Amy Medling: Strategies For Healing PCOS #50
7 May 2020
Amy Medling (@pcosdiva), best-selling author of Healing PCOS and certified health coach, specializes in working with women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), who are frustrated and have lost all hope when the only solution their doctors offer is to lose weight, take a pill, and live with their symptoms. In response, Amy founded PCOS Diva and developed a proven protocol of supplements, diet, and lifestyle programs that offer women tools to help gain control of their PCOS and regain their fertility, femininity, health, and happiness.
In episode 50 of podcast I speak with Amy Medling about her book-'Healing PCOS', and the different strategies involved in healing PCOS. Amy shares her inspiring PCOS journey and discusses the power and the importance of working on mindset when looking to heal PCOS.
- Amy's PCOS journey/story and how PCOS Diva come about [00:05:21]
- How Amy discovered she had PCOS and finally got the diagnosis from Doctors [00:11:37]
- The importance of mindset when looking to heal PCOS. Shifting away from the ‘fighting’ mindset and victim mindset [00:22:11]
- Diet for PCOS-importance of balancing blood sugar levels and lowering inflammation. Sustainability is key as PCOS is a lifelong condition [00:38:47]
- Amy's Top PCOS Supplements [00:52:25]
- The Best Exercise for PCOS [00:59:47]
- Amy piece of advice-One thing she wish she knew when she was just diagnosed [01:07:23]
I enjoyed speaking with Amy, she provides great tips and strategies on how to heal PCOS naturally. I really hope you enjoy the episodes as much as I did.
You can find the transcript of this episode below.
Podcast Episode Sponsors
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Your health should never take a backseat!
Amy Medling: Strategies for PCOS Healing
Despina Hello and welcome to the PCOS Oracle podcast Amy, it's an honor to have you on. I've been following your work for many years now and the amount of awareness you have raised and the number of women with PCOS you have inspired and empowered is incredible.
So I want to take a minute to just to say thank you for that you have done and continue to do.
So like I said, I'm super excited to speak to you and delve into our interview today. And I'm sure our listeners will learn a lot from what you have to say and what you're going to share.
Now, I'm pretty sure our listeners know who you already already, but for those who don't, can you please share your PCOS journey, your story and how PCOS Diva came about?
Amy Well, thank you for such a nice intro. So I'm Amy Medling, I'm the founder of PCOS Diva and PCOS Diva is a website. It started as a blog back in 2009 when I was really looking to connect and find some community online because at the time I had been diagnosed with PCOS a few years back. It wasn't until I was 31 that I was diagnosed after years of not really knowing what was wrong with me.
I think that like many women, we find that we're faced with PCOS symptoms in puberty from hair loss to hair growth to anxiety and irregular cycles, acne. You name it, I had it as it is a teen and young adult.
And when I finally got the diagnosis when I was 31, I was trying to get pregnant again with my second son. I was able to get pregnant with just a round of Clomid with my first child. But with the second one, I suffered quite a bit of secondary infertility, which I think is quite common for a lot of women with PCOS.
And after I finally did get pregnant with my son. Doctors wanted me to go back on metformin and the birth control pill and I tried to for a little while, but those prescriptions made me feel worse than ever. It was very hard for me to come back on the pill and metformin.
So at that time, I was about 32. I had a three year old and a baby. And I remember feeling way too young to feel so old and I hear that from a lot of women and sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. And I knew that I could not live the rest of my life feeling this way.
Unfortunately, that was the only therapy that doctors could offer me at the time. So I spent a lot of time reading books, medical textbooks, because at the time there weren't really that many PCOS resources out there.
So my husband started encouraging me to sort of share what I was learning along the way as a creative outlet. I was a stay at home mom with these two little boys.
But as I was implementing new habits into my life, I started feeling better. I was more vibrant. I didn't have the brain fog and the acne started to disappear. And it was really lifestyle modifications that was making the most difference.
So in 2009, I started blogging when I didn't really know what a blog was. And here we are 10 years later and I still love, love what I do, sharing the knowledge that I've gained to help other women manage their PCOS symptoms and be able to thrive with PCOS, because I think that that's truly a possibility.
Despina I totally agree and I think everyone can, all of our listeners and I, relate your PCOS story and your journey.
I feel like all of us experience those symptoms and we go to the doctor and the standard advice, which is you know, lose weight, cut carbs, go on the birth control pill or metformin or another kind of medication and it's just always the same. And I'm sure, you know, back then when you were diagnosed, there was, like you said, very little, if any, PCOS resources compared to now, which people like really lucky to have a lot more.
There's blogs and more doctors who are now looking at alternative kind of side of not just, you know, medication and pills, but, you know, looking at diet, how can we get to the root cause, which I'm sure we will be discussing a little bit later on, but go to the root cause and using supplements and all this alternative kind of stuff.
So, yes, it's it's great that you documented from 2009, like all the way up to like 2020 to have all this knowledge just becoming even more and greater. It is incredible.
I like the fact that when you said PCOS women should be able to thrive because obviously those symptoms like fatigue and all that stuff, you feel like the lack of confidence and self esteem, it is just no way to live. And you just feel like when you've been diagnosed, you feel like there's no way out. You just feel like this is this is it. This is what my life's going to be like and it's it can be really depressing and sad.
