Episode #59: Combatting PCOS Fatigue: Secrets for Thriving with Energy
What you’ll learn in this episode
In this episode we are talking about all things PCOS and fatigue—something that hits close to home for many of us. If you’re looking for answers to feel better in your body, shed those unwanted pounds, boost your energy levels, and improve your fertility. Well, my friend, this episode is for you. I’ll uncover the secrets for combating PCOS fatigue and thriving with energy. Get ready to reclaim your vitality, because I’ve got some game-changing insights coming your way.
How PCOS Causes Fatigue
We’ll explore the different causes of fatigue that can be related to PCOS. You see, there’s more to it than just feeling tired. We’ll delve into the role of glucose spikes and crashes, nutrient deficiencies, cortisol dysregulation, and poor sleep. Understanding these factors will give you the foundation to tackle your fatigue head-on and reclaim your energy levels.
Practical Strategies to Energize
Once you know the causes of PCOS fatigue, it’s time to implement some practical strategies. These strategies are the secret sauce to unlocking your energy potential and thriving with PCOS. and they are bite-size actionable things you can start today.
By the end of this episode, you’ll have a whole arsenal of tools to combat PCOS fatigue. You’ll learn how to fine-tune your lifestyle, make dietary adjustments, and prioritize self-care. You’ll feel empowered and equipped to take charge of your energy levels, fuel your body with the right nutrients, and cultivate a balanced, joyful life. So, grab a cozy spot, get comfortable. Are you ready to reclaim your energy and thrive with PCOS?
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
Low energy, fatigue, difficulty with just feeling drained or sluggish or almost just like you have no motivation because of an energy problem has been a question that I have been getting so many times lately in my DMs and working with clients. Today I want to talk about how we can combat the fatigue that comes with PCOS what’s causing it, and the secrets to how we can regain our energy so that we can thrive throughout our day.
You’re listening to the PCOS Repair podcast, where we explore the ins and outs of PCOS and 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 how to regain your energy to combat that fatigue, what might be causing it, and how to really wake up, feel energized, ready to take on your day, and have a nice energy curve throughout the day where you slowly wind down towards the evening and bedtime so that you can get a good night’s sleep and start your next day refreshed again. It’s this ongoing cycle, there are many different reasons for women with PCOS why this cycle can get so disrupted. That’s what we’re going to be talking about today. I think one of the most important reasons why we want to make sure that we have good energy is that if we feel low, if our tank feels low, just like with our car, we’re just not going to get as far throughout our day so when we feel like we have the ability to take on our day when we wake up ready to go, not needing to hit the snooze over and over and over and then wake up and drag ourselves into our day requiring caffeine or just not feeling alert.
Some people say something like brain fog where they just feel almost like they’re on cold medicine or they have a cold where they just have that brain fog, they don’t feel sharp, they can’t quite formulate the thoughts as quickly and as punctually, and they don’t have that just vibrant energy that maybe we had when we were in our 20s or that we feel like we used to have. Now we’re just wondering, where did that go? What has happened? One leading cause for women with PCOS specifically when dealing with energy slumps or low energy can be actually nutrition. When we have been struggling with a weight concern or or we have the developing of insulin resistance, even if we don’t have insulin resistance yet, those two things create either a calorie restriction. When we’re not getting enough calories, our energy is going to be low, we’re not putting enough fuel in our tank so making sure that we are having calories early enough in the day. So if you’re starting your day feeling really sluggish, even if you’re not hungry, your body may be needing energy, the way our body gets energy is through the foods that we eat.
