Brenda’s Inspiring 40lb Weight Loss
Brenda ‘s story is one of my favourites, as it really shows what happens when we get all the pieces of the PCOS puzzle working together: not only diet but also exercise, supplements and mindset . One of the biggest differences came when she found the right exercise for her ‘type’. When I first met Brenda, she didn’t really enjoy exercise, because what she’s always done was cardio and high intensity workouts. But doing strength training, Brenda not only found that it had remarkable effects on her body, her blood glucose and her PCOS symptoms, but also on her enjoyment of exercise. She now looks forward to her training sessions. Enjoy this one. Clare x
My name is Brenda. I’m from Kenya originally. That’s where home is, and currently, I’m a PhD. student at the University of Birmingham. I moved to the U.K. about a year ago, September of 2016.
I was diagnosed with PCOS at a really young age, at the age of 13. And at the time, I didn’t really know what it was. Nobody told me what PCOS was. I was just given this diagnosis because my period hadn’t come in. And so I went in. They did some tests and just told me, “Oh, you know, you have PCOS, and you need to take a pill.” This is the constant story. You manage PCOS with birth control.
Well, the main symptoms that I was suffering from was hair growth. I’d have the chin hairs and things like that, and it was so embarrassing growing up. And then the weight gain. I think the weight gain, for everybody with PCOS is the worst part, especially when I went to the pill after my first surgery. I just put on all this weight, and for me, the weight was very much around my middle. When you hear people talking about central obesity, that was me to a T!
It was so prominent, and it got worse and worse with time. I remember how much people would ask me if I was pregnant. It became such a constant question. “Oh, are you expecting?” It was so embarrassing because I wasn’t, and I did not understand why this was happening because I was like, “I’m not secretly eating. I’m not overeating, all these things that people .are telling me. What the hell is going on?”
I was so tired. Oh, my gosh. I could sleep 12 hours and proceed to sleep another 12 hours easy, and I could not understand why, and I thought something was wrong with me. And then, there was the hot flashes, and the one thing that nobody ever talks about is that my sex drive completely went out the window.
Those three things I remember because they affect your mind so much as a woman and as a person, but they’re things that you can’t really tell people because they’re looking at you like, “Oh, well, maybe you need to lose weight,” and, “You’re just lazy. You’re fat. That’s why you’re tired all the time. And if you lose weight, maybe your sex drive will come back.”
I believed it was my fault, and I thought wasn’t doing enough to lose weight, and I need to work twice as hard. I think I did every diet that there was, honestly, every single diet-
Like the cabbage diet, I did it. Atkins, no carbs. There’s literally every diet. I think at some point, I was eating like 600 or 500 calories a day. I’d be working out, and then at the end of the month, I’ve lost a kilo and a half, but it made me feel like I was failing, and I just kind of felt like I was always going to be this person who was fat and sick, and I should have done something about it when I was younger. Now, my body was kind of just giving up on me.
And I still remember that the biggest thing actually was going to the doctor when I had the hot flashes the first time, and he put me on metformin and told me that I was on track for type 2 diabetes. I still remember that day.
Understanding that there was an underlying cause was a big thing for me because I think that was like understanding that I could do something to address that holistically from how I ate, how I exercised. It was very empowering. I think when someone tells you, “You have a cyst on your ovaries.” And you’re like, “I can’t really go in there and take them out, so what do you want me to do about it?” And so you feel helpless, I think.
So understanding that there was something bigger than just this cyst and this insulin resistance that I could address, and by addressing that, I’d begin to kind of roll back all these other symptoms, that was really … Yeah, that was a really big light bulb moment for me.
But having done the program now, I think the biggest change, I can’t really identify one alone because there was so many things that, you know, you’ve moved on and then you realize where you were before and where you are now. But one, the fact that I have energy is amazing. Another is the weight loss because it’s so obvious to everybody and they’re like, “Oh, you’ve lost weight,” and that was a really big thing, and I’m happy about it. I will not lie. I’m happy about it, but somehow, it’s been superseded by all the other things like the reduction in the fact of the hair growth, just having more energy, having my sex drive come back.
And the fact that I don’t crave carbohydrates. I get full when I eat, and I’m okay in eating right, and I don’t feel like I need to reach for a sugar all the time to kind of feel like I need a pick up and just feeling like I’m well. I feel well. I tell people, “I feel well. I feel like I’m alive again.” And that has been bigger than just the weight loss.
And the biggest thing is having done all these and my period comes. My period comes without me having to take any pill. Realizing that I’ve been doing the wrong form of exercise, and I think also the weight training, one of the most amazing things. It brought back parts of me, like it’s empowered me. Sometimes I’d work out, and I’d black out. I’d have no energy the whole day.
So to go into a gym, do this strength training thing and have all this energy, and I could get on with my day, and I enjoy doing it. It brought back a sense of power that I could actually control my symptoms. I could control my health. I could do something to change the situation that I’d found myself in really. That was really, really empowering, I think.
But just seeing my symptoms getting reversed has been amazing. I never thought it would happen. I think when I started the program, I thought, “No, this is not going to happen. This is too hard. I’ll never be able to make it. What if I do all this” because when you’ve done things for so many years … You’ve taken the pill. You’ve done all these things, and you’re still almost where you started, trying something again is scary. I was diagnosed at 14, so 16 years later, and then you want to start this new program again.
You just kind of feel like, “Oh, what if it doesn’t work,” but having it worked was like “I’ll never look back”. It’s a lifestyle. It’s almost a lifestyle. I don’t look at it has something that I’ve started today and I’m going to stop. It’s something that I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life, and it’s not a punishment because I’m happy. I feel like I’ve gotten my life back after so many years.
If you’re considering doing this, and you’re not sure, like you’re afraid, stop overthinking it. You’re not well. You’re not where you want to be already. I think PCOS sometimes makes you feel that you’re kind of constrained and you have to accept this thing that, “Oh, you’re going to be infertile. It’s going to be really hard to conceive, and you’re going to be really fat,” and that’s not true.
And this program will give you the chance to prove that to yourself and really just realize that everything is within you to manage this condition. So just take the leap of faith because you can. This is about you taking that one, that leap of faith that I can do this and changing the course of your life, whether you’ve just been given the diagnosis or you’ve had it forever, and you just feel so desperate you don’t know what to do.