But to have resources like this and like now new information, more awareness around PCOS and people saying it's possible, you know, you get that, you know, positivity and you just get more excited that, you know, there is a way out. I'm not a victim of PCOS and my condition, I can thrive and live the way I want to and the way I deserve to. So it's great. It's amazing.
So how did you discover you had PCOS? Who did you go to, what kind of doctor? This is like a question I always get asked, like, who do I actually go to? Because there is an endocrinologist, a gynecologist, a General Practitioner, all these doctors and, how did you get to your root cause? What kind of test did you do to discover that root cause, so you can make those changes?
How Do You Know If You Have PCOS?
Amy Well, first of all, I just want to say you're absolutely right. There's so much hope for women with PCOS and if you're listening and you can really relate and the idea of being sick and tired of being sick and tired resonates. There is so much hope, so know, that.
But I I think it's really important for women to track their cycles. And, you know, whether you're using some type of app or you're using a fertility tracker like one of my favorites, is the Ovusense fertility monitor.
But at the time, tracking, this was back when like I was in my late 20s, early 30s, I was using the Crighton model of family planning. And this is back before iPhone, you know, I'm I'm dating myself I'm going to be 49 this year. So this is quite a long time ago. But we actually tracked using just a paper chart and these little stickers with babies on them with different colors. And depending on, you know, what your cervical mucus looked like that day, you put a certain color baby on the chart. And that was a real powerful tool for me to realize that my cycles were just not quite right. And I understood that I wasn't ovulating based on doing that charting, where before I really had no clue what was going on.
But I was able to take that data to the nurse practitioner that was teaching the method and she actually looked at my chart and she also could tell I wasn't having any like mucus that was ovulatory at all and she said, has anybody ever told you that you may have PCOS?
Well, I had read about PCOS and I kind of put it in the back of my my mind. This is before I knew that I had PCOS because I was still trying to research and figure out what was going on and so I was familiar with the term. And she said, you know, I think that you need to go to a reproductive endocrinologist to get checked and to have that vaginal ultrasound.
So she really led me to the reproductive endocrinologist who then tested my androgen hormones. She did the vaginal ultrasound that showed that string of pearls on my ovaries. And I also had anovulatory cycles because I was trying to get pregnant and that wasn't happening.
And combined with that and, you know, my charting, I met all three of the criteria of the Rotterdam criteria. So I finally got that diagnosis at 31. But it was really the charting and tracking my cycles that led me to getting that diagnosis. That's what I attributed to.
Tracking your cycle now I guess with a whole new technology, everyone's like finding it a lot easier.
Amy Yes, it's a lot easier.
Despina So what what was your root cause?
Was it insulin resistance related or was it high cortisol, like adrenal?
Getting To The Root Cause of Your PCOS
Amy That's that's a good question.
You know, back then I know that I had some pretty bad insulin resistance because I ended up working with a naturopath doctor and she had me tracking my blood sugar with a glucometer because I was just tanking out after lunch.
And so we tracked my blood sugar and it showed that although, you know, my labs were all normal when I was eating something really high carbohydrate like pizza, I would have the pizza and my blood sugar would would go up, but it wouldn't go up that much. But then afterwards, it would just crash and we'd get very, about 30 points lower, which would cause me to feel very tired and crave sugar again to kind of continue that cycle.
So I do think that there was some insulin sensitivity, I mean, sorry, insulin resistance there. And as I went on and changed my diet by insulin sensitivity increased. And now I don't really have any issue with insulin resistance.
So you can definitely heal that. That's another message. Just because you're experiencing that insulin resistance now doesn't mean that it's always going to be that way.
But after doing research over the years and reading books by like Dr. Fiona McCullouch, I don't know if you're familiar with her book, Eight Steps to Reverse Your PCOS. I learned about androgen androgen driven adrenal kind of type of PCOS.
I really think that is something that I deal with. You know, if I went off my diet, I would definitely gain weight. But I don't you know, I think I'm more of that thin PCOS type. And so that androgen sort of adrenal excess PCOS is often goes with thin PCOS I've found.
I also love Dr. Lara Briden's book. She wrote the book Period Repair Manual, and she talks about different types of PCOS. And I often wonder if like in terms of what trigger maybe triggered my PCOS as a teen, you know, whether it was inflammation because I ate a lot of gluten and dairy. I didn't eat a lot of vegetables back then and I think I had a lot of inflammation.
So it's hard to say, but I can kind of resonate with of all three of those causes, I guess, root causes of PCOS.
Despina I like you know, when you mentioned how your labs were normal, but when you would eat certain foods, which is a good indicator, you know, when you eat eat a meal, it's always good to pay attention to how your body reacts to that food and how you feel mentally.
So that's always a good kind of thing to do to see how if you do suffer from insulin resistance is to like see, how your body reacts after eating food.
I think having a glucometer is to just get more precise to know for sure. It's good to have one of those, but then obviously go to the doctor to get, you know, a fasting glucose test or the necessary stuff.
If you've got a list of insulin resistance symptoms and you're experiencing these kind of things and you would have to go get formal tests to get the diagnosis. But I think that's a good indicator.
And yes that's interesting. It's always good now that we're always delving in deeper to find out what our actual root cause is and the trigger, because obviously now research is showing us that PCOS is genetic.
So, and obviously our environment and maybe, you know, the stresses or the foods we are eating can be a stress on the body kind of trigger the gene to switch on and the symptoms to exacerbate.
