Episode #89: Building Resilience in the Face of PCOS Challenges

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Building Resilience in the Face of PCOS Challenges

What you’ll learn in this episode

This episode dives into the significance of resilience in the context of PCOS struggles. Resilience is not just about bouncing back; it’s about thriving through adversity. Join me as we explore the importance of resilience in overcoming the physical and emotional hurdles of PCOS and discover actionable steps to cultivate resilience in your journey towards PCOS health.

Understanding Resilience:

PCOS presents a labyrinth of challenges, from physical symptoms like irregular periods and acne to emotional tolls such as anxiety and depression. Yet, resilience offers a guiding light amidst the darkness. It’s the ability to face dead ends and setbacks with determination, knowing that each obstacle is an opportunity for growth. Resilience empowers us to navigate the twists and turns of our PCOS journey with grace and fortitude.

Building Self-awareness:

Self-awareness is a crucial aspect of resilience. By understanding our thoughts, emotions, and triggers, we gain insight into our inner workings. Whether it’s recognizing the impact of stress on our well-being or identifying patterns in our behavior, self-awareness empowers us to make informed choices and navigate challenges more effectively.

By practicing self-compassion, building self-awareness, setting realistic goals, and seeking support, we nurture resilience as a guiding force in our journey toward PCOS health. Remember, healing takes time, but with resilience as our companion, we have the power to transform adversity into growth. Until next time, stay resilient and embrace the journey toward PCOS health.

Let’s Continue The Conversation

Do you have questions about this episode or other questions about PCOS? I would love to connect and chat on a more personal level over on Instagram. My DMs are my favorite place to chat more.

 

So go visit me on IG @nourishedtohealthy.com

 

Let’s Continue The Conversation

Do you have questions about this episode or other questions about PCOS? I would love to connect and chat on a more personal level over on Instagram. My DMs are my favorite place to chat more.

 

So go visit me on IG @nourishedtohealthy.com

 

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Read The Full Episode Transcript Here

PCOS presents a unique set of challenges, both physical and emotional, that can feel overwhelming. Resilience isn’t just about bouncing back from adversity, it’s about growing through it. Throughout this episode, we’ll be exploring what resilience really means in the context of PCOS and why it’s so important, and most importantly, how you can cultivate it in your own life. So whether you’re struggling with irregular periods, battling acne, or feeling overwhelmed by the emotional tolls of PCOS, this episode will have many helpful, actionable steps. So let’s dive in and discover how you can strengthen your resilience muscle and thrive in the face of PCOS challenges.

You’re listening to the PCOS Repair podcast, where we explore the ins and outs of PCOS tests on how to repair the imbalances in your hormones naturally with a little medical help sprinkled in. Hi, I’m Ashlene Korcek, and with many years of medical and personal experience with polycystic ovarian syndrome, it is my joy to watch women reverse their PCOS as they learn to nourish their body in a whole new way. With the power of our beliefs, our mindset, and our environment, and the understanding of our genetics, we can heal at the root cause.

Welcome back to the PCOS Repair podcast, where today we’re going to be diving into the importance of creating resilience in the face of PCOS struggles. Resilience is like a muscle that over time gets stronger and stronger as we navigate the ups and downs of a chronic condition such as PCOS. It’s about finding ways to adapt and thrive despite the obstacles in our path, whether it’s dealing with symptoms of irregular periods or acne, or whether it’s the emotional toll and the body image that has us down, learning how to take the slow and steady route by incorporating resilience into our repertoire of coping mechanisms for dealing with PCOS and creating PCOS health is a very, very, very important step. Navigating the challenges of PCOS can feel like trying to find your way through an intricate maze, a very challenging maze, and It can feel like you’re hitting a lot of dead ends. This is where when we develop resilience, we start to hit those dead ends and say, Hey, look, I’ve hit dead ends before. I can back up, backtrack, restart this, renavigate this, and get back on track. That’s, in my mind, the way I view how I use and harness resilience in my PCOS path.

