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Losing Weight with PCOS and IR. Impossible?

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Old 03-14-2013, 05:54 PM   #1
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Default Losing Weight with PCOS and IR. Impossible?

Does anyone else out there feel like it's totally impossible to effectively diet when you have PCOS? I've been struggling with my weight for my whole life and I'm pretty sure I've been on every diet under the sun. Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Slimfast, Nutrisystem, Medifast, the list goes on and on. Each time I was on these diets (these EXPENSIVE diets) I lost maybe 15-20 lbs. While the people around me who are overweight decide to diet with me and lose 50-60 lbs. They tell me "you must not be doing it right" or "you're obviously cheating on the diet." And I'm not! It's so frustrating and makes you feel like such a failure. Well this has been my story for the last ten years, until a year ago I was diagnosed with PCOS and insulin resistance. I was put on Metformin 750mg/twice a day. I was excited when my doctor told me that this would help me lose weight as long as I was dieting and exercising. Fast forward 9 months to my wedding day. I am twenty pounds HEAVIER. In the next two months after my wedding, I moved away from everyone I knew to a very small town in Southern Louisiana. After gaining 5 pounds I have come to the point of taking this more serious than I ever have. I'm ready to be over this PCOS garbage and live a normal healthy life. I want to get pregnant, but as long as I am in what I call "the danger zone" (teetering on type two diabetes) it can't happen. This has become my motivation. In the last month, I have (what feels like) basically starved myself. I eat just enough to not be sick. I have replaced two meals a day with Slimfast shakes, snack on raw veggies or low sugar fruits, and a high protein dinner with another side of veggies. It was really hard at first to completely cut out breads and other high carb foods, but as time passes, I find that I crave them less and less. While I'm not GAINING weight, I feel like I've hardly lost any. I started at 247 lbs. and I'm down to 242 lbs. Most of which I feel like is simply water weight. I have considered weight loss surgery, but with my BMI being slightly under the requirement, and it being so expensive, I don't know that I can. Besides, I want to do this on my own, with surgery being a last resort.

It's so hard to stick with a diet like this and just give up when you don't see or feel any results. Is anyone else going through this? Or has gone through this and has some advice? I so badly want to be out of the danger zone and to get to a point where I can look in the mirror without remembering how much I hate what I have done to myself.
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Old 03-14-2013, 08:34 PM   #2
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Wgaston - I hear your frustration, for sure. I also have ovarian cysts (though doctors disagree if it actually PCOS or not) and insulin resistance, and to top it off have an underactive thyroid as well. So I certainly know the disappointment that comes with having added challenges. (And how exasperating it is for "normal" people to be able to lose weight relatively easily, and the assumption that we must just be lazy, or cheating, or not trying hard enough.) While I know it is so easy to fall into self-criticism and self-judgment, I encourage you to try to find things that your body DOES do well and that you do like/appreciate about it. Today I filled out a form at a doctor's office where you have to circle if you're currently dealing with different issues and it made me realize how much my body does right. (Hey, look, I don't hardly have to circle any of these things! I don't have gallstones or heart palpitations or narcolepsy or blurred vision...) I have found that for me, the mental suffering of feeling bad about my size and the way I look only makes things worse and pulls me into a tougher space. Plus the stress of beating yourself off actually increases cortisol and other stress hormones which makes your body hang onto fat - or so I've been told, and it makes sense to me.

That said, you have come to right space. You will find lots of support and encouragement here. Given your various challenges, I would encourage you to find a nutritionist or some other specialist you can work with. It does sound like what you have been up the last two months isn't sustainable and isn't working. I personally am currently following the Insulin Resistance Diet (it's a book, you can google it or look it up on amazon if interested) and so far it is working, but I've only lost five pounds so it's too early to really say, and what works for one may not work for another.

