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Four months of this experiment have now come and gone!  This has seemed like the fastest month by far, probably because this lifestyle change has become a habit that I don’t think about it as much as I did in the beginning.  I just keep a general framework in my mind and try my best every single day to work within it.  I am spot on for a few days and then I may not get the chance to exercise for 2-3 days in a row.  Instead of trashing the whole endeavor, I just start right back up and make up for lost time.  It’s making good choices most of the time that makes the difference.

‘Tis the season for all manner of diet blunders, but I have been successful in resisting the temptation to fall off the wagon.  I enjoyed Thanksgiving without so much as an added pound, which I did, not by turning down the delicious meal, but by remaining moderate in my food choices and continuing to work-out, even when out of town.  I used to be fairly frustrated about the fact that I have not lost many actual pounds, despite lots of effort, but I now know that each pound lost is backed up by lean muscle gain and is stable, meaning the scale does not fluctuate wildly anymore.  When I lose a pound now, I’ve really lost it.  Because of this, I no longer feel like a slave to the scale or a rigid diet that cannot include an occasional treat (within reason).  I trust myself and my body.

My supplements have changed quite a bit this month with the addition of D-Chiro-Inositol, myo-inositol, and a weekly prescription of Chinese herbs.  I have not been taking any of them long enough to report much change yet, but I am very hopeful.  I sincerely wish that I could report today that I have recorded an ovulation, or even gotten a spontaneous period, but more time is needed it seems to get those kind of results.  Here’s a link that details my supplements and all of the changes that have been made along the way.

Despite feeling impatient at times in regards to my progress this month, I generally feel such gratitude for the positive changes this experiment has made in my life and for my husband and baby as well.  I look great, but better than that, I feel great too.  My interest in life is filled to the brim and I feel my creative juices flowing again.  I periodically catch myself smiling, almost giddy with happiness and excitement for the year ahead of us.  I am feeling more confident about being able to handle the responsibility of having two children.   I am actually just starting to feel ready to be pregnant again. This goal, I am confident, will be met in 2011.

So, I guess we should take a look back at the original success criteria for this 6 month experiment, noting my progress since last month:

1) Ovulation and Menstruation – It had been a while since my last period, and I began experiencing some signs of Estrogen Dominance (constant fertile cervical fluid, ferning on ovulation microscope every day).  I started an oral natural progesterone supplement called Progon B, and 8 days later I started spotting and got a very light period lasting about 4 days.  I have since started Chinese herbs and acupuncture to stimulate ovulation, but no rise in basal body temps. yet.  This goal is still a work in progress, but I have never felt closer to this goal than now since it was with Chinese herbs that I was able to regain my cycle back in 2006. Very hopeful to see what the next few weeks bring.

2) Stable weight and body measurements –  I am wearing clothing that I have not been able to in many years.  I once had a pretty remarkable wardrobe from my fashion design days in NYC, and thankfully I kept some of my more timeless pieces.  The clothes not only fit, but they look really good.  This thrills me to no end!  The big news is that I now have a waist!  I have not been able to wear anything that accentuated it in many years.  I actually pulled out a belt and wore it over a dress for the first time in as long as I can remember.  I have been fighting a puffy Insulin Resistance belly since childhood.  I still weigh myself most days and I hover around 112-113.5 lbs with very little fluctuation.  This goal has been met and exceeded!  See my body measurements below.  Despite not losing many more pounds, my measurements keep going down.  YES!

3) Little or no acne – Similarly to last month, I have had some success and failures this month in regards to my acne.  Myo-Inositol has helped me fight the urge to pick at and scrutinize my pores, but I have since screwed with the dosing too much and so the jury is still out as to if it can help my OCD-type preoccupation with my skin/acne for the long haul, enough to make a lasting difference in my face.  I was hoping that I would know something more by the time I wrote this, but I’m still not sure enough to make any grand declarations.  Hopefully the picture, and my face, will become clear enough to make an accurate report.  This goal is still a work in progress.

