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Baby Ian is now 6 months old and I am JUST starting to get my life back in order again in terms of meeting my long term health goals.  I promised myself when I first started this experiment that I would not abandon my health and wellness goals once I was no longer seeking pregnancy.  I’ve been enjoying reading back through this blog to remind myself all of the wonderful meals I created and lifestyle choices I made to get the fertility results I was after.  As it turns out, I don’t think they are all that different from what my new, “post baby” health plan should be.  After all, I still have PCOS and Celiac Disease, and will for the rest of my life.  It’s time to start thinking about my health for the long term and how to stay trim, healthy, happy, and vital as I age.  I recently saw an interview with Deborah Szekely, one of the founders of the health and wellness movement, who just turned 90 years old this week.   Not only did she look great, but she was as eloquent and vivacious as someone half her age.  What a testament to practicing what you preach, but really, what an inspiration!  I’m 35 now, and so I will set my health goals at living to 100+ years old.  That leaves 65 years, or 780 months.  I hear-by rename this blog, My 780 month PCOS Experiment.  To christen the name, I’m going to round-up and share all of the new health/wellness information I’ve come across recently as this passion of mine has slowly emerged in importance again in my post pregnancy life.

1) A more nutritious and PCOS friendly gluten free bread

I’ve often been dismayed at how refined and lacking in nutrition most commercially available gluten free breads are.  And when you look at the carbohydrate content, it’s not something a woman with PCOS should be eating either.  After some searching around, I came across a woman’s website, http://www.elanaspantry.com/, who has developed many gluten free baking recipes using primarily almond flour.  She also uses coconut flour and several types of alternative sweeteners that I’ve grown to like.  I’ve taken her “Paleo” bread recipe and adapted it for myself and I’m really happy with the results.  It is packed with protein and has almost no carbohydrates.  It’s easy to make, nutritious, and filling.

2) Grain Free Diet

The woman I mentioned above, Elana, is a celiac, but she also has Multiple Sclerosis, and has developed her own grain-free, healing diet that keeps her symptom free.  I was not aware before reading her website that many people with Celiac Disease and other kinds of auto-immune disease do better with no grains in their diet, in addition to avoiding the gluten producing ones.   I also found out on her site that both Celiac Disease and Diabetes have the same gene in common and so it makes a lot of sense that I have insulin problems/PCOS AND Celiac Disease.   The diet that I followed at the beginning of this experiment was primarily grain free, as well as low carb and low sugar and obviously I did very well with this way of eating, so I am going back to it, but with renewed vigor as I now better understand the hows and whys.  I do want to mention that it is not a “Paleo” diet though.  I eat dairy and beans and probably all sorts of other things that are not allowed on the Paleo diet.  It’s simply a diet that I have tailored to my own, particular health needs.

3) Xylitol

Xylitol is a natural sweetener that is primarily derived from birch trees (and the fiber of other fruit and vegetables).  It’s low in calories and carbs unlike sugar and it also does not affect blood sugar the same way sugar does.  I’ve been a big fan of agave nectar in the past as my alternative sweetener of choice, but with the recent studies showing a correlation between fructose and high triglycerides, I have decided to limit my use of it, as it is a “high fructose” product.  I am REALLY picky about my sweeteners, as I cannot stand that weird artificial aftertaste that many, even natural, sweeteners have.  I don’t use stevia for that very reason.  Xylitol tastes very much like cane sugar to me.  Xylitol has many other health benefits though that I am also very interested in.  When ingested, it creates an environment in your mouth that is not welcoming to the bacteria that cause plaque and so it can do wonders for one’s oral health if used in sufficient quantities over time.  In fact, it can help remineralize your teeth, virtually healing them from within.  It’s been shown to do the same things for bones too.  There is also research that shows that it prevents ear and respiratory infections.  It’s amazing to me that there is such a product out there that I am only recently hearing much about.  My whole family is using it now with great results.

