Living With PCOS: Fighting the Fear

At Fertility Chef, we are well aware that PCOS is a syndrome that spans from adolescence through menopause and can touch on many different areas of a woman’s life. Emotional, physical, and social aspects of dealing with PCOS are just a few of the things that make this such a challenging journey. We love to hear from women who are tackling this disease one day at a time while learning to love their bodies and their life. There is nothing more awesome than a girl kicking butt. If you would like to share your PCOS journey with our readers please get in touch with us here:

– Fertility Chef

My name is Clare. I am 31 years old and I have PCOS.

I have always struggled with my weight and had problematic periods. Add to that temperamental skin and a never-ending roller coaster of emotions, and you have a fairly decent summary of the last 20 years of my life.

I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 18. It provided an answer to my symptoms, but didn’t deal with the seemingly never-ending issues that came with it.

For instance, my ‘Top 5 PCOS Symptoms’ are:

  1. Irregular periods
  2. Adult acne
  3. Weight problems
  4. Mood swings
  5. Anxiety

I have always had low self-esteem and been incredibly shy. This was largely due to my weight problems and spotty complexion. I have tried numerous diets and expensive products to address both problems, but nothing ever really worked, until last year when I had my ‘lightbulb moment’. I turned 30, and decided it was time to address some of my seemingly never-ending problems (see above!). Initially I contacted a personal trainer via twitter to ask for advice on healthy eating, which once received I then ignored for a few months! It just seemed too strict and as unhappy as I was, I couldn’t see the logic in making myself more miserable by giving up my only real pleasure, food. I think we have all felt like this at some point, haven’t we!

However, by last summer I decided enough was enough and signed up with the same personal trainer, Chris Main. The first hurdle was changing my diet to a completely ‘clean’ one, so out with all the processed foods I loved like bread, biscuits and crisps, and in with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and eggs. It is largely based on the Paleoway of eating, so is high protein and low carbohydrate. Carbs have always been my addiction. I would take toast and marmalade over a bar of chocolate any day. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I was totally addicted to sugar and carbs. Let’s just say that the first three weeks of being ‘cold turkey’ were tough, but the health benefits for me outweigh the desire to eat a packet of biscuits.

Once I had adjusted to the new clean eating plan, it was time to take on my biggest fear: going to the gym!! I was absolutely terrified as I was convinced I would be judged for being unfit and overweight. I could not have been more wrong. All the personal trainers at the gym I go to are incredibly supportive and encouraging, as are all the other members. It’s not what I would call a ‘traditional’ gym, but that’s why I like it so much. I train twice a week with Chris and do a mixture of cardio and resistance/weights work.

When I first started my training sessions I was extremely unfit and struggled to lift 2kg weights. My upper body strength is definitely improving, although I would say I am only just about comfortable with 7kg dumbbells now. I much prefer the leg press, deadlifts and, my favourite of all, boxing.

I genuinely smile writing that as this time last year I would have pulled my face at even going for a walk, and would never have believed I would be happily working with a personal trainer twice a week.

My skin has been very up and down over the last 12 months, to match my moods, but slowly things are getting better. The fat loss has also been slow (2 stone in 12 months) but I have lost over 22 inches in that time, and my fitness levels are really starting to improve. However, more importantly I feel well. For so long I was constantly tired, depressed and had little interest in most things. I now have much more energy and am always looking for new things to do.

In addition, I am no longer terrified of the gym! I actually really love it now and look forward to training, something I honestly never thought I would say. It certainly helps to improve my state of mind. Seeing improvements in my ability in the gym has been great for improving my confidence. My self-esteem isn’t perfect, but I certainly have more positive rather than negative thoughts about myself now.

To all you ladies out there who are feeling like a bit of an exercise-phobe, I have to tell you that starting my training regime is genuinely the best thing I have ever done. I have suffered with low self-esteem for a long time, mainly due to my PCOS related weight and skin problems. Changing my diet and introducing exercise has really helped to positively improve these issues.

Whenever I read magazine articles by women who said that exercising had changed their life I thought they were lying. I couldn’t see how just doing a bit of exercising would make you feel that different, but I now know what they mean. By the end of my training sessions I am tired but on a total adrenalin high, to the point where I feel as though I could train again. Well, almost!

So, here’s my other list – ‘Top 5 Things That Have Helped My PCOS’

  1. Cutting out all gluten products – no more bloated tummy!
  2. Cutting out almost all sugar and dairy – no more cravings!
  3. Introducing exercise – especially weights to help build lean muscle and burn fat
  4. Writing down how I feel – it’s basically free therapy and really helps to focus what’s going on in my head
  5. My Personal Trainer – he has supported me throughout with encouragement, advice and very tough training sessions!

There are so many ways to deal with the symptoms of PCOS, in a positive way, as I have finally discovered.

If you have PCOS and aren’t sure where to start with a new eating/training programme, or simply want to ask questions, I would love to hear from you!

For my full story read my blog here:

Connect with me on twitter:



Fertility Chef

Fertility Chef provides online PCOS diet & nutrition resources for women. Learn what a PCOS diet is & how it works.


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