4) Stable and positive emotions – I’ve had some resumption of some roving anxiety that I have suffered with in the past on several occasions this month (likely low blood sugar from new supplements), but for the most part I have felt very even keeled and happy.  I feel confident and much more take-charge than maybe ever before.  I’m not shying away from things that used to intimidate or scare me.  I’m ready to take on more responsibility in my life.  This goal has been accomplished yet again!

Body Measurements:

1) Natural waist:
a- 27″ on 10/7
b- 26″ on 10/23
c- 25″ on 11/23
d- 24″ on 12/22

2) Lower abdomen (around fattest part of tummy):
a- 32″on 10/7
b- 29 1/2″ on 10/23
c – 28 1/2″ on 11/23
d- 27 1/2″ on 12/22

3) Lower hips (around largest part of butt):
a- 35 3/4″ on 10/7
b- 35″ on 10/23
c- 33 3/4″ on 11/23
d- 33 1/4″ on 12/22

4) Individual thigh circumference (around thickest part of one thigh):
a – 20 3/4″ on 10/7
b – 19 3/4″ on 10/23
c – 18 3/4″ on 11/23
d – 18 1/2″ on 12/22

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A Change of Plans…

Whether it is justified or not, I’ve reached the point where I am getting a little anxious about my progress in this experiment.   I’ve given my current supplement regimen 3+ months and I just don’t feel like we’re (my acupuncturist and I) on the right track.  When I first started doing acupuncture, way back in 2006, my practitioner was fairly traditional and I boiled a weekly tea made from Chinese herbs that I would procure from China Town in NYC every 4-5 days.  It was only then that my stubborn amenorrhea and anovulation came to an end.  Heck, I even became pregnant naturally, although it was not with a healthy egg.  After we moved away from NYC, I’ve tried several other acupuncturists, but have never gotten the same benefits as I did originally.  I brought all of this up to my current acupuncturist and she agreed that it was time to shake things up, so as of yesterday, I have gone back to taking Chinese herbs.  For starters, she has put me on a Nourish Ren & Chong Formula (Jia Wei Gui Shao Di Huang Wan) plus a few other herbs for yin deficiency.  It’s been fun reading up on the different herbs and their usages.  I’m not about to begin to understand the intricacies of Traditional Chinese Medicine, but I do know that it worked for me before, so I have faith that it will work for me again.

In addition, I will continue to take Chaste Tree (Vitex), NAC, myo-inositol, D-Chiro-Inositol, Gymnema, fish oils, antioxidant blend, and lots of daily supplements for general health and illness prevention during cold and flu season.  Everything else about this experiment remains the same – diet, exercise, etc.

Ever since I can remember I’ve had blood sugar issues, namely hypoglycemia, when I was overdue for a meal, even by a little bit.  My Dad has the same problem and my mother adopted the phrase, “feed ’em or fight ’em” when dealing with the two of us.  It’s like all of a sudden our evil twins would possess us and turn us into belligerent psychos.  Despite the fact that it was a regular occurrence, we never recognized the signs, and after we had eaten, there were apologies to give for our insane behavior.  It’s like having a multiple personality at times.

The foods I was drawn to when I was in this state were very carby and very refined.  In fact, as a child/teen, I routinely chose meals that were mostly starch with very little protein.  I ate frozen waffles with fake maple syrup most mornings, that or canned biscuits with white gravy.  When I was around 17, I became a vegetarian, but what it really should have been called was a Carbotarian.  French fries and pasta were on the menu every day and in large quantities.  This was the first time I started putting on weight, although I would have still been considered a healthy weight.  When I started college, I became very preoccupied with losing the extra weight, but I got fairly obsessive about it and got WAY too thin, probably about 95 lbs (not shocking for 5 ft, 0 inches, but still noticeably skinny, especially for me).  I got a lot of attention and praise from my family and friends for losing my “baby fat” and blossoming into a young woman (with no boobs or butt).  I lost the weight by eating lots of fat free, but high glycemic carbohydrates.  For the next 10 years, I yo-yo’ed in my weight, always trying to stay slim, and usually doing a pretty good job of it, but usually only by calorie restriction and eating “diet” foods.