So, it's interesting now that the research is becoming that people are know delving more into this stuff and we're just discovering it's really interesting and motivating for us to know that we can actually turn off the PCOS gene and live a symptom free life. So that's really interesting.
Amy Well, I definitely think there is a genetic component. My mother has PCOS, my sister does. And I venture to say that both my maternal and paternal grandmothers both did. They both had fertility issues. They, you know, both had thin hair and facial hair and had issues with insulin resistance.
And I have a daughter and she's eleven right now. So far, so good. But we talk a lot about the importance of eating healthy foods and making sure that she gets exercise and good sleep, because as you said, those are all things that can kind of turn off the triggers. And the epigenetics of PCOS.
Despina Exactly. Exactly.
And also, like you mentioned, how you think you have more of that lean PCOS, thin PCOS. So obviously there's that myth going around where you have to be overweight or obese to have PCOS when in reality, you know, a percentage of women are actually lean and not overweight and they suffer from insulin resistant or adrenal PCOS as well.
So it's important for women to know that because that's a reason why women with PCOS go undiagnosed, because doctors have that stereotypical image that a woman with PCOS has to be overweight.
So it's like a disservice to, you know, lean PCOS women who go there looking for, you know, that support and to you know, find out what's causing their symptoms. And they kind of get brushed away because like you don't meet this, you know, symptom that's not even it's just it's like we don't all share the same symptoms. So, you know, it's quite frustrating for the PCOS community, not to have that stereotypical image.
Hopefully, as time goes by, we wont have those beliefs and that stereotypical image.
But yeah, so I have your healing PCOS book here. It's a great, great book, I really enjoyed it.
Amy Thank you.
Despina I really like how in your book you talk about mindset as being the first step in anyone's journey and in the twenty one day plan. Can you explain? I agree that mindset is like huge and it should be the first step.
But can you explain to our listeners why mindset is so important and why you talk about it first, as the first step to anyone's kind of journey?
Making The Shift In Mindset
Amy Well, I know that when I was in my really low place that I described, I was in sort of a why me pity party state. You know, why did this have to happen to me?
I know at the time a lot of the women in my neighbourhood were getting pregnant and I think that's the hardest thing when you're having fertility issues to see friends and family members sharing their exciting news and you're excited about it, but you're just it's so hard not to feel like a victim. And I was definitely in that place of feeling like a victim.
And when you're a victim, it's extremely paralyzing. You know, you blame everyone and everything on your situation and it leaves you with the inability to really do anything and I had to shift out of that victim mindset to a more empowered mindset. And realizing that I did have control over my situation. And it really for me, my healing journey began with making that shift that I no longer have to have PCOS, that this idea of I have PCOS, but PCOS doesn't have me was a real powerful shift.
So moving out of that victim mentality to one of an empowering diva was just a huge step. And in the book it's really the first chapter, think like a diva, because I truly believe unless you start thinking like that you can take control of, that it's not your fault that you have PCOS, that you really can't move forward to make those positive choices that you have to make for yourself in terms of making sure that you're getting like lots of nutrient rich food, making sure that you're moving your body, that you're getting enough sleep, that you're taking your supplements or medication and doing it from a place of really respecting yourself and loving yourself is so important.
Unless you start thinking like you can take control of and that it's not your fault that you have PCOS, then you really can't move forward to make those positive choices that you have to make for yourself.
I know for a lot of us, we're still stuck in this paradigm of kind of punishing ourselves with exercise. You know, this whole idea of I just I had a donut for breakfast so now I need to go on to a three mile run to, you know, X out that the damage that that did and that's not and I certainly had that approach to my life.
But it wasn't until I shifted out of that victim self-punishment, self-hate to self-love and feeling empowered that I started making strides in my health.
Despina That's interesting and I can relate to that because I feel like I would, I had disordered eating and an eating disorder and I used to punish myself all the time. If I would eat something, I would go to the gym and try to burn it off or I just feel so guilty for eating something that wasn't quote unquote healthy or just, you know, when you're out with your friends and you have something that, you know isn't healthy and you just kind of punish yourself and stuff like that where you're always on that road, you're never really going to, you need to be able to develop a healthy relationship with food so you can enjoy your life. And so things don't feel like it's like boring and stressful.
Life should be easy and enjoyable and having hat kind of mindset and relationship with food just makes stuff so not fun and really depressing. And just life is not really not so good.
I remember when I was going through my eating disorder, I went through it for five years and I was just every day was just so bad. I didn't want to get up because you just think about food all the time. It's weird because you're like you don't want to eat or you can do is think about food. It's just like so it's just so frustrating.
Amy I totally understand that because that was the relationship I had, too. And I found that it wasn't until I truly allowed myself to experience pleasure and really enjoy it that, you know, you can have something truly pleasurable that you enjoy and be mindful in the moment and allowing yourself to do that. It sort of takes the power away from your food. As soon as you allow it into your life and then you just don't crave it as much anymore, I found.
The other thing that I wanted to say to about mindset is for a lot of women with PCOS, they feel like PCOS has robbed them of their femininity and I think that there's a lot of messages out there of PCOS like fight PCOS, conquer PCOS.
These ideas that are really ripe with masculine energy. Right. Fighting, conquering, battling.
