS – a common health issue caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones which create problems in the ovaries. Typically marked by higher-than-normal androgen levels which cause drastic change in female physiology. Insulin resistance is a condition very common in PCOS and the reason why weight management is crucial.
Common symptoms of PCOS:
- Weight gain
- Unwanted hair growth,
- Thinning hair on the head
- Mood changes
- Pelvic pain
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Darkening of skin
- Skin tags (small excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck)
- Sleep problems
Untreated and ignored symptoms may lead to:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Problems with the heart and blood vessels
- Uterine cancer
There are changes you can make to reduce the chances of the above from happening but they require consistency, discipline, and determination. If you have already been diagnosed with PCOS I bet you have done your research and you know what I am going to propose next.
Number 1 – Healthy diet
Number 2 – Regular exercises
Number 3 – Stress reduction
All 3 components are of great importance. None of us want to feel drained, overwhelmed, and fatigued without any good reason behind it.
I was diagnosed with PCOS 9 years ago and that has been a game changer because at last I could address the enemy. It is hard to find a solution without knowing the problem. After that I sought out specialists but most of them advised contraceptive pills – which I am not keen on. I decided to take action and take my health into my own hands. I wanted to learn about my body and whatever I could do to improve my health.
I spent hours upon hours researching and learning everything there was to know about PCOS, hormonal imbalance, and the various treatments. At last, all my research and hard work started to pay off. I combined what I had learned and after a few months I started to see improvements.
Before I go in to more detail about my top 3 areas to focus on when dealing with PCOS, I would like to mention that I am not a specialist or a doctor. I am just sharing the tips which made a massive difference in my personal life to hopefully help others.
Number 1 – Healthy diet
Don’t start with – I CAN’T DO IT! Attitude is all that matters.
You are probably overwhelmed by all the diets recommended on TV, social media, or in magazines. The truth is they rarely prove successful because not many people can stick to them. Simplicity is key. Write down your favourite vegetables, lean meats, fruits etc. which should form your basic list of ingredients.
No need to start your new life with cravings. Everything should be on the menu for people but we need to control the amount which we consume. I always say it is not the food you eat that is harmful for you but the way you prepare it. Try to avoid fried food as it loses all the vitamins and minerals which are essential for your body. You can boil it, steam it, or bake it (however I wouldn’t add oil to it – your life literally depends on it). Is your first thought “OMG I can’t stop eating greasy, fried, oily food. I just love it too much”. Then answer me one question, is that food more important than your life? Consuming it brings you closer to diabetes every single day. Have you ever realised how difficult it is to clean a sink after putting any oily food in it? That’s how difficult it is for your body to get rid of all the greasy products you eat.
When you feel hungry STOP for a moment THINK, CREATE A MENTAL PICTURE IN YOUR HEAD, DO WHATEVER IT TAKES. Cut down slowly until you can completely resist it!
Some super foods for your plate are: Berries, Flax Seeds, Almonds, Spearmint Tea, Spinach, Cinnamon, Fatty Fish, and Eggs.
Carbs: Quinoa, Chickpeas, Lentils, Cucumber, Broccoli, Sweet potatoes, Low Gi or Brown Bread, Cabbage, Tomatoes, Lentils, Mushrooms, Eggplant, Brown and Basmati Rice, Oranges, Mangos and Bananas.
AVOID: SUGAR! Pre-made food and fast food. All food with a long-life span. All these products are very high in sugar and saturated fat. Sugar… it’s a massive topic and it deserves a whole page for itself – soon to come.
- Chromium picolinate
- Complex B
- Vitamin D 4000 IU With Vitamin K2 (do not take Vitamin D without K2)
- L- Carnitine
- Krill Oil
- Vitamin C (1000mg)
I recommended some carbs as your body definitely needs them. It is a myth that you should stop eating carbs as thy feed your brain. You just need to make the right choices and don’t stuff yourself with bagels and pizza. Also, you know your body the best if something doesn’t agree with you don’t force it.
Introduce more protein into your daily diet they will reduce hunger, increase metabolism, and control blood sugar. Protein should make up 30% of your meals.
Number 2 – Regular Exercises
Training is like music to my ears. I love it unconditionally! However, that was not always the case. My love towards fitness started in 2009 although back then I wasn’t really sure what I was doing in the gym. Shortly after that I met a great bunch of people who showed me the way and a few years after I qualified as a Personal Trainer.
It is hard to start training especially when you don’t have any help. Not every style of training is for you and not many trainers will introduce you to all the alternatives available.
Research shows that for women diagnosed with PCOS the best form of exercise is weight training. It speeds up the metabolism, helps to build lean muscle tissue not to mention that it increases bones density. Next in line are restorative and HIIT training.
Creating a training programme for women with PCOS is a little bit challenging. They fatigue much quicker, need more motivation and engagement. Each session should be highly interactive starting with a slow pace and as the client progresses, the speed should be adjusted accordingly.
If you are training on your own make sure you mix bodyweight exercises with weight training. Sessions will feel shorter and your breathing will have the chance to adapt.
The best solution is to incorporate all 3 training sessions in one week. You may think that’s a lot but some of them will feel so relaxing that you wouldn’t even notice that you are working out.
- Mon – HIIT training + 10k steps
- Tue – Pilates, Yoga, or any mobilisation class of your choice
- Wed – Resistance training + 10k steps
- Thu – HIIT training
- Fri – 10k steps
- Sat – Resistance training + mobilisation
- Sun – 10k steps
Number 3 – Stress Reduction
Women with PCOS produce higher than normal amounts of stress hormones (Cortisol) which stick around for much longer. I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to make time for yourself, switch off and relax. The simplest activities like long walks away from the city buzz when I could reconnect with nature or meditation proved to be a positive input on my life. Short city breaks, spa days or quality time with friends are other ways to put all our troubles behind.
During COVID-19 we are massively restricted and many of the activities are banned, but we can replace them with others. At last, we have the time to do all the things we were postponing since forever. Learning new skills, a new language, reading new books…my list is truly endless.
How about yours? What’s in your bucket that you could work on and it doesn’t require much interaction with others or going out?
I believe that being organised helps with stress. When we have a plan that fills our day with tasks and activities, we don’t really have time to overthink our lives. Motion creates emotion and vice versa. The way you hold your body, move, breath and speak, directly influences your state. The way you act, dictates how you feel. Not the other way round.
Even when you don’t feel like moving – MOVE. When you don’t feel like singing – SING. When you feel miserable, sad, like the whole world is about to collapse – pretend that you are ECSTATIC. Pretending to feel how you want to feel will ultimately change your mindset and before you know it, those feelings will become your natural way of thinking. Your body will adopt them, and I promise you will see the changes in your mental health.
We are born fighters, don’t stop fighting because the reality is, if you are not going to fight your inner demons no one else is going to do it for you.
We are women, we are invincible!