So this happened: I’ve lost a stone. 14 whole lbs. Yes, me. It’s actually happened. (Ok, so my arse is still fat, but a few lbs less so, which definitely makes me less of a fat bottom girl.) This was also in spite of turning up at our friends house for Burns Night with a sheer determination that no neeps and tatties would pass my lips, and nor would any alcohol, before proceeding to eat all the neeps and tatties, and a load of cheese, and drink my body weight in alcohol (um, oops…!) I also went on holiday the following week, and had 2 glasses of wine, and 2 ciders in the hot tub when the children had gone to bed. It would’ve been rude not to, and there had to be some fun, because holidays with toddlers still really aren’t holidays are they (aka I really bloody needed it by the end of the day.) So yea, in spite of all that!

WELL HALLEFRICKINLUJAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I honestly can’t believe it!

It means that…

After four years of the wrong information, and some serious frustration, I’ve finally found something that works.

Don’t listen when people tell you not to cut out certain foods-it might seem horrific to them, but if they’re affecting YOUR health, cut them loose.

Being insulin resistant doesn’t make it IMPOSSIBLE to lose weight. It just makes it really fucking hard.

GPs don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to diet-always see a dietician (even if you have to pay,) and do your own research/trial and error.

You can still have a blow out every now and again, and it won’t undo absolutely everything you’ve done (which was honestly my take on it.)

The direction of this series will change a little-I was sure it was going to be about me struggling to lose anything for weeks and weeks, but now it’ll hopefully be more celebration of success, and possibly needing to find solutions if I reach a plateau, or any other problems.

What I’ve been eating:

Monday 

Breakfast: Cacao and coconut granola with coconut milk and coconut yogurt.

Lunch: This has turned into my new favourite lunch, and I’ve had it every day this week…! Raw Veg Scramble-because I have cut a lot of foods out, and made my portions quite small, I want to eat more raw vegetables. So I put a load in the food processor, and keep them in the fridge in a bowl, ready to throw into meals. So for this, fry off half an onion, half a pepper, and some halved cherry tomatoes in some coconut oil and garlic. Add half a tin of tuna and cook for a little longer. Take off the heat, and add generous handfuls of the raw veg ‘grains,’ until you have the portion size you want. To add some flavour, I’ve mixed in a dash of rice wine vinegar, because it’s sugar free. You could use soy sauce, or balsamic vinegar, but both contain sugar (although pretty marginal to be fair,) and there is soy bean in the soy sauce. But the amounts you’d consume are tiny, and I’m not sure that it’d make any difference at all. It’s a really fab lunch option!

Dinner: Prawn and coconut curry with cauliflower rice.

Tuesday

Breakfast: Scrambled egg and spinach.

Lunch: Raw veg scramble.

Dinner: Courgetti with chicken in a mustard sauce.

Wednesday

Breakfast: Mixed nut ‘porridge’

Lunch: Raw veg scramble.

Dinner: Chicken and green veg fritters, with salad (I used to make these fritters with butternut squash, but since I have given up butternut squash, I made them with spinach and spring greens instead.)

Thursday

Breakfast: Cacao and coconut granola, with coconut milk and coconut yogurt.

Lunch: Raw veg scramble.

Dinner: I went out to dinner for a friend’s birthday. It’s the first time I’ve been in an Indian restaurant since I started this diet… I ordered mixed spiced vegetables, instead of rice, and had a prawn malabari-prawns in a coconut and coriander sauce. Without asking loads of questions, and not wanting to draw too much attention to myself, it seemed the best option to suit what I needed!

Today:

Breakfast: Skipped it (oops) as I was late getting children to nursery, then went straight to the gym.

Lunch: Raw veg scramble.

Dinner: Mr W has requested chicken lentil curry (even though we had curry last night!) so I will make that for him, but as I’m not eating lentils anymore, I’m going to have spiced vegetables, cauliflower rice, and chicken.