4) Unsweetened, unflavored protein powder

I’ve been looking for a protein powder that I can add to baked goods and smoothies to boost protein without adding a flavor (vanilla for example) or any sweetness (such a stevia).  Both hemp and pea protein powders were recommended by Dr Frank Lipman.  I found hemp powder at my store, and I can say that so far I am really happy with it.  It has a very mild and pleasing natural flavor and I like the green color too – it just “looks” healthy!  I use it in my new bread recipe as well as smoothies to replace the yogurt that baby Ian can’t tolerate right now while breastfeeding.  I can see lots of ways to use it in the future as the package says that it can be used replace up to 25% of the flour in a recipe.

5) Dr. Frank Lipman

I mention Dr. Frank above, and for good reason.  He’s an MD who practices “Functional Medicine” in NYC, and a wonderful source of health and wellness information.  He gives truly sane, well researched, and highly usable advice to stay on the cutting edge of health.  After reading his website, I can wholeheartedly recommend him as a valuable guide to health.  I love his site and his Facebook presence.  The best thing I can say about him though is that I trust him.

6) Misclaneous – Here’s a list of some of the other things that I’m still doing regularly (or have resumed doing recently) to help treat my PCOS:

-cooking with and making salad dressing with organic apple cider vinegar

– having green tea every morning

– having sufficient protein with each meal and snack

– taking a multi-vitamin, B-multi, vitamin C and D, calcium, magnesium, omega 3s/fish oils, and probiotic.  I’m keeping my supplement list quite simple right now since I’m breastfeeding.

– deep, mediative breathing any time I can

– avoiding toxins and chemicals in my cleaning and personal care

– eating whole, mainly organic foods

– avoiding sugar, most grains, and things with a high carbohydrate and glycemic load

– eating lots of healthy fats (unrefined olive and coconut oil, pastured butter, avocado, nuts/seeds, fish/sardines)

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It’s been a while!  I do have a good excuse, as being a Mommy to two kiddos now is quite a feat.  I am now 4 months postpartum, and doing quite well.  I have about 5 more pounds to baby weight to lose, but I am trying not to rush things.  I have lost about 35 pounds total since having Ian and have achieved it without any dieting or exercise – just breastfeeding.  Between the endless teething with my older son and the night feeding with the baby, my nights are just not solid enough to try to start an exercise routine quite yet.  I can’t believe I’m about to say it, but I really miss exercising regularly.  It gave me such a sense of accomplishment and self discipline that kept me feeling balanced.  I’m looking forward to getting back to it ASAP.  My plan is to start the same “Couch to 5K” running program that my husband did over three years ago.  Never running before, it taught him how to slowly build endurance, and he still runs 5K almost every weekday all these years later.  I’d love to be able to join him on his runs in the future – even if it involves us both pushing a jogging stroller.

Even if I am not at the wonderful fitness level that I once was before getting pregnant again, I will say that my body has sprung back better than expected.  I definitely think there is something to the whole “muscle memory” theory because even with just a little exercise in my daily life – carrying a rather large baby everywhere, chasing my toddler in the backyard – my muscles are beginning to tone up without too much effort, as if they just know what to do.  I’m hoping that getting back into shape is easier the second time around.  On a side-note, I will mention that I did suffer a fair amount of tummy trauma from carrying an oversize baby that has left my abdomen very saggy and sad looking.  After doing a little research I can see that my only hope of fixing it will be surgery, and I am not into that.  I will just have to be happy with as much improvement as diet and exercise can bring

I’ve continued having trouble keeping my blood sugar stable and I’ve suffered with a new onslaught of food allergies and sensitivities (potatoes are a no-no now), which I can only imagine are hormonal and immune system based since they all started after delivering and starting breastfeeding.  What can I say?  PCOS is complicated and so is pregnancy.  Put them together and you can expect some upheaval.  It’s not that I’m having the major sugar cravings anymore, it’s just that I’m finding it hard to keep on an even keel, blood sugar wise.  If I am just a few minutes late with my breakfast, my head starts spinning and I feel very weak and shaky with hypoglycemia.  I was able to overcome this as my PCOS Experiment went on, but in some ways I feel like I’m back to square one with this facet of my PCOS healing, especially with not being able to take the supplements that helped me make my initial progress.  I’m already dreaming up a new supplement regimin that will be beneficial for my long term health in dealing with PCOS, rather than to just enhance fertility.  In the meantime, while breastfeeding, I am looking into some easy “kitchen cures” to help regulate blood sugar that would not be contraindicated – such as cinnamon and vinegar.   I’ll be interested to see how well these “cures” work and will be reporting back.

