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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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Feeling a bit sluggish on the second day of no exercise.  With everyone in town, plus trying to stick to this experiment, plus getting things done on a usually busy weekend, and I’m running in circles all day.  Started spotting a tiny bit again and boy, oh boy, my acne is HORRID!  What the hell is going on with my hormones??  A period, ovulation, or just plain screwed up??  I wish I knew.

Exercise – took the day off

Mind/Body – Got to hang out more with my friends from out of town and see their miracle babies.  Due to the time change, I got a few extra minutes at the end of the day for a relaxing bath and some reading time.

Diet – did not weigh

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

Lunch – leftover butternut squash bisque and about 1/2 cup cottage cheese for protein

Dinner – Chicken Parmesan cutlet topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese with sauteed portobello mushrooms/thyme/butter/sugar snap peas, and lima beans on the side. very small glass of red wine

Snacks – green tea with milk, red grapes and a handful of raw almonds

When we began in earnest to try to conceive Jude with fertility treatments (early 2008), I became part of an internet support group for thin women with PCOS who were also trying to get pregnant.  Over the years most of us have remained friends and have shared the ups and downs of our pregnancies, births, and our adventures in mommy-hood together.  We arranged a little get together this weekend in Austin for four of us and our babies (plus 3 husbands).  It was so weird and wonderful to finally get to meet everyone after sharing so much online.  What a miracle to see all of the babies after some of us had such a hard time getting them here.  I know I will eventually meet everyone in the group in real life because these women are my true friends – friends that were really there for me through some of the hardest times in my life, and continue to be there during the happiest.

Exercise – took the day off

Mind/Body – I had such a good time getting to meet and visit all of my friends and their babies.  It was good for the heart and soul.  Also got a badly needed date with my husband where we were able to talk, laugh, and have fun.

Diet – 114 lbs.

Breakfast – small latte and one black bean, bacon, cheese, and avocado breakfast taco on a corn tortilla

Lunch – did not feel great so only had an almond Bumble Bar

Dinner – date night out – tortilla chips and salsa, 3 mini al pastor tacos, and a few bites of refried black beans. One top shelf margarita on the rocks!!

Snacks – iced tea

I forgot to mention that at my visit this past week, my acupuncturist wanted me to try halving my Gymnema dose to only one tablet, 3 times a day rather than 2 tablets, 3 times a day.  I wrote about Gymnema in depth here, but in a nutshell it helps regulate sugar metabolism and makes me have virtually no sugar cravings despite eating low carb and almost no sugar, except for in fruit.  I started feeling sugar cravings by the end of the first day with the reduced dose (11/2/10).  I tried to fight the urge the next day, but I decided that I needed to up my dose again and just modify it a little.  Since I eat almost no carbs at breakfast, I will not take any after that meal.  I will take 2 after both lunch and dinner.  So far this seems to be working.

Exercise – Crunch: Super Slim Down DVD

Mind/Body – Got a quick and very hot bath where I was able to lay back and meditate for a short while.  It really helped to both relax and invigorate me at the same time.

Diet – 114 lbs.

Breakfast – black/green/spearmint tea with milk, 2 fried eggs, 2 chicken breakfast sausages, 1 scoop cottage cheese (which Jude ate most of)

Lunch – leftover red cabbage, collards/black eyed peas, and a scoop of cottage cheese for a little protein.

Dinner – Roasted butternut squash/veggie soup (pureed) topped with cheese and cilantro chicken sausage

Snacks – half an apple and a handful of raw almonds, green tea with milk, small juice glass of raw milk

Still feeling a little scatterbrained and slightly anxious.  Not sure where this is coming from, but I don’t like it.  I’ve enjoyed so much focus the last few months so I hope this is not a trend.  At least I physically feel strong and well, unlike earlier in the week.

In better news, Jude’s verbal communication is really taking off again after not hearing much during his teething crisis.  I’ve been in a constant state of amazement in him nearly all day.

More breakouts today.  Blahhhh!

