Keto Journey with PCOS: One Month Update

Hello friends! As promised, I am coming to you with an update regarding my first month on the ketogenic diet as a woman with PCOS. I’ve attempted a little outline so as not to ramble but I apologize if this gets lengthy because the last month as been eventful and kind of rough. I’ve put headers for each of the topics I will discuss so you can skip around to what matters to you if you’d like.

Let me just start off by saying I practice “lazy keto” so don’t go shaming me in the comments because I eat something you personally wouldn’t eat (ie: sucralose, dairy, or processed foods). I heard a doctor youtube say that if the way you can keto is by eating a hotdog and mustard its still better than the snickers you were eating before. FYI, I hate hotdogs, so that doesn’t apply to me, but you get the gist and I think thats something important to keep in mind for dieters who get too bogged down by trying to be perfect I first. I definitely want to make even better choices as I continue on my journey but right now, everything is an improvement.  I keep my carbs between 20 and 30 per day and aim for calories at 1200 to 1500. I was tracking everything the first week or so and then stopped which I will get into why later.

Mental Health
The first thing I want to talk about is mental health. As a little bit of background I have a history of OCD and currently am diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and major depression and its been a battle for years. Before keto for the last six months, I had got into a depression phase where I had a terrible sleep schedule and was experience something similar to selective eating disorder. I didn’t have the energy to make anything or care because of depression and the list of foods I was willing to eat was extremely short. This resulted in me eating one, usually lower calorie, minimally nutritious meal per day. I was taking a medication that had drastically improved things for me and at the same time started keto so that when I did start to eat meals again, they would be healthier and I would actually lose weight. (The eating habits before did not result in weight loss due to PCOS and the food choices). Fast forward to two weeks into keto and my mental state had plummeted as evidence by the lack of posts between week one and now. I was angry all the time, weepy, an anxiously fixating on things that didn’t matter at that point, and just overall no motivation to do anything. Eating got hard again because nothing sounded good, I was disgusted by everything, and I just didn’t care. Now, I attribute this change to one of three (maybe a combination) factors: PMS, estrogen released from fat cells, and/or electrolytes.

Electrolytes
Focusing on the electrolyte issue for a moment – if you’ve been doing keto for very long, you’ll know that electrolytes are so so important when avoiding keto flu during your first week on the diet. In my one week keto post, I attributed my lack of keto flu to the electrolytes I was getting from powerade zero. This was false. After doing more research later, I realized Powerade Zero has basically nothing compared to the amount of sodium, potassium and magnesium you need daily (2-4g, 2-3g and 500mg respectively). While I was probably coming pretty close to sodium from regular food, magnesium and potassium have been no where near where the should have been for the last month. This had to be a contributing factor to my mental state decline. I have since been tracking those levels and supplementing so hopefully, things will go back to normal. I definitely want to do a post about supplements for electrolytes in the future once I’ve got everything tweaked because clearly its a super important topic.

Shark Week
Next I want to talk about periods. So if you don’t want to read TMI stuff, then skip ahead haha. In my one week post you’ll notice I mentioned my period had started on day 9. This was also false. I spotted for one single day and went back to being dry as a desert, much to my dismay, but! around the end of week two well into week three I noticed I was having light cramps. Like so light their were barely there. I saw someone on a reddit post refer to them as phantom cramps which felt spot on. Over the week and a half of experiencing them they progressively got worse until I had actually convinced myself that I probably just had a UTI. About 6 days ago I was out of this world emotional and ragey and the next day experience the worst cramps I can remember since I had my period over a year ago. I also noticed sore breasts which had never really been a PMS symptom of mine. My period started that day – not spotting, barely there, false alarm-ness but a real, open the flood gates kind of period. I had a few days of heavier than normal but it does seem to be tapering off now to my relief and the cramps are gone. So between normal hormonal fluctuations, electrolytes and this period stuff, no wonder I was depressed. Things can only get better from here.

Weight Loss, Gains, and Stalls
Now, I’ll talk about weight, the big one that everyone wants to know about.  I can confidently say I lost about 9 pounds during the first two weeks and I was glorious. Week three rolls around and I stalled, even gained a few pounds which, of course, triggered a huge emotional break down. I’ve heard ladies talk about how fluctuation is perfectly normal, especially around the time of your period but at that time, I wasn’t aware it could be a PMS thing so I took it pretty hard.  I also cheated some during this week which probably didn’t help. As of yesterday, my total I went back to my pre-period weight minus another pound. My total weight loss for month one is 11 pounds and to my surprise, I also experienced a loss in inches.

