How to Trust Your PCOS Body in 2020
COVID-19. Countrywide protests. Job loss or change. Quarantine. Trying to have a normal-ish summer in the midst of it all. Life is hard right now! If you have PCOS, you are likely already feeling like your body and moods are “out of control”. And the recent additional stress could be making your cycles, skin, hair, mood, GI tract, sleep, and overall PCOS body feel even more out of sync.
The truth is that the majority of us are struggling to one degree or another. With everything going on, we can feel helpless or like things are out of our control. Some of us may try to control what we can in our lives by fixating on things like diet, exercise, social distancing, and household cleanliness. Or some of us may feel completely unmotivated to do anything. Some days you may feel like you have it all figured out, and other days you may feel like you just want to lie in bed. Whichever side you fall toward, finding a balance between taking charge and trusting yourself and your body will aid in helping bring some normalcy back into your day to day.
While it may feel counter-intuitive, trusting your body (even with PCOS) is so important in order to feel your best. Only you know what’s best for you. When you pay attention to how you feel, you can eat the right amount of food, get the right amount of sleep, manage stress appropriately, and move your body in a way that feels good. And feeling good is one of the biggest factors in determining health.
So since we can’t easily fix the world right now, what can you do to support yourself? Here are a few suggestions to help on the journey to trusting your PCOS body, even when the world feels like it’s on fire.
1. Listen to your body
Incorporating something as simple as journaling into your week can help you stay connected to your thoughts and help you stay honest with yourself about how you are feeling. Here are some questions to consider while journaling:
- How do you feel after meals? Are you hungry or full? Are you satisfied?
- How do you feel before meals? Are you hungry before you eat?
- Do you have cravings? When do cravings occur?
- What feels good to eat? What does not?
- Do you feel hungry when you wake up? Are you getting enough sleep?
- Do you turn to food in times of stress or other feelings? Are emotions impacting how you eat? Do you have a healthy outlet for stress, loneliness, etc?
2. Slow down and Eat mindfully
The world is moving a bit slower for most of us lately, and there may be some benefits to this. As much as it might seem like it is wrong to, don’t feel bad to slow it down. Try to take breaks when you feel stressed, or take a nap when you’re tired. When it comes to eating, take the time to check in with yourself. Here are some simple ways to start eating more mindfully:
- Have your morning coffee and breakfast outside
- Take your full lunch break to relax and eat
- Prepare and eat dinner with a friend or spouse or friend (if possible)
- Put your phone down, eat meals at a table, and try to limit any distractions that may disrupt your meal
- Focus on enjoying your meals listen for when your body is satisfied
- Set up nice a eating space with nice lighting, table settings, and/or music
3. Show gratitude to your body
You have a beating heart, lungs that breathe, and millions of other cells whose number one priority is keeping you alive. When things are working well, it can be easy to take it for granted. By focusing on the positive things your body does for you everyday, you can start to let the negative body thoughts fade away. Here are a few things to be grateful for:
- Ability to make and taste delicious food
- Making, creating or fixing things with your hands
- Showing and feeling physical touch and affection
- Your ability to move, walk, and do joyful movement
- Your capacity to physically care for others around you, like family, children, or animals
- If you’d had children, the fact your body created, carried, and/or fed another human
- Making music or signing
- Recovering from or preventing illness
4. Write down wins
We have all been through a lot and it’s not over, unfortunately. Reflecting on what you have achieved will help you stay motivated to continue to make positive changes. Seeing things written down can be a powerful reminder for how far you have come. Here are a few examples to consider:
- Cooking more meals at home
- Trying a new recipe or experimenting with new foods
- Getting enough sleep and letting yourself rest when you need to
- Going for regular walks
- Planting a garden
- Honoring your body when you feel hungry or full
- Starting a yoga or meditation practice
- Connecting with family and friends from a distance
- Keeping you and your family fed, alive, and safe in a crazy time (some days this is going to be it!)
5. Ask for help if you need it
Sometimes you can’t do it alone and you need some help. When it comes to managing PCOS, you are not alone. Reaching out for help is a sign of strength. There are plenty of people who can support you in different ways such as:
- Doctors (PCP, OB/GYN, Reproductive Endocrinologist)
- Therapists – many are doing telehealth appointments now, and some take insurance
- Physical therapist – insurance often covers this if you have pain or injuries. Don’t wait until you “lose the weight” to feel better!
- Dietitians – many are also doing telehealth now, and many take insurance
- Friends or family – sometimes just connecting with your support network will help you get through a difficult time
6. Be patient with yourself
This is a journey and there will be ups and downs along the way. You may feel like you aren’t making progress because results aren’t happening quickly. But fast results are not usually lasting results. Changing habits takes time and when done right will actually feel pretty seamless and less like a burden.
Remember many of us are feeling a little “out of control” right now with the state of the world. This won’t last forever. Many of the answers to feeling your best even with PCOS are within you and not from an external diet program.
If you would like additional nutrition support and are ready to make peace with food, I am seeing clients virtually now. Click on nutrition counseling to contact me!