February 12, 2017 by Leanne Vogel December 14, 2018
Interview with Chris Joseph, PCOS and keto advocate, chatting about overcoming PCOS with a ketogenic diet including improving hormones on PCOS, keto-friendly PCOS foods, fasting with PCOS, and more.
For podcast transcript, scroll down.
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Leanne Vogel: You’re listening to episode number 20 of The Keto Diet Podcast.
Hey, I’m Leanne from healthfulpursuit.com, and this is The Keto Diet Podcast, where we’re busting through the restrictive mentality of a traditional ketogenic diet to uncover the life you crave. What’s Keto? Keto is a low-carb, high fat diet where we’re switching from a sugar burning state to becoming fat burning machines. If you’re in need of keto recipe food prep inspiration, I’ve prepped a free, seven-day keto meal plan exclusive for podcast listeners. The plan is complete with a shopping list and everything you need to chow down on keto for seven whole days. Download your free copy at healthfulpursuit.com/ketomeal. Let’s get this party started.
Hey guys, happy Sunday, another addition to the podcast on episode 20, can’t even believe it. I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend. Last weekend was Super Bowl Sunday, and like, we’re not football people. We’re not sports people. I know, don’t hate me, I just never really got into sports. So, everything was really quiet last Sunday and so great. We got so much done, and nobody was at the grocery store. Then, this weekend is kind of like chill; we’re really hoping to get out camping here pretty soon. We just had a huge dump of snow this past week, there’s so much snow on our RV and we’re just dying to get out. Hopefully next weekend we can take a couple of days off and just unwind and do a little “explore-king”, where we explore and do a little bit of working, and hopefully not get caught up in the snow. I hope whatever you’re doing this weekend you’re enjoying yourself.
The awesome thing this week, and you might think I’m totally crazy because I thought it was crazy, is cold showers. I did an interview with Margaret of “Dirt in Your Skirt” podcast, and she was talking about a method that she was doing with cold showers and breathing exercises, and I was curious to see what cold showers would feel like, so I started off a couple of weeks ago by, you know, like 20 second cold shower, 30 seconds, 40 second. I’m up to about a minute and a bit, like a minute and 10 seconds. I have my regular shower, I do everything, and then the last little bit of the shower I turn it on cold, and the first couple of times I screamed. I was screaming; it hurt so bad. Not hurt, but just it was really uncomfortable.
Then I found, like the first day after the cold shower, about an hour after, I found I was a lot warmer than normal. My body temperatures have actually been regulating quite more effortlessly than they had been in the past. As you guys know, I have hypothyroidism so I’m always curious about how I can increase my body temperature naturally, and I’ve been really impressed with this, especially because it’s really cold outside. I’ve been maintaining my temperature pretty good. Although after that shower I’m like freezing for probably a couple of minutes, but then it goes away, and I get warmer, and my skin feels better. We’ll see where this goes, wanted to share it with you, and there’s a lot of information online about this method. I got it from the Whm Hof method. That’s W-H-M-H-O-F method, and there’s a whole piece on it about stretching and breathing, and I’ve been giving that whirl. Let me know what you think if you give it a try, too.
What we’re covering in this episode, a bunch of really cool things as it relates to PCOS. Overcoming PCOS symptoms, improving hormones on PCOS, how to know you have it, adjusting keto for PCOS, different keto foods that may not be good for PCOS. If you’re unable to adapt to keto while you have PCOS. So, everything PCOS related including supplements, essential oils. We talk about it all, and the show notes and full transcript for today’s episode can be found at healthfulpursuit.com/podcast/e20, and the transcript is added to the post three to five days following the initial air date of this episode.
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We have one announcement and something I just kind of hinted to before the last ad, is that I have added transcripts to all of the previous episodes of The Keto Diet Podcast. You can go to healthfulpursuit.com/podcast to read all of the previous transcripts, and then going forward, when an episode goes live of the podcast, it will go live on Sundays, and then around like Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday of that coming week, the transcript will be added to the post.
For example, today is Sunday, February 12 of 2017, so the post should be updated on like the 14th or the 15th with the transcript. That just gives us time to get it transcribed and add it to the blog after the podcast goes live. We’re really, really excited for this, it was a huge project, and I hope you enjoy it. I just, as somebody who has two handicapped parents, I understand accessibility, and the reason we didn’t have transcripts before is that it’s quite expensive and it’s a lot of work, and we just needed to figure out the logistics. But, it’s figured out, we got it rocking, and I hope that this change just makes the show a little bit more accessible for a lot more people.
If you have an idea for a podcast episode or want to submit praise over and above the review, which you can leave by going to healthfulpursuit.com/review, you can reach me by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We received a ton of good questions for today’s guest, and the questions and suggestions on guests to have on the show were submitted by members of our private Facebook group.
Our guest today is Chris, and she’s the creator of Hello PCOS and helloketodiet.com where she shares her journey of courageously greeting her challenges in order to help others live happy and healthy lives. Chris was diagnosed with PCOS in 2011 and ignored her symptoms until she stopped taking birth control and gained over 50 pounds in a matter of months. After the extreme weight gain, suffering from depression, and not wanting to rely on birth control, Chris decided to give keto a try. Chris has had tremendous success with the ketogenic diet and now offers help to others wanting to adopt a ketogenic lifestyle by creating free guides, informative courses, and transparently sharing her journey on YouTube and Instagram. Chris believes that the key to her success has been self-love, understanding keto, and lots of bacon.
