Anxiety · Counselling · Experience · fertility · infertility · Lifestyle · Love · miscarriage · PCOS · ttc

Am I ready?

So, 6 months ago we embarked upon the next stage of our journey… the IUI. I remember being so excited yet nervous, but I jumped in with both feet first & I like to think I smashed the process with massive positivity fists!

When we miscarried our baby I didn’t even want to think about trying again. I wanted that baby, my first baby… nothing else would ever compare, but they say time is a great healer & in most part it is.

I’ll never get over what happened, so when I spoke to my counsellor she said “stop trying to get over this, you just need to move forward”. Getting over something feels, to me, that I should be forgetting it whereas moving forward feels different… so here we are, mid-September & patiently waiting for my next cycle to start so we can do the whole thing all over again. But the big question is…

…am I ready?

The answer to that is a hazy one. I don’t think I’ll ever be 100% ready, I still mourn the loss of our baby, but I know I must try… I owe it to our little one not to give up, I owe it to my husband & most of all I owe it to myself.

xx Gem xx

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Change · Clomid · Counselling · Experience · fertility · infertility · Lifestyle · PCOS · Self Acceptance · ttc

Babies Here, Babies There, Babies Everywhere!

It’s one of those things… like when a friend says they’re getting a new car which you’ve never heard of before, so they show you and suddenly you start seeing them everywhere. Parked on the street. Passing you on the road. Pulling up next to you in the supermarket. To me, and a vast majority of women trying to conceive, that’s exactly what it’s like with babies.

At first it was ok, sometimes frustrating to see other people having what I wanted, but I told myself that my time would come soon. That lasted a little while until the desperation started to kick in and along came the bitterness towards others with a family, pregnant women and new Mums pushing their little bundles of joy around the park in a brand new shiny pram. I just felt so alone. Every pregnancy announcement on social media was met with a huff and a rolling of the eyes. I started to avoid friends with children or those who were expecting one. I felt it was a dark time for me.

I feel I must point out though that never once did I wish that these people around me didn’t have what they have… it was purely envy over what they had, and a reminder of what I didn’t.

The cherry on top of the cake was when my best friend got pregnant. It suddenly felt so close to home, this wasn’t just someone I knew, this was my BEST FRIEND. This was having to go through her pregnancy with her. This was having to come to terms with the fact that she was getting what I wanted and so far my attitude towards people with this was bitter… and I couldn’t afford to have bitterness between myself and one of my oldest and dearest friends.

I cranked up the frequency of my counselling sessions and searched desperately for a way to drag myself out of this dark place. I had to use avoidance to start with. It pained me, but it was necessary. I then realised I had good days and bad days. There were days where I would want to soak up every ounce of pregnancy happiness, no matter that it wasn’t me experiencing it physically, then I had other days where I felt if anyone mentioned the word ‘pregnant’ to me I might just punch them in the face. It wasn’t a pretty time for me and I felt it was a very ugly version of myself.

THEN…

… about a month before my best friend was due, she went on maternity leave. We started to see a little more of each other on my days off and whilst out walking one day it hit me like a tonne of bricks – my best friend is having a baby that I get to cuddle, that I get to play with, that I get to laugh and joke and fall in love with. I even feel a bit teary now writing this, but that moment for me was an absolute game changer and has been my saving grace in how I now cope with infertility. Yes I have a deep desire for my own children, but in the meantime I get to explore and learn more about them and also have some extra time to mentally prepare myself for what the next chapter will bring… because there WILL be a next chapter, it may not come about in the way we would like, but we will have our family one day.

I feel extremely lucky to have been able to pull myself out of that dark place and nuzzle myself deep into a positive state of mind. It sounds silly, but some days I feel so full of positive energy that I could physically explode. It’s kind of a bizarre state to be in, but I’m telling myself after being so negative for so long that I deserve a positivity overdose… it can’t hurt right?! I wish I had the recipe of my revelation to share with you all, to help those struggling with infertility cope with watching others experiencing your dreams, but I’m afraid I don’t. Whether it was the counselling or just that I simply couldn’t contain any more negativity, I have no idea… but I am so thankful to have found the strength to keep pushing forward, to keep my head in the game and to welcome any new challenges with a smile and determination.