Even once we figure out our PCOS health, which I did many years ago in order to get pregnant with my daughter, each year, our body changes, and as we get older, and we have new hurdles that come to us. When we have developed that ability to hit a dead end in that intricate maze of PCOS obstacles, we are able to use it as a way to grow deeper into our health rather than a wall that knocks us down and throws us off of our PCOS health journey altogether. From the physical symptoms that disrupt our daily routines, so PCOS just infiltrates all things, to the emotional toll that weighs heavy on our hearts, PCOS presents a myriad of obstacles that we need to overcome in order to really feel like we have established health in our life alongside our PCOS. The irregular periods, acne, outbreaks, and weight fluctuations can lead us just feeling like everything is against us. This is where we’re digging into some of these things today in this episode that can feel really negative. The reason is because they’re the very things that require our resilience, require our ability to say, Hey, you know what? These things are here. We have to accept them, they’re part of our PCOS journey, but they don’t have to hold us down. There are ways that we can work around them, ways that we can work through them, and that is what resilience is all about.

While there is this emotional roller coaster and the added mental health tools of anxiety and depression made worse by if you’re dealing with infertility or body image struggles, there is a sense that our self-worth can really be shaken to the core when it comes to PCOS. This is where our resilience is tested to the extreme. It’s one thing to be frustrated by a symptom such as hair on our chin. As frustrating as that is and as some days that can really weigh on us and get us down, Thank God for tweezers, thank God for lasers, thank God for laser hair removal. These things are not as insurmountable but when it gets to our sense of self-worth, and it can be hair on our chins that affects our self-worth, self-worth but when it gets that deep inside of us, that is when it really wins and that is where having the ability to hit those dead ends in the maze and not allow them to get into that core of our self-worth, that is where resilience is our ally.

So despite these hurdles, it is essential to remember that you are not alone in this battle and that I’m here to support you with the PCOS Repair podcast. I’m here to support my private clients and my group coaching clients to help you understand your root causes, to help you understand how your environment plays into those, and cultivate that resilience to emerge stronger on the other side. So on to the good stuff, so I keep throwing around this word resilient. What do I mean by the word resilient? How do we actually build resilience in the face of PCOS? and how does that even all start? What are the actionable steps here? Because it all sounds great, we have this muscle of resilience, but where does it start? It really starts, like so many things, with a mindset shift. We need to cultivate the self-compassion, which is easier said than done and we need to challenge those negative thoughts that creep in, which starts by recognizing them. If you can journal, if you can even on a post a note, when something negative comes up for you, even as frustration or feeling irritable or feeling down, feeling sad, feeling low, those feelings. If you can just take a post-it note, keep a pad of paper, just jot it down because sometimes when we’re in the midst of it, we’re not in the mood to deal with it. We’re not in the mood to dissect those feelings or fix those negative thoughts in the moment. But if we set them down, and then in our quiet time, in a more active meditation, or maybe on a walk, or somewhere where you have a more peaceful, centered mindset, it’s a really good time to unpack those negative emotions, those negative feelings, those sad feelings, those feelings of feeling stuck overwhelmed or at a dead end, hopeless, whatever those feelings are that are coming up for you. When we catch those negative feelings, then we can start to cultivate the self-compassion. So put yourself in a third body or imagine it was your friend or a loved one that came to you with these concerns. What would you tell them? How would you think about them for them? We can be so critical on ourselves that sometimes it’s best to just step outside of ourselves and think of it as if we were thinking of another person.

What would we say to them? What would we be thinking for them? What would we be wanting for them, caring about them? That’s maybe where our self-compassion starts and then if you notice, one of the places where I suggested dealing with these thoughts and emotions is through the practice of self-care, through the practice of a more active meditation state, through a walk. Now, you can’t write them down as easily, but you could process these in a hot shower, in a hot bath, in a place where you’re taking care of you. When you are taking care of you, it’s amazing how all of a sudden, even though it may seem like a one more thing on your to-do list, putting on your sneakers, walking outside, especially if the day is slightly sunny, especially here I’m recording this at the time of winter, if we can get out and get a little bit of sunshine or even just a little bit of light skies, even through clouds, even in rain, getting that fresh air, there’s something that happens inside of us that feels taken care of. That’s something that sometimes as adults, we don’t feel very often is being taken care of but going and doing something like a hot bath or a walk, there’s other options too, but something that makes you feel cared for in that capacity, All of a sudden, we’re able to get into that place of self-compassion. Through prioritizing some self-care, some self-prioritization, we can all of a sudden begin practicing some self-compassion to these things that we feel like are dead end. As we start to be more compassionate, providing ourselves with more grace, all of a sudden, we are able to start taking charge, thinking of positive ways that we can begin to prioritize and optimize our nutrition and our exercise, and including getting plenty of rest into our day. Another way in which we can cultivate the resilience muscle is to seek support. We can seek support through friends and family, family that are able to be supportive. Sometimes family and friends are not able to be supportive, and they wouldn’t be a good choice to bring into your circle for a support standpoint. They can be excellent friends and family, but they may not be who you look to for support. If you have friends and family that you can look to for support, sharing some of what you’re dealing with and working towards with them can be very beneficial.

