“I am healthy because I am skinny!”, yelled my little cousin on my recent trip to Florida. He’s about 9 or 10 years of age.
…..Does this fat girl look unhealthy?
….How about this fat girl?
That was me just about a year ago. In Jamaica, living my best life…..in a bikini at that!!! I cannot even believe it myself? Me, at a high weight point in a bikini?? Never would have thought!
Maybe at a low weight point…..
How about this skinny girl little cousin, is she healthy?
Society often perceives and labels heavy, thick and fat people as “unhealthy”, “uncontrollable eaters”, “and “unfit” and think and skinny people as “healthy”, “good eating habits”, and “fit”. Having a smaller frame, or being skinny, does not automatically equate to healthiness, nor does having a heavier frame, or being fat, automatically equate to the terms that the individual is unhealthy.
We are referring to the human body. Which is a repository of confounding variables, shifting contexts, and paradoxical effects. Declarative, absolutist statements about it are almost guaranteed to be proven wrong (Britton, 2013). Therefore, what we should focus on is what is happening on the interior of the body as opposed to the surface level. The surface level, or the exterior of the body, provides us with symptoms which I look at as a means of communication of our bodies to us. The ailments that are occurring on the interior serve to be the authentic measures of “healthiness” for an individual.
For some, even most peeps, like myself, these interior ailments lend themselves towards the land of uncontrollable greens.
Including dark scars, acne, and hair in places that a Wolverine wouldn’t even want them….
…….rapidly spiked weight gain….
…..and back down again…..
….and up again….
….all paired with missed and inconsistent, menstrual cycles, emotional roller coaster bouts, depression, and anxiety……
….to whatever this is at this current moment….
Do you know what it feels like to go through this for most of your adult life? Do you know how mentally, emotionally, and physically taxing to be going through something like this is? Trying every diet fad, face wash, skin cream, hair removal, doctor and medication known to man?? To cry yourself to sleep every night?? To be at such a high point because your weight is at such a low point? Or to be at rock bottom because your weight is at its highest peak? To go from being a vegan at 142 pounds to a vegan at 242 pounds in a matter of six months??
This has been my life….my suffrage….my struggle. Bursts and boats of shifting overwhelming feelings filled my body as I sifted through the photos for this post, as I type these words to shed light on my process, my journey and to help and enlighten others. The burning sensation of the tears rolling from my rosey red cheeks, as they flow from my face to my keyboard, pierce my being. This has been a long journey that I’m still currently navigating….
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome also known as PCOS, is a endocrine-based, hormonal disorder common among women of the reproductive age.
Now, I have never, I say never, been a small or skinny girl. Check my young photos and you’ll see “tic” thighs and a solid softball player build. That was me and it has always been. Solid and thick Nova. No spikes and dips, just a solid, softball playing, thicky. The usual minor weight gain and easily accessible weight loss that any person goes through is what I went through.
When I returned home from college an entire sixty pounds heavier though, after slight uncontrollable increases and decreases, a tiny red flag was jotted. Putting my foot to the metal, I drastically changed my routine of lifestyle, diet and exercise. Heightening it all, I struggled to get the weight off, missed periods, and battled with acne out the wazoo. It slowly, but surely came off, yet the other symptoms remained. Changing my diet to veganism, like real veganism at this point, lol, no leather, no animal products whatsoever. I wouldn’t even eat at a non-vegan restaurant during this time. I made my family suffer, well not really suffer, lol, and eat at vegan restaurants, raw restaurant, health food joints….you name it! Of what I considered the healthiest point in my life…….six months later, I was at my highest weight ever!! EVER!!
That was an up and down roller coaster ride of highs in lows in just a few short years. I spent the next three years all of in between all of that and in and out of soooo many doctors I lost count. With all of the other symptoms and ailments to match with the weight issues. I lost my mind, not sure if I have found it yet…………………………………………………………………………grew some hair, not even some, mad hair, in places I didn’t even know hair grew, lost some hair, from my head that is :( ya’ll know how I feel about my hair, battled with bouts of depression, emotional turmoil, and my boyfriend at the time left me (his loss Reemo and your gain…..well did you really gain because I know I am a true handful LOLOLOL) because he said that I was fat again and it was my fault that I couldn’t lose the weight and keep it off. Even with him knowing what I was going through and finally knowing what it was)……
……..Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome….that is……what……you…..have….
They told me……
What in the world is that??? How can I have that? Where did I get it from? Why did it take you all so long to figure out what was wrong with me?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (https://www.mayoclinic.org)
PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects women during their childbearing years (ages 15 to 44). Between 2.2 and 26.7 percent of women in this age group have PCOS.
Many women have PCOS but don’t know it. In one study, up to 70 percent of women with PCOS hadn’t been diagnosed.
PCOS affects a woman’s ovaries, the reproductive organs that produce estrogen and progesterone — hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. The ovaries also produce a small amount of male hormones called androgens.
The ovaries release eggs to be fertilized by a man’s sperm. The release of an egg each month is called ovulation.
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) control ovulation. FSH stimulates the ovary to produce a follicle — a sac that contains an egg — and then LH triggers the ovary to release a mature egg.
PCOS is a “syndrome,” or group of symptoms that affects the ovaries and ovulation. Its three main features are:
cysts in the ovaries
high levels of male hormones
irregular or skipped periods
In PCOS, many small, fluid-filled sacs grow inside the ovaries. The word “polycystic” means “many cysts.”
These sacs are actually follicles, each one containing an immature egg. The eggs never mature enough to trigger ovulation.
The lack of ovulation alters levels of estrogen, progesterone, FSH, and LH. Estrogen and progesterone levels are lower than usual, while androgen levels are higher than usual.
