Let me air something really personal to me that I feel the need to share, discuss & hopefully help someone along the way that is experiencing the same problems I am…. disclaimer: this is a pretty personal post.
For those of you that know me…
– I find happiness in fitness, I may even consider it my “drug”
– I eat clean 90% of the time, cheat 10% of the time
– Every day I strive to be better than the last
– I set goals and I try my best every damn day to reach those goals
I NEVER GIVE UP.
For those of you that may or may not know, I have been experiencing struggles with my health for the past 2 years, and more prominently during the past 8 months. Things have not been right since I graduated college in 2012. Things have not been “normal” & I haven’t felt like myself, on both the inside & outside. I am by no means a superficial person, but I find comfort when how I feel on the inside reflects how I look on the out & when how I look on the outside reflects how I feel on the inside.
In 2012 I chose to take myself off of the birth control pill, I didn’t like how it made me feel or act. I was the thinnest I had ever been & felt great on the outside. But, I was affected by it in ways that were not fair to myself or the people in my life. I was also trying to take a more natural approach to things and completely rid myself of unnecessary hormones in my body. Well, didn’t that backfire….
I did not have a menstrual cycle for 8 months after that. Sounds great, right? No. I didn’t think much of it right away considering I took myself off of the pill. Hormones are bound to be funky and take time to readjust. I knew something was up though when it hit 6 months of no period. This just doesn’t feel right. I also knew that not getting a period for that long is unhealthy and can lead to serious problems down the road. I went to go see my mom’s OBGYN to get things straightened out. Long story short, I tried starting on one round of straight estrogen for 10 days to get things going, that failed. I did a second round of the same regiment – success! I then started back with taking a birth control pill (against my will).
Fast forward just a few months later, I go to put on a pair of pants for work that just fit me a month ago… they didn’t fit. Ya, I had been commuting to and from Boston and sitting for longer periods of time than I EVER did in college, but I had not changed my commitment to exercise or eating healthy.
What. The. Hell. My natural response.. cry, scream, give up.
I chose to not completely give up, right around this realization that none of my pants fit, I moved into the city. The second I moved into the city, I joined a gym & instantly had so much more time for LIFE. I was able to exercise after work, prepare all of my meals & enjoy walking around the city. My stress level significantly decreased & I was happy. I was determined to get back into those pants. I knew I could get “back on track”.
Things still weren’t normal. I couldn’t seem to regulate & I couldn’t seem to get that weight off. I noticed a flare up in my acne (I had really bad acne early in college & after much trial and error I figured out a regiment that worked!) & I felt “dense” on the inside. I knew I needed to take action, something was wrong.
Countless PCP visits, countless OBGYN visits – they all told me I was stressed, that I was adjusting to a new lifestyle post grad, I was overwhelmed with work & that my schedule was a lot with starting grad school. And you know what I heard? All I heard was NOTHING. They were not taking my problems seriously & they blamed my missed periods, weight gain & acne flare ups on stress.
I wanted to give up. But, I didn’t give up, I couldn’t give up. I knew something was wrong. I’m very aware of my own body & I knew something just wasn’t right.
I googled. I searched all of my symptoms high and low. I did research in medical journals. I talked to the endocrinologists that I worked with. I honestly became obsessed with figuring out WHY I was gaining weight, missing periods & just not feeling “right”. I came to the conclusion on my OWN that I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrom (PCOS). I knew that all of my symptoms were exactly what they were talking about. I reached out to one particular endocrinologist that I work with who works at the hospital across the street. She had a recommendation that I be seen in the PCOS clinic at this hospital. Thankfully, she passed my name along to this particular provider & I got right in to see her within a few weeks. (Working in healthcare does have it’s perks!!)
“There is no real one test to diagnose PCOS” is what my MD told me. I described all my symptoms & told her my story over the past two years. She then laid out a road map for me of all the tests I would need to have done. We needed to eliminate all of these other possible health issues before we could diagnose PCOS. I cried in her office out of pure frustration. I just wanted to fix all of this… now.
Countless blood tests, ultrasounds & other miscellaneous tests later… I had whacked hormone levels & was diagnosed with a POSSIBLE case of PCOS. After all of those tests came back, she needed to start my menstrual cycle and get my hormone levels up to where they should be. I would see her in 4 months. So, I wait and the mystery continued for 4 more months….
Here we are, 4 months later, another round of blood work and glucose intolerance tests completed. I now have an official diagnosis of PCOS. This is a fresh diagnosis to me as I was just told this a few days ago. I haven’t shared this with many people & I am not sure how I feel about it. I thought I was OK with it, until I started doing more research… it’s hard to have kids, it’s hard to lose weight, I am at a higher risk of developing diabetes… the list goes on.
One particular risk of having PCOS has already impacted me… I have high cholesterol. At 24, a girl who hits the gym 6 days a week, runs half marathons, eats super healthy… has high cholesterol. I was devastated. How could this be?
There are a few ways I can handle this:
A. Crash & burn, give up, cry, forget even trying
B. Remain status quo, keep doing what I’m doing and hope for the best
C. Kick it into high gear, see a nutritionist & get back to my personal trainer
What option do I choose? Option C. I am going to start seeing a nutritionist to make sure I am eating to control my high cholesterol and I recently purchased a personal training package to focus more on weight training over the winter. This, of course, is for two purposes… help to build muscle, to build my metabolism & hopefully lose weight AND to build strength over the winter months before I start training for my next running adventure next fall (maybe for a full marathon, details to follow!).
In the meantime, I am trying to understand my diagnosis, research for PCOS “blogs” and see what other individuals with PCOS have experienced & more importantly…stay positive. This isn’t the end of the world, this is just a speed bump that will slow some things down and make a few other things in my life complicated. This isn’t death and this is by no means the worst thing that could happen to me. It is frustrating and it is disheartening, but it will be OK.
I will continue to run. I will continue to workout. I will continue to eat healthy. I won’t give up.
I know this isn’t my typical post nor is this completely relevant to “eat clean, train dirty” … but it is relevant to my life right now and it will significantly change how I approach nutrition and exercise moving forward…
Thanks for listening.