So I had to realize that I wanted to partner, like with my body. I didn't want to fight the PCOS. I needed to realize that PCOS was a message my body was sort of sending to me that there were things that were out of balance in my life. And at the time when I was really struggling, there were, you know, my my emotional health, my physical health, my spiritual health. All of that was sort of out of balance and PCOS was just a wakeup call. And it wasn't really anything to fight against. It was something to work with in order to bring things back into balance and to sort of embrace my feminine side. And that's when the healing came in.
So if you're listening and you're kind of framing your whole PCOS experience in that masculine way, try switching it and and think of of it as a wake up call that you need to bring your life into more balance.
Despina Yeah, I love that. I totally agree with that because I see that a lot, like fighting PCOS. I just feel like you said, the symptom we are experiencing with PCOS are like a wake up call.
They are messages sent by your, you know, your body crying for help is like sending these messages. These signs and symptoms are like an indication that it needs some support, some nourishment and care, instead of fighting it because when we think of fighting, you know, over exercising and restricting all this stuff is just adding even more stress and causing even more havoc. When what you need to do is like take a step back and really start feeding and fueling and respecting and taking care of it. And then that's when you start to notice, you know, your hormones balance and the symptoms reversing.
So I totally agree and I'm glad that you brought that up, because I think it's really important aspect of like mindset as well and something that needs to be done as soon as you're diagnosed. I think that part is so important, moving away from the fighting mindset and not feeling like that victim either.
So I wanted to ask so how can someone like, in your book, you have like good phrases of how to change your mindset, speak to yourself in a positive way.
So what is something that someone could do right now to make start making that change to their mindset like what's one tip you can give?
Amy Well, I think what's really powerful is mirror affirmations, I don't know if you've ever tried that before.
But really standing in front of the mirror and just looking at yourself and giving yourself some some phrase of acceptance, whether you find something to love about yourself and whether it's, you know, you've got beautiful eyes or, you know, a lovely complexion or, you know, you you've got a pretty, pretty dark hair or you're just. You have a loving glow about you. I mean, you have to find something that you love about yourself and and say it out loud to yourself in the mirror, because I think we're so good at beating ourselves up. Right.
We are great at looking at ourselves in the mirror and seeing the bumps and the lumps and all of the undesirable things that we think that we're not enough. But if we can start feeding into our psyche that there is some part of us that is enough and then let that propel you forward. But doing that in the mirror, there's something very powerful about that. And I guess that's where I would start.
Despina Amazing like that.
I definitely agree that having those affirmations is important and I feel like when you say that, everyone is like, but that's just so hard, I don't know anything I can see on my body or about myself that I like. And I think when people say that it's really sad. And I feel like that's so important to, like, start doing. Even if you just find one thing just to say, every day, every morning and every night before you go to bed, you say that, or even just having a journal and just journaling, and being grateful for what you have.
I think that starts to uplift you a bit more because when I was being so negative, when I was diagnosed, I was just like, this is gonna be my life forever. I should just give up my period is not coming in and all this kind of stuff, I'm not confident all this stuff. I just feel like when I started saying positive things, you just feel so much better than I when you say that positive phrase or just it it enlightens you, makes you feel it, you know, it makes you feel more positive. I feel like once you just say that one thing, that positive thing, everything else, just kind of like changes and you just feel so much better. The power of just say positive things incredible.
Amy Yeah and I think you brought up a good point. Like if if you can't think of anything, then you need to ask of a trusted friend, you know, ask them to tell you what is beautiful about you inside and know and then, you know, maybe start with where from there.
And I also think you brought up a good point about gratitude. Gratitude is such a huge game changer when we focus on not enough and what we don't have or we can focus on what we have and there is a quote out there that you don't know who to attribute it to, but what it's basically whether you focus on the what you don't have or focus on what you have, that's going to expand.
So the more you focus on gratitude and the good in your life, the more that that the good in your life is going to expand. So you're absolutely right. Gratitude is a huge game changer.
Despina Definitely very important.
And I feel like when you're just when you're always thinking negatively, it clouds your ability to think of solutions, which is so important when you're trying to overcome, you know, and find, you know, find solutions, what you need to do to make changes in your life for like what you have that positivity you can think of solution, see more clearly and, you know, stay on course and be more motivated and excited about every day and every improvement you make.
So definitely having that power of like just mindset it's so important.
So, yeah, I'm glad we touched on that and I am glad it is the first chapter in your book I feel like it is really important.
And then obviously there is kind of another big thing, like a foundation as well with diet. So can you talk to us about, you know, the importance of diet for PCOS? You know, obviously, we discussed briefly in the intro, we were talking about how with insulin resistance, how you know, experiencing these symptoms after eating a meal you feel a bit fatigued than, you know, drained of energy and stuff like that?
So can you explain the importance of finding a way of eating that suits you? And if there was anything that you followed when you were just diagnosed and if that changed to what you you're doing currently and just share some tips?
What Your PCOS Diet Look Like
Amy Well, I think you said something that's really key, finding the diet that suits you, because at the end of the day, it has to be something that's really sustainable because as you mentioned, you know, we have PCOS for a lifetime and we can manage it really successfully over a lifetime.
Find a diet that suits you, because at the end of the day, it has to be something that's really sustainable because we have PCOS for a lifetime and we can manage it really successfully over a lifetime.
But that's going to require you eating well and eating well is going to look different for each of us. And I think for me, I remember early on thinking that I needed to be on like an Atkins type diet or a South Beach diet.
