Paleo: A cure for PCOS?

This week, I’ve been reading a lot about the Paleo Diet, or a “Primal” approach to health. I’ve heard so many people talking about it, and I’ve had it recommended to me by family and friends, but I sort of dismissed it, thinking it was just a different answer to the Atkins Diet.

The difference? I’ve seen women who have claimed to be “cured” of PCOS by eating Primal.

If you’re wondering what exactly it means to go “Primal”, a good resource is Mark Sisson’s Mark’s Daily Apple blog. Basically, he breaks it all down to the fact that what we eat today is RADICALLY different from what our ancestors ate. And when I say ancestors, I mean…. when we were developing as a species.

He lovingly nicknames this version of the human race “Grok”, explaining what Grok would/wouldn’t eat and use to workout. Primarily, he suggests that humans were hunters and gatherers who ate nuts and berries, vegetation, and big game. They spent a lot of time doing low impact movement, such as walking long distances. They spent a lot of time in the sunshine. They sprinted from predators rarely, and regularly lifted heavy things.

How this relates today? Use your body weight to “lift heavy things” with exercises like squats, pullups, chinups, pushups, and bridges. Do several full force sprints, once a week. And do low impact exercise, like walking, playing sports, or even resting four days a week. And the food? Eat organic, grass-fed game, wild caught fish, and free range chicken. Eat eggs, lots of nuts and berries, lots of veggies. Completely cut out dairy, refined sugars and flour, corn, and grains from your diet. He also emphasizes the importance of getting quality rest at night, and getting plenty of sunshine during the day.

At first, I was skeptical. Just changing your diet? Really? That changed everything?

Peggy over at The Primal Parent wrote a post about her conversion entitled Unconventional Approach to PCOS. And whoa. Three months after going Paleo, she was preggo? Without even TRYING?!!

Wait. But what about girls who start big, like me? Ones that also have the obesity thing going for them, hirituism, insulin problems? Another fellow “cyster” (queue my CHEESY FACE!!!!) made the switch to Paleo/Primal, and lost almost all of her PCOS symptoms. She wrote about it, too…. Did Diet Cause My PCOS?

Huh….

Over the course of the last few days, I’ve found many stories out there, just like these, where women cut out the sugary crap and grains, and had the ultimate success: their fertility woes were solved.

Will this work for me? I don’t know. I’ve seen so many success stories about men AND women having ridiculous success with this “diet”…. people who took all sorts of medications no longer needed them. People with weight problems, Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol, liver lipid issues, fertility problems….. all gone after a few months of switching to this diet.

The husband and I have discussed it, and I think we’re going to give it a go. We haven’t really heard of anything that would address both his blood pressure/cholesterol issues with my fertility ones, and I think we’ve got nothing to lose.

Anyone out there have any experience with the Paleo/Primal Diet, and if so, how has it affected your health?

 

Update: I found a link to a video a Reproductive Endocrinologist made in regards to this type of diet, and his findings. He said that “almost none” of his clients needed assisted technology, like in-vitro fertilization, after they attempted this diet.

New Workout Playlist.

For those of you that aren’t into fertility blogging, here’s what’s been rockin’ on my iTunes while working my ass off:

Warmup:

“Sweet Disposition” – The Temper Trap
“Moves Like Jagger” – Maroon 5 (Couldn’t help myself)

Workout:

“Futures” – Jimmy Eat World
“Ain’t No Other Man” – Christina Aguilera
“Swing” – Savage & Soulja Boy
“Rolex Sweep” (Vandalism Remix) – Skepta
“Don’t Phunk With My Heart” – Black Eyed Keys
“Low” – Foo Fighters
“So What’cha Want” – Beastie Boys
“Joker & The Thief” – Wolfmother
“Song 2” – Blur

Cool Down:

“Rollin’ in the Deep” – Adele
“Teenage Dream” – The Rescues

There ‘ya have it! Rock out!

“Non-Invasive” = completely subjective.

Oh mercy.

So this week, I had what was called a hysterosalpingogram. For brevity’s sake, we’ll call it an HSG for the duration of this post, and in referencing it in the future.

My new doctor, bless her, decided that this test should be done before putting me through any other “invasive” testing, and before giving me any more intense hormonal drugs. She thought the test should’ve been done last year, LONG before I started taking the crazy stuff. When she suggested the test be done, she explained that it involved iodine dye being pushed through your fallopian tubes and into your uterus and while x-rays were taken to ensure that there are no blockages, polyps, cysts, or scarring up in there, and that we should know if something really big was going on beyond just my hormonal issues.

This seemed easy enough to me. “I’ll have my better half there with me”, I thought, “and there’s nothing I can’t do if he’s holding my hand! This is just something that needs to be done.”

I was nervous. I was anxious. I was scared that something terrible would show up on the HSG that would prove me to be completely infertile. I was afraid.

