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We’ve got one molar through and the other one pushing hard and this mama is exhausted!  I’ve been playing catch up all day as Jude finally napped at 2pm and I rushed through a salad and a work out.  This morning, I felt almost, barely crampy and I found that I was spotting a little.  It has not amounted to much, but it’s still there.  I’m not sure what to make of it, so I guess we will have to just wait and see.  I absolutely never spot, even though my periods are always many months, and sometimes over a year, apart.  So, this is a real surprise today.  My acupuncturist said this about it:

“Spotting isn’t necessarily ideal (unless it’s implantation spotting), but it may give us some indication that your body is trying to regulate your cycle and could use a little progesterone support.  I do see it as a positive development, though!”

I also received a very nice compliment from my husband tonight that made my mouth hang open.  He said my butt looked great!  It’s these words floating around in my head that keep me motivated and my eyes on the prize.

Exercise – 40 minutes of Crunch: Burn and Firm Pilates.  I was able to add 10 additional minutes to the work out today rather than stopping at 30 minutes!  Progress!

Mind/Body – I did not get much down time today, but I did see a little piece of heaven while reading books to Jude.  It’s a powerfully spiritual thing when you see the light of recognition come alive in your baby’s face.  He kept taking my face in his hands and loving on me so fiercely after each book.  He’s a passionate little dude.

Diet – 115 lbs.

Breakfast – black/green/spearmint tea with milk, 2 fried eggs, 2 chicken breakfast sausages, 1 scoop of cottage cheese

Lunch – Huge salad with veggies, fruit, cheese, roasted chicken, avocado, and homemade apple cider vinaigrette.  Multi-grain crackers.

Dinner – Organic chicken thighs and shitake mushrooms braised in coconut milk, served over cilantro pesto dressed lentils.

Snacks – 5 multi-grain crackers and slice of cheese, green/spearmint tea with milk, chai tea with milk

After the pants fiasco yesterday, I decided to do something that would normally strike the fear of God in me – try on my clothes and clean out my closet and drawers.  I’ve been an extraordinary number of sizes in the last few years.  Now that my weight has stabilized, and as an incentive to keep it that way, I have packed up all of my clothes that are too big, even by a little bit.  If I did not have confidence in this experiment or in my ability to stick to it, I would not have had the inspiration to make this clean start.  I’ll admit it.  It feels pretty good.

I discussed my increased acne with my acupuncturist today and she added a supplement called B6-Niacinamide that she thinks will help to my supplement regimen.   It is essentially a mega dose of Vitamin B6 and Niacin.  Apparently women who have acne that is related to their menstrual cycle respond well to B6 supplementation.  I’ll be reporting back on any improvement.  Fingers crossed!

Exercise – 40 minutes of Crunch: Super SlimDown DVD

Mind/Body – Hot bath with lavender essential oil and a good book.  Also had a really nice 45 minute relaxation/meditation during acupuncture.

Diet – 115 lbs.

Breakfast – black/green/spearmint tea with milk, 2 fried eggs, 2 chicken breakfast sausages, 1 scoop of cottage cheese

Lunch – leftover pork loin/onions/grapes and collard greens/black eyed peas

Dinner – Crispy herbed and oven-fried chicken, sauteed yellow squash/zucchini/onions, lima beans

Snacks – Multi-grain crackers and cheese, 1/2 grapefruit, handful of raw almonds, green tea with milk, black iced tea, 3/4 Bumble Bar.

I could barely move around at Gymboree this morning because my pants kept falling down.  I wore these same pants a few weeks back with no issue and so I did not think to wear a belt.  I may not be losing weight, but I must be losing inches/fat and gaining muscle.  I have noticed the same thing with a few new pairs of skinny jeans that I bought at the beginning of this experiment.  They look less skinny and more baggy.  Having more muscle mass is supposed to help you burn more calories at rest (raises metabolism) and helps reverse insulin resistance – both super health benefits for women with PCOS.  Oh, and it looks good too.  😉

Exercise – 30 minutes of Crunch: Burn and Firm Pilates with 3 lb. weights.

Mind/Body – Epsom salt bath with Clary Sage essential oil and a good book.

Diet – 115 lbs.