Cheat Meals
Cheating is like a huge no-no in any diet, especially keto just because of how ketosis and becoming fat adapted works, BUT, we are all human and sometimes its hard to get over cravings. From day one, my husband and I had decided we would have a cheat day after one month of keto. It was completely planned out down the meal and drinks and it kept us motivated during that first month. Admittedly, I had some cheat meals in the middle which I attribute to depression and PMS and just general lack of willpower during that time. Obviously, I don’t recommend cheating but it happened, I still lost some and I didn’t die. Would I have lost more if I hadn’t cheated this month? Sure, maybe. But I’m always looking to improve and now I know that cheat meals really just aren’t worth it in the future. What happened after my cheat meals/day you might be wondering? Nothing. I didn’t gain ten pounds of water weight, I didn’t feel crappy or spend all day on the toilet. I may have gotten a little tired at one point but thats definitely it. So while you should try really hard to stick with your carb goal, its not the end of the world if you make a mistake and you definitely shouldn’t give up and binge because you feel like a failure. You’re not a failure and it will be okay. Just pick up where you left off and keto on. If you’re going to have a cheat meal or cheat day, I definitely recommend planning it out in advance and sticking to your plan because I think this really helps prevent binging and negative feelings about yourself afterwards.

Conclusion
One month of keto is down, several more to go. While I haven’t seen the massive initial losses others have seen, I am at my lowest weight since probably the end of 2017 (I gained *all* my weight in the last two years thank to PCOS). Any progress is good progress and I’m definitely going to keep moving forward. Maybe next month their will be enough of a difference to post before and after pictures. Here are my official updated measurements.

Bust: 42.5 in –> no change
Waist: 37.5 in –> 36.5 in
Hips: 44 in –> no change
Arms: 14 in –> 13 in
Thigh: 28 in –> 26.5 in
Calf: 16 in –> 15.5

Weight: 205 lbs to 194 lbs

I waited an entire month to measure and was pretty darn sure I wasn’t going to show any changes so I’m awestruck at these numbers. There’s a NSV (non scale victory) for you.

Are you starting your own keto journey? Let me know in the comments below! Lets keep each other accountable!

My KETO Journey with PCOS: Week One. Weight loss and Periods

I debated for some time about whether or not I wanted to discuss this on my blog or on youtube because for me, my weight loss journey is incredibly personal. Weight has contributed to my self esteem issues since I was 13 years old, before I ever had anything to worry about. But, I really like the accountability that sharing this provides and I know I find these types of progress blogs especially helpful when trying to motivate myself to continue.

If you’re new to the idea of the keto diet, its basically eating a low carb, moderate protein, high fat diet. Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS have seen success with this diet due to insulin resistance improvement. I’m going to continue with this series kind of assuming my readers already are familiar with keto and PCOS so if you’re interested in learning more about this I encourage you to read the articles I’ve listed below.

My husband and I started our keto journey on July 30th with two different goals in mind  – mine was to lose weight and battle PCOS his was to simply to eat healthier as he is already on the low low end of BMI for his height and weight. So while its nice to make healthy choices with someone, our approaches are obviously very different when it comes to calories and protein.

As I type this, I have been eating a low carb diet for about 10 days.  After the first five-ish days, I’ll admit I was foolishly discouraged. I didn’t feel like anything was life changing. The scale was fluctuating a lot and I wasn’t even completely sure I was in ketosis. I hadn’t suffered the infamous “keto flu” as many do during their first week of starting the diet and I was just overall skeptical.  I ended up ordering some ketosis strips off of amazon despite hearing that I wouldn’t need them because it would be obvious that I was in ketosis. It wasn’t obvious. (I’ll link any products I mention below). I’ve only tested with them twice so far, and the first time was even with diluted urine. My strips were dark. So I’m definitely in ketosis. This was the first little push that I needed. It meant that I was doing it right, my macros (although I’m still tinkering with these) were okay, and I was getting somewhere. It was kind of a big deal.

Fast forward to today, I do a midweek weigh in (I really only want to be weighing once a week) and the scale shows a number I’m very pleased with. My starting weight was 205.2, the number on the scale today was 199. While this is only 6 lbs and it is likely just water weight, I have had the biggest problem breaking that 200 lb threshold since I gained all this weight. (Until PCOS started acting up, I weighed 150 for years and years).

Skipping ahead just a little more (tmi warning) to tonight – I’m weepy, angry and emotionally all over the place which is not the norm for me lately. I go to the bathroom and low and behold there is pink on the toilet paper. Aunt Flow has arrived.  My last normal period was in November of 2017.  I had spotting for two days in June (six months later!?) and then was back to nothing. So while it may sound weird to be excited about something like this, its a huge deal. It means keto is working, my body is healing, my blood sugar is stabilizing, and I might, just might, be able to actually start charting ovulation and restarting my TTC journey.

I know its early and progress will slow down, but I’m very excited about my results thus far and I know things can only improve from here. I’m wrapping up this post but will do a one month check in post in a few weeks with another weigh in and measurements so please visit again if you’d like to follow my journey.

My Stats:
Starting Weight: 205.2 lbs
Current Weight: 199.0
Goal Weight: 140.0

Starting Measurements:
Bust: 42.5 in
Waist: 37.5
Hips: 44
Arms: 14
Thigh: 28
Calf: 16

Products I’m Using This Month:
Carb Manager app –
Ketosis Strips – Nurse Hatty – Ketone Strips 150ct.
Protein shake for breakfast – Advantage Shakes, Cafe Caramel 4 x 11 oz
Affiliate links. I never recommend anything I don’t believe in.