If you guys are curious about what PCOS is before we get started with today’s show, PCOS stands for polycystic ovarian syndrome, and it’s a condition in which a woman’s levels of sex hormones such as estrogen and progesterone are out of balance. This leads to the growth of ovarian cysts sometimes. These are benign masses on the ovaries, and PCOS can cause problems with a woman’s menstrual cycle, fertility, cardiac function, and appearance generally. PCOS sufferers will have issues with their weight and trying to maintain weight. Their testosterone and androgen levels can just be totally messed up, can be really frustrating. They can have a lack of period, or perhaps their period is really irregular.
I’m really excited to have Chris on the show today. We covered a lot of ground; you guys submitted some really, really awesome questions. We talk about fasting and PCOS, and how to go about weight loss, how to manage the weight gain that comes with PCOS. How a ketogenic diet can really help with the insulin resistance that comes with PCOS. We get really down and deep to it, I asked her as many questions as I could, and we covered a lot of ground, so let’s cut over to the interview.
Hey Chris, how are you doing today?
Chris Joseph: I’m doing really good, super excited. Cheesing right now.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah, I’m so thrilled to have you on the show. We just wrapped up our private conversation before hitting record, and like I said, I found you on a whim, like I was just googling PCOS and keto and your bright smiley face popped up, and I was so excited. You’re like the only resource out there for PCOS and keto, and I’m thrilled to have you on the show today.
Chris Joseph: Oh, thank you so much. I’m really excited about the site, I actually kind of started it and didn’t think so many people would be engaged and excited about it, and they are. It’s just really, it feels really good to be able to be that resource for people.
Leanne Vogel: Yes, it’s so true, especially when there aren’t many resources out there. That’s how I felt when I switched over to keto and changed my blog, I was like, “I don’t know if this is going to work, but let’s give it a whirl.” Because, there was nothing else out there, and it’s nice to be that resource for people. For people that maybe don’t, aren’t familiar with your work, why don’t you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself.
Chris Joseph: Okay, so I, I wish I had like a fancy title or something like that.
Leanne Vogel: Don’t we all.
Chris Joseph: I guess I’m a vlogger. I have a website, hellopcos.com, and I kind of share my PCOS journey, and then within like the past, I think it’s been like six or seven months, somewhere around there, I have found keto, and I’ve been sharing my keto journey online as well. Yeah, I was diagnosed with PCOS and I kind of needed an outlet to figure out what was going on, because I didn’t get a lot of support from doctors and no one in my life knew anything about PCOS. So, I kind of got online, like many women do, and just tried to figure some stuff out.
Leanne Vogel: How did you find keto, like what was that connection for you, how did that happen?
Chris Joseph: I was actually when I first started hellopcos.com, and I was trying to think of different resources that people needed. So, at that time I was doing webinars and creating meal plans, and one month when I was creating a meal plan, I do a lot of research online, so I was researching some medical studies, and I came across keto. I’m like okay, so I know nothing about this, and I know most of the people who are making these meal plans know nothing about it, but let’s just give it a try and see how it goes. Within five days I was like, okay, I have to share this with everybody, because within the first five days I lost like five pounds.
Before that, literally, nothing worked for me to lose any weight at all, besides birth control. Not even Metformin worked for me at that point. And so, I was like, “Yeah, let’s do this forever.” I just started researching and finding and googling and pinteresting, and I just realized how awesome it was for my body.
Leanne Vogel: That’s so cool. My, how I found keto, is very similar, of just like, it came at the perfect time like right when I needed it the most. My hormones were at an all-time low, my weight kept creeping up, I had no idea what was happening, and then I just was like, “Keto, that’s an interesting word, what is that?” Then it just, I went down the rabbit hole, and I’ve never gone back.
Chris Joseph: It really does, I feel like it really like, the timing was just really perfect. I was recently married, and I stopped taking birth control. I had been taking birth control for years. I stopped taking birth control, and I instantly gained more than 50 pounds. It was like in a four-month period, as a newlywed, so I was kind of just like, “Whoa, what is going on in my life right now?” I was just trying to figure out a natural way to kind of fix this thing, so the timing was just really perfect for me.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah, me too. It was right before my wedding, I was at my heaviest, and I just kept gaining weight, and I was like, “What is happening?” That can be frustrating, when you’re trying to fit a dress, and you just have to keep taking it out and taking it out. Yeah, I totally get it, yeah, total nightmare.
Let’s go through the basics of PCOS because there’s a lot of information and maybe misinformation about PCOS. What was one of the things, like when you found keto and knowing that you had PCOS, are there certain beliefs in the PCOS community that like keto will not work, and it’s like the worst thing?
