If you’ve been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), like me, you probably feel like you’ve reached a dead end.  At least 1 in 10 women are diagnosed with PCOS during their lives, and 10% of women between 12 and 45 are told every day, ‘You have PCOS’.  So what is it?  According to the Better Health Channel, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is “a complex condition in which a woman’s ovaries are generally bigger than average. Polycystic means the ovaries have many cysts or follicles that rarely grow to maturity or produce eggs capable of being fertilised”. Problems and risks associated with PCOS include a higher risk of diabetes, acne, a reduced fertility rate, obesity or irregular periods.

However, there is hope. You can get your life back as millions of women have, and I have too. In this article I’ll share a few of my experiences, failures and successes on how to heal from PCOS. I’d like to open your eyes to the diversity of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome as well as natural interventions for overcoming it.

My PCOS Story

I was someone who had it all.  I was an active 28-year-old, an entrepreneur.  I was sociable, I loved life, was travelling and was healthy as you get.  I started seeing awful PCOS symptoms back in September 2013. It felt as though my life was going down the tube in front of my eyes. I actually hid in my house for 2-3 months because I was so tired, my face and body broke out in severe acne and I gained 8 kilos.

I had no clue what was happening. I saw an endocrinologist who did a few tests, offered no support and was told I had PCOS. My older cousin from Western Australia was diagnosed with PCOS many years ago. I remembered she was told she could never have children. I thought I was doomed. I was prescribed medications – antibiotics and Metformin – to regulate insulin resistance which was one cause of my PCOS. However,  rather than helping, the medications added a whole host of new issues. I was throwing up after eating and felt like death. I knew from this point that I had to take control of my life.

I began researching PCOS for information about any lifestyle changes that I could make whilst I was house ridden for all those months. Through healthy living, exercise and adopting the right lifestyle changes my symptoms became manageable and then finally disappeared. There is light.

Four Tools to Heal from PCOS

What do you need to overcome PCOS? Knowledge is power, so put that first. Knowing what type of PCOS you have and what your body needs to combat the root cause is essential to becoming free from not just the hormone imbalances, but free of the myriad of symptoms that follow.

1. Know your type

Firstly, start with knowing what type of PCOS you have. In my eBook ‘Heal My PCOS’ I discuss the 4 main types of PCOS – what they are and how to manage each. In my case, once the insulin resistance and auto-immune issues were addressed, the PCOS symptoms faded.

2. Maintain a positive mindset to lower stress levels

A positive mindset is so important! When you understand yourself and your body, you’ll be able to view everything about yourself in a very different way. You are in control of your body – and stress is a major cause of hormonal imbalances. My tip is to use mindfulness excercises like prayer or meditation for 10 minutes every day whilst doing deep diaphragm breathing. Do not be overwhelmed! Take baby steps until it becomes a habit.

3. Look after your nutrition and supplements

Your body doesn’t need just any food and nutrition; it needs the right food and nutrition. Cut out the empty calories and instead nourish your body with foods that build you up, give you energy and help eliminate toxins. I recommend a Low GI PCOS eating plan.  Take the time you need to shop for, prepare, and enjoy eating real food. You’ll be surprised how different you’ll feel.

4. Find the right support

Your fourth tool is to find a supportive environment. Participating in a community of like-minded women or supportive friends can help you immensely in navigating your PCOS – and in overcoming it. If you’re going through a rough time (like I was), there’s nothing like a helping hand to get you through it. Avoid interacting with negative, judgmental people, but instead craft for yourself a network of loving people that will be there for you when you need them. I’m creating a loving community at www.healmypcos.com, and you can plug in any time to share your journey.

Don’t forget to seek the advice of your health professional

You can speak to your health professional about your ideas and craft a plan together as you move forward with your treatment and management of your PCOS. Your health professional knows you and your personal medical history. I have not attended medical school, nor been licensed by any committee or board or government to give any health advice. I am simply a normal person like you, but I have found the road to recovery.

I have read hundreds of blogs and poured many hours of research into the journey of healing myself. Because this information has made such a difference in my own life, I’ve made it my mission to pass it forward and help as many women as possible live the same vibrant healthy life that I now enjoy—that vibrant life that I once feared I had lost.

