Getting Pregnant With PCOS: What a Fertility Specialist Wants you to Know

A few months ago I started getting more and more emails from young women wanting to know more about getting pregnant with PCOS. They were not interested in getting pregnant just yet, but they were eager to learn more about what they could expect from the process of trying to conceive (TTC) with PCOS.

Dr. Marc Kalan

To be honest, I did not have an answer to most of these questions, but I knew who would. I first met Reproductive Endocrinologist Dr. Marc Kalan when he invited me to his Los Angeles fertility clinic to talk about PCOS and Exercise. I had reached out to many of LA’s top fertility doctors in the hope of getting an interview. Dr. Kalan was the only doctor to get back to me. He even joined me at the gym for a quick workout!

Right away I noticed that Dr. Marc has a remarkable ability to present complicated information in a clear, non-threatening way. He can talk about delicate subjects, like infertility, with the perfect blend of honesty, empathy, positivity, and expertise.

I am very excited to share our recent conversation with you… so let’s get to it!

If you would like to listen to a recording of some of the interview with Dr. Kalan, click here to get an MP3 sent to your inbox.

 

I speak with many young women who have PCOS and know they would like to start a family someday. What can young women do to improve their chances of successful pregnancy later in life?

If you already have a PCOS diagnosis, there are several things you can do to get ahead of the curve so that you have the best chance of getting pregnant. The first is weight management. Maintaining a BMI below 30, ideally a BMI of 25, will make becoming pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy much easier.

Next, you should track your menstrual cycles. You don’t need to do this continually, but every so often you should track your cycles for a few months so that you have a general idea of how often you are ovulating.

Go to your general practitioner for yearly check-ups. Each year ask to be screened for diabetes, metabolic disease, and thyroid disorders. It is better to diagnose and manage these issues early so that you and your OB-GYN or Fertility Specialist are not surprised by a medical condition once you are ready to TTC.

Stay up-to-date on your vaccines. Common viruses like Chicken Pox or Whooping Cough can be devastating to a pregnancy. It is best to be immune to these viruses well before you try to get pregnant.

 

When should women with PCOS see a Fertility Specialist?

That depends on two variables: age and your cycle.

This is why Dr. Kalan recommends that you track your cycles before you are TTC. If you do not ovulate regularly, it is highly unlikely that you’ll conceive without some medical intervention to help you ovulate. If you already know that your cycles are irregular, you can save yourself much frustration by consulting with a specialist as soon as you are ready for that bundle of joy.

As I am sure your mother or some nosey relative has told you, age affects your fertility. Dr. Kalan has some guidelines to help you factor age into your fertility equation:

  • If you are younger than 32, have PCOS and regular cycles, Dr. Kalan recommends consulting a specialist after 3-6 months of trying on your own to get pregnant.
  • If you are 32 years old or older, have PCOS and regular cycles, Dr. Kalan recommends consulting a specialist after only three months of trying. Older women are under tighter time constraints, so it is best to get help sooner rather than later.

 

What can a woman expect from her first appointment with a fertility specialist?

When Dr. Kalan meets with a patient for the first time, he focuses on gathering and giving information. He wants to learn all that he can about your health history and then explain your treatment options.

During the first visit, a Fertility Specialist will want to get an extensive health history. You can prepare for your visit by coming with some of this information on hand:

  • Bring medical records from your general doctor (including vaccination records). If you have tracked your cycles, bring that information with you.
  • Write down approximate dates for when certain health events happened, like your first period, and when you were diagnosed with any chronic conditions, like PCOS.
  • Have your family’s health history at hand. Does PCOS, diabetes, infertility or miscarriages run in your family? You might need to ask an older relative about some of this.

Next you can expect a full exam. The exam will probably include:

  • Blood tests to check your sex hormone levels, thyroid, and Diabetes risk.
  • A trans-vaginal ultrasound of your ovaries to evaluate your cysts.
  •  A physical exam to see how other PCOS symptoms present for you. For example, hair growth and acne patterns.

