Your health is your wealth. When you look good, you’ll naturally feel even better. Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) affects the looks and overall health of countless women. The common symptoms of women with PCOS include weight gain, acne, depression/moodiness and hirsutism.
There are other symptoms that can flare up, but all of these issues can run a number on a woman’s self-esteem and appearance. Additionally, there’s no cure for PCOS. Most times, doctors prescribe medicines like Metformin to manage the insulin resistance issue. Many women deal with this and feel alone and hopeless.
Thankfully, there is a way to manage the symptoms and experience the appearance and body of your dreams. The solution revolves around lifestyle changes. The changes can be summed up in this seven-step weight loss plan.
Seven fundamental steps required to successfully lose weight with PCOS.
1. Stress Levels
Stress plays a major role in whether or not you lose weight PCOS. Your hormones are running the program and in a lot of cases, your cortisol hormone can be high. One of the most effective ways to lose weight with PCOS involves decreasing stress. When many women who struggle with PCOS hear this, it may sound so ethereal and elusive. However, there are things any woman can actively do to decrease her stress level.
Start with intentional acts of self-care. Self-care could involve spending a few minutes each day meditating or doing yoga. It could involve taking deep breaths and a walk around the neighborhood. A massage or a nice pedicure are both therapeutic ways to release stress from the body.
Take a look at the core reasons why you’re stressed out. Find ways to eliminate things that are causing you to feel stressed. If it’s not something you can avoid, find ways to cope with it. Consider counseling or another outlet that allows you to talk through your problems. Sometimes, it’s something as simple as scheduling a mini-getaway for yourself on a consistent basis. There are times when a change of scenery will do so much for your mental health.
2. Sleep Quality
As a woman with PCOS, the quality of your sleep is incredibly important. In her book, Woman Code: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive and Become a Power Source, Alisa Vitti shares the results of a study where subjects who received an average of five hours and fifteen minutes of sleep every night lost less than the subjects who managed to sleep an average of seven hours and twenty-five minutes. Sleep is key to the plan of weight loss.
Researchers strongly suggest getting sleep before 11 pm. The sleep you receive before the 11 pm time frame is guaranteed to be more restorative and satisfying. When you sleep, you give your body the opportunity to recharge and rebuild itself. Your hormones desperately need this time. Treat yourself kindly and get quality sleep.
In addition to the time you go to sleep, you’ll want to pay attention to the overall quality. Don’t bring your phone to bed with you. The blue light keeps your mind alert and makes it harder to fall asleep. Get into the habit of winding down an hour before bed and dimming the lights. Keep the bedroom cool so that your body can naturally cozy up under the covers and drift off to sleep. ( Read more on how to create a perfect sleep environment )
A solid weight loss plan involves exercise. However, a woman with PCOS doesn’t need to be quite as reliant on it. As a woman, it’s best to go with how you feel. This doesn’t mean that you’re not active. However, there’s a different flow to your exercise. Do not go to the gym every day and pump out an hour of high-intensity cardio. You’ll tax your adrenal glands and end up in the same space. Many women try this and wind up gaining weight. Then, the stress levels go back up and it’s all a vicious cycle.
For the most effective physical activity, do your best to indulge in exercises that you enjoy. If that involves a dance class, a yoga class or walking outdoors, do it. If you enjoy a high-intense class, that’s fine. However, don’t overexert yourself. Try to remain active every day with simple exercises that are kind to your body.
Weight lifting exercises are excellent for a woman’s body as she ages. If you’re new to weight training, don’t shy away from it. Weight lifting is one of the most effective ways to burn fat and tone the body. Plus, when you lift weights, your body continues to burn calories long after the workout is over. Find a trainer who can help you develop a weight-lifting regimen that works well for your body.
4. Organic Diet
Even though there is no real cure for PCOS, the symptoms can definitely be managed well through a proper diet. As a woman with PCOS, you might feel like you’re missing out on all the fun junk foods. However, as long as you reset your body and include healthier options, you can enjoy delicious foods that are kind to your body.
