How I lost 65 lbs & Fixed My Period *
LeeAnne Soule’s Success Story
Note: LeeAnne also did my 30 Day PCOS Diet Challenge in the fall of 2018.
Kym: What were your biggest motivations for wanting to make changes and get your PCOS under control?
LeeAnne: I was so tired of being chronically sick and fatigued that I finally started searching for alternative solutions. The cocktail of medications I had been taking on and off for two decades never, ever made anything better.
In fact, most of the medications just created additional symptoms that I had to then find ways to combat. I even underwent what I now know to have been a medically unnecessary uterine ablation due to heavy, prolonged bleeding.
I spent two decades chasing around the entire list of common PCOS symptoms. Seriously, I’m a textbook case of PCOS after having experienced just about every symptom, as well as other symptoms that I didn’t recognize as being related to PCOS until much later. All of it was tied to the chronic inflammation within my body that I had no idea was happening.
Kym: Can you tell us about your experiences leading up to the birth of your son?
LeeAnne: I was able to conceive at age 26 with the help of medtroxyprogesterone (Provera) and clomiphene (Clomid). I was 120 pounds overweight at the time so my pregnancy was considered very high-risk.
I was told to continue taking Metformin through the first trimester of my pregnancy. I had been on Metformin since I was first diagnosed with PCOS and even though it always made me feel sick, we played with the dosage a bit and I continued taking it for years. I was also on 2-3 blood pressure medications throughout my pregnancy.
I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes around week 20 but I was not told how to eat properly to manage this condition. Diabetes runs in my family, so I just figured it was my time.
I ended up having to deliver at week 38 because of skyrocketing blood pressure but thankfully, I had a healthy son who is now 11 years old.
Kym: Women with PCOS often see a decline in their health after having children. Was this your experience also?
LeeAnne: Absolutely. After my son was born, I struggled more than ever with violent mood swings, an inability to control my emotions, depression, anxiety, chronic pelvic pain, etc. I went through a series of four or five birth control pills that doctors kept recommending, including “Yaz” which nearly resulted in my suicide. A lot of those birth control pills just made me feel psychotic for lack of a better word.
As I entered my 30s, the doctors told me that my blood pressure was too high to continue taking birth control pills. They convinced me to have an IUD (Mirena) inserted, and I agreed. I have never felt so awful as I felt when I had that IUD.
I had intense, constant ovary pain, my joints and bones hurt so much I could barely get out of bed, and my moods were insanely unstable. I tried to stick with it for almost a year, but it was unbearable and I begged to have it removed.
Once removed, I began bleeding and didn’t stop for several months. The doctors suggested that I may have uterine polyps, fibroids, etc. but found nothing. Instead, they suggested a uterine ablation (because according to them, that was the only way for my uterus to be completely cleared out) and tubal sterilization.
So at 36, I underwent both procedures, completely unaware that all of this could have been avoided/healed with proper nutrition.
I feel angry about this because my fertility was essentially cut short and taken from me. I didn’t think I wanted more kids because, well, I knew that my body was “incapable” of carrying another pregnancy with PCOS and at my age. However, now that I’m ovulating again, I feel as though I was robbed of, at the very least, the choice to have another baby. I’m still working through the emotional toll that this has taken.
It was a little over a year after this surgery/sterilization that I found your website/Facebook page and began this new lifestyle.
Kym: How about your weight loss journey prior to discovering a PCOS friendly diet? Can you tell us what you tried before and what did and didn’t work for you?
LeeAnne: After my son was born, I gained about 50 pounds and knew I had to do something. I enrolled in the Weight Watchers program and lost about 65 pounds in 18 months. Though I was dropping weight, I still really didn’t feel well. I quit and re-joined WW four times over the next 10 years, which had just stopped working for me and my body. I became discouraged and thought, well, this is just how it’s going to be for me. Eventually, I was back up to within 20 pounds of my heaviest weight, and that’s when I started searching for some other kind of nutritional program that would hopefully fit my needs. One day, I googled “best diet for PCOS” and your program popped up.
The most frustrating part of the weight loss journey I’ve been on is that no doctor would ever take the time to educate me on how to best lose weight for my body type/metabolism. Constant “failure” in my eyes caused a lot of mental health and emotional issues for me. Why couldn’t I just lose the weight, you know? Not only was my body broken in so many ways, I felt like for some reason, I didn’t deserve to find success or happiness with myself.
Kym: How else was PCOS having a negative impact on your life before you started making diet and lifestyle changes?
LeeAnne: PCOS was just generally getting in the way of life for me. I was chronically depressed and anxious. I had IBS symptoms, migraines, terrible joint pain, painful cystic acne all over my body, hirsutism, oily skin and hair, hair loss, asthma, constant back and pelvic pain, insulin resistance, you name it, I had it.
My symptoms were making me so miserable that for several years, I used up my annual sick leave at work before the year was up. My mental health was also so poor that I was having difficulty at work and in personal relationships. I was so angry and unkind all the time.
PCOS interfered with my physical goals too. I’ve been an avid hiker for many years, but I was finding it very difficult to keep up and do a lot of the things I wanted to do outdoors because of pain and weakness. Being so overweight, I was often physically exhausted far too soon into my hikes. While I didn’t know it at the time, my crazy unstable blood sugar levels were also wreaking havoc on my energy and stamina.
I cut out all processed/packaged foods and meats, all gluten, all dairy (except butter), soy, and all high GI carbs.
I try to cook with grass fed, organic meats and veggies as much as possible and I liberally use coconut oil and olive oil in my cooking.
I don’t count calories/macros or account for what I’ve eaten because I’m now able to pay attention to the cues my body sends me in terms of when I’m hungry, when I’m full, and when something bothers me. For example, I found that corn inflames me so I avoid it as much as I can now.
I began doing resistance training and continued hiking. I also added in neighborhood walks after dinner and have started gardening and doing more things outside such as washing the car or playing with my son.
I’ve started listening to podcasts that align with your PCOS treatment principles to reinforce the information I’ve learned. It serves the double purpose of education and stress reduction, as I find it fun and fascinating to take in as much information about nutrition and lifestyle as possible.
On the rare occasion when I have to eat at a restaurant, I’ve become assertive about what my needs are. I ask for things to be prepared with butter instead of the oils they use, I ask for double vegetables instead of the veg + carb standard, etc. I make it work! I have found most restaurants are more than willing to happily accommodate my requests.
LeeAnne: The gentle roll out of information helped me to make these changes, although I’ll admit I got excited and tried to do keto for a week before I realized that wasn’t right for me LOL. But being guided gradually down this path really helped. The support and knowledge of the women in the 10 Week Program Facebook group were also super important!
What was most effective for me was ditching the calorie/macro/point counting. Being expected to account for what I ate