After Dr. Kalan has gathered all of this information, he likes to sit down with his patients and have a long conversation about their treatment options. Selecting a treatment plan for infertility can be an intensely personal decision as finances, social support, religion and your unique health history can all factor into the decision.

 

What qualities will an ideal fertility patient have?

Self-knowledge is an important asset for any woman about to start fertility treatments. Ideally, a patient will know exactly what PCOS symptoms she has and will be able to share with her doctor all the steps taken to manage her symptoms.

Women need to understand that any fertility treatment will require more than just taking a prescription or undergoing a procedure. Lifestyle will play a huge role in how well a given fertility treatment will work.  An ideal patient will come to her specialist motivated and prepared to make changes to her lifestyle to maximize the results of her treatment.

If you have a spouse or partner, they should be involved in the process too. Men, in particular, have a hard time understanding what a complicated and involved process TTC with PCOS can be. One way to get your partner engaged is to make sure they are informed. Dr. Kalan recommends that partners attend fertility appointments along with the patient.

 

Should you exercise while TTC?

Yes, patients can and should exercise while undergoing fertility treatments. Regular physical activity improves fertility in most women. Dr. Kalan explained that, in an ideal situation, a patient will already be following an exercise program when they come in for their first visit.

For patients who are not physically active, Dr. Kalan advises against simultaneously starting a rigorous new exercise program and fertility treatments. The stress of making these two changes at once might become overwhelming. In some cases, Dr. Kalan will delay treatments for a month so that a patient can start a moderate exercise program before they begin fertility treatments. However, that decision needs to be made on an individual basis as time might be a factor in your treatment plan.

 

What fertility treatment options do women with PCOS have?

The treatment that Dr. Kalan most commonly uses for women with PCOS is a combination of ovulation induction and intrauterine insemination (IUI). Dr. Kalan will prescribe a drug like Clomid or Letrozole, which will cause women with PCOS to ovulate. Once the patient is near ovulation, Dr. Kalan will perform IUI. IUI is the process of directly injecting sperm into your uterus. It is possible just to use ovulation and intercourse to conceive, but IUI increases the likelihood of getting pregnant.

Invitro Fertilization (IVF) is also a treatment option for women with PCOS.  IVF involves stimulating ovulation, removing eggs from the woman’s ovaries via a surgical procedure and letting sperm fertilize the eggs in a laboratory. The fertilized egg is then implanted in the patient’s uterus.

A third, less common treatment option is a surgical procedure called ovarian drilling. Ovarian drilling is a laparoscopic surgical procedure where the surgeon will use a laser to puncture the ovary 4 to 10 times. 60% of women who have this procedure will begin to ovulate on their own. However, there are risks associated with ovarian drilling. One common complication is early menopause.

If you would like to hear Dr. Kalan explain these three treatment plans in detail, click here to get a recording from our interview sent to your inbox.

 

Are there any long-term side effects associated with fertility treatment?

In the 1980’s two studies linked Clomid use to ovarian cancer. The studies found that women who had fertility treatments were more likely to have ovarian cancer. Later, these studies were reevaluated and debunked. Further investigation discovered the link between being anovulatory and ovarian cancer was to blame. Women who sought fertility treatments were more likely to be anovulatory and, therefore, were more likely to seek fertility treatment than other women.

The bottom line for women with PCOS: fertility treatments seem to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer later in life. Anovulatory women are in greater danger of developing ovarian cancer. Fertility treatments cause anovulatory women to ovulate, therefore reducing their ovarian cancer risk.

 

Will taking Metformin increase my fertility?

The studies on Metformin and fertility have not brought a conclusive answer to this question, but the results suggest that Metformin can be very useful during fertility treatments. This is especially true for women who are insulin resistant.

Insulin resistance can trigger a series of hormonal and metabolic imbalances that will make getting pregnant more difficult. Metformin is a safe and effective means of correcting insulin resistance. Before prescribing Metformin, Dr. Kalan will evaluate a patient’s insulin sensitivity (through lab work) to determine whether Metformin will improve her chances of conception.