This is MY life I am living, I do not want to spend it in a cloud of bad vibes and to look back one day to find I have regrets.

Clomid · Experience · fertility · infertility · PCOS · ttc

“Unexplained Infertility”… Really?

Can we really be fooled into thinking that there is no explanation for our infertility? I suppose if you’re new to this game then you may do, I certainly did at first, but it’s basically a term that you are branded with when funding or testing has been exhausted… but then after all that testing, you find yourself pretty exhausted too and willing to take anything that’s on the table!

So, to catch you up, our last cycle failed… sure it sucks, but you grow a thick skin to it after a while. I chose to believe it was going to happen, which in turn really lifted my spirits. My positive energy was through the roof and when my period arrived I didn’t even cry, well until the following day but that’s progress! Another thing that probably helped was that a few days later we had our ‘next steps’ appointment scheduled at our Fertility Clinic.

Now, a week after our referral back in June we received a letter saying that our clinic would be stopping all assisted treatment from November, so it wasn’t a shock when we were told we are being handed over to a new clinic. At the moment, we don’t know where this will be, but it should only cause a delay of a month or two at the most. Had it been the middle of summer, that might have been hard to deal with, but with Christmas around the corner we’ve got lots to keep us occupied!

We have been purely funded through the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK and are very grateful to receive such good care, however we are aware that the services we receive can be quite limited. Following the tests we’ve had done, we have now been put into the category of having ‘unexplained infertility’. Well, of course there must be SOME reason for our infertility, but all the tests they do through the NHS simply don’t stretch to find out our ‘why’. I could get all upset and frustrated about this, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help us get pregnant.

Due to all my symptoms, I was told I may have mild Endometriosis (which is where tissue that usually lines the uterus grows elsewhere in your body), however because there is none on my ovaries or in my fallopian tubes they no longer need to address this issue, hence why my Laparoscopy was cancelled. I get it, I do… they’re not there to deal with my medical problems, they’re there to get us pregnant.

So, we have a plan! We have been offered three back-to-back rounds of Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and failing that one round of In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) on the NHS. I can imagine if you’re reading this from another country you fully appreciate what a generous offer this is. (I’ll do a post on those procedures as and when we get to them… if you’re not sure what they are, please ask Dr Google). We did have the option to jump straight to IVF, as the success rates for an IUI is only 15%, but we have chosen to believe that WE WILL be in that 15%. Whilst we’re waiting we are continuing on with my old friend, Clomid. I popped my first pill of this round last night… let the fun commence!!

Anxiety · Experience · fertility · infertility · Lifestyle · PCOS · ttc

The Two Week Wait

For those who aren’t familiar with this phrase, it’s pretty clear you’re not trying for a baby. Since we started trying, I’ve opened up a whole new dictionary of words and phrases I never knew existed. At first it felt like everyone was communicating in another language, devised especially for those in the baby making business, but soon I caught on and found myself up to my eyes in acronyms and general trying-to-conceive gibberish.

So, in a nutshell, the ‘two week wait’ is the approximate waiting time between ovulation and finding out if you’re pregnant. For some women it is simply two weeks. Two weeks of normal every day life and either a ‘yay’ or a ‘nay’ at the end of it. For other women time comes almost to a halt,o not enough to actually stop time, but just enough to make every day seem like a year. Then there’s the handful of us who experience the latter and are graced with the crippling reality of infertility.

Hi… yep, me over here. I’m in the club! The infertility club. Should we make some badges or something? I bet they would sell! Not only am I in the club, but I am also four days into my two week wait. So, I thought I would share with you what I’m doing over the week or so… which brings me to my first point:

Keep Busy

There is nothing worse than letting your mind go nuts over wondering what you’re little egg is doing… every single minute of every single day! Just as I am doing right now, right at this moment, I am keeping myself busy. My diary is packed with coffee dates, activities and work to keep my mind occupied. When I find myself without something to do, I lose myself in a box set or a book. I need to keep my mind going. That doesn’t mean that I’m not thinking about it, but I am allowing myself not to obsess over it.

