Tag Archives: Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome

PCOS & #PSPfit

Today at 4pm EST, I’ll be doing a live #curvyconvo chat on about PCOS on twitter and facebook. PCOS stands for Polyciystic Ovarian Syndrome and a LOT of Plus Size Princesses have it, whether they know it or not.

I have PCOS and I think its important to discuss it from time to time because there is often a connection between the syndrome and weight. My initial post on PCOS can be found here and a small debate about PCOS and weight can be found here, you can also click on the PCOS tag on the blog to see everything we’ve discussed so far.

The conversation will continue this afternoon at 4pm, hopefully you’ll log on and share/ask questions.

Now onto our Plus Size Princess Fitness Challenge! You guys are inspiring me by hitting the ground running this week, here are a few of the girls who are rocking this challenge by eating well, working out 4 times a week and logging their efforts on twitter/instagram:



We are off to a great start! #PSPfit

Weight Loss & Aunt Flow

Last month, I was tweeting about how my period always catches me by surprise. I’ll find myself on the verge of tears for no reason or super frustrated with a friend and then in a moment of clarity, I’ll check my period tracker on my iPhone and see that Aunt Flow is due t arrive any moment… then my craziness all makes sense!

Unfortunately, my emotions aren’t the only thing that shifts drastically once a month…

I stepped on the scale yesterday morning and BOOM I had gained three pounds… literally over night! I racked my brain for any hidden calories in my meals over the past few days and I had been pretty good in my eating. I had been working out too, so there was no reason for me to be up three pounds.

A few hours later while I was at work, “Aunt Flow” arrived with my monthly gift.

Of course!!!

Every month along with emotional instability, my menstrual cycle brings weight gain… and lots of it. Sometimes its two pounds, sometimes as much as nine! But for someone who is watching her weight like a hawk, seeing those numbers and feeling bloated can be really upsetting.

The first few times time it happened, I let it get me down. I didn’t work out as often and I indulged in everything that I had a craving for. It took two weeks for my weight to come back down even though my cycle only lasts for one.

After that, I started to changed my game plan when Aunt Flow was in town. Now on the first day of my period, I pop some asprin for cramps and I allow myself to eat Nutella out of the jar with a spoon (don’t judge me!). Then after that, I rock my “Period Plan” to make sure that I’m doing the right thing for my weight loss every day even though I know the scale wont move.

I work out, I eat right and I drink lots and lots of water. Usually when I do this, by the time my cycles over I’ve lost the menstrual weigh and a little more.

I know everyone’s cycle is different and some girls don’t have the energy to carry on a normal work-out routine, I feel like I don’t have a choice. With my PCOS, I’m lucky that I’m even having monthly periods so I do my best to keep my weight down. Plus, I always feel much better when I’m active instead of sitting around in sweats and a tank top!

Does anyone else have a  “Period Plan”?

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome & Weight Loss

Hello Cece,

I have been reading your blog for about 6 months and very much enjoy your writing and perspective … but I am always bothered when you bring up the topic of PCOS for a number of reasons.  Mostly because I have severe PCOS.  I am on metformin (insulin support), spironolactone (testosterone inhibitor), and birth control.  One of my ovaries was completely destroyed by scar tissue before I was even diagnosed.  If my condition gets any worse, my endocrinologist has suggested that I go on a special-mix hormone injection on a bi-weekly basis as I’m pretty much maxed out on the pills.  So please do not think that this email is coming from a lack of understanding.  Trust me.  I understand.

But PCOS does not make you over-weight.  In fact, being over-weight can actually TRIGGER the symptoms of PCOS, i.e. many people’s symptoms lessen or completely disappear if they lose weight.  Now I am not going to claim that losing weight isn’t more difficult when you have PCOS – most doctors now (finally) agree that it is.  However, it is not impossible – and I think that it’s important that the public voices of the PCOS community are quite clear on that point.  Many of your readers could be one of the lucky ones that can get real symptom relief upon losing weight.

Before I realized I had PCOS, I was a sugar addict (which obviously is the key driver for gaining weight with PCOS).  Upon diagnosis, I was 175 pounds, i.e. over the healthy BMI zone – I’m 5’6 btw.  I then started taking my medication, working out, closely monitoring my calorie intake, and working with my endocrinologist to set up a PCOS-friendly diet (i.e. no sugar, no white starch).  I lost 40 pounds and am now back into a healthy range on the BMI scale though by no means rail thin.  So I STILL have severe PCOS … but I’m no longer overweight.

