September is PCOS Awareness Month!

Ah, PCOS – the annoying syndrome that most people have never heard of that wreaks havoc on almost every part of an affected woman’s body. Hair loss, hair growth, weight gain, anxiety, depression, acne, darkening skin, thyroid problems, fatigue, irregular or absent periods, infertility… it’s the gift that keeps on giving. But, the good news is, that PCOS is treatable, and though fraught with frustration, it can *kind of* be reversed with weight loss and medication. The problem is, losing the weight you need to lose to reverse it feels near damn impossible, but people tell me it IS possible, so I’m going to be optimistic and believe that.

I always try and blog at least once in September about PCOS, because I think more people need to know what it is, and we need to beat down the doors of stigma. When I first found out I had PCOS, I was MAD – mad because for years, I was the hallmark poster child of the syndrome, but never once did my doctors think to look beyond a sluggish thyroid or blame it on my own lack of efforts that no matter what I did, my weight continually ballooned upwards. It was only diagnosed after gaining seven pounds on a doctor-ordered liver cleanse (where I pretty much ate nothing but green veggies and drank only supplement liquids) that I demanded every single blood test and scan of pretty much every metabolic function in my body. Sure enough,  after an ultrasound, I had plenty of cysts, in addition to highly elevated androgen levels that explained my metabolic dysfunction, my tendency towards anxiety, and why I’ve always lost fistfuls of hair. I also was unable to breastfeed my daughter for more than three months as my body simply never produced enough milk, despite trying every single method known to lactation consultants and witch doctors alike.

I’ve seen several doctors over the years, and while I am fortunate to be in good health, the weight is one nut I cannot seem to crack. However, more science is being done every day on how this syndrome can be treated, and with the help of experts like Dr. Fiona, I do believe we’re getting closer to finding solutions that will work for every varied and complex case of PCOS. Many people want to write off this syndrome as something that’s not important, an ‘invisible illness’ that ‘fat people use as an excuse to stay fat’ (I got those gems from the trolls of the Internet), but the truth is, it can have devastating effects. One in 10 women has PCOS, and for many, PCOS means years of challenging fertility treatments, medication to control blood sugar before it leads to full-blown diabetes, and an exasperating growth in emotional imbalance leading to panic attacks and depression.

I’ve bought many books over the years including A Patient’s Guide to PCOS, The PCOS Diet Plan, and PCOS for Dummies, but I have a new favorite. Dr. Fiona McCulloch’s 8 Steps to Reverse Your PCOS is packed with the scientific data and reasoning behind so many methods for treating and reversing PCOS, and at times it felt like I was having lunch with a very smart yet very cool doctor who “gets it” as she explains why such and such causes such and such to happen. I also liked that in the first few chapters, there are several quizzes and lists that help you identify which type of PCOS you have; splitting it into four categories of A,B,C, and D, to help you determine what areas you need to focus on.

Dr. McCulloch is a self-described ‘data junkie’ and you can really feel that in her writing. As a nerdy former grad student myself, I like digging into numbers and statistics. One of the most helpful resources she provides to readers is a chart that details insulin counts. If you have PCOS, you’re likely insulin resistant, which means that your cells are less sensitive to the actions of insulin, so you tend to hold onto fat and sugars in the bloodstream much more than a “normal” person. Dr. Fiona details an extensive chart of food that you can work into your diet based on a low-insulin count for breakfast, and modified insulin counts for lunch and dinner. For example, a piece of chicken has an insulin count of 20 (good) whereas a low-fat blueberry muffin has an insulin count of 116 (not so good). I’m going to be incorporating some low-insulin-count foods into my current low carb eating plan, and see what happens when I start to play with the numbers a little bit.

I also like that she lists some supplements you can try to help with the various issues of PCOS. I have never tried a supplement approach for my PCOS, and I’m thinking about checking out Myo-Inositol and Holy Basil per her recommendations. I was sent a free copy of Dr. McColloch’s book to review, but am not under any obligation to mention it at all. I just found it helpful and wanted to share.

