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WHAT caused such a drastic weight gain? HOW did I finally get pregnant without costly infertility treatments? WHAT finally worked to start taking that weight off? How can you beat PCOS?
I want to tell you a story about this girl. All three pictures-same girl. Over a span of 20 years. Really, in that last picture she’s a woman. That woman is one in ten. A woman whose life was touched by Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. A woman who beat PCOS. This monster can cause a perfectly healthy-looking young lady to gain weight rapidly, to be almost unable to lose that weight, to be at risk for several life-threatening diseases, and cause hair growth and hair loss in all the wrong places. It can also destroy her self-image and cause her to doubt her worth as a woman. Oh yeah-and then there’s the infertility.
As you probably know, I (really we, because my dear husband would never let me suffer alone) suffered an eleven-year battle with infertility. The doctors just kept saying, “Lose weight.” I wanted nothing more than to be a mother. I was very motivated. I was clocking overtime in the gym. I was cutting calories, I quit soft drinks, cigarettes, etc. but nothing worked. In fact, the exercise actually WORSENED my medical problems to the point that I had to have multiple surgeries. (Yes, certain kinds of exercise help with weight loss and some make you gain with PCOS-it’s a real thing.)
Diet and Exercise Were Not Enough
The fact is, with endocrine disruption and/or PCOS, diet and exercise alone are NOT enough. It’s not just about self-control or discipline when you’re trying to beat PCOS. Really. It’s not. I even paid money to get staples in my ears once-that’s how badly I wanted to lose weight! I’m not sure what I was thinking-but I’m pretty sure I was willing to do just about anything to take the weight off. Of course it didn’t work. Medication didn’t do it for me either. I was prescribed birth control, Metformin, and Clomid. I even took some diet pills prescribed by my doctor. NONE of those medications did anything to help with any of my symptoms. People frequently ask me now “what I’m taking” to lose so much weight. Let me tell you-the answer is NOT in a pill bottle!
God is Enough
I did not come to this knowledge about how to beat PCOS symptoms, infertility, and weight loss easily. I’m not going to delve too deeply into the emotional devastation that this time period of my life brought, but I will say I am thankful for that season because it brought me so much closer to Christ. There was a God-shaped hole in my heart, and I mistakenly thought a child would fill it. NO person can. On this journey, I learned that God was enough. I could be fulfilled just by walking with Him-children or no children. That was the true victory of this struggle, but of course that’s not the end of the story! I prayed y’all. I prayed so hard. I prayed while I cried. I wrote down my prayers. I kept praying when it hurt to ask. I believe that God showed me the way-He helped me to gain the knowledge I needed to help myself.
God Brought Me Through this Struggle
First and foremost, I am giving all the glory to God. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Before I gave this problem to God, I was getting nowhere. I was horribly overweight, self esteem was in the toilet, my cycles were out of control, and I was childless despite my best efforts to remedy the problem.
Emotional Toll of Infertility
Then there was the emotional aspect. I read somewhere that the grief and emotional toll of infertility struggles are the same as a battle with cancer. I was a wreck through the entire ordeal. I felt like I wasn’t a real woman-my body couldn’t do the one thing that I thought it was supposed to do. I felt ugly-I more than doubled my body weight from high school, and I was so hairy. It felt so defeating.
I was happy for my friends who were able to start families, but it just seemed like SO many of them were getting pregnant. Then getting pregnant again. I had to quit attending baby showers. I skipped church on Mother’s Day every year. I quit holding babies. I frequently cried myself to sleep at night. I cried in restaurants, family gatherings, church, you name it. My husband-to this day- carries a handkerchief for me everywhere he goes, God bless him.
I felt that I was leaning too heavily on my husband-there is only so much weight one person can carry for someone else. To his credit, he never complained and he was always so supportive and understanding. I never felt that he loved me any less for not being able to give him children, or because of my changing appearance. He always held me, no matter how long I cried. Let me tell you, there was a lot of crying.
Emotional and Spiritual Self-Care
I visited with a few talk therapists to sort out my feelings, and while they were helpful, they were a bit pricey for a girl undergoing infertility treatment on an Arkansas teacher’s salary. I discovered Celebrate Recovery at my church-there was a women’s group meeting and working through their problems related to overeating. Those “Slim Down Sisters” didn’t help me to lose much weight or beat PCOS (initially) but we loved each other, listened to and supported each other, and drew closer to Christ thanks to our time together. It felt good to lift some of the emotional burden off of my husband, as I learned through my women’s group that we are not God, and we are not meant to handle every problem for everyone. It is so freeing to release yourself from obligations you put upon yourself (that you cannot control anyway) and just lay them at God’s feet. Through prayer and study of God’s word I drew closer to Christ and realized that He was all I needed for fulfillment-not weight loss, not children, or any other earthly desire. I knew that children or no children, I had all I needed in Jesus Christ.