Chris Joseph: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I think for a lot of people, especially with PCOS, they just don’t know anything about keto. When I talked to a lot of women about PCOS and keto, the number one thing I try to tackle is insulin resistance, because a lot of people just don’t know how important insulin plays a role in your PCOS and your hormones being managed, and everything like that. Many of the people that I talk to about, just initially, that PCOS and diet, they just don’t know anything at all because, as women especially when we go to the doctor, unfortunately, the first thing that usually gets prescribed is birth control. Or Metformin, and it kind of takes away from you figuring out what’s really going on with your body. For me especially, when I first was diagnosed, it was just like, “Here’s the birth control, this is going to help it, come see me again when you want to get pregnant.”
I had no idea how my diet had anything to do with it, and when I initially started I was 100% eat clean, get your healthy carbs, you need this, and I just didn’t know, I wasn’t aware. I think that’s what’s most important about why I try to share my journey, is because I just want more people to be aware of the different options so that they can make the best choice for them.
Even if it’s not keto, just at least be aware that keto is an option.
Leanne Vogel: Yes, said like a true champ. I totally agree with you, I totally agree with you. Because, it may not work for you, and it concerns me when people say like, “Keto, it’s a be-all-end-all, you have to try it, it will work.” Because, that’s not true. It’s like everything, it’s totally not true, we’re all so different, but I think knowledge is power and knowing that this is an option. Even if it’s just like increasing your fat, maybe that’s all you need.
When you were on your initial PCOS journey, did you find like your other sex hormones or even your thyroid as out of whack?
Chris Joseph: Pretty much like everything was kind of out of whack, and then right now where I am is I’m also about to get tested for Cushing’s. The thing is like, I literally had no idea that any of this was happening in my body, because for the longest I just didn’t know, but I had like all of the symptoms, and they were really, really high. I had like extreme facial hair, and my weight gain without the birth control was crazy, and when I went to the doctor I just really didn’t get any kind of information. I had the full blood work done, and the ultrasound and all of that. At the time, I didn’t have cysts on my ovaries, but my testosterone was through the roof. My FSHLH was super imbalanced.
Everything was kind of out of whack, but I just didn’t understand anything. Actually, I was talking to somebody the other day, when I was maybe about in, I think I was like 10 or 11, my mom took me the doctor, I can’t even remember why we went. But, they did a test, and they tested my insulin levels, and they’re like, “She’s insulin resistant, her pancreas doesn’t respond to the insulin, and it’s over-producing.” At that point I think that was pretty much just it, they didn’t say anything about why or anything, and now that I look back-
Leanne Vogel: Of course, why would they.
Chris Joseph: Yeah, I look back, and I’m like, “Wow, okay, so that happened.”
Leanne Vogel: That’s all you can do, you can’t be frustrated because like, it happened, and that was a thing, so moving on.
Chris Joseph: Yeah, exactly. Actually, when I first started undergrad, one of the first things that I did when I went to college was get on birth control. Immediately I lost about 40 pounds, and I told everybody I’m just of age now, and my baby weight is coming off.
Leanne Vogel: Amazing.
Chris Joseph: I walked around campus, and I was just like, “Yeah, I’m evolved, I’m 18 now.” Really, it was the birth control the whole time. Now that I think about, things like make sense now, but you know back then everything was just kind of going haywire.
Leanne Vogel: How is your thyroid, like did you ever have issues with your thyroid as well?
Chris Joseph: I’ve never had any thyroid issues.
Leanne Vogel: Cool, lucky girl. Now, your hormones are pretty balanced. Are there things outside of the keto diet that you’re doing to balance those hormones naturally with PCOS, or unnaturally, or what’s kind of your trick?
Chris Joseph: I do take Inositol, and I feel like that has truly helped me. As much as I would like to say that I regularly do like essential oils and that kind of stuff, like I think about it in my head, but I really don’t. I don’t follow through with as much as I would like to. Occasionally I’ll use some progesterone cream to try to go through … even at this point with my PCOS, which is why I feel like that’s why I’m getting tested for Cushing’s too … all of my symptoms are really good except my menstrual cycle. It hasn’t regulated yet, like it’s kind of super irregular, and so that’s why I think there’s another issue going on as well.
Which is actually pretty eye-opening for me, because I realized how intricate everything is, and so that you can think you’re just tackling one thing but there can be all these other things that kinda have to line up in order for your body to function at its best. That’s really been a humbling process for me, because just through my journey of not only just the PCOS but the self-love, and really just accepting my body for where it is…I struggled with it for a long time. Especially with PCOS, I’ve talked to other women; I felt like my body was betraying me. Like, I just don’t understand why this is happening, and it could all be so simple, and my body just needs to listen.
I had to kind of take a step back and realize where I was, and how to just accept who I am for what I am, and then move forward with trying to do what’s best for me and not getting hung up on things.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah, beautifully said. I think lately, I listen to a lot of body positivity podcasts, and I’m really silently involved in that community. You know I don’t contribute much content to it right now as it is, but the thing that’s been going around lately is like a lot of us, and I’m guilty of it, of like health is my focus and if I’m healthy things are good. But, sometimes we can’t make the choice to be healthy, and sometimes you know there’s other things going on. Lately, I’ve been like, “Okay, yeah, maybe health isn’t the be-all-end-all because a lot of us just can’t achieve, quote-un-quote, that perfect health, but it’s just you know, treating ourselves with kindness and love and that’s what we can do in this moment right now.
