Real life testimonial: Paleo for PCOS & infertility
This is part of an ongoing series of real life success stories from people all over the world who have been impacted by the Paleo lifestyle and The Paleo Solution. Read Danielle’s story below.
This was cross-posted from Danielle’s blog.
I’m a registered dietitian, most of you know that. Most of you also know that I have struggled with my weight for my entire life. Laugh all you want, it’s cool with me…I know my patients have over the years. Who’s going to take any diet and weight loss advice from a “professional” who can’t even keep her own scale in check, right? Right. It goes without saying that business was bad for a while and I was not surprised.
What was surprising was that I was following the same diet prescription that I would give to my clients. Low-fat. Whole grains. High fiber. Small portions. High-carb. Lean protein. Sugar substitutes. Diet soda. Moderate exercise. Blah, blah, blah…you know the drill. On paper, I was the perfect patient. On the scale, I was clinically obese. I didn’t understand it.
If you want to read about my epic weight loss journey, click here. If not, here’s the abbreviated version: I tore my ACL, had surgery, went through rehab, started salsa dancing, became obsessed with salsa dancing, started smoking, drank too much coffee, stopped eating, lost 458973875454 pounds, stopped smoking, took myself off of birth control, met a boy, started eating, drank too much coffee, gained 45638473 pounds and stopped menstruating. Phew.
Okay, “phew” probably didn’t cover up that bombshell I dropped at the end of my recap. Yes, I said I stopped menstruating (that means I stopped getting my period, boys) and no, you’re not going to catch me on an upcoming episode of I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant. I had never had this problem before. Then again, I had never been off birth control before either (it regulates a chick’s periods), so I just assumed I was knocked up (even though two pregnancy tests told me otherwise) and made an appointment with my OB/GYN. I gave him the run down of everything that had been going on with my little baby body over the last couple of months and he decided to give me an ultrasound. This is the conversation we had while he was checking out my lady bits…and the reason why he is no longer my OB/GYN.
Him: “Okay, we’re going to take a look at your uterus now. Are you ready?”
Me: ::indiscernible grunting noise::
Him: “Like we thought, no baby. Ah. But you see that right there? That stuff that looks like popcorn. Yeah, that’s your ovary. See that other patch of popcorn over there? That’s your other ovary. You only have PCOS, no biggie.”
Me: “AREYOUFUCKINGSERIOUSIONLYHAVEPCOSNOBIGGIEYOURENOTEVENGOINGTOBREAKDOWNTHEACRONYMFORMEEVENTHOUGHIKNOWWHATTHEFUCKITMEANS?” ::coughs up $20 copay…angrily::
Well, there you have it, people. Although he was a total jerk about doing so, in about 3 minutes and with only 54 words, this doctor gave the answer to every question I had ever asked concerning my blubbery body…PCOS: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. I’m not going to write another 239875209 words about how not cool PCOS is because Wikipedia did it for us already. You just need these terms to follow where I’m going with this post:
- Menstrual Disorders.
- Metabolic Syndrome.
- Central Obesity.
- Insulin Resistance.
Fun, right? Yeah, especially that last one! Ugh. Well, at least I had my answers and it all started to make sense! The weight gain. The inability to lose weight. The acne. The other stuff. It was all me and it had been me my entire life! I just want to throw in right here that my Love Cub was ridiculously supportive during this whole process. I was a hot mess when I came home from the doctor and told him that I was 239857309857325% sure I wasn’t going to be able to bear him babies. His reaction: “We’ll figure it out, babe.” See why I’m marrying him?
Anyway, I mentioned earlier that I was already familiar with PCOS when Dr. Jerky McJerkerson diagnosed me. Let me clarify my level of understanding of the disease by saying that I had read about it in a nutrition journal 239875 years earlier; that’s about all I knew. From that article, I remembered that women affected by it were unusually hairy and were shaped like football players (my mind holds onto the strangest information). I needed a little more than that to work with, so I started doing my own research.
I learned that a BIG issue for women with PCOS was disordered metabolism of glucose and insulin. Without getting into too much detail, I’ll just say that my “popcorn” ovaries totally wack out the way that my body responds to sugar and its dietary sources (bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc.). Great, all the good stuff. All the yummy, delicious, fantastic beige stuff! All the low-fat, whole-grain, high-fiber, small portioned, high-carb stuff I had been stuffing my face with for 2353254987539857320574354 years and had been promoting to all my clients. Nice.