I’ve been able to start cooking fairly regularly again and I’m going back to some of our favorites from the experiment.  Tonight we had fresh roasted salmon croquettes and pan roasted asparagus.  I’m not really able to restrict my eating much because I need plenty of fuel to make milk for the baby, but it feels good to try to make each meal and snack as PCOS friendly as possible again.  It’s not perfect, but I’m a lot further along than I had thought possible in my first handful of postpartum months.  Beyond a shadow of a doubt, all the work and successes I had in doing my Six Month PCOS Expriment have continued to improve my life throughout my pregnancy and now afterward too.  It’s been the best gift to myself, and one that keeps on giving.

I’ll leave you with a self portrait I took this week of baby Ian and myself using the timer on my camera.  In an effort to capture all of the wonderful moments with my two boys, photography is quickly becoming another of my many passions.

Life can surprise you sometimes.  The day after I wrote and posted the previous conclusion I got a positive home pregnancy test!  I had my blood test today and everything looks good.  Can I owe any of this wonderful news to this experiment?  There is no way to know for sure, but I would like to think so.  If you remember my story, I did two Femara cycles last summer after a few months of Metformin and I did not conceive on either one.  Flash forward 5-6 months and I am pregnant with only one round of Femara and no Metformin.  Perhaps I just needed a few more months for my body to recover from breast feeding.  There’s no telling.

So, the real conclusion to this experiment is ambiguous, but who the hell cares?  I am pregnant with minimal intervention and I did not have to take horrid Metformin to get this way.  I can’t see it any other way but a total and complete success!

I’ve been dreading writing an update because I don’t want to be negative and discouraging for other women trying to help their PCOS naturally…but I am so discouraged that I just need to type this to clear my thoughts on the topic.  I guess I thought that if I worked hard enough, wanted it enough, swallowed enough herbs and supplements, had enough needles poked in me, was disciplined enough to adhere to every bit of PCOS health advice I’ve ever come across, that I could overcome PCOS symptoms in my life, regain my menstrual cycle, and conceive naturally.  I so badly wanted to avoid the emotional turmoil that fertility treatments always put me in – the feeling of isolation, the anger/pain/jealousy of the blessedly fertile.  Oh GOD, have I been there before and I was willing to do anything not to have to go back.  I wanted a glimpse of what I deem as a “normal” shot at conceiving.  I did everything I knew to do for the better part of six full months, so I can now say that it’s not diet and exercise that’s controlling my PCOS symptoms for the most part – and there is no magic fix for me with the supplements I’ve tried. The most tangible result seems to have been body fat reduction and the addition of muscle.  I know now that I can quickly gain a lot of muscle and I don’t think this particular fat to muscle ratio is very fertile for me.  With this past Femara cycle, I’ve experienced some suppressed/low estrogen side effects for the first time ever.    Women need a certain amount of fat to produce estrogen and I hypothesize that I may have dipped a little bit on the low side for my particular body.  I’d be willing to push hard and maintain the rigidity of this experiment for eternity if I had gotten the results I was after, but I just don’t have it in me anymore.  I mean, my regular lifestyle was already a healthy one and so I am going back to it.  I honestly think that the best thing may to just not think about PCOS for a while, stop researching about it, stop trying to constantly fix myself. It’s all a form of obsession and if I were to reduce an overlying theme to my life, I would say that this high strung, perfectionist crap that I can’t ever seem to change is the progenitor of any and all of my health struggles.   This is going to be yet another big change for me because I’ve been at this PCOS fight, in some form of another, for 8 years now.  Damn, I need a new hobby – something not focused on disease or dysfunction and how to escape it.  I feel a bit lost at the moment without a cause to struggle and wage war against.  I need to just flippin’ live my life, put one foot in front of another, get things done, raise my son, figure out what makes me feel inspired and happy again when I’m not worrying about my health.  I’m not giving up my dream of getting pregnant, but I’m going to leave this in the hands of my doctors and conventional medicine for a while.  It may sound like I’m giving up, but it really feels more like I am surrendering myself to whatever life has in store for me.  This has always been an impossibly difficult concept for me to accept, always trying to wrangle the progression of my life through sheer will and a very strong arm.  I’m sure I will try for a while to make lightening up my next big project – old habits die hard.  My sweet and loving husband took me out for a walk and shopping today, trying to help lift my funk a little.  We walked into a book store and despite pretending to be interested in the other sections, I was sucked in, as if by gravitational pull, to the health and self improvement section.  This is not going to be easy for me, but it’s what is best for me right now.  Since when was just simply living life such a difficult and elusive desire? I may feel defeated and a bit broken, but to tell you the truth, broken is exactly what I need to be right now…broken, more flexible, less rigid, inactive for a while.  I’m still not absolutely sure what the outcome will be with this fertility cycle, so I will update if anything exciting happens, but for now I’m signing off.  I wish you all every success in your journey.