Yeah, you hit the nail on the head with that one. You mention Inositol, is that what you were saying, Inositol?
Chris Joseph: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Leanne Vogel: Okay, I’ll include a link in the show notes if people are interested in that.
One of the questions that came in from our private Facebook community was a doctor saying that PCOS isn’t a big deal because when you’re in menopause, it will just go away. What are your thoughts on this?
Chris Joseph: Okay, yeah. Actually, and it’s so crazy that there are so many different doctors and people hear such similar things. Like, I don’t know if they literally, some doctors have a class about this, about how to not talk about it the correct way or what, because literally I’ve heard out of a doctor’s mouth that it’s fine. Just take these birth control pills and when you want to get pregnant come back. And it’s not fine, because PCOS isn’t just your period, it isn’t just the weight gain. There are so many other emotional aspects of PCOS. Women with PCOS are more likely to have depression, more likely to have anxiety, so I don’t understand how you can tell me that it’s fine when I’m sitting here dealing with … I actually have an article that I shared on PCOS Diva about anxiety. I suffered from social anxiety, really, really intensely, due to my PCOS.
I felt like I was kind of not myself in my body, so there are all these other things that go with, and there’s such a huge variety of weight gain and hair growth and anxiety and depression, and you can’t just throw all of that away and tell me it’s not important. I kind of have to live in this body.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah.
Chris Joseph: Yeah, figuring out what’s going on with your body and how to be your best self and be in your best body, I’m kind of not going to wait until I’m 50 or 60 years old for that to happen. That’s totally untrue anyway, because women going through menopause still suffer from PCOS anyway, so…
Leanne Vogel: Yeah, it was like my experience with amenorrhea. I didn’t have a period for eight years, and every time I go to a doctor, they’d be like, “Well, do you want kids.” I’d be like, “No, not really.” They’d be like, “Okay, so …”
Chris Joseph: What’s the problem?
Leanne Vogel: What’s the problem here, you’re a woman who doesn’t have her period, like women would be so jealous of you. It’s like, it’s not about having a period or not having a period, it’s the fact that I don’t feel healthy and like my sex drive sucks, and I’ve just been married, and like, come on dude. Yeah, I totally get it.
How do you know, what are some of the signs and symptoms that you have PCOS for people listening that you know maybe aren’t diagnosed, or maybe they’re a bit concerned? What are sort of the things that one should look for, or chat with their doctor about?
Chris Joseph: Mm-hmm (affirmative), okay so definitely if your period is super abnormal. It doesn’t come, or it’s irregular. If you do experience facial hair and it grows, and you know you don’t want it, it’s unwanted facial hair. For a lot of people that don’t realize, also insulin resistance, it can manifest through your skin. If you have darker skin around your neck or inner thighs or elbows, that’s also a sign that you have insulin resistance that is maybe a symptom of PCOS as well. A lot of women have painful cysts on their ovaries, but you don’t have to have the cysts in order to have PCOS. Like I said, when I was originally diagnosed I didn’t have cysts at the point.
Weight gain, especially in the stomach area, is a symptom of PCOS. Difficulty getting pregnant and fertility. Thinning hair, I suffered from that for a while also, and this is just all because your hormones aren’t balanced. A lot of testosterone present in your body is going to lead to all of these symptoms that most of the time you think have nothing to do with anything, so you’re like they’re not really related, so that’s why it’s so hard to really think of it as, “I have PCOS.”
I think that’s it. Acne. Oh, cystic acne. Some women realize that they have cystic acne and that makes them go talk to their doctor.
The thing is that PCOS presents in women totally different. I really struggle with my weight gain, whereas I have a cousin who’s about 125, and she never struggled with weight or anything like that, and she also has PCOS, so it presents differently. If there’s anything that you feel like is kind of abnormal or anything like that, I encourage all women to get tested. There are a couple of different tests that they do. Full blood work just to figure out kind of what’s going on.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah, brilliant. I’m meeting with a new doctor here pretty soon, actually tomorrow when this podcast episode goes live, because I really feel like I might have PCOS, but I’ve been to four different doctors, and they’re like, “Well, you don’t have facial hair, so…” I’m like, “Are you kidding me right now? I have so many of the different signs and symptoms.” This is real, and it’s very slight because I’m eating keto, but it’s just like there’s something off, and it’s not just because I don’t have facial hair.
I think if you meet with a doctor and they discount your symptoms right away, and they’re like, “Well, you don’t have this, so…” Like, in your example well you didn’t have cysts, so you don’t have PCOS. It’s so much broader than that, and it goes far beyond just PCOS. If you have any concerns and your doctor just discounts them without listening, then it’s time to find a new doctor. I’ll be doing a video about that soon, about like firing doctors and finding new ones, because it’s your body, it’s your health, and if you’re not comfortable with what they’re telling you to do or not do, or they’re not taking you seriously, then you owe it to yourself if it’s that important to you, to just keep finding someone until you find somebody that will listen to your concerns.