Finding somebody to work with that understands PCOS, this is how I support women with PCOS when I’m working with them one-on-one or in group programs, and being able to feel heard and seen and understood, as well as in the capacity of how I work with women, actually getting a lot of your questions answered and assistance in navigating the hurdles of PCOS. But just feeling supported can be a huge step in being able to pick yourself up and continue forward when we hit those dead ends and roadblocks on our journey to PCOS health. Then what are the steps for actually creating resilience? I like to keep things really logical, really practical. I have 10 steps here that I tend to think are really important in all areas of creating PCOS health, but particularly when it comes to developing a resilience that allows us to really play the long game here in creating the health that we want. The first one is creating self-awareness. This takes time understanding your thoughts and emotions, but that’s where, again, writing down how you feel, what you’re feeling. You don’t have to in the moment, understand why, but just writing it down and then coming back to it later because when you come back to it later, you may find that, you know what? I was hungry, I had low blood sugar and I was just crabby and I needed to eat lunch. You may find that you didn’t sleep well the night before, but you don’t know that in the minute. When you back up, when you’re feeling better and you’re like, Oh, I probably just didn’t feel good because I was coming down with a cold, which you don’t know yet because you’re not sick till the next day or you’re like, Oh, I didn’t sleep well that last night and so that’s probably why I felt that way. Sometimes it’s just becoming aware and then realizing that we have these downer moments, these frustrations but as we start to back up and become more aware of why, and sometimes it’s more of a why. There’s a real reason there, there’s more going on, and we need to dig into it further but as we realize that, you know what? We have these moments of feeling really down and they pass, and there’s usually some reason for them, all of a sudden, even when you’re in those moments, they don’t feel like they have as powerful of a hold on you because over time, as we cultivate self-awareness, we begin to realize that we all have these moods, these moods are normal, these moods pass, sometimes there’s things that we do to help them pass. Sometimes they pass by just eating our next meal, sometimes they pass by getting enough sleep, sometimes they pass by getting outside and getting some fresh air, sometimes they pass by sitting down and making a plan for what we need to do to get a hold of how we’re feeling, what’s going on in our life, so that we can move forward a positive way we talked about.

Step two is practicing self-care. This is just a form of prioritizing your physical and mental needs. We live in a society where we so often get pulled in so many directions to help everybody else with their needs. If we’re not taking care of our nutrition, our sleep, our need for relaxation and unwinding, and our need for getting proper movement in our day so that our bodies feel like they’re at their best, we’re not able to show up in our best form for any aspect of our life. Practicing self-care is so important, and it helps us with all the other steps here in this 10-step list that we’re talking about. Developing a support network, this includes both friends, family, and professional help to get your health and your life on track where you want it to be. We can’t do all this alone, we only know what we know, if we don’t step out and ask for support where needed, We stay stuck and frustrated at why we are stuck. I strongly encourage you to step out of your comfort zone when it comes to asking for support and developing a supporting network.