So I was eating a lot of low carb things, but a lot of these low carb things were filled with artificial sweeteners. I mean, I was eating like sugar free Jell-O and sugar free chocolates, but they were, you know, filled with these sugar alcohols and and artificial sweeteners. And I was really more focused on the low carb rather than the nutrient rich.
And over time, I realized that what my body really needed was lot of a lot of nutrient rich anti-inflammatory foods to feel good. And for me, as my insulin resistance improved, I found that I could eat a wider variety of foods, meaning I could eat more grains.
I'm still fairly gluten free and dairy free because for me, I think those things do cause inflammation in my body, but I can have more carbohydrates now. So, you know, things like rice or sweet potatoes or potatoes or quinoa or even gluten free bread or, you know, that kind of thing.
But for some women, that's when they're really struggling and really have a lot of insulin resistance to many of those carbohydrates still are too much even if they are gluten free.
But I think for all women with PCOS, we need to have lots of vegetables and lots of greens, lots of nutrient rich seeds and and nuts and high quality fat like avocado and grass-fed butter. And, you know, even though butter is dairy, it's primarily a fat. So I still do use grass-fed butter. And making sure that you have clean sources of protein is important I think.
I will honestly say that I've have not met a lot of women with PCOS who have successfully managed on a vegan diet or vegetarian over the long haul. I do think that for hormonal balance that most women with PCOS are going to need some animal protein. So that's still probably my recommendation. But things like eggs, like cage free eggs, cold water fish like well here where I live, it's things like cod and haddock, but it all depends on where you live. But organic chicken and grass fed beef and like heritage pork. You know, I think that's important to make sure that it's is that you're limiting your toxic load in terms of animal protein.
And I talk about my in my book using I called the Diva dinner plate and making sure I was basically your balance plate approach, but using your plate.
So half your plate is filled with leafy green vegetables or kind of like a water based like crassest cruciferous vegetable and then a quarter of your plate would be your protein. A quarter of your plate would be your gluten free grain or your root vegetable and then on top of that would be like a generous dollop of fat.
You know, I think the half a plate of veggies is non negotiable. But then you can kind of figure out for yourself, like what percentage of protein vs. those grains or root vegetables and how much fat you need.
But for me, that way of eating has really been has sustained me over that these 10 years. And I do have I call them mindful indulgences. I know as we are recording, there is a holiday coming up and I've already planned for my dessert for that holiday. I'm making a key lime pie, a dairy free key lime pie for my family. And I'm looking forward to that. And I will have a piece of it and really enjoy it and not feel guilty about it. You know, I think it's fine to have an indulgence, maybe a glass of wine with dinner, but I'm going to truly enjoy it and not beat myself up about it.
I think it's a woman with PCOS her plan has to allow these pleasurable indulgences as well.
Despina Totally agree, I feel like it's important to have that balance where you allow yourself to eat those enjoyable foods.
And I want to ask this question because I feel like it's quite common in the community and just in general, I feel like I want to kind of get your opinion and see what you would say to the listeners.
The idea of, you know, cheat days or having a cheat meal. What's your kind of stance? Do you just believe that there should be that balanced you can just eat every day or here and there what you want rather than like a whole day where you just go all out and just have everything that's processed and kind of 'bad'.
Amy Yeah, I see what you're saying.
I think that I like my mindset, I've really have reframed myself to realize that, you know, I love my body enough that I don't want to put the junk in it like the real junky junk.
You know, I won't go to McDonald's or, you know, fast food because I just don't want to put that in my body. But if I've you know, I actually one of my favorite things is like chocolate covered almonds. I have I have a few of those every day or a piece of chocolate every day. Something that I really brings me pleasure. I enjoy it. It feels like a little indulgence every day. And it satisfies me so that I don't feel like I need to go reach for a kind of a junky candy bar or whatever.
So I think because of my relationship with my body and now the way that I view food as a form of nourishing and healing my body like I wouldn't I just having a cheat day like that just doesn't hold the same appeal, but it may have once held. And plus, I just don't like the way I feel after that. And, you know, I think nothing tastes is good, is feeling good, feels truly.
I don't want to be sucked out on the couch again. And, you know, a low sugar food coma because I've eaten half a pizza. I mean, I just don't want to do it. But I do like that being said, you know, I think it's fine to plan for something really delicious that you enjoy as long as it makes you feel OK, I guess, afterwards.
Despina Definitely, I agree.
It's good to have, like you have your chocolate covered almonds, like we just got kind of like some chocolate, some kind of treat. I feel like it's good to have that every day and not feel like, you know, when you tell your brain like you can't have this than you and craving even more.
So now allowing yourself to have it whenever you want and it's not like off limits, it's not like a bad food, then your brain ends up saying, look, I can have it if I want to, I can have it today, I can have it for breakfast, I can have it tomorrow. Like, it's not like this amazing thing that, oh, my gosh, I can't. You know, it's not it's not allowed, it's off limits.
So I think that's important for women to just keep that in mind, that you are not to have what you want. You know, it's not like things are off limits. And it's like like you said, if you eat something that doesn't really sit well with you and you feel fatigued after, like eating something really processed like McDonalds and after you eat that you just feel like, why did I even eat this? You just was fall into a coma of like all this sugar rush and that fat. It's pretty bad.
