Ciara’s inspiring PCOS Journey
Let me start by telling you I’m Irish and we don’t have an idea how to make a long story short!!
We moved to England when I was 6 years old. I remember being at home on the farm in Ireland for the summer holidays about age 11, when I got my first period. I remember thinking isn’t it a bit young?! My mum was a nurse/midwife and I had grown up very aware of the birds and the bees. There is also a ten-year age gap between me and my youngest brother, and people would say I was like his second mum, he was my baby doll “who needs a tiny tears, when you have the real thing at home”.
During puberty, in the years leading up to about 14 years old, I struggled with weight gain, fatigue, ache and anxiety. I started secondary school and my periods were very irregular and I’d only get them in the holidays. I was about 16 when I found out I had PCOS. I didn’t really think much about it I just thought I would take the pill and my cycles would regulate.
Then during that time my acne was so severe I was embarrassed to show my shoulders or back to anyone. If we went to the beach I would wear a t-shirt over my swimsuit saying I didn’t want to get sun burnt. To this day I have scars and people will think they are sunburn blisters. It was very humiliating for me. My doctor prescribed Erythromycin antibiotics, which I took for approximately 2 years, before birth control when I was 16. Around 17 I started to party and travel, periods were the last thing I wanted so I just enjoyed not having them.
A few years later I meet my partner and we decided to start trying for a baby. Four years later we still weren’t pregnant. I was being seen by the NHS fertility team and they sent me to a dietitian who helped me start on a healthier path but it was just the standard health food they tell everyone they should be eating like porridge for breakfast.
The NHS offered me surgery to do ovarian drilling, which is supposed to increase your chance of conceiving by about 40% for the 6 months after it’s done. Of course, I jumped at the chance, thinking it was an instant fix. They also started me on the medications Progesterone and Clomid to try and get me ovulating.
After a rollercoaster 6 months, we still weren’t pregnant, and it was taking a massive toll on our relationship. The hormones they were giving me made me an emotional wreck and my partner described it as like living with someone on steroids.
Our last option was IVF, but after these 4.5 years my BMI had crept up from 28 to 32 and I was no longer eligible (the cut-off is 30). Our consultant said that really there was nothing he could offer me further, unless I lost the weight. It was a crushing day for me.
Depression had set in, my partner and I were both drinking too much, eating unhealthy food and fighting all the time. Running our family business was proving hard with the issues at home and the pressure of our industry, I was totally burnt out. Everyone was trying to be positive, telling me to just exercise and lose the weight. But I didn’t have it in me anymore. I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole.
Fast forward 2 years and I found the most amazing counsellor. I was able to focus on myself rather than all the problem piling up, I found my self worth again. It was then that I started looking for ways through my PCOS challenges.
In February 2018, I read an article on a scientist that was studying mice inducing PCOS by increasing the anti-Mullerian levels and testing their babies to see if it might cause PCOS. Clare had written an article about the study online and I began to follow her on Instagram and realised that she had more to say than just I have PCOS too.
When I listened or read Clare’s work I kept thinking “this girl really gets it!” It’s not as simple as eat healthy and get down the gym. The irony of that statement is, that it is as simple, but you need to do it in a particular way to treat your PCOS ‘root cause’.
I joined The PCOS Protocol in June and since then my life has turned a full 360 degrees.
It’s been 8 months since I started the protocol my skin is healthier, I’ve lost a stone and my waist has going from 42.5 inch to 36 inches.
But to me, the most significant change is in my energy levels. I now wake up without feeling groggy and bloated and I understand how my insulin is impacting my hormones and how I need to eat, move, sleep and manage my life to reverse this.
Before the PCOS protocol my life was a massive hormonal battle. I honestly thought I was bipolar or a manic depressive. My partner says I’m a totally different person now, my energy and emotions are completely stable.
Unlike the doctors with their sweeping broad statements like ‘Just lose the weight and come back and see me’, Clare breaks this course down in manageable phases, and really helps you understand what is going on inside your body so you know why you’re making the changes you are.
Clare’s PCOS protocol is not rushed, but you do need to commit time to it. Having the private Facebook group that goes along with the video modules and PDFs, is a great way to connect with other women in the same situation. It has also given me the courage to talk about it generally.
This was so helpful for when it came to finding a personal trainer. With my new-found ownership of PCOS and understanding of how I needed to exercise, I was able to be really honest with a potential PT and tell him “the gym scares me but I have PCOS and I’m looking for someone to help me get over those fears and keep me motivated to go forward.” It turned out to be the best thing as he was able to share that his girlfriend also had PCOS and like Clare just seem to get it!
After ten weeks my fitness had improved 25% and I was feeling so much better. My fear of the gym are gone and I now go for PT, Yoga, Zumba and walks with the dog every week.
Going forward I still hope to have a baby, but it’s not my core focus anymore. I just want to be more content with life. I want to be the best version of me.
This protocol has taught me that small changes in the right direction add up to massive personal gain.
My big question for anyone thinking of doing The PCOS Protocol is“are you willing to give up what is making you sick?”.
I wasn’t sure I could, but actually the way Clare lays it out make it easier than you think and once you feel the benefits you want to keep going.