It’s only in recent year that I have become vocal about my struggle with PCOS – developing this blog, creating free resources, launching programs for PCOS women, sharing my story on other PCOS sites. For whatever reason, I felt called to go from just being some woman with a medical condition to an activist.
The more emails and support I receive from all of you, the more I want to do to help women with PCOS live better. And the more inspiring and surprising messages I receive, the most I also realize that women with PCOS have some very common struggles hat we aren’t talking about enough. So that’s what I’d like to address here, and also offer you my bonus download of 3 Easy Steps for Making Big Changes to help you deal with the issues you may be facing yourself.
1. Chronic Pain
After I shared a Belly Fat-Fighting Exercise Program on PCOS Diet Support, I was surprised by all of the comments and emails I received from women who not only had PCOS, but were also suffering from some kind of chronic pain. Many of the women who reached out to me had joint pain issues that prevented them from doing one or all of the exercises in my plan.
I certainly can relate! As I have mentioned elsewhere in my blog, I’ve been dealing with persistent back pain (scoliosis) since the age of 12. I have a few tips for anyone one who is trying to get in shape while dealing with chronic pain:
- Keep moving. It is counterintuitive to head to the gym when you have an ache or pain, but a sedentary lifestyle will make chronic pain worse. Working out increases you feel-good hormones which help with pain perception. Plus a strength training program that is tailored around your issues can prevent an orthopedic issue from progressing further.
- Meditation and restorative yoga are very helpful for making peace with your body. If you feel like you are disconnected from your body, or worse you are fighting against it yoga and meditation can help you work through those negative emotions.
- Commit to continual physical therapy or massage therapy. I see a massage therapist and a physical therapist regularly. These professionals are wonderful for helping you manage chronic pain. I find that a lot of my clients give up on therapies because they are expecting a cure. If you have a chronic condition, you should refocus from finding a cure to managing pain so that you can live a life unencumbered by your injury.
- Do not medicate with food. When we feel uncomfortable, it is natural to want some comfort foods. Whenever I feel this urge, I redirect my attention to a therapeutic activity like a hot bath, yoga, or self-massage.
2. Doing Too Much
Some of my fellow PCOS ladies have exercise and diet programs that are so intense I get tired just reading them. Seriously, its like you’re trying to sweat the PCOS out of you!
Regular exercise and a clean, nutritious diet free of processed foods is the key to living a healthy and full life in spite of PCOS. Ultra-restrictive diets and overtraining will have the opposite effect. And I know from first-hand experience! Pushing yourself too hard is not just mentally and emotionally stressful – it also creates a stress response in your body that could potentially throw your hormones further out of whack.
If you are eager to embark on a PCOS friendly lifestyle, start with the basics. Instead of becoming a gluten-free vegan and cardio junkie in the space of one week, try adding veggies to every meal and strength training a few times a week. Do not dive head-first into a complicated and demanding series of lifestyle changes. It is unlikely that you will stick with it and you might even do more harm than good.
3. Getting Started with Changes
I receive a lot of emails that say something along the lines of “I don’t know where to start”. There is a an overwhelming amount of PCOS information on the web, yet many women are still struggling to take the first step.
I think it is amazing that we have so many resources at our disposal. Unfortunately, if you’re just getting over the shock of a PCOS diagnosis, the information overload can be crushing.
And let’s be honest – change is hard! You just got a pile of lousy news dumped in your lap and now you have to buck up and change the way you live. If you’re struggling to make the changes necessary to live a PCOS-friendly lifestyle, please don’t beat yourself up over it!
This is going to take some time and you need to give yourself a little compassion.
If you’re struggling with taking first steps, I want to give you a hand. Download my 3 Easy Steps to Making Big Changes bonus so you can start taking positive action today.
This guide won’t solve all of your problems, but it will help you put one foot in front of the other. So go ahead and start your healing journey.