But I'm glad you touched on the vegetarian and vegan diet, how everyone kind of tries these different diets when they have just been diagnosed and I feel like it's very common for women to go through the low carb and the Keto and all this kind of stuff. And all this stuff works in the short term and eventually doesn't really do anything. And then your reintroducing carbs and focusing more on the nourishment. You know, and eating to fuel your body and provide it with nutrients, which is important. I feel like everyone kind of goes for that process.
I think following an anti-inflammatory diet is very important as the majority of women suffer from some kind of chronic inflammation. So making sure you're eating omega 3's and cruciferous vegetables is very important to help lower inflammation, to help with symptoms.
Is there anything else you want to touch on with regards to the diet? And I know, there's a lot of recipes in your book as well, which are really cool and interesting and I know I want to give them a go. But is there anything else you might want to touch on. Bit of advice or a final tip?
Amy Well, I do think that you bring up a good point about these different diets, and some of them really work well in the short term.
You know, I think for a lot of women with PCOS, they have a lot of success on a Keto type diet. But I think over and that's fine, maybe for a month or two to, you know, lose some weight if they're if they're struggling with fertility. But I think over the course of the long term, it's very hard to stick to those diets that are so restrictive. You need to find something that works with life because you can only sustain something that like that for so long.
The other thing that I was going to say, too, is I think it's helpful for women to experiment with, I am going to say the word intermittent fasting. You know, I'm not talking about, you know, not eating all day or four days. And I'm just talking about eating within a certain window of time.
And for most women with PCOS, I think you can work towards, you know, eating within a 12 hour window and fasting for 12 hours. So that would look like, you know, at 7 o'clock at night, the kitchen's close and you don't eat. You know, you can certainly have herbal teas or, you know, water, but then not eating again until 7:00.
Now, that act of being able to kind of detoxify and digest overnight, your body's sleeping and it can work to do all those things that it needs to do while you're sleeping rather than digesting food that you eat at midnight before you went to bed.
I think that has been very helpful in my journey. You can do as your insulin sensitivity increases, you can extend that a little bit to a point where maybe you're doing like eating within an eight hour window. But you only do that if you feel like your blood sugar is really stable. But you could start at 12 hours and slowly work your way up to like a 16 hour, maybe just a couple days a week.
But I think that that can make a huge difference for a lot of women in terms of their their insulin resistance and just how they feel.
Despina Yeah, definitely.
I think intermittent fasting, while making sure that your blood sugar level is like healthy and not like all over the place, it can potentially help some women with PCOS, so it's a good point.
I think we've touched on some good points.
Moving on to like another kind of big part of diet and nutrition is supplements. I know you touch on supplements in your book. What would be, I don't know, the top PCOS supplements. I know this is like very personalized and unique to the individual. But I guess in general, what would the fundamental or key ones be?
Amy's Top PCOS Supplements
Amy Well, you know, first off, I'm not a big advocate of starting off taking a gazillion supplements because like diet, there isn't a one size fits all approach. And I think what happens is a lot of women go on to the Internet in different PCOS groups and they see different women having luck with different supplements. So they end up taking like a whole lot of stuff that they may not even really need. And it's really expensive to maintain.
So I really think that women with PCOS should start off with taking a good multivitamin that has methylated B12 in it. A lot of women are on metformin and B12 gets depleted when you're on metformin and B12 also, if you have low B-12 and you're you mimic a lot of PCOS symptoms like fatigue given fertility.
So making sure that you get also a supplement that a multi-vitamin that has folate instead of folic acid. And you know, it's just a good all around multi and of course a prenatal if you're trying to conceive pregnant or nursing.
And then I think that most women with PCOS benefit from supplementing with a fish oil, high quality fish oil with EPA and DHEA, we don't really convert plant based omega 3s very well. So a fish oil helps on so many different levels, helps with insulin resistance, it helps with androgens, with cholesterol, it helps with mood.
Then making sure your vitamin D is optimized. Most women with PCOS tend to have vitamin D issues, so asking your doctor to test your D. And then you're going to need to supplement accordingly to get that into an optimal range and you can work with your doctor on that. I like a vitamin D supplement that has vitamins K1 and K2, I think it helps with absorption.
So those are really the three that I think every woman with PCOS should be on consistently from there.
You kind of want to look at what symptoms that you're dealing with and you can kind of add things on when you want it, when you add supplements to that regimen, I think you should just kind of do them one at a time and see how they make you feel.
A lot of women are taking inositol's and that can help on lots of different levels. But the supplement that was sort of first to market, that was a combination of inositol are Myo and D-Chiro is Ovasitol. I don't know if you've heard about a lot of women are on that, but for some women, it doesn't work for them. You know, it causes G.I. issues or it's really disregulated cycle. So, you know, that's something that you don't want to add with a bunch of other supplements because then you don't really know what's causing the problems and what's not.
And from there, some other supplements that you know can be helpful are things like N-Acetyl Cysteine, especially if you're dealing with fatty liver issues. Resveratrol. There's been some good studies with resveratrol. Magnesium women with PCOS tend to be low in magnesium. Melatonin. And there's there's just so many different supplements out there that that you could try. But I think it's good to just sort of get those three vitamin D, a good multi- with with Folate, and B12 and fish oil.
Despina Definitely agree with all those supplements.
Definitely magnesium is one of the important ones, as when we're going through stress, you know, we get depleted of magnesium. So it is important to supplement that back whether it's through a supplement or through food.