Take Care Of Your Body

This month I am focusing on the foods I eat. I have read many articles and have been told by lots of women to eat warm foods during these couple of weeks. Apparently, by keeping the body warm it makes the uterus more inviting for your little embryo. A lot of women choose to take a multitude of supplements and I recently found myself almost in a state of panic at Holland and Barrett, trying to figure out what to take and what didn’t make my bank account weep. Instead I chose to look closely at the food types I am consuming. I have fallen victim to the old wives tale about pineapple and am scoffing a concoction of nuts and seeds every day to ensure I am feeding my body in the correct way, and that’s good enough for me for now. Some of you may object to what I’m doing, some of you may have good proven scientific evidence that what I’m doing is utter tosh, but to me and my mind, I am doing what I feel comfortable with and that’s all that matters. Also, they say it’s good to take any exercise down a notch. Switch your HIIT workouts for yoga, with some that specialise in fertility, and go for long brisk walks rather than running.

Don’t Symptom Spot

Haahaahaahaa! Ahahaha! Ha! Yeah right, who on earth can honestly say they don’t symptom spot? NOT ME! That’s for sure. Every sore nipple, every twinge in my pelvis and every bit of cervical mucus is mentally documented and analysed. I can’t help it, I feel like I’m programmed to do it… but that’s it, nothing more. Once it’s been noted, forget it. A lot of the typical pregnancy symptoms are also PMS symptoms, so the only definitive way of knowing that you’re pregnant is to wait and see those two juicy lines on a test. It’s good to know what your body is doing, but for reference only. I can’t allow myself to obsess for days over that tiny bit of nausea I felt three days ago, it’s just not healthy for my mind.

Get Support

If you haven’t spoken to anyone about your journey so far, I would urge you to… no matter how far along you are into it. It reeeeeeeeeally helps to have someone to talk to, to shout at or to cry with. Emotions can be high, after all our bodies are naturally gearing up for a pregnancy each month just by producing that egg… whether you choose to fertilise it or not. Also, something you may find absolutely absurd could be absolutely normal. So it’s good to talk, it’s good to share and it’s good to know you’re not alone.

Believe In Yourself

This is something that has only recently come to light for me. Each month I end up telling myself that this isn’t going to work, that I am broken and that it hasn’t happened until now so why should this month be any different. Wow… what a bitch! Would I talk to a friend that way? NO! So why do I think it’s acceptable to talk to myself like this. I think its because I’m trying to protect myself from the heartache of another negative test. I need my body to believe that it CAN happen, so I’ve made a deal with my mind that this month I will believe that I am fully capable of making and growing a baby. My uterus IS inviting. My hormones ARE able to handle it. Positivity is key!

So yeah, that’s what I’m doing with my time and so be it if it comes round every month…

Clomid · Experience · fertility · infertility · PCOS · ttc

Freshly Flushed

Finding myself spread eagled on an x-ray table on a Friday afternoon was not really my idea of fun, but needs must. You see, when struggling with infertility you have to open up your mind (and your legs) to all the testing that comes with it. So, on Friday I had a hysterosalpingogram (HSG), which is basically flushing fluid through your fallopian tubes to see if they’re blocked. From research and feedback of others having had this done, I quickly came to realise that everyone had a different experience in terms of pain, bedside manner, medicine, etc, so my expectations had to be curbed as I was hearing stories of breezing through with no discomfort to feeling contraction-like pain.