Extra male hormones disrupt the menstrual cycle, so women with PCOS get fewer periods than usual.
Women with PCOS may have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or excess male hormone (androgen) levels. The ovaries may develop numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) and fail to regularly release eggs (Speca, et. al., 2007).
Symptoms of PCOS
Signs and symptoms of PCOS often develop around the time of the first menstrual period during puberty. Sometimes PCOS develops later, for example, in response to substantial weight gain.
Signs and symptoms of PCOS vary. A diagnosis of PCOS is made when you experience at least two of these signs:
Irregular periods. Infrequent, irregular or prolonged menstrual cycles are the most common sign of PCOS. For example, you might have fewer than nine periods a year, more than 35 days between periods and abnormally heavy periods.
Excess androgen. Elevated levels of male hormone may result in physical signs, such as excess facial and body hair (hirsutism), and occasionally severe acne and male-pattern baldness.
Polycystic ovaries. Your ovaries might be enlarged and contain follicles that surround the eggs. As a result, the ovaries might fail to function regularly.
PCOS signs and symptoms are typically more severe if you're obese.
Cause of PCOS
The exact cause of PCOS isn't known. Factors that might play a role include:
Excess insulin. Insulin is the hormone produced in the pancreas that allows cells to use sugar, your body's primary energy supply. If your cells become resistant to the action of insulin, then your blood sugar levels can rise and your body might produce more insulin. Excess insulin might increase androgen production, causing difficulty with ovulation.
Low-grade inflammation. This term is used to describe white blood cells' production of substances to fight infection. Research has shown that women with PCOS have a type of low-grade inflammation that stimulates polycystic ovaries to produce androgens, which can lead to heart and blood vessel problems.
Heredity. Research suggests that certain genes might be linked to PCOS.
Excess androgen. The ovaries produce abnormally high levels of androgen.
Complications of PCOS
Complications of PCOS can include:
Gestational diabetes or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
Miscarriage or premature birth
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis — a severe liver inflammation caused by fat accumulation in the liver
Metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels that significantly increase your risk of cardiovascular disease
Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes
Depression, anxiety and eating disorders
Abnormal uterine bleeding
Cancer of the uterine lining (endometrial cancer)
When to Take the Next Steps
If have concerns about your menstrual periods, increase in weight gain, uncontrollable spikes and drops of weight gain and loss, if you're experiencing infertility or if you have signs of excess androgen such as worsening hirsutism, acne and male-pattern baldness.
At the time when I first begin to experience symptoms, and probably to this current day, doctors had very little knowledge about the syndrome. The exact cause of PCOS is unknown (Mayo Clinic, 2015). They had very limited means of ways to diagnose it and treat it, as it is a secretive little disorder.
It took almost five years for the western medicinal doctors to figure out and diagnose me with PCOS. I knew something wasn’t balanced with my body though. I knew it wasn’t me just being a “fat girl” and eating bad foods and too much. I mean I wasn’t the food saint, yet I wasn’t eating for three either. The slight ear that I lent to my body, at the time, was telling me that something was wrong. My symptoms were the voices. I wasn’t really fully listening though. Now, I listen. Now, I pay attention. Now, I push and encourage you to pay attention. Pay attention to the voices of your body. Pay attention to what she is telling you. Pay attention for yourself. Pay attention for your mother, sisters, friends and daughters. Let’s be here for each other. I had no one to speak to, discuss and share the struggle of PCOS with. I hope to fill that void and provide knowledge to all of the world about PCOS.
Cheers to that!!!
Ailments of the body provide us with exterior symptoms that some of us cannot control. We as strong, bold, unapologetic, growing women, working towards our most authentic selves, shall not let the ailments or the fluctuation of weight define us.
Our weight may fluctuate, but our beauty NEVER will.
Whether you suffer from PCOS or not, know someone that does, or even not, all of us have suffered from one of the ailments that PCOS uncontrollably gives to a woman with it, or may even suffer from some other uncontrollable disorder or disease, it is important to highlight the positives within yourself, be grateful for what you are blessed with and live your life in all ways GRAND, all of course while being,
Unapologetically Me. Unapologetically You. Unapologetically Us.
Shop the Look:
The burgundy outfit that I am wearing is by the brand INSPR. I purchased the outfit about a month ago and the collection seems to be sold out, bummer. They have a bunch of other cutesy pieces since this collaboration though. Find their site and some cuties including dresses, blazers and pants here.
I have also included some other lightweight sets below. They are the cutest and I will def have to get one or two of them!! It is freezing in NY at the moment, therefore, I would suggest putting some long johns or leggings and a crew neck long sleeve shirt and sweater underneath so you don’t freeze your balls off! I am sure in many other areas of the world, you will need to do the same!
Please don’t forget to tag me and hashtag #inspiredbynova if you purchase any items from my look! OR are inspired by me in any way!!
Happy Shopping!! :D
Please find the specific pieces from my outfit below. Click on the images to shop them! :D
Britton KA, Massaro JM, Murabito JM, Kreger BE, Hoffmann U, Fox CS. Body fat distribution, incident cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all-cause mortality. J Am Coll Cardiol 2013;62:921-5.
Savory LA, kerr CJ, Whiting P, Finer N, McEneny J, Ashton T. Selenium supplementation and exercise: effect on oxidative stress in overweight adults. Obesity 2011 May 19. [Epub ahead of print]. doi:10.1038/oby.2011.83
The pathogenetic enigma of polycystic ovary syndrome.S. Speca, C. Napolitano, G. TagliaferriJ Ultrasound. 2007 Dec; 10(4): 153–160. Published online 2007 Oct 22. doi: 10.1016/j.jus.2007.09.006. PMCID: PMC3553224