Health – PCOS

Dieting and The Brain

This post is sparked by the TED Talk by Sandra Aamodt: Why Dieting Doesn’t Usually Work. Video is embedded at the end of this musing should you want to listen in too.

At the heart of the talk is the fact that the brain, specifically the hypothalamus, acts as a sort of thermostat that signals hunger, energy, and metabolism. Whether you start out thin or fat, when you lose weight, your brain thinks you’re starving. For self-preservation, you will feel hungry and have less energy available.

Because I have been morbidly obese in the past 10 years or so, my body and my brain may very well have learned to think that this is the normal. Going down to a ‘healthy’ weight in the obesity scales will definitely not be a walk in the park because I am no longer wired for a lower number on the weighing scale.

Realizing that doesn’t give me an excuse to not make an effort. In fact, what she says next only encourages me further to continue with the lifestyle changes I’ve committed to recently.

Sandra points out that there are two types of eaters – intuitive eaters: rely on their hunger, and; controlled eaters: rely on willpower. Looks like I’ve been more of the latter. That explains the endless cycle of starving and then binging. Skipping meals and then going on an all-you-can-eat buffet.

When I was in highschool, my grandmother was against my going on a diet. She argued that I just need to stick to a healthy three full meals a day. Don’t skip, but don’t over indulge. If I had just listened to her then, I may have a chance to be 30 pounds lighter today. By the way, looking at my highschool photos now, I realize now that I wasn’t FAT! But at the time? Geez.

Sandra also talks about mindful eating. Listen to your body and eat when you’re hungry. But listen too when it says that the hunger has been satiated. Now that may take me awhile, so smaller portions will also help.

She then shows a graph of a long-term study across people of various weights and their risk of death based on four healthy habits: eating enough fruits and vegetables, exercising 3x a week, not smoking, and drinking moderately. It looks very similar to this:

healthy-habits-500x360

Image Source: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2012/12/31/evidence-that-fat-people-can-be-as-healthy-as-thin-people/

The short story is that the more of the 4 habits you have, the lower risk of death – regardless of weight. For the obese (darkest shaded bar on the graph), even just one healthy habit significantly reduces the risk by almost 50%. And when all four healthy habits are present? Then weight doesn’t matter. The person with the normal weight is just as likely or less likely to die prematurely than the obese person. 

So I guess I am on the right track. Except that when I resolved to make a habit of having green smoothies daily I had weight loss in mind. Now, I’m changing my mindset. My goal is no longer to lose weight, but to just be better. I think that can be achieved without necessarily losing all of my excess weight. If I can lose weight while eating more fruits and veggies and adding exercise in my lifestyle, then that’s a bonus.

What are your thoughts on this?

 

Cohen Lifestyle

One blog I started following via Google Reader recently is Shoot First, Eat Later.

Today, in this wonderful food/lifestyle blog, the author posted her breakfast meals, suitable for the Cohen Lifestyle.

Got me thinking about signing up for Cohen. It’ll cost a lot of money, but it might very well be worth it. I had read about this system in the papers maybe a month ago. It seemed interesting, more so because it boasts about a well-researched and tested system that analyzes a person’s blood make up to come up with meal plan suggestions. Because of this, the program is tailor-made for each individual. It is not to be shared, and there’s no mass-produced meals to be had. Each person will be given his/her daily requirements and restrictions.

For more info, check out their website.

I have at least three married friends trying to get pregnant this year, one is already a month or so into her first pregnancy. Soon, I’d have friends with hopefully bigger bellies than mine. Girlfriends looking pretty and sexy even in maternity clothing. My preggy friend, plus two others still trying are all diagnosed with PCOS, just like me. I think being on this new brand of lifestyle, might be my ticket to breaking free from PCOS. Though I’m not trying to conceive now, it might get me a step closer to that, eventually.

Have you heard of this? Any feedback you care to share?

Metformin

A few posts down, I mentioned having really bad headaches while I was on the pill. The pill is used as some sort of hormone replacement therapy for my PCOS. On my first check up after a month of taking the pill, I told my doctor about the 2-day headache I endured the weekend before and the pain in my breasts too. She did acknowledge that those were known side-effects of the pill and the proceeded to give me tips so I can avoid getting them. We agreed to go through another month with the same pill. If the headaches returned, we’ll change it.

Boy did they come back.

So I went to see the doc again the week before last. She wasn’t in and I had to see a substitute. That was not a good experience. Really. I went to the hospital early (as in 9AM-ish) so I wouldn’t have to wait in a long queue at the Medicard clinic. It took about 3 minutes to get the slip and I proceeded to Dr E’s clinic where I was told that she wasn’t in that day and was in a convention. If I wanted, I could see the substitute or I can wait until the following Monday to see Dr. E. The sub was to come in at 11am til 3pm. Since I was already 4 days into my period that day, I knew that I could not wait until Monday in case the doctor advises me to take the third cycle of pills. I would have to wait for the next month to start on the next cycle. I didn’t want to delay it any further so I decided to see the sub.

