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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)

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

Writing from the backyard today while Jude plays.  It’s a wonderfully cool morning in Austin.

I have had an interest in the whole spirituality/self-help book genre for many years now, and I particularly found these books to be helpful and comforting in the grief filled days following the loss of our precious first baby and the many months of infertility following.  I’ve been revisiting a few of these books lately, enjoying a chapter as I soak in the tub after my work-outs, and I’m struck at how different they read in my now, post-Jude’s birth, life.  I have read the Power of Intention by Dr. Wayne Dyer three times now.  The first time while I was still working in an office in NYC and having work conflicts.  The second time was when we were trying to conceive again after loss.  I just finished the book for the third time, and this round I read it with this experiment and my PCOS health goals in mind.  I don’t think I’ve ever been in such a good place when reading it and it seems to have better soaked in, like I was finally ready for it.  I think it’s natural to seek guidance when going through a hard time in life, and those are the times that I reach out for my books and self-care aids.  Then once I am over that problem, I kind of forget about it all.  This is the first time in my life that I am incorporating all of my tools (books, meditation, exercise, being outdoors, whole/clean eating, aromatherapy, etc.) in my regular, old, non-crisis life.  It feels like adding the right accessories to an outfit – the perfect and beautiful little additions that makes life worth living.  These are the things that keep a Mommy from blending right into the Elmo colored background.

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

Mind/Body – Just as I was reclining in an Epsom salt bath, Jude bust into the bathroom crying and looking for me.  He was content to play in the bubbles for a while, so I got a little more soaking time, but my me time was pretty short today.

Diet – 113.5 lbs (lost a few from my cold)

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

Lunch – chicken/veggie soup with multi-grain crackers

Dinner – leftovers: salmon croquettes, asparagus, roasted leeks/fennel/beets, lamb stew

Snacks – 1/2 plum and handful of raw almonds, green/spearmint tea with milk

Feeling better today for the most part and was finally able to get back to working-out.  It’s been driving me nuts that I had a 3 day dry spell since the last time I exercised and I’ve been worried than I would lose my endurance and have to build it up slowly again.  There was nothing to be concerned about though because it was as if I had not missed a day.

I remembered today the past attempts I’ve made over the years to get my PCOS in control and to make healthy and lasting changes for myself.  I would go about it very similarly to what I am doing right now, but my enthusiasm would quickly fade and I would go right back to the same old habits and routines that kept me from my health goals to start with.  I’ve been wondering what is different this go around and it occurred to me that I have finally learned the kind of self-discipline that comes with maturity.  And for me, complete maturity finally came to me when I had Jude and I was no longer simply living for myself.  I’ve grown more as a person than I thought was possible since becoming a Mom and I’ve had more than my share of Mommy hurdles to jump.  I’ve taken this personal growth and used it to change my health for the better.  Sure makes all of the hardships worth a lot.

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

Mind/Body – Hot Epsom salt bath with lavender essential oil.  Read a few articles in a magazine while I soaked.

Diet – 114 lbs.

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

Lunch – Chicken soup with tons of veggies and some leftover lentils.

Dinner – Creamy lamb stew with butternut squash, parsnips, and thyme.

Snacks – half a plum and a handful of raw almonds, half a grapefruit and a handful of raw macadamia nuts

Woke up feeling pretty puny again with this cold.  My husband, also sick, decided to work from home so he could blow his nose in peace.  Jude had his first real day of eating since he fell ill and that was a relief to see since he’s had only milk for days.  I have been stressing over and dreading his 18 month check-up since this last teething episode started, and it did end up being quite stressful today.  Jude screamed the whole time and I broke out in a flop sweat trying to control the situation.  It ended on a high note though, and I felt like a mama-warrior for standing my ground and advocating for my poor baby.

My acne is finally looking better.  I’ve been better about implementing my natural acne experiment regimen lately and refining it a little, and I think it’s working!!  Last Friday, I also started taking triple the amount of fish oil than I usually take after noticing from a few online sources that I could be taking much more than I have been.  Fish oil is supposed to really help with PCOS acne, so perhaps that is working too.   I’m going to give it a few more weeks before I do an official report, but I just wanted to make a note of it here.  Yay!!!!

Exercise – Still not feeling well enough.  I am really missing being able to work-out.  It usually gives me such a sense of accomplishment and I need the stress relief, especially on days like today.  I’m hoping my cold allows me to get back at it tomorrow.

Mind/Body – Got a few minutes of reading and writing at nap and before bed, but that was about it.

Diet – 114 lbs.

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

Lunch – Chicken soup with tons of veggies and some leftover lentils.  I made this to help nurse our colds.

Dinner – Fresh salmon croquettes (made up a new recipe and they were insanely good – so much better than canned salmon), pan roasted asparagus, leftover fresh purple hull peas from last night.

Snacks – 1/2 apple and a handful of raw almonds, green tea with milk

Some days I can feel the blessings in my life so distinctly.  I usually feel this way when everything is going my way, but today that’s not the case.  Jude would not eat anything I fixed for him, had a runny nose and diarrhea, and screamed from epic diaper rash every time I changed him, but yet I felt the sun shining on me all day anyway.  I wish I could bottle this un-squash-able sense of well being.

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

Mind/Body – Nice and relaxing Epsom salt bath with lavender essential oil.  Read a really enlightening chapter in my book and was inspired for the rest of the day.

Diet – 115 lbs.

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

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

Dinner – Roasted pork loin with sauteed black grapes, Vidalia onions, and balsamic reduction.  Wilted spinach with crock-pot white beans.  Very small glass of red wine.

Snacks – 1/2 black plum, handful of raw almonds, 1/2 almond Bumble bar