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Paleo & PCOS TMI…

Okay, Lovelies. A little bit of revealing info today, so, if you are embarrassed by bodily functions, stop reading now….

…for those of you left, here we go.

Many people ask me, “Why Paleo?”

The easy answer is, “For many reasons.” However, in order to truly understand my reasoning, you need to understand my experience–I’ll attempt brevity.

Once upon a time, a decade ago, in September of 2002, I thought I was pregnant. At-home tests confirmed it, a blood-test confirmed it, initial OBGYN visit and uterine palpation confirmed it. Less scientific, but equally convincing, were my bouts of nausea and exhaustion, hormonal acne, and ridiculously sore and swollen breasts. (I was in a wedding while all this was happening, and I was terrified that they would swell right out of my bridesmaid’s dress). According to the popular pregnancy books, I’d done everything right: I scheduled appointments with my doctors, abstained from all the right foods and beverages, got adequate sleep at night, and lowered my stress levels.

All was going well until we went for what was to be our 12 week ultrasound and discovered that I was, in fact, not pregnant. Instead of seeing a 12-week-old fetus on the ultrasound screen, we saw my cyst-covered ovaries. I’d experienced a chemical pregnancy. A cruel trick of nature triggered by a bigger problem that threatened to prevent our future parenthood altogether: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

So, with discouraging words from my doctor, I began to research ways to avoid fertility treatments and still get pregnant.

Low-carbohydrate diets seemed to be the trick.

With full commitment, I jumped on the Atkins’ bandwagon, and I was more than happy to put back on the weight I’d lost to get pregnant while carrying our daughter to term. Taking the weight off after she arrived was not as easy as I’d hoped, so I turned to another low-carb diet a friend at work was using successfully.

While on the birth control pill to regulate my periods, and when our daughter was just eight months old, I lost twenty-five pounds on South Beach and discovered that I was (surprise!) pregnant with our son–the best unexpected news we’d ever heard!

Over the next few years, my weight fluctuated depending on how I ate. I met with various doctors and left them after they’d just prescribe me medication to control my PCOS symptoms. No one would listen to my desire to deal with the causes of my syndrome, but one doctor suggested trying a whole-foods vegan diet. It sounded easy enough, and, a high vegetable intake sounded great, so I embraced it for a year. I ate tons of vegetables, fruits, and grains, and I got really, really, really, fat and sick. I returned to the doctor’s office to be seen by a new doctor. Bloodwork revealed lots of scary things (amongst them, hypothyroidism, triglycerides over 700, and a fasting blood sugar of 105), and this new doctor recommended low-carb living to get me back under control. So, again, I took researching into my own hands. I knew that I responded well to a low-carbohydrate diet, but I wanted to find one that excluded dairy and focused on the quality of the food rather that the grams of carbohydrates each bite contained.

Paleo entered my life on August 1, 2012. With the help of a high-school acquaintance whom I now call friend, I began the journey at my sister’s home in TN, in preparation of bringing this lifestyle home to my husband. I wanted to have all the kinks and questions worked out so that when I arrived back home on August 10th, I’d be a Paleo guru for my family.

Well, guru status will be forever pending; however, my family has embraced this lifestyle, and all its benefits surround us. So just what are those benefits and “Why Paleo?” for this Cave Family?

  1. Metabolism–Our kiddos burn through fuel like crazy. They are (like most kids) incredibly active, but their intensive karate training schedule (4 days per week, a total of 5 hour-long classes) requires that they eat well to perform well and recover well and still have energy for kid-stuff. Cave Hubby (a hands-on electrical foreman) works ridiculous hours. He leaves for work by 5 AM each day and returns home around 5 PM, though in up-coming weeks it looks like his return will not be till 7 PM, and his work week will be six days instead of five. His work is both physically and mentally demanding. Obviously, he needs to fuel for performance as well. Since starting his Paleo journey with me, he has dropped about ten pounds (thanks, revved metabolism!) and has been eating MORE, yes, MORE. The key here, though, is that he’s been eating high-quality food. And, for me, though my work as an adjunct professor isn’t physically demanding, I place a lot of training stress on my body. Let me tell you, low-protein recovery is not fun! I’ve seen dramatic changes in my performance in under a month of Paleo-eating. And, yes, Lovelies, I suspect that in the next day or so I will be able to say that I’ve officially dropped twenty pounds!
  2. Hormonal Balance–After nearly five months without menstruating, I experienced a cycle this month–three weeks after starting Paleo. I did not need to have my female parts tricked with drugs into cycling! They did it all on their own thanks to the balancing act that’s going-on inside my body by eating whole, organic, grass-fed, pastured foods. Also, the cystic acne that so frequently ravages my jawline (another gem of PCOS) has all but disappeared. There are some healing scars, but no new damage–even during my period! My once-thinning hair is growing back, thicker and fuller and healthier, and I am back to a regular sleep/wake cycle.
  3. Wellness–I can’t ever remember feeling so centered and grounded. Emotionally, physically, spiritually. It is as if the fog I was wandering around in for so long has lifted and revealed a landscape I’d never realized existed. Most importantly, though, is that by our good examples and natural eating habits, my daughter might not have to experience PCOS first-hand. My son can prevent becoming a Type II diabetic. I refuse to treat the symptoms of PCOS with a lifetime of prescription drugs–I now prevent the symptoms altogether! We can stave-off heart disease and not claim genetic victimhood. We are active participants in the quality of our lives, and, Lovelies, life is good!

Wishing you all a great week ahead!




9 responses »

  1. I agree; the paleo lifestyle approach has no real negative aspects to it:)

    • I do have one caveat: I think people need to follow the lifestyle responsibly. We cannot claim we follow it if we support the atrocities of factory farming. We cannot claim Paleo if we support chemical-laden agriculture. We must do the work and support the local economies that provide the grass-fed, pastured foods in a sustainable fashion. We need our organic backyard gardens and our local farmers’ markets. After all, our health is important, but so is the health of the planet we’re borrowing from our children & grandchildren. We must ensure that they will have access to the same kinds of quality foods in the decades to come.

  2. Thank you for being so amazingly honest! Half way through my whole30 and feeling great. I love the posts I’ve read on your blog and although I haven’t experienced the problems you’ve faced it’s so inspiring to hear that I’m doing something so amazing for my own body x

  3. It amazes me that your body has responded so quickly to a Paleo lifestyle! You are inspiring and a true testament to how simple real wellness is. The answers lie in what we feed our bodies. Thank you for your honesty!

  4. Thank you for writing this post! I have PCOS (I have known about it since age of 16) but now that we are trying to get pregnant – and I am off birth control – it is very frustrating. I am working on improving what I eat, I have also been successful with South Beach in the past, but need something more sustainable for the long haul. I have been researching natural solutions to my symptoms, glad to know this worked for you! Even if it doesn’t help with all the symptoms, its still better for you! Thanks again for your encouraging post!


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