Exercise – Self: Slim and Sleek Fast DVD – about 40 minutes with 3 lb. weights

Mind/Body – Got a very nice soak in the tub today after my workout and I enjoyed a great chapter in my book.

Diet – 114 lbs.

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

Lunch – Part of a can of organic tomato soup and a piece of GF high fiber bread, toasted with a tablespoon or so of roasted almond butter

Dinner – 6 huge sea scallops pan seared with pasture butter and parsley and collard greens sauteed with slow cooked black eyed peas and truffle oil.

Snacks – small bunch of red grapes and a handful of raw almonds, 1/2 a small grapefruit and a handful of raw almonds, green/spearmint tea with milk, chai tea with milk, 1 mini Reeses peanut butter cup

I had a little daydream today while I was laying beside Jude as I was trying to get him down for his nap.  I’ve recently had some inner turmoil regarding the notion of having another baby.  Part of me never wants to go down that path again because it’s such a hard one, from start to finish, and then you actually have to raise the baby that comes at the end of it!!  The other part of me cannot see myself with only one child.  I still have feelings of longing and jealousy when I see pregnant women.  This conflict in my mind really troubles me.  As Jude fell asleep and I was looking at his beautiful little face, I remembered so distinctly how he looked when they handed him to me after birth, about what an absolute sacred and spiritual moment it was. A calm came over me and I suddenly felt the debate in my mind melt away.  I knew right then and there that I will have another baby someday.  I’m not going to stress about how or when, but I know it will happen.  I put this issue to bed along with my child – for now…

Jude had a really good day today, better than I’ve seen him in several weeks actually.  He seemed to be pain free and attempted lots of verbal communication and ate well.  The daily struggles with him really stress me out and take their toll on us all, so these respites are very welcome and exciting.

Sadly, I’m breaking out again despite taking care of my face before bed.

It was a cold and overcast in Austin today, but that means nothing to a toddler when they want to play outside.  I’m actually going to need cold weather gear this year because I will be sitting outside in the cold for hours and hours this Fall/Winter.  I always feel better for doing it though – a little sunshine and communion with nature.  It’s good for the soul and my poor, neglected kitty loves the company too.  Off to find a hat and gloves that a toddler will actually keep on his head and hands.

Exercise – The Trainer’s Edge: Integrated Strength Training with Jeffrey Scott, about 40 minutes with 3 lb. weights.

Mind/Body – Had a very nice Epsom salt bath with Clary Sage and Lavender essentials oils.  I even got a whole chapter read as Jude took a long nap today.

Diet – 114 lbs.

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

Lunch – Half a portion of oatmeal with butter, cinnamon, agave nectar, milk, and a tablespoon of almond butter.  Had it with half an apple and about 1/2 cup of cottage cheese.

Dinner – leftovers: coconut milk braised chicken and veggies over lentil pilaf
Snacks – 1/2 plum and handful of raw almonds, green/spearmint tea with milk, red grapes with a handful of almonds

Something has come over me since we got back home.  It feels sort of like a reduction in motivation to exercise and eat right and a stronger motivation to hunker down, baby myself, eat more heartily, and hibernate.  I’ve been doing a little online research about this and it is indeed a common phenomenon as the days gets shorter and the cold weather moves in.  After all, we are animals too and are part of nature and so why would we not respond to the changing seasons?  I plan on getting outside with Jude as much as weather permits this winter so we can absorb as much sunshine as we can.  I am hoping this can help keep spirits up and motivation high.

I spoke to my acupuncturist today about my new fatigue, spotting, and headaches, and so she revised my supplements to start working on a “cycle”.  I will stop taking the Symplex F for two weeks and then start it or the Ovatrrophin PMG again for two weeks.  The two weeks on and off of the ovulation supplements will hopefully replicate a natural menstrual cycle and help my body start one of it’s own.  I will make notes for this on my PCOS Supplement Regimen page.

Exercise – Crunch: Burn and Firm Pilates DVD with 3 lb. weights

Mind/Body – I got a very short Epsom salt bath before I heard Jude crying.  Not much time for relaxation today.

Diet – 114 lbs.