I haven’t done as much exercise as I’d like this week, due to Mr W’s work schedule, and I’ve been a bit under the weather-I hope to be back to splitting my vajayjay in spin, and peeing my pant in Shabam, next week!

The other articles in this ‘Cysters Are Doing It For Themselves’ series, can be found below.

PCOS Has Ruined My Life

A Change Is Gonna Come… Food And Exercise Changes I’m Making

Hey Cyster, Go Cyster, Soul Cyster, Go Cyster

Why Does PCOS Always Feel Like A Battlefield… Struggles I’ve Had This Week

 

 

Ok, so this week has been a bit up and down… The good news is, I have lost 2lbs-YAY!! Which takes my total amount up to 10lbs. And 2lbs a week was what I was aiming for anyway. The down side is, I kind of feel like I’m killing myself to do it, but that’s also the frustrating reality of PCOS and insulin resistance.

By the end of this week, I will have done 4 spin classes, 1 Sh’Bam class, 1 combat class, and 2 circuits classes. I’ve also not touched any of the foods that are on my ‘avoid’ list, and just had 1 gin and tonic after a God awful day yesterday…. As yet, although I feel stronger, my head feels clearer, I’ve been having fewer afternoon ‘if I don’t sleep I might actually die’ feelings (which used to happen every day to me, without fail, regardless of how much sleep I’d had the night before,) I can’t actually see any physical differences yet, but I seem to be hurting, all over my body, at all times. And it’s annoying me quite a bit.

(Seeeeeeeeeriously, those seats…. It’s like a vajayjay massacre…!)

I also had the classic (but definitely unintentional on the part of the person who said it,) ‘but I don’t understand why it’s not falling off. If it were me, I’d have dropped stones by now.’ It’s just one of the ways insulin resistance likes to kick you in the teeth unfortunately.

There was also a bad day where I broke my own rule (again!) of not googling shit, and spent a large part of a day googling shit-and driving myself into a right old panic. I read some blogs and sites dedicated to insulin resistance, and of course, ended up with conflicting information. It ended with my husband coming home from work, and me almost sobbing ‘carrots and peas! I’m not supposed to be bloody eating them! Carrots and fucking peas, how can they possibly reverse all the work I’ve done??’ And my husband telling me I needed to get a grip, and that carrots were not going to jump out of the fridge and kill me.

Another site I found said that basically lentils were the work of the devil for insulin resistance, and even linked to a piece of research that alleged that they were really bad for you. My husband is right, I do need to get a grip-I’ve written a dissertation, and I’ve worked in a job where I’ve had to analyse research in order to identify the wheat from the chaff-it all needs careful analysing, and a lot of it can be proved to be bullshit. Blogs, like this one, are also opinion. Some of the stuff I read was based purely on opinion, and what had worked for that person. Although what I write about in this section of my blog is based on science as much as I can possibly research properly, some of it will be opinion, and will not work for others.

So I calmed down a bit, and looked at the Diabetes UK  site, which is where I should’ve gone first, because of course, it only contains actual solid evidence based answers. So, some of the veg I’m eating should be limited-Beetroot (I was aware of this already) parsnips, peas, sweet potato and sweetcorn and butternut squash should all be limited. That means that some of the meals that are on my Fab list, need to be modified-anything that has spiralised butternut squash (squashetti) I’ll now need to make courgetti instead. Note: carrots weren’t mentioned, but I’m going to eliminate them anyway, just to be sure…!

Apparently, the jury is still out on lentils (not the food of the devil then!) and they can affect some people, but not others. The advice from Diabetes UK is to have a very small handful, if you’re going to have them. So, the prawn lentil curry that we love, will have to be changed, as it’s just curried lentils with prawns-waaaay too many lentils.

So here is a modified list of what I’ve cut out, and next week I will include a meal plan of our now modified favourite meals!

What I’m NOT Eating:

All fruit (I was eating apple and pear in small amounts, but I’ve cut that too.)

