The Ugly Truth Behind PCOS

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I am 1 in 10. I have a condition known as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS. For many years, this was an unheard of & unspoken illness. While the internet can sometimes be the bane of my existence, it’s provided a lot of insight and comfort recently. It’s so helpful and awe-inspiring to see so many others in the same struggle. It’s had a terrible impact on the last 15 years of my life but before I get into my story, let’s shed some light on what PCOS actually is.

PCOS is a condition that affects a woman’s hormone levels. 1 out of 10 women have this illness. Despite this ratio, experts believe that more than half of women with PCOS don’t even realize they have it. Women with PCOS have slightly higher levels of testosterone and androgen in the body than normal for the average woman. Despite the name, you may not necessarily have ovarian cysts. Symptoms can sometimes present themselves at the onset of a girl’s period; however, many won’t notice anything until they’ve gained a significant amount of weight or have trouble getting pregnant. In some cases, women don’t find out they have PCOS until after they have their first child. The most common symptoms are irregular periods, heavy bleeding, excess hair growth, acne, weight gain, male-pattern baldness, darkening of the skin, fatigue, and headaches. PCOS is also linked with chronic inflammation, which can leave you feeling achy, fatigued, and it contributes to weight gain.

Along with the myriad of symptoms, one of the biggest issues with PCOS is how it affects your ability to become and/or stay pregnant. In fact, it is the leading cause of female infertility. Between 70 and 80 percent of women with PCOS have fertility problems. This condition can also increase the risk of complication during pregnancy. Women with PCOS are twice as likely as women without the condition to deliver their baby prematurely. They’re also at greater risk for miscarriage, high blood pressure, and gestational diabetes. However, hope is not lost. Having PCOS does not mean you will be incapable of becoming pregnant naturally; it just may take longer than others. Losing weight and lowering blood sugar levels can improve your odds of having a healthy pregnancy. Women with PCOS can also get pregnant using fertility treatments that improve ovulation.

There is no cure for PCOS; however, there are several medications and treatments your doctor may suggest. Medications such as birth control & metformin are often prescribed to reduce symptoms and/or regulate your period. Fertility medicines may also be recommended for those trying to become pregnant. Your doctor may require regular tests and follow up visits to be sure that the treatment/medication is working properly and to adjust if necessary. Some doctors may also recommend supplements, including berberine, folate, B12, vitamin D, and inositol. Regular exercise, healthy eating, and weight control are also key treatments for PCOS. Unfortunately, it can be more challenging to lose weight and to maintain weight loss with PCOS. Some recommended foods to avoid are foods that are high in refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and muffins, sugary snacks and drinks, and inflammatory foods, such as processed and red meats. Many women with PCOS often have higher than normal insulin levels. Doctors advise that just a slight weight reduction and increase of exercise can help improve insulin sensitivity.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, seek help from your OB/GYN as soon as possible. The sooner you get help, the sooner you will be on the path to feeling better!

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MY STORY:


I am 1 in 10. Everyone has a story…this is mine. After suffering every single month throughout high school and falling very sick during my first semester of college, I sought help from a gynecologist. She diagnosed me soon after with PCOS at the age of 18. From then on, I was put on various birth control pills (and even that godawful…and pointless…patch) to try and regulate things. It has been mostly under control, except for my weight fluctuating like crazy, my face randomly breaking out like a teenager, and my period doing whatever it damn well pleases.

I do not have kids yet and am otherwise convinced that I won’t be able to have them. I have suffered two miscarriages – one in my very early 20s and another one recently. For my entire life, the only thing I ever wanted to be was a mom…but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for me. Doctors aren’t quick to confirm infertility – seems they’d rather you suffer the agony of losing babies or being unable to conceive altogether before they step in. Nonetheless, that’s the conclusion I’ve come to. I know there are plenty of options nowadays but the heartache of miscarriages combined with my age make it seem all the more daunting and unrealistic.