Nourish your body with foods that build you up, give you energy and help eliminate toxins

What I’ve learnt, and your Road to Recovery

You might ask, can simple tools such as new knowledge, a positive mindset, a supportive community and the right nutrition really improve your life? IT CAN. I am living proof. Every woman is different. PCOS reflect symptoms that SOMETHING is out of balance in your body – largely due to what you are eating, thinking and/or how you treat yourself.

Stay strong and learn to love the beautiful person you are.

Featured image via Pixabay under Creative Commons CC0

 

Melissa-Madgwick-Leaders-in-HeelsMelissa Madgwick
Melissa Madgwick is a 29 year old woman who is on other side of healing from polycystic ovarian syndrome. Her life now revolves around health. She is an avid health advocate who specialises in working with women who suffer from PCOS and eagerly helps others overcome the PCOS disease holistically. She teaches other women to heal and recover from PCOS naturally.  For more information go to How To Heal PCOS Naturally – A Real Life Story or www.healmypcos.com.


According to the Australian Psychological Society[1], almost half of working Australians find that the workplace is a source of stress. Add to this, women report that family and financial issues are the leading sources of stress for them. This stress may come about from long hours, heavy workloads and regular deadlines, job insecurity and inter-personal relationships.

It is no wonder that it is sometimes difficult to stay grounded and calm. The tension builds up, and we’re often left feeling anxious, tired, and burnt out. Other symptoms of stress include depression, a drop in work performance, headaches and an increase in sick days or absenteeism. Actually stress has been reported to be having an impact on the physical health of three quarters of workers.

I hear it so often “I just don’t have time for anything else” and “I often can’t sleep well when I have big work deadlines the next day”.

Our minds go a million miles an hour and we get into a whirlwind of a range of emotions. This means we can sometimes get short with people, get caught up in negative feelings, experience mood swings, become aggressive or pessimistic, lose interest, feel tired and then feel even worse as the guilt and more anxiety kicks in.

Can you think of some times in your workplace where you or your colleagues have behaved in these ways? Or sometimes even you?

When you’re finding it difficult to get calm in a certain situation, or you’re feeling overwhelmed, these top 7 tips for when you’re struggling to get calm should help:

1. Don’t respond straight away

The best exercise to do is to count to ten. Counting to ten may seem like too long in a tense moment, but when you’re in a highly stressful situation you count faster than usual. Trust me. You need to get to ten. When you count you take your mind away from the situation immediately at hand.

2. Heighten your awareness

Start noticing when you get triggered (and keep practicing counting to ten when you do). Over time you will notice that you don’t have to count anymore. You’ll start noticing your emotional reactions and getting to know your triggers. When you observe your mind and the stories it tells you, you stop engaging from a win-lose point of view, and start analysing situations from a more objective perspective.

3. Shift your focus

When you feel tension building up, it’s important to not let your emotions take control. This doesn’t mean you don’t feel them, but getting out of your emotional body and into your physical body creates space. Instead of focusing on the situation, focus on the part of your body where you feel it. Get really curious and notice how it changes. Just observe.

4. Look within first

When we’re under pressure, we often look outside to blame someone for how we’re feeling. We think others are pressuring us and start resenting them and the situations they put us in. The truth is that we always have a choice. No matter how much we want to talk ourselves out of that choice saying that we “have to” do X or Y, we have most likely put ourselves there. Which leads well into point 5…

5. Give yourself some love

Feeling anxious and stressed is awful. But… what are you really feeling? What might the feelings be connected to deeper down? Give your feelings some real attention and be kind to yourself. Instead of beating yourself up for it, be accepting and stay with it while you count to 10. If you want to spend more time delving deeper, try the meditation exercise below.

Women report that family and financial issues are the leading sources of stress for them. This stress may come about from long hours, heavy workloads and regular deadlines, job insecurity and inter-personal relationships

6. Think of it as a game

This world is a playground, and sometimes we get too caught up in our head thinking of all the possibilities and choices we have before us, and that is overwhelming. It sure doesn’t help with staying calm! Instead of getting caught up in the options and reacting, try to think of it as a game. If you were playing a fun game, what would you do? What would you try? What would you say?

7. Practice gratitude

Stop for a second and look around you. Count ALL your blessings. That outfit you’re wearing? Be grateful you were able to afford it. Your colleague right there? Appreciate he’s always been supportive. When you practice being grateful you start to realise that really, everything around you is a blessing! Gratitude transforms your energy. Give it a try.

