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.

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.  

 

A PCOS Exercise Plan for Beginners: Start Strength Training Today!

Click here to get my strength training bonus sent to your inbox now!

My bonus includes an instructional video, cool down stretches and a pre & post workout nutrition guide. Plus, links to my best articles about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Strength Training.

 

PCOS Exercise Plan for Beginners

  1. Do this workout 3 times a week on nonconsecutive days for 4 to 6 weeks.
  2. To warm up walk at a brisk pace for 5 minutes.
  3. The exercises are separated into two groups. Do the two exercises in group A before moving on to group B.
  4. Rest as needed in between sets.
  5. The last rep of a set should be tough! If you finish a set and could’ve done more, increase your reps, increase your resistance or select a more difficult version of the movement.
  6. End the workout with a 5-20 minute cool down walk.
  7. This program is designed to get you started quickly. Ideally, you should be ready for a more difficult workout in about 6 weeks.

beginners workout

Forearm Wall Slides

PCOS exerciseforearm wallslide

  1. Start by facing a wall with your forearms in contact with the wall, shoulder width apart.
  2. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees and keep wrists inline with the elbows.
  3. Keep your forearms in contact with the wall as you slide your arms up and out. Don’t shrug the shoulders!
  4. Slide the arms back to the starting position and repeat.

Pallof Press

Pallof Press

  1. Affix the band to an immovable object at chest level.
  2. Stand inline with the band so that your body is parallel to the anchor point.
  3. Hold the band with both hands and center it on your chest. Do not allow the band to rotate your upper body.
  4. Exhale, push the band straight out in front of you, brace your core and glutes to resist the urge to rotate.
  5. Hold it in front for 3 seconds, then return the band to your chest.

Squat

Squat

  1. Stand with your feet beneath your shoulders.
  2. Inhale and lower your body like you’re sitting down in a chair.
  3. Keep the back neutral, chest up and core engaged. Push your feet into the ground like you’re trying to split apart the floor beneath you. This will help engage your glutes.
  4. Lower your body until your thighs are at least parallel to the ground.
  5. Keep your torso stiff as you exhale and press your body back up to standing.

Note: If you find this move difficult you can start with a chair squat, the instructions are in my video bonus!

Elevated Push Up

elevated pushup

  1. Place your hands on a wall or another sturdy surface like a table. They should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
  2. Engage your core to stiffen the torso and step back so that your weight is on the toes and hands.
  3. Keep your feet together and your glutes should be firm.
  4. Inhale and lower your chest toward the wall. Keep the glutes and core strong, tuck the elbows close to your sides as you descend.
  5. Exhale, press back up to the starting position.

Note: If you find this move difficult you can start with a wall push up, the instructions are in my video bonus!

Pull Through

Pull through Pull through

  1. Loop a resistance band around a sturdy object near the floor. Stand while straddling the band with feet hip-width apart and face away from the anchor point.
  2. Keep your back straight, core engaged and your shoulders down.
  3. Inhale as you hinge at the hip and press your rear behind you, slightly bend the knees, feeling a stretch in the hamstrings. Do not round your spine.
  4. Exhale as you squeeze the glutes and press the hips forward to stand back up, pulling the band through your legs.
  5. Imagine that you’re pulling from your hips rather than your arms or lower back.

Note: If you find this move difficult you can start with a hip bridge, the instructions are in my video bonus!

Band Resisted Row

Row Exercise

  1. Find a fixed object where you can wrap the exercise band. Grab an end of the band in each hand and step back to where the band is under tension.
  2. Stand with your feet apart, shoulder width.
  3. Exhale, keep your elbows close to your sides as you pull the band towards you.
  4. Contract and flex your back muscles at the peak position. Inhale as you slowly return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for the recommended number of reps.

Are you ready to start strength training? 

Click here to get my strength training bonus sent to your inbox now!

My bonus includes an instructional video, cool down stretches and a pre & post workout nutrition guide. Plus, links to my best articles about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Strength Training.

The Cakewalk System: Stop Sugar Cravings In 5 Uncomplicated Steps.

Stop Sugar CravingsToday I’m going to tell you how I ended my lifelong struggle with sugar cravings. I used to have an insane sweet tooth. Heck, my first job was at an ice cream store and I was their best customer!