We showed up, got registered at the hospital, and I got one of those awesome bracelets that reminded me of being at the Pumpkin Festival as a kid, and getting one of the unlimited ride things. How unfortunate.

When the nurse came to get me for the procedure, I grabbed my husband’s hand, signaling for him to join me.

“Um, I’m sorry honey, but he can’t come with you.”

Exqueeze me? Baking Powder?

“There’s a risk of radiation exposure, so he’ll have to wait here for you.”

Eeks. I walk back, and she sits me down with a piece of paper; a special consent form, signing my life away.

“Now, huuuuunney, lemme tell you somethin’ it doesn’t say on the paper, okaaaay? This is *REALLY* gowhnna hurt, baby. You’re gunna get some SEVERE cramps afterwards. Doctors seem to avoid telling people that ahead of time. So I just want you to know, it hurts. It’s not us making a mistake….. it just hurts.”

Awesome.

Oh, and to top it off, she handed me THIS:

Whoa whoa. What is this trainwreck?!

“You’re gonna NEED this afterwards. Trust me. It’s gonna be gushin’ down there.”

This thing was the size of Shaq’s hand. Seriously?

“And go ahead and strip from the waist down, sweetie. Here’s a gown.”

Ah ha! Time to pull out all the stops. I had brought my lucky socks, just to throw them off. I’m prepared! I’m unstoppable! I’m immune to these tiny pains!

(They look like this….)

So, here I am, with my awesome lime greenies, sitting on the edge of the cold, surgical table, which I’ve noticed is severely lacking in any type of stirrups.

“Sorry, sweetie. We ain’t got the money for stirrups, since we only do this procedure about 5 or 6 times a month. You’re just gonna have ta scoot that little fanny up to the edge, and grip on for dear life with those little feet.”

Dammit.

At this point, a male Radiologist comes in, who is visibly uncomfortable. “Okay, let’s do this. I’m going to dilate your cervix using a balloon, then insert a catheter up there. Then I’m going to push some dye up there, and you’ll be able to see the dye going through your uterus and tubes on that little monitor. Any questions?”

Wait, what? Balloon? Catheter? Dilate my CERVIX?! I’m not giving BIRTH, here! Where’s the door, and get me OUT OF HERE!!!!

“Um, okay.”

“Did your doctor prescribe you any sedatives or pain killers? Most doctors do that, and tell you to take them a couple hours ahead of time.”

Frowny face. “No, sir.”

“Okay! Well, let’s just get this over with, then.”

What commenced was what I can only describe as 10 minutes of the worst cramping I can possibly imagine. I wish I would’ve bothered to Google other women’s feelings on this procedure, because if I had, I would’ve read something like this: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071227193941AAZ6an1.

(My favorite quote on that page? “I would rather give birth 20 times than go through that again.”)

Fortunately, the results of the HSG test came back normal, and my Fallopian Tubes are cleared, and my uterus is correctly shaped and healthy. Quite unfortunately, the test itself was a nightmare. Let’s just say that the Radiologist was no OB/GYN. Let’s just say that he made a lot of mistakes, was uncomfortable the whole time, and kept apologizing. And let’s also say that the nurses kept adding their own anecdotes the whole time, making me see red, and feel murderous the whole time.

“You aren’t going to faint on me, are ‘ya, sweetie?”

“Well MY friend had this done, and two months later, she was PREGNANT! Isn’t that AMAZING?!”

What I wanted to say? “I’M NEVER LETTING ANY ONE GET ANYWHERE CLOSE TO MY BAJINGO AGAIN!!!”

Once the test was done, it literally took me 15 minutes to get my pants back on. I was doubled over in crampy pain that I almost can’t even describe in words. I’ve had some particularly bad cramps before, but this felt like I was having my innards pulled out. To make matters worse, the whole time I was trying to put my clothes back on, the nurses kept knocking on the door, saying such encouraging things as “Alright, sweetie. We have another procedure comin’ in here soon!” and “Do you need us to come in there and help you?”

Oh the rage-y, stab-y, murder-y things that were going through my head at this moment.

I managed to get dressed, and when I did, the nurses told me that I could wait by the front desk for a cd of the x-rays taken during this procedure. As I walked into the waiting room, I have my better half the look I can only assume I would give him if I’d robbed a bank and needed to case the joint for the quickest exit. He picked up on it pretty quickly, and went and got the car for me.

The second I got into the car, I started sobbing like I was at a Beatles concert in the 50’s. I felt violated, furious, and had pain that was radiating from my middle. I felt every bump as we drove home.

Everything changed as soon as I got into a hot bath. I took an anxiety pill, four ibuprofen, and explained what had happened to my husband, who looked on in horror. As I sat in that scalding bath, the pain became more bearable, and I started to laugh about some of the things that happened, and I felt the murderous rage melt away.