Move away from packaged juices that are filled with artificial sugars and color. Water is the best beverage to give your body. If you’d like something sweet to drink, make smoothies. Choose fruits and vegetables that have a low glycemic index. Berries, green leafy vegetables, cherries, oranges and plums are awesome additions to your diet.
Instead of using milk, try non-dairy options like almond milk and coconut milk. You’ll want to stay away from dairy as much as possible. Lean meats are good, but make sure they’re organic. Get into the habit of reading labels to make sure your meats are free of hormones.
Processed foods and non-organic foods often have loads of hormones, sodium and sugar. These are all considered endocrine disruptors. Your endocrine system is the home to your hormone regulation process.
5. Maintain a Cheat Meal
When you think about all the foods that don’t fit into a low glycemic index diet, it’s easy to become discouraged and doomed to failure. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. The best way to have the best of both worlds involves having a cheat meal. Think of all the foods you really don’t want to give up.
Make a list with the pizza, creamy pasta dishes with sides of garlic bread and all the other decadent dishes your heart desires. Give yourself a pass for one meal once a week. Don’t confuse a cheat meal with a cheat day. If you know you’ll want to indulge with friends at Sunday dinner, save your cheat meal for that day. At the surface, it might seem like cheat meals will be counterproductive to your weight loss regimen. However, they’ll actually incentivize you to keep going.
In most cases, all you really need is a taste of something you love before you really feel satisfied. Don’t be surprised if your cheat meals eventually lose their appeal to you. As you continue with your healthy diet, your palette will change. The foods that were once enticing won’t feel as good going down. The feeling you receive from eating healthy will eventually become more attractive than the cheat meals. If that feeling never comes, that’s okay. However, don’t be surprised if it does.
6. Use a Calorie Counter.
It’s really easy to underestimate the calories you consume in one day. Even though the average American diet involves 2,000 calories a day, you’ll probably need to do less than that. This rings especially true when you’re looking to lose weight. Your recommended caloric intake mainly depends on your height and weight. You can approach this caloric recommendation in a few ways.
Visiting a nutritionist might be helpful. They can give you a good understanding of the proper foods to eat and what your diet should look like. Since vegetables are usually low in calories, you’ll want to use them to fuel your body along with other sources of protein. A nutritionist will help you get a better understanding of your metabolism and what foods you’ll want to eat at certain times of the day.
It’s also very wise to use a calorie counter. Some people discourage calorie counting because it’s tedious and some people think it’s ineffective. However, if you don’t look at the labels and understand how much food you eat a day, you’ll never have a good understanding of what it takes to really lose the weight. You don’t need to count calories for the rest of your life. You should focus on learning the calories of the foods you eat and a good picture of what your daily caloric intake looks like.
Download an app and track the foods you eat for a few weeks or months. Once you get into the habit and understand how much you’re eating, you won’t need to track it as closely. It’s also good to track your foods so that you can understand which foods make you feel great, sluggish or energetic.
7. Stay Away From Sugar-filled Drinks.
Women with PCOS normally struggle with insulin resistance which makes it harder to lose weight the normal way. So, in order to combat this, keep a watchful eye on the sugar. Yes, this means that it’s best to watch the amount of natural sugar as well. While fruit is healthy, it’s still considered sugar.
Stay away from bananas and pineapples as these options are high on the glycemic index. It’s also best to watch the homemade juices made with fruits, vegetables and your trusty juicer. The juices still contain a high level of sugar.
If you’d like to satisfy a sweet tooth with a sweet drink, blend organic berries and mix them with vegetables like kale or spinach. Add a bit of non-dairy milk and you’ve got a delicious green smoothie. This might feel challenging at first, so take it slow and gradually ease yourself off of sugar.
Overall, losing weight with PCOS isn’t impossible. It is a challenge, but with dedication and intentional choices, you can be as skinny and svelte as you’d like to be. Do your best to read and take notes on what other women with PCOS have done to win the battle over their weight.
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