However, the foods that we eat can also be causing blood sugar spike and when we spike our blood sugar, it has to come back down and when we get that plummet on the back end of a blood sugar spike, it make us feel extremely tired, if you’ve ever eaten a big meal and then feel like you need to take a nap afterward, almost feel like you don’t have a choice, your body is going to take a nap, ready or not, that is an energy crash due to your blood sugar plummeting after a meal. It typically happens somewhere in about an hour to two hours post eating, depending on how big of the meal and exactly what you ate. That is because what happens is that you eat, that food goes into your bloodstream as blood sugar. That signals your body to release insulin to allow that blood sugar to enter into your cells. As that blood sugar enters into your cells, depending on how quickly and how responsive or how much insulin your body thought you needed, especially if it overshoots that, it’s going to suck up all of that blood sugar. You’re going to go from this high of having blood sugar to all of it goes into the cells. It’s used up really quickly and then you plummet, those are two common reasons why we see our energy fluctuating throughout the day and those are actually fairly quick to fix, right? You can fix it within a matter of a couple of days. Now, if you are trying to decrease the sugar spikes and we’re going to be doing a whole bunch of podcast, and I’m going to put together a more in-depth training on how to really determine what’s going on with your glucose because the labs that our physicians do a couple of times a year or maybe once a year or maybe every couple of years that include a hemoglobinA1C or looking at your fasting glucose or a fasting insulin, they don’t tell us a whole lot about how our body is reacting to food on a daily or meal to meal basis. So we’re going to get into that in future episodes but if you’re trying to manage your blood sugar spikes, usually that’s going to be adding in some protein, some healthy fats and decreasing the glycemic index of your food, when we do that for a couple of days, we actually may feel like our energy is lower. The reason we feel our energy is lower when we do that is because we don’t have a quick release of sugar. The higher the glycemic index, meaning the higher the sugar content or the sugar availability of the food that you just ate is, the higher that spike is going to be, the quicker you’re going to get that energy burst. On the back end, though, the bigger your energy crash is going to be because typically that type of eating goes hand in hand with difficulty maintaining your weight. When you combine that with a calorie restriction, so you try to go long periods of time or delay eating in the beginning of the day because you’re trying to restrict your calories, and then you combine that with foods that spike your blood sugar, what that does to your energy levels is catastrophic. You’re not getting fuel, then you’re getting this massive high and then these massive lows, and it almost wears you out too. Besides just not having any fuel and then having this crash, your body is just almost like it feels like it’s been through the ringer. It just feels worn out and exhausted, that’s a big problem with energy for women with PCOS.
Another one can be from nutrient deficiencies. I think most women that are trying to manage their PCOS naturally have done a lot of research on supplements. Supplements have their time and place, making sure that you’re not missing any nutrients is really important. Getting enough iron is probably one of the biggest ones. If you’re having chronic fatigue, it’s to check your iron levels. Iron can have some side effects of constipation and GI issues and so if you’re not sure if you have an iron deficiency, not a bad one to check. That’s one of those ones where you can just very quickly check and see if you have an iron deficiency, if you do have an iron deficiency, then taking some supplement for that can be very helpful. I will link to some iron supplements that I would recommend in the show notes. Make sure you check those out if you’re thinking about taking iron. These ones will be a little bit easier on your stomach and less likely to cause bloating and constipation.
Another one that I think is really important and it has gotten a lot more attention in the last several years is cortisol, and especially when it comes to burnout. If we are constantly living in a high stress and over doing, we can eventually burn out our cortisol factory. So what that would look like is cortisol is actually something that’s good. A lot of times cortisol gets a bad rap but when we wake up in the morning, about an hour before we wake up, our cortisol levels start to rise in preparation to lighten our sleep, start to wake us up so that we don’t feel groggy and sluggish when we wake up. Then they continue to rise, level out and then dip as the day goes on, allowing us to wind down and get ready for sleep. This is a normal cortisol rhythm but if we are constantly pushing our cortisol levels with stress, anxiety, trying to do too much, having deadlines at work, not finding ways of coping with things so that there’s a difference between for our bodies. If we have a lot going on and we really, truly are on top of it, like we’re just taking next step, next step, next step, we have built in time to unwind and exercise and burn off steam, and we have time to do some of the things that bring us joy through creative outlets and friendships and building bonds outside of just our own to do list, like connections with our pets, connections with our family. Those are things that help us to manage a fairly hefty to do list or a fairly busy and robust, stressful work environment. However, if we don’t have a way of managing it and we always feel scattered, if we always feel like everything around us is cluttered, even if it’s just like our home feels cluttered and we don’t really feel like we are super busy, but we’re constantly living and not being able to find something, it wears on us and it brings our energy down. But when we take this to the extremes where we really have not managed our energy and we allow burnout to creep in, our cortisol levels can literally start to not respond and so they don’t rise the way they should in the morning. They don’t stay elevated and then slow down. In fact, they may start to actually rise towards the evening and this is where sometimes overdoing it on caffeine and all of these things can really just throw havoc on our cortisol system. We want to make sure that we are pacing ourselves, that we are growing with what is expected of us. That would look like a kindergartener is not expected to know what an eighth grader or a college grad or someone who’s gone to trade school and has a specific skill.
[00:10:32.530] – Speaker 1
These are things we have to learn and grow into. You also think of that as you work up a corporate ladder, when you’re starting to learn how much can you handle and the types of situations that you’re handling, we have to grow into those. Now, sometimes we take leaps and jumps. There are naturally times in our life where we went from one level of operation to now we’re increasing that capacity. As we increase that capacity, it may cause some undue stress and we need to address that. It doesn’t mean that that new capacity is wrong or bad, although we can look and make sure that it’s a good fit but sometimes we need to look at what was working before may not be what works now. We may need to think outside of the box of how are we going to do this in a way that we live in a lovely manner where we’re not overstressing ourselves, where our commute isn’t ridiculous, where we aren’t expecting the impossible of our bodies, of our mind, of our energy, and make sure that we are handling it in a way that is productive, peaceful, streamlined, gets the job done, moves on, and allows us time to do other things in our life that bring us balance, that bring us a letdown, that give us a creative outlet and so forth.