Number four is to foster optimism. In the moment when we’re having negative emotions, when we’re feeling frustrated, when we’re angry, when we feel down about the hurdles that we continually run into with PCOS, that is not a moment where optimism comes easily to us but as we step back and realize how many things that we have overcome. I mean, even just seeing your post-it note of how you were feeling and then realizing that you moved past that into a place where you were able to deal with that. The more that we develop that trust in ourselves, that we can move past hard things, that we can work through hard things, the more that we start to be optimistic that this is manageable, that this is possible, that I just need to figure out how to do it and figure out how it’s going to work for me, and I need to incorporate it into my day, and voila, I can do this. I can do all things when I back up and take it step by step. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you look at the whole thing of what may be asked of you, but when we break it down into bite-sized pieces, all of a sudden, things can seem a lot more manageable. Then there’s the emotional side and the more theoretical side of optimism. This is where we start to realize that good things do happen to us. In the moment when we’re down, it can feel like nothing good happens to us but if we back up and we look at all the things that we’re grateful for, all the things that we have achieved in our life, big and small, we can start to realize that, you know what? In the moment, it can seem like this is impossible but when we back up and we see our life as a whole, all of a sudden, this thing that we’re wanting to do, this thing that we’re wanting to create, or this hurdle that we’re trying to get past, can all of a sudden seem a little smaller in the scheme of the map of our entire life and what we’ve accomplished so far.

Number five is to set realistic goals and expectations, that’s like that bite-size piece that we were just talking about as we foster optimism but also expectations. I think sometimes we can get ourselves so down when we expect things to happen right away. I think more than ever in our current culture, everything is instant gratification, and everything is marketed as quick fixes and tips and tricks and hacks for this and how to do things the fastest way possible. The problem is when it comes to hormone health, nothing happens fast. Nothing got out of order fast, and nothing repairs itself fast. It’s a process, and it’s a step-by-step process. Sometimes, when we think about problematic periods, ovulation, and fertility, what happens is that we may have an irregular period or an absent period. Recovering a period will start with the period returning to a semi-regular pattern. This could take a month or two to get your first period back, and then it can take 3-6 months for those periods to become regular. Once those periods become regular, that is, in my of thinking about it and talking about it with women is that that’s almost when we start repairing ovulation.

Ovulation has been happening on and off throughout you getting those random sporadic periods working towards becoming regular again but it’s not until they are regular that your ovulation strength really has the ability to build. You may have been having an ovulation, you may have been having a pseudo ovulation. This is where it’s like there’s not an exact term when we talk about ovulation strength. That’s not really a great scientific term either but essentially what’s happening is that are those FSH hormones elevating enough to mature a follicle to become an egg? Then is your LH hormone being elevated high enough to truly release that egg, or did we just get a more mature follicle? Then three, through all of that, those hormones signal progesterone, and other things also signal progesterone, to be high enough to, If you do ovulate to maintain the environment needed to allow pregnancy to occur. All of this happens in stages. First, we must recover the period. Then we strengthen ovulation and progesterone rises, and then we can sustain a pregnancy through that first trimester, which is the most delicate part when it comes to the PCOS hormones. After the first trimester, then we get into some root cause hormones of, are you at risk for things like gestational diabetes and things like that that we’re managing but for the beginning part, it’s just, can we get you through that first trimester? Even just halfway through the first trimester, once that placenta takes over, you have such an easier time because you’re not so reliant on these finicky hormones of PCOS. That is how we lay out what is realistic to expect in that. This is nothing like taking a Provera pill and inducing a period. That happens like this, and we expect our bodies to bounce back like a pharmaceutical.

Our expectations, and this is where resilience is so important, is that we are going to have to go through a few months of not quite getting the result that we want, but showing forward progress. Sometimes it’s two steps forward, one step back. That optimism is looking at that two steps forward, and the resilience comes in dealing with that one step back. This is also intertwined as we really develop that resilience to push through so that as we develop those realistic expectations, we can set ourselves up for long-term healing and better periods, optimized fertility, better weight management, all the things that don’t happen overnight.

Number 6 is adaptability, everyone’s journey is going to look different. What we started out thinking everything isn’t always the way things go. I mean, a really good example is people wanting to start a family, and then they get diagnosed with PCOS when it’s not going as planned. This is an unexpected curve ball. They are part of life. They are not the most fun part of life, but some of the best things in life come out of them. When we start to recognize that and see that, some of the crappiest things of life also come out of these hurdles but it’s a little bit of what we make it, especially when it comes to PCOS. What I encourage you when it comes to adaptability is almost more of allowing yourself to be flexible, allowing yourself to take the right of the journey, constantly looking at What does my body need? What is it that we need to adjust and fix? Where can I assist my body in getting to where it is we want to go, and what other things may I need to employ? I think it was last week, I had an where I got to share Mia’s story on how she incorporated IVF into her PCOS fertility journey and how even though she looked for outside help beyond just natural healing and reversing of her PCOS, how she was able to be so much more successful when she included the emotional and physical healing elements of PCOS along with modern medical advances of IVF.