Dr. Kalan pointed out that Metformin is not the right course of treatment for every woman with PCOS. Physicians should assess a patient’s insulin sensitivity and goals before prescribing Metformin or any other insulin-sensitizing drugs.

 

Is Metformin safe to take during pregnancy?

Metformin is safe to take during pregnancy. In fact, Metformin is an extremely useful treatment for women who are diabetic or become diabetic during pregnancy.

 

Should every woman with PCOS take Metformin?

Metformin is a safe, worthwhile treatment option for women who have PCOS and insulin resistance. If you do not have insulin resistance, Metformin will not be of much use to you.

That being said, many women with PCOS do have insulin resistance, even some lean women. You and your physician should thoroughly evaluate you insulin sensitivity, and use that information to create a treatment plan. Dr. Kalan suggests PCOS patients get Hemoglobin A1c, fasting blood sugar, fasting insulin levels and 2-hour glucose tolerance tests to evaluate their insulin sensitivity. 

 

Will the long-term use of birth control pills damage your fertility?

Dr. Kalan explained that birth control pills will not diminish your fertility. However, time will. All women experience a decrease in fertility as they age. If you come off birth control pills after several years and have a difficulty conceiving, age is the likely culprit.

Dr. Kalan says that birth control pills can be a safe and effective part of a larger PCOS treatment plan. They can help women with PCOS manage their symptoms and regulate their cycles. Dr. Kalan recommends that women periodically go off birth control pills so that they can evaluate their natural cycles. In some cases, PCOS symptoms can decline as a woman ages and birth control may no longer be necessary to control her cycles and symptoms.

If you smoke, you should talk to your doctor about possible health risks associated with smoking and the use of birth control pills.

There you have it, ladies! What to expect when TTC with PCOS. I hope you feel informed and encouraged by Dr. Kalan’s tell-all.  If you live in the Los Angeles area and are ready for that bundle of joy, get in touch with Dr. Marc Kalan and his colleagues at the Pacific Fertility Center I am confident you will receive the top-notch care you deserve. In case you have not noticed, I’m a fan!

Pacific Fertility Center has locations in Los Angeles, Glendale, Encino, and Bakersfield California.

 

Expert Advice: Fitness Should be Part of Your PCOS Treatment Plan

Mark Perloe MD
Mark Perloe MD

I met Reproductive Endocrinologist and highly regarded Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome expert Dr. Mark Perloe when he presented at the PCOS Challenge symposium. Before he took to the stage, the woman seated to my right turned to me and said, “My fertility doctor is speaking next. He’s really great. I had my last baby over ten years ago, but I still see him because he really gets PCOS.”

I was immediately impressed. In all my time as a PCOS patient and advocate, I had never heard a fellow Cyster rave about her medical care. As Dr. Perloe gave his presentation on creating a treatment plan for PCOS, it became clear he is a compassionate, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable advocate for women living with PCOS.

On Sunday Dr. Perloe and I had a great conversation about PCOS and weight loss, and I am eager to share what I learned with you.

Why women with PCOS have trouble with their weight

The insulin resistance that is characteristic of PCOS promotes weight gain. It is still unclear exactly how PCOS and insulin resistance are linked. Recent research suggests that our genetics play a role. Insulin is the hormone your body uses to deliver energy (in the form of glucose) to your cells. When you are insulin resistant, normal amounts of insulin are inadequate to produce a normal response from your cells. As a result, the excess glucose that remains in the blood stream is sent to the liver. The liver converts the excess glucose into fat and stores it throughout the body. Thus, women with PCOS tend to gain weight easily.

The relationship between insulin resistance and weight gain is not easy to understand! Dr. Perloe has made a great explainer-video on the subject. Click here to get some of Dr. Perloe’s best video tutorials sent to your inbox.

It can be easy to feel frustrated; like the cards are stacked against you when it comes to losing weight. But Dr. Perloe is very optimistic when it comes to weight management and PCOS. He’s a man with a plan!

The three point plan for PCOS weight loss: a low GI diet, insulin sensitizers, exercise.