Breakfast – black/green/spearmint tea with milk, 2 fried eggs, 2 breakfast sausages, 1 scoop cottage cheese

Lunch – Huge salad with veggies, fruit, cheese, avocado, and multi-grain crackers

Dinner – Soy Lacquered Salmon with lime and cilantro, crock pot black beans with spring onions, and lemon/ginger broccoli

Snacks – Multi-grain crackers and a slice of organic cheese, 1/2 grapefruit, venti black iced tea, handful of almonds, chai tea with milk

I’m proud of myself for using this weekend to continue my experiment rather than using it as an excuse to fall of the wagon.  Traditional diets, ones that are based on restriction and scarcity, often have “cheat” days where you “reward” yourself with foods that are bad for you.  By now, I feel like the diet portion of this PCOS experiment has become a way of life.  I don’t feel like rewarding myself with foods that I know undermine the work I’ve done so far.  They don’t even seem appetizing.  Nothing tastes as good as total health feels.  I’ve gotten a taste of total health lately, and I want more.

I was able to take some time this weekend to write up two posts that I had been wanting to for a while.  One is about my favorite way to relax, in a hot bath with Epsom salt and essential oils.  With a little more research, it seems that Epsom salt also may help underlying PCOS health concerns, such as insulin resistance.  The other is about the supplement I take called Gymnema 4g, an herb that has been used for centuries to help regulate blood sugar.  I credit it for my now month long adherence to the lower carb, PCOS diet and my diminishing hypoglycemia, carb and sugar cravings.  Both definitely worth a read:

https://melissacottonwomack.wordpress.com/2010/09/26/gymnema-helps-regulate-my-blood-sugar/

https://melissacottonwomack.wordpress.com/2010/09/25/epsom-salt-bath-with-essential-oils/

Exercise – Took the day off.

Mind/Body – Was able to sneak in a hot, highly concentrated Epsom salt bath with lavender essential oil.  Read more about vet life on the Yorkshire dales.

Diet – 115 lbs.

Breakfast – green/spearmint tea with milk, 2 fried eggs, 2 chicken breakfast sausages, 1 scoop of cottage cheese

Lunch – Huge salad with roasted chicken, veggies, fruit, cheese, avocado – Multi-grain crackers

Dinner – 1/2 large, grilled NY strip steak with a pat of fresh herb butter, 1/2 roasted acorn squash with agave/butter/cinnamon and sauteed Swiss Chard with thinly sliced and browned garlic and fresh nutmeg.  A very small glass of red wine.

Snacks – Multi-grain crackers and a slice of organic cheese, 1/2 grapefruit and a handful of raw almonds, green/spearmint tea with milk

I’ve tried to eat a lower carb diet in the past with very limited success.  I have such a problem with hypoglycemia even on a normal diet, and so lowering my carbohydrate intake made it much worse.  I really think one of the reasons why I have been able to maintain my current diet with less and less blood sugar problems is because I’ve been taking a supplement called Gymnema 4g by Standard Process/MediHerb as part of my supplement regimen for this PCOS experiment.  Gymnema is a herb that has been used in the East for over 2000 years to help control blood sugar.

Here’s what Standard Process/MediHerb has to say about how it works:

“Gymnema supports healthy pancreatic function and the normal production of insulin in the body.1 By helping to maintain normal blood sugar levels within a normal range, it can help support weight management and balance energy levels.”

I take two Gymnema tablets after each meal and it helps keep my blood sugar stable until the next meal, even without a snack in between (although I do eat one most of the time), even if I exercise in between.  Normally, I would suffer from near black outs, fuzzy thinking, and blurry vision if it had been too long in between meals.  I don’t feel any of this anymore, even on particularly light or low carb eating days.  I started this experiment having some sugar and carb cravings.  When I introduced the Gymnema about half way through the first month, the cravings subsided dramatically.  The benefits seems to gradually increase as I’ve continued taking it and sources online confirm that it has a cumulative effect.  I’m excited to see how much better I can feel on it as the weeks pass.

I had all sorts of projects planned for today, but Jude was in no shape or mood to do them.  He added a runny nose to the teething mix and is miserable and not afraid to let everyone know about it.  I finally got him down for a nap and I quickly started my work out, but had to start and stop it multiple times to get it done because of his frequent crying.  In addition, I have a growing itchy allergic reaction rash surrounding my eyes that I am now sure it’s from mango.  When I was in the hospital to birth Jude, I had the same thing happen, but worse, and I had been eating a mango a day to try to go into labor. Combined with my current acne surge, I’m a hot mess.  Although this is only a preliminary observation, I think my leg hair has slowed way down in it’s growth and is more sparse, lighter, and softer.  I’ll admit that I have not shaved it since Tuesday and it’s just barely noticeable 5 days later.  I wish my apparently lowered androgens would have a meeting with my acne.