Chris Joseph: Yeah, it’s so important to be empowered when you’re going into these doctor’s appointments because you are the only one that has to live in your body. Even though they’re the expert and everything like that, they don’t know exactly what’s going on in your body. That’s, I have a resource library that I create documents and different things that I share with women, and one of them is a document that you can fill out before you go to the doctor so that you can be armed and ready with all of your concerns and your history, and the questions that you have. Often times, especially when I first, I was younger, you know I kind of thought of doctors as being an authority, and I’m just going to sit here and listen because they know what’s best.
But, what would happen is, I would spend an hour in the waiting room to spend 15 minutes with the doctor, and kind of not feel at ease when I left. I had to really come prepared, pencil and pen ready, these are my issues, this is what I need you to do, these are the things that I’ve researched that might help me, what do you think about those? You have to come, be prepared, and realize when a doctor just doesn’t work out for you and you do need to fire your doctor.
I think that’s super important.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah, that’s a great idea. I have the same thing; I have like this on-going medical history document that I update with current events and things that are going on. Yeah, because it’s good to go prepared, and if immediately, my big thing is, if immediately they look at the piece of paper and they roll their eyes I’m just like, “Okay, you know, I’ve decided this is just not a thing, like no, I’m not doing it.”
Okay, let’s switch gears a little bit because I know a lot of women are like, “Come on, talk more about keto and PCOS.” Are there specific challenges to adopting a ketogenic way of eating when also dealing with PCS, and how do you deal with those challenges?
Chris Joseph: Specific challenges, I think for the biggest thing with me, it kind of was the emotional aspect of PCOS, because I have struggled with trusting my body and knowing the science behind everything. But when I think it’s very important to also be very educated on keto and how keto responds to PCOS, that’s why I encourage everybody you know go, also read the studies; I have a couple of links on my site, system studies. Read the studies so that you can understand why this is going to work for you. If you don’t kind of understand why it’s going to work, and how the insulin reacts to your body, and how the not having sugar in your bloodstream allows you to kind of balance everything out, then it could kind of be … it’s difficult anyway to kind of just give up carbs and not do sugar, and this is what you know. To really understand the science behind it I think is the fundamental key to success with PCOS and keto.
Then also, just you have to wait it out. It’s not magic. It’s not a peel. You eat this way and you kind of just love on yourself, but that doesn’t mean within a week that your period is going to be regulated, or that you’re going to stop growing facial hair. A lot of the times also, your body has been going through things for so long, that some things just aren’t going to automatically go away or go away long-term. It took me maybe like three months of being super consistent to see a true decrease in my facial hair.
Which, I mean, I don’t think people understand how long three months is for every day to be eating and looking in the mirror and checking, like anticipating. I think that’s where some women kind of get off track and they’re like, “Hey, this isn’t working anyway.” To be anticipating a relief and not receive it, I think can be very overwhelming. Just realizing that you have to take your time, and you have to kind of let your body respond to the changes that you’re making.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah, when I’m making changes, I convert the days into hours. Like, 90 days is 2,160 hours. That’s a lot of hours to wait for change, so like, you have to be super patient because like yeah, three months sounds like no big deal, but when you start to calculate how many hours that is it’s like a long time and being patient throughout that time, and totally I get it.
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Leanne Vogel: Now, with keto and the keto community, dairy is pretty widely used, and you know gluten in some communities with keto, people are okay with it. Do you find that there are certain foods with keto that maybe wouldn’t be good for people with PCOS?
Chris Joseph: Definitely dairy, because a lot of women with PCOS do suffer from inflammation caused by dairy. Then, you know, with keto a lot of people are just loading up with cheese, and wonderful cream cheese and all those beautiful things, but it can cause problems when you’re trying to kill your PCOS through keto. It’s very difficult for some people to kind of just completely give up dairy, so I always encourage people to start with where you can. Maybe it’s the milk, or maybe it’s instead of using sour cream on some things, but definitely to try to go at least like two or three weeks without the dairy and see how your body performs.
When I initially gave up dairy, within I would say about three weeks, I could notice the different as far as like pressing on my wrist, and I could notice the difference in my skin. My skin cleared up completely within like three weeks of being dairy free.
There are a lot of great recipes out there for being dairy free and everything like that, and you kind of just have to give and take with where you are and what … at one time to give up sugar and carbs and dairy, and everything else that you’ve done for so long, can be very difficult. So, to just take your time and kind of just see where things go, but definitely dairy is one of those things that I would recommend taking a break from to see how your body performs.
Leanne Vogel: Did you ever add dairy back in, like after those couple of weeks did you ever say, “Okay, well I wonder what will happen if I have dairy again?”
Chris Joseph: Yeah, I did. I actually added dairy in maybe about three weeks ago, I kind of was like, “You know, I miss cheese. Cheese is my down-fall, I miss cheese.” And, what happened, literally last night I was dealing with it, I have like a huge pimple in the middle of my face, and I’ve just noticed my face isn’t as clear. I do feel the effects, so now I’m going back through the stage of kind of weaning myself off of dairy. I talk a lot on my YouTube channel about just; it’s a struggle. I don’t want anyone to think that it’s just super easy and you just go keto and your body’s perfect. It’s a struggle when you’ve been accustomed to eating a certain way to change it, and I struggle with it too, I’m not perfect by any means.