Dr. Perloe won’t tell you that losing weight with PCOS is easy. For that matter, neither will I. He believes that managing your weight and health when you have PCOS takes a life-long commitment, but there is a clear and research-based approach to ensure that you look and feel you best.

A Low GI Diet

GI, or the Glycemic Index, is designed to measure how quickly a type of carbohydrate is digested and absorbed into the bloodstream. A low GI score indicates the food is digested and absorbed more slowly. Examples of low GI foods include beans, unprocessed whole grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables and, of course, food that do not contain carbohydrates like animal proteins and oils.

The goal of a low GI is to get the majority of your calories from low-GI food so that you have a steady rise in the level of glucose in the blood, which in turn leads to a small and gentle rise in insulin.

Insulin Sensitizers

Insulin sensitizers, like metformin and inositol supplements, plus a low GI diet can correct PCOS-related insulin resistance. Dr. Perloe has seen great results with both the supplement Ovasitol and generic metformin. However, you and your physician should work together to find the right dosages of metformin or inositol for you.

Exercise

Dr. Perloe wants you to hit the weight room ladies. Why? The majority of the glucose you ingest from food will be used by and stored in your skeletal muscle. Progressive strength training increases the size of skeletal muscle and enhances that muscles’ ability to manage glucose. Medical research has demonstrated that the adaptations created by progressive resistance training will increase insulin sensitivity and your metabolic rate (the amount of calories you burn at rest).

Don’t be a cardio queen

Dr. Perloe cautions women against doing long bouts of cardio exercise. The traditional thinking that “the more calories you burn, the better” will not serve PCOS women well. Over time, large amounts of cardio can reduce your muscle mass thus slowing down your metabolism. Shorter, high-intensity cardio does a much better job of improving your cardiovascular health and insulin resistance.

Dr. Perloe tells his patients to do just two 20-minute, high-intensity cardio sessions a week and to strength train two or three times a week on nonconsecutive days. When you strength train, select exercises and resistance levels that challenge you and train each major muscle group once a week.

Will lifting heavy weights increase your androgen levels?

I get asked this a lot, so I decided to put this question to Dr. Perloe.

The answer: No, quite the opposite. We know that insulin resistance and obesity exacerbate hyperandrogenism in women with PCOS. Strength training is a proven method of managing insulin resistance and obesity. Improved insulin sensitivity and weight reduction will ultimately improve hyperandrogenism.

Should you work out if you are trying to conceive?

Absolutely. The majority of women who follow Dr. Perloe’s three-point plan can conceive without any further fertility treatments. How cool is that? In fact, women who are physically active give birth to healthier babies. Check out the post I wrote for With Great Expectations (an excellent blog for anyone TTC) to learn more about how exercise can prepare you for motherhood.  

However, once you are pregnant, you should reevaluate your exercise program and consult your OB-GYN. Dr. Perloe says expectant mothers should reduce their exercise intensity so that they can pass the talk test: you should be able to hold a conversation while exercising.

If there is one thing I took from my Sunday afternoon chat with Dr. Perloe, it’s that PCOS is not a lost cause. We have smart and compassionate advocates like Dr. Perloe and information on our side. It is our job to use the tools available to our advantage!

Would you like to hear more from Dr. Perloe? Click here to get some of Dr. Peloe’s best video tutorials sent to your inbox.

If you live in the Atlanta, Georgia area and are looking for a wonderful fertility specialist, you can get in touch with Dr. Perloe by visiting IVF.com.

How to beat PCOS Fatigue

PCOS FatigueBeing tired is the worst. In fact, the only thing that is worse than being tired is when you realize you are tired of feeling tired all the time.

Fatigue is a vague symptom and therefore, it does not get much attention from PCOS experts. But if you ask one of the many women living with PCOS (including me) -fatigue is one of the most troubling symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

The fatigue I am talking about is different from boredom or being sleepy after a night of Netflix binging. It is a truly physical sense of exhaustion, where you might want to do something, but you just feel too worn out to make it happen. I’ve turned down wine nights with the girls and procrastinated on writing a blog post because fatigue has reared its ugly head.