Exercise – 40 minutes of Crunch: Super SlimDown DVD

Mind/Body – Not even close!

Diet – 115 lbs.

Breakfast – 2 black bean, avocado, cheese, and bacon breakfast tacos on corn tortillas, iced black tea with milk

Lunch – Chopped salad with grilled shrimp, veggies, fruit, cheese, and avocado.  Multi-grain crackers.

Dinner – Roasted chicken infused with lemon and fresh thyme and rosemary. collard green and slow cooked black eyed peas with white truffle oil.

Snacks – 1/2 grapefruit, handful of almonds, cottage cheese x2, green/spearmint tea

When I started working with my first acupuncturist in 2006, I was experiencing anxiety and sleep problems (in addition to amenorrhea and other PCOS issues).  She suggested soaking in a bath with a few handfuls of Epsom salt (around 2 cups) and 25 drops of lavender essential oil.  She explained how the Magnesium contained in Epsom salt would absorb through my skin and help calm my nerves and help me relax.  And the lavender is a powerful relaxation aromatherapy essence and is good for hormone balancing.  I gave it a try and could feel the difference right away.  It elicited such a relaxing feeling in me that the bathtub is where I started doing my daily meditation and down time.  Gradually, in conjunction with ongoing acupuncture and Traditional Chinese herb tea, I was able to overcome my daily anxiety and I began to sleep soundly again.  I’ve gone back to this therapy many times over the years and it never fails.  I mix it up some days with other essential oils.  Clary Sage and Geranium are referenced all over the internet for female hormonal balancing.  I have a nice little variety to choose from daily.

Interested to know more about Epsom salt, I just found a really interesting website sponsored by the Epson Salt Council explaining all that Epsom salt can do for the body.  Now that I am working out almost every day, it seems to really help with muscle soreness.  I’m also amazed to see possible health benefits for those suffering with PCOS, including improving insulin sensitivity.  No wonder it makes me feel so good!

Researchers and physicians report that raising your magnesium levels may:
•    Improve heart and circulatory health, reducing irregular heartbeats, preventing hardening of the arteries, reducing blood clots and lowering blood pressure.
•    Improve the body’s ability to use insulin, reducing the incidence or severity of diabetes.
•    Flush toxins and heavy metals from the cells, easing muscle pain and helping the body to eliminate harmful substances.
•    Improve nerve function by regulating electrolytes. Also, calcium is the main conductor for electrical current in the body, and magnesium is necessary to maintain proper calcium levels in the blood.
•    Relieve stress. Excess adrenaline and stress are believed to drain magnesium, a natural stress reliever, from the body. Magnesium is necessary for the body to bind adequate amounts of serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of well being and relaxation.

http://www.epsomsaltcouncil.org/about_better_health_through_soaking.htm

Read a really chilling piece about the state of the environment on my husband’s website this morning.  With a lump in my throat, it got me thinking about what I just read in Michael Pollan’s book, In defense of Food.  He makes several arguments about how food that is the most healthy for humans is also the food that negatively impacts the planet the least.  When I originally read this, I just nodded my head, taking his word for it.  But today, I remembered the grocery lists that I have been making weekly to get the food necessary for my PCOS diet.  Before the diet, and while feeling ill on Metformin, the packaged products in the center of the store made up the bulk of my shopping.  Now the list is comprised of mostly organic produce with little or no packaging.  Like the article highlights, I know and intellectually understand that there is an environmental crisis, but acting on it has always escaped me beyond the customary recycling, etc.  Choosing to eat well for health is also a vote for the ecological health of the planet.  Knowing this and seeing it in action encourages me to make more changes (more locally grown food, reusable produce bags).  You can’t argue with a win win situation.

Back at the ranch, the teething hell is deeper yet today.  Mama finally got in a workout (a new one that kicked my ass) after trying to get Jude to nap for 2 hours, but that was just about all of the nap he could stand and he started crying after about 35 minutes.  I did not get my lunch until almost 4 pm.  Surprisingly, even with an intense workout, I did not get low blood sugar shakes and become non-functional.  I would have passed out just a few weeks ago.

Exercise – First 30 minutes (mainly cardio) of Self: Slim and Sleek Fast DVD.