Yeah, right now I’m going back through the stages of kicking dairy out of my journey.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah, it’s a challenging thing to kick, for sure. Even when you’re talking about beautiful dairy and luxurious cream cheese, I’m like, “Oh, it sucks.” I went out for Mexican the other day with my sister, and they told me that there was no dairy in the shredded pork, and it was just like, it was oily, so I was like perfect, it’s like pork fat, so I ate it. Then, the next day I woke up and there was a big cystic acne thing right on my cheek, and I was like, “There was totally butter in that.” There was butter in that.
It sucks, it’s sort of like you know in the grand scheme of things yeah dairy tastes delicious, but I’m just not willing to deal with the inflammation that comes as a result, and I really hate acne. Those slip ups happen all the time, so I’m just super patient with it. I’m like, “Okay, well I had butter, so it is what it is.” And, move forward.
Now, are there are other resources for keto and PCOS? Are there places that you like to go to get information about PCOS and keto, or any studies that are happening that help you or anything?
Chris Joseph: I like to keep, I have a google alert on keto and PCOS, so whenever there’s any new kind of stuff coming out I get e-mails, and I read it. I’m always trying to read studies and everything like that. What I’ve gotten into more now is trying to read those medical journals and seeing what’s new and upcoming. It’s completely free, and I encourage anyone to just go check out the medical journals, and not just websites and blogs and everything like that, but definitely check out the medical journals so that you can see what is out there, what might work for you, so that’s my number one.
What else do I do? I think Pinterest is my best friend, so I’m always just googling and pinning different things, and reading other peoples’ journeys. What I found that helps me the most is talking with other women who have PCOS and not, kind of just hearing their journey and what’s worked for them and what hasn’t worked for them. I think building a community is so super important, wherever you can build that community, whether it’s online or maybe you have a friend or a cousin or someone out there.
I think that’s super important to just be able to talk about your experiences, because some of the things you might think have nothing to do with your PCOS, especially how you were talking about your sex drive earlier. I was just having a chat with someone I met in my Facebook group about sex drive and PCOS and keto and has it changed and everything like that, and it’s just amazing when you’re able to listen to the experiences of other people, that you can kind of see how that has happened in your life or reflect it in your life.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah, and you don’t feel so alone. I know that there’s a lot of emotional stress that comes from PCOS, and I’m sure that that affects your body’s ability to also adapt to keto. If you have a lot of emotional stress, or physical stress on your body because of the way that you’ve been treating it, I have no doubt that that will affect your ability to get into ketosis. If you have that high-stress environment, your body can’t actually produce ketones and can’t switch over to that fat burning state.
It’s nice to kind of have that community of people, so you don’t feel alone, and you don’t feel like you have a place to kind of talk about your emotions. I like that you touched on that.
Okay so, there was a question that came in from our group about PCOS women and some not being able to adapt to nutritional ketosis whatsoever. They’ve been eating keto forever, and they can’t adapt, and they’re just feeling like garbage all the time. Kind of ties into what I just said about like if there’s a ton of stress happening, I’ve seen this time and time again, like if you’re totally stressed out, ketosis just isn’t going to work. That cortisol’s cutting through, and you can’t adapt. Have you seen that with the clients that you’ve worked with, and how have you kind of gone about that in the PCOS world?
Chris Joseph: That is why, especially with the stress, that I just really pound into people that keto isn’t magic and that there’s a large component that goes around with how you manage your stress and how you manage everything else in life. Because the first time, this is my second go around of trying keto, so the first time that I tried keto I was super stressed and I was in a really like kind of difficult life space.
The diet was there, I was eating the foods and all of that, I was exercising, and I wasn’t losing weight. I couldn’t commit to keto. I actually gained weight, because I was dealing with the stress and so as difficult as it is for people to manage stress, you have to find an outlet or find something that you can kind of center yourself because your body feels everything. You can’t compartmentalize how you’re stressed and bite your nails, but you’re eating this high fat diet so everything should be straight. You just can’t do that. It’s a holistic approach that you have to go through; it’s everything.
Definitely, I encourage women to use their coping skills to find something that they enjoy, to take a break from thinking about macros sometimes. That’s okay. A big component of what I do and how I do my coaching and everything like that is self-love. If someone’s telling me they’re struggling with staying on track, or they binged on chocolate pudding yesterday, to really think about the emotions behind that. What’s really going on? This conversation isn’t about chocolate pudding, what’s really going on? What are you feeling, what are you internalizing, what are you going through, because all of that is going to reflect on how your body is working.
I think it’s super important to manage that stress and use coping skills and take care of yourself, and love yourself, and do those things that make you feel good as well as eat the things that make your body feel good.
Leanne Vogel: Yes, totally, oh my gosh. How did we just meet now? I feel like we’re like long lost sisters, you’re saying like all this awesome stuff, I love it.
Okay, last piece of keto, PCOS, and then we’ll kind of jump into like weight loss. Should people with PCOS fast? What’s your opinion on intermittent fasting with PCOS?
