40 Days No Bread Week One: PCOS

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Its been one week since Ash Wednesday. One week into the Lenten Season. One week since I’ve had any bread.

Giving up bread for Lent is something I’ve wanted to do before, but I was pretty sure that I would fail miserably. I’ve tried the jump start portion of the South Beach diet (where you don’t eat carbs for two weeks) and fell off the wagon in four days.

For years I didn’t know why I needed carbs so much. Then when I was in high school I mentioned to my doctor that I only had my period every three months. That, combined with my weight and some other issues (that I’m not quite ready to discuss here) made her run some tests. A few days later she diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

Poly-what?

Yeah, I know. Most of the people who know about this are the ones who have it. And if you do have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) you know its a random condition that can cause a myriad of issues from acne to infertility… oh yeah it also causes weight gain and makes it very difficult to lose weight.

My relationship with bread (and carbs in general) runs deep. Its quite literally in my blood to crave carbs. Another symptom of PCOS is insulin resistance, which means your body is toying with the idea of being diabetic.

“Insulin allows glucose to travel from the bloodstream into the cells. When we eat foods high in refined carbohydrates, insulin levels surge to remove the sugar from the blood and get it into your cells. This mechanism works very well for the most part. But if insulin spikes too often from a diet rich in the high-carb foods that trigger insulin secretion, your cells respond by decreasing the reactivity and number of insulin receptors on their surfaces. Eventually, this prevents glucose from getting into your cells, leading to high blood sugar and depriving your cells of the energy they need to function. This is why many women with insulin resistance experience carbohydrate cravings, fatigue and weight-gain — their cells are literally starving for energy, even when plenty of glucose is available in the blood. Down the road, your body’s capacity to generate insulin appropriately becomes depleted, and the result is type 2 diabetes.” -Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP

So, here we are seven days without bread and if I didn’t understand the brevity of my sacrifice when I started, I am beginning to. All the salads, grilled chicken and omelette’s in the world will not satisfy me 100%. There have already been two birthday celebrations in my office with all the chocolate and red velvet cake a girl could ask for. But I’ve wiped the drool from my chin and remained strong!

This had nothing to do with weight loss, I really wanted to give up something for Lent that would encourage me to pray and depend on God more. (Um, yeah… I’ve definitely whipsered some lunchtime LORD, help me’s this week.) There have been some other interesting side effects that I’ll get into in another post, but for now I’m just trying to eat small meals and healthy snacks so that I don’t get super hungry and do something crazy like eat a muffin in one gulp. I think this would be hard for anyone, but the PCOS just adds another element for me.

P.S. Have any of YOU been diagnosed with PCOS?
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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10183291751411107796 W

    Im happy for you! Brave thing! I gave up fried food w/the exception of tortila(sp?)chips. Went out to eat at Chilis and it was HELL for me to find something. but its been a week, and im making it. I think this may be my kick start to eat better….

    I follow you on twitter as well..keep up the work!

    • sparky

      I’m 44 and have had pcos since i was 18. At times I’ve felt like a freak and sometimes not wanted to live. But I have two lovely children (thanks to chomlid) and a very patient husband. Metformin and a no carb diet helps. I have to ask the pharmacist for meds that are normally given to a man with prostrate cancer – i get odd looks – but what the fu++, I am here, with my family, so whose business is it but ours. Some days i feel bad, no sex drive for ages, no hope of things getting easier – so sex drive, headaches, depression, weight gain, hair …. there really are worse things in life. I should stop crying and be glad of my beautiful children. But sometimes its hard, somethimes I worry that I will lose their father. I am worried I will lose my self. There are worse things – but this is tough and I wish someone could help me.

      • Anonymous

        Sounds like you may have more than PCOS going on. Even with our health issues, our emotions should always be in check. Depression only makes things more difficult to manage, please talk to your doctor. xoxo

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10371990177860318318 Jenn

    I haven't had bread since January 15th. It's hard! However, I've made do with 10 saltine crackers a day, and veggies ARE carbs (they're complex carbs, not simple carbs like bread), so try veggies with substance like zucchini. You won't feel as if it's running right through you like salad. I eat mushrooms, tomatoes, zucchini, spaghetti squash, spinach, and asparagus like no one's business. If you don't want to go the saltine route, try rice cakes. However, after 40 days of no bread, be careful if you want to eat it again. I tried to eat a piece of bread and was so sick I don't think I'll ever do it again. Good luck!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01016766408943064599 Beth @ Kitchen Minions