These day-to-day simple steps should help with staying grounded. And with proof that mindfulness practice can help improve so many things beyond stress levels including memory, focus and creativity.

I would love to hear how you get on.

Bonus mindfulness exercise

  • Find a quiet spot away from drafts.
  • Sit or lie comfortably. If you sit, do so comfortably but with a straight back and crossed legs if you’re on the floor. Take off your shoes so you can feel more grounded.
  • Bring your awareness to your breath. Don’t try to change it, just focus on the ins and outs and keep your awareness there.
  • When thoughts come up – from what you didn’t get done at work today to the shopping list – acknowledge them but come back to your breath. Don’t engage with the thoughts.
  • If you find that similar concerns come up over and over then it would be worth sitting with them more and exploring gently, without judgement, and see where these thoughts come from. Are they beliefs that you hold about yourself, about your value, about your feelings, about your relationships?
  • You could then spend some time asking, ‘Do these beliefs serve me?’. If the answer is no, then you can start to release them over time by being aware when they come up and starting to re-map your response to them. Some of these may be beliefs laid down in childhood and so doing some work connecting with your inner child could be very helpful.
  • While many experienced meditators may meditate for an hour or longer, it is useful to just start off with ten minutes once a day and work up from there.

Fact box

  • In any one year, around 1 million Australian adults have depression, and over 2 million have anxiety. (Source: Beyond Blue)
  • Over $133.9 million was paid in benefits to Australian workers who made claims related to workplace stress during the 2004/2005 tax year.

[1] Stress and wellbeing in Australia survey 2013

 

Catalina-Lopera-Leaders-in-HeelsCatalina Lopera
Catalina is the founder of Events With Soul, a company producing live events that aim to provide practical tools for transformational spiritual journeys and helping people connect with themselves and others. She’s found great comfort in meditation and the practice of self-awareness, and now shares valuable insights with others.


As the weather warms up and the prospect of getting out of bulky winter clothing causes us all to suck our stomachs in a bit more, changing up your diet is a great way to inject “fresh” motivation into a weight loss journey, or merely increase your general health and mood. Spring is the beginning of the growing season, and fresh salads are a great way to cut calories whilst still remaining full and satisfied.

These are three of my favourite springtime salads. In addition to being low-calorie and full of great, fresh taste, they represent a different approach to salad eating in general. One is a meal salad, one a side salad, and one a meat salad. By mixing up the ways in which you eat salads, you keep your meals more diverse and your palate interested but keep to lower-calorie options that help to supercharge your weight loss and get you into warm weather shape.

Beautiful Barramundi Salad

Beautiful Barramundi Salad

Beautiful Barramundi Salad

Fish is such an important part of our diets. I try to eat fish several times each week both over salad as well as on its own. The Barramundi is a light, white fish which offers a mild flavour perfect for serving over salad greens, as in this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium Barramundi fillet
  • 200 grams fresh baby spinach
  • 225 grams diced beetroot, drained
  • 30 grams low-fat cheddar cheese, crumbled
  • Juice of ½ a lemon

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180° C.
  2. Place fish fillet on an oven tray lined with baking paper and squeeze the lemon over the top.
  3. Place in oven for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Place spinach in a large bowl and add the beetroot and cheese.
  5. Flake fish into pieces and sprinkle on top of the salad.

Stunning Strawberry Melon Salad

Salads are not all about the veggies. In fact, fruit salads make a lovely side dish that pair well with low-fat meats like chicken and fish. By pairing sweet fruits with savoury additions like onion and coriander, this simple side salad takes on a more elevated flavour that is great for company as well as when dining alone.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsps. finely chopped red onion
  • 2 Tbsps. lime juice
  • 1 red chili, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsps. chopped coriander
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 cups strawberries, hulled and halved

Instructions:

  1. Whisk onions, lime juice, chili, coriander, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Gradually add in olive oil while continuing to whisk.
  3. Add in the chopped up fruit and toss to coat.
  4. Serve immediately as a side dish.

Toothsome Turkey and Broccoli Salad

When you want a heartier “salad” the old standbys filled with mayonnaise are a tempting option. However, it is possible to still enjoy the creaminess of a meat-based salad whilst paying attention to calories. The secret? Using yoghurt instead. I love this turkey and broccoli combination for the crunch, fibre, and health benefits added by the broccoli – not to mention the taste!