If you think you might have PCOS, ask your gynecologist or endocrinologist to test you for some of the hallmark symptoms. It can explain a lot of frustrations with your health, and with new advances in sciences, I do believe we’ll get closer to finding a way to reverse PCOS for everyone.

This blog post contains affiliate links.

 

Body Positivity and Weight Loss: Can you have and want both?

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending BlogHer for the very first time. It’s always fun to connect in person with other members of the blogosphere and learn from their successes (and flops). I was hanging at a protein powder booth at the expo hall, and introduced myself to the brand rep. “Hi, I’m Alyssa,” I said, beginning my usual elevator pitch, “I blog about losing weight without losing my sense of humor, though lately this weight loss blog is more of a weight gain blog because I recently had a baby.” The rep and I chitchatted for a few minutes, and then I turned to leave, when I saw a girl approach me. I knew she was on the younger side as she had that youthful skin that no lotion or potion can give you back. “Hi, I heard you say you’re a weight loss blogger and I have a question for you.” She went on to explain how she struggles finding the balance between being body positive but also wanting to and trying to lose weight. She wanted to know, how did I find balance between the two and what was my perspective on it all? First of all, I asked this girl her age and she’s 17! Seventeen! Wow! Color me impressed for such an awesome, thoughtful query at such a young age.

BODY POSITIVITY

The answer to this question is both simple and complicated at the same time. The question, if we reduce it to one direct statement is “Can you still be body positive if you are trying to lose weight?” To that, my answer is yes, yes, and more yes. I’ve actually had a few bloggers snark on me for not “being body positive” because I want to lose weight, but if you go through my blog, I think you’ll find my body positivity is pretty on-point. The key to this equation for me is that I can love myself just as I am, and I should, because once that weight comes off, there’s a lot of me that will still be the same. But more importantly, it’s about loving my body ENOUGH to know that it deserves the very best. For me, the very best is a lighter body — not just for how it will look in size 12 jeans, but to walk miles without my heel spur aching, to get my blood pressure taken without anxiously spiking it, to not fret about fitting in airplane seats or going ziplining.

 

Now, these two things can exist and both be true, and that said, I’m a big advocate of body positivity and am grateful it’s become a “thing” now that I am a mother. Images like this make me so very happy, to be living in a world where different shapes and sizes are becoming more accepted, just like skin color, sexual orientation, and gender.

However, I have to scrutinize a little bit about the body positivity community if those who are wanting to lose weight are being challenged. If we’re advocating for acceptance of all bodies, wouldn’t it be hypocritical to be against those who are wanting to make a change to their body? I think that you can love yourself just as you are but still want to make improvements; for example, how my husband adores the heck out of me but really wishes I didn’t need 10,000 reminders to empty the dishwasher. I think perhaps the emphasis of body positivity can shift slightly to be just more positivity in general; with your pants size, your religious beliefs, your diet, your hobbies, whatever makes you YOU. However, I suppose a key difference here is if you’re coming at your body and size with negativity, no confidence, and self-hatred while wanting to lose weight, THAT doesn’t really work as body positivity, ya know?

I guess the point of this is, and what I told that girl, is that you can lose 100 pounds, 5 pounds, or 1 pound — and you might look “perfect”, or whatever the meaning of that word of what we’re desiring really is, and if you haven’t done the hard work on the INSIDE of learning to love the person you are, then you’re not much better off than when you started. We all know happiness comes from within, and it sounds cliche, but it’s true. If you hate yourself at 300 pounds there’s a chance you’ll hate yourself at 100, too. So, I say, rock on with your body positive self, but if you’re wanting to lose weight to feel better or heck, even look better, rock on with your self-loving self. Because there’s nothing more positive than believing in the person you are and were meant to be — regardless of what the number says on the scale.

Weight Loss Wednesday: Personal Training and Weight Watchers

Hello there!