    I have PCOS. I was low carbing it for like 3 years. It's tough. You eat a lot more meat, but weight comes off just like it does for normal people. Unfortunately, it was not sustainable for me. And the moment you add carbs back the weight piles back on…I know I need to cut back on simple carbs but I am just tracking cals/carbs/fiber/protein and trying to keep a balance now. Good luck with the no bread! It's a toughie but worth it!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03390174411255786861 {Absolutely, Positively} Josie

    loved this post. the whole giving up something for lent to depend on God more is really, really hitting home for me. i needed to hear what you had to say, so thank you.

    i know someone with pcos, and she struggles to lose weight, as i imagine most people with it do.

    God bless during lent, and always.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11194807978672375444 BrooklynShoeBabe

    Hi. I'm 37 and I was diagnosed with PCOS about 12 years ago. If I had a more competent gyn, I probably would have been diagnosed when I was 20 or 21 when my periods ceased and I started gaining weight like mad although I was starving college student.

    When I was first diagnosed, I could find very little info except for people's stories on the internet. Most of them found success with lo carb or Atkin's style diets which were popular at the time.

    When I was pregnant, I had gestational diabetes and was super sensitive to carbs. For 8 weeks I was living a near carb free experience. For the first 2 weeks, I felt I was like I was going through some kind of drug withdrawal–cranky as a beast. But it gets better! Good luck. My tip, nuts and almonds are your friends! Also, Matzah crackers.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06916408117059085714 Erika Jewel

    Hola Chica!

    (My first time posting, though I read your blog faithfully)

    I have PCOS also and I know exactly what kind of havoc it can cause on your body and bodily functions.

    Good luck with giving up the bread for Lent, I know you can do it! I gave up eating out. I didn't realize how many times I rolled through the deli just to pick up something random. Funny that I have a bunch of extra money in my stash, lol.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04062744050350668104 Girl of True Heart

    I am a carb addict. In trying to get through that pain, I rely on these a lot: http://www.miraclenoodle.com/

  • Secretia

    I am proud of you for the no bread give-up, maybe you'll make it a lot longer that the 45 days, it could be the one thing that will make you as thin as you want to be!

    Secretia

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15951043706784548940 Von

    I was reading this and I just wanted to caution you that Celiac and Food Allergies can cause/complicate symptoms of PCOS, even the bloodwork. Once I discovered and my food allergies under control my PCOS disappeared even in bloodwork. It might be something worth checking into for you.

    (PS, small allergic reactions can cause the body to not digest food properly and trigger starvation modes, which cause major carb cravings)

  • http://www.fatgirlsfloat.com KIRA NERUSSKAYA

    My dear fellow NYC Big Girl:

    As a long time PCOS sufferer… I feel your pain. I have been dealing with severe symptoms of this condition since age 13. Yup.

    So many doctors, etc. etc. I have a permanent hole in my right arm, where I should tatoo: "Good vein, please draw blood here."

    It is from dealing with this and the issue of fat, that gave me the strength I have–to persevere and most importantly, to keep going. I mean I might be slower getting up (ahem, age! darling!)–but I get up! My friend nicknamed me "extra tough."

    No bread? No problem! Right?!

    OK…Lenten goals: prayer, fasting, and alms giving.

    Just know YOU are greater than ALL of it!

    And may all of God's blessing find you…..

    All the best,
    KIRA

  • Anonymous

    Yes I have PCOS and I was diagnosed when I was seventeen I am twenty-five now. I was devastated when I heard the words infertility. Now although I was a child myself it was so disheartening being told that I may not be able to have children because I adore them. It is interesting that you mentioned your PCOS because lately I have been thinking about this condition more and more since I am finally ready to make the life changes to get healthy not get skinny(I will be a PSP for life)!:) I know it is extremely difficult losing weight with this ailment but I am taking it one day at a time. Sometimes it is as if I am the only one suffering with this incurable illness. Do you have some websites that explain tips to help cope and diet with PCOS. I just found some new sites recently that enlightened me but more ar always welcomed.

  • Anonymous

    thank you sooo much for this post. I was officially diagnosed with PCOS a few months ago, but before that I have never heard of the condition. But now everything makes so much more sense as to why it is super hard to lose weight even though i work my butt off and watch what I eat. In addition, I have bad acne and experience the facial hair too…it doesnt help my self-esteem but I am learning to accept my flaws and reading this blog has went a long way into me doing so and realizing that I am not alone.

