Here is a STEP BY STEP process to better manage your PCOS weight gain and begin losing weight.
Client #1: MEET ANGELA
I have a new client who we will call Angela (for the sake of anonymity). She weighs about 236 pounds and works out 5x per day at a local fitness center doing 30 minutes high intensity cardio and 30 minutes metabolic weight training. She watches her food intake and is also on Metformin to help treat or manage her PCOS. But NO MATTER WHAT she cannot seem to get the scale to budge. Angela was eating a LOW CALORIE diet – about 1200 calories and she still could not get the scale to budge.
Angela was also suffering from constipation, fatigue during the day, occasional binges and stress eating as well as difficulty handling stress. So she came to see me to find out if there was anything I could do to help her since my specialty is weight loss resistance and metabolic issues pertaining to the inability to lose weight.
There must have been a sign on my head for a few weeks because after meeting Angela - I had 2 more clients start working with me to find out what they need to do manage their PCOS weight gain and finally begin losing weight.
CLIENT #2: MEET NANCY.
The other client I want to tell you about is Nancy. Nancy weighs 450 lbs. and came to me after reading one of my newsletters and was pleading for help. Her weight is out of control and she cannot get a handle on it at all. In fact, she gained 60lbs. in the past year!!! So Nancy and I met one day and of course the first thing I do is ask a BOAT LOAD of questions like “when was your last physical?” or “how do you sleep?” But the first thing I noticed on Nancy was the hair under her chin. I asked her how long she has had hair growth under her chin and she said since she was a teenager – now she is in her early 30s.
Nancy also has high blood pressure, high blood sugar, edema in her legs, chronically fatigued and exhausted, sugar cravings, heavy periods, difficulty sleeping, skin eczema, yeast infections and who knows what else!!
I immediately suspected PCOS and began to explain to her what it is. And what she began to tell me just made me outraged.
She had been to doctors complaining about heavy periods and excessive bleeding which most likely is leaving her anemic. The doctors would typically give her something to get her period to stop then they would lecture her on her weight and that this is the reason why her periods were so heavy and if she would JUST LOSE A FEW POUNDS her cycle would improve.
First off…..ARE THEY INSANE? Lose “a few pounds?” is not the only problem or the only solution. The doctors mentioned to her that she needs to exercise and eat right. NANCY CANNOT EXERCISE!!!! I mean she can do some stuff but she is EXHAUSTED and has NO ENERGY. She barely makes it through a 30 minute mild weight training session!!!
Second….the reason she is SOOO HEAVY has more to do with the metabolic chaos that PCOS presents rather than her just sitting on the couch eating bon-bons and potato chips.
Granted – nutrition is HUGELY IMPORTANT but so it a properly functioning metabolism.
Fast forward a month – Nancy sends me a text message that she was at the DR getting a physical and the DR wants her to go to the Emergency Room IMMEDIATELY. She needed a BLOOD TRANSFUSION because her hemoglobin was at a 7 which is DANGEROUSLY LOW.
While in the hospital Nancy pushed to receive an official diagnosis of Polycycstic Ovarian Syndrome and then needed to be placed on Metformin to get things under control so she can better handle her PCOS weight gain.
PCOS is tricky when it comes to weight loss because it is often associated with a disordered metabolism and fat loss resistance. PCOS weight gain also stems from multiple causes such as poor diet, lack of exercise, issues with stress management and sleep issues. With PCOS – managing symptoms is KEY.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome refers to multiple cysts on the ovaries along with a host of other issues such as:
** You may experience some or ALL of these symptoms.
I am going to explain this in a VERY SIMPLISTIC MANNER (since most people don’t want to read and make sense of the science-y part of this!!!)
PCOS occurs when a woman doesn’t ovulate properly which then affects the message that is being sent to her hormones, brain and ovaries.
In normal ovulation an egg is released due to a surge in FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (Luteinizing Hormone) which stimulates the maturation of about eggs into follicles.
Typically an egg is to be released which then stimulates the production of progesterone due to changes in the corpeus luteum (hope I’m not losing you anywhere…..stick with me…..I’m getting to the point!!).
In PCOS – this scenario is dysfunctional. For example, if a woman’s follicle travels to the outside of the ovary but does not “release” an egg –the follicle becomes a cyst and the normal progesterone surge does not occur.
The lack of progesterone then affects an area of the brain called the hypothalamus.