How are things in the land of double chins? I’ve been on Weight Watchers for about two months, and in true Alyssa on Weight Watchers fashion, I keep losing and gaining the same five pounds.


My thoughts on Weight Watchers as a program continue to be up and down (like the scale), as I love the group mentality, the food tracking, and the accessibility of the plan; however, I struggle sometimes wondering if the plan *really* works for everyone. I recently found out that the points Weight Watchers put me at were “too high” based on my height, weight, gender, and age, so my leader recommended I go lower on my app, even though there is no way for me to manually change my points. She also told me not to eat my weekly “treat” points. So, fine, I’ll do these things, but it makes me think there’s a flaw if the formula they use to calculate your points is not actually relevant or effective for everyone. However, knowing me, as soon as I lose weight consistently I’ll be like “BEST DIET EVER!”, so take that with what you will.

One thing I’m excited about with Weight Watchers is I now have an accountability buddy! A friend whom I met at birth class back when I was prego just joined Weight Watchers. We’re already texting each other our meals and will be attending meetings once a week together. Having a friend to stay accountable with is so fun, and it’s great to be on the same page with someone of equal sleep deprivation, exhaustion, and post-baby-body woes.

All the tireds.

Speaking of post-baby body woes… This old gray mare aint like she used to be! I finally rejoined my gym about a month ago, and while I was starting to work out on my own, I was running into some challenges. I got bored easily of cardio and felt uninspired and achey.IMG_0228

During my pregnancy my hip popped out of place twice, and I had to see a chiropractor about it. I also redeveloped plantar fascia, and found out today I have a heel spur. I knew that to prevent injury and improve my overall strength, I needed the help of an expert. I decided to try personal training! I went in to the initial appointment expecting I’d commit to once a week. Well, with some of my trainer’s smooth persuasive skills, I realized I needed to make a more concrete investment in my health, and I’m now being tortured trained three times per week. I really like my trainer because she  puts up with my crap (AND CALLS ME ON IT!), and above all, she kicks my ass. I leave our sessions soaked in sweat, tired, but with a happy endorphin glow. I’m really excited to see what this does for my overall fitness, and I hope it’s the key to unlocking that slimmer, more energized me.

We also do Crossfit type stuff, and there’s lots of props like boxes, ropes, balls, and weights, which keeps me interested as I have the attention span of a caffeinated squirrel. I make some pretty great expressions during my sessions, and I feel like Spiderman adequately summed it up:

IMG_0229

So there you have it. As usual, weight loss continues to be elusive sparkly-haired unicorn for me, but I’ll catch that beast, one day. In the meantime, I’ll be tracking my points and getting into beast-mode!

Have you ever worked with a personal trainer? What was it like?

***Have a baby or know someone who does? Enter to win a prize package from Wellements at LaLaLyssa.com!

***Big love to Diet to Go for the shout-out, and also, PT Pioneer’s Top 50 Weight Loss Blogger’s List for including the Double Chin Diary! <3

It’s not goodbye, but see ya around!

Dear Double Chinners,

When I started this blog over four years ago (wow!), I felt inspired and compelled to chronicle my journey from fat to fabulous. When I started blogging, the ‘fabulous’ part meant that I’d reach my goal weight and flutter off into a land of thinness, where I could eat chips and dip with no ramifications (I still wish for that!). As the years wore on and the journey remained a journey and not a destination, I started to grow a little bit bored of the whole “losing weight” thing. I’ve accepted that my struggles with reaching a healthy weight will be something I’m constantly trying to achieve, and that’s okay.