Sources:
1. The effects of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet on pcos. NCIB. link.

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Fertility Charting for Beginners

Today’s post is going to be a guide for fertility charting for those who just want to be educated about their bodies, ultimately with the goal of conceiving. I took Human Reproduction as my capstone senior year of college and that was the first time I realized how little women are taught about their own bodies, so when it comes time to try and conceive a child we can often be surprised when it doesn’t happen after having unprotected sex for the first time.

When trying to conceive (TTC) I feel like there are generally two different categories of people – the
“not trying, not preventing” crowd and the charting crowd, which obviously can be split into various degrees. Both ways are valid ways of conceiving but for women with various health conditions or have had trouble conceiving in the past, charting can be a more definitive way so see what’s up with your cycles.

This is going to touch on some of the basic things that you can chart when starting your TTC charting journey. This isn’t going to go in depth on things like menstrual flow changes or luteal phase or other things. You can make charting as simple or complicated as you want so today we are just going to cover some basics. I really recommending using a paper chart from the book “Taking Charge of your Fertility” or the Fertility Friend website and app.

PERIOD

The first most basic thing you’ll want to chart is the day your period starts and stops. The first day of your period is considered  “Day 1” of your cycle. The textbook example of a cycle is usually 28 days but there is a lot of normal (and abnormal) variation that can make this number inaccurate for many woman. If for some reason you don’t have a period (like me, due to PCOS or other issues), you can still track the following changes, just note that you may or may not ever be ovulating. We might cover this in another post.

TEMPERATURE
Your basal body temperature is another thing you’ll want to keep track of daily. Subtle changes throughout the month can clue you in on the start of each new phase of your cycle. In order to get the most accurate results, its important to record your temperature first thing in the morning. For the first part of your cycle, you may see some changes from day to day but overall you’ll hover around the same average unless you’re ill. During ovulation, the temperature will drop slightly followed by a rise in temperature the next day that is sustained until the end of the cycle.  It’s a common misconception, I think, that the spike in temperature signals ovulation but actually, it signified that it has already happened. The rise in temperature after ovulation is the start of your luteal phase.

You can use any kind of thermometer to chart temperature, typically the infrared forehead kind are not recommended. I find orally to be the easiest for me. Readings with two decimals are preferred but the cheaper thermometers usually only go to one decimal place which can be sufficient for most.

CERVIX
For many woman, temperature charting, or temping, can be enough to help you determine your most fertile days. For others, temperatures aren’t so clear and other signs are useful in determining when ovulation has occurred. Checking the cervix requires getting up close and personal with your body on a daily basis so if you weren’t comfortable with touching yourself before, you will be after charting. No pun intended. There are three main things to take note of when checking the cervix – position (and opening), texture, and fluid. Often it takes a cycle or two to really get used to the changes and what they feel like.

To check your cervix, you’ll want to insert a clean finger into your vagina at about a 45 degree angle towards your back. The cervix is round and honestly sort of looks and feels like the head of a penis. First take note of the position. If the cervix is high, you’ll have to insert almost the entire finger to be able to reach it. At a lower position, it is much easier to reach. You’ll also want to feel around for the opening – is there a small hole or is it closed? Next, gently press on the cervix and note its texture. Is it soft like a flaccid penis? Firm like a hard penis head? Or somewhere in the middle? If you don’t know what a penis feels like then perhaps think of the difference between your lips and the tip of your nose. Finally, swipe a finger around the cervix and inspect the mucus. Cervical mucus is categorized as either dry, sticky, creamy, watery or egg white. In general, around ovulation the cervix will be soft, high, open, and wet. Watery and egg white mucus are considered fertile, with egg white being the gold standard. Egg white mucus is easily distinguished by its ability to stretch between your fingertips without breaking. This should not be confused with arousal fluid, which is different although it has a similar consistency.

OVULATION TESTS
Ovulation tests are typically referred to as OPKs or ovulation predictor kits. Most drugstores sell some form of these but typically its more cost effective to buy the strip tests in bulk online from somewhere like Amazon.  These work very similar to pregnancy tests in that you dip the stick into a cup of urine, wait a set amount of time, and read the result. The different is that for the strip type tests, two lines does not always equal positive for ovulation. Ovulation would show the dark control line as well as an equally dark test line.  If one of the lines is fainter than the other, this is not a positive test.  OPKs are useful if you find your cervical signs and temperatures don’t match up. When the ovulation test shows positive, it usually means you will ovulate within the next 24 hours, not that you are currently ovulating.

WHEN TO HAVE SEX
All the statistics say that sperm can live in the vagina up to five days but really this is under ideal conditions which not everyone has. Experts agree that you have the highest chance of conceiving when you are intimate two days before, the day before, and the day of ovulation.

RESOURCES
Taking Charge of Your Fertility book
Cervix photo gallery (NSFW)
Lots of great resources and community for voting on your test if you can’t tell!
Fertility Friend log