Today I am going to give you a practical approach to managing fatigue.  But first I want to tell you to go to your doctor and get a check-up. In case my Lululemon crop pants did not tip you off- I’m a personal trainer and not a physician.

Chronic Fatigue could indicate that you have another medical condition. Some the conditions common to PCOS women include:

  • Thyroid Disease
  • Auto Immune Conditions
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Diabetes
  • B-12 deficiences (linked to long-term metformin and birth control pill use)

So go to your doctor and rule out all of this stuff.

My perspective on PCOS and Fatigue

At the center of PCOS is a hormonal imbalance. Our bodies are already dealing with some level of hormonal dysfunction. Therefore, we’re probably more vulnerable to other environmental stressors like a poor diet, sleep deprivation, and unmanaged stress. I believe that fatigue is one way that your body communicates to you that something in your environment is not good for you.

Better nutrition, good sleep hygiene, and stress management can reduce PCOS fatigue. Yep, I know this is not novel or cutting-edge information. But the truth is that if you manage these areas of your life better, you will feel like the energizer bunny.

Click here to get my video diary of how I manage fatigue and a library of helpful fatigue fighting resources like podcasts, and articles from experts.

 

Blood Sugar Imbalances

Spiking and plummeting blood sugar levels will make you feel fatigued.

This might be the cause of fatigue if:  

Your fatigue seems to come and go in waves and can be remedied by eating or if you feel especially low after eating.

Action Steps:

Eat balanced meals. Eat healthy sources of proteins, fats and carbohydrates with every meal. Do not get caught up in the exact gram amounts of each macronutrient. Instead, use this simple diagram to plan meals:

The PCOS Plate

 

Eat breakfast within 90-minutes of waking up. Not eating until lunch may seem like a good way to cut back on calories, but it could negatively impact blood sugar regulation. Researchers at Tel Aviv University found that skipping breakfast triggers major blood sugar spikes and impairs the insulin responses of type-2 diabetics. Much like type-2 diabetics, women with PCOS have impaired insulin response so eating breakfast is probably in our best interest too.

Eat about every four hours. I do not believe that constantly snacking throughout the day is a good way to balance blood sugar. However, you should eat at regular intervals. About every four hours over the course of the day. This means that you will probably need a small balanced snack between lunch and dinner.

Supplements that can help:

Inositol and cinnamon have been shown to help with blood sugar imbalances. Talk to your healthcare practitioner about finding the right dose for you.

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is associated with a laundry list of health problems including insulin resistance, being overweight and feeling fatigued.

This might be the cause of fatigue if:

You get less than 8 hours of sleep each night, you have trouble staying asleep, or you wake up tired after a full night of sleep.

Action Steps

Ruthlessly prioritize sleep. There are few things in life more important than getting enough sleep. Sleep is not a luxury- say that again out loud- sleep is not a luxury. If you have over-scheduled yourself to the point that you can’t get into bed 8 1/2 hours before you need to wake up, it is time to start saying no to unnecessary commitments.  If you are living with an infant- hang in there! But the rest of you need a reality check if you don’t have enough time to sleep something is wrong with your priorities.

Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. If you want to recover from sleep deprivation, you will need to get on a sleep schedule. For the time being, skip late nights out with friends and sleeping in on Saturday. In the future, you may be able to get away with the occasional deviation from your sleep schedule but until you’re fully recovered it is best to go to bed around 10 pm and wake after 6 am. According to Nutritionist Chris Sandel, the phase of sleep where your body repairs itself occurs between 10 pm and 2 am so you do not want to miss out on that restorative process by being awake late into the night. Click here to listen to Chris’s fascinating podcast about sleep

Manage your light exposure. Natural sunlight exposure helps humans sleep well. One way to improve your chances of getting a good night’s rest is to go outside a few times a day and enjoy the sunlight. Plus sunlight helps you make vitamin D.  Note: Some research has found the women with PCOS are low in this important vitamin.