I decided over Christmas this year that I was ready for a change. I was planning on writing my traditional New Year’s post for this blog, and I was looking back at last year’s New Year’s post. I had already been feeling stifled this time last year, and even wrote that I was considering starting a new blog, since my “weight loss blog” has really been nothing but a “weight maintenance, sometimes loss, and sometimes gain blog”. I was feeling like I was falling out of love with blogging, and that sucked, because I’ve been blogging since I was 14 and I LOVE blogging. So I took some time away from the blog to think. We didn’t break up, but we took a break. And that break was exactly what I needed to decide that while I’m not done blogging, I need a breath of fresh air. I need to get out of the box that I put myself in, and step into a new place– one that’s huge and large and limitless and lets me talk about whatever the heck I want, like travel or makeup or fashion or weight loss with PCOS.

And so, my friends, LaLaLyssa.com was born. I noodled for awhile on a new blog name, and settled on LaLaLyssa.com for a few reasons. First of all, I had purchased AllLyssa.com as a play on words, to be everything and ALL Alyssa, but then I learned that Allyssa.com (one less L) was a porn site. Yeah, no. Too much potential for awkward typos. I was going to blog under my business site, AlyssaCurran.com, but I liked the idea of a cutesy, separate land for all my ramblings. And so I chose LaLaLyssa.com, for a few reasons:

1) I choose to live my life embracing quirkiness, and sometimes I feel like I’m in LaLa Land.
2) I live IN La La Land (Los Angeles).
3) I used to name products, and one of my favorite things I’ve ever named is a popular toy line that starts with the prefix ‘Lala’.

VisitMe

So there you have it. The Double Chin Diary isn’t going away, but it’s going to quietly simmer on the backburner. Every now and then when I want to write about weight loss or fitness, I’ll probably write a post over here, but will link to it from my new site as well. As I said before, my journey with weight loss is far from over. Despite the number on the scale, I’ve made some amazing progress towards being a healthier me — like being able to walk amost 60 miles in 3 days, and more importantly, learning to love myself despite my weight. I hope you’ll come over and check out what I’m up to at LaLaLyssa.com, because I love hearing what you think. I’ll always be grateful to the Double Chin Diary for giving me a taste of what being a ‘real blogger’ is like, and for opening the door to many exciting and awesome opportunities. I also plan to one day write a book, and that was the reason I started this blog — because I knew one day, I’d have an “after” to match my “before”, and I’d call it the Double Chin Diary. This isn’t goodbye — it’s just see ya later 🙂

The Double Chin Diary Siggy

 

Don’t fence me in.

Two weeks from today I’ll be joining the Double Chin Divas (Alyssa, Monique, and Aubrey) in San Diego to spend our last day with all of our toenails, haha! Though maybe we’ll be lucky and none of us will lose any toenails as we attempt to walk sixty miles in three days, but I’m aware that it could happen and accept it.

😉

I’ve been walking A TON and am grateful that my body seems to be handling it mostly pretty well. The most I have done in a day is eleven miles but ideally this weekend I’ll be hitting at least fifteen. I’m taking a risk over whether or not I will be truly prepared for this challenge but after hearing my many other 3-day walkers, they said as long as you can by on at least ten miles then you should be able to do the twenty. Plus, we’ve got practically the whole day to get it done.

I’ll ENDURE.

But if you’d like to send me some mail by MONDAY that I’ll pick up during my walk, I bet your letters will help me get through the walk with a little bit more faith in myself.

Susan G. Komen 3-Day
Attn: April Lofgren
PO Box 4560
Carlsbad, CA 92018
*Must be postmarked by November 10th.*

 

Anyway, the best part of all this walking hasn’t been the weight loss (down twenty pounds!) or the incredibly firm calves or the simple fact in knowing that I CAN walk eleven miles in a day…It has been that I am fortunate enough to be able to do my training in some incredibly gorgeous places. I’ve done some major walking at Crater Lake in Oregon, Yosemite and Mono Lake  in California, Burning Man and the Red Rock Canyon in Nevada… not the mention the more frequent walks through places like the Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, the hills of Sonoma and Marin County, and the redwood forests all over the fog-belt of Northern California.