Toothsome Turkey and Broccoli Salad

Toothsome Turkey and Broccoli Salad

Ingredients:

  • 500 grams broccoli, fresh or frozen
  • 100 grams turkey, cooked and chopped into cubes
  • 100 grams low-fat natural yoghurt
  • Cracked pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Microwave broccoli until cooked (9 minutes if frozen, 5 minutes if fresh)
  2. Add to turkey and stir through yoghurt
  3. Finish with cracked black pepper, if desired.
  4. Serve atop fresh spring greens.

 

Images courtesy of Sally Symonds. 

Featured image via Pixabay under Creative Commons CC0

 

Sally-Symonds-Leaders-in-HeelsSally Symonds
Sally Symonds has been described as “one of Australia’s leading health and fitness experts” (Good Health magazine). A published author of three weight loss books and motivational speaker, she is also the director of Love Your Weight Loss.   Sally is a shining example to anyone who wants to lose weight, get fit and healthy and enjoy a fresh new lease on life for Sally has truly ‘been there and done that’. She is one of a few people in the world who has lost over 50% of their body weight and one of the 5% of people who lose weight who keep it off! Follow Sally on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.


Each year Australians book more than 80,000 doctors appointments for cold and flu related illnesses alone1.

Expert Scientist at USANA, Sheila Zhou, says, “The cooler months are often associated with sneezing, coughing, and fevers, so it’s no surprise many of us hate winter. Staying healthy during this time however, doesn’t have to be difficult. By implementing a cold and flu prevention regimen before the season starts will boost your immune system significantly.”

Ms. Zhou shares her professional advice on how to winter-proof your immune system this season:

1. Soak up the sunshine

A significant number of Australians are deficient in vitamin D. Did you know that just 20 minutes of sunlight each day significantly boosts the production of vitamin D in your body? Vitamin D not only helps protect your body in maintaining healthy immune function, but it also assists in general wellbeing. Unfortunately, with the days getting shorter and the daylight hours diminishing, winter can be a difficult time to get the necessary sunshine, soVitamin D supplements can be beneficial.

2. Drink like a fish

Like any other time of year, staying hydrated during winter is extremely important. Even though you may not feel as thirsty or sweat as much during the cooler months, drinking plenty of water is still essential to help eliminate waste and prime your body against infections from pathogens.

By implementing a cold and flu prevention regimen before the season starts will boost your immune system significantly

3. Get Moving

Never underestimate the importance of regular activity. Exercising is of course a great way to get into shape, but it also increases the number of natural killer cells in our bodies that fight off infection. So even if you only have time to walk around the block, making the effort goes a long way in keeping you healthy and infection free as the weather cools down.

4. Get creative in the kitchen

Eating brightly coloured fruit and vegetables is also a great way to keep infections at bay. They are rich in vitamin C and E and antioxidants. Their ability to increase the functionality of your immune system means that adding these fresh fruits and vibrant veggies to your daily diet helps your body safe guard itself from nasty viruses, while tasting delicious too!

Never underestimate the importance of regular activity

5. Stress Less

You’re probably aware that stress isn’t good for you, but very few people are aware of how much it actually impacts your health. Stress takes an enormous toll on the immune system and makes you more vulnerable to everything from a common cold to major diseases. So if you don’t already, make sure you get enough sleep and take time out to do the things you enjoy.

[1] BUPA – Colds and Flu Symptoms and Treatment

 

Featured photo credit: www.notyourstandard.com via photopin (license)


Sheila-Zhou-Leaders-in-HeelsSheila Zhou

Sheila Zhou holds a Bachelor Degree of Science in biology from the prestigious Fudan University in China. She is an accomplished scientist having spent six years as a research scientist in medical research field in Australia, and has contributed to and co-authored 12 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals. Sheila joined USANA Health Sciences in 2003. Sheila is passionate about evidence-based nutritional medicine. She strongly believes in holistic approach to health and well-being through optimal nutrition, exercise, and a healthy life style.

 


As the cooler weather sets in, our bodies need a little extra boost to keep them well and vibrant. We find ourselves craving warming comfort type foods. Foods that make us feel warm and cosy on the inside, and really boost our immune system to ward off the onslaught of coughs and colds.

Specific foods have the most amazing capabilities to make our bodies strong and resistant to bugs and diseases. Even the simple act of including more of certain types of foods can dramatically increase your health, energy levels and give you a stronger immune system.