Getting the HSG arranged in the first place was pretty easy. I was due to have an investigative operation called a Laparoscopy along with the tube flush three months after our initial consultation in June, but soon that deadline passed and I hadn’t heard anything. A quick phone call later had me set straight with an 8-10 month wait, which would just not do. Fortunately, my consultant appears to be pretty proactive and within a few days I had a letter drop through my door with confirmation of a HSG referral and a telephone number to call when my period started. I also had a one off prescription for an antibiotic to take on the morning of the procedure, in case of any infection whilst my cervix was open, and a recommendation to take painkillers.

Five days later I found myself nervously driving up to the city to Southmead Hospital, where my husband met me to provide me with some much needed support. I actually felt really relaxed going in to the hospital, it’s a fairly new building and set out like an airport. You check in at a kiosk and proceed to a gate, just like going on holiday! Actually, is that some kind of cruel game they’re playing? Next time I go to the airport I’m going to be thinking about this experience!

Anyway, a friendly looking nurse called us through and unfortunately my husband had to sit and wait in a different room, but to know he was there settled my nerves. I got taken into a big wet room with a toilet, shower and a pile of gowns and was given a cup to wee in. A few minutes later the nurse came back and did a pregnancy test just to make sure. “Nope, not pregnant!” she announced. No fucking shit lady! She left to me change into the gown, which I was told must have the flap open at the back and a little while later a second door to the room opened, fortunately I had just about managed to wrap myself up. The fresh faced nurse stood before me smiled and spoke in a very soft Irish accent. She had a calm manner which set me at ease as she helped tie up my gown. Leading me through to a big room she told me to take a seat. I stood there pondering the best possible way to sit down to avoid cheek-on-chair, if you get me… so I opted for the awkward shifting of the gown and perching on the edge.

A few minutes later the door opened and a very together-looking lady walked in. “Hi, I’m Doctor, err… (sorry, can’t remember her name) …and I’m going to talk you through the procedure before we start.” She was very descriptive of what she was going to do, so at least I knew there would be no surprises! Once all explained she asked me to lay on the bed. It was a scary bed, because above it was this big circular thing and monitors and big red and green buttons, just like something I’ve watched on Grey’s Anatomy.

Now, for anyone who has had a cervical screening, the beginning was just like that. There’s a plastic tool called a Speculum that they insert into your vagina. Easy peasy, no problem. Feeling confident about my freshly spruced foof and no desire to pass wind, I allowed myself to relax whilst she had a good look. After a minute or two she popped her head up between my legs and told me that my cervix looked “raw”. Well, I wouldn’t be lying if I didn’t feel like that was true. It’s something I have felt over these past few months with the Clomid periods. I’ll do another post on that, but for now it’s not an issue. She then inserted a tube into my cervix with a little balloon attached to it, which she inflated to hold the tube in place. The nurse pulled down a big piece of equipment over my pelvis and pulled some monitors round, which showed my uterus and fallopian tubes… apparently! Just looked like a load of fuzz to me!

The doctor then attached a big syringe to the end of the tube that she had previously loaded with some sort of clear looking thick gel. This was it, the moment that could change everything… they were either blocked, or not. As the doctor announced she was about to start, the Irish beauty appeared at my head ready with oodles of small talk, I guess designed to take my mind off things, but it’s hard to talk about traffic when someone is hands deep in my vagina! Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but you know what I mean.

Twinge. Light cramp. Bigger cramp. Ouch, this hurts kind of cramp. Oh my fucking hell this is painful kind of cramp. Tears forming in my eyes kind of cramp. What to do? Count, just count Gemma… one. two. threee. ffffour. fiiiiiive. ssssssix. sssevvvven. eeurgheight. niiiiiine…”and we’re done!” The pain instantly left. Thank goodness and a relief to hear her say my tubes were both clear. Phew! So, for me it was painful but it was quick. The staff had an excellent bedside manner and I felt completely at ease and safe in their hands. Once dressed, I was handed a hot cup of coffee and was sent off to join Hubs in the waiting room. I felt a little giddy, but after 10 minutes I was perfectly fine and we were able to leave.