That is an example of adaptability to where her IVF wasn’t working by itself, and she looked for other ways to help it. Some people do the opposite. They’re looking to heal their PCOS naturally, and they get such great results, and then they’re still not able to achieve pregnancy or maintain a pregnancy, and so they also incorporate some additional medical assistance to help them achieve their goal of starting a family and getting pregnant and sustaining a healthy pregnancy to term. Being able to not be so fixated on one way of doing things to achieve an outcome, a time frame of an outcome, a exact look of how an outcome is going to come about allows us so much more ease on our journey. It’s funny, the more we hold on to a certain way of things coming about, the more we struggle to get them to happen. Being able to cultivate adaptability as one of the steps of developing resilience as we navigate this maze of PCOS health is a really really important step. It’s going to look so different for every person. It’s one of the ones I think is very difficult because we have an idea of how we want our life to go, and we have our five-year plans and our 10-year plans and our plans for the week and our plans for the day.

When it comes to PCOS health, sometimes there is an alternative plan that your body has for how things are going to go. That can be frustrating and a difficult pill to swallow but the more that we can embrace that and recognize that and incorporate some flexibility in that plan, the better. For me, this took the mindset of, as I made my appointment to see an infertility specialist, I was coming to terms and admitting to myself that my fertility journey wasn’t going the way I expected. I expected to discontinue birth control, and then a month or two later, be announcing to friends and family that we were expecting our first baby and that’s not how my journey went. My journey went where we discontinued birth control. Twelve months later, I still wasn’t pregnant, and I was diagnosed with PCOS. Then from there, I had several days of emotional hell. Then as I made the appointment, as I was willing to dial the number for the fertility office, I was basically accepting in that moment that I was going to start a journey that I didn’t have control over. My story to my first pregnancy ended prior to actually starting any treatment with the infertility specialist, but I did go through all of the screening and for several appointments, and I was going to be starting my infertility medications the next day I was going to my appointment to get those.

I found that I was pregnant the night before, having had the mindset shift that I was going to do everything possible during the four months that I was waiting for the appointment after I was brave enough to make that call, that I was going to get myself physically and emotionally as ready as possible to take on that journey that I was going to have to give up control over and so it was in that moment of allowing some adaptability to my situation in that a huge shift happened for me in my health and in my journey to becoming a mommy. A very hard step, I think that’s maybe as I go through these here on the podcast, I think that may be one of the hardest steps, but I encourage you to embrace it because it is so powerful and important to allow some adaptability, flexibility into your PCOS healing path. Developing the problem-solving skills. This is where all of the root cause learning really comes in, and learning how to create an environment and a lifestyle that takes into account your root causes and your symptoms and what your body is needing from you, but also incorporating them into your daily life in a life that works for you, a life that you enjoy. That takes a lot of problem solving, a willingness to have curiosity, a willingness to experiment and play with it and not take it all too seriously, but to have a lot of fun in the journey of experimenting what’s working both for your body and then also with your it’s working for you personally in your life. Where those two meet, that’s the perfect PCOS lifestyle for you. It takes some problem solving skills that you have to develop along the way.

Okay, so then step number eight is maintaining a perspective. This is a really important one, we can get so deep in a fog of PCOS problems and frustrations and dead ends that sometimes we lose perspective altogether. This is where, again, in the moment where we’re losing perspective, maybe not be the time to force yourself to get perspective but again, jotting down how you’re feeling, what’s going on, and then later on, taking a step back and getting some perspective. How far have you come? When we get frustrated, say, with our weight, maybe you’ve hit a plateau, maybe you were doing great, maybe then you went on vacation and you’re coming back and you’re having a hard time getting that momentum built up again. That can be just demoralizing frustrating, and it can feel like a huge dead end but if we back up in a calmer moment when we’re not as frustrated, we can see that, you know what? At the beginning of what created the momentum last time, maybe we were more strict, maybe we were doing things that we’re not doing right now and expecting results of when we were doing things differently. So gaining some perspective is so important that all along the way, it’s like we can gain perspective at the beginning because it’s like, Okay, I need to learn these things, and I need to see what’s going on and we put some effort when we’re starting something new into gaining perspective but then we think, Well, I did that already but sometimes we need to remember to do it all along the way and so that’s step number eight.

