Showing posts with label PCOS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label PCOS. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Doctor's appointment went well

Yesterday I finally made an appointment with my regular doctor, and she actually had an opening today -- so I saw her this morning, and it went better than I'd expected! We talked about my weight loss and how I'd gotten down to 72 kilos at the end of July, just 4 kilos from goal -- and then a trip overseas brought about 6 kilos back again and I've struggled since then. I told her all the things I've been trying to get it moving again, including a return to Phase 1, intermittent fasting, LCHF, and other techniques. I said I'd been doing my own online research and in a list of 12 thyroid symptoms I had 8 of them, though some of those are also common to PCOS, so it could just be that.

I don't know what I was expecting -- I guess in the past doctors have always made me feel like I wasn't doing something right, I wasn't trying hard enough. She didn't do that -- I actually felt very positive leaving her office today. She could see how far I've come and obviously I don't need diet and exercise advice. She said the problem could very well be due to hormonal changes, even if I don't go through menopause until 55 like my mother did. What really made me feel better is she said if that is the problem, there are things we can do about it. But first, she does want to check my thyroid. Yay!

Then of course because I only come in when I have a concern rather than for regular check-ups, she checked my file again and said the mammogram can wait, but I was overdue for a pap test, and she wants to check my liver and iron (I have hemochromatosis) -- oh and she wants to do a Glucose Tolerance Test. Yuck! I had one before I started Dr Poon and that's when I learned I was pre-diabetic. The last time we discussed it she didn't care to do one because if I was still pre-diabetic her recommendations would be to change my diet which I'd already done. But maybe she wants to rule it out as contributing to my current problem.  So we got the pap out of the way there and then -- and tomorrow morning I go to pathology for all the other tests (I'm fasting from 9pm tonight).

As much as I am NOT looking forward to drinking that nasty glucose syrup drink, it will be good to at least have some answers. And I'm rather anxious to hear what she feels we can do about it if the problem is hormonal.

Lastly, we discussed the progesterone cream I've been using. I told her I believed I was estrogen dominant, and started using this hoping that it might help. While it has got my cycle back to every 28 days instead of three weeks, I haven't noticed any other benefits -- certainly not weight loss.  She didn't feel there was any point in continuing with the cream, and felt I should just let my body do its own thing as I approach menopause. She said it's common for your period to come more frequently in the last years, and that there are actually health benefits to being estrogen dominant, so I shouldn't worry about that. That surprised me, as it's not what my research has shown. Truthfully, if it had been helping with weight loss, I would stick it out anyway, but as it's not I'll finish the cycle I'm in now (the jar is nearly empty) and won't be buying any more. When I do eventually go through menopause, I can always start it again if I'm experiencing any bothersome symptoms.

Anyway, that's the scoop -- I'll let you know how I go tomorrow. By the way, she thought 68 kilos is a good goal weight for me. At my age, and given that I've spent most of my life morbidly obese -- I'll be thrilled with 68 kilos.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

8 lb drop in 1 week? It's Week #1 again!

I'm back and doing well -- I'll talk about my 8 pound drop this week in just a minute, for those of you still interested. First, let me apologise for not writing more, but the fact is I didn't know what to say. Hi, I'm still struggling and had a holiday regain? Who wants to read that?! Well I have lost a few subscribers anyway. People follow and unfollow for any number of reasons, but I can certainly understand only wanting to follow bloggers that inspire you. Struggling for a long time to break a stall may not be very inspiring reading, but it certainly is real. Most people who lose a large amount of weight don't sail effortlessly to goal. I wish it were true, but it's not. It reminds me of that drawing about what people think success looks like vs. what it actually looks like.

Struggling to break through stalls and reach goals is very common and very real. I did promise to share the good and the bad on this journey, so I'll try to remember that even when the going gets tough. Stalls suck, but I'm proud to say I have not given up, so maybe that's inspiring in and of itself.

In any case, when I last posted it was just before Christmas and I had every intention of staying the course through the holiday break. I was not successful. We had family up and every time I turned around it was an eating fest, whether at someone's home or out at a restaurant. I gave in on more than one occasion and quickly found myself regaining. I haven't posted weights lately, so here goes. On 19th December I was 80.7 kg (177.9 lb). by 2nd January I was 85.9 kg (189.38 lb). The family all went back home shortly after that and I was determined to start over. This time I thought I would try strict LCHF. I've dabbled with it and tried a few recipes, but never followed it strictly before, so I did for a whole week, using delicious recipes from It was not easy eating that much fat and it was very high calorie, but I stuck it out for a week. On 9th January I was 87.7 kg (193.35 lb). What the hell ... I gained?!