I seriously cannot believe another month has passed since the last time I wrote a monthly report!  I’m not going to write a long report in the usual format since I am in the middle of a medicated fertility cycle and I cannot differentiate between actual progress and the possible effects of the medications.  What I will say is that I have remained true to the basic tenants of this experience –  I have eaten well, continued to exercise often, taken my daily supplements, and have seen my acupuncturist weekly with no changes or deviations.  My weight is slightly lower than last month and very stable.  I am not going to do body measurements because I am having some wavering abdominal bloating as I approach ovulation, but based on my appearance and how clothing fits, I would guess there has been very little change.  My acne is quite bad, but I am actively messing with my hormones by taking fertility drugs and this is a very common side effect for me while on them.  Emotionally, I am a little short of temper, but I have yet to feel any depression or major psychological upheaval, which is sometimes the case during a medicated fertility cycle.  My energy level has been a bit low the past week or so (again, normal for this point in a medicated cycle), and so I have started doing a Fertility Yoga DVD that I’ve owned for several years, but had only done a few times before.  Even though it’s a step down from the more ambitious exercise I usually do 3-4 times a week, I still feel like I get a decent strengthening and stretching work-out, and it’s better than simply doing nothing and letting my conditioning dissolve away.  I have also added a nightly abdominal and lower back massage using a blend of essential oils (mixed in apricot seed oil) that are beneficial for PCOS and infertility. The oils are Clary Sage, Geranium, and Rose – all with specific medicinal benefits for balancing hormones, increasing circulation and general stress reduction.  All in all, this has been the easiest medicated fertility cycle I have even gone through in terms of physical and emotional side effects.  I have also been able to achieve follicle growth without the use of Metformin, and that is a first for me.  All of this speaks volumes for what I have achieved in doing this PCOS experiment.  The proof is in the pudding though, as they say, and the proof for me will be to conceive a healthy baby.  I won’t know if I ovulated for a few days still and won’t know about pregnancy or not for two weeks after that, so lots of watching, waiting, and testing with baited breath to go, but I feel very positive about it all and that’s the best I can hope for.

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

Three months are now completed in this PCOS Experiment!  This month the experiment went from a highly regimented plan to a sustainable way of life.  I’ve been so self-disciplined since this experiment began that I no longer felt the need to record my progress daily, and so I ditched my daily format.  I was feeling stressed until I could stop and type out everything I had eaten for the day, and with a toddler, finding the time was getting tough.  The new, free-form blogging is much better suited to where I am in my progress.

I decided to take my exercise requirements down just a slight notch, from 5-6 days a week to working out every other day, alternating cardio and strength/resistance training.  I also started adding in a little bit more complex carbohydrates in the form of gluten free rolled oats a few mornings a week.  I made these changes in the hopes that I will be able to not only finish this six month experiment, but to keep it going for the rest of my life.  I’ve been afraid of burning out as things in my life become more complicated and prevent me from adhering to a strict lifestyle.  I have only seen the scale go down since I made these amendments to the original plan.  I started the month a solid 115 lbs and now I’m seeing the scale hover around 113 lbs most mornings.   I’ve continued to find my clothing slowly getting looser and more comfortable.   I just did my body measurements since the last monthly report and I have dropped more inches (see below).  Wow, that is satisfying to see!

