Saturday, January 9, 2010

About me and what I have tried in the past

Hi! I am a 27 year old woman with PCOS and I plan to use this blog primarily to chronicle my journey to better health and reduction of symptoms through proper nutrition and supplementation.

Basically, I want to kick some PCOS butt with lifestyle changes.

Like most people I have a long and extensive history of trying different things, sometimes successfully, and sometimes not so much. My most recent 'success' was losing 20 lbs last year through lots of exercise (CrossFit!) and mostly moderate diet changes. I have gained about 15 of that back since I stopped CF a couple months ago, and a lot of the more unpleasant symptoms of PCOS have come back with a vengeance.

Initially, I created a blog to chronicle my attempt at 30 days of The Paleo Diet (eliminating all grains, sugar, dairy, and most starches. The diet relies on mostly lean protein and vegetables), but the longer I thought about it the more apprehensive I became. Technically a Paleo diet would exclude potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams, but I feel really good eating limited quantities of those foods. More about that later.

In the past I have tried a 30 day Paleo challenge and by day 18 I was depressed and exhausted. I also attempted a low carb diet in December and by day 18 I was fatigued, dizzy, depressed, and ended up with a UTI. I have not been able to figure out exactly why 2 1/2 weeks seems to be my sticking point with low carb diets. At first I thought that it was affecting my thyroid, since the symptoms I experienced the first time around made me feel like I did before I started thyroid medication. The second time around I thought perhaps it was low potassium, since I was eating a very low level of carbs (< 20 g), but supplementing with potassium didn't help.

My current theory is that at about 2 1/2 weeks into a low carb diet my serotonin decreases significantly and I begin to experience symptoms of depression. Since a serving of simple carbohydrates will shuttle tryptophan (the amino acid that makes serotonin) across the blood-brain barrier where your brain can actually use it, I've decided to keep limited quantities of potatoes with skin and sweet potatoes in my diet. I've also started taking 100mg of 5-htp at night to help build up my levels of tryptophan and serotonin.

So, that's a little of what I've tried during the last year. I've heard but never really realized until this most recent failure, that every time you 'yo-yo' the weight comes back on easier. Well, I can tell you that the symptoms also get worse.

I have many of the physical symptoms of PCOS, though a lot of the things that really trouble other women aren't actually that bad for me. I have some abnormal hair growth, but it's mild. I have acne, but it's usually pretty mild. My periods are mostly regular. I have cysts, insulin resistance, and obesity (especially in my midsection). Pretty much all of my sex hormones, stress hormones, and thyroid hormones are out of balance.

But probably the worst part of the syndrome for me is how it affects my moods and my brain function. Most of this is probably related to the hormone imbalance. Anyone who's ever experienced this will tell you how miserable it is to have crazy hormones. At any given time I may be depressed, uncontrolably angry, completely unmotivated, unable to make a decision, unable to concentrate, unable to focus. It's the mental symptoms that are the most humiliating for me. Sometimes I have a difficult time understanding the most simple things. The 'lightbulb over the head' doesn't often turn on for me.


  1. found your blog on soulcysters. does your doctor recognize that hormone imbalance can cause all the mood problems? mine doesnt. =(

  2. Hi! Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. I guess my notifications aren't working!

    At this point I've pretty much taken my care into my own hands. My doctor doesn't/didn't look at much other than the obvious symptoms and then she only had medications to offer me. I see her once a year for a yearly physical, but will probably have to go more often once we start trying to conceive.