Needless to say, I was a little bummed. My $80,000 college education seemed a total waste of time and money considering that living by it’s main tenants was kinda killing both me and my hopes for a family. I kept digging around on the Internet and eventually found that there was a large group of women who were reporting success in controlling or even reversing the disease by adopting a Paleo Lifestyle. A lifestyle that significantly reduces dietary glucose intake and insulin production. Hmmm…
Wonderful, yet another thing I needed to research. I didn’t have to dig too deep to get information about Paleo though. This was Summer 2010 and a good girlfriend of mine was talking a ton about some guy named Robb Wolf and a book he was getting ready to release called The Paleo Solution. She also turned me on to Everyday Paleo, a website managed by wonder mom, Sarah Fragoso. I started playing around with some of the recipes I found on Sarah’s website and was surprised that I really liked them! I was surprised because the recipes are all completely devoid of beige.
No beige. No bread. No pasta. No rice. No WAY! I’m Cuban and Italian…I was raised on beige! I wasn’t completely sold on cutting the carbs until Robb’s book came out in September 2010. Fireworks. That’s the best way I can explain the action of the neurons in my little baby brain after reading The Paleo Solution.
The argument is this: We evolved to eat meat, not grains. When humans popped around 235423857203 years ago, we hunted and gathered our food and we were F-I-N-E, fine! No cancer. No food allergies. No high blood pressure. No obesity. No PCOS. No nothing! It wasn’t until the advent of agriculture and eventual processing of foods that the human race began to develop debilitating diseases.
I was sold even though eating Paleo went against everything I was taught in school. High-fat. High-cholesterol. High-calorie. Red meat. The American Dietetic Association’s nightmare. Oh well.
I’m not going to sit here and try to explain how much I learned from this one book because I will surely make a mess of the details. I’m no biochemist, Robb is. All I’ll say is that the way the government has suggested we eat for the past 50 years is ALL WRONG! Just buy the damn book and see for yourself. It’s the best $24.95 you’ll EVER spend on yourself, I promise! While you’re at it, pick up Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes or anything by Michael Pollan. Okay, enough with the plugs…back to me.
It’s a little more complicated than just eating meat, veggies, fruit, nuts and seeds. First of all, it’s a commitment. Wil and I sat down and had a very long talk about our (specifically, my) health. If I was going to do this-to take this challenge and change my lifestyle-I needed his full support. No questions about my plate, no complaints about our dinners and definitely no sneaking beige goodies behind my back.
Second of all, it’s expensive. It’s a sad truth that it’s cheaper to eat unhealthy processed “food” than it is to eat real food. We needed to agree to devote more of our income to purchasing products that would promote our health. Products that were, themselves, healthy. You are what you eat…and what what you eat, eats.
I decided to make a sacrifice for me and my family. I decided to take the plunge and quit the beige cold turkey! I decided that spending money on my family’s health was more important than buying a new pair of shoes every month. I’ve been eating Paleo for over seven months now and honestly, I don’t view it as that much of a sacrifice anymore.
One. I lost 29875402398547 pounds without even trying!
Two. I don’t have violent drops in my blood sugar after every meal like I had in the past.
Three. My periods come every 28-days to the minute!
Four. I feel FANTASTIC!
Five. I can eat as much as I want!
Six. Do I really need to continue?
No, I don’t think so. I honestly didn’t think that it was possible to eat this way AND change my health condition AND convince Wil to eat brussels sprouts. Paleo is a miracle, believe dat! I’m experimenting with new foods and recipes every day and sharing everything I’ve learned about Paleo with my family, friends and clients. I will never go back to my old eating habits. True story: a co-worker of mine asked me if I was going to “stop dieting” after the wedding. My response, “This isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle.” Unbelievable.
A special thanks to Robb Wolf and Sarah Fragoso for making this transition a little less scary and a little more palatable. I’m happy and healthy. Wil’s happy and healthy. Our future family (that I’m 239857309857325% sure will be on it’s way next year) will be happy and healthy, too.
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