But like you were saying, it is important to always use food. Change your diet, try and get as much nutrients from food before you kind of use supplements, because obviously you can't out supplemented a bad diet.
Amy And I I was just going to say that and I think a lot of women do approach it that way. Like, what can I take? What's the magic pill?
But because like for instance, magnesium, raw cocoa powder is a great source of magnesium, you can put that in your morning smoothie and that might be enough for you.
So I feel like this is really important to test your levels before you go into the store and just filling your basket with every kind of supplement someone says to be beneficial because those some supplements you mentioned like Omega 3 and vitamin B12, you know, those are really important. And I feel like after that kind of stage, you have to get more personalized because like you say with Ovasitol and Inositol, it might not be for you. It might not be helping your specific hormonal imbalance, so you always get tested first.
Because I also feel like it's important to know what your dosage is also for like you might want to take in too much or not enough. So then kind of like it's not doing anything. So that's important.
And another thing with getting all these supplements and not really knowing and not testing is, you could have gut problems because that is like another big thing with women, with women, with PCOS, like they don't have enough, there may be an imbalance of gut bacteria. So you might not be absorbing all those nutrients you have been putting it in and all those 50 pounds worth of supplements, 100 pounds of supplements, has just gone to waste.
So it's always important to know before jumping and buying every supplement under the sun. It is important to check every check which supplements you need, which nutrients you might be deficient in. If there's any gut problems and then really do your research and find a high quality supplement that is not filled with fillers and stuff like, because it's a of waste of your money.
So finding high quality ones and like you mentioned with vitamin D, finding one with a vitamin K to make sure it increases absorption is really important at all. Yeah, I definitely agree with the supplements you said. And then like we said going more deeper with a doctor, find out more personalized supplements is important.
Awesome. So like we can move on to another kind of key component which would be exercise. I am a personal trainer, so I feel like I want to get your kind of stance on this in your opinion and maybe like what you what you did and what you currently do.
So is is there a best exercise for PCOS and how can a woman with PCOS find out the best exercise for her PCOS?
Best Exercise For PCOS?
Amy Well, honestly, I think the best exercise is the one that you enjoy and that you'll do that you do and you like to do it and it's sustainable because it's important to move our bodies.
But what I enjoy might not be what you enjoy and if you're not going to do it, then it's just not going to work. Right.
I know that when I was younger and struggling with my health, I was exercising from that place of self-punishment. So I used to just run myself literally by myself ragged.
I didn't derive much pleasure out of it, I just did it because I was you know, I'm kind of a type-A perfectionist. And, you know, I just I ran to the point where I had shin splints and had to start walking.
And what really surprised me is that when I switched to walking, the weight started coming off. I think that I had really stressed out my adrenals. And I think that that's I don't know if you noticed this with women with PCOS, but a lot of us have adrenal issues and if we really push ourselves with exercise, then we end up exhausted and we end up doing more damage than good.
So I find for a lot of women, it's been my experience that walking and mind body exercises like yoga, I like barre. I joined a studio four years ago called Pure Barre. And and I love I love that it really works for me.
I think lifting weights can be really beneficial. I think women with PCOS, you know, we have that extra testosterone we can build muscle and muscle helps with our blood sugar control. So, you know, working out with weights, it can be very helpful too.
But I have found that women who do a lot of single exertion exercise like, you know, long distance running, you know, signing up for a half marathon or something like that, and then training, doing sort of the single exertion running it sort of wreaks havoc on your hormones. So the high intensity intervals like exercising with intervals is a more beneficial exercise, I think, for women with PCOS to kind of help their hormones.
So I don't know, are you seeing the same thing with women that you're working with?
Despina Yeah, I agree that if if your feeling fatigued after exercising, then, you know, that's just kind of a sign that something needs to change. You shouldn't be like feel like you have to take a nap after workout. You should be feeling more energized, all the endorphins flowing. You should have to be more pumped to go continue to continue your day and be more positive.
So, yeah, I've noticed as when I feel like it's important to find an exercise that is personalized and suited to your current situation, your hormone imbalance. So if it's something more like adrenal PCOS, then go for more like low intensity and like weightlifting as well is good.
But I feel like with insulin resistance there is research to show that, you know, high intensity interval training can be good to help activate insulin to get the sugar into the muscles.
So I feel like it really depends. It's about honoring your own hormonal imbalance. So this is where you really have to get to the root cause and get those tests done before you start changing your diet and change your exercise, you really need to know, what's the problem so you can customize your whole lifestyle towards it.
And I think, like we said, it's important to find something you enjoy, so you can do consistently. Because at the end of the day consistency is key. Results come when you're doing something regularly. So if you don't enjoy the exercise you are doing, if you are just doing what your friends are doing. Or if you're doing that new trend or know where it was new and you hate it, then you cannot expect to get results because you'll you know, you don't like it so you're going to get stressed because you don't like it and this cortisol increases.
So finding what you enjoy is the most important and then you're just doing it.
I feel like women should not be afraid of lifting weights because, you know, we do have more testosterone so that can help with muscle. But research shows that every 10% increase muscle mass results in an 11% relative reduction in insulin resistance, so that's good sign. So no one should be afraid of lifting weights. And women scared of like becoming bulky and looking like men not really going to happen. You might notice, you know, build some muscle, but it's nothing that's gonna be like, oh, my gosh, you know. So women shouldn't be afraid of that.
