Crunchy, Chewy, Crispy Carbs: How many should I eat with PCOS?

Carbs. Salty, chewy carbs. Tortilla chips, sourdough bread, crackers, potatoes, rice. MMMM. CARBS. Oh, how I love carbs. I’d take the warm, chewy sourdough bread with a tab of melting butter over the freshly-baked chocolate cake any day. Who needs sugar when you can have BREAD?!

When all the Atkins and Southbeach and Zone diets started coming out, I remember having this reaction, summed up so exquisitely by Michael Cera in Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World: (And yes, Scotty, I could eat garlic bread for every meal, too.)

Now that I know what’s up with my body (PCOS and subclinical hypothyroid), it makes sense that in my dieting life, the only diet that’s ever worked has been low-carb. When you have PCOS, you are typically insulin resistant, which means that sugars and carbs spike your blood sugar, causing you to hold on to those calories and sugar grams much more than fat. Here’s a nifty diagram that explains it:

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I’ve had the sad realization lately that a low-calorie diet with exercise ain’t gonna do it. Oh no. My body needs less, and in a way, it needs more. More fat, less carbs. My doctor is sadly moving on to another practice, so next week I’ll meet with her replacement, hopefully somebody who can work with me and be like “THIS IS WHY YOU’RE FAT” (and, ahem, not point out the meal I had last week that *was* just a giant piece of garlic bread. Naaaaah. Couldn’t be that.) Today I started a super low dose of Synthroid to help get my sluggish thyroid moving a little bit, and I was also put back on Metformin, the diabetes drug that helps with PCOS insulin resistance. When I was on it last time for a few weeks, I remember lovvvving the energy boost I felt. I wasn’t dragging through the day. I’m looking forward to feeling normal again, even though a nice, nasty summer cold showed up today and I sound all froggy.

I’ve decided to start counting carbs again. While I’m not necessarily doing an Atkins style diet, I’m going to try to eat around 100-150 grams of carbs per day. I came to this number by doing some extensive Googling. The first two weeks of Atkins, induction, has you eating 40 grams of carbs or less. I figure 100 is a nice number that allows me to still have a piece of bread here and there, but for the most part, my meals need to be vegetable and protein. It’s not too bad, I suppose. I’d honestly rather eat low-carb than 1,000 calories, because at least on low carb you can enjoy olive oil, butter and cheese, sparingly. And who doesn’t love bacon?! I’ve been using My Fitness Pal and a new app called Daily Carb.

Given that low-carb has always been the key to success with me and weight loss, I’m hoping this new approach towards eating plus regular exercise and my new medicines will help get things moving the right way. Thankfully I’ve maintained a couple pounds down in the past month, which I’m hopeful about as the scale has FINALLY stopped moving up. I suppose it could be different when I weigh in at the doctor’s next week, but for now, I’m trying not to focus on the number so much as getting into a routine. Because consistency is key, right?

Have you noticed anything about how carbs affect your weight loss? Does it not matter? Are you one of those lucky people who could LOSE weight by eating only carbs?

Even my liver is fat.

In the past three months, I’ve had 22 vials of blood drawn, one abdominal ultrasound, one liver ultrasound, one diagnosis, four doctor’s visits, three crying fits and exactly one bag of movie theater popcorn (The Heat. Go see it. Melissa McCarthy is one funny gal). I prefer the latter to all the above! The good news is, the medical mystery is winding down as results of my liver ultrasound came in.

Drumroll please… I don’t have cancer. YAY! I don’t have jaundice. YAY! I don’t have hepatitis. YAY! What I do have is… a fat liver. Yup. Because I’m all about synergy and fitting in, even my organs have to match my current shape… which is healthy with an accumulation of fat. Basically, my liver is not inflamed, but appears to have a “fatty streak” or build-up of cholesterol, likely a genetic condition (Thanks Dad), which is causing the high liver enzyme results. This will only be a concern if my cholesterol is high, which as of now, is healthy and A-OK.