Thanks for reaching out! We can relate to your struggles and are on your side.
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Old 03-14-2013, 10:53 PM   #3
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SuperCecilia: Thank you for your encouragement. It's nice to see that other people are going through this with me. It's easy to feel isolated and alone when no one around you understands. I, too have hypothyroid. As I just moved to a new town, I am currently looking for a new doctor specializing in metabolic disorders to help me with this process. I had a great doctor in Houston (where I moved from) but now I have to start over and find a new one! I have recently heard about the IR diet, and I plan to look more into it. I don't want to come off as being extremely negative about my situation, I think today was simply a "bad day" in my diet. It's so easy to lose sight of what matters the most--feeling blessed that my situation could be so much worse. But tomorrow is a new day, and I just have to keep going and doing the best I can! This website is already helping me feel surrounded by support! It's amazing to have a place to vent frustrations, rather than eat them! Thank you again for your response!
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Old 03-15-2013, 05:50 AM   #4
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It's not impossible but it is more difficult! It took me years of researching and experimenting to figure out what works best for me.

I think it's very important thing to be in tune with your body. How do certain foods affect your weight loss? What impact does food have on your blood sugar? What makes you feel cravy? What slows the scale down and what speeds it up? Etc.

It will also be helpful for you to understand what insulin resistance is and why it causes weight gain. Basically, your body doesn't react properly to insulin so your body overproduces it. The more unstable your blood sugar levels, the more your body has to produce insulin to deal with it. Excess insulin = excess fat storage. Getting your blood sugar levels stabilized is a good starting point when dieting with PCOS. (For me this meant low carb (with virtually no grains at all), linking carbs with protein, regular meal times (and never ever never skipping meals, especially breakfast), and making sure my food was as "real" as possible - very little processed/synthetic/chemical crap.)

HTH. Good luck!
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Old 03-15-2013, 09:27 AM   #5
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Yes, we all have "bad days" on this journey and this is a good place to share it all - the good, the bad, the mundane, the ridiculous. I'm glad that you are sounding a bit more positive.

I agree with what Novus said - it's not easy, but it's not impossible. It takes a lot of paying attention to my own body, and figuring out what makes sense for me. Keeping a food journal is helpful in this sense. What breakfast foods leave me starving at 10 am, and what breakfast leaves me basically full with just a need for a mid-morning small snack to keep blood sugar stable? What exercise works best for mood and stress management as well as weight loss, and how do I fuel that exercise? How do I need to plan my eating so I'm not so hungry at 10 pm that I feel like I can't go to sleep? And of course figuring out how periods and hormone changes play into it, too.

There's a million books out there, and some geared towards people with IR/PCOS or other issues, and it can be helpful to read them, but I think every body is different and we each have to figure out our own bodies with careful observation. Best wishes to you in finding a specialist who can work with you. I salute your courage and perseverance!
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Old 03-15-2013, 12:12 PM   #6
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Hello!

First of all, I wanted to pass on what my doctor said to me the last time I was weighed at the doctor's surgery - it is notoriously harder to lose weight with PCOS/IR so ANY weight that you lose is a massive achievement. I know that right now 5 lbs doesn't seem like that much to you, but I wanted to say congratulations - the scales are moving in the right direction and your hard work is paying off! Every little helps.

I have PCOS, although not IR, and I have been in similar situations - starting out on weight loss programmes with other people only to find they lost weight so much quicker than I did, even if they 'cheated' on their diets or didn't exercise for weeks at a time when I was slogging my guts out just to lose half a lb if I was lucky!

As others have already said, low-carb is really helpful (although it has been suggested there is a link between carb cravings and PCOS, just to make it that much harder!) and eating more protein and non-processed foods, as well as making sure to eat enough and never skip meals; your body can't lose weight if it feels it is fighting off starvation. I've found exercise to be the one thing that makes the biggest difference. It's like my body can even suck fat out of celery to stop me from losing weight, but it can't really do anything but process the fat as energy when I'm exercising!

There are several food supplements that can be helpful with PCOS, such as chromium for cravings but it might be worth checking with your doctor when you find a new one, just to make sure that this wont have any side effects with the IR.