And yeah, I feel like the final thing I want to say is find something you will enjoy and not feel like it's a punishment, not exercising as a as a way to punish your body for what you eat or that fighting mindset that we spoke about before. I feel like that's the most important thing in my opinion.
Amy And I also think you need to know, like your personality, do you like to go into a studio or a gym and workout in with other people? I definitely I'm very competitive and being in a class with other people definitely keeps me going and keeps me honest.
I really do not like working out at home by myself. But I know other people that I am friends with they love like the peloton bike where, you know, you do your at home workout. And, you know, they love being at home and they hate the gym. So I think that's another thing to consider as well is no where you're doing the exercise. And do you like to be in community or do you like to be by yourself?
Despina Yeah, that's actually quite true.
Yeah, because I feel like when I went and started yoga for the first time, it was like last year, I was super nervous. I was like, oh, my people that are watching me. I want to be really bad because I'm used to just going to the gym and being on my own, lifting weights and just going in and getting out. I'm not really like a talk to people and be around people.
Yeah, I feel like it's quite good to have a group of people and being part of that kind of community, going to the studio and just seeing people and people motivate you and you try to be better because you're not like in competition with someone else.
Amy Right. It's not more about yourself, but you don't want to let your friends down because you just didn't do the last set of reps.
Despina Yes, exactly. So I feel like that's a good point, I feel. Yeah. Keep that in mind that's quite good.
So what would be what's one thing you wish you knew when you were just diagnosed? If you can go back, what was that one thing that you know now that you wish you knew then?
There Is Hope
Amy Oh, gosh. You know, I mentioned that about having hope.
I know that when I was shortly after I was diagnosed, I remember going to the doctor and I was 17 and the doctor said to me, I will have to jump through hoops one day to get you pregnant. And I know that caused me for many, many years a lot of anxiety. Gosh as I'm talking about I could feel myself getting emotional about it.
And now, you know, I have three healthy kids and if I had known then not to stress and worry about it so much, and I could tell you over the years I've talked to women who have been told the same thing and they really shut down the possibilities of having children that didn't become a reality for them.
So I think that's what my message would be, is if you had been told that you won't have children because of PCOS, do not take that as your truth, because most women, you know, although we might need some extra help, if PCOS is the reason doctors are telling you you're not going to have children. That's probably not true. You know, there is a lot of hope for you. So I think that that's what I wish I had known.
Despina That's great and I feel like woman can relate to that.
When I was diagnosed, he said my doctor said it's a birth control pill and then when you're ready to have kids, like we can talk about what you need, what you need to do. I feel like let's just I feel like it's not a good answer the doctor should be given you. And I feel like it kind of like makes you feel like a victim again. Right. You have to constantly be waiting in. I feel like it's something that needs to be changed.
I think having the hope is very important. As soon as you just been diagnosed you don't feel like a victim. Don't feel like, you know, all the symptoms are reversible.
Infertility, yes, OK. Well, PCOS is of the leading causes of infertility. But like you said, it's possible. So many success stories out there. So I feel like women have to stay hopeful, stay positive. And yeah, feel like that is a great like final thing to wrap up. Yeah.
So how can our listeners connect with you? Where can they find you on social media? Where can find they find your book? Let our listeners know.
Amy Well, thank you so much for having me on your podcast. It's been a lot of fun chatting.
So I'm at pcosdiva.com and I have lots of resources on my website, I have a supplement guide, a lab's guide, a smoothie guide, and you can find those all there.
I'm also very active on Facebook. I have a Facebook group called the PCOS Diva private community that you can join if you are craving community with like minded women that don't feel, you know, that want to shift from being victims.
And then I'm also on Instagram and Pinterest. I have a pretty lots of Pinterest boards with recipes and different ideas for you as well.
And then my book, Healing PCOS is available on Kindle, Audible, it's a hardcover, softcover and you can get that where books are sold.
Despina Awesome, I highly recommend checking Amy out, pcosdiva.com and purchasing Healing PCOS, definitely a great book I highly recommend. It's just got everything in here.
So everyone that would like to see you on that's watching on through video, definitely check that out. Purchase it.
Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to come on the podcast, share your knowledge, raise more awareness and just yeah, thank you so much and I appreciate that you have taken the time out of your day. It's been an honor speaking to you, so thank you so much.
Amy It's really been a joy, so thank you.
Hey there! I am Despina Pavlou, founder of PCOS Oracle and online coach. I want to share with you the diet and lifestyle changes I made to naturally reverse my PCOS and achieve hormonal balance. I believe using my holistic approach you too can take back control from PCOS.
In episode 53 of the podcast, I speak with Isabel Dawkes about how nutritional therapy can help PCOS. Isabel delves into how to use diet and lifestyle to balance your hormones and naturally reverse your PCOS symptoms
Robyn Srigley (The Hormone Diva), a Holistic Nutritionist and Women’s Health and Nutrition Coach, talks all about PCOS hirsutism. She delves into what hirsutism is, what causes it and how to treat it. So, if you suffer from PCOS hirsutism and are looking for ways to improve this symptom, this episode is for you.
Yoga is one of the best exercises you can do for PCOS and restore hormonal balance. Exercise does not always have to be an intense workout in the gym. As a matter of fact, yoga and meditation has powerful healing effects for PCOS. In this episode of the podcast, Lara Higginson, a qualified yoga teacher, discusses the types of yoga and the health benefits for PCOS.