I am not writing this to judge those women who want to lose weight and have a hard time doing so.  I understand what it feels like to not be happy with your body and have to struggle twice as hard as others for every pound lost.  But a message of hopelessness to PCOS women is not a responsible one and I encourage you to confirm my email with a doctor and adjust the messaging on your blog (and monitor commenters accordingly, who are sometimes misinformed on PCOS to an extreme level).  You owe it to your very loyal readers to share the truth about their situation.

I don’t mind if you post this letter, though I’m guessing that you won’t.

Take care,

Hey Jess,

I’m surprised that you think I wouldn’t post your letter, I think you make an interesting point.

Every persons weight/weight loss story is different and every PCOS story is different. I love that you’re bringing up another side of PCOS. I also appreciate that you’re willing to share your personal story.

My understanding of the connection between PCOS & Weigh Gain is that one can trigger the other, but there are mixed opinions about which does what. Its like the old adage “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” but that’s just scratching the surface of what triggers PCOS. I’ve met people with PCOS who are super skinny, so there’s not a 100% proven cause. But at the end of the day I am not a doctor, so I’m not qualified to debate PCOS. I can only talk about my history and experiences.

When I share my stories on TBGB, I never have the desire to send a “message of hopelessness” as you say. I’m kind of sad that you’ve interpreted my writing that way because I live my life just the opposite. The spirit of this blog is that being over weight is not the end of the world. For me, having PCOS is not the end of the world either.

Every Wednesday I talk about my weight loss and work outs… and when I gain weight I never blame PCOS. Weight loss with PCOS is possible, sometimes it just takes a little more dedication… its all about choices.

Hopefully your letter will shine some light on another experience and influence different thoughts, but I don’t plan on monitoring my readers comments. I like when people to speak their minds (as you did in your letter) and I also think its important for my fellow PSP’s to feel comfortable on TheBigGirlBlog… this is a safe space.

Anyway, congrats on your weight loss 40 pounds is a huge accomplishment!



I Spy: Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome

I saw a Plus Size Princess on the 3 train yesterday. She carried her weight in her stomach/midsection, her skin was a little shiny and I could see the bumps under her chin where she’d shaved away her facial hair. I would be willing to bet money that she had Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. Sadly, I couldn’t be so sure that she knew that she had it.

I have PCOS, and while knowing about it doesn’t solve my all of my problems, it does help me understand my body. I think those of you who have been diagnosed will agree that knowing what this issue is changes everything. With PCOS in the picture you dont feel like a total freak because you’re a girl who has to constantly shave random parts of her body. You start to learn what you can/can’t eat and why you have to work extra hard to lose weight.

The unfortunate thing is that many women live with PCOS for years before a doctor bothers to tell them what’s going on. These women are without the expert knowledge of information that comes from doctors being educated. (Even the most basic health science degree program, could prevent women from never being diagnosed with what hurts them).

I can remember being 17 (I was diagnosed in high school) and listening to my 28 year old cousin complain about having to get her face waxed. I took a deep breath and asked her a few personal questions: Do you have irregular periods? Do you feel like your skin is oil/acne prone? She answered “yes” to both. The irregular periods, facial hair and the fact that she was plus size made me pretty confident that she had PCOS. I told her what it was and suggested that she talk to her doctor about it. A week later she called me to say that her doctor confirmed what I said.

I’ve heard stories of women who find out they have PCOS because of fertility issues or women who have to see three or more doctors before someone can explain why that never have their period and cant lose weight. Of course, once PCOS is identified there’s so much that can be done, (the cousin who I diagnosed struggled with infertility, but she gave birth to her first child last year after getting herself to a healthy weight.)

The problem is that women can’t get healthy if they dont know what’s going on in their bodies. Education and knowledge is so important, which is why I wish I could stop every girl I see with traits of PCOS and make sure they know what they might be dealing with. Its just frustrating that as someone living with PCOS, I can spot it a mile away, but so many doctors can’t do the same.

Have any of you had to educate someone about PCOS?

40 Days No Bread Week One: PCOS

Its been one week since Ash Wednesday. One week into the Lenten Season. One week since I’ve had any bread.

Giving up bread for Lent is something I’ve wanted to do before, but I was pretty sure that I would fail miserably. I’ve tried the jump start portion of the South Beach diet (where you don’t eat carbs for two weeks) and fell off the wagon in four days.