How did I stop sugar cravings? The Cakewalk System.

This post shares every step of my journey to defeat sugar cravings so that you can learn from my experience.

I was standing in front of the freezer shoveling just one more bite of New York Super Fudge Chunk into my mouth when a fudgy chunk fell onto my white shirt. At that moment, I decided that this pint should never have crossed my threshold. Ashamed and guilty, I put the ice cream in the trash.

As I stared at the premium ice cream melting in my garbage can, I realized this was a problem bigger than my willpower alone.

Three weeks later I had transformed my world into a sugar binge-proof zone. And in the following months, I completely banished my sugar cravings by transforming the way I thought about dessert and food, in general.

My Cakewalk System, as I like to call it, did not just help me lose weight. I freed myself from a years-long struggle with guilt, failure, and intrusive cravings that interfered with my life. Even if I hadn’t lost a pound, I’d feel much lighter!

The Cakewalk System is twofold: I mastered my environment and my mindset in order to declare victory over sugar cravings.

How The Cakewalk System ended my daily sugar cravings.

The first steps I took to vanquish sugar cravings focused on my environment.

Step 1: I evicted ready-made treats.

Sugar Addiction

Resisting the stockpile of indulgent treats in my kitchen made me miserable. Even if they were divided up into single sized servings, ready-made treats were driving me nutz!

I immediately stopped buying premade sweet treats and vowed only to eat food made from scratch.

This change did not go over well with my husband, a fellow dessert lover. In the past, I would have become frustrated with him and told him just to deal with it. This time I took a different approach – I asked for help.

How to ask for help and get it:

  1. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and explain to your partner or family how having these foods in your house impacts you emotionally.
  2. Briefly explain how nutrition can affect PCOS. Tell them that if you do not clean up your diet, PCOS symptoms could get worse and that you’d be putting yourself at risk for other serious health problems.
  3. Directly ask for help. Tell the people in your life that you need their support.

Many of my clients have tried to clean up their diets and failed in part because they lacked the support of the people they live with. It can be hard to ask for help, but it is critical to making lasting changes.

Step 2: I have a single serving policy.

I knew from past diet failures that total deprivation would not ensure success. Thus, I created my single serving policy.

I never make more than one serving of dessert at a time (well, two servings: one for me and one for Colin).

For me, the most stressful thing about my sugar cravings was stopping once I had started. By eliminating leftovers, I could enjoy my dessert and move on. Gone was the fear of losing control and eating half a cake!

Whipping up single serving desserts is pretty easy, too! I have put together a collection of my very favorite single serving desserts. You can get it sent to your inbox by clicking here now.

Step 3: I ate a nutrient-dense breakfast, lunch, dinner AND dessert.

I mentioned this in my last post and I am sure I will mention it again. I’m a firm believer in the power of a nutrient-dense diet. Eating a diet of whole, unprocessed foods like fruits, veggies, eggs, meat and unprocessed whole grains has radically improved my life.

Some research on why we crave foods suggest that nutritional deficiencies may play a role in our cravings. You can protect yourself from this craving-causing complication by eating a nutrient-dense diet.

In addition to eating a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner, replace store-bought goodies with homemade desserts that are great sources of valuable nutrients like healthy fats, fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins.

Nutrient-dense desserts may not be low calorie, but they are much more satisfying than a traditional dessert. When you finish eating one, you’ll feel balanced and satisfied rather than guilty and craving more.

Healthy DessertsTips on making healthy desserts:

  • Download this PDF of my very favorite single serving desserts.
  • Keep staple healthy dessert ingredients like coconut milk and cocoa powder on hand.
  • Try reducing the amount of sweetener (honey, maple syrup, stevia, and sugar) in a recipe by a teaspoon  at a time, you might need less than you thought.
  • Exercise portion control. Healthy desserts can still be high-calorie foods.

These three changes to my environment made a huge difference in my life. In just three weeks, I stopped overeating on sugary foods altogether. I ate a nutritious dessert that I loved with no guilt!

