So I took a break this Summer from my very focused approach to my weight loss/weight management and stopped posting daily over on my Instagram page every meal I ate. I needed a little time out, as it's been 3 years this week, that I walked through those Slimming World doors and embarked on my 'healthy, happy me' journey. I lost 4st 8lbs in 40 weeks with Slimming World back in 2014/15, added to the bit I'd lost on my own, equalled 6 stone and give a pound or two and the odd blip, I've kept the weight off but it has been really hard.
I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) nearly 20 years ago, initially when trying to conceive our first child but have realised over the years, the role PCOS plays with my weight and am only now realising fully, that I really have to keep to a very strict diet, if I'm to stand any chance at keeping the weight off long term.
PCOS is a hormonal imbalance and as a result the body has difficulty processing the hormone insulin. Insulin converts sugars/starches from foods, into energy. Insulin resistance, caused by the PCOS, can cause the insulin and sugar - glucose, to build up in the bloodstream and be stored as fat.
I have done so much reading around the subject over the holiday, to get a clearer understanding of me and how my body processes the foods I eat.
I'm not going to lie, my relaxed Summer has seen me gain a few pounds and it's time to draw that line, nip it in the bud etc before the weight creeps back on. I've gone back through all my meal planning sheets from when I lost the weight initially, to remind myself of how I did it. Looking back, I was so strict on myself when I started Slimming World and had no bread, cakes, cereal other than oats, very low/no carbs, barely used my syns and although the SW plan allows you to have all these foods, I didn't, which meant I lost weight. Latterly, I have tried to reintroduce more bread, the odd slice of cake, cereals etc because I've really wanted them again, but I now know that I can't eat them and keep the weight off, in the same way someone else can, even if I'm careful with my calorie intake because of the PCOS.
I was recommended to read the book 'The Obesity Code' and I must say it has been a breakthrough read because it really does explain the role of insulin and insulin resistance and the way the body processes foods. It doesn't talk about PCOS specifically but because I've researched the condition, I can see how it is fully linked.
The PCOS Diet Support website is a great resource, if you are just coming to terms with the condition and need to find out all about it - 10% of women will have PCOS. Once you get to grips with the condition, you can then work out the best strategy to keep the weight off, going forward and I've tried to outline 'my way forward' below.
Too small? See below
From reading 'The Obesity Code' these are the main points I've taken from the book, going forward. Excuse my diary notes!! It was interesting to explore the idea of fasting, something I've read a lot about from Dr Michael Mosley's 'The 8 week Blood Sugar Diet' and when you read the science behind it, it does all make sense. The fasting, no breakfast, eating in an 8 hour window, no snacking,/grazing, all of these allow the body to have rest, allow insulin levels a chance to restore to normal.
So I'm going to trial not eating breakfast, as long as I can have a coffee I'll be fine. Eating in an 8 hour window 12-8pm (doable), ween myself off a snack but if I am starving have one, as long as it's healthy but definitely stop the constant grazing/picking.
Improve my sleep - Jeff and I have both said we'll watch the news headlines and then go straight up to bed - with a 6:40 alarm, we could both get a good 8hrs sleep. Closing down the business certainly reduced my stress levels and finding a new job that is manageable, enjoyable, routine and stress free is a must going forward. Yoga also helps and the techniques I'm learning, are completely transferable to everyday life.
I do need to make a conscious effort to drink more water. When I'm at home, I aim to drink a cup of water every hour, on the hour. This isn't always possible when out and about, due to the need to visit the loo ALL the time!! I do aim to reduce my caffeine intake too, not because it tells you to, just because I know I drink too much!
Exercise is a positive too, so I've started running again. Jeff very kindly bought me some new trainers which should improve my running style, supporting my flat feet and should as a result, minimise my hip niggles. I'm starting out slowly, doing 'something', is better than doing 'nothing'!
On the food front, it's actually quite simple 'JERF' (I Quit Sugar)
**JUST EAT REAL FOOD**
I've been trying to reduce my sugar intake, following the low/no refined sugar approach and I've always been low/no carbs. I've been eating plenty of protein and veg and fibre. I have been introducing healthy, full fats back into my diet, following the principles behind the 'I Quit Sugar Diet' and eating a more Mediterranean style diet, as suggested by Dr Michael Mosley. The one thing I've not tried, is drinking Apple Cider Vinegar - it's apparently a protection blanket against sugars/starches and I should drink some diluted vinegar every evening. I've had a bottle here for about 6 months now but not as yet, tried it!
Basically I now have to put into practice what I preach!
As you can see from the pic above, I've not piled all the pounds back on, just a few but I am fully aware that taking a relaxed approach to my eating, will quickly see me back to where I was, if I'm not careful! I've toyed with re-joining Slimming World but have decided to see if I can go it alone initially, as I'm doing my own personal version of the plan. You can use your syns on chocolate and cake but I know I can't. You can eat unlimited pasta, rice and potatoes but I know I can't! You can eat bread, bagels and pitta's as your Healthy B choice but I know I can't! So, if I feel I need to be accountable, need the weekly weigh in and need to see the numbers on the scales, I will rejoin but I'm going to give it a go on my own for now and see how I go! If the scales start going in the wrong direction, I will rethink!
I have to find a way of eating that I enjoy, so that the weight stays off. I would love to eat a slice of cake, all 'on-plan, within my syns' and see the weight come off but I now know if I did eat the cake, that I would still put on the pounds because it's not down to the calories I consume but down to the actual ingredients in the cake, that my body can't process (if that makes sense?)
In a nutshell, I really can't have my cake and eat it!!!!
Sorry if this post is of no interest to you or goes on a bit, I think I just needed to write it all down for me, to give me a clearer understanding of what I'm trying to achieve. You never know it might be of interest to someone but I strongly recommend you read 'The Obesity Code' if you struggle at all with your weight, PCOS or not!!