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

Lunch – two black bean/cheese/avocado chalupas, topped with fresh salsa and strained greek yogurt

Dinner – Coconut milk braised chicken thighs with garlic/ginger/onion/zucchini/shitake mushrooms.  Served over lentil pilaf.

Snacks – 1/2 plum and a handful of raw almonds, half a small apple spread with almond butter, one mini Reeses peanut butter cup

I had a really off day today.  I felt scatterbrained, anxious, and fatigued with a backache – totally out of the ordinary.  I can’t help from thinking that all of this might be related to ovulation, but still nothing detected.  My face has broken out again after enjoying a few clear days.  I’ve been having the slightest tiny bit of spotting since Sunday – sometimes there and sometimes not.  I will be interested to see what my acupuncturist has to say about this tomorrow.

Exercise – Did not feel like it with my strained back, but besides that, I could not get Jude to nap until after 2pm.

Mind/Body – I did treat myself to a long soak in an Epsom salt bath with lavender essential oils and my book.  This seemed to help my nerves a little, but did not make me feel as good as usual.

Diet – 114 lbs.

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

Lunch – salad with butter lettuce, veggies, apple, and tuna (no mayo) with homemade apple cider vinaigrette and multi-grain crackers

Dinner – Chicken breast stuffed with dried apricots, almonds, and goat cheese with ACV braised red cabbage/apples/onions, and peas and carrots

Snacks – 1/2 grapefruit and handful of raw almonds, 1/2 of an almond Bumble Bar and 2 GF animal cookies that Jude fed me.

We got home this evening and I felt like kissing the ground.  Jude was completely out of his element this weekend and suffered from new found stranger anxiety with crying and mixed up bedtimes, etc. the whole time.  It was a miserable trip for the most part.  The second we got home, everything was fine again.  My husband and I both feel like never leaving this house ever again.

We did have fun tonight passing out candy to trick-or-treaters.  The second the door bell would ring, Jude would go running to the door, really excited to see the costumes and kids.  This will probably be out last year to not take him out too.

Exercise – 30 minutes of fast walking around my parents neighborhood

Mind/Body – Jude went to sleep EARLY tonight and so my husband and I got to stay up late and watch scary movies on Halloween night and leisurely peruse Facebook, etc.  It was so nice to kick back and relax!

Diet – did not weigh b/c I was away from home

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

Lunch – medium salad with roasted chicken and veggies with apple cider vinaigrette, raw almonds, a slice of cheese, and multi-grain crackers

Dinner – take out – shredded chicken/bean/cheese/guacamole/veggie chalupas

Snacks – 1/3 of a almond Bumble bar

We’re down visiting my parents this weekend.  Jude has been an absolute beast.  He was WILD after we got in last night and stayed up until 1:30 am, I think his personal record.  He is going through a really trying phase right now and he’s an even worse traveler than normal.  My patience as a Mom is being tested in new and surprising ways.

We’re also here to attend a Halloween/birthday party for my cousin’s son.  At the party tonight, I was proud of myself for only having a few chips and dip and a little Snickers bar despite the copious amounts of goodies everywhere you looked.

I want to also add that I had one of those rare, ” I look really good” days.  I felt and looked thin and toned.  My jeans fit right and with less muffin top.  My face is clear.  This is the feeling that I am constantly chasing after.   It feels good to catch it, even if just for today.

Exercise – 30 minutes of fast walking outside

Mind/Body – The only relaxation I got today was while walking.  Jude took a long nap and I got a needed break from him even though I was working on lots of things (like last minute Halloween costumes).

Diet – away from home, so did not weigh

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

Lunch – medium sized salad with roasted chicken, veggies, and apple and apple cider vinaigrette with multi-grain crackers.

Dinner – small bow of leftover chicken/veggie soup, cottage cheese, 4-5 gluten free crackers, small wedge of salmon and egg pie (my dad’s concoction)

Snacks – 1/2 grapefruit, handful of raw almonds, slice of cheese and multi-grain crackers, one fun size Snickers bar, 4-5 corn tortilla chips topped with cheese dip