Mind/Body – I was not able to enjoy any alone time for relaxation today.  Instead, I did a little healing visualization while I was rocking Jude before his nap. I imagined my Endocrine System as an engine that was being started and that settled into a perfect idle.  For some reason I think of it in these terms when I read about it.  I also meditated about how it would feel to be healed from PCOS, trying to fully enjoy the accomplishment, even before it happens.

Diet – 115 lbs.

Breakfast – small iced latte, 2 fried eggs, 2 chicken breakfast sausages, 1 scoop of cottage cheese

Lunch – Huge salad with leftover grilled shrimp from last night, veggies, fruit, cheese, and avocado with homemade apple cider vinaigrette and multi-grain crackers.

Dinner – Leftover meatloaf, broccoli in cheese sauce, green peas, and a tiny bit of bean medley.  Tequila gimlet with mango (1/2 jigger) – I’m a total lightweight.

Snacks – multi-grain crackers, a few bites of mango, a handful of raw almonds, 1 slice organic cheese, green/spearmint tea with milk

We’re in toddler teething hell around here and so nights and naps have been difficult.  With enough milk and coaxing today, I was still able to get my daily work-out and relaxation, but it was difficult.  This might have unnerved me a few weeks ago, but I felt like I could easily deal with the frustration today.  This new found flexibility is really convenient.

Today also marks the first month down of this 6 month experiment.  I have given my first monthly progress report here for this PCOS Experiment thus far.

Exercise – 40 minutes of Crunch: Super Slimdown DVD.  This one feels a little more targeted than the Burn and Firm DVD, especially for abs.  I think I may be sore tomorrow.

Mind/Body – Hot Epsom salt bath with Clary Sage and Geranium essential oils.  Read a little of my James Herriot book while I soaked.  I love hearing his descriptions of Yorkshire life.  All Creature Great and Small was a favorite show that my family watched on Saturday nights when I was growing up.  This book series makes me feel relaxed and serene.

Diet – 115 lbs

Breakfast – black/green/spearmint tea with milk, 2 fried eggs, 2 chicken breakfast sausages, 1 scoop cottage cheese

Lunch – Huge salad with leftover chicken sausage, cheese, fruit, veggies.  Multi/whole grain crackers.

Dinner – spice rubbed grilled shrimp over red and yellow pepper sauteed with onion and topped with shredded cheddar cheese – all rolled up in Boston lettuce leaves, side of crock pot black beans with crumbled goat feta on top and a side salad of mango and avocado dressed with lime.

Snacks – half grapefruit, handful of almonds, green/spearmint tea with milk, half a plum, handful of cashews, cottage cheese

I’ve been doing my PCOS experiment for exactly a month now (started on 8/23/10) and, wow, have I made progress!  I’ve lost and kept off a couple of pounds and have reduced accumulated body fat.  Since losing weight is not the main goal of this experiment, the most important accomplishment is maintaining my 115 lbs. with very little fluctuation, a problem I’ve had for as long as I can remember.  I’ve tightened and toned muscles all over my body and increased my endurance for exercise and weight lifting tremendously.  I’ve trimmed girth from my mid-section and I can now see muscle definition in my ab area.  I no longer have a constant and big, bloated belly and can wear more of a variety of clothing styles because I am not always hiding it.  My facial hair, while not a big problem for me, is not growing anymore and has become a non-issue.  I am stronger emotionally with a generally more optimistic frame of mind.  I am having way more good days than I have in some time.  My mind no longer routinely dwells on sad and negative thoughts.  I no longer have many carb or sugar cravings and can function well on a lower carb/glycemic diet with few blood sugar lows.

Let’s take a look back at the success criteria for this 6 month experiment, noting my progress:

1) Ovulation and Menstruation – No progress yet, but too early to tell.  I started a medically induced period a little over two weeks ago, so it’s not quite time for one yet either.  We started ovulation induction at acupuncture on 9/14/10 and I began taking Ovatrophin PMG (for 10 days) the same day.  I’m still currently taking the Ovatrophin PMG, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens in the next few weeks.  This goal is a work in progress.

2) Stable weight and body measurements – I would eventually like to lose a little more weight, but I’ve picked a healthy weight and have maintained it now for weeks.  I rarely have any bloating in the mid-section anymore.  I declare this goal accomplished for now!

3) Little or no acne – If anything, my acne is worse than ever.  I think long term hormonal balance will have to be achieved before I get success here.  I have a long way to go yet in meeting this goal.

4) Stable and positive emotions – Aside from a few isolated incidents here and there, I have made extraordinary progress here.  I am going to call this goal accomplished for now!