Vulnerability time. Today I’m sharing some of the difficult parts of my personal story in the hopes that my experience will provide encouragement and solidarity if you’ve been diagnosed with PCOS. It can be a scary diagnosis, and because of the chronic nature of the symptoms, it can also feel like you’re doomed to discomfort, unexplainable weight gain, and even infertility. But I am living proof that a PCOS diagnosis is reversible, and managing it can become your superpower.
My PCOS Diagnosis and Weight Loss Struggles
I’m Tallene, creator and founder of PCOS Weight Loss, and yes, a fellow Cyster. I was diagnosed with PCOS at age 18 when I was rushed to the emergency room for a ruptured ovarian cyst. In a way, the diagnosis was a relief, because it explained so much of the frustration I had been feeling regarding my weight. I was kickboxing twice a day and not losing a single pound, and cutting calories only left me feeling hungry and crabby. In short, I was miserable.
In desperation, I asked my doctor for more information on how to manage my diagnosis—but I was so disheartened to learn that birth control was my only option. I didn’t want to accept it; there must have been a more natural way! After two years I made the bold decision to quit synthetic hormones. Unfortunately, my weight ballooned to an extra thirty pounds heavier, despite all my efforts to continue exercising and eating right.
I hated the idea of birth control. But I also hated the excess weight and felt powerless to control it. Nothing was working. I was all the more determined to research all I could about the disorder. I consulted with naturopathic doctors and sought alternative remedies for my condition. I knew there must be alternative solutions out there… natural ways to empower my body to heal itself.
Learning to Say “Ciao!” to Chronic Inflammation
In 2011 I had the opportunity of a lifetime: a summer in Italy studying the culinary arts! And although it may seem unlikely seeing I was in the land of pasta and parmesan, I learned to cut out gluten and dairy. Yes, I said “Ciao!” to spaghetti, fettuccine, and linguine, and all the cheese you sprinkle on top. But you know what else makes up Italian cuisine? A Mediterranean diet: locally prepared meats, healthy oils, plenty of fish, and lots and lots of fresh vegetables. I was onto something.
The dietary changes seemed to unlock my weight loss mystery. It turns out that both gluten and dairy can cause a lot of inflammation in the body, something that was detrimental to my PCOS condition. Of course, gluten and dairy are in a lot of foods, and it was a little intimidating to make the decision to cut out these major food staples. But thanks to a job at a gluten and dairy-free grocery store when I got back, it was actually easy to adopt this new lifestyle. And because my body felt so much better, I decided to avoid gluten and dairy for good.
I knew I was heading in the right direction. What else could I tweak to improve my health, I wondered. Perhaps my exercise regime needed a little fixing. So I swapped kickboxing for yoga, and boom! I lost ten pounds. Turns out that yoga addresses chronic inflammation as well as manages stress, which was the key to managing my PCOS holistically.
Rediscovering Better Health
The gains I had made were all the more motivating to continue researching and learning. The next step on the journey was enrolling in grad school to study Nutritional Science. On the medication front, I started taking the supplement Ovasitol, and miracle of miracles, my periods became regular once again. That was a HUGE breakthrough since the time I decided to quit birth control four years prior.
My body was healing. The right foods and the right supplements gifted me real results. I couldn’t wait to share my own experience with my clients.
In 2016 I started working with a (very cute!) PCOS personal trainer named Sirak. He introduced me to slow, weighted exercises, which were really different from the hours of kickboxing I used to do at the gym. The result? Ten pounds just melted off.
I finally passed the necessary exams to become a registered dietitian, and I decided to specialize (surprise, surprise!) in helping other women understand and manage PCOS. My journey of challenge and hardship had become a means to help thousands of women, and I couldn’t imagine a more fulfilling career.
Hope for Women with PCOS
Sirak and I married in 2019, and together we have developed a program that offers support and real solutions for PCOS sufferers. My hope is that women will discover effective treatments for their PCOS symptoms without having to navigate the murky misinformation I had to sort through. My dream is to be the resource to other women that wasn’t available to me all those years ago.
Sirak and I make a great team. He edits and produces the content for our program, keeps PCOS management entertaining and hosts our podcast with me.
Even though I had to learn the best methods for managing PCOS over the course of a decade, you don’t have to! Together Sirak and I have created an easy and supportive program, and our “Cysterhood” of women reversing their symptoms has become the largest, most supportive community for women with PCOS.
Embrace Your Own Superpower
So how can PCOS become your superpower? Let my personal story serve as an inspiring example. Even though PCOS may have been a devastating diagnosis initially, it was the catalyst for preventative health, the reason for meeting my soul-mate and husband, and it has led to a fulfilling career helping a community of women. I’ve heard before that the bit of extra testosterone in women with PCOS, makes us more driven and determined…and I agree. I am living proof that you don’t just have to live with PCOS… you can thrive!
Are you ready to thrive? You can start by taking a quick (and fun!) quiz to determine your PCOS Type. I want to help you regain control of your PCOS and ultimately reverse your symptoms!