Saturday, October 1, 2011

My PCOS Story... Continues

I get the rare chance to be in a photo
with Calliope, age 6 weeks


I'm worried that I'm gaining weight.

I don't actually weigh myself, except at the midwife's office, so I don't know for sure.

But it feels like my thighs have started rubbing together (again) these last few days.

It seems that pregnancy controlled the hormone balance that caused me to gain weight these last few years from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).

Here's my back story (and sorry if I am repeating myself from a post long ago).

My sister has this ailment, and my mom may as well. My sister used to go a year without getting her period. And had horrible disfiguring acne for many years, until she finally took Accutane to help control it. And she had a terrible time getting pregnant, especially with her second child.

I was always fine until a few years ago. I used to chart my fertility for birth control purposes, so I know that back then, I ovulated every month. I mean, I was irregular, but not crazily so. My cycles were I think were roughly 28-35 days long, depending on the month, maybe longer during the months I was running a lot.

Then I decided to go on hormonal birth control for the first time.

I started with the Patch, which made me gain five pounds practically overnight. It also irritated my skin, so I didn't stay on it for long.

The weight melted away within a couple of weeks.

Then I went on a pill, I think, and then NuvaRing.

Much more slowly, I gained the five pounds back. Slowly enough, this time, that I didn't associate it with the birth control. And I had learned in graduate school that birth control can't cause weight gain. I knew this wasn't true, because of my recent Patch experience, but still, I didn't associate the weight gain with birth control.

I guess I thought I was being sloppy with my eating?

So I resolved to crack down, and ate really well, big salads with protein and the like. Which always allowed me to lose weight before.

Only this time, it didn't work.

Finally I gave up and figured I could live with the extra five pounds.

Over the next few years, the five pounds became twenty.

This caused great despair.

I tried all sorts of diets. I would lose three or four pounds, then stall. And as soon as I started to eat more again, I would gain it back.

For the record, I exercised consistently throughout. Generally four to five days a week, running thirty to forty minutes a day. Sometimes more. Rarely less.

I hated myself. Hated my body. Felt tormented.

The mild acne and the wispy sideburns and the little hairs on my chin certainly did not help.

Coming off the birth control did nothing, to my dismay. My weight didn't change, and my cycles got progressively longer... the last two were seventy days each. And I never ovulated in the nine months that I was charting my fertility signs.

Finally, about two and a half years ago, I gave up. I decided that I couldn't control the weight, but I could control how I treated myself.

I found this great online group called Intuitive Eating, which I now help moderate.

I decided that I would never diet again. That I would treat myself lovingly.

And I've kept that promise.

There's been little slips here and there, but for the most part, I've done great.

I'm proud of that.

And I'm a lot happier now that I refuse to define my self worth by my weight.

But still. I enjoyed the fact that pregnancy seemed to arrest the problem, and the PCOS actually may have limited my weight gain -- as if my body was trying to correct the PCOS gain while my hormones were controlled by pregnancy.

But now I'm scared that I am gaining again.

I tell myself that it doesn't matter, and truly, it doesn't matter.


My body is the amazing vessel that carried my miracle.


For that, I will forever be grateful.

I refuse to hate myself.

But I wish I could be slim again.

It's hard to live in a world that things fat is a sign of laziness.

And oh, I know it could be so much worse.

That's part of why I refuse to diet. I truly believe that diets cause weight gain.

That said, I'm re-reading Eat Fat to Lose Fat, and I'm going to try it again. Having coconut oil with every meal. Trying to limit processed foods (well, I'm already working on this) ... without inducing the feelings of deprivation that lead to eating more of the forbidden.

But it's hard not to feel anxious when my thighs rub together.

It's hard not to feel shame.

It's hard not to feel like this is my fault. That it's all an excuse for my laziness and my unworthiness as a human being.

Doesn't that "sound" stupid? And yet I am welling up, just typing this.

I don't really believe it... except for a little tiny bit of me that does.


  1. No you don't sound stupid. It doesn't really matter how hard we believe in ourselves or how hard we try the media promotes thin (sometimes too thin) women and with that in our faces all the time how could we not feel a little less than perfect.

    But don't feel that way. You are amazing and you are the same person thinner or heavier.

    Just be healthy, that's the best thing you can do.

  2. "It's hard not to feel like this is my fault. That it's all an excuse for my laziness and my unworthiness as a human being." This, to me, says it's not really about the weight. For what it's worth, you look fantastic. But I don't think me saying that will change how you feel.