All dried fruit.

Maple syrup (I was using this to sweeten things, but I’m cutting it.)

Sweet potato

Butternut squash

Carrots

Peas

Beetroot

Parsnips

Quinoa (boooo, but I’m saying goodbye to this too)

Lentils-kind of-I’ll keep going with small handfuls, but may cut completely.

Bread (ocaasional slices of rye bread only.)

All dairy (replacing with coconut/almond based products. Also tried to vegan dairy free cheese-#VOMWORTHY)

Oats

Pasta of any variety

Red meat (that’s mainly personal choice, it could still be eaten with IR)

I think it goes without saying that chocolate/crisps/biscuits etc are all definite no gos, but I’ve included them anyway!

Wish me luck for next week…!

(They look innocent, but caused me no end of mental anguish…!)

No, I didn’t meet marmalade down in old New Orleans, and I definitely didn’t eat any, because it contains too much sugar…!!

Anyway, I’m really running with the song theme for the titles of these posts, I’m not sure why, probably mainly for my own amusement!

So what exercise have I done this week?

Sh’Bam-this was entirely new to me, and I didn’t have a clue what it was all about. The description on the website was vague too. So, it’s like a Latin American dance class, with a few jumps thrown in for good measure. I love dancing, and I enjoyed it as a fun way to get moving, but it didn’t leave me feeling like I wanted to die, so I probably won’t do it regularly.

Spin-urgh… Still makes me feel a little vommy, but works, so I will keep going!

Circuits-I wasn’t a huge fan last week, but I can see that when I’m stronger, this will be a brilliant HIIT style all over body workout.

Body combat-I have just been this morning, I absolutely love this one!

Omnia-a torturous 45 minutes of weights/pulley things, planks and other core stuff. I could barely feel my legs afterwards. There was a (phew) waiting list for this next week, so hopefully there won’t be any space…!! (joke, kind of…)

I don’t have anything new planned for next week, I’m doing the same mixture of the above.

Food diary:

I’ve kept a diary of what works and what doesn’t-my husband is the main source of stuff not working! He wants to eat the same as me (I’m already making different stuff for the children usually, so making something different for me and Mr W is just ridiculous,) but he is just as fussy as them…

Friday 13/01/17

Breakfast: Quinoa pear porridge-this was AWFUL!! Sorry quinoa, I like you as a savoury food, but even pear couldn’t save your earthy taste from making a rank breakfast!

Lunch: smoked salmon and scrambled egg-what’s not to like!

Dinner: Vegan Mexican chilli bowl with lentils. Mr W hated it! Although I actually loved it…

Saturday 14/01/17

Breakfast: Scrambled egg and avocado-yum!

Lunch: Tinned tuna and steamed veg-a bit boring, but ok.

Dinner: Chicken lentil curry-definitely a hit with both of us!

Sunday 15/01/17

Breakfast: Scrambled egg and steamed veg-yum!

Lunch: Carrot sticks and home made houmous-this was ok.

Dinner: Lemon and chive courgetti with mustard chicken-spiralised courgette in a paleo lemon and chive sauce, with baked mustard chicken-this was really good!

Monday 16/01/17

Breakfast: Cacao and coconut paleo granola (made with cacao nibs, so no sugar, and nuts instead of oats) this was reallllllllllllly good!

Lunch: pumpkin soup-also really nice!

Dinner: Chunky veg and lentil soup-we both liked it!

Tuesday 17/01/17

Breakfast: Cacao and coconut granola (I made a big batch, so had it for breakfast for a few days)

Lunch: Pumpkin soup-homemade, it was nice!

Dinner: King prawn lentil curry-definitely a favourite!

Wednesday 16/01/17  

Breakfast: Cacao and coconut granola

Lunch: Pumpkin soup

Dinner: Squashetti and vegan meatballs-spiralised butternut squash, tossed in oil and thyme, and ‘meatballs’ made from lentils and black beans, and a homemade tomato sauce on the top. I actually predicted that Mr W would hate this (the ‘meatballs’ looked grey and really unappetising,) but he loved it, and I think it’s the best meal so far.