  • Anonymous

    When you are hungry get some almonds,pecans or walnuts. You can also make a bar that I make it you can get a food proccesor add dates to eat make it into a paste then take almons and pecans chop them up not to small and cinnamin and then mike the date paste and almon,pecan and cinnamin mix together make some bars out of them they are very good and taste better than the store stuff. The dates are sweet but they are good for you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02860514520067890741 The Big Girl Blog!

    All of your comments have me in tears…

    You all mean so much to me and the fact that you would share your stories/experiences here is not something I take for granted.

    xoxo,
    CeCe

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06216454484228360533 Jeniese

    Morning,

    I don't have PCOS but I am diabetic. And a life with low and no carbs is hard. For a while I felt like my body was betraying me, and making me give up everything that I love. But it is an extremely brave thing that you are doing. And it's hard, and for the first few days weeks, heck even month you might feel nutty. I did.

    But my doctor explained that carbs raise our ceretonin levels, and gives us false happy thoughts, and thats what keeps us going on them… and then it all made sense to me. So I commend you for sharing your story and making us all aware of your struggle!!! You are not alone!!! Remember that!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09492707275193960211 LoveMeMore

    2 GYN's have diagnosed me with PCOS, first when I was 15 and then again in 2008. I have never been told to reduce carbs but to just lose weight and my cycle wil regulate. I wish it were that easy! No matter how I change my diet and increase my physical activity I continue to gain, it's really discouraging. I'm ready to give it another go and attempt to lose atleast 32 lbs (gotta get back under 200). Best of luck to you!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09492707275193960211 LoveMeMore

    2 GYN's have diagnosed me with PCOS, first when I was 15 and then again in 2008. I have never been told to reduce carbs but to just lose weight and my cycle wil regulate. I wish it were that easy! No matter how I change my diet and increase my physical activity I continue to gain, it's really discouraging. I'm ready to give it another go and attempt to lose atleast 32 lbs (gotta get back under 200). Best of luck to you!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09492707275193960211 LoveMeMore

    2 GYN's have diagnosed me with PCOS, first when I was 15 and then again in 2008. I have never been told to reduce carbs but to just lose weight and my cycle wil regulate. I wish it were that easy! No matter how I change my diet and increase my physical activity I continue to gain, it's really discouraging. I'm ready to give it another go and attempt to lose atleast 32 lbs (gotta get back under 200). Best of luck to you!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for posting this! I, too, was diagnosed after YEARS of docs telling me to just start exercising and eating right. I was working out 8x a week — 4 of those sessions with a personal trainer and had hired a personal chef to help me learn how to cook for weight loss. None of it worked and I was so mad at the medical community. I WAS doing exactly what they told me to do to fix my "weight issue" and they kept treating me like I was telling stories.

    Then I found an endocrine specialist. He diagnosed me after one look at my weight gain areas (tummy, neck and upper torso) and hearing my story. Got the blood tests to back it up, put me on Metformin (blocks insulin surges AND decreases testosterone) and bingo — we had lift off.

    A year later, and I'm down 4 sizes (8 sizes from the highest weight) and my energy is thru the roof. Cycle regulated back to clockwork and I don't feel like a teen aged boy with the testosterone surge (that may be one of the best changes for me since I try to stick with God's plan for sex as much as I'm able *grin*) I gave up bread, etc due to a wheat allergy but since things are starting to normalize — I haven't been having a problem with the occasional bread indulgence. (Blue Diamond's Rice Crackers are also the bomb.)

    For all of you struggling — I applaud your courage in not giving up. Sometimes it just takes one new thing or something out of the box to help shift the tide of hormones back into the right direction.

    Thank you again for sharing CeCe!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10456228024529738574 ~Sarafina~

    I have PCOS. I would walk over hot coals for a fresh hot sourdough roll. LOL.

    Good luck with your no bread! I could never, ever…

  • http://viethewonderingnomad.wordpress.com/ Vie

    This is something I've been struggling with for years. People look at you like you're crazy, or like you're lying, but I completely know where you're coming from.

    I'm trying to do a lower-and-better carb diet, but it can be so hard to stick with. I'm thinking about going to a doctor, and seeing if Metformin can help.

    Good luck with giving up bread! I admire you for taking that on.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08577499605085495320 Eponine

    Ugh, I hate PCOS. I can deal with the painful, irregular periods, stomach fat and blah blah blah. It's the facial hair I can't STAND. I spend $30 a month to get it waxed, and I really should go more like every other week. Can't even begin to afford that!

