Friday, March 28, 2014

My Battle with Addiction

Teal is worn to represent PCOS awareness 

Since coming out of the PCOS closet I have been receiving emails from women with the same condition. Many of these women had not been informed by their doctors of the potential health risks PCOS contributes to our bodies. The majority, like myself, have been handed birth control to put their bodies back on a month to month schedule. I am not sure why doctors are not explaining the high risk for diabetes, heart attack, and stroke.  PCOS goes beyond a mustache; it can be life altering if not taken seriously.

Answered many of my questions
I have been putting in hours of research to have an understanding as to what my body is doing and what it needs. I checked out books from the library and read every legitimate doctor written article I could find online.  The information is out there and not hard to find. What I have found has been a resounding focus on the link between PCOS and Type 2 Diabetes, which can be fatal.  This was a huge slap in the face for me. I have written about being a sugar addict in a previous blog (click here to read about my battle with sugar).  It never occurred to me that I was putting myself at risk for diabetes; after all, that stuff only happens to really over weight people and I lost the weight I needed to to put myself back into a healthy bracket. I could not have been more wrong!

The biggest hurdle I had to get over was the idea of thin meaning healthy. There is such a focus in this country to reach and maintain a small size that, often times, the health risks to obtain that size are brushed under the rug. We are not praised for good health - we are praised for our physical size.  I wasn't paying attention to what my body needed to be healthy, all I was concerned with was maintaining my waist size.  This is where I had to take a real look at myself and what I was doing to maintain my size.  I had to stop lying to myself. I was maintaining my weight through deprivation.  Up until 2 months ago I was still abusing my body and had managed to rationalize it as the way I needed to eat to prevent weight gain.

The past two months have been a journey of self love.  I had to step outside myself and treat myself like a dear friend who had lost her way. This is when I started to educate myself on PCOS. I was motivated by my hair loss, I wanted to put a stop to it and maybe throw it in reverse.  The information I was obtaining was overwhelming and started to explain the battles I have been fighting with my body.  The sugar cravings have been explained in that PCOS causes insulin resistance which causes extreme highs and lows in blood sugar causing cravings for processed carbs and sugar. The body is trying to quick fix the imbalance of sugar. I was not having just any cravings; I have had cravings for sugar so bad in the past I have become a monster until I had a fork and cake in front of me.  Now I had to face reality and break this addiction.

My addiction to sugar was like that of a drug addict. I would binge behind closed doors. I could not stop, sometimes for days. I lied about binging and purging for years. The thought of breaking this cycle scared me. I seconded guessed myself over and over.  I can't live without sugar. All the fun foods have sugar. I will miss it too much.  I forced myself to go through the detox anyway. I braced my husband for the mood swings that could happen during this time. I braced him for what life would be like on the other side; no ice cream, no cake, no late night trips to Diary Queen, and the diet overhaul that would be taking place.

The detox was not fun or easy. I needed to break the habits I had formed over the years. The biggest being my bowl of ice cream every night. I had to tell myself it is the habit that is the hardest part and to stay strong. I had to be aware of what I was eating, reading all food labels for the hidden sugars that sneak into our foods with clever new names.  I ended up cutting out more than just junk food, out went the salad dressing, the peanut butter (I use 100% natural now, one ingredient-peanuts), the bottled sauces, white flour products, and much more. This has forced me to take control over the foods that come in the house.

Jumping head, I am on the other side of the detox and kitchen overhaul.  I have successfully cut sugar and learned to balance my blood sugar levels with healthy foods and not letting my body go hungry (letting the body go hungry can cause dips in blood sugar and for someone with PCOS this leads to craving for sugar that can then lead to diabetes). I eat more fresh vegetables and fruit than I did before the wake up call about my health.

This journey has not been about weight. I hid my scale a few months ago as part of my New Years resolution (click to read about my addiction to the number on the scale.).  I wanted to see if my body would change so I took out the smallest pants I own and took my before picture. Yesterday I took another a month later and was shocked. I have no clue the weight difference or even the inches. This lifestyle change isn't about any numbers. This just reinforces that the changes I have made are making my body happy.

I don't have a size goal. I am letting my body come to its own conclusion of where it is happiest. I have to eat for my health and for my health only.  The weight that comes off is because my body does not want it, not because I have dieted it off.

My journey with PCOS is changing my life as I take a mature look at my health and set aside my vanity. This world can not get rid of me that easy. I will show my body love and compassion. My body is only as strong as I make it and at this rate, I will be a rock of strength.

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