I couldn’t help but smile. In my mind, I just kept chanting, “My test came back normal… My test came back normal…. MY TEST CAME BACK NORMAL!!!”

The next 24 hours were chock full of pretty major cramping, but it was pain that I could somewhat deal with, and was expecting. And after talking to my OB/GYN, we’re cleared for the new process she’s set up for us, which includes Progesterone pills and Clomid. I’m cool with these, and I’m also going to start charting.

Whew. Thank heavens I have an awesome husband, supportive family, and friends who can laugh with me about this stuff. It’s all part of the journey, and if anyone can learn to drink half a bottle of NyQuil before this procedure from this post, my work here is done! (Kidding….. sorta.)

Food: My love/hate thing.

Food and I have an interesting dynamic.

Suffice it to say that, when I was a little girl, I had a very confusing time figuring out the role food played in my life. It was both equally forbidden and encouraged; good and bad. If I was eating, I was embarrassed, but it still felt good, somehow.

As I grew up, the relationship was another one of those “bad boyfriend” situations.  Relationships, as we all know, aren’t bad in general, but if you get a bad one, it’s BAD. Like, life-altering bad. I loved to eat, but had nobody to tell me NOT to eat food…. so I went crazypants. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, generally.

Recently, our little family went to have our numbers tested for our annual physicals.  We found that we weren’t doing very well on certain measures, and were told that it was time to cut back on the noms, and to continue with our exercise programs that we’d been on for a good while.

Shock! Awe! What?! These recipes by Paula Deen(Diabetes Queen!) and Julia Child(bless her, but she utilizes more butter and fats than PD) weren’t creating the beacon of physical health of which the mirror displayed?! (Kidding, obviously.) I had, since I moved out on my own, used cooking as a way to relax, to create, and to warm my soul. It was also an excellent tool in rewarding and surprising my sweet husband when I thought he deserved it.  Cupcakes, lasagna, chocolate pie and every other homemade confection you can imagine were our comfort, along with the bloated fullness we felt after consuming such delights.

But….. now what? At first, I went through a little mini-depression. No cupcakes? No lasagna? But I was working out! I was working my ass off, actually, and…. no weight was coming off. (Weird, right?) Wrong-o.

Instead of being upset for too long, I decided to issue myself an ultimatum: learn to cook with the good stuff. Before we could even go to the store to tackle our new diet, I decided to do my own Foodie kitchen challenge. I looked in the cupboard and the fridge for only healthy foods, pulling out things that looked appetizing, and that had decent nutrition facts on the label. I chopped onions and garlic, and sauteed them in a little olive oil. I found our bottle of Brown County Wine from Indiana, which was deliciously sweet, and added a good couple of splashes. Then some tomatoes and a bit of tomato sauce, and sprinkled with Italian spices. After simmering, the sauce sang! What a perfect compliment to some simply Panko-breaded and baked chicken cutlets and whole wheat pasta. And I didn’t forget the hefty serving of broccoli on the side! Who knew?! This whole healthy cooking think might not be so bad after all.

Our first trip to the grocery store the next day was a doozie, to say the least. My sweetie and I went down each aisle, looking very closely at the nutrition labels, poring over each canned good and package. We could not BELIEVE the crap that was in things we never thought to look at! For example, a little tidbit: did you know that canned black beans have RIDICULOUS amounts of sodium, whereas the dried ones in the bag have almost none? Also, organics tend to have WAY less salt than their Walmart-brand counterparts. Yes, you pay more for organics, but you’ll pay with your health, too!

By the time our cart was full, I looked down at our loot, and felt something I hadn’t felt at the grocery store in a long time; I felt *proud*. The cart o’ health looked colorful, fresh, and delicious. Greek yogurt, frozen fish, TONS of bagged fresh and frozen fruits and veggies, low-fat organic milk, and plenty of canned organics made me feel like we were going down the right path for the first time since we’d been married.

Weird thing? Red meat hasn’t been a part of our meals at home at all in the last week. And the only meaty dishes I’ve cooked have been chicken and fish. Red meat was such a HUGE part of our repertoire before that it seemed to be something I’d never be able to give up, but as time passes, my desire for it does, too.

Weirder thing? The last two days have been vegetarian days without intention. Greek yogurt provides TONS of protein, oatmeal provides whole grains, and my Boca Burgers and broccoli dinners are so delish that I haven’t noticed my lack of moo and cluck in my meals. My water-only rule (unless we eat out, in which I allow myself a Diet Coke) has made me feel like my face is glowing, too!

Wish us luck, world. I can’t pretend that my infertility isn’t one of my main drives to eat a more healthy, holistic diet…. And I’m excited to explore the other side of this leaf we’ve turned over.

Oh, and a shout out to my awesome husband, who, after tackling this diet and exercise program head on, has already lost 6 pounds. Woo hoo!