In addition, my thyroid panel came back and while I’m not full-blown hypothyroid, my thyroid results are in the “low” range, giving us some wiggle room to try out some thyroid medications. I fit all of the symptoms for a hypothyroid, so my doctor and I have agreed that next month we’ll start out a low-dose of thyroid replacement medication and see what it does. I was initially nervous about this because I had heard once you start thyroid medication you can’t get off of it, but in my case because I don’t need a full dose or replacement of thyroid hormone, it’s safe for me to “dabble” a bit. I have mixed feelings about trying medications to get everything moving correctly, but at this point in the weight loss game, I’ll take any help I can get. It’s like I’ve said before – I know something’s not right, so if it takes a little trial and error to pinpoint it, I’ll do it.

So, now we have a kind-of diagnosis of what’s going. Polycystic ovarian syndrome, which makes weight loss near impossible yet its biggest treatment is weight loss, sluggish thyroid which is not yet in full-blown “hypo” mode but dangerously close, and a chunky liver. What does this mean for moving forward? It means squeaky clean eating 90% of the time, but still allowing myself to live every now and then, with a piece of wedding cake here and there, a few sips of wine, some movie theater popcorn. It means getting back on track with my exercise plan, which has dwindled thanks to my reduced calorie-diet, laziness and house-hunting. It means telling everyone and their mom (hence this blog) about my condition, to try and glean knowledge about these conditions I may not have known before, and it means, more than ever… to keep fighting the fight, to stay strong, to keep going, to laugh in the face of my fatty liver, cystic ovaries and lazy thyroid, to say to them, “You’re a motley crew… but together, we’re going to do this.”

So — let’s hear it. What do you know about livers, thyroids and ovaries? Are yours in working order? Do you know anyone who has the same malady I do?

 

My terrible, horrible, no good very bad day.

Happy Friday, everybody! I’ve been in a little bit of a funk this last part of the week as on Tuesday I headed to the doctor to get my weight re-checked and my liver enzymes reported. (After the 10 day detox, I was supposed to lose 8-12 pounds and we were hoping for an improvement on the elevated liver enzymes from tests prior).

To summarize, to prepare for success I…

  • Followed a very strict 10-day medical grade cleanse and detox (And FYI I did not cheat once — didn’t think I’d have to make that claim… thanks to the butthead who suggested my tests came back because I “probably cheated”,)
  • Consistently took my metformin, the new insulin resistant drug I was placed on that was supposed to help with weight loss

My scale at home was showing a hopeful number — 12 pounds down. I even bought an old school, analog dial scale to confirm that everything was correct. Husband even cross-checked his weight, and it was right. So when I weighed in at the doctor, I was really, really shocked to hear that in the past six weeks, I had gained five pounds.

As I sat on the the exam table and tried to choke back tears, I discussed with my doctor how this was even possible. We moved on to the liver results, and they haven’t gotten any better, at all. So my difficult, expensive, horrendous detox? Didn’t work.

My new plan of action is eating 1,000 calories a day per my doctor, starting a new drug called Invokana, also for insulin resistance associated with my PCOS, and having a liver ultrasound to rule out any masses, lesions or inflammation. I’m not gonna lie, I’m having a hard time with this all. When your body is going rogue despite you trying everything you possibly can to make it better, it’s frustrating. I had eight vials of blood taken on Tuesday to re-check my low vitamin D levels and also re-examine my thryoid function, this time, looking at thyroid antibodies, which if off balance can indicate Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.

I thought I had made it through the appointment without bursting into tears, but as I was put in to another exam room to have my blood drawn, my eyes started welling up. I thought I was off the hook until the doctor came in, took one look at me, asked if I was ok, and the great dam broke free. I was really embarrassed but she was super supportive and comforting and assured me we would work through this together. I’m grateful to have a doctor with wonderful bed side manner who’s willing to work with me to figure out what’s going on.

I’m sad, mad, frustrated, irritated, scared… you name it. I want so badly to be on the right track, to see the scale moving downwards rather than up. The only thing I can think of is maybe the lack of exercise during my detox (no cardio was allowed during the plan) might have contributed to a gain – but even so – a gain of five pounds? Something’s wrong.

I’ve talked about my awesome intuition before, and I know something’s up. If nothing is found this time, I’m going to keep looking. I feel that something is off, or not working the way it should be. Knowing about the PCOS is half of it, but I really feel there’s another factor at play. Until I know, I must wait, as patiently as I can, trying to be optimistic. But I’ll tell you – you really never acknowledge your health until it’s in jeopardy. Take a moment today and be grateful for your health because when it’s suddenly in flux, it’s not fun. At all.