I’ve recently come off birth control and I’m hoping to not go back on it. I’ve been on it for 15 years, barring a few months here and there where I was giving my body a break or where I didn’t have insurance. While it is helpful for many of my symptoms, it tends to stop my period and cause a bunch of other issues…which I don’t need. I plan on taking it day by day to see how my body reacts and if all goes well, I won’t go back on the pills. The goal, as always, is to feel good & live a better, healthier life.

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If you or someone you know is struggling, please know you are NOT alone. Feel free to contact me anytime through social media or via email – I’m always available to lend an understand ear.

Stay strong & stay in the fight

xoxo

Gina

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Living with IBS

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is one of the most common health concerns facing Americans today yet it’s one of the least discussed. Many people who have this condition suffer in silence due to it being somewhat of a “taboo” subject or just for not knowing that there is an actual problem.

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The walls of the intestines are lined with layers of muscle that contract and relax in a coordinated rhythm as they move food from your stomach through your intestinal tract to your rectum. If you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, the contractions may be stronger and last longer than normal which will cause gas, bloating, and/or diarrhea. The opposite can also occur with weak intestinal contractions, slowing food passage and leading to hard, dry stools. Abnormalities in your gastrointestinal nervous system also may play a role, causing you to experience greater than normal discomfort when your abdomen stretches from gas or stool. Poorly coordinated signals between the brain and the intestines can make your body overreact to the changes that normally occur in the digestive process. This overreaction can cause pain, diarrhea or constipation.

As many as 1 in 5 American adults experience signs and/or symptoms of IBS. There are two common forms of IBS – IBS-C, with constipation, and IBS-D, with diarrhea. It is unknown what causes IBS but there are many factors, including family history, which are considered to be a trigger for those suffering with this illness.

One of the biggest triggers for IBS is a person’s diet. Many people have more severe symptoms when they eat certain things. Some doctors will recommend doing an elimination diet to pinpoint what the exact trigger food(s) could be. Some other recommendations include: eliminating high-gas foods such as carbonated beverages, vegetables (especially cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and cauliflower) and raw fruits, eliminating gluten (wheat, barley, and rye) or avoiding refined (not whole) grains, eliminating FODMAPs, avoiding high protein diets, limiting or eliminating caffeine (such as coffee), and experimenting with fiber intake. A person suffering with IBS should eat smaller meals and drink plenty of liquids, especially water! It’s also important to note that a person with this illness should be careful with their dairy intake, regardless if they are lactose intolerant or not.

Another common trigger for IBS sufferers is stress. Many people find that their symptoms are worsened or brought on during periods of increased stress. While stress certainly will aggravate your symptoms, there has not been any research found to cause them.

Women, especially under the age of 45, are twice as likely to develop IBS. Researchers believe that this is due to hormonal changes. Many women find that their symptoms are more prevalent during or around their menstrual cycle. IBS worsens as hormone levels fall. As hormone levels fall to the lowest point during menstruation, symptoms such as stomach pain, discomfort, and constipation or diarrhea become more common and intense. What’s worse, those who suffer from painful periods, are twice as likely to have an increase in symptoms.

Even though the signs and symptoms are uncomfortable IBS, unlike ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease (which are forms of inflammatory bowel disease), doesn’t cause changes in bowel tissue or increase your risk for colorectal cancer. Some symptoms that may indicate a more serious condition include rectal bleeding, abdominal pain that progresses or occurs at night, and/or weight loss.

While there is no cure for IBS, there are certain things that have been proven to alleviate some of the symptoms. One easy remedy is to exercise regularly. Incorporating regular exercise into your routine will not only help you to look & feel better about yourself, it will also help to stimulate normal contractions in your intestines. If you’ve been inactive, start slowly and gradually increase the amount of time you exercise. If you have other medical problems, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program. Another form of therapy, while non-traditional, is the use of herbs such as peppermint. Peppermint is a natural antispasmodic that relaxes smooth muscles in the intestines. It’s important to note that while it may ease your IBS symptoms, peppermint may increase heartburn. Before taking any herbs, check with your doctor to be sure they won’t interact or interfere with other medications. Probiotics are “good” bacteria that normally live in your intestines and are found in certain foods, such as yogurt and in dietary supplements. It’s been suggested that if you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you may not have enough good bacteria so by adding probiotics to your diet, you may ease your symptoms.