Since last month I’ve noticed my weight being less vulnerable to restaurant meals and changes in my diet.  This weight stability gives me a lot of confidence when we do have a family dinner out or I want a glass of wine or a square of dark chocolate as a treat.  I might have seen the damage to the scale a few months back, but I have come far enough now that it’s no longer a problem.  I’m assuming it’s because I have raised my metabolism and healed a fair amount of insulin resistance.  The other more noticeable change since last month is the appearance of my face.  I have a quite naturally fleshy/full type face and even at times of being thin, it looked chubby, especially in photos.  I can see the reduction in puffiness and fullness in the mirror and can see it in photos too.  What an awesome and unexpected side effect of this experiment!

Since I am not reporting on my diet and lifestyle daily anymore, I want to give a synopsis of the things I am still currently doing on a weekly basis to help control my PCOS symptoms and to help my body heal.  I continue to add a splash of apple cider vinegar to every glass of water I drink.  I have half a grapefruit several days a week.  I drink green and spearmint tea once or twice a day.  I work out every other day, doing both cardio and strength training.  I go to acupuncture once a week.  I try to reserve a few minutes a day for a relaxing bath, usually with Epsom salts and essential oils.  I’m still eating very cleanly, with an emphasis on low carbohydrates and whole foods.  I eat small snacks that contain protein in between meals to keep my blood sugar stable.  I take a wide range of daily supplements prescribed by my acupuncturist to help my body heal my PCOS.  I record all info about my supplements here, including changes as they occur, and there is lots of change monthly.

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

1) Ovulation and Menstruation – This month I started having almost daily fertile signs and symptoms which has lead both my acupuncturist and myself to believe that I am now experiencing some Estrogen Dominance (a build up of estrogen that is never balanced by progesterone because of the lack of ovulation).  I started experimenting with a saliva microscope and it shows that I am in the presence of increased estrogen every time I use it.  A week ago, I started back on Symplex F for two weeks to try to stimulate ovulation.  I had my first high temperature this morning, so this is not proof of ovulation, but a girl can hope.  Suffice it to say, this goal is an ever evolving work in progress.

2) Stable weight and body measurements – Overwhelmingly, this goal has been met and exceeded!  I started this experiment at 117 lbs, went down to 115 lbs for a while, and I’m now around 113 lbs consistently.  My abdomen is pretty darn flat and not reactive to eating.  See my reduction in body measurements below.

3) Little or no acne – I’ve experienced both total clarity and an upsurge in acne at different points this month.  I had not experienced a completely clear face at any point in the months prior, so I would say that I have had at least some success in this department.  When I don’t fuss about and pick or squeeze on my face and keep it clean and doctored up with my various acne preparations, I can now have relatively clear skin.  Even with that though, I still had some breakthrough pimples that surfaced no matter what I did to prevent them.  This goal, while I’ve seen moderate improvement, is still a work in progress.

4) Stable and positive emotions – Like my acne progress I spoke about above, my emotional health has been both very good and wavering at times as well.  I’ve had some mild depression and reduction in motivation in regards to this experiment during this month, but I really think I solved this problem by changing the parameters of this experiment as I mentioned earlier.  My self-assurance and confidence has been quite good and I have felt more like reaching out to people and less introverted.  I am going to call this goal accomplished for now, especially since I’m no longer dealing with rocky emotions on a daily basis, just in isolated drips and drabs.

Body Measurements:

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

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

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

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

I’ve now completed the second month of my PCOS experiment.  Building on the momentum I started during the first month, I’ve made even more progress.  Beginning at about the 6 week mark, I began to start actually looking forward to exercise and I know now that I can call working-out a habit.  This has fulfilled a lifelong goal of incorporating regular exercise into my life, something I have never been successful with ever before.  On the odd day that I am not able to work-out, I really miss it!