I’m spoiled, I know it. I send gratitude out into the universe every single day that I get to spend my life here. I haven’t walked a mile on a treadmill in over a year and I’m so appreciative that I have been able to prepare for this event outdoors. The song “Don’t fence me in” (the Ella version) is constantly playing in the back of my mind. Sometimes, if I’m completely alone, I’ll sing it as I stroll along happily under the trees. It makes me happy to be free and out in  the open. <3

“Let me wander over yonder till I see the mountains rise.. I want to ride to the ridge where the West commences and gaze at the moon till I lose my senses… And I can’t look at hobbles and I can’t stand fences…. Don’t fence me in”

 

And now for your visual pleasure… a collage of photos taken during some of my walking adventures. <3

Red Rock Canyon - 11 miles... Crater Lake - 3 miles... Alemeda Beach - 1 mile morning walk... Yosemite - 4 miles.... Mono Lake - 2 miles...

Red Rock Canyon – 11 miles… Crater Lake – 3 miles… Alemeda Beach – 1 mile morning walk… Yosemite – 4 miles…. Mono Lake – 2 miles…

 

Burning Man - 10 miles... Redwood Tree in Cotati (next town over) - 10 miles... Golden Gate Bridge - 3.2 miles... Petaluma walking trail - 8 miles

Burning Man – 10 miles… Redwood Tree in Cotati (next town over) – 10 miles… Golden Gate Bridge – 3.2 miles… Petaluma walking trail – 8 miles

 

Oh, and now  that I have hit AND surpassed my $2,300 fundraising goal – I’ve gone ALL PINK! (and a bit of purple) Check it out! If you live in the Bay area, you can hit up my buddy Ashley Blanchard for your own style. 

Colorful at Red Rock Canyon!

Colorful at Red Rock Canyon!

 

Lots of love,

AprilSignatur

Alyssa Got Her Groove Back

Heeeey! *Dusts off a few spider webs, then sits down next to you*

How’s it going? I know I’ve been gone for awhile, but I’m back! I’ve been super busy the past few weeks traveling around the country for work, helping kick cancer’s butt with the 3-Day. I’m lucky that I find the work I do immensely fulfilling, and I spent many long weekends hearing and telling people’s stories. Love, love, love it!

Being on the road when you’re in a perpetual state of trying to lose weight can be challenging. In addition to working long hours, there’s the fact that you have a per diem, and sometimes, the only food around you in the area in which you’re traveling is fast food like Popeyes. (And I’m not going to lie – I do find a buttery Popeyes biscuit quite delicious.) While I was in Michigan and Minnesota for work, I tried to just tell myself that I could make an unhealthy decision if there didn’t seem to be any other options, but that I needed to make up for it with exercise. And exercise, I did! My job while out on the road is very active: as I’m documenting people doing the 60-mile walk, I also get a fair amount of walking in. At one point, I walked 11.25 miles in one day! I tried to stay away from too many of the delicious snacky items like potato chips, and tried to nom on fruit whenever possible.

Happily, my efforts weren’t in vain, because when I got back from my last trip, I had an endocrinology appointment to see how everything was going. I hadn’t weighed since a month prior, and I’m happy to report I’m down another six pounds! This is roughly 22 – 25 pounds since the beginning of this year, and while it’s slow progress (sometimes only two pounds lost per month), this is PROGRESS. As I’ve written about before, weight loss is challenging as is, and then add a double dose of PCOS and thryoid crap, and you’ve got a perfect storm for frustration after lots of good effort. However, I’ll take it. I feel like I’m finally in a groove again with weight loss, realizing that if something doesn’t taste worth it, I don’t need to eat it, AND, that if I stick to my PCOS medication regularly, that will help keep me on track. I sometimes avoid it because it makes me nauseous, but I’m starting to see that it’s an important ally for me in the weight loss war.

I’ll be taking some new progress pictures hopefully sometime this week, but when the nurse at the doc’s office told me my weight, I had a sudden burst of victorious glee. I know that I still have a long, long, long way to go, but every day and every choice that I make can help put me just one tiny step closer to the person and place I want to be 🙂