And then step number nine, we mentioned briefly before, but practicing self-compassion and that’s where we have to remember to be kind to ourselves. We’re learning this for the first time, too, and this isn’t easy stuff and so remembering that these challenges are just that, they’re challenges. The fact that we are meeting them head-on to the best of our ability requires a great deal of grace and self-compassion along the way.

Then 10, what I want to run along with finding support, is that seeking help. I put this in two different ways. One, get support, two, seek help. These aren’t things that you’ve done before, you’re going to have an easier time if you seek the help of someone like myself who understands the PCOS struggles as well as the intricacies of how the root causes work and how the lifestyle factors factor in to assist you in caring for your body in the way that it needs but in whatever arena, in whatever realm you’re needing help, I strongly, strongly encourage you to get the help that you need because at the end of the day, it will help you go faster, it will help you be less frustrated, it will help you feel more clear, and it will help you feel more calm and supported as you navigate these hurdles and dead ends and struggles and challenges and triumphs and successes of reversing your PCOS and discovering your path to PCOS health. With that, an overview of this process, because we get lost in the steps sometimes, is that when you build resilience, it allows you to bounce back and get back on your feet as you work through your PCOS struggles to gain a new level of PCOS health.

Every time we want to make a little bit of progress, there’s going to be bumps in the road. It’s just part of the growing process but it requires a willingness to embrace this challenge and to embrace changes and to experiment with what is working or what doesn’t work, and some trial and error. Life is full of unexpected things, but it can feel uncomfortable at times. Even when we feel like we’ve gotten into a groove of things with our PCOS health, there’ll be times where, like I was saying, with the weight loss, you’ll hit a plateau, you’ll hit a point where you’re going to need to shake things up again or go a little deeper. Then finally, building resilience is an ongoing process, this isn’t something that we do once and then we’re done with, this is something that is a lifelong opportunity to continue to grow in yourself, in your ability, in who you are as a person. It’s something that requires a great deal of practice and patience. All holistic things when it comes to PCOS, they’re not quick fixes, they don’t happen overnight and so by allowing yourself to slowly take the next step, take the next step, and gradually over time, through consistent effort, you are going to see an incredible change in where you’re at today and where you’ll be a month from now, a year from now, five years from now in your PCOS health.

So in conclusion today, I would love to hear in my inbox on Instagram. So send me a DM over on Instagram @Nourishedtohealthy. I would love to hear one of the areas that you are going to give yourself some self-compassion this week so that you can cultivate some resilience by allowing yourself to be in the process. If we expect ourselves to already be perfect, we don’t allow for the growth, for the discovery, for the learning, for the creating of a lifestyle that works for us, we just expect it to already be there, and when it’s not, we get frustrated and so by allowing ourselves to cultivate first the self-compassion that we are on a journey, that this is a process, and that we’re not going to be perfect at it, we’re able to actually get started with the action of healing our PCOS, repairing our root cause hormones, and creating the health that we want. In my DMs this week, I would welcome any questions anytime, but I would specifically love to hear, where are you going to be cultivating and creating and giving yourself some self-compassion this week. I look forward to hearing from you in my DMs. Until next week, bye for now.

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About Show

Welcome to The PCOS Repair Podcast!

I’m Ashlene Korcek, and each week I’ll be sharing the latest findings on PCOS and how to make practical health changes to your lifestyle to repair your PCOS at the root cause.

If you’re struggling with PCOS, know that you’re not alone. In fact, it’s estimated that one in ten women have PCOS. But the good news is that there is a lot we can do to manage our symptoms and live healthy, happy lives.

So whether you’re looking for tips on nutrition, exercise, supplements, or mental health, you’ll find it all here on The PCOS Repair Podcast. Ready to get started? Hit subscribe now