"The syndrome that has tried to rule my adult life" - The Busy Woman Project community member Tracy Anderson
As long as I can remember, I never had a regular period. I remember going to my doctor as a naive 16 year old and asking to go on the pill as I was never quite sure when my menses would arrive. This really should ring alarm bells for any doctor - but for mine, it didn't.
As I finished high school and moved onto University, I noticed that my slim big busted body was starting to look a little plump around my midline. I exercised and I had always been active, so I just needed to keep it up, right? It is frustrating when you are eating “low fat” with no results, especially while studying Sports Science, surrounded by well toned peers around you. Getting married at 23 - it was time to think about having children, so I naturally decided it was time to come off the pill.
Well that's when it all started.
It could be 20 days or 180 days (the longest I recorded) between my monthly period. For a young woman trying to get pregnant, that meant a lot of expensive home pregnancy tests. I went back to my doctors numerous times, only to be told, “You just need to be patient, you are young still”. It wasn't until just before my 27th birthday that one of my husband's work colleagues mentioned a fertility specialist. With nothing to lose, I booked in and found myself sitting in the waiting room of a fertility clinic within a week!
When I sat down in the chair in her office, she took one look at me, and calmly said, “My dear, I can tell you already. You have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)” What??? Why had I not even thought about this before.
Read: WTH Is...PCOS
She explained that my plump tummy, adult acne and a few other visible symptoms led her to this conclusion. She did some blood test and scanned my ovaries. Now I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure ovaries are supposed to be a uniform black colour on the ultrasound, kinda round and that's it.
Mine looked like a bunch of holes, and that’s not right! Fertility treatment started right away with oral clomiphene and within a few months, I was pregnant (with the highest dose) and our first child was on her way.
After my daughter was born, I struggled to lose the weight I had put on; with careful low fat planning, I managed to get a bit off. But then, it was time to think about having another child. I booked in to see the specialist again and we started right back up with the same medication. She also put me on the public list to have ovarian drilling. After the drilling, my periods seemed to be semi normal, but my medication wasn’t working and I wasn’t becoming pregnant with number two. So any weight I lost, crept back on with a vengeance. At my heaviest, I was tipping the scales at around 105kg.
I went to a seminar by Dr. Libby Weaver and learnt so much about food and how it acts within your body, but that by itself wasn’t enough to start my journey. It wasn’t until someone recommended a book called “Natural Solutions to PCOS” by Mary Glenville. I ordered it online and I was so excited when it arrived. I think I went to bed and read most of the book that night.
I eliminated most soy from my diet and started eating really clean. The other BIG thing I did was watch my sugar intake. Much like a diabetic, PCOS makes you insulin resistant. Insulin works as an appetite stimulant and you get into a vicious cycle of craving sugary foods and the end result is weight gain! This meant looking for lower GI foods and not adding sugar into my baking. It was then that the weight started dripping off me. My skin was clearer, my period came monthly and I felt amazing.
With every week that went by, my energy levels went up and my stress levels went down. I became a happier parent. I also started exercising everyday and got addicted to CrossFit! Fast forward a year, I lost 30-35kg 💪🏽.
Moving from New Zealand to Bangkok
We arrived in Bangkok at the end of March 2016, straight into the hottest season the country had seen in years. I had to relearn everything I knew about food. The pineapple I bought in the street was dipped in sugar syrup to make it sweeter, and I had to say no syrup in my coffees! I took a few steps backwards on my journey and felt a little down.
Crushing Personal Goals
At the beginning of 2017, I set myself some goals; to compete in CrossFit again, rid myself of the extra weight I had put on, and take back control of my food. I did the qualifiers and qualified to go to the West Sectionals for the Asia Champs and represent my CrossFit box in the masters category.
I kept training and when I turned up to compete, I was a little disheartened - I trained so hard and I was in control of my foods, but I was still by far the biggest person competing there. So after smashing a few goals at that competition, I had a new plan of action.
Since April 2017, I have taken over total control of my foods. Sugar is definitely at a minimum (if any), and my training recovery time is up - I’m leaner and happier.
I have finally learnt to live happily, adapting to the new country and cultural surroundings. Just a little fact for you, my condominium is above a great shopping mall here in Bangkok. On my way to catching the train (MRT) everyday, I pass no less than 8 dessert places. Now, that takes a lot of courage to walk less than 5 minutes every morning and afternoon past those places and not wanting to stop at any of them. Oh and my PCOS is being managed well here too. I am happy.
Have a story to share? Know of a health issue or condition that is prevalent, but is not openly discussed about? Drop us a note at [email protected].