For me, well for us, it was a really positive experience all round. Sure, it’s not a particularly nice procedure, but the way it was all handled before, during and after was excellent in our books. It took me a good sofa session to feel brighter, but there’s nothing wrong with that eh?! I also had some light brown spotting which turned pink for a few days, but nothing a good old panty liner couldn’t handle. The following day I had a letter to say the Laparoscopy had been scheduled for the end of November, as I guess there was a cancellation or something (how bloody typical), so I could have actually had it all done in one go in the end. However, my consultant phoned to say she was happy with the results of the HSG and doesn’t see the need for me to have the surgery, so it’s been cancelled and we have a follow up appointment with her on the 22nd November to discuss the next steps. If we wish to continue with Clomid we may, as we’ve been told any assisted treatment we may have to have won’t start until the New Year, but I need to have a long think about whether I want to tackle another round of Clomid or have a hormonal free Christmas!

Hmmm, tough decision…or is it?

Clomid · Counselling · Experience · fertility · infertility · Lifestyle · PCOS · ttc

Third Time Not So Lucky

Our third round of Clomid failed. We were so sure this month was our month. We did everything right, everything was perfectly timed and plenty of it too! I had a follicle tracking scan on day 12 of my cycle which showed a nice juicy follicle measuring 25mm, with another at 15mm and would you believe another at 11mm… my body really responds to this tiny little pill! I was ready to pop and with an imminent weekend away with Hubs we had no doubt that this was our month.

Well, what a load of shit that was.

I am writing to you on day two of a very painful, heavy and clot-filled period. At this moment in time I couldn’t feel any more low, depressed and exhausted. Three months of constant hormone alterations have worn me down. I worked so hard for months and months to get myself into a better mental state; I paid privately for counselling, I made sure I used positive exercises to lift me up and I roped in Hubs to identify times when I was struggling and get me back to the counsellor for a top up session. I was in a great place both physically and mentally… then came Clomid.

Hand on heart, I completely underestimated the power of this tiny tablet. I thought that taking the lowest dose for five days would be a breeze. I had the belief that because it was only 50mg, the lowest dose I was offered, it couldn’t possibly give me all of the side effects that countless women have coined as giving you the ‘Clomid crazies’. Well, the truth is that my body responded to the medication, so no matter what dose I was taking, I was getting those side effects. The hot flushes I could deal with, the thirst was no problem, even the odd mood swing was manageable… but after a while they started to become tough. My reactions to things became heightened… I wasn’t just sad, I was depressed; I wasn’t just happy, I was ecstatic; I wasn’t just angry, I was furious; and I wasn’t just tired, I was exhausted.

I still am.

I feel like I have lost myself right now, but I do see a tiny little glimmer of the true Gemma coming back through. I don’t know where she’s been or how long she’ll take to come back, but as soon as that period started something inside me shifted. The version of me I’ve been lately has been the one I used to be. I couldn’t handle my emotions and struggled through for years, so to come back to this place has been bloody scary. Of course, it’s not just this, it’s the fact that it’s still not working. Why aren’t we getting pregnant? I want to run to my doctor and stamp my feet, I want to scream at her and order her to make this work. Life isn’t like that of course, but this is JUST. NOT. FAIR. I toggle between anger and sadness over it, two very exhausting states of mind to be in.

Anyway, this month we’re having a Clomid break, timed perfectly not only for my own sanity but also to enable me to have a Hysterosalpingogram (HSG). This is where a dye is flushed through your fallopian tubes to see if they’re clear and possibly help clear them if partially blocked. I have done some research and am fully aware that a lot of women continue to take Clomid during this time, but I think after speaking to my Consultant at the Fertility Clinic about the way I am feeling, she felt it was time for a break. We have a follow up appointment next month where we will discuss the results and talk about the next step…

…you see there is always a next step.