I’m sorry if this post is a downer but I needed to keep you all updated. Do you have any advice for me for handling the “What if”‘s of the next few days?

 

Medical Mysteries: Solved!

I’m sure you’ve all been waiting with bated breath for my medical test results to come back… so without further ado… I am diabetes and thyroid-problem free! I kinda knew in my heart that I’d probably be okay – and with that, my diagnosis is: obesity, slow metabolism, overactive imagination.

Because it was my lucky day, the doc also threw in a cholesterol test. My cholesterol is still in the good healthy level, but my triglycerides are creeping up a bit. With my steady diet of butter, bacon and cheese, I haven’t the slightest idea why! I jest, I jest. Kind of.

So! What’s the moral from this? The moral is – as always – that worrying gives small things big shadows. I need to learn to stop morphing these small things into giant, colossal boulders that I try to roll around in my head. However, I also need to stay focused on getting healthy, which means shedding these 40 extra pounds.

This weekend my sister is visiting me, and we’re going to start our day with a trip to exercise with Richard Simmons at Slimmons. It’s a good reminder that exercise CAN be fun if I’m doing the right kind – and it’s a perfect reminder for next week’s goal, which is to exercise at least three times. You keep me accountable, readers. Thank you <3

What’s your goal for next week?

Medical Mysteries – A peek into my “What If?” life

Hello Friends:

At this time tomorrow, I will not be enjoying air-popped popcorn as I am now…rather, I will be bitchy and wanting to smack someone savoring the feeling of hunger as I fast in preparation for an early morning blood test. You see, I have a host of small but benign medical issues – environmental allergies, occasional stupid anxiety, weird skin sensitivities that flare up at random times, toe nail issues. I was at the doctor this week for a physical, and when questioning my diet and exercise plans, he started to ask me some small, seemingly non-threatning questions.

“Do you smoke?”

“No.”

“Do you ever get cold hands or feet?”

“Yep, why?”

“Do you get shaky if you don’t eat?”

“Yeah, why?”

“How about tension headaches?”

“Yes, why?”

Pause.

“I don’t want to worry you, but we’re going to order a thryoid, diabetes and lipids test. You never know what’s going on, and sometimes all of these small symptoms can be the cause of something easily treatable,” said Doctor.

LYSSA BRAIN – GO!!!! *Image of me lying on a hospital gurney, gaunt, bags under my eyes, holding hands with my loved ones, saying something hopefully poetic and meaningful in my last moments of life.*

“Either condition wouldn’t be a big deal, and it could be totally treatable. We’re going to check just to be safe and rule out any underlying triggers,” said Doctor.

At this point in my mind I’ve already been diagnosed with diabetes, high cholesterol, hyperthyroidism , and, apparently, some form of cancer that just cropped up from hearing about possibly having an easily treatable, un-fatal ailment. Yup. That’s how my brain works. It aint ideal, but it’s kinda funny. I’m the Queen of “What If” – a position I hope to step down from soon, thanks to clever books with weird titles like “Things might go terribly, horribly wrong”.

So this is all strange, because of course I don’t want either thyroid issues or diabetes, but it brought up an interesting question. WHAT IF all of these (see? there I go) random little ailments were part of one larger issue? Would that be better than having all these medical ankle-biters?  It’d be cool to be liberated from random headaches and grass-induced hives and the occasional storms of anxiety that sweep through me like electricity – but it wouldn’t be cool to know I had a jacked-up thyroid or an inability to process insulin and sugar. (He’s less concerned about diabetes as I recently had a test for that and was fine – and yes, I spazzed out before that test, too.)

I’m trying not to get all worked up, because as talented as I am at spazzing, I need to learn to let that hobby go. I’ll head in Friday morning and probably have results on Monday, so in the meantime, I’ll cross my fingers that my blood is balanced and happy and red. As Dexter says, “Blood says so much”.

Have you ever been faced with a medical mystery? Are you the type of person who goes immediately to a doctor at the first sign of something wrong, or do you wait it out and see? If facing a potentially alarming diagnosis, do you suffer from “What If”-itis?