When I was in 7th grade, already far into puberty, I contracted the chicken pox and got very ill.  I missed a full 6 weeks of school and lost every bit of extra fat that was on my body.  My breast buds went away and my puberty was halted for about a year while I was able to gain back my weight.  I did not get my period until the following year, long after most of my friends had gotten theirs.  It never became regular, but I was still having one every 6 weeks to 2 months.  That is until the unhealthy vegetarian eating started and I started gaining weight.  I noticed that I was getting my period less often, but I was not about to mention it to my Mom because I knew she would have made me see a doctor about it.  It was after I lost too much weight in college that my period stopped pretty much all together.  Despite not having a cycle, when I was 20, I went to the health center at college and got on birth control pills.  I failed to mention that anything was wrong with my cycle because I was worried that they would not give the BCPs to me and would want to do testing.  I continued on the pills until about 6 months before I got married at around 25 years old.  I was having migraines and intermittent depression and I just felt like it was the pills.  I stopped taking them and the symptoms went away.  I grew concerned when my period did not come back, even after most of a year.  I was concerned about my future fertility by that point and so I went to a Reproductive Endocrinologist to get checked out.  She had a hard time diagnosing me because I fit some of the criteria for both Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (what anorexics and athletes get when they do not get their period anymore) and PCOS.  I had a high LH: FSH ratio, multiple cysts on my ovaries, and acne, but I also had a very thin lining despite not having menstruated for many months and low estrogen.  I did have a light withdraw bleed with Provera, so she decided on PCOS as the diagnosis.  I think very little was known back then about PCOS, and especially Thin PCOS.  As the years have passed, there in no question in my mind that I have PCOS.

In conclusion, I began with blood sugar issues and then had one assault after another on my HPO axis – starvation from illness, eating a diet comprised almost completely of carbohydrates, disordered/restrictive eating, and years of birth control pills.  I also have Celiac Disease, which supposedly has some correlations to PCOS.  It’s no wonder that I am having a hard time getting my cycles back despite working very hard for it.  It’s a complicated medical picture for conventional and holistic practitioners alike.   It definitely confounds me.

The day after acupuncture last week, I started spotting (on Wednesday 12/8/10).  I had been taking Progon B for about 8 days at that point.  I continued lightly spotting until Friday, when it became a very light flow.  I realize that it was an anovulatory, progesterone withdraw bleed, but it sure was a weird one.  There was barely any blood and what was there was mostly brown with some occasional pink and red.  I usually have much more blood with a Provera induced period and usually some cramping too, but none of that this go around.  As of today, the period is over.  It lasted about 4 days.

Not sure what else to report.  I’m still stepping up my dose on myo-inositol every few days, but so far I have not reached the amount I was taking before I quit.  I have also not achieved the same remission from the OCD type of skin/acne preoccupation that I got when taking it the first time.  I still need more time to reach my goal dose and then I need to be on it for a while to see if it will work again for me.

As usual, I’ve been internet sleuthing and have found some more useful info regarding myo-inositol and D-Chiro-Inositol.  It is apparently more effective to take both in divided doses, rather than once per day.  It’s also better to take them on an empty stomach.  Caffeine lessens the effectiveness of them too.  I have been taking them completely wrong, it turns out, since I was doing the opposite of all of these dosing tips.  From here on out, I will be taking half my dose an hour before lunch so that I have both an empty stomach and I won’t have just had my caffeinated tea that I drink first thing in the morning.  I will take the second half of my daily dose before bed so my dinner has time to clear my stomach.

I was also very happy to read some info about studies showing the benefits of regular old myo-inositol for anovulation.  I thought it was only the DCI that helped in those terms.  So I’m really getting a big, one, two punch by taking both.