Anxiety · Change · Clomid · Counselling · Experience · fertility · infertility · Lifestyle · PCOS

Blog Blog Blog

Someone brought my blog to my attention the other day… I really wanted to make a go of it, but just after I renewed my subscription a friend told me they didn’t think a blog would suit me. I stupidly took it to heart and stopped. Flash forward 6 months and finding myself faced with lots of ups and downs in life I’ve decided to dust off my keyboard and give it another bash. Who knows what will come of it… but even if no one reads it, I always find that writing things down proves to be a useful outlet for me.

Bringing you up to speed on what’s going on in my life right now… I am currently in the middle of my first round of fertility treatment. It sounds scary, but it’s only tablets. Clomifene (Clomid) to be specific. I want to do a post all about it, but for the moment I thought best not to start with such intensity.

I’ve always tried to keep my desire to have children on the back burner, it makes those negative tests slightly easier to deal with, but now we’re receiving help from the Fertility Clinic I feel I am able to let my hopes run wild… well, ish. It is extremely difficult to struggle with infertility. I sometimes feel I am such a ‘newb’ when it comes down to it as there are so many women out there going through way more than I am, but at the end of the day we all have our individual journeys. I can be such a pain in the bum when it comes to comparing myself to others, I always make myself feel inferior and that in itself doesn’t do anything for my self esteem. I started to notice a while back that I was becoming quite mentally ugly when it came to pregnancy… hear me out: can anyone relate to scrolling through facebook, seeing a pregnancy announcement and rolling your eyes? Or how about unfollowing people you like on social media because they’ve become pregnant and you can’t handle it? And here’s maybe the biggest one of all… not being able to be around your friends because seeing them happy with their babies makes it feel like someone has stabbed you in the heart with a rusty spike?

That is not the type of person I would ever aspire to be… but I already was. It crept upon me without notice and one day I took a long look in the mirror and decided enough was enough. I signed myself up for some counselling sessions and over several months I worked through my issues. Now, if you’re considering doing this and haven’t yet found the courage to, please let me give you that nudge to go for it… don’t expect immediate results, it takes time to form a bond with someone, but just giving 100% focus on myself for an hour every few weeks really did me the world of good. I have learnt to associate positivity with pregnancy. I choose to see each pregnancy announcement as another iron-clad piece of proof that I can remain to hope that this will happen for me. After several months of counselling I was ‘set free’ and if I choose to, which I have on a few occasions already, I just arrange a ‘top up’ session. Easy peasy! In fact, I have a session in the morning!

That’s probably enough rambling on for now, but if you’re keen to follow how my Clomid cycle is going, please head on over to my Instagram page.

Change · Experience · Lifestyle · PCOS · Self Acceptance

Don’t Let PCOS Define You

Hands up, who finds it easier to understand what they're going through when you've been diagnosed with something? That sweet relief of being able to put a name to your particular struggles and instantly start searching the internet to find solace in the similar experience of others. We've all been there, but what if that diagnosis turns into definition?

In June 2015 when the doctor first told me I had Polycystic Ovary Syndrome I felt like my world was collapsing around me. I had no idea what it meant for me and my future. I was haunted by the word 'syndrome' and it left me feeling very lost and confused. Luckily I found a great community on Instagram and immediately became addicted to scouring PCOS hashtags and feeding on other women's experiences. Suddenly I wasn't alone! I found myself amongst a sea of women across the world and I felt at ease.

As my wealth of knowledge expanded, so did my obsession. I became convinced that I was yet to experience a multitude of symptoms that I was discovering and so I got stuck into learning about what foods to avoid, what foods would help my body, which exercises were best, when to do them, how to do them, etc, etc. Then came the guilt. If I missed a workout or ate the 'wrong' type of food I would blame every painful negative pregnancy test on my bad judgement. This guilt weighed heavily on my shoulders and it started to distort my view of my marriage and my self worth as a woman. It honestly felt to me, and don't get me wrong I still do feel this way sometimes, that I will never be able to have children.

That's a big statement to make.