On the other hand exposure to the blue light emitted by electronics can cause sleep disruptions. In fact, the American Medical Association states that exposure to excessive light at night, including extended use of various electronic media, can disrupt sleep or exacerbate sleep disorders. One way to lessen the effect of blue light on sleep is to download a program called F.lux. F.lux is a software program that changes the light admitted by your electronics so that it mimics natural light.

 

Starbucks_Coffee_Collage

Do not consume any caffeine after 2 pm. You may not feel like that 4 pm caffeine boost affects your sleep, but it might be reducing the quality of your sleep without you even knowing it. For example, one study found that test subjects who consumed caffeine 6 hours before sleep experienced a less restful night without even knowing it. The caffeinated subjects reported that they slept well but electronic sleep monitors told a different story:  total sleep time, and sleep efficiency significantly deteriorated when they consumed caffeine 6 hours before bed. 

Give your bedroom a makeover. Make sure your bedroom is a hospitable sleep environment. High-quality mattresses, pillows, and linens are a wise investment. Hang up blackout curtains if your windows let in a lot of artificial light at night. Keep the room cool and free of distractions like televisions and computers.

Supplements that can help:

Melatonin has been shown to help with insomnia and improve sleep quality. Talk to your healthcare practitioner about finding the right dose for you.

Stress overload

I know we would like to avoid stress altogether, but that is simply an unrealistic expectation. Stress is part of life and stress only becomes detrimental to our health when we let it consume us.

This might be the cause of fatigue if:

You feel tired but wired. You have trouble relaxing or have unexplained body aches.

Action steps

New-Years-Resolutions-600x406Evaluate your commitments. Ok superwoman, take a look at your day planner. Have you set aside time for self-care? If not, that is a warning sign. Living well with PCOS requires that you set aside time for exercise, sleep, meal prep, and restorative activities like seeing a therapist, getting a massage, or just watching the grass grow.  

If you have not left space in your life for well, you then it is time to gracefully turn down obligations or responsibilities that are a choice. You do not have to be PTA president and the chairwoman of a local charity- you want to be all of these things. But if you’re feeling fatigued enough to read a blog post about fatigue it is time to reevaluate your commitments.

Practice Mindfulness. Do you have racing thoughts or strong emotional responses to stress? Your reaction to a stressful situation may not just be mentally uncomfortable; it might be physically exhausting too. Simply put- “feeling stressed-out” can stimulate a hormonal response in your body. If you are chronically saturating your body in stress hormones, you could start to experience fatigue.

Mindfulness practices like meditation, mindful walking, and breathing exercises can help you improve your reaction to stressful situations. Just 10-minutes a day of mindfulness practice can make a dent in your stress levels. To get started try these yoga breathing exercises from yoga instructor Caren Baginski:

Include parasympathetic exercise in your program. Short high-intensity exercise is ideal for addressing the metabolic aspects of PCOS. Ideally, you should balance out these intense workouts with exercise that stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system.  The parasympathetic nervous system is the division of your nervous system that shuts down your “fight or flight” responses to stress and allows you to rest and recover.  

Walking, gentle yoga and Tai Chi are just a few forms of exercise that fall into this category. I recommend you get in 2-3 sessions of parasympathetic exercise every week. To recover from chronic stress, you may even need to cut down on intense exercises in favor of parasympathetic exercise.

Supplements that can help:

Ashwagandha has been shown to reduce symptoms of stress. Talk to your healthcare practitioner about finding the right dose for you.

I know from personal experience that fatigue is about more than feeling sleepy. My fatigue cast a shadow over every aspect of my life; my marriage, my work, and social life.  If you want to hear more about my personal struggle to manage fatigue, click here, I’ll send my video diary to your inbox.

Your Post-Thanksgiving Recovery Plan

Have you ever noticed that the morning after an indulgent meal like Thanksgiving your body and mind are absolutely consumed by cravings?

Me too! It can drive a women nuts! You have every intention of “being good” and getting back on your diet the next day, but your body is just screaming give me more!

And on top of the cravings, we have to resist the time-honored tradition of grazing off of Thanksgiving leftovers the over the rest of the weekend. This “tradition” of extending your Thanksgiving feast by two or three days can turn one indulgent meal into a 2-5 pounds of rapid weight gain yikes!