 

Thursday 17/01/17

Breakfast: Cacao and coconut granola

Lunch: salmon and avocado on rye bread (giving rye bread a try as it’s low yeast and low carb, but may omit it in the future.)

Dinner: Chicken and butternut squash fritters with salad-this was another really nice one!

Today:

So far I’ve had paleo nut porridge with almond milk for breakfast, which was nice.

Pounds lost: Only 1 lost this week… But in the reading of mainly depressing information that I do, I did read that when eating well and exercising hard, muscle is built quicker than the fat is burned, leading to a gain, or a plateau-apparently it’s the biggest cause of people giving up in first few weeks. The balance should eventually shift, to where the muscle is built at a slower, more even rate, and the fat loss begins to show. Fingers crossed! This might not be the same for me, because PCOS is a dick, but I’m hopeful!

I’m also using the My Fitness Pal app to track food too. Then I can input accurately, by actual weights, the food I’m eating, and the exercise done. And it shows how easy it is to go over your calorie allowance too-there have been days where I feel like I’ve eaten very little, but by time I’ve hit ‘day complete’ on the app, I only would’ve had about 180 calories left-just goes to show that adding in a couple of glasses of wine (sob,) could easily take you 500 or so calories over your allowance, and you have no idea.

Sorry, I’ve been rubbish at taking pictures of what I’ve been eating-I’ll try and remember to do this next week!

 

I was booooooooooooorn by the river…! Ok, as I’d used that song title in the title of this post, I really felt I had to throw that in there! And as this series is called Cysters Are Doing It For Themselves, I also feel the need to carry on with the song title theme!

Anyway, I’m writing this from my bed, in a sweaty mess still, after going to body combat at the gym. I know, it’s gross to be in bed with sweaty gym stuff on, but I am going to change the sheets when I’m done. So anyhoo, body combat. I loved it-but I thought I would, because back in the day (when I went to the gym every day-gosh, can you imagine?) body combat was my favourite of all the exercise classes. And my gym also does virtual classes, which, judging by the fact there’s only ever 3 or 4 people there, are really quite unpopular. I can see why, I suppose it’s not much different to doing an exercise DVD in your front room, and going to an instructor led class is a lot more personal, and probably more motivational. But while I’m getting my fitness back up, I’m liking the virtual classes, because at least there’s space, sprung floors, and less self consciousness about everyone around me being super fit and super toned.

So body combat is a win! My friend also dragged me to circuits this week-NEARLY DIED. But refused to die (well, not complete the class,) as I was adamant I was going to push my physical limits, and not look like an unfit try hard who should be laughed out because they can’t cut it (oh yes, that is me really, but I was damned if others were going to know that!) It was really hard, and not my usual type of thing, but I am going to keep going.

Spin! Oh yes, spin, you absolute fucker! I’m still persevering with this too, because although this is another one that is like the reaper, trying to kill me, it is such a brilliant calorie burner, and all around fitness improver.

I am trying Sh’bam, and Total Toning next week, as well as the others above-I know…!

That’s that’s this weeks exercise talked about, lets talk about FOOD!!!! A while ago, I tried the paleo approach to eating. It’s incredibly low GI, and cuts out most foods that are considered to be gut/digestive tract irritants. Essentially, it’s perfect for people with insulin resistance. BUT, I do find it VERY restrictive, and as absolutely everything has to be made from scratch, it can be just one massive faff.