But…

There was just one problem: I loved my dessert a bit too much. I looked forward to it all day and, once it was gone, I was sad. I knew deep in my gut that my problem was not completely resolved. My love of dessert played too big a role in my life.

What was this dessert doing for me? Why was it so valuable?

My daily dessert was a major source of pleasure. There were days when it was the only bright spot. From a scientific standpoint this makes sense, our brains respond to sugar with an influx in feel-good neurochemicals – AKA a sugar high.

But I felt like my fondness for dessert time (yeah I actually called it that) went beyond a neurochemical reaction. My dessert had become a ritual. I ate it slowly and attentively. I savored the texture, taste and smell. It was also a time when I slowed down and focused on the moment instead of just thinking about the next item on my todo list.

I realized I needed to add more rewarding experiences to my day. I mean, dessert was a high point for me – that’s pretty lame!

Step 4: I eat everything like it’s a piece of cake.

piece of cakeThe slow, attentive way I ate my desserts was something I really enjoyed. When I started to eat all of my food this way, I found I ate a little less and enjoyed it a lot more.

How to eat for more pleasure:

  • Sit down at a table and eat from a plate or bowl.
  • Select nutritious foods that you like. Don’t force yourself to eat something simply because it is a superfood or your fit friend swears by it.
  • Take note of why the food you’re eating tastes good.
  • Express gratitude. Thank whoever prepared your meal. Even if you cooked it, you can still express gratitude to yourself 🙂

Step 5: I added more highs to my life.

Eating should be a pleasurable experience, but not your primary source of pleasure. If the most enjoyable part of your day is centered around food, it is time to broaden your horizons.

How to find more everyday highs:

  1. Set some time aside to make a list of 20 things you truly love to do.
  2. Review your list and circle 3-5 things you can do pretty much every day. They should be activities that are simple, inexpensive and delightful.
  3. Post this list in a place where you will see it every morning. When you wake up, make a mental note of when you will set aside a few minutes to “get high.” Schedule time to “get high” on your calendar if you need to. Make this a priority.
    Home Sweet Home
    Home Sweet Home

Here are some examples from my life:

Watching the sunset.
Hugging my husband (he’s cute!).
Taking a walk on the beach.
Listening to my favorite NPR shows while sitting in my hammock.
Calling my mom or a girlfriend to catch up.
Reading.

I make time for some of these simple pleasures every day. In fact, I take this very seriously and am really disciplined about it. I know that my health and well being depends on it. If I don’t make room for healthy highs in my life, I will seek out less unhealthful ones.

My average day is, well, average. But now I can count on the highs of a walk on the beach or a piece of  healthy cake. The cakewalk technique has replaced unhealthy highs in my life with true joy and better health.

If you’re struggling with sugar cravings, stop beating yourself up. Don’t blame your willpower or allow yourself to feel like a failure. Your environment and everything you have been taught about behavior change are not serving you well.

Try just one of these 5 steps and when you feel ready try another. Soon you will be free from sugar craving madness!

Are you ready to give The Cakewalk Technique a try?

Get my step-by-step checklist and recipe collection sent to your inbox now!

16 Tips for Losing Weight with PCOS That Won’t Cost You a Cent!

I have received dozens of emails from women interested in losing weight with PCOS, but they can’t afford a gym membership, yoga classes or a personal trainer.

Having all of those luxuries would certainly be helpful- I use some of them myself! But the truth is you do not need them.

And you should not wait until you can afford them to start putting your health first.

Women who lose weight with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) do three very important things:

  • Exercise
  • Eat a nutrient-dense diet
  • Reduce their stress

You might be thinking to yourself: “Sounds great, but how do I do all that without hiring a nutritionist, a yoga teacher and a personal assistant?”

Today, I am going to give you 16 actionable tips for losing weight with PCOS that won’t cost you a cent. And I’m going to give you downloadable bonus material that you can use to put these 16 awesome tips into action.

The Bonus includes:

  • A handy checklist for all of the tips in this post.
  • Links to six of my favorite healthy recipes
  • And a list of online resources to help you get started

         Click here to get the bonus sent to your in box now!