Good luck and keep going!
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Old 03-15-2013, 08:03 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wgaston View Post
Does anyone else out there feel like it's totally impossible to effectively diet when you have PCOS? I've been struggling with my weight for my whole life and I'm pretty sure I've been on every diet under the sun. Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Slimfast, Nutrisystem, Medifast, the list goes on and on. Each time I was on these diets (these EXPENSIVE diets) I lost maybe 15-20 lbs. While the people around me who are overweight decide to diet with me and lose 50-60 lbs. They tell me "you must not be doing it right" or "you're obviously cheating on the diet." And I'm not! It's so frustrating and makes you feel like such a failure. Well this has been my story for the last ten years, until a year ago I was diagnosed with PCOS and insulin resistance. I was put on Metformin 750mg/twice a day. I was excited when my doctor told me that this would help me lose weight as long as I was dieting and exercising. Fast forward 9 months to my wedding day. I am twenty pounds HEAVIER. In the next two months after my wedding, I moved away from everyone I knew to a very small town in Southern Louisiana. After gaining 5 pounds I have come to the point of taking this more serious than I ever have. I'm ready to be over this PCOS garbage and live a normal healthy life. I want to get pregnant, but as long as I am in what I call "the danger zone" (teetering on type two diabetes) it can't happen. This has become my motivation. In the last month, I have (what feels like) basically starved myself. I eat just enough to not be sick. I have replaced two meals a day with Slimfast shakes, snack on raw veggies or low sugar fruits, and a high protein dinner with another side of veggies. It was really hard at first to completely cut out breads and other high carb foods, but as time passes, I find that I crave them less and less. While I'm not GAINING weight, I feel like I've hardly lost any. I started at 247 lbs. and I'm down to 242 lbs. Most of which I feel like is simply water weight. I have considered weight loss surgery, but with my BMI being slightly under the requirement, and it being so expensive, I don't know that I can. Besides, I want to do this on my own, with surgery being a last resort.

It's so hard to stick with a diet like this and just give up when you don't see or feel any results. Is anyone else going through this? Or has gone through this and has some advice? I so badly want to be out of the danger zone and to get to a point where I can look in the mirror without remembering how much I hate what I have done to myself.

I have PCOS, hypothyroidism and menopause. Like you, nothing worked. I did low carbs and sugar with a personal trainer and lost 20 lbs in over a year. I have been following the Ideal Protein diet, (look it up in 3FC) and have lost 20 lbs in 7 weeks. The first couple of weeks were hard, but I must admit, I have not felt this good in a very very long time. I have dropped 3 sizes of clothes in 7 weeks and I no longer have any cravings.

I can also feel my hormones calming down. What a great feeling.
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Old 03-15-2013, 09:05 PM   #8
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It is hard and it takes a lot of trial and error but you can definitely get there!! One thing that helped me was getting a glucose meter and testing my sugar after meals for a month. That way I could see how my body responded to different types and amounts of carbs at different times of day. Turns out I do really badly with some foods that are supposed to be good for your glucose and vice versa.

Another thing is supplements - I started taking a multivitamin regularly (I never have done it consistently), calcium, chromium, vitamin D (my blood work showed severe deficiency in D), inositol, and also eating more soy (since I have high testosterone). Usually when I am trying to lose weight I am totally exhausted all the time, but not with the supplements.

Finally, the benefit of high testosterone is we build muscle more easily than other people. And resistance training is great for insulin resistance. People always say weight loss is 90% food, but I think when you have PCOS, exercise is also really important for lowering your glucose.

It is slow and feels like it takes forever. But losing weight is not the only "win" - maintaining should also be considered a "win." As long as you are not gaining, you are not headed in the wrong direction!!
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Old 03-15-2013, 09:54 PM   #9
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The only, only, ONLY thing that works for me is counting calories along with fairly low carb. I've tried every other diet (and made up a few along the way), and the key to me is getting into that "sweet spot" of low carb where I don't have as many cravings, so I can tolerate the lower calories without being ravenous.
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Old 03-16-2013, 02:40 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the great advice, everyone!
Synger: I also do well with just simply counting calories and cutting out as many carbs as I can. MyFitnessPal has really helped me with that. It's super easy and after doing it every day for the last two weeks, it's like second nature. I eat, I log it!
I have also started taking a good multivitamin everyday. I'm also Vit D deficient, so it's important that I remember to take those every day.

