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Unveiling The Mystery: Staying Fit With PCOS and Insulin Resistance

Whether you've just heard of PCOS and Insulin Resistance or you're already familiar with them, I've got you covered. Today, we're diving headfirst into the world of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and insulin resistance, and exploring how to stay fit while dealing with these troublesome partners. 

It's important to know that you're not alone in this journey. Esteemed sources like the CDC, NHS, and Office on Women's Health suggest that PCOS affects anywhere between 5-12% of reproductive-age women in the US, approximately 1 in 10 women in the UK, and an estimated 5 million women in the US alone. So, buckle up, and let's dive in!

Unveiling The Mystery: Staying Fit With PCOS and Insulin Resistance

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1. Understanding PCOS and Insulin Resistance

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (aka PCOS) is this big-worded beast that's keeping numerous women, including me, on their feet, or rather, weighing scales. This hormone disorder messes around with the ovaries, leading to tiny cysts and increasing male hormones. That's not all; it also messes with your fertility and makes it extremely hard to have a child. Imagine trying (and failing) for years to have a child while watching all of your friends and family have numerous children throughout the years. It's heartbreaking, to say the least.

When it comes to fertility, it can lead to irregular periods (we're talking months in between them) or even the absence of periods, which makes it hard to pinpoint when you're ovulating (if you're even lucky enough to ovulate on your own) — that's the prime time for conceiving. Secondly, those higher levels of male hormones I mentioned above can prevent your eggs from maturing and being released like they should. This may also lead to problems with the quality of your eggs or even the lining of your womb, making it even harder to get pregnant.

Out of Order Text on Persons Belly
Source: Pexels

Now you might question, "But what's insulin resistance?" It's when your body doesn't respond properly to the insulin it makes. Usually, insulin allows your cells to take in sugar, or glucose, from your blood to use for energy. But if you're insulin resistant, this process doesn't work as smoothly. Your cells don't take up enough glucose, leaving it to build up in your blood. Though your body tries to compensate by making more insulin, it's not always enough. This cycle can eventually lead to higher blood sugar levels and possibly type 2 diabetes. Besides this, insulin resistance also plays a part in other health issues like heart disease.

Here are some books to help you learn even more:

  1. PCOS Diet for the Newly Diagnosed
  2. The Insulin Resistance Solution
  3. The Life-Changing Power of Balancing Your Blood Sugar
  4. 8 Steps to Reverse Your PCOS
  5. Prevent and Reverse Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Through Diet and Fasting
  6. A 21-Day Plan for Reclaiming Your Health and Life with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

2. A Healthy Diet

Maintaining a balanced diet is fundamental in managing PCOS and insulin resistance. The aim is to reduce insulin resistance and alleviate inflammation. Sticking to a diet low in carbs and sugar plays a crucial role in controlling insulin. Remember, it's all about variety rather than zeroing in on just one food group. Try to include wholesome fats from sources like avocados and nuts, lean proteins from chicken and fish, and sound carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables.

Low-Carb Chicken and Rice
Source Wikimedia Commons

My own doctor has advised me to restrict my daily intake to 100 grams of carbs or less. Also, minimizing sugar intake is crucial - a challenging task, but a rewarding one, especially since sugar triggers intense breakouts for me (you know the story - those hormonal flare-ups are not amusing; they're literal facial torment!)

Here are some healthy recipes to try out:

  1. Chicken Parmesan & Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
  2. Easy Low-Carb Spaghetti Bolognese
  3. Baked Pork Tenderloin
  4. Smoky Sheet Pan Salmon and Potatoes 
  5. Lighter Avocado Chicken Salad
  6. Whole30 Plant-Based Dinner Curry

3. Eat in Moderation

Diets feel like punishment, don't they? Well, they don't have to. Imagine a sweet spot called moderation. Lay off the guilt trips about eating more than just celery sticks and enjoy a diverse range of food - all in moderation, of course. Try giving intermittent fasting a shot, allow your body to feast on its fat reserves. And if you think this is easier said than done, believe me, I understand. I also used to find intermittent fasting quite daunting, but I decided to give it a shot and it completely changed my perspective. 

Intermittent Fasting 101
Source: Wikimedia Commons

I've been practicing this eating pattern for nearly 3 years now, and it has proved to be beneficial not only for managing my weight but also for alleviating my GERD symptoms. One of the things I appreciate the most is avoiding late-night meals, which used to worsen my heartburn and indigestion, disrupting my sleep. It's amazing how a simple change in my eating habits has yielded such positive results for my overall well-being.

There's also a silver lining— there are amazing apps to make this fasting journey easier for you (Zero is my personal favorite). They'll remind you when it's time to start (depending on which type of fast you're doing) and keep track of all of your progress.

Zero - Intermittent Fasting App

4. Exercise and Fitness

Get ready to shake the dust off your sneakers and get moving! Regular exercise not only improves your body's use of insulin but can also result in some satisfying weight loss. Find a form of exercise that you enjoy, whether that's running, cycling, yoga, or kickboxing. Aim for at least half an hour of sweat-inducing activity every day - it's what the fitness experts recommend. 

If you need a motivational boost, check out these five workout apps. They're about to become your new exercise companions. I'm a stationary bike kind of girl myself, but I'm also very fond of FitOn.

FitOn Fitness Website

5. Make Sustainable Changes

Managing PCOS and insulin resistance requires sustainable changes in lifestyle habits. This means that the changes you make should be ones that you can stick to in the long run (or else, things will just get bad again). Focus on making small changes gradually instead of trying to make multiple changes at once. It takes time to build new habits, so be patient with yourself.

Here's to a Fitter You!

Losing weight with PCOS and insulin resistance can seem like a challenging task. However, with the right approach, it is possible to manage these conditions and achieve a healthy weight. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and making sustainable changes are key factors in losing weight and managing PCOS and insulin resistance. Remember to be patient with yourself and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. Good luck!

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