IBS can be a long-lasting problem that can impact how you live your life. Many people with IBS miss work or school more often and they may feel less comfortable taking part in daily activities. If you feel that you may have IBS, contact your doctor for further testing.

**This article was originally published with The Arena – all references for the information given above can be found on that site.

 

Fighting to be Fit…3 Years later!!

 

I’m about a week late but…Happy 3-year Blogiversary to all of us!! Thank you all for your continued support as we Fight to be Fit!

I had big plans for this little blog last year but life had different ideas. 2016 was a rough year for most of us…and I was no exception. I suffered a major setback with my health, in the form of severe chronic fatigue and the reappearance of my PCOS symptoms. On top of that, my shoulder finally gave out on me & I had no choice but to undergo surgery. It’s been a really long road…but I’m finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

For starters, I’m officially 3-months post op! Although I still have pain, I’m 1000% better than I was before. My range of motion isn’t perfect but it’s definitely improved. I’m finally able to raise my arms above my head without pain, which is something I haven’t been able to do in over two years! Despite my progress, I get in my head a lot. I think about how hard I worked and where I was before this injury happened. My workouts have resumed but they are nothing like they once were. It’s a huge adjustment mentally but I’m trying my very best to focus on the positives. I may not be able to lift heavy or do the exercises I once loved, but I will be able to soon. Deep down I know that if I push myself too far too soon, I will only make matters worse…and set myself back even further.

As far as my health goes, I have good and bad days. My chronic fatigue has gotten much better, which I believe is due in large part to a supplement called Adrenal Restore. That shit is magic. I wrote a whole review about it last year…and everything still holds true today. My PCOS symptoms have been horrible. I’ve developed pretty debilitating migraines, which sent me to the ER earlier in the year. All things considered though, that’s been mostly under control and since that episode have rarely happened.

The surgery mixed with my health issues definitely set me back with my weight loss. I gained back a good 20lbs over the last year….and it definitely wasn’t muscle. I went from weighing over 200lbs to getting myself ripped to something in the middle.

I won’t pretend that I’m happy about the setbacks or that I’m proud of where I’m at. However, despite my physical setbacks I learned that mentally I’m stronger than ever. Sure I have bad days like everyone else…but rather than get discouraged by the bad I’m using it as motivation. I know if I keep working hard and stick to a (mostly) clean diet, I will see great results. Hell, I’m already seeing some drastic improvements!

November 2016 >> December 2016


Being on a weight loss journey really teaches you the art of patience…and about yourself. We are all much stronger than we know and it’s not until we are truly put to the test that we realize our full potential. That being said, I won’t make any elusive promises or grand gestures as we go into our 4th year. My goal is simple: continue to inspire all of you reading and give you all hope that no matter how hard life gets or what obstacles you face, it IS possible. After all, nothing worth having comes easy 🙂

Let’s all continue this Fight to be Fit together throughout 2017…& beyond!

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

Gina

 

2 Years & Still Going Strong!!

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You guys…this week marked my 2 year blogiversary! I can’t believe it’s been so long – where the hell has time gone?!? First and foremost, I want to take the time to thank everyone who has supported me and read any of my posts. This really has been the little engine that could but I am truly grateful for you all. My goal with this blog has always been to share my journey in the hopes of inspiring or motivating someone else who may be struggling on their own journey. Hopefully, I have achieved that goal and some of you see that if I can do it, so can you! I truly appreciate all of you sticking with me…and I promise you even bigger and better things in 2016!

With that out of the way, I want to get into some of the updates and plans that I have in mind for this year. For starters, I am very proud to announce that I have FINALLY become a certified personal trainer! After years of being miserable in Corporate America, it feels amazing to be able to pursue such a life changing profession…and I can’t wait to get started!