Moving to Alaska
My husband tells me that through my efforts, he was drawn closer to Christ as well. We began to spend more time together in prayer and daily devotion. Due to several factors relating to our personal circumstances, we prayerfully made the decision to jump on our “Plan B” and move to Alaska to teach. There is no way it should have gone as smoothly as it did, and I firmly believe God made a way for us. In fact, I feel He led us there. (That journey is a whole other blog post.)
We started in Ketchikan, Alaska. We were both teachers at the high school. We met some teachers there who were foster parents. I began remembering how bitter I was when I saw someone who I deemed “unfit” as a parent and complained inwardly to God that she was a mother and I wasn’t. I decided to put my money where my mouth was and meet the needs of hurting children in need of homes. Our goal was fostering to adopt-we wanted a forever family.
Failed Adoption Attempts
We ended up fostering a precious sibling group of three-we tried valiantly to keep them together. Ultimately, all three foster adoptions fell through and the sibling group was split among family. We were all devastated, and this was the final blow at the end of a very long struggle to become parents. We were so weary and battle worn, and more discouraged than we’ve ever been before or since.
Moving to Bush Alaska
In the midst of our adoption struggles (and partly because of them) we moved to a commercial fishing village in the Aleutian Islands. We desperately needed a change of scenery, and we were really impressed with the school and community. It seemed like a great fit, and a chance for a fresh start. This was a time of great grief for us, and my husband was having a particularly rough struggle with it all.
Searching for Answers
That’s when I began reading about endocrine disruption, and how balancing hormones is essential before PCOS weight loss could occur. Then I found the PCOS Diva and I signed up for her Fall Jumpstart program. I couldn’t follow the program precisely as time, money, and availability of ingredients were all issues I faced. It was the beginning of a new school year in a whole new school district. But I did leverage the information provided to better my life and my health situation.
I started slowly, making important changes to my diet, my self-care routine, and my home. The products we use every day have ingredients that cause endocrine disruption and cancer. I started intentionally swapping out what I could manage and afford, a little at a time. I loved using this resource to find the safest products I could to beat PCOS. I sourced some local grass-fed beef, and we took advantage of the beautiful wild-caught salmon available to us here on the island. There’s not a lot of organic produce available at the markets here, but I was able to join a subscription service that flew in organic groceries weekly. I also continued with daily prayer, devotional time, and gentle exercise. Within four months, I was PREGNANT!! (Read here for the amazing story of how we discovered my pregnancy!) We welcomed our precious son into our lives, and within two years we added our beautiful daughter. God has faithfully blessed us so richly.
Losing the Weight
Of course, two pregnancies added a lot more weight gain to the equation. I wanted to be as healthy as possible, in order to be the best wife and Momma I could be to my family. I began practicing the Ketogenic diet to beat PCOS, and the weight has been falling off! I am down seventy pounds from my heaviest weight. I still have 60 pounds or so to go, and I am continuing on this weight loss journey. NEVER have I been able to successfully lose weight like I am doing now. I feel better, I look better, I have more energy, and I have SO much more mental clarity.
The body aches have gone away. Quitting gluten and sugar have been the best dietary things I could have ever done for myself. One of my best friends was diagnosed with Type II diabetes recently. She’s been following this diet with me and her doctor took her OFF her diabetes meds! Another friend is seeing significant improvement in his blood pressure with this diet.
Sharing What I’ve Learned
I cannot wait to continue to share my healthy lifestyle changes with you, and share all that I’ve learned about CLEAN living! As an educated consumer, I now read labels and research ingredients. This has been so empowering for me, and I hope to educate all of my readers about the safety of their foods and products they use for themselves and their families. I will be sharing how to make your home less toxic. I will show you what I’ve learned about how to beat PCOS. You will find some delicious LCHF recipes on this blog-including Alaska Seafood and some Southern flavor! We really are living the good life in the Great Land, and we want to share it with you. So look forward to some useful information about Alaska travel. One of the most prized traits a Southerner can have is the ability to be a good storyteller, and I have got quite a few yarns to spin. I am in awe and amazement at the way God has worked in my life and I want to bear witness to all He has done for my family and me. Stay tuned-I’ve got a LOT to say!
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