We’ve all been there: we’re desperate to lose some weight and decide that it’s time. We start off really well, being really “good” about what we eat and how regularly we exercise. But slowly our motivation begins to wane and we start to let things go, indulging in a treat here, skipping an exercise class there. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
The thing is, when we fall off the wagon, our PCOS symptoms go haywire: the weight piles on, our skin breaks out and our self esteem plummets. We know that a PCOS diet and lifestyle is crucial to managing PCOS but we struggle to make the lasting changes we so desperately need to make.
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Lifestyle Changes Most Effective Way to Manage PCOS
I was astounded and so excited when I came across a recent piece of research. The researchers looked at 343 overweight, infertile women with PCOS and divided them into four groups: One group was treated using Clomid, one with Metformin, one with Clomid and Metformin and the final group with diet and exercise (lifestyle changes). They monitored the women for 6 months and these are the findings:
The clinical pregnancy rate was 12.2% in clomiphene (Clomid) group, 14.4% in metformin group, 14.8% in clomiphene + metformin group, and 20% in lifestyle modification group. Lifestyle modification group achieved a significant reduction in waist circumference, total androgen, and lipid profile. (1)
I can’t tell you how excited I am about this research as it proves what I have believed all along. Diet and lifestyle changes are crucial in managing your PCOS.
But, how do we make those changes and actually stick to them for the long term?
And how do we find the support we need to make the hard decisions and give us the encouragement we need to tackle our PCOS on a daily basis?
We need help and can’t do it on our own.
The Psychological Impact of PCOS
I recently wrote an article on the link between PCOS and Depression. Although the psychological impact of PCOS is well documented, it doesn’t really help us feel any less isolated or alone. Talking about the very personal symptoms of PCOS takes a lot of courage and many us don’t know any other women with PCOS. This makes us feel even more alone. And we may have wonderfully supportive partners (as I do) but lets face it, he’ll never know what it’s like to have PCOS and face the symptoms on a daily basis.
So, where does that leave us?
What the Research Says
There have been studies on the benefits of a PCOS support group in managing PCOS. One study in particular found that a PCOS support group was “a key factor is alleviating the psychological impact of PCOS” It also helped women manage their PCOS. (2)
You see, finding a group of like-minded women who can not only share your journey but also their [blockquote cite=”- by POTSC” align=”right”]I will be brave with my story so others can be brave with theirs.[/blockquote]experiences of what has worked for them, empowers you to take charge of your PCOS. It spurs you on to action and makes you realize that there are things that you can do now to improve your PCOS symptoms. When you are struggling, you have a group of people you can turn to who have been there, know what you’re going through and can take you by the hand and walk with you. We need to share our PCOS journeys with fellow Cysters!
Where Can You Find the Support you Need?
There are a couple of options in terms of support and support groups:
Online forums like Soulcysters or Verity can provide a wealth of information and support from a number of women and they can be a good place to start. For the technophobes among us, they may not be ideal, though. I don’t think I have ever personally posted on any of these forums. I find them impersonal and difficult to connect with.
Many PCOS charities provide local support groups for women with PCOS. I have never been to one myself but I can see how they can hold real value for women with PCOS. Why not contact your local PCOS charity and find out if they run any support groups in your area. If they don’t, why not start one yourself?
PCOS Diet Support Online Community
I can’t resist the opportunity to mention PCOS Foodies that I recently launched. It is a group of women who are determined to take charge of their PCOS and share their journeys with others. It is a smaller, tight-knit community so you are more than a just a username and there is real opportunity to connect with other women with PCOS, as well as with me. So, if you don’t have a local support group and feel like you need some support, why not consider joining the PCOS Foodies?
Summing It Up
So, we know that diet and lifestyle changes are crucial to managing your PCOS and are even more effective than medications like Clomid or Metformin. But, making those significant changes can be really difficult. By finding a support network, you will be empowered to take charge of your PCOS, get the guidance and advice you need and the support to revamp your diet and lifestyle so that you can be the healthiest possible you!
Do you know of any good support networks that we could all benefit from? I’d love to hear about it and hear your experiences of your local or online PCOS community!
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I hate having this condition! I try so hard to be healthy – I exercise daily, eat gluten free, dairy free, soy free, refined sugar free diet – and I have the worst time still trying to deal with all the symptoms. I take inositol, vit D, chromium in the morning and vegan probiotic + magnesium at night before bed. What else can I do to make the tough days better? I feel so depressed close to when I get my period (I get it now since starting metformin) and I don’t know how to feel better.
I found a yummy almond milk ice cream receipe that I was ready to try, even bought the agave nectar for it!…. Then I researched agave and it’s not looking like the best sweetener 🙁 Is a tablespoon in 3 servings really that unhealthy?
