I want to preface these next three posts by saying that it’s taken me a couple weeks to write them. First, I was hoping that I would lose a couple pounds before I posted anything, so that I would have good news to report. More importantly, as I didn’t lose any weight, I began to realize that the subject of this post really has more to do with my personal medical and health issues than a simple desire to lose weight. These are issues which I don’t typically broadcast, but I’ve decided, I think, to start being more open about them.

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I never got around to posting it, but this series of posts seem like a good time to share my 2011 goals:
1. Try 11 new foods
2. Lose and Maintain 11 lbs.
3. Save $50 each month
4. Try Chinese medicine
5. Exercise 4 times per week
6. Read 11 minutes per day

So far I’ve been working on all of these goals, but this series will focus on the weight loss, Chinese medicine, and the exercise.   

* * *

Over the past two years I’ve found a lot of inspiration and motivation from healthy living bloggers. They’ve inspired me to make positive changes in my own life. Some of my favorite bloggers include: Meghann at Meals and Miles, Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point, and Emily at Daily Garnish. Last summer I branched out of my eating comfort zone and discovered a plethora of new, healthy, but totally yummy foods and recipes. At the time I was also on Weight Watchers and I achieved my goal by losing 13 pounds. By the end of the summer I was back to my “happy weight.”

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[green smoothies and kale chips]

Unfortunately, after my marathon (and training for it) was over and the stress of school and thesis writing increased, so did my weight. I kept with my vegetarian diet and the healthy food additions that I made over the summer stayed, but some of my “bad” food habits crept back in, like diet soda and portions that were too big. My exercise habits also diminished with the stress of teaching and thesis writing. Overall, it was a recipe for disaster. By about October I had regained about seven or eight of the pounds of I had lost during the summer.

Then, in November I made the decision to stop getting Depo Provera injections (a kind of birth control). I was taking Depo because I have PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome and do not get a regular period. I have no idea when my last period was, probably sometime about two years ago. Basically, my hormones have hijacked my body and are completely out of balance. The PCOS is responsible for a variety of symptoms including: irregular periods, lack of periods, infertility, acne, hair loss, hair growth, weight gain, insulin resistance, depression, and more! Fun, right? Add to that, my body seems to react like a temperamental two-year-old and does exactly the opposite of what everyone expects. Originally, I took regular birth control periods to regulate my periods and I got blood clots. Then, I took depo provera to regulate my periods and I was supposed to gain weight, but I lost 35 pounds. Most recently, I went off depo and then went back on it and my body did nothing. My medical history with PCOS is rather long and convoluted.

So last summer, as I was learning more about the effects of artificial hormones and chemicals in foods, cleaners, skin care products, I decided that I wanted to rid my body of as many toxins as possible. I don’t know what specifically caused the PCOS, but if switching to a natural deodorant and organic foods, then I’m willing to help my body out. The biggest way cut back on the artificial hormones is to stop the BCP. See, the problem with using BCP as a treatment for PCOS is that many doctors believe it’s simply masking the problem and not treating the underlying imbalance. Also, in addition to the PCOS, I’ve been suffering from sleep problems and fatigue for years. Therefore, in an effort to figure out what is going on with my body and to get more in touch with my own body, I decided to stop the depo injections. I figured that if I wanted to try acupuncture and herbal remedies, I need to let my body get back to it’s natural state, however out-of-wack it is.

November 3rd I was supposed to get my next depo injection, which lasts three months, but I skipped it. Since November I haven’t been on any synthetic hormones or birth control and as I suspected I haven’t had a period. I knew it would take some time for my irregular period to come back, but at this point it’s been eight months and I’m starting to get a little worried.

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Then between November and May, I gained ten pounds. Imagine my horror. I started to focus more on healthy eating and exercise habits, but that didn’t change anything. I gained ten pounds — despite increasing my exercising and despite cutting back on calories and crap. I gained ten pounds despite adding in strength training into my routine. I am frustrated.

In April, I started going to an acupuncturist, but I think the stress of my thesis was overwhelming my body because I haven’t seen any changes yet. I’m currently taking an herbal mixture twice a day which is supposed to mimic my cycle and hopefully give my body the message of what it should be doing. Despite the weight gain and despite the lack of a period, I’m not ready to give up on the acupuncture route. For the first time in eight years, since I’ve been seeing doctors for these issues, I feel like someone is actually listening to what I say and agrees with me that my symptoms and issues are not adding up. In the Western medical world, when my body reacted differently than expected it freaked the doctors out and they gave up trying to find an answer. I’m tired of that. So that’s why I’m looking for a natural solution to my issues. I’m convinced that BCP and drugs are not the answer, at least not at the moment.

Although my weight gain is obviously a vanity issue, more than that, it’s also a health issue. Yes, I’m frustrated that my clothes do not fit right. Yes, I’m frustrated with how I look in pictures. Yes, I want the scale, a silly inanimate object to validate my self-worth. BUT. I also realize that the bigger picture clearly show that there is something going on with my body. It does not make sense for me to gain weight so rapidly, especially when I’ve been able to lose it in the past (even if keeping it off has always been a serious struggle). I want to be thinner. I want to have a period, even if I hate it the moment it shows up. I want to know that I’m doing everything right and not purposely harming my body by eating crappy foods and diet soda. But most of all, I want to be healthy and strong.

So I’m embarking on a journey to lose weight, regain my period, and get in touch with my body and figure out what the heck is going on.

10 comments on “Part One: Healthy Living and Health Issues”

  1. I really wish you the best of luck with your journey!

    Chinese medicine does take a while to really produce results, so it’s great you are giving it time.

    XOXOX

    • Thank you Caitlin!

      I’m not sure if you’ll see this, but can you recommend an acupuncturist in the Tallahassee area? I’m moving from Washington back to Florida, so I’m in need of a new doctor. I know The Husband went to school in Orlando, so I was hoping he might know of someone practicing in Tallahassee.

  2. I have lots of comments about these two posts, but I don’t have time at the moment to leave them. For the time being, I just wanted you to know 2 things:

    1) I think your writing keeps getting better & better the more you blog. SO BLOG MORE. šŸ˜€
    2) I think it’s a great idea for you to blog about PCOS and related health issues because I’m sure there are other women with the same dilemmas out there who would benefit from reading your blog, which is already a great healthy living blog, but for them it would hit home even harder since you would be more like them.

    • Thanks for the encouragement. šŸ™‚ The 11 minute number was really just to stick with the 2011 theme, but I think it also represents just a small amount of time to do some fun reading every day. I aim to read anything that I don’t HAVE to read for school, something of my own choosing.

  3. Hey girl! I live in Florida (Jacksonville!), too, and I also have PCOS. I’ve been working with an absolutely fabulous doctor/ dietitian team that have been more helpful with my PCOS journey than anyone I’ve ever talked with before. Please don’t hesitate to email me – I’d love to email/ chat about our shared successes and struggles, and I’d love to meet up if you’re ever in the Jacksonville area!

    • Hello! šŸ™‚
      I’ve been struggling with PCOS for about eight years and it’s always been the hormone/cosmetic/weight problem that has been my issue. I’m so glad that Meghann pointed me in the direction of your blog. While PCOS sucks, I’m happy to find a support community on twitter and other blogs. I’m also curious about your success with the low GI diet and plan to do more research into it. I was thinking of trying a gluten free diet, because of the fatigue and I wondered if gluten might be a problem.

      Anyway, I’d love to talk more sometime soon. I’m moving back to Tallahassee, but I actually have friends and family in Jacksonville and I already know I’ll be making lots of trips to Jax. I’ll definitely let you know if I’m around.

      Kate

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