For years I didn’t know why I needed carbs so much. Then when I was in high school I mentioned to my doctor that I only had my period every three months. That, combined with my weight and some other issues (that I’m not quite ready to discuss here) made her run some tests. A few days later she diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.


Yeah, I know. Most of the people who know about this are the ones who have it. And if you do have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) you know its a random condition that can cause a myriad of issues from acne to infertility… oh yeah it also causes weight gain and makes it very difficult to lose weight.

My relationship with bread (and carbs in general) runs deep. Its quite literally in my blood to crave carbs. Another symptom of PCOS is insulin resistance, which means your body is toying with the idea of being diabetic.

“Insulin allows glucose to travel from the bloodstream into the cells. When we eat foods high in refined carbohydrates, insulin levels surge to remove the sugar from the blood and get it into your cells. This mechanism works very well for the most part. But if insulin spikes too often from a diet rich in the high-carb foods that trigger insulin secretion, your cells respond by decreasing the reactivity and number of insulin receptors on their surfaces. Eventually, this prevents glucose from getting into your cells, leading to high blood sugar and depriving your cells of the energy they need to function. This is why many women with insulin resistance experience carbohydrate cravings, fatigue and weight-gain — their cells are literally starving for energy, even when plenty of glucose is available in the blood. Down the road, your body’s capacity to generate insulin appropriately becomes depleted, and the result is type 2 diabetes.”Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP

So, here we are seven days without bread and if I didn’t understand the brevity of my sacrifice when I started, I am beginning to. All the salads, grilled chicken and omelette’s in the world will not satisfy me 100%. There have already been two birthday celebrations in my office with all the chocolate and red velvet cake a girl could ask for. But I’ve wiped the drool from my chin and remained strong!

This had nothing to do with weight loss, I really wanted to give up something for Lent that would encourage me to pray and depend on God more. (Um, yeah… I’ve definitely whipsered some lunchtime LORD, help me’s this week.) There have been some other interesting side effects that I’ll get into in another post, but for now I’m just trying to eat small meals and healthy snacks so that I don’t get super hungry and do something crazy like eat a muffin in one gulp. I think this would be hard for anyone, but the PCOS just adds another element for me.

P.S. Have any of YOU been diagnosed with PCOS?

The Craziest Diet I’ve Ever Tried (Part One)

It was a rainy Spring day as I sat in Dr. L’s office. Dr. L was an endocrinologist at the largest Upper East Side medical facility in New York.

After she went over my results, she glanced down at my feet. “Cute boots,” she said.

“Thanks,” I murmured.

They were bright orange rubber rain boots with cute little white flowers. A drag queen had given them to me the year before. Usually I would jump right into the random “only in New York” story behind the shoes, but I couldn’t. I was too busy trying to maintain composure despite the lump in my throat. This was a new doctor, but these weren’t new results….

She had run so many tests, drawn so much blood, and there was still no explanation. I am 100% healthy, no diabetes, no high blood pressure, no nothing. Everything about my body is perfect… except that I am overweight.

She went into the age old suggestions: Exercise… Portion Control… Fruits and Veggies…”

I sat there nodding mechanically. Tears began stinging my eyes. I felt an eruption of emotion and I’m not sure if I was speaking to myself or her but I heard myself saying “I do those things, and… it’s not working!”

I couldn’t make eye contact, I found myself fixated on my boots. Last week Dr. L saw me wearing nothing but a blue paper jacket, but in the statement I just made, I felt truly naked.

Dr. L took a pause and looked at me, her eyes softening. She sat down on the edge of her desk, “Well,” she began “we need to explore other options.”

Then Dr. L mentioned something that had never crossed my mind, “weight loss surgery”.

My mind began to race… Wasn’t weight loss surgery for people on the Discovery channel who were confined to their beds for years at a time?? I was a young, fashionable, active girl who still took dance classes weekly (and rocked it), I easily trot up the stairs when exiting the subway and I walk just as briskly as the next New Yorker… do I really need surgery to reach my goals?

“Absolutely not.” I replied, “No.”

Dr. L smiled “Good, that’s what I wanted to hear. I really think you can do this, now– we have a program that I think may work for you. Its been very successful…”

She wouldn’t tell me much about the program, just that it would drastically change my eating habits and calorie intake. She signed me up for an informational meeting the next week.

Though it was still raining, I left her office in a sunny mood. I tucked my jeans into my rain boots and walked through Central Park on my way home. Might as well get a head start on (yet another) weight loss journey.