So I’m using some principles of paleo (although a lot of people who follow paleo are like Baby Led Weaning Puritans-there is no give or take, and you absolutely can’t call your diet paleo if you aren’t following every single rule.) Well, come get me puritans, because I’m following your rules, but I will still be eating lentils and quinoa (because I like them, and I need fibre.) At the moment I’m drawing inspiration from 3 cookbooks-Juli Bauer and George Bryant’s The Paleo Kitchen, Dale Pinnock’s Diabetes: Eat Your Way To Better Health (The Medicinal Chef) because an insulin resistant diet is the same as a diabetic one, and Niomi Smart’s Eat Smart. Yes, I was dubious about getting the book of a young Youtuber, but my brother (a ridiculously avid #cleaneater,) recommended it to me, and it’s actually amazing!

 

So here is a list of changes I’m making:

Everything organic where possible.  Can be expensive, but a lot of PCOS is to do with hormone imbalance, so minimising hormones in food by buying organic, seems a good way to start.

No Dairy. I’m using coconut or almond milk instead-they are fine to me! BUT everyone knows how much I like cheese-it’s only a matter of time before some Pilgrims Choice will have to be consumed! I was thinking of looking into dairy free cheese (Niomi Smart recommends something called ‘nutritional yeast’, which sounds rank, but I haven’t tried it,) as a cheese replacement, but I’m sure it’ll have the same affect as drinking non alcoholic wine during pregnancy-it’ll just leave me frustrated and angry, wanting the real thing.

Cutting out carbs and some grains. So everything becomes courgetti, squashetti, etc. Vegetables are spiralised the to within an inch of their lives, as a replacement for pasta. Favourite vegetables for this include sweet potato, butternut squash, courgette, carrot, and celeriac. My favourite so far, is butternut squash, tossed in oil and thyme. And like I said earlier, no grains except lentils and quinoa.

Being careful with some fruits. Tropical fruits are out, and I’m sticking to apples, pears, and a handful of berry fruits as the GI of other fruits can be too high. A lot of the desserts in the above books, use dates and other very sweet fruits, as sweeteners, but I’m avoiding these too, and using a small amount of maple syrup if I need something sweetened.

No alcohol… I know, impossible when you have kids, right? So I will still be having some occasionally, just not the nightly glass or two I was having…! And when I go out with friends too, because I refuse to be a diet bore, and I need to live a little!

I’m leaving it there for today, but will doing a breakdown of what I’ve been eating-what is totally rank, and what is really fab!

Stats for this week:

Headaches: less frequent

Muscles in agony: Too many to mention.

Weight lost: 6lbs… Not a bad start, and a lot more than I was expecting. Although I am expecting it to slow down from here…

I’ve never been one for ‘new year, new me.’ Maybe because as a child, I used to spend a lot of new years with my best friend, whose parents always allowed her to have sleepovers at her house for NYE, while they went out. A gaggle of us tweens would raid my friends parents alcohol cupboard (I think the idea was that they deliberately turned a blind eye, rather than just didn’t notice-I went there for NYE every year for 6 years and they never mentioned it,) and we’d sit, and make lists of our new years resolutions, most of which contained stuff like ‘get X to notice me,’ ‘get X to snog me,’ ‘find out if skirt trousers are going to be on trend for another year, and if so, get them in every colour known to man.’ (I’d love to know if skirt trousers were a thing across the country, or just the backward town that I lived in? This was around 1997-answers, or even better, pictures, on a post card please!

So, inevitably, X wouldn’t notice us, we wouldn’t become supermodels, and skirt trousers thankfully crawled back into whichever hole they crawled out of. They would be left as material to become immortalised on buzzfeed lists of the most hideous fashion mistakes the nineties gave us, and photographic evidence of them destroyed (although I’ve never seen them on such lists, which again reiterates my question above?) That was what initially made me realise that new years lists were a waste of time (although to be fair, those tween lists didn’t really contain high brow realistic content…) But, growing older and more mature, I did try to make targets and goals for new year, but they’d inevitably go up in a cloud of smoke and broken dreams at some point, so I just stopped doing them, to save myself the feeling of failure.

Now here lies the point to this post-this year, I have set myself a goal. It’s a goal that will take a lot of time, a lot of patience, and may even take me into next year to even get it established. But I haven’t felt such determination to achieve something in a really long time.