Here are 8 foods you need to eat this winter, because, let’s face it, when you’re a busy working woman, you do NOT have time to get sick!

1. Gorgeous Leafy Greens

Lovely, fresh, organic greens are truly leaves of health.

Greens are one of the most wonderful things to include more of in your diet, especially in Winter. They are a fantastic source of vitamins A, C and K and also contain iron and calcium. Greens like kale are especially high in nutrients and are even said to have anti-cancer properties.

When thinking greens, think dark green silverbeet, kale, spinach, swiss chard, mustard greens, collard. You do actually start to fall in love with greens after a while, and your body starts to crave them.  Even if you’re not a fan, keep adding them to your diet as you will start to enjoy them. One of the best and easiest ways to include them into your daily routine is a green smoothie or juice in the morning before you head out the door. You can also take one to work for an afternoon pick-me-up.

Even the simple act of including more of certain types of foods can dramatically increase your health, energy levels and give you a stronger immune system

2. Citrus

Just when we are in our cold and flu season, our beautiful citrus are at their delicious peak as well. Citrus fruits like mandarins, oranges and lemons are all fantastic sources of vitamin C and pectin. They are such a wonderful fruit group to include in our Winter eating plan, and things like lemon juice in water is fantastic for alkalising our bodies, and is even said to help reduce kidney stones and help prevent stomach cancer. Try adding some slices orange into your salads too!

3. Garlic

There is a very good reason that garlic has been well-loved by humans for over 7,000 years. The health benefits are tremendous. Not only is it antibacterial and antiviral, it is also said to be a natural antibiotic and effective in preventing and easing symptoms of colds. Not to mention the benefits to blood pressure!

Add extra garlic into your soups, stews, pasta dishes–anything, really. For the most health benefits it should be eaten very lightly cooked, so put it in towards the end of the meal’s cooking time.

Greens are one of the most wonderful things to include more of in your diet, especially in Winter. They are a fantastic source of vitamins A, C and K and also contain iron and calcium

4. Omega 3 rich foods

Omega 3’s are found in many food sources and are a very important part of a healthy diet, and essential for a strong, healthy body and immune system.

Some of the best sources we can easily add into our daily diet are sardines, fish, flaxseed oil, nuts especially walnuts, seeds, especially sunflower and pepita seeds, and spinach.

5. B-vitamin rich foods

B vitamins are essential for good health, and many are also required for white blood cell formation, which helps us to fight off bugs and colds and feel more energised. It is a great idea in Winter to make sure you include plenty in your diet. Foods that are rich in vitamin B include eggs, bananas, potatoes, brazil nuts, pulses and beans.

6. Avocados

Such a powerhouse of nutrients–avocados tick so many boxes. They are full of good fats, omega 3’s, b vitamins, magnesium, iron, phosphorous and potassium.

Add them to your green smoothies to make them really creamy, or salads for a delicious health boost, and as a guacamole into wraps, burgers. It also makes a great afternoon snack together with carrot and celery sticks.

B vitamins are essential for good health, and many are also required for white blood cell formation

7. Strawberries

Absolutely delicious, and packed full of vitamin C and antioxidants. Strawberries are great for for fighting off colds. They also hold anti-ageing elements, and help your overall health. A serving of strawberries contains half the recommended daily dose of vitamin C and they make a perfect, easy morning or afternoon snack when you’re working, or busy at the computer desk.

8. Root Vegetables

It actually works out perfectly that we are craving stews, soups and roasts in Winter as root vegetables are so wonderful to include into our Winter diet. Think sweet potatoes, potatoes, beetroots and turnips. The sweet potato alone is full of complex carbohydrates, B-vitamins and beta carotene. Meanwhile, beetroot is a great source of folate and manganese. The humble potato is great for Winter meals–even though it often gets a bad rep when put together with white bread and rice, it actually has many health properties itself like vitamin b6, potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc.

 

Featured image via Pixabay under Creative Commons CC0

 

Bek-Mugridge-profile-pic-Leaders-in-HeelsBek Mugridge  

Bek Mugridge is an award winning author, horticulturalist, food columnist, cooking presenter and food and healthy living blogger at www.authorrebeccamugridge.com www.facebook.com/AuthorRebeccaMugridge
She has been on ACA, The Great South East, in WHO, Woman’s day, That’s Life, Vogue, Women’s Running Australia Magazine and many more.