To me, a healthy Thanksgiving is all about ending the feast once you leave the table! I would like to propose a sensible alternative that will allow you to revisit the delicious flavors of Thanksgiving and return to a nutrient-dense PCOS-friendly diet.

The plan below is made up of nutritious recipes that have a hint of holiday flavor without the added sugars, unhealthy fats and refined carbs that make our traditional feast detrimental to our health.

Your Ultimate Healthy Thanksgiving Recovery Plan

 

Meditate 

Start your day off with meditation. I know what you’re thinking: “how will meditating keep me from pigging out?”

Here’s the deal: after the excitement of a holiday celebration, it can be difficult to transition back to your normal routine and clean eating. Prepare yourself mentally for this challenging day by doing a brief meditation. A few minutes of quiet reflection will keep you more mindful and in control of the rest of the day.

You can try my favorite meditation app for free at headspace.com, or you can use this free mindfulness meditation series from DoYogaWithMe.com. Oh and BTW I love DoYogaWithMe.com’s online yoga classes too!

 

Photo By Lauren Geertsen
Photo By Lauren Geertsen

Breakfast

My grandma would let us eat leftover pie for breakfast the morning after Turkey day- yeah she was AWESOME! But today the adult me is going to skip the pie and whip up a batch of Grain-Free Pumpkin Pancakes.

I found this Recipe on the WellnessMama.com it was created by Lauren Geertsen of Empowered Sustenance.

 

Break a Sweat

Now that you’ve enjoyed a nutritious breakfast it is time to workout! You do not need to be a superhero today, just get moving! The natural high of physical activity will help keep you feeling balanced.

Do you have house guest and can’t get away to the gym? No problem! Click here to get my 10-Minute Quickie Workout sent to your inbox now!


 

Lunch

I know your first instinct will be to build yourself a monster-sized turkey sandwich. Let’s avoid the processed carbs by skipping the bread. Instead, whip up this Turkey and Baby Kale Salad With Avocado Sage Dressing from Green Lite Bites.

Since you already have cooked turkey on hand, you can skip the step of cooking turkey cutlets and have lunch on the table in no time!  

 

Avoid a late afternoon snack attack.

Many women struggle with a late afternoon cravings. Try to boost your endorphins (the feel good hormones) without snacking. Cuddle up and watch old movies with you sweetheart, go for a walk at a local park or play backyard football with the fam. Keep yourself busy and out of the kitchen!  

 

Dinner

Last night you chowed down on many inflammatory foods like sugary pies and cranberries floating in corn syrup. Soothe you body’s inflammatory response by having Omega-3 rich salmon for dinner. Researchers have discovered omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, and might ease the symptoms of disorders influenced by inflammation (like PCOS.)  

This Pan-Seared Salmon with Cranberry Walnut Relish from Paleo Grubs would pair nicely with a baked yam and steamed green beans.  

 

Get to bed!

Congratulations! You’re at the finish line. The last step of this no-nonsense recovery plan is to get a good nights sleep. Plan on being in bed at least 8 1/2 hours before you have to wake up. Sleep deprivation can compromise your wellbeing and your ability to stick to a healthy routine. Don’t undo all your hard work by skipping over this final step!  

Ready to bounce back from your turkey coma like a champ? Click here to get my 10-Minute Quickie Workout sent to your inbox now!  

PCOS is Serious

At times, I’m hard on myself when it comes to dealing with PCOS. I will berate myself for feeling exhausted and not having a more productive day. I silently accuse myself of being indulgent because I always make room in my schedule for exercise, self-care and sleep. Sometimes I feel like I do not look fit enough to call myself a personal trainer. And I feel like I am being difficult when I ask my doctor to run extra tests or refer me to a specialist.

Can you relate to any of this?

More often than not, I can put these doubts in their place and stay true to myself. But, at the root of all these inner thoughts is the idea that Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome  is not that serious.

Angela Grassi of the PCOS Nutrition Center
Angela Grassi of the PCOS Nutrition Center and I at the symposium.