Instead of waiting at the clinic, I went to see my nephew attending a Vacation Bible School class in our church right next to the hospital. Promptly at 11, I was back at the clinic but the sub wasn’t there. It took several calls to her clinic, and a full hour, for her to come in. By then, there were three patients waiting and I was very sleepy. I had shift the night before and came straight from work. I was drowsing off at the waiting area!

She sauntered in. Listened to me a bit. Prescribed Metformin for three months. Said to come back for a TVS order after the medication. Wrote up a medical certificate for me (for work). All done in less than five minutes. I didn’t even get her name!

I was happy she took me off the pill (though Alfred ain’t too happy about it, hehe). But I felt that the whole consultation was rushed. Seriously. I don’t doubt that she’s a nice, competent doctor and all, but I waited hours to see her. KWIM?

I felt that way too when I first went to see Dr E – rushed. I thought, maybe it’s because I don’t pay her (the HMO does)? Or maybe it’s because she has too see more patients? But on my second visit, my perception of her changed. She did remember my case and seemed to have been paying attention after all.

Have you had similar experiences with doctors? My OB five years ago was very very nice, even the subs I had to see when she was out. I hadn’t had to see any other doctor on a regular basis aside from my pediatrician Dr. Lopez of St. Luke’s. He and his assistant are very nice people. All the doctors I’ve had to see at the ER are ok too. Eye doctors, Medicard clinic doctors, all ok. I guess I’m just not used to that.

Anyway, I had no intention to rant.

I didn’t purchase Metformin until last week. I am familiar with it because my second OB (the nice one from 5 years ago) prescribed that for me along with pills (which I didn’t have a negative reaction to). I only regularly took it in the prescribed dose yesterday. Bad me.

My mom saw the bag of Metformin yesterday and looked it up on the Internet. Reading what was here gave her a scare, I think. I assured her last night that I took Metformin for three months years ago with no side effects so I should be okay this time around too. I went through the info on the site though and it’s better to just be aware of those, just in case.

No more pain, please!

Last night and all through this morning, I had a very bad headache. This is the third month it’s been like that. I’ll swing by my doctor’s office tomorrow because I don’t want that again next month. The pill has got to be changed.

I started feeling the headache coming up while I was singing along to the videoke at my aunt and cousin’s birthday bash yesterday, probably at around 4pm. I blamed it on the fact that I hadn’t had a wink of sleep since getting up for work the previous night. I went back and took a dip in the pool and had my little nephews massage my head a bit. The shower after seem to have given me some comfort – but not for long.

The pain became a little stronger on the trip home, specially when I had to sleep at an uncomfortable position, having to share the backseat with three other sleeping boys – AJ 3, Esban 6, and Adam 7.

I had a temporary reprieve from pain when we stopped for a light dinner at McDonald’s and I bought a cooling Starbucks frappuccino next door. I didn’t sleep the rest of the way home, my nephews wanted to sing. It was straight to bed as soon as we arrived home at around
9pm. I didn’t even bother to download the few pictures I managed to take. I woke up several times through the night with the pain really giving me a hard time, and the heat making matters worse. Medication wasn’t something I wanted to resort to at that point, I was determined that sleep was all I needed. But at 6 in the morning – it was just unbearable. My mom said I should just take the meds, or go to the hospital. I took the pain medication and my dad used this massaging contraption on me. There was temporary relief with that, but the pain came back as soon as it stopped. I waited about 15 minutes but the nagging pain was still there. I felt like throwing up and remembered what the ER doctor told me last time: if I threw up, I had to go back and see them. No. So I went back to sleep.

At 10AM, I woke up and the headache was gone. I was still feeling heavy. When I went to the john, I saw a small brownish spot. All that pain for that!

I swear I feel it coming back right now. It’s like it’s lurking. Like the medicine temporarily numbed me to it but it’s still there. It’s not supposed to come back though, the doctor said the medicine has a 24-hour effect. I’ve only had it in my body for a little more than 12 hours.

Please, I don’t want anymore of it.

Still on the pill

So I went to see my doctor before coming to work today. As it turned out, I need three cycles of Althea so I started on my second cycle today. I complained about the pain in my breasts which I suspected were side effects of the pill, and she confirmed it. I also told her about the terrible headaches I had the first two days of my menses. As is turns out, though she didn’t directly say it, the headaches may actually be another side effect of the pill.

She gave me tips to avoid the headaches before my next cycle. If the headaches persist, I am to see her again to discontinue the pill. My guess is she’ll have to change it then. I am not looking forward to the boob and head pains 🙁

In fairness, the bleeding isn’t as bad as the last two months’. It still flows heavily, but only during the first 2 days really. Yesterday’s and today’s flow seem to be just normal. That really is the main concern.

I also happily reported to her that I’ve lost about 5 pounds since she last saw me. She says she’s looking forward to another 5 off next time I go back. We’ll see.

Which reminds me, I’m not even sure if I’ve managed to keep the 5 off, if they’ve come back, or if I’ve lost a couple more. I have not seen Marie for awhile.

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