As far as my general status, I’m a bit sleep deprived.  Jude’s been restless due to his top canines coming in, and for the past several nights, he’s been crying at around 5 am.  After I finally get him back to sleep, I am too awake to drift back off.  I am also having trouble settling down before bed some nights.  I don’t feel worried about anything, so it’s not anxiety or stress, but I am wondering if it could be the addition of the inositol again (both myo and/or DCI?).  I recall similar sleep issues a few weeks back and it quite possibly coincided with the addition of the myo-inositol (when I started taking it the first time).  That said, I am also on Day 5.5 of starting the Progon B, which contains natural progesterone.  It could just be the shifting of hormones.  Saliva microscope still reads highly fertile most days, even though I know by now that it’s not the case.

Time is healing.  That much I know.  It’s been about 3 1/2 years now since we lost our first miracle baby at 20 weeks.  The first year was excruciating.  For most of the second year, I was pregnant again and feeling cautiously optimistic, but still fearing the worst.  The third year I was finally a mama to a living child, and the world felt right again.  The loss does not occupy my every though like it once did, but I do still think about her.  A lot.  When I feel too far away from her, strange little things happen to remind me that she existed, that she has a soul, and like all living things, she is never truly gone.

Yesterday, as the sun started to set, sadly early these days, I was watching Nick Jr. with Jude and a little cartoon came on that accompanied Bob Marly’s 3 Little Birds.  We started swaying and dancing to the music as we sat together on the sofa and I saw a bright little reflection flickering on Jude’s face.  As I looked more closely, I could see that it was my first baby’s initials, reflecting off the pendant that I had made to commemorate her life.  I wear this necklace every day and I’ve seen this happen a few times before, but today, as the sun flooded through the windows, the refection was on my son’s beautiful baby face while the song played, “don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing, gonna be all right”.  These are the memories I want to have about my first child.  It’s taken over three years to make a happy memory about her and I cherish it more than anyone could ever know.

Why am I writing this?  It’s awfully personal for this forum, but I have recently seen where people are coming to my blog from in my refer stats and I know there are a lot of you with PCOS that are dealing with miscarriage and fetal death.  You see countless articles online telling about how PCOS causes poor egg quality, but what that really translates to is A LOT of miscarriage and fetal abnormality, resulting in death.  But what that really, truly means is that there are many, many women with PCOS who are walking around broken-hearted – and it’s a particularly deep and lasting kind of heartbreak because of the preceding infertility struggle.  Losing a baby that you sacrificed everything to conceive is the worst kind of injustice.

I wrote my story so Cysters may know that the worst of the pain does heal, but you will never forget about the child you lost.  This is what I have learned about loosing a child…they are always with you in spirit..that bond is never, never broken.

While I was waiting for the D-Chiro-Inositol to arrive from Australia, my acupuncturist put me on regular inositol (called myo-inositol).  I did quite a bit of research into myo-inositol and is has been found to really help with OCD and panic/anxiety disorders, in addition to increasing insulin sensitivity (the main reason why I’m taking it).  I’ve had issues with OCD-ish type issues and anxiety before, off and on throughout my life, so I took it upon myself to increase the dosage from 6 tablets at 400 mg each/day to 9 tablets which is getting closer to the 4-20 gram therapeutic dosage for OCD.  I mean, why not kill two birds with one stone since I am taking it anyway, right?  Over the next few days after starting the myo-inositol, I noticed that I was spending less time in the mirror, inspecting my acne and grungy pores, and I was resisting the urge to pick and squeeze.  My face miraculously cleared up, except for a scant few spots making me realize that my acne is really not as bad as it seems.  I am actually creating some or most of the problem myself.  This last Saturday though, the DCI arrived and I stopped taking the myo-inositol, forgetting the effortless improvement in my self-caused acne.  Since that time I have gradually started feeling more anxious (with no real cause) and I have found myself scrutinizing my pores in the mirror more than I would like, and sadly, my face is looking bad again.  It just dawned on me that stopping the myo-inositol is to blame and started it back up again today.  I actually just found a really great article from Incyst.com, explaining the use of inositol (both DCI and myo-inositol) for PCOS and when and why women might need both.  Fascinating.  I will report back in a few days if adding the myo-inositol helps me again.  It will be a valuable experiment for me.