And then the other one that’s really important is to get enough sleep and it’s not just about sleep, but it’s about the quality of sleep. So we want to get into a really good, deep rem cycle. We we want our bodies to be able to repair and replenish, which is what happens when we’re sleeping and we want to make sure that we’re really reducing the things that are going to disrupt our sleep. So first of all, I think the easiest one to do is to give yourself enough time to sleep. So when you’re thinking about what is expected of you during your day, what you want to accomplish, making sure that you’re on average eight hours of sleep is a non negotiable. Now, we always have the occasional thing, and we’re not talking about those, having to catch an early flight or having an event that you’re out late for. Those are things that happen. They’re part of life. Again, it’s a lifestyle. It’s not an every single day thing that has to be super rigid and controlling of our lives. But it is something that we want to make sure that on the majority of the time, we’re not doing that.
So if you’re someone who has to fly a lot for work and you’re having to catch a lot of early morning flights, you’re going to want to consider that as you think about your sleep patterns or sleep cycles. What is your normal bedtime? What is your normal wake up-time? Because the more that we can wake up at the same time and go to bed at the same time and have that nice circadian rhythm, the better. I think sometimes we think that our circadian rhythm is supposed to take care of itself. It’s supposed to just figure out what’s happening and get with the program but it’s really us that needs to set our circadian rhythm and we do that by winding down around the same time every night, going to bed around the same time every night and this actually starts by getting up at the same time in the morning. So if we didn’t do exactly what we were planning the night before, getting up that same time the next morning helps us to set ourselves up to do it better the next night. As an example of this, if you have a rough night, it’s very easy to think, Oh, I’m going to just reset my alarm, or I’m justified in snoozing, snoozing, snoozing, or I’m just going to turn it an hour later and skip whatever I normally do when I first wake up. That sets us up then to not be as ready for bedtime the next day. Whereas if we went ahead and got up, drank some good water, allowed ourselves to have a little bit of a less energetic day and accepted that, was patient with ourselves, extended ourselves some grace, then as we get ready for the next night, it’s a lot easier to go to bed because we are tired. We haven’t reset our clock to be later because of something not going well in our bedtime or in our sleep the night before that then carries on to the next night and the next night and the next night. The other thing that’s really important is to provide ourselves with a wind down. If we expect ourselves to go from a crazy busy day where we’re rushing, rushing, rushing, rushing, have a million things on our mind, and then we think, Okay, I’m just going to go lay down now and go to bed, our mind is racing. Our cortisol is just surging and we’re not going to be able to fall asleep, we need to tell our bodies that it’s about time to go to sleep, we can dim the lights in our house, we can take a hot shower or a bath. That heat to cooling down after we get out of the hot shower, hot bath, actually helps to send our bodies into a relaxed and sleep full state of being, we can turn off our electronics so that we’re not being triggered or stimulated by external sources. This includes watching TV. Ideally, we turn off that TV an hour or two before we go to bed. We can do something like stretching or yoga or something that’s really not meant to be a physical exercise, but something that’s meant to help connect us to our breath. This would be a gentle yoga. It wouldn’t be a power yoga, but something more that’s stretching, lengthening, almost like a massage you can do for yourself. Those are things that if we do those in the evening, it helps our body to learn to wind down, to let go of the things of the day, to put them aside for tomorrow, if you have thoughts coming up, one of the best things to do is make a list so you don’t feel like you have to hold on to them in your mind. You can just let them go and get back to your wind down to bedtime.