Some people may do well on LCHF, but I didn't like it and was not about to continue! What to do? Going back to Dr Poon Phase 1 hadn't worked the last few times I tried it. But I had to do something, so I started again last Sunday (10th Jan). The next day I was down 1.5 kg (3.3 lb). Then another kilo (2.2 lb) the next day. I stayed steady the next day, then went up 100g (.22 lb), then saw another drop. Yesterday I was 84 kg exactly (185.19 lb), that's a loss of 3.7 kg (8.16 lb) in just 5 days. I haven't seen a drop that big since my very first week of Pooning!  In fact, that's exactly what I lost in my very first week! Today I'm up 100g (.22 lb) but that doesn't worry me, I'm still down 8 pounds! Now lest you think it was all water weight, my scale says it was over half fat.

So why did it work this week? What's changed? The only thing I can think of is I've started my 2nd month of progesterone cream. If the hormonal change of nearing menopause was causing my weight struggles (as it does for so many women my age) then maybe progesterone cream is making a difference. My cycle sure is behaving the way it used to a couple of years ago. No more of this every three week crap, it's more like 37 days now. I don't know whether it's the progesterone cream or not, but I plan to keep using it. And I'll ask the doctor about it.

Yes, I did schedule an appointment to have my thyroid checked. I scheduled it before I saw this week's drop, and part of me wonders if I should cancel (it's rather expensive!) but I don't want to assume one very good week means I'm back on track. And the thyroid could still be a factor. I have quite a few of the symptoms listed in the article Jan kindly shared with me, and while some of them could apply to PCOS as well, I'd like to be sure. The nurse told me the doctor would charge me $250 (I'd get $150 reimbursed from Medicare) but I didn't think to ask whether there would be any other charges (e.g. for pathology). I think it's important get tested though, so I think I should keep the appointment.

Anyway, thank you to those of you who are still with me, I appreciate it very much. I will be in touch more frequently, I promise. I'll leave you with another great success graphic, and I hope it helps you as much as it does me.

I'll be sure to let you know how the thyroid tests go. Hope your new year is off to a great start! :)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Aging’s Effect on PCOS

I've been doing some interesting reading the last few days regarding how PCOS is affected by aging. I've noted before how after years of having an extremely irregular cycle, for the last couple of years I've been regular like clockwork ... if anything it's too frequent, and when weight loss has already slowed down as I approach goal, it's really frustrating dealing with monthly weight gain every 3-4 weeks. Here's some of what I learned:

As women age and transition through menopause, estrogen levels naturally decrease.

According to new research, it appears that reproductive hormones in women with PCOS differ from women who don’t have PCOS after menopause. In fact, the reproductive life span in women with PCOS has been found to extend beyond that of women without PCOS due to higher adrenal and ovarian androgen levels.

Surprisingly, women with PCOS are more likely to experience regular menstrual cycles as they age because of the natural decline in androgen levels that occurs in response to menopause. Women with PCOS reach menopause later than women without the syndrome and differ in reproductive hormones.

Older women with PCOS reported less hot flashes and sweating than non-PCOS women but reported significantly more hirsutism (64%) compared with controls (9%). Hirsutism symptoms such as unwanted hair growth and balding worsen with aging. These dermatological effects can be detrimental to a woman’s self-esteem and body image.

So basically I'll likely experience menopause later ... but when I do there should be less unpleasant side effects. That part's ok. On the other hand, the unpleasant side effects of PCOS will only get worse.

It's not enough I could never have children? That I have had to cope with years of hirsutism, insulin resistance and weight struggles, and now hair loss as I age? I've had weight issues my whole life but now, when I've finally gotten it under control, when I'm finally approaching my goal weight ... PCOS just has more unpleasantness in store for me? I keep hoping at least I'll be rid of my monthly visitor soon, but it would appear that's not likely. Ah the joys of PCOS. Well I'll try to focus on the one good thing ... when menopause finally does come, less chance of hot flashes. Hopefully.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Holiday is over, time to start tracking

I have been enjoying my time off work, and that's meant spending more time with my husband enjoying each other's company and working on projects around the house, while spending less time in the blog world.  So unfortunately I haven't had much time to read other blogs either, but I'll be catching up with many of you in the next couple of days. I will be posting more regularly now, and also changing my focus a bit.