1. Eat without distraction.

Eating while in front of a television, tapping away on a laptop, or driving is not just a choking hazard! People who eat distracted eat more. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reviewed 24 different research studies and found that eating while distracted increased overall food intake in most individuals.

losing weight with PCOSEliminate distracted eating from your life by setting time aside in your schedule to eat. Go ahead and add lunch to your work calendar so that meetings and other responsibilities don’t invade your meal time.

Make it a personal rule to eat at a table and not your desk or the couch where you’ll be tempted to stare at a screen while you eat.

Leave your smartphone in another room during mealtime and, of course, eating at a drive thru is out of the question.

If your day is truly busy, just set aside 10 minutes to drink a healthy super shake. 10 minutes of undistracted eating is better than an hour of distracted overeating!

I’ve seen clients end their battle with overeating just by changing this single habit!

2. Stop scheduling rest days into your workout program.

Wait… Doesn’t your body need time to recover from intense exercise?

Yes, it does, but you do not need a rest day.

You need a recovery workout – a workout where you take the intensity way down and focus on things like joint mobility and deep breathing.

rest daysWhat you don’t need is 2-3 days a week that are devoid of any actual movement! Most of us sit all day at work and then sit in traffic just to come home and sit on our couch. The last thing your body needs is less movement!

On days when you don’t have a cardio or strength session planned, you should still set that block of time aside for health-enhancing activities!

On my recovery days, I like to do my usual warm-up followed by a leisurely stroll and then take a few minutes to stretch and foam roll tight muscles. Sometimes I even do some deep breathing exercises.

3. Squat.

The squat is a staple of most exercise programs for good reason. Squats simultaneously work the biggest muscle groups in your body (quads, glutes, back, and core) and are essential to everyday functioning. You use the squatting motion to sit, stand up, and pick things up. You can’t avoid squatting so you might as well get good at it!

How To Squat:Squat

  1. Stand with your feet beneath your shoulders.
  2.  Inhale and lower your body like you’re sitting down in a chair.
  3. Keep the back neutral, chest up and core engaged.
  4. Lower your body until your thighs are at least parallel to the ground.
  5. Keep your torso stiff as you exhale and press your body back up to standing.

You can do squats with or without added weight making them a great exercise to do at home!

4. Sprinkle on the spice.

Spices are a great way to boost you’re level of satisfaction from a meal. Human behavior researchers have found that when people have a stronger sensory experience while eating they tend to feel more satisfied and eat less.

Behavioral scientist Jennifer Lee, Ph.D. explains that “Our brains and bodies use a combination of signals to indicate ‘fullness’: sensory signals (taste, smell), gastric signals (full bellies), and nutrient signals (our bodies tell our brains, whether we are lacking in certain vitamins and minerals, etc.).

Plus, many spices deliver some serious health benefits. For example, a study conducted by the US Agricultural Research Service found that type II diabetics who consumed just 1 gram of cinnamon per day experienced a 20% decrease in blood sugar.

Ways to spice up your diet:

  • Make several homemade spice blends so that you have them on hand for creative moments in the kitchen. I love to sprinkle this Moroccan spice blend on my quinoa and chick peas and this taco spice blend can be added to bland beans or a baked sweet potato for an added kick.
  •  Sprinkle cinnamon in your coffee or tea each morning.
  • Go through you spice cabinet and make sure you have a fresh supply. Ground spices do go bad after a while. As a general rule, whole spices will stay fresh for about 4 years, ground spices for about 3 to 4 years and dried leafy herbs for 1 to 3 years.

5. Sneak more walking into your day.

There are several medical studies which have found that spending too much of your day in a seated position can be hazardous to your health.

In fact, a study conducted by the American Cancer Society found that people who sat for more than 6 hours per day increased their risk of death over the next 15 years by 40 percent compared to those who sat for less than 3 hours per day.

Translation: move or you’re killing yourself! treadmill

Adding more bouts of movement into your day will safeguard your health and make losing weight with PCOS a bit easier.

Some people at your office may take cigarette breaks or quick trips to Starbucks. Why not try taking a quick walking break?

The next time you have the urge to get out of your office and grab a mocha, skip the sugary drink and opt for a quick stroll around the block. The fresh air will energize you and the extra steps will further your fitness goals.

If you’re a parent, try walking around the field while waiting for your little leaguer’s practice to finish up. Why sit and wait if you can walk and wait?

