Friday, February 1, 2008

And So It Begins...

The battle between the Choconots and Frenemies has ended.

We all gave peas a chance.

(Mine were smothered in melted chocolate. Mmmm...)

But January is behind us, and today is the start of something new. Something both the Choconots and the Frenemies can support and get involved in.

February is the month of the Fit Friends!

I'm a fit friend...
Are you?

(Didn't Cami do an awesome job on the badges?)

Yes, but what is this Fit Friends thing of which you speak?

It's simple, really. To be a Fit Friend, all you have to do is pledge to work out 3 times a week in the month of February.

What could be easier than that?

(Well, not working out 3 times a week would be easier, I suppose.)

But who wants easy?

(Well, everyone, I guess.)

You know, I'm really not good at selling these things. Lucky for me, Cami's got it all laid out for you here.

The timing of the challenge is quite apropos. February is the American Heart Association's Women's Heart Health Month. And in honor of that, I'm going to share with you something that I don't often like to talk about.

My health.

A little over a year ago, I was diagnosed with an endocrine disorder known as PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). This did not come as a shock to me. I have been dealing with the effects of this disorder since the onset of puberty in my early teens. But it's not until recently that the condition has been given a name, or extensively researched.

What PCOS basically means is that my body is resistant to the insulin it produces, so it produces more. And more. And then a little bit more until I'm swimming in insulin. The excess insulin triggers an increase in the production of androgen hormones (testosterone, androstenedione, etc., etc.), which cause cysts to form in my ovaries, wreaking further havoc on my body chemistry.

The effects can be devastating. Studies on PCOS have shown:
  • By age 30, 50% of women with the disorder have either impaired glucose tolerance, significant insulin resistance, or full-blown diabetes.

  • Women with PCOS have an eleven-fold increased risk of cardiovascular disease that can appear as early as the 20s or 30s.

  • Women from 39 to 49 years old with the condition have a heart attack risk that is four times that of women without PCOS in this age group.

  • Women with PCOS also have a higher risk of uterine cancer that occurs at younger ages than seen in women without PCOS.

Those studies alone don't tell quite the whole story of what PCOS does to a woman's body. In addition to painful menstrual cycles and infertility issues, there's an emotional component to the disorder as well, not just from the hormonal imbalance it can cause, but from the way it alters a woman's appearance--skin tags, dark patches, facial hair, acne, oily skin.

But the worst symptom of all is the vicious cycle of weight gain.

Because women with this disorder are often insulin resistant, we are in a constant state of hunger. According to "The Savvy Woman's Guide to PCOS" (which I have found extremely helpful): "High levels of insulin stimulate the ovaries to make more of the androgens, and also make you store more fat, instead of burning fat for fuel. Insulin resistance makes you get fatter and fatter, even if you are eating less and exercising more. The fatter you get, the more insulin resistant you become."

After reading that, you might think I'd be tempted to take a knife to my wrists.

In some ways, you'd be right. I do feel constantly judged for the way I look. In the past, it was much easier for me to hide away from society and let PCOS take its toll on me.

Then this happened.


A cute baby with a perpetual Donald Trump comb-over.

And I decided PCOS will not be my death sentence. It will be my call to arms.

The year I was diagnosed, Ethan and I logged 1000 miles on my bike.

This year, I'm going to double that.

Just see if I don't.


If you think you may be suffering from PCOS, check out this site for more information. And talk to your doctor.


(Wow, I sound like a Valtrex commercial.)

But do it anyway.

You can thank me later.


CamiKaos said...

Avery, this is the second time I've tried to leave this comment, but you rock.

that's all. you rock.

Groovy Mom said...

I have a cousin and a very good friend with PCOS, and yeah, it is devastating. I admire your kick-ass attitude.

And Oh my gosh! That picture. Those eyes. Those cheeks. What a little dollie your boy is.

holly said...

can i thank you now? no, wait, no i'll do it later. you're completely right about that.

woman, you rock. you rock hard, even though i don't *actually* recall that there were chocolate on the peas. i'm willing to put that down to forgetfullness...

cami did a completely awesome job on those badges. she rocks too.

and you probably knew about otter, yeah?


Maria said...

Those badges are really nice!
And I have hyperglycemia so I'm supposed to exercise and watch what I eat. But I don't.

Thanks for making me feel like the worst mom EVER! *lol

Kimberly said...

Cami's right. You rock.

TheVasquez3 said...

awesome post filled with lots of really good info.

thanks for sharing. and i will go ahead and rock.

Doozie said...

true dat, don't let the disease define you.

Lilacspecs said...

Avery, I have PCOS too. The obgyn told me to make an endocrinologist appointment like 2 years before I actually broke down and did it and yeah, I have it.

The weight and hirsuitism issues have been killing my self esteem for several years now and I'm trying really hard to lose some weight so I can stop the whole vicious cycle before I decide it's time to make some babies (the risk of decreased fertility plagues my mind a lot of the time).

Anyway, I hear you and I understnad how hard it can be...I'm living it too. So this is a good thing for us.


terri said...

Wow girl! You have been dealing with some tough stuff. I never would have guessed. This is such an incredible thing you're doing here. You DO rock.

Natalie said...

Avery, you are awesome. I am glad you elaborated on PCOS because I remember you mentioned it on my blog once (I think it was you?). And your little guy is adorable!!!!!!!

R said...

You look beautiful. I wouldn't change a thing. I would exercise to better my health (like you do) but I would not be dying to be any different from what I look like if I were you.

Beautiful child.

meleah rebeccah said...

pledge to workout three times a week? hmm... since my break up I joined a gym and got myself a trainer... THIS is something I can do!

suchsimplepleasures said...

we have major heart disease in my's scary stuff! it's best to be proactive...especially when there are kids around that you want to see grow old!!
hey...i have a little something on my blog for you...i tried to come here last night to tell you but, my bossy husband wouldn't let me stay on the computer!! jerk!

Melinda Zook said...

Great info here. Lots of people, including myself, probably never heard of this condition so awareness is good. Keep up that motivation, sounds like you are on a roll.
BTW, comb over or no comb over, the little guy is adorable.

sybil law said...

Wow! I had no clue... I'd heard of it but didn't know much about it. Thanks for the edumacation!
You DO rock.
Also, that kid kills me with his sweet face!

Edge said...

Wow ... hope it gets better ...

I don't like chocolate or coffee.


Sugarplum's Mom said...

Dang! 3 times a week is a tall order... I get to a class 2 times a week and lately, (don't tell my husband) I have been blowing off class and sitting in the hot tub. Guess I have to get back to it eh?

Mike said...

Everyone keeps saying that you rock. Pffft. You write a good blog and you seem to be handling PCOS with an excellent attitude, but "rock"? I see no evidence of rockage.

meleah rebeccah said...

"A cute baby with a perpetual Donald Trump comb-over."

I just noticed that line....hahahhahaha

Emma Sometimes said...

I'm so glad you wrote about this. You are a testament to women dealing with PCOS and not taking it lying down.

Edjumacation is the key, yes...yes, it is.

You are a beautiful person, inside and out!! :)

Avery Gray said...

Thanks for the encouragement, everyone! I'm blessed to have lots of love and support from my friends and family. All of you make my day every day!

It is all of YOU who rock!


Feener said...

wow, you go girl !!! thank you for the education.

missburrows said...

avery: Can I please have your extra insulin?

My pancreas up an quit on me at age 14.

Jo Beaufoix said...

Brilliant info hon. And now I must go and exercise.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

My friend's daughter was just diagnosed with this at 15. I know she was really relieved to start to get some answers to her mood swing issues.

Stopping by via Lyrics of my Life.