Getting good quality sleep like that is extremely helpful in our energy. Although the other ones are different root causes that specifically are common among women with PCOS, sleep is something that I think we know we’re supposed to get good sleep. We’re supposed to do all these things, and we see all of these marketing and commercials for needing a different bed or a different pillow or various things like this. A lot of times it’s just creating a sleep habit of winding down the time that you go to sleep, the time that you wake up and creating… Of course, you want a comfortable environment as well, but it can be as simple as just creating a nice sleep rhythm. Then finally, I want to talk about a few things that are just practical ways of including these topics into your actual life in a practical way, as well as some other side topics that tend to come up when we’re talking about energy and one of those is caffeine, is caffeine bad for someone with PCOS? My answer is no. So a couple of things on the idea of caffeine. There is new research that does not show that caffeine is harmful to pregnancy. If you’re trying to get pregnant, you don’t want to be consuming excess amounts of caffeine, but one to two cups of coffee equivalent a day is fine, especially if you spread them out a little bit. Don’t let me just guzzle two cups of coffee back to back but over the course of a morning, caffeine is fine. Energy drinks, things like that, just watch the amount of caffeine that you’re consuming. The concern there is that you’re decreasing blood flow because caffeine constricts blood vessels and so perhaps you’re reducing blood flow but for the most part, an average person, average woman with PCOS, is fine to consume caffeine. There are situations, especially when you’re in burnout, and if we are relying on caffeine to get us through. I’m not talking about being dependent on caffeine where you get a little bit of a headache or something like that if you don’t drink your normal small amount. I’m talking about requiring just a massive amount of caffeine a day to get through what you need to do to keep your energy up throughout the afternoon. If that’s the case, you want to look at, are you getting enough sleep? Are you over-committing, requiring too much of yourself? And really look at the nutrition. Are you getting fuel throughout the day, or are you relying on caffeine to give you a false energy boost because you’re not providing your body adequate amount of calories throughout the day and then you’re overloading it dinner to get your calories for the day. That is going to set you up for very low energy and oftentimes we combat that because we have things we have to do by drinking too much caffeine and so finding that balance of it’s great to enjoy a cup of coffee or cup of tea, but at the same time, we want to make sure that we’re not relying on it and perpetuating some of these areas that we talked about today in a negative way by using caffeine to get us through. How do you know which one you need to start with? We may have an idea. We may have an idea of which one calls to us. Always be aware of our usual interest in something tends to color which one calls to us. So if you’re someone who already really cares about your nutrition, the nutrition piece of managing your energy may call to you, but you’re a night owl and you like to stay up late and you don’t get good sleep.
So really look at objectively what is going on in your day. Maybe track when is your energy the best, when is your energy the worst? That can help you. Also, this is where the PCOS root cause quiz is really helpful in decoding and as it asks you the questions, realizing that these are the things that we’d be looking at to see what is going on in your body because all of these fatigue causes are part of the root causes of your PCOS. They’re just woven in throughout all the other root causes but these are some of the things that we look at to see what is it that we need to address first. What would be the one that would be the most beneficial? Because if we try to change everything at once, we become overwhelmed, we’re putting too much on our plate, and we’re probably not going to stick with it because one, we’re either trying too many things and we’re not sure which one is working, which one we should keep. We don’t really get good at any one of the things and so it doesn’t stick as a habit. Ideally, pick one of these things.
If you’re wanting to look at regulating your glucose, please keep an eye out for upcoming episodes on lots of things about blood sugar and monitoring blood sugar and sweets and all of those things we’re going to be talking about coming up. If you feel like you may have a deficiency, like maybe you eat really processed, non nutritious foods, you may want to look and see, do you have an iron deficiency? Also, people that tend to eat very low red meats may have an iron deficiency. Certain people just tend to have an iron deficiency. Not something that would be a bad idea to check or to ask your doctor to have that checked. If you feel like you have really poor sleep habits, that might be a really good place to start. Remember, all of these things are going to take about a week to two weeks, maybe even a little bit longer if you’re dealing with true burnout, to start to show an effect. So be patient, stick with it, and see what’s working or not working before you try to change too much. Give it a little time, take a look at what’s happening, and don’t change things up so much because it’ll be very difficult to pinpoint, this was helpful, this was not working for me, but this part actually made a big difference. Those are things that we want to be taking a look at as we work to improve our energy.
So there you have it my friend, I hope that you found this episode about managing your energy and combating fatigue really helpful to see where you may want to dive in and learn more and focus your time and energy so that you can feel vibrant, awake, full of life, ready to take on your day, and have the ability to continue because you have that good energy to forge a healthy and beautiful, happy, full PCOS healthy lifestyle for yourself. With that, if you found this episode helpful, I really hope you hit that subscribe button. Like I said, there are many episodes coming up and resources that will be available soon that are going to dive deeper into the topics that we talked about today. If you have questions in the meantime, the best place to connect and talk to me is over on Instagram in my direct messages because that’s where I can answer certain questions. I love to hear from all of you, so don’t be shy and until next time, bye for now.
Did you know that studies of PCOS epigenetics have shown that our environment can either worsen or completely reverse our PCOS symptoms? I believe that although PCOS makes us sensitive to our environment, it also makes us powerful. When we learn what our body needs and commit to providing those needs, not only do we gain back our health, but we grow in power just by showing up for ourselves. This is why I’ve created a guide for you to get started. My PCOS fertility meal guide can be found in the show notes below. I want to show you how to create an environment that promotes healing while still being able to live a life that you enjoy. This guide is completely free, so go get your copy now so that you can step into the vision that you have for your life and for your health.
Take The PCOS Root Cause Quiz
What Do Your Symptoms Mean?
Discover your current PCOS Root Cause
Start to reverse PCOS at the root cause.
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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