6. Make push-ups part of your program.

When it comes to upper body exercises, you can’t beat the push-up. They do a fantastic job of strengthening your upper body while also working your core, glute and leg muscles. Push-ups burn calories and build strength!

Many women think they can’t do push-ups. They are wrong 99% of the time. Push-ups are an intermediate level exercise. If you can’t do them right away, start practicing good form by doing push-ups with your hands on a sturdy bench or the wall.

How To Do Push-ups:pushup

  1. Get into a good push-up position: place your hands on the ground slightly wider than shoulders width apart, engage your core to stiffen your torso, keep your feet together and your glutes should be firm.
  2. Inhale, and lower your chest toward the ground. Keep your glutes and core strong, tuck your elbows close to your sides as you descend.
  3.  Exhale, press back up to the starting position.
  4.  Do as many as you can from your toes. If necessary, you can reduce the difficulty by placing your hands on a bench or the wall.

 7. Eat fewer processed carbohydrates.

Every PCOS diet I’ve come across recommends that you get the majority of your carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables and beans. Unfortunately, the average person tends to get most of their carbohydrates from processed grain products like cereal, pasta, sandwich breads, and sugar.

Getting most of your carbohydrates from these highly refined products leads you to a state of being overfed and undernourished. You’re getting more than enough calories from breads and cookies, but you’re not getting nearly enough vitamins and minerals.Processed Carbohydrates

How to eat less processed carbohydrates:

  • Use lettuce leaves in place of tortillas and wraps.
  • Ditch pasta and use spaghetti squash or julienne sliced zucchini instead noodles.
  • You can replace white rice with this recipe for cauliflower rice.
  • Instead of a bowl of cold cereal for breakfast, try fresh fruit and plain greek yogurt with a little honey. This will also boost your protein intake!

 8. Include high-intensity interval training in your cardio program.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a method of cardio exercise that is great for women with PCOS. HIIT workouts can increase your insulin sensitivity, help you build muscle, and improve your body’s ability to burn fat.

A HIIT workout involves alternating low intensity intervals of exercise with intervals of high-intensity exercise.  For example, a HIIT workout might include alternating bouts of sprinting with brisk walking.

One or two 20-minute sessions of HIIT each week should be enough to boost your weight loss efforts.

Here are links to two of my favorite HIIT workout plans:

A Running Program for People Who Don’t Like to Run

At Home Cardio Circuit

9. Cook nutritious desserts.

chocolate peanut butterYou can lose weight and eat your cake too! The trouble with most traditional desserts is that they are high in calories and low in nutrients.

However, there are plenty of innovative food bloggers who are creating totally nutritious and tasty dessert recipes. Two of my favorite places to find healthy desserts are chocolatecoveredkatie.com and purelytwins.com.

A word or warning: many nutritious dessert recipes are still high in calories, so you need to use portion control.

10. Practice the art of mindful eating.

Mindful Eating is a practice that Buddhist monks have been adhering to for hundreds of years. The concept is simple: bring attention and focus to eating.

Mindful eating has been shown to help chronic overeaters reduce stress and caloric intake. Both of which are helpful in losing weight.

Mindful eaters take special care to notice their hunger cues before, during and after a meal. They also savor the sensory experience of eating by reflecting on the taste, appearance, texture, and smell of their food.

Four simple ways to start eating mindfully:

  1. Eat from a plate or bowl, not a bag. By placing food out on a plate, you get a visual cue as to how much you are eating.
  2. Put your utensils down in between bites. If you have food in your mouth, your hands should be empty. Take a moment to taste, chew and swallow each bite before taking the next.
  3. Try to identify each ingredient in a dish. As you eat focus on flavor and take note of what spices and ingredients are present in each bite.
  4. Throughout your meal contemplate how your food got to your plate. Think about how you cooked it, where you bought it, and the farmer who grew the ingredients.

 11. Be aware of liquid calories.

High-calorie beverages tend to be less satiating than a solid food meal of the same amount of calories. In fact, people who drink high-calorie beverages tend to consume more calories in general. shakes-200x300

If you want to lose weight, my suggestion is that you drink water, tea, coffee and the occasional glass of red wine. Here are a few beverages you should keep to a minimum when trying to slim down:

  • Commercially prepared smoothies and protein shakes
  • Specialty coffee drinks
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Fruit juice
  • Soda.