  • http://e-nixi.com/blog/ オテモヤン
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00487435119624962828 Jacqueline

    This is so inspiring! Can I still get on the Lenten no bread train? Thanks, too, for the link to Women to Women. Do you get treatment for PCOS there? Personal Program for Balancing Hormones. Looks promising.

  • Anonymous

    Great job so far!! I just wanted to thank you for this post because you explained a lot of things that I never understood. I was diagnosed with PCOS at 16 and I never really understood how it could change you besides what the name explains (multiple cysts on your ovaries). Thank you so much, I read your blog all the time and I love it!! You're very inspiring!

  • http://nessalovesmakeup.com/ nessalovesmakeup.com

    I found your blog about a week ago and can't stop reading. Thank you for writing this blog and making those of us that aren't twiggy feel beautiful. I admire your openness about the way you feel and the things you experience. I can't remember ever reading another blog that made me feel so at home and welcome.
    My doctor said I may have PCOS and I almost cried right there, not realizing that I wanted kids so much until the possibility of not having them came up. I'm working towards losing weight to get into the 10/12 size range and hopefully lessen the effects of PCOS.
    I'm a devoted reader now, thank you again!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07503855393440968091 Kashif Javed

    The search for a diagnosis to explain ovarian cysts should be done with complete awareness of all of the possibilities. Ovarian cysts can result from a devastating process such as ovarian cancer, or may be simply normal, enlarged follicles in a young patient who is ovulating. The reason for the cyst
    tubal reversal and PCOS has a relation

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03446321935046483574 Fat 2 Fabulous

    PCOS sucks. There, I said it. It really does. I try to watch my carbs, but there are days like today, that I feel like carb is a 4 headed monster who is trying soothe me like you would soothe a baby with a pacifier. I hate that feeling.

  • Anonymous

    I have PCOS too… thanks for 'coming out' :) xx

  • http://www.sizzlincurvewear.weebly.com Sara E. Brenton

    Hey girl, I know your pain regarding PCOS! Last fall I got the diagnosis, amidst other possibilities (the doc really scared me with the possibility of ovarian cancer, and at age 28, that was a terrifying thought!). They immediately put me on a drug commonly prescribed for diabetics, metformin (brand name Glucophage). When I asked why, since I am not diabetic, I got the explanation you gave in your blog… I wish I had been able to read this then so I wouldn't have felt so alone. Thank you for sharing this with us, and keep keepin' it real! We love it all!

    PS I follow you on Twitter and Facebook! Can't get enough!

  • Raven

    I am 26y/o and have had pcos since i was 15 however did not find a doctor who wanted to mpay any attention enough to diagnose me until i was 21 i went to school for medical assistance so once i put my signs and symtoms together i pretty much diagnosed myself when i went to doctors i would let them knw wht i suspected along with my signs and symptoms they were more offend that i was trying to do there job finally i satvdown with a specialist and told her im not trying to do ur job i just simply want to help u find out whatsvwrong with meshe said good wht do u thinkvis wrong with u i told her and she replied i thnk u are right after some test i have pcos type2 diebetes and fibroids i had been seeing the same pcp for 8 years and once we audited my files its all there in plain sight she just never told me or listened to what i was saying the specialist told me i have a lawsuit but now im at peace because i knw whts going on i have reported her to the medical review board but the money means nothing i just want a diagnosis

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  • Brittany

    I have PCOS. they have a medicine called Metformin that is supposed to help with it, but I never tried it because it can mess up your kidneys, and you have to get a kidney function before they even consider you for it.
    Its difficult to live with, I was diagnosed when I was 14 and a size 10. I’m 21 now and a size 26. its sad, because it isn’t just hard to LOSE weight, its hard to MAINTAIN any kind of healthy weight. :(

  • Yukon Girl

    I feel all your pain with PCOS. I was diagnosed 3 years ago & did choose to try medication. Metformin for many assists with the insulin resistance part of PCOS . It helps your body process the sugar & insulin $ some of the other symptoms of PCOS. There are risks. But one benefit is potentially avoiding full blown Diabetees later on. I also agree with he mix of food allergies they can irritate & aggrivate PCOS aswell. It is well worth researching.