I’ve written before that I have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome.) I’ve known about this since I was 15, when I was sent for a scan following persistent abdominal pain, and irregular and heavy periods. I took the diagnosis with a pinch of salt, because none of the things the GP was telling me could affect me, affected me at the time-weight gain (I was a normal weight,) excessive hair (hadn’t noticed anything along those lines,) infertility (I remember being unnerved by this one, because I knew I wanted a family at some point in the very far away future, but I was young enough that I just put it to the back of my mind.) And as you are aware, I have two little monsters that I conceived with no problems, so this didn’t end up affecting me either.

But-there is a massive but here, (which rivals the size of mine.) Since I’ve had the children, my PCOS has worsened, and I am now what would be referred to as a classic PCOS sufferer. Overweight (yes, by quite a bit.) Excessive hair (bikini line home to undiscovered forest tribes that nobody knew existed? I’m your woman.) I’m just so glad that I was what’s known as a ‘mild sufferer’ of the condition so that at least I’ve got my children, and don’t have to go through the devastating infertility that hits a lot of PCOS sufferers.

The thing is, with PCOS, there is still very little known about its causes, and how to treat it. I had one ludicrous thought one day, ‘well, I’ve got children, I’ll just have my ovaries removed, then I won’t have it anymore.’ But research told me that others had been there, and done that, and were still no better for it. PCOS is a whole multi-system endocrine/metabolic dysfunction, not just limited to cysts on the ovaries. From what I can gather, most PCOS sufferers are insulin resistant (I am, I’ve had this confirmed by the GP.) Put simply, this is where cells in the body don’t respond to insulin in transporting glucose from the bloodstream, into tissues. The body produces more insulin because it thinks that there isn’t enough, sending blood sugars soaring, and leading to weight gain. The weight gain worsens the hormonal imbalance that causes the hairiness (or hirsutism, if you want to proper name,) and other defining PCOS factors. But when you have insulin resistance, losing weight can be difficult to impossible. Thus a very frustrating cycle commences.

I’ve become obsessed with my PCOS. I’ve fallen victim to one of my own cardinal sins-googling the shit out of it. Don’t google the shit out of stuff-it will drive you fucking bonkers. The thing is, I want success stories. But the forums, and the PCOS support sites have very, VERY few of these. But, on a recent foray into throwing myself into an abyss of depressing information, I actually came across some success stories. A lot of people you find on the forums make very bold statements like ‘PCOS has ruined my life!’ I always thought that it was a bit of a defeatist and dramatic thing to say. But lately, I’ve been thinking back to the depressing post I wrote at the start of last year, and I’m still the person avoiding social events because of the way I look. I’m still looking at pretty old clothes of mine, and wishing I could wear something other than loose clothing. I hate having to check parts of my body every day for hair, where there shouldn’t be hair. I hate the impact the way I feel and look has taken a toll on my marriage and friendships. I won’t say that PCOS has ruined my life, but it’s certainly made the quality of it one heck of a lot poorer.

So this year, I am on a mission. I am going to be a success story. I am going to be one of the few who reverses insulin resistance (which, with careful nutrition, I’ve been told can be done,) and takes back control of their life. I am going to break the cycle of weight gain/increased resistance to insulin/further hormonal imbalance/increased inability to get my weight back to normal again-the normal I had known all my life until pregnancy made me insulin resistant.

By writing it down, I feel like I’ve totally put my money where my mouth is-but I think it will be a great motivator. Over the next year, there will be a new section on my blog called ‘Cysters Are Doing It For Themselves,’ where I will talking about nutrition, progress, what works and what doesn’t, and at the end of it, there bloody WILL be a success story, because I am not going to be a prisoner to this any longer! Being an overweight, neanderthal resembling, social avoider, is not fun, and I’m looking forward to saying ‘naff off,’ to that person.