Guest Blogger Charlotte Louise shares her story of overcoming PCOS - Insta @charlottelouise.bbg
I was diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) when I was 19, after gaining approximately 2 stone since my 18th birthday. My periods had stopped, hence why I saw my GP. I had an internal ultrasound and blood test to confirm my diagnosis.
PCOS is a fairly common condition that affects how a woman's ovaries work. Signs and symptoms of PCOS can include irregular periods, fertility difficulties, hirsutism (excessive hair growth), weight gain, thinning hair and oily skin/acne. The causes of PCOS are unknown, however, it is associated to hormone imbalances and abnormal insulin levels. Being overweight increases the amount of insulin you produce, and 8/10 women diagnosed with PCOS are overweight. These higher levels of insulin can make weight loss feel more difficult. There is no known cure. (NHS.uk) .
My symptoms included acne, hirsutism, insulin resistance, feeling lethargic and weight gain despite not having a particularly high calorie surplus (slow metabolism). I went onto a combined pill, Dianette, which tackled the acne and hirsutism. (I'm no longer on it*). From 19-22 I dabbled with fad diets, gym memberships, running etc. But nothing stuck!
In summer 2015 I went on holiday with two friends who are naturally very slim, and I felt so self conscious. I was about 86kgs, size 14-16 and very unhappy with my body. My PCOS diagnosis hung over me very heavily, and I hated the symptoms I experienced. I was, and still am, in a very happy relationship, and my other half plays rugby and has been weight training for 10+ years so is very knowledgeable. I asked him to train me.
Through weight training (4x weekly) and dancing (2x weekly), and trying to make healthier choices with food (no diets), I lost 18kg in just under a year. I got down to a healthy BMI, and noticed my PCOS symptoms were non-existent. I saw a gynaecologist for a second internal ultrasound and they told me that my ovaries were no longer polycystic! Also, I'm no longer insulin resistant and my glycogen levels have returned to normal (I was high risk for developing diabetes, I'm now in the lowest category).
Now that I've lost the weight I'm trying to improve my overall health. I'm continuing to weight train and dance, but I'm also counting Macros, looking into more HIIT and cardio and restarting the BBG guides! The best cardio for me has been LISS, which is low intensity steady state cardio such as walking. I go for at least one long walk a day.
Although I now no longer experience the symptoms of PCOS, and my ovaries are not currently polycystic, I am not 'cured': there is no known cure and I will continue to lead a healthy lifestyle (by seeking out companies like Sweet Virtues!) to continue to manage my symptoms.
Follow and find out more on Instagram @charlottelouise.bbg