 12. Get eight hours of sleep each night.

Not getting enough sleep at night is a serious health risk and it can hinder your weight loss efforts.

  • Sleep deprivation can affect the hormones that control your hunger levels.
  • An American Academy of Sleep Medicine research study found that sleeping less at night may increase the expression of genetic risks for obesity.
  • Many medical studies have found that sleep deprivation reduces fat cells’ ability to respond properly to the hormone insulin.

How to get a good night’s sleep:

  • Schedule enough time for you to sleep a full eight hours. This means you need to have the lights off eight and a half to nine hours before you’re supposed to get up.
  • Keep your bedroom dark and at a cool temperature.
  •  Reserve your bedroom for sleeping. Keep the television and computer in other rooms.
  • Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.

13. Eat more veggies!

You really can’t eat too many veggies! Vegetables are amazing for so many reasons. But, to put it simply, you need to eat more veggies because they have tons of micronutrients and fibers, but are very low in calories.

They are the ideal food for weight loss!

How to eat more veggies:carrots

  • Learn to cook veggies. Like any food, veggies taste best when you put a little effort into cooking them. You would not expect raw chicken to taste wonderful. The same holds true for asparagus and carrots.
  •  Get creative with your salads. Mix salad greens with roasted veggies, fruit, avocados, nuts or seeds.
  • Buy produce when it is in-season. Produce will be at it’s best when you buy it at the right time of year. You can look online to get a list of what’s in-season and when for your area.
  • Try to eat different color veggies every day. Differently colored veggies contain different nutrients.

14. Work out first thing in the morning.

When you make your workout the first thing on your to-do list, it gets done.

The number one reason women give me for not working out is their busy schedules. And it’s a perfectly valid reason!

Unfortunately, if you keep putting other things before your health, your body and your quality of life will pay for it. The easiest way to nip this problem in the bud is to work out first thing in the morning. Snooze_button

A morning workout may not seem very appealing to those of you that are addicted to the snooze button, but I have a few ways you can make your morning sweat session a cherished ritual.

Do not check your email when you wake up. Unless you’re a world leader, everybody else’s problems can wait until you’ve worked out.

Work out at home. Working out at home eliminates commuting time and the need to shower in a locker room – yuck!

Make a great workout playlist, pick music that energizes you.

Put the most important part of your workout at the beginning. For example, if your priority is chest and legs, do your squats and push-ups right after your warm-up. This way if you have to cut the workout short, you’ve still accomplished something!

Be grateful. Having the time, resources, and physical capability to work out is a privilege! Be grateful for that strong, beating heart and your comfy yoga pants!

15. Learn to cook. Even if it’s just six dishes.

In my opinion, cooking is a terrific hobby – especially for women with PCOS. Knowing how to cook will free you from being dependent on restaurants and manufactured food products.

After taking cooking lessons, I found that I prefer my cooking to most cafe’s and restaurants. More importantly, by cooking my meals I always have control over the quality of my food.

Do you think cooking is a chore? Not to worry. You just need to find about five or six healthy recipes you can master. Most people eat the same stuff every week and are perfectly happy to do so.

I recommend you learn the following:

  • two poultry dishes you like
  • one fish or seafood dish
  • how to roast veggies
  • at least one healthy dessert
  • one tasty bean or quinoa dish.

Note: I include links to my six go-to healthy recipes in the downloadable bonus. Click here to get the bonus sent to your in box now!

16. Stop looking for quick fixes.

pcosIf you have PCOS, losing weight is about more than just being thin. Managing your weight will help you protect yourself from PCOS-related complications like infertility and diabetes.

Lasting, health-preserving weight loss requires you to adopt a lifestyle that makes your health a priority. It is not always an easy thing to do, but the benefits outweigh the costs!

Focus on making small meaningful changes to your lifestyle and eventually the numbers on the scale will reflect the healthy choices you’re making! Are you ready to take some action? Start right now by downloading this helpful checklist!

Click this image to get the checklist!