It's no secret I've been at a bit of a stall for nearly 3-1/2 months now. But it's also true that during that time I've hit new low weights three times. I'm not at a complete stand-still, and the ups and downs tend to sync with my cycle -- rather like two steps forward, one and a half steps back, then hold steady before starting over again. I have seen a new low weight each month, but just barely. It's not a total stall but it sure feels like one. Truthfully I am grateful for any and all progress -- but I am also determined to get things moving again.  Two nice drops at the start of my holiday made me think the stall had ended, but I now know it's just changed tactics. Therefore so must I.

I keep a weekly log documenting not only my ups and downs, but also my cycle, and I can see the pattern has changed. I'm 51 years old and have PCOS. I have no idea what to expect from menopause but it's likely it's going to be messing with me even more as I get older. For many years I would go two months or longer between cycles, but as I got closer to 50 I got more regular, not less. Now it could be three to six weeks but instead of one week gain before I tend to get two now.  That's why I feel like I'm getting nowhere.  But that's only part of the story.

While I set out to spend this holiday break pushing hard to get into the 70s I didn't get there. I did lots and lots of walking, often an hour and a half a day, and the challenging rainforest walk, etc. But I didn't do any other exercise, e.g. strength training or Callanetics, I just walked a lot. As for the eating -- well it's easier to stay strict Phase 1 when I am working than when I'm off. Work keeps me busy all day and I don't even think about eating between meals. I haven't gone off plan, but I've pushed the boundaries lately. I've given in to eating nuts when I shouldn't have, I've eaten more dairy, and I've allowed myself to have Atkins snack bars every day instead of as an occasional treat. It's easy to let that kind of behaviour become more frequent without realising it, so I'm going to try something new.

Starting tomorrow I'm going to track what I eat. It will make it much easier to see when I'm pushing boundaries if it's staring me right in the face. I'll track what I eat, and any exercise done that day. Hopefully that will help get me back on track. Tomorrow is my last day off before I return to work, so it's the perfect time to start. Hubby keeps telling me that as long as I'm not regaining I have nothing to worry about. He reminds me I'm fitter than he's ever seen me before. That may be true, but I'm not done yet -- I set a reasonable goal and I intend to reach it. I haven't even gotten out of the 'obese' category yet. That's my next milestone, and it's an important one -- I will get there!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Facing fears again ... let's get personal

Sorry I haven't been blogging much - the last few days have been a shocker. A very dear friend of mine has suffered a ruptured aneurysm, so I've been worrying and praying for her a lot lately. She's come through surgery but there's still a chance she could suffer a stroke, so I've been praying for a speedy and full recovery. She's uppermost in my mind right now -- my issues and fears pale in comparison to what she and her family are going through.

But I have been filled with anxiety for another reason as well. I'm sure I've mentioned before that I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS. It causes, among other things, fertility issues and weight gain, as well as male pattern hair loss. My hair has thinned over the years considerably, but in the last five years or so it's become noticeably thinner at the scalp in particular. I had hoped weight loss would alleviate PCOS symptoms, but even with 105 pounds gone it's not getting better. So what's a girl to do?

In the past couple of months I've been exploring my options. I visited two salons that specialise in hair replacement. The best option is a hair topper, which is basically an extension that covers the scalp and blends in with the rest of your hair. You can get a clip-in topper like this one, or you can go with a bonded topper which is basically the same except they actually shave your scalp and use surgical adhesive to bond it to your head.  I've had so much anxiety even thinking about this - hair loss isn't something women like to talk about but it was time to face reality.

If I do nothing I'll continue to lose hair and balding is very hard for a woman to deal with. On the other hand, people will notice if I suddenly have thicker hair and might wonder if I'm wearing a wig. Good quality, real human hair toppers are very expensive - especially in Australia where everything costs more. So I weighed the options carefully. The bonded toppers I saw looked really good. They even brought in a customer willing to let me watch how hers was reattached (as you have to do every 6 weeks or so) and I got to ask her questions. She was honest with the pros and cons -- it can feel awkward to sleep on, your scalp can itch and you would have to lift the glue to get at the itch, and it can sometimes loosen up if you take a hot shower, but overall was very happy with her decision.