Chris Joseph: I think intermittent fasting is super cool, and I’ve had super good experiences with it. Anybody that, like everything that I say, take it slow, but yeah I’ve had super good experience with it. When I do intermittent fast I’m not as consistent as I could be, but when I do intermittent fasts it’s not necessarily that I lose weight faster or anything like that, but I feel like my body uses what I give it in a better way. I sleep better, I wake up more energized, and I feel like that works for me.
I think intermittent fasting is something that you should, you know do your research, see why it works and think about how your body … if you fast in the morning and your body has to tap into that stored resource, in my opinion just helps your body use those hormones better and balance your hormones better.
You can definitely still lose weight with PCOS without intermittent fasting, and still balance your hormones without it, but for me, I feel like it’s that extra oomph that helps me feel good and look good and perform well.
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Leanne Vogel: Okay, weight loss. To be devil’s advocate, why wouldn’t you just take birth control and lose the weight? Like, if you know that birth control helps you lose weight and manages PCOS, why wouldn’t you just go on it?
Chris Joseph: Because birth control still means that my body is not performing at its best. That’s literally just the thing that I was trying to get through to these doctors that I want to have a healthy body, and I don’t want to have a body that thinks it’s performing well and it’s not. When the time does come that I do want to have a kid, so now you want me to cover up something that is obviously not working correctly, and then go back to have to take more medication to kind of make it work correctly now, when I could just figure out the root cause of what’s going on and how to manage it?
I will tell you that especially when I was gaining weight super fast, and kind of going crazy, I was like, “Okay, birth control pills look pretty ideal right now.” But, just thinking about my long-term goal, what is my long-term goal, and my long-term goal is to be healthy and happy and live a life. There’s no cure for PCOS, but I want to be as healthy as I can in the most natural way that I can. That’s kind of…
Leanne Vogel: Yes, totally, same with me. My book tour is coming up, and I’m supposed to get my period the day the book tour starts, and I’m like, “Oh, I could just take birth control for like a month and like change my period time, and I’m like, Leanne, no.” It’s so convenient, and yeah that totally is the quickest way, quote-un-quote, out of the situation but it masks the issue. Then, you’re stuck with an even huger mess when you go off of it, or you know then you want to have a baby and you get off birth control and then your periods are even more irregular and then maybe you can’t even have a baby, and then you’re stressed- like, so yes. I love the way you answered that question, and I would have said the exact same thing.
We know that PCOS can make weight gain quite easy, and weight loss pretty challenging to achieve. Does the number of years that you have PCOS affect how long it takes to lose the weight? There’s a lot of women that have had PCOS 20, 30, sometimes 40 years, and now they’re like I really want to lose weight and manage this. Do you find like younger people it’s easier for them or people that have been diagnosed and then get on it right away? What’s kind of been your experience on that?
Chris Joseph: I found that it just kind of varies because I have had some people, younger people, who have been on keto and they don’t lose the weight as fast. I think it’s kind of because you know everyone’s PCOS kind of manifests in different ways, so I think it’s just how your body kind of adapts and how your body burns the fat, and how your body lets go of those hormones.
For me looking back, I can say that I, undiagnosed, had PCOS probably my entire life, which I think, yeah, probably say probably since I was born because I’ve always had these problems. When I started, what like it’s been like eight or nine months now. Initially I just was kind of flabbergasted with how quickly I lost the weight. Of course, in the beginning, you’re going to lose weight a little quicker, but that’s also going to tier off and then you’re going to lose weight slower.
I will say that it just kind of varies. I’ve had older clients, like over the age of 40, who have lost weight quickly. I’ve had younger clients who have lost weight slowly, and then I’ve had the reverse. As frustrating as that might be, there’s just no cookie cutter experience, or no cooker cutter answer because you just have to see what your body does. I think it’s definitely sustainable. I will say that even when I initially tried keto, and I kind of got off track for maybe about a month or so, I didn’t gain any of that weight back in during that time. I was eating lots of bready, cheesy, beautiful things.
Leanne Vogel: I like that you add beautiful to it, that’s amazing.
Okay, so say a woman has been eating keto for like six months, their weight is totally stalled. How long do they go on keto just you know, rocking out with keto, until they’re like, “Okay, maybe there’s actually something else going on, like should I be concerned, I’m not losing any weight. I’m eating keto, I’m taking inositol, I’m doing everything right.” What would be your recommendation for people that are in that situation?
Chris Joseph: My recommendation would be to definitely journal, go back to the basics if you are stalling out or if your symptoms aren’t improving, to first literally just journal everything so that you can see if maybe there are some hidden carbs that you’re consuming. Maybe you do have that dairy sensitivity or something like that, but keep that detailed journal so that if you do decide to go visit a doctor or nutritionist or endocrinologist, that you can have your experience documented. Because, there are other things that could be going on, so for me in my personal experience I know for a fact I’ve lost all of this weight, my other symptoms are improving, but something is kind of off here.
What’s I’ve personally been doing, is keeping a very detailed diary of all of my symptoms and what I’m taking, and supplements and everything like that, and then now I’m looking for a Cushings specialist because I think that that might be the missing link to what’s going on with my body.
Leanne Vogel: Mm-hmm (affirmative), so just keep like experimenting, and being curious about your health and your status, and being patient with yourself.