In addition to getting a job as a personal trainer, my plan is to finally move out of the Bronx…once & for all. If everything goes according to plan, within the next couple of months I will be calling Long Island home. Good bye city life! (cue Green Acres theme song)

As far as fitness goes, one of my biggest ideas/plans for this year is to create a free, outdoor boot camp. I want to share my knowledge and experience with you all…and the best way to do that is to practice what I preach. Ideally, this will happen in the spring…so as the warm weather approaches, more details will follow.

Another thing in the works involves an amazing supplement company, 1st Phorm. They have an incredible weight loss transphormation challenge going on now. In addition to that, I have been working on my own weight loss challenge that will, in a way, piggyback off of it. I’m very excited to share that with you all – so stay tuned for that in the next couple of weeks!!

As far as this blog goes, my overall plan is to post much more often and perhaps switch this whole thing up a bit. I post pretty regularly on Instagram (@FinallyFit23) but the plan is to add a lot more workouts and recipes on here…while still giving my same motivational posts.

There are so many exciting things to come this year and it’s only just begun! Thanks for sticking with me over the last two years – I promise that the best is yet to come!

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

Gina
TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com

1st Phorm Product Review: Adrenal Restore

For the last 10 years, I have suffered with Chronic Fatigue. Many symptoms come and go but the fatigue is always present. I’ve taken vitamins, gotten injections, and tried various other remedies but nothing has worked. Until now.

Enter Adrenal Restore, from the awesome people at 1st Phorm. This has truly been my magic pill. I’ve been using it for about three weeks now and it has completely changed my life. I went from barely being able to move out of bed to being back at full speed in the gym, while balancing the rest of my hectic life. I have tested it by using it a few days then taking a few off. Let me tell you – I feel a HUGE difference when I take the pills. The aches and pains are almost non-existent, my energy is insane, and even my sleep has improved.

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Here’s a little background on the pills themselves and how they help you:

From 1st Phorm: “The potent ingredients of Adrenal Restore reduce physical and mental stress, minimize caffeine headaches, reduce cortisol levels to help minimize fat storage and optimize natural energy levels.”

Since beginning these pills, I have drastically cut down my coffee intake – going from a MINIMUM of 4 cups per day down to one. My energy levels have been much higher than it has in months so I haven’t needed that extra caffeine boost. I also notice that while I may not be getting extra hours of sleep, I feel much more rested when I wake up. Best of all, I am able to lead a normal life without the aches & pains wearing me down.

More from 1st Phorm: “Your Adrenal glands play a huge role in your every day function and how well your body operates. They are responsible for some major hormones like DHEA, Cortisol, Progesterone, testosterone, Adrenaline and over 40 others. These hormones can be thrown out of whack due to the strain placed on your adrenal glands through training, stress in life, anxiety patterns, stimulants, and countless external stressors. No matter what gender someone is, they are susceptible to the negative side effects of having there hormones being out of whack. This is where the term adrenal fatigue comes in: being chronically tired, trouble getting up after good sleep, cravings for food, getting sick more easily, not feeling the effects of stimulants like caffeine, feeling over whelmed… and the list goes on. Now, Adrenal Restore is an all-natural product designed to help reduce those side effects and get your adrenal glands back to proper function. This is done with the vitamins and herbs in the capsules. Here is a list of ingredients. You will see that the ingredients listed are proven to be antioxidants, fight fatigue, improve memory, normalizing blood sugar, boosting your immune system, and mood enhancing.”

*As a word of caution: Even though this is a natural supplement, if you are currently on prescription medication you should consult your physician prior to trying these pills.*

I don’t like to promote products for the sake of doing it. This blog is all about sharing my journey to help others facing similar struggles. I truly believe that this pill can help many others who are suffering, just as it helped me. If you are interested in learning more about this product or any others, click here or send me an email at the address below. I would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

Gina

TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com