My body has continued to get firmer and smaller, despite not losing any additional pounds.  I can easily see and feel muscle definition in all muscle groups of my body.   I can now safely say that it IS possible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time and not have the scale budge at all.  Some online sources say that women could never build muscle fast enough to have this happen, but as we all know by now, women with PCOS are different!  See my body measurement comparison below if you don’t believe me.   I only started taking my body measurements on 10/7/10, a little over 2 weeks ago, so my results are not complete for the month report, but I will measure monthly for the remainder of this experiment.  I was astonished by my preliminary results though!

One of the biggest developments has been in regards to the way my abdomen looks and feels after meals.  My post-meal bloat had really improved during the first month, but this month things have gotten even better.  I can eat a full meal without my stomach swelling at all or appearing thicker.   I would often look pregnant after eating before starting this experiment and this would adversely affect my self-esteem on a daily basis.  This problem is completely gone and I’m going to wager a guess that it’s because I am healing my insulin resistance since central weight gain is a common symptom.  See the reduction in my waist measurements below.

The other most pronounced change that has happened this month is an almost complete recovery from my daily bouts of hypoglycemia.  I read an interesting article on inCyst.com that finally explained to me how my hypoglycemia is related to PCOS.  I had always thought that Cysters were supposed to be fighting high blood sugar and so my own low blood sugar was a mystery to me.  Here’s a little excerpt from the article.  “One of the first things that happens with PCOS, before you develop full blown insulin resistance, is hyperinsulinemia (elevated insulin levels).  This extra insulin is always in the blood, which means you may have more of a tendency than average to experience drops in blood glucose.” Now that I know how it all works,  I feel an even greater sense of accomplishment that I have taken a step in reducing my increased risk for diabetes.

I have continued to feel stronger emotionally and my ability to handle stress well has increased more this month.  I am able to handle many tasks at once and juggle the demands of being a mom with my own health and wellness needs.  It’s been a very difficult month for my son and without this experiment to keep me on track, I might have thrown in the towel a handful of times.

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

1) Ovulation and Menstruation – I have not detected ovulation yet based on taking my basal temperatures each morning.  I have had major ovarian twinges and sharp pains a few times this month along with other ovulation signs and symptoms, but for some reason, my body just cannot do it.  I’ve also had a few days throughout this month where I have had some very light spotting, but no period.  I’ve never had any sort of spotting before that was not associated with my period, so this is quite unusual.  We are still actively trying to stimulate ovulation at acupuncture each week along with taking my supplement regimen to regulate my cycles.  This goal is still a work in progress.

2) Stable weight and body measurements – I have maintained my weight (within a 1-2 lb. fluctuation) the entire month and my body measurements have only gone down, which obviously I don’t mind.  My mid-section is not bloated and I have been able to wear the same size (or smaller) clothing throughout the month.  This goal is more than accomplished!

3) Little or no acne – Last month I was experiencing quite bad hormonal chin acne for the first time in my life, but after my acupuncturist added B6-Niacinamide to my supplement regimen on 9/28/10, that has stopped.  I am still breaking out like usual on various areas of my face though.  I wrote an acne blog post earlier this month, on 10/10, where I talk about all of the natural remedies that I’m experimenting with to help my acne.  I will be updating that post with more in depth progress in a few weeks.  Again, I think I will probably not see major improvement in my acne until I have a regular cycle, and that might still be a while.  This goal is still a work in progress.

4) Stable and positive emotions – Considering what a stressful and complicated month it’s been, I have come through on the other side of it as strong and confident as ever.  This new found positivity is gaining momentum and I’m able to have a good day even when things are not technically going well externally.  I still need to work on occasional angry and bitchy hormonal outbursts, but I have faith that these will resolve completely before long.   I am going to call this goal accomplished for now!

Body Measurements:

1) Natural waist:
a- 27″ on 10/7
b- 26″ on 10/23

2) Lower abdomen (around fattest part of tummy):
a- 32″on 10/7
b- 29 1/2″ on 10/23

3) Lower hips (around largest part of butt):
a- 35.75″ on 10/7
b- 35″ on 10/23

4) Individual thigh circumference (around thickest part of one thigh):
a- 20 3/4″ on 10/7
b- 19 3/4″ on 10/23

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!