This then causes the hypothalamus to continually try to produce hormones to release an egg which then causes an overproduction of FSH and LH.
The overproduction of FSH and LH then causes the ovary to produce more estrogen and androgen (ex: testosterone).
THEN…..if the follicle cannot produce a matured egg then a woman’s body cannot produce the progesterone surge – THIS IS WHERE THE PROBLEM BECCOMES AN ENDLESS CYCLE.
This is when a woman can wind up estrogen and/or androgen dominant.
This abnormality then creates PCOS.
The chain of events explained above affects the hypothalamus which then affects the thyroid and adrenal glands in a NEGATIVE MANNER.
This in turn causes issues with:
Now in Angela’s case she was placed on Metformin because PCOS often goes hand in hand with insulin resistance. Is there a way to manage the symptoms of PCOS without Metformin? Well, yes. But don’t misunderstand – Metformin can serve as a BRIDGE to managing PCOS weight gain symptoms – BUT IT IS NOT THE SOLUTION.
Truthfully…..Angela is a metabolic MESS and Metformin helps “somewhat” with blood sugar and insulin resistance but it is not the only issue – as you can see.
But after making some tweaks to Angela’s “lifestyle” she did manage to lose 8lbs. in 2 weeks. This is a first for her and we still have a LONG way to go.
I am going to tell you what is working for her – and this may help YOU but REMEMBER…..your physiology is NOT THE SAME AS ANGELA’S!!!! Do your research and KNOW YOUR LABS.
I cannot stress this fact ENOUGH. We must take responsibility of our own health and be our own health advocate and detective. This is not to say that our doctors are not doing us justice – but they have TONS of patients and they are ONLY HUMAN. Working with a doctor should be a JOINT PARTNERSHIP where you BOTH are working towards a solution to your issues.
WHAT IS WORKING FOR ANGELA'S PCOS WEIGHT GAIN:
1. A high protein, moderate fat and very low carb diet consisting of less than 75 grams of starchy carbs per day.
2. A good Adrenal Support to help manage the stress response – should include an adrenal cortex/bovine and Rhodiola.
3. A good digestive enzyme to help with constipation – the digestive enzyme must include Betaine HCI to be effective.
4. PGX Well-BTX Fiber supplement to help manage blood sugar along with her current Metformin medication.
5. A low dose bio-identical progesterone cream in the last 2 weeks of her cycle along with Vitex (also known as Chasteberry)to help increase progesterone production.
It is important to give this 6 months to fully assess its effectiveness. Too many people expect to be able to fix a major metabolic issue in a month and this is also called an UNREASONABLE EXPECTATION.
***AND DO ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE PROCEEDING***
I always....always.....tell my clients to double check with their DR and then my clients should gather all their information so THEY can make an informed decision about THEIR health. NOBODY owns the control over your health.....only YOU DO.
AS FOR NANCY'S PCOS WEIGHT GAIN:
Well, honestly she is just through with her blood transfusion and has been newly diagnosed. Nancy has A LOT OF WORK TO DO but at least now she has a fighting chance. She will need to understand that Metformin is ONLY PART OF THE SOLUTION and she must realize that she has to make a complete lifestyle change and stay committed for the long haul to undo the metabolic chaos that has overtaken her body.
Nancy’s PCOS weight gain is only one part of the issue. She most likely has a whole host of other issues such as food sensitivities, possible autoimmune issues, candida issues, etc. Hopefully once she gets the ball rolling she will be able to continue taking steps towards improving her health.
So dig in your heels…..focus and stay committed.
And as always…..check with your DOCTOR. This is actually a good time to see if your DOCTOR is one who is going to WORK WITH YOU to improve your health or if they are going to be closed minded, arrogant and egotistical. This is when you will know that you need to find a doctor who better aligns with your mission – which is to be a PARTICIPANT in your road to LIVING A LIFE WITH VITALITY.
I hope this information helped. If you have Polycycstic Ovarian Syndrome and are suffering with PCOS weight gain - find a doctor that TRULY UNDERSTANDS the underlying function and the problems it presents. I can't emphasize ENOUGH how important it is that your DOCTOR ALIGNS WITH THE WAY YOU WANT YOUR HEALTH MANAGED.
Too many doctors DO NOT WORK WITH their patients - and this should not be the case. You deserve a doctor who will listen and be open minded. Ask around and ask for referrals.....you will be so glad when you have a good working relationship with your physician!!!
If you have any questions - send me a message and I will answer your question ASAP!!