  • rebecca

    hi, im 22, i was diagnosed 6 months ago but apparently ive been having pcos since puberty. i never ate much but gained weight eating regular meals. i still have really dark pigmentation, alittle facial hair, and used to be 80kilos( im now 59kilos). when i went to see my doctor 6 months ago, she told me that i’ve been unknowingly reversing it because of exercise and diet(work as a p. trainer). trying to lose the last 5 kilos seems impossible(mostly belly fat). but i did loose 20 kilos in a year – with alot of running and weight training(no medication). i have insulin resistance as well – i’ve cut sugar completely from my diet, i eat more vege and lean meat, and carbs early in the morning. im sure i will lose the remaining weight but have to hang in there and so will you!!. good luck to you!

  • lynda

    I wish I had known about PCOS earlier on…I had all the signs & symptoms yet no doctor diagnosed me with it…now it’s all too late…I am a diabetic and have been for almost 5 years now…it did not bother me at first…but now every time I meet a guy I like and who likes me too, the fear that he would not be able to accept that I am diabetic creeps in…and so far I’ve told a few where I thought things could get serious and they always say they are not bothered with it but in the end, it doesn’t work out and I continue to be lonely and have the fear that no guy will ever be able to accept the fact that I am a diabetic.

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  • Tanner_2004

    Hello, your little paragraph from the OB/GYN really put things in perspective for me. I was just diagnosed with PCOS. I haven’t even been to the doc to find out treatment options. I am being tested for diabetes next week, I’m hoping my PCOS hasn’t pushed me over the edge just yet. I understand your carb cravings COMPLETELY! I tried the Atkins diet for my New Year’s resolution (another diet completely failed). I couldn’t understand how anyone stays on that diet!! Now I know, it is in my blood to crave carbs. Thanks for letting me know I’m not the only one! Good luck with your no bread diet!

  • FATEMA HASSAN ALI

    hey,

    My heart goes out to all the sisters who are suffering from PCOS like myself….i give you thumbs up for the no bread bootcamp, it is not easy and very hard to resist the carbs specially bread…..

    I got diagnoised with pcos when i was pregnant with my first D 3 years ago….my pcos got worst when i moved away from UK to the middle east and the whole environment and food change….I have suffered mood swings,anger tantrums,anxiety,nausea,panic attacks,facial hair in my cheen,tummy and chest basically all over my body….

    Not until recently when i got pregnant with 3 months of no menstrual cycle and miscarried at 6 weeks….The dr ran tests and my LHL levels for pcos showed 20 which he said was very high….despite of trying so hard to loose weight with a personal trainer i always felt my energies low and i would reach for carbs and also healthy eat at the same time but not even a pound shifted off….i got tensed and to make things worst i became more depressed….im now on metformin its my second day and i do not want diabetest cause my mother had too….he started me on one tablet a day before bedtime and increase the dose to two times a day after a week…so far i feel the difference in mood changes and im not craving the carbs or sugar and i work out at the gym andtrying to healthy eat….i want to go off the bread and moderate my carbs and have 3 months to go and see him i pray to god i have strength to fight the pcos for it ruined 3 years of my life with really bad mood swings which ended up me and my husband going for the word Divorce….

    It is not easy at all and we have to be very strong to fight this devil PCOS and always let our negative chatterbox to shut up when it tells us to reach for the carbs….

    Thanks for this column of yours and i wish you all the best to fight PCOS and my fellow sisters too…we need to support eachother because PCOS for women has become worldwide epidemic with all the environmental factors changing everything we put in our mouth….

    I try my best to buy fresh organic food but in this part of the world not everything is grown in its own soil so we end up with imported produce….

    goodluck and keep fighting the PCOS….

    im only 27 my sisters and we cant let this rule us and take over our lives we have to fight it…

  • Alyssa Lynn

    Hi! I’m new to your blog and I saw the PCOS in the title, so I had to check it out because I feel I might have it. I’ve been to the doctor before and I know she mentioned PCOS. Not exactly sure what she said, maybe that it could be possible that I have it. I have extremely infrequent periods. I’m 17 by the way, so I used to think it was normal. But I got my period maybe 4 or 5 years ago and its not normal to have it as infrequent as I do. Last year I think i had 1 or 2 periods. I also have extremely bad acne, which might be my horrible eating habits. You said you naturally have a craving for carbs. All I really eat is unhealthy things and I eat A LOT. Mainly out of boredom, but its just always something unhealthy. Should I ask my doctor about PCOS? I don’t want to seem like a hypochondriac and seem like I’m diagnosing myself but if its possible I have it I want to do something about it because I know it can cause infertility if left alone and that really scares me because I love kids and I definitley want to have kids. Thanks for any advice you can give:)

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