I was diagnosed with PCOS about 2 years ago and have no regular periods (except for the 5 years I was on the pill) since I was 19. I believe I have had PCOS since then and was diagnosed with Insulin Resistance when I was 21 after a number of tests.
My husband and I have now been trying to conceive for 17 months and during that time we have also completed 4 cycles of clomid of which only 1 cycle resulted in successful ovulation however due to the specialist visit timing for the scans being just after ovulation it was missed and we did not conceive. We have decided to take a few months off from the fertility treatment so I can focus on getting healthy and hopefully restoring some form of normal cycle so we have an increased chance of conception.
I have found it very helpful looking through your website and reading some of the articles and stories. I have also been reading a few books on the subject of managing PCOS symptoms through diet and exercise and believe this website will be another great tool to help keep me motivated. After reading some of the other articles I am going to attempt to go dairy free tomorrow so will buy some almond milk in the groceries.
Thanks for sharing your story and support for the rest of us
Hi Tarryn iam on my fruit and veggi juice diet do you think it will help me with my pcos ?
I’d be really careful as fruit and juice tends to be very high in carb and will cause your insulin levels to rise dramatically. Any increase in insulin will also cause your testosterone levels to rise, making your PCOS symptoms worse.
Let me know how it went!
Loving your website Tarryn, thank you.
I came off the pill in September 2011 in the hope of getting pregnant but my periods never returned to normal and sadly I was diagnosed with PCOS a year later. I’m getting very frustrated with my Clomid treatment. I need to get a period to start taking Clomid and dispite all the ‘period inducing’ drugs(provera etc) its getting harder and harder to get a period and hence i can’t take the Clomid as its prescribed.
I’m 5ft and not overweigh. I beleived i had a healthy diet but after reading your website i realised that my diet was high in sugar and lacked protein and my exercise was decreased because i thought this might be holding me back from getting pregnant.
Well i’m nearly two weeks into your diet and already my energy levels are improving. I wish i found your website a year ago but i guess its better late than never.
Thanks Sonya xx
That’s great news, Sonya! I really hope you get your amazing baby news soon!
I just found out I have Pcos. I have talked to a few people and they didn’t know what it was. I have no one to talk to about it or how to deal with it. My husband helps me but just says we will get it fixed.
Thank you so much for all the help & support you give to us ladies with Pcos. I have recently found your website & wished I could have found it sooner. You have provided me with so much more information, support & help then any doctor & for that I am so grateful. I am in the early stages of making my own website pcosmyjourney.com I am hoping that like you by sharing my journey I can help & support other women with Pcos. After reading your story you have motivated me to start my own healthy lifestyle changes. I’m also going to document everything so I can motivate others.
Thank you once again.
Some time I just want to give up and just be fat and hairy. I joined a gym and did it for about 3 months and said forget it and started back eating everything so sad and depressed at times
It sounds like you’re having a really rough time and I’m sorry about that. Sticking with your diet and exercise regime is rough. Have you got people around you who can give you good support to make the lasting changes?
Uh, wish there was a support group here, in Estonia. Just because I’d be able to talk, vent and discuss in my own language! I mean, Verity and Soul Cysters have definitely been great support places, but, it’s bit different to talk to people from literally thousands or even tens of thousands of kilometres away than just go and get a coffee with someone here for half an hour and share tips and ideas and latest research. The few people I know in Estonia with PCOS don’t have nearly what I have with PCOS (and I’m glad for that, hehe!).
BUT! For me recently this site has been of highest interests because of the information it gives and the comments I can read back from other followers feedback. And secondly, SoulCysters. It’s crazy (cool) how active the Americans, Canadians are there and with some users from Australia, Asia, Africa and Europe mixed in, it’s a true experience and also daily keeping in mind, that people come from different culture, religion, different heritage, different understanding of word “healthy” and different .. a lot:) It’s sometimes challenging and always interesting and I can truly say, I have made couple of really great friends there, whom I follow and support daily, who turn the favour whenever I’m low and encourage and congratulate me on my success. I’m ever-so-thankful for them, having never even met them in real life.
So, I think for someone with any syndrome, disease or problem, support groups work excellent and for Cysters, as well. Especially, as in so many countries the awareness of PCOS is still very low or non-existant.
I have lost pounds, won motivation, gained self-confidence and positive stories from forums, blogs and this site. Juhhuu!
Cheers and a sunny Thursday afternoon to all of You;)
I love your enthusiasm and that you make such good use of support networks. Thanks for sharing your experiences!
Sounds like maybe if you build it they will come! It sounds like you are a source of inspiration.