The second place does bonding, but also offers clip-in toppers. It wasn't a lot cheaper to be honest, but you wouldn't have the cost of reattaching it every 6 weeks. You can take it off when you work out so it doesn't get messed up and just pop it back on again later.  But sometimes the clips can be irritating and they can weaken your hair. Some women don't like the idea of taking their hair off at the end of the night and letting their husband see their real hair. I have no problem with that, my wonderful husband loves me at any weight, with or without hair.

I decided to try a clip-in. It wasn't as big a commitment, I could take it off if I didn't like it. Once you shave your head, if you don't like the bonded topper you'd have to find another solution while you try to grow your hair out again. Having made the decision and paid the deposit, I have been very excited over the last few weeks waiting for it to come in. It finally did, and I spent yesterday afternoon learning how to attach it and care for it. It was cut and styled to blend with my own hair, and ended up much shorter than I had planned but I now think that's a good thing. Instead of having basically the same hair style only suddenly thicker, it's a total and complete style change - the drastic change in style might take attention away from the thicker hair. I left feeling fabulous.

As I walked down the street, no one was looking at me as if I was a freak or wearing fake hair. And in fact a nice-looking guy on the train gave me a lingering look and a smile as he passed by. That gave me an amazing self-esteem boost. I looked good!  But I began to worry. These are strangers. People who are used to seeing my thinning hair -- that's a different story. It's a long weekend and I was grateful to have a few days to get used to it and be sure I can live with it before anyone I know actually sees me in it. Hubby asked me to stop into the store on the way home for something and so naturally I ran smack bang into a good friend and co-worker who did a double-take and stared at me. The moment of truth. She exclaimed, "You look amazing! Oh my God you look so good! It looks thicker!" I braced myself. Will she make the connection?  If she did, it didn't show, she really thought it looked great.

So now I worried again. How do I change my mind now if it's uncomfortable or I have any issues now that she's seen it?  I'm feeling anxious trying to figure out what I'll say when the inevitable questions come on Tuesday.  My husband thinks I'm worried for no reason. 'So what if they say anything, tell them it's a hair extension -- it is, after all.  If you had cancer or androgenic alopecia, no one would think it odd you wanted a hair replacement -- how is PCOS any different?' He's right. But I'm still afraid.

Then I found this blog called and in particular this post about her 'coming out story' and why she decided to go public about wearing wigs. She had spent years hiding her hair loss problem and didn't want to hide anything anymore. She said after she came out she felt so free. She could now wear different styles whenever she likeed without people finding it suspicious.

I'm still scared of seeing friends, family and coworkers for the first time with this new hair, but I've decided that if they do say anything or ask uncomfortable questions then there's no point in denying it. I can just say I got a total makeover that included a hair extension, cuz that's really what it is. It's just that this type of hair extension covers the top. What else can I say?  I'm happy with the results. The picture on the left shows how noticeable it was in photos. On the right is my new look.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Early morning speed walking

Yes, though I am so NOT a morning person, I got up at 6am this morning and went for a walk. Not just a normal walk but race walking or speed walking as I like to call it. Very brisk, arms pumping the whole time ... and this time I didn't have to slow down until the last stretch just before climbing the crest to my house. You may recall last time I took three breaks during the walk where i came back to normal pace for 3-4 minutes and then returned to high speed again, but not this time. I stayed high speed the whole time; just over 40 minutes and it felt great. We'll see if I'm feeling sore tomorrow morning like last time.

I'm back down to 108.5 kg after the walk. Up and down like a yo-yo last week and I just couldn't figure it out. But now I get it. Due to PCOS my cycle has been irregular for many years, as in few and far between. But for the last few years they've been pretty regular so as it wasn't time yet I never considered It. But I'm a week early this time.

I am glad it wasn't due to a couple of tomatoes and a carrot, I mean realistically if I can't handle that I'll never move into Phase 2. Not that I'm in any hurry to do so. I'm well past the time where I can according to the plan, but it also said if you have a lot to lose there's no reason you can't stay on Phase 1 much longer if you're not bored with the food. I'm not. I've never been so contented with a weight loss diet before. It's just become natural to me and I love not feeling hungry or having cravings. I always wondered what it felt like to be normal. To not think about food all the time. Now I know. I have to remind myself to eat lunch. Or my husband will say it's nearly 8, are we having dinner? I wasn't hungry and I just didn't think about it. This is what I've always wanted. The approaching holidays have me not the least little bit worried. There's no way anything off plan is going to tempt me.