I'm happy to announce that as of today, I have lost 7 lbs! I know it's going to be a slow process, but as long as I am not gaining, I'm not losing the battle! Thank you all for your tremendous support!
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Old 03-16-2013, 03:13 PM   #11
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Sounds like it is pretty similar across the board....high-protein, low-carb. I wasn't exactly low-carb, 50%carb, 20% fat and 30% protein, while counting calories. I still struggle with feeling dizzy if I go too long between meals, and I can definately tell when I'm lacking in protein, etc. I know it is so frustrating, but you can do it!
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Old 03-17-2013, 10:47 AM   #12
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Congratulations on your weight loss so far!

You have probably received so much great advice, but I thought that I would add in my 10 cents worth!

I'm pretty new to this PCOS thing and all my knowledge has come from Wikipedia. However, I have been dieting since the beginning of this year (my partner would say since November). I have found that my weight comes of slow and I feel that I have to try so much harder to lose weight than my friend. She seems to lose 1 kg per week, while I fight to lose 200 grams.
Changing the types of food is you eat is important, just as much as changing the amount of food you eat in one sitting. I also advocate exercising, preferably outside in the fresh air, because that releases endorphins that make you feel better (and it makes me feel that I'm actively losing weight).

Is there anything you remember from the 'expensive' diets that you can use now?
I understand where you're coming from because I'm currently losing weight so I can have a baby. The one difference that I have found through my many failures at losing weight in the past and my current success is my state of mind. I came into this knowing that I wouldn't reach my goal weight for at least 12 months, maybe 18 and that if I kept pushing through, everything will be all right. As long as you stick to your diet and ignore the things that make you want to quit (such as peer pressure or your negative thoughts), you will ultimately reach your goal!

Don't lose sight of your dreams because they are there within your reach!
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Old 03-18-2013, 09:54 AM   #13
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Wgaston - congrats on seven pounds gone! I hit the five pounds gone mark this morning and am feeling encouraged. Step by step!
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Old 03-18-2013, 04:21 PM   #14
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Yeah, the weight loss is slow! I'm in the same camp and my weight has me stabilized right now because I'm slowly working off the 5 lbs I gained at Christmas.

Paleo works for me, which ends up being lower-carb, and I also count calories. The issue is truly not getting discouraged in the face of slow weight loss, so I also remember that I'm doing this for my health. In your case, not only for your health, but for the possibility of having children. So even if the weight is not coming off in buckets, at least you're getting the opportunity to stabilize your blood sugar, improve your Vit D levels, and so on and so forth, all those things you need to carry a baby healthily.

Good luck! It's not going to be a cake walk, but it will happen as you find the right amount of things that you need to do.
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:52 AM   #15
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I'm finding that The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder is working for me. It's basically Gatherer-Hunter (minimal meat... which can increase circulating insulin and cortisol), tons of veggies and good carbs from roots and tubers, with some ancient grains thrown in (quinoa, amaranth, millet). I do not eat legumes, gluten, soy, or rice (rice is too modernized of a grain anymore). I stick with the Aztec grains mentioned above.

Low carb and Paleo were a disaster for me even when I cut calories very low. The meat threw my body into a hormonal whirlwind. I was never so heavy in my entire life and was gaining 2-3lbs per week of fat.

Everyone is different... and I'm starting to think there might be two types of PCOS (my own theory!):

PCOS type-I: blood sugar based, responds well to low carb

PCOS type-II: insulin based, responds well to non-insulinogenic foods (meat, dairy, legumes, and gluten are highly insulinogenic and makes things worse).
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