If you are struggling to lose weight or have gained weight uncontrollably over the past few months or year, I’m here to tell you it’s not your fault! It can be so frustrating and also so unbelievable to gain weight while working out twice a day and cutting calories. I’ve been there cyster, I was going to kickboxing classes twice a day and eating half of what I should have been eating…and yet I was still gaining weight!
And the cherry on top is the advice to “eat less and move more” by many doctors. The truth of the matter is that PCOS is a metabolic disorder and there are real hormonal reasons why it is more difficult to lose weight with PCOS. The good news is that treating the root cause of your PCOS will help you heal your metabolism and lose weight.
I’m sharing with you some of my tips for losing weight with PCOS. It is up to you to decide which ones sit well with your soul, are not triggering, and feel like something that you can give a try.
- Try going gluten and dairy free. These are two foods that trigger high insulin and inflammation. Cutting them out for at least one month can help you understand if they are triggering your symptoms like increased cravings, weight gain, fatigue, acne. If you see any positive results with cutting out gluten and dairy and you feel like this is something sustainable for you, stick to it! We’re here for you in The Cysterhood, a membership for cysters to treat their root causes of PCOS and learn how to do our gluten and dairy free PCOS weight loss method.
- Stay off the restriction rollercoaster. I know I wanted to lose weight so badly, I would have eaten salad all day if that was the answer- but it wasn’t. If your main focus is to heal your metabolic dysfunction, then restricting calories and cutting out all your carbs is likely going to further fling your metabolism off the deep end. If what you’re doing is making you feel restricted, hungry and miserable, then perhaps it’s not right for you.
- Tune out the noise. One of the first ways we approach PCOS in The Cysterhood is by talking about all the things you can do to treat it. If you dive head first into all the foods you apparently have to cut out and all the lifestyle restrictions you apparently have to make, it can get extremely overwhelming and upsetting. Before restricting anything, start with a great self care routine to get your mind into a body positive headspace.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone’s PCOS journey and symptoms are so different. Just because someone was able to lose 20 lbs in 2 months doesn’t mean that you’re significantly decreased anxiety but no weight loss should be dismissed. Celebrate every positive step, no matter what. That way, you keep up what works and keep heading in the right direction.
- Don’t beat yourself up. It took me a whole year to adapt to the gluten and dairy free lifestyle! I knew it was working for me, yet it took me a whole year to get used to it and really get consistent with it. There were lots of ups and downs, moments when I accidentally ate gluten or I just felt like it. Nevertheless, it’s part of the journey and it’s important to not have perfect standards when it comes to a lifestyle.
- Treat your insulin resistance. If you have insulin resistance, which 70% of cysters do, it’s important to treat it in order to lose weight with PCOS. Sometimes this requires a lower carb diet, and sometimes that isn’t enough. So you can start adding components, for example consistently doing slow, weighted workouts can help build muscle and improve insulin sensitivity. Going gluten and dairy free can prevent large insulin spikes. Taking a look at your sugar intake and seeing if you’re having excess sugar or even too much fruit in your diet. These are all components to managing insulin resistance, especially if you have very severe insulin resistance.
- Meditation. I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep your stress hormones nice and low. If your stress goes unmanaged and your cortisol is high all the time, then it can lead to weight gain in the abdomen. A meditation practice can reduce stress significantly, try doing 10 minutes in the morning or even before bed.
- Get 8 hours of sleep. Getting enough sleep is especially important for insulin resistance. Lack of sleep can lead to a 30% increase in insulin resistance, which leads to more cravings and poor food choices. Getting enough sleep will also help with managing stress hormones.
- Turn off your screens at night. What if you can’t get enough sleep? Try reading a book instead of scrolling through your phone a couple hours before you go to bed. The blue light from your phone stimulates cortisol and suppresses melatonin, which keeps you awake longer. A consistent nightly wind down routine is ideal to help you g et enough sleep and feel refreshed, not fatigued the next day.
- Plan out your meals. I like to plan my dinner while I’m making breakfast. I also like to have the same lunch almost every day that week, just to avoid the decision fatigue. Whatever works for you, try to plan your meals in advance and have scheduled meal times so you don’t skip meals and you make sure that it is a priority.
- Watch your calories. And what I mean by that is, be aware of eating too few calories at this can actually slow down your metabolism. I’ve seen cysters between 1200 and 2000 calories and losing weight because they’re metabolism is moving. PCOS weight loss is less about the calories and more about what you’re doing to heal the hormones that affect metabolism, like insulin and cortisol.
- Practice self love. I know it can be hard because you really want to lose weight but weight gain doesn’t make you any less of a person. It doesn’t mean you’re lazy. The weight also isn’t the reason you have PCOS, it is a result of the hormonal imbalance that we’re trying to figure out. I know you want to feel like yourself again, but you have to learn to love your body no matter what. Be patient and hopeful as you reverse your PCOS, try to accept this whole process as a growing experience.