Back in October I started having some counselling sessions. I am very proud of myself for being able to see that I needed an outlet such as this in my life and I really can't speak highly enough of the experience. It's opened my eyes up to myself and my surroundings. Currently on my Instagram feed I have lost count of how many women with PCOS or other fertility related issues have fallen pregnant. Yes sometimes it's hard to see pregnancy announcements, but these are all women who at some point would have felt exactly how I feel and to see that they have beaten the odds gives me great hope that someday I will too!

The New Year also brings hoards of newly diagnosed women to seek solace in social media and I welcome them with open arms. I remember feeling how they felt and I can see a similarity in their posts to mine back when I was first diagnosed. We are each on our own journey and need to go through this experience to gain a better understanding of the cards we've been dealt. That's perfectly ok, but don't let this become you. There is no right or wrong, we are all individuals and likely to experience something very different to the woman next in line. PCOS can be a struggle, but PCOS is not me… I am me.

xx Gem xx

Change · Experience · Lifestyle · Love · PCOS · Self Acceptance

New Year, New You

It’s that time of year that gives one licence to start afresh. Even though the clocks have only ticked forward a mere second, the notion of this time passing brings much inspiration to many people to change their mentality towards themselves. Three weeks on I am still thoroughly enjoying riding the wave of everyone’s newfound enthusiasm for healthy eating and exercise regimes. However, for the first time I haven’t felt the need to set resolutions for myself because I feel I am already where I want to be. No, I am not at my goal weight and no we are still not pregnant, but I am content with the way I look at myself and that really was what I was striving for all along… I just didn’t know it at the time!

Self acceptance is not easy to come by. You have to go on an incredible journey to find it and just when you think you have, it disappears right from your finger tips. Most of the time I look at myself and I see a happy woman, someone who is so appreciative for what she has in life and dreams of what the future holds for her. Then, for what has dominated most of my life but is currently hiding away in the box I keep buried at the back of my mind, is the bitch that society over the past three decades has moulded me into. I’ve spent the last year taming this part of me and learning how to be kind to myself. The thing is, I think there will always be something inside that has the desire to rip myself apart, so there is no New Year resolution but to simply continue along my journey.

Whatever you decide to do this year, don’t forget to look upon yourself with kind eyes. We are only human and we are incredible beings. I am a firm believer in lifting each other up instead of tearing each other down, but sometimes I forget to apply this belief when I look upon myself.

xx Gem xx

Change · Diet · Lifestyle · Motivation · PCOS

Choosing A Diet That’s Right For You

First off I want to explain what I mean by the word ‘diet’. I used to hear the word ‘diet’ and wince. For me it meant cutting out foods I enjoyed, writing down everything I ate and worst of all, being hungry! That, to me, is a ‘fad diet’. Something that is short term, sometimes effective, but can be strayed from… and let’s face it, down right boring! Nowadays the word ‘diet’ to me comprises of all the food I eat and I try my best to maintain a well balanced one.

So, when I talk about choosing a diet that’s right for you I am talking in terms of the correct foods to eat according to your health needs… not just cutting back to lose weight. For example, I am deficient in Iron so I had to adjust my diet to include lots of leafy greens and other sources of Iron (Guinness included!). I would suggest going to your doctor and requesting a blood test to see if you are deficient in any areas. This would be a good start to help mould your diet to provide the maximum benefit. Also, have a good think about any foods that you eat and if they have a negative effect on your body. For example, sometimes (and I say sometimes because it’s not every time) when I eat a large portion of cheese I find the following day I can quite often become rather acquainted with my toilet. Just beautiful isn’t it?! I have become quite wary of dairy in general and try my best to avoid consuming large full fat amounts of it (cream is just the worst!). There are alternatives, so find one that you like and trial it for a couple of weeks. Before I got married my doctor diagnosed me with stress induced Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and anything I came to eat would have me crippled in pain, especially at night, so I had to make a lot of changes to suit that phase, but now that has passed and I can eat a lot of those foods again without any problems.