A few weeks ago I went to the PCOS Awareness Symposium at Emory University. It was a day full of lectures from some of the leading experts on PCOS, Fertility, Nutrition and Women’s Health. I could go on for days about what I learned from the experts who presented at the symposium, but I want to talk about how this experience changed my perspective on PCOS.

It was the first time in my life that I have been in a room with more than one, let alone one hundred women, who have PCOS. I want to tell you something important: PCOS is serious!

The trials, difficulties, complications, and health risk that are part of our lives as women living with PCOS are not trivial. It is NOT just you. You are not weak for feeling like it is a struggle to manage PCOS. You are not a hypochondriac when you go to that third or fourth doctor looking for answers.

PCOS will not kill you. I thank God every day for my health. We could have it much worse. However, that does not change the fact that PCOS causes symptoms that disrupt our daily lives, compromise our fertility and can lead to health complications like heart disease and diabetes.

The good news is that PCOS is not in Charge, You are.

pcos-ribbon-mdEvery presentation at the symposium was incredibly empowering. Why? Because each and every expert shared ways that we as patients can improve our well-being.

One thing is very clear when it comes to PCOS management; lifestyle is at the heart of every solution. Eating right, exercising, sleeping and managing stress will clear the way for your physician to make the most out of the medications, procedures, supplements and other treatments for PCOS.

That is exciting news! But taking control can be scary. Change is hard especially if you are not feeling your very best to start with. If you are ready to start taking PCOS seriously, I’ve got your back! Here are five strategies for taking your PCOS more seriously.

Plus I’ve made a downloadable PDF of simple action plans for fighting PCOS symptoms like acne, belly fat and unwanted hair. Click here to get my action plans for dealing with PCOS symptoms sent to your inbox now!

Educate yourself and take action.

Educate yourself on the basics of PCOS and then start taking some simple steps to toward a PCOS-Friendly lifestyle. You can spend hours upon hours reading up on PCOS. Before you dive into those deep waters, put together a very basic action plan. For example, simply start walking every day and then start looking for more advanced workout programs.

Speak up!

Many PCOS women feel isolated, alone, and even embarrassed about their PCOS. I felt the same way until I started telling the people in my life about my struggles and then eventually blogging about them. You can’t make lifestyle changes in secret. Give your loved ones the opportunity to support you. Being honest and open about your PCOS does not make you a complainer. Your friends and family can’t help you if you’re hiding your burden away from the world.

One change at a time

Taking up a new habit or changing an existing habit is a major undertaking. Do not sabotage yourself by trying to change your entire daily routine all at once. Behavioral Science researchers have found that people are much more successful at making lasting changes when they focus on one small change at a time.

Pick simple solutions instead of complicated plans

It is tempting to pick up the latest diet book or head to the trendiest workout class in town. Both of which might be great! But it is always best to start with the basics before attempting more complex methods. For example, if most of your meals are super-sized and come from a paper sack, you already know why you’re not losing weight. So you don’t really need a complex nutrition plan; focus on portion control or giving up fast food first. There’s no need to weigh yourself down with a difficult to follow program before you have even mastered the basics 🙂

Support PCOS Awareness

Sasha Ottey PCOS Challenge
Sasha Ottey Director of PCOS Challenge

Have you ever felt brushed aside and not taken seriously by the medical community? Sasha Ottey (the founder of PCOS Challenge and the organizer of the symposium) asked the audience if they felt they were currently receiving adequate medical care for their PCOS. Only two women in the room said they were satisfied with their care!

If you are not part of a PCOS support group or advocacy group like PCOS Challenge, please consider joining one. We need every woman with PCOS to speak up so that we are heard, recognized and respected. Contributing to the PCOS community will help you heal and learn. Plus lending your voice will also ensure that future generations have more support from their healthcare providers and social circle.

Are you ready to take PCOS seriously? Click the image below to get my PCOS action plans sent to your inbox. It includes ideas and suggestions from symposium experts plus links to podcast interviews with symposium speakers Dr. Mark Perloe, Dr. Monica Best and Angela Grassi, MS, RD, LDN.