Next, have a look at foods you currently eat where you can make healthier choices. For example, if you love pasta then make the switch from white to wholegrain. White pasta is processed and a lot of the nutrients get lost because of this. What’s the point in eating food if you’re not going to get the full benefit from it? Make the switch, and I’ll tell you, wholegrain pasta is MUCH tastier than white. That goes for rice too. Brown rice has a much nuttier flavour, and again, doesn’t suffer the consequences of processing like white rice. Basically, any grains you eat look out for the wholegrain version and already you have made one easy step to making your diet better for your health.

Be very wary of low fat options as they’re not always the healthier choice to make. A lot of them I find contain more salt to provide a better flavour and a lot more unnatural substances too. Always read your labels and compare to get the best choice. This also goes for drinks… coke being a big contender in the diet option category. Although diet coke contains less calories, the artificial sweetener that is added has many downsides and in some people it can trigger insulin and send your body into fat storage mode (which is already a BIG problem for us girls with PCOS, so don’t make it worse for yourself). Personally I don’t tend to drink fizzy drinks (apart from the odd local cider! Yes, I’m a West Country girl!) as it makes me bloated and I feel dehydrated quickly. The best form of liquid you can drink is water… water water and more water! What I have done also is widen my variety of hot drinks that I drink. I used to be a coffee and tea kind of girl, but to keep balance in my diet I introduced different types of tea and try my best to only drink one cup of each kind of hot drink a day.

Now, fruits and veggies. It’s really not that hard to make sure you eat your 5 a day… there are so many options, many of which are very versatile, so you shouldn’t get bored easily. HOT TIP: When making anything with onions, thinly slice some celery and add them in. They really pack out a good meal and have great nutritional benefits. I’m currently looking into getting on the smoothie bandwagon. In order to keep my Iron levels up (with an Iron packed smoothie) and to ensure I eat little but often (due to Insulin Resistance) I think that smoothies would be a great thing to introduce into my diet.

I wouldn’t recommend going ‘cold turkey’ with anything, unless your health needs require it, as in my experience this will only cause you to crave it. Look at this as a lifestyle change and your aim is to have a balanced diet. I believe it’s good for the mind to treat yourself every now and then, but if I deny myself something completely then I’m more likely to get to the point where I crack and binge on it. Using pizza as example… not the healthiest form of food, but instead of ordering in a big expensive pizza I now use my bread maker to whip up a wholewheat dough, then I can control what I put on top of it (especially the amount of cheese) and enjoy a freshly cooked slice of heaven rather than a semi-warm scrap of crap that has arrived on the back of a moped!

Ah ha! I know what you’re going to say… “but I don’t have time to make a pizza”. Now, I’m not very good at being critical, but YES you do. MAKE time for it. I plan… I plan my meals and I plan my day. It’s really not that hard to do. If I need to make a soup for dinner but I’m on a long shift for work, I’ll wake up 10 mins early to prepare the veggies in the morning. That way, when I get home I can just turn the hob on, blitz and serve. If I want to make a pizza then I’ll pop all the ingredients in the bread maker and set the timer so it’s done when I get home from work. A good investment is a slow cooker if you haven’t got one already… I love mine and Hubs makes some delicious healthy meals for us.

So, recapping then, the main points for choosing a diet that’s right for you (in my opinion) is to:

  • Check if there are any areas you are deficient in and need a boost
  • Test to see if there are any foods that react negatively to your body and remove
  • Make healthier choices with the foods you currently eat, but be wary of low fat options
  • Don’t go cold turkey, introduce changes slowly and treat yourself in moderation
  • Plan ahead

Try to remain focused on your diet and don’t worry if you have a bad day… just pick yourself up and get back on it. DON’T wait until Monday, or the beginning of a new month, otherwise you’re falling into the trap of a fad diet and this is not what we need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You can do this! You are in control of what goes into your body… take time to build a healthy relationship with food and you’ll soon reap the benefits! It isn’t easy making a change, it took me a little while to adjust, but now I do it without thinking and it’s become natural part of my life to eat healthily.

Best of luck with the changes you’re making, and if you need to, call on friends and family for support.

Stay healthy, happy and focused…

xx Gem xx