Now, we’ve chatted a little bit about PCOS management outside of diet, like the journaling. You mentioned essential oils before, like that you thought about doing, but like, I’m on the same page with you. I know that essential oils are great, but like I just, I don’t know I can’t, between like remembering to wear my night guard at night and like put like, there’s just too many things.
Chris Joseph: Exactly, too many things.
Leanne Vogel: Way too many things, so essential oils don’t really play or don’t really play a large role in my life, but if somebody where interested in essential oils with PCOS, do you know which ones they should go toward?
Chris Joseph: Geranium is supposed to be really good for PCOS, and I think lavender oil is supposed to be really good for balancing. Other than that, I feel like I’ve written down a thousand times in my bullet journal to go do more research, but it just doesn’t happen. Yeah, life kinda exists outside of PCOS and outside of keto, and that kind of just gets pushed to the back burner.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah, you know that’s really a good way of putting it. I have so many other things not related to my diet and my health that I have going on in my life. Yeah, totally. What kind of supplements, like you mentioned inositol, you mentioned progesterone cream. Is there anything else in regards to supplements that may be beneficial for someone with PCOS?
Chris Joseph: Definitely the inositol and the progesterone cream. Some people take the chasteberry, the vitex supplement. I took it for a little while and then I just kind of didn’t really want to take it anymore. A lot of people, in general, are vitamin D deficient, especially women with PCOS, so vitamin D is a good one as well. Just as far as being on keto, I do take a daily vitamin to kind of just replenish all of my nutrients.
A lot of women ask me, is keto okay when they’re on metformin, because a lot of women do take metformin, which it totally is okay to take with it, but I found through clients and other people that I’ve talked to, that once you start a ketogenic diet most likely your doctor will take you off of metformin, because you’re balancing your insulin without. So, I tried metformin for a little while; it didn’t work for me. I had kind of horror stories, so I left that alone.
I think the only thing that I’m taking right now is the inositol and the daily vitamin, and then sometimes I used progesterone cream.
Leanne Vogel: Brilliant, I am one of those people that love chasteberry, the vitex, like I’ve been taking it now for probably almost two years. It takes awhile to start working, probably like six months, but once it does like oh baby, that stuff is awesome. But yeah, I find like some of my girlfriends have taken it for like a year, and they’re like, “I notice nothing.” It so depends on your body.
Then, the last question that came in from our Facebook group is more to do with like ovulation and keto. How like, or sorry, ovulation and PCOS on keto. I know for me my ovulation is pretty strong and I know exactly when I’m ovulating, when I stop, all that stuff. Does that change with PCOS and how do you manage that?
Chris Joseph: I haven’t gotten to the realm of testing the ovulation yet, I wish I were the expert on that, but I just haven’t touched on it yet.
Leanne Vogel: Cool, well we’ll have to have you back to talk about all things ovulation and PCOS.
Chris Joseph: Yeah, when I get to that point.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah, totally, I love tracking my ovulation, I don’t know why. It’s just so cool to know that like I’m super fertile, and you know like, three years ago, outside of keto, that was not a thing for me. I wasn’t having my period, my hormones were totally tanked, so it’s something cool that I just like tracking because it’s like yeah, I’m on the right track, I’ve really gotten to where I wanted to be with my health, and it’s just like this really cool, geek-out thing that I like to do.
I know that that’s kind of a concern with a lot of people with PCOS, which is why I wanted to ask, but totally cool. We covered so many awesome things during our podcast; I can’t believe it’s the end, it’s been 45 minutes that’s crazy. It goes by so fast.
Chris Joseph: Oh, has it been 45 minutes already?
Leanne Vogel: Yeah. That’s nuts right; it goes by so fast. Well, thank you so much for coming on the show Chris. Is there anything, like where can people find you, is there anything that you feel like we missed that you want to like give somebody, like a quick tidbit or tip that you feel like we missed?
Chris Joseph: First, thank you so much for having me…this has been super fun and I’m so excited for it to go out. Where can you find me? You can find me at hellopcos.com. I’m working on helloketodiet.com, and so that should be up soon, and then what else. Just try to love yourself, try to go slow and love yourself and realize that you’re on a journey, and it’s not a race to get anywhere. This isn’t about fitting into the swimsuit or anything like that. This is kinda, you know, having your body perform at its best and living your best life, and a part of that is being healthy enough for your body to perform great.
Yeah, just encourage everyone to realize that keto isn’t magic, and that even if the diet is there, and the exercise is there, and everything else is there, that nothing’s going to work until you commit to yourself and commit to the journey that you’re on and accept yourself for who you are and where you are.
So yeah, just love yourself a little, and that’ll go a long way.
Leanne Vogel: Wonderful, thank you so much for coming on the show Chris.
The show notes and full transcript for today’s episode can be found at healthfulpursuit.com/podcast/e20, and the transcript is added to the post about three to five days following the initial air date of this episode. Thanks so much again for being on the show and we’ll see you guys next week.
That does it for another episode of the Keto Diet podcast, thanks for listening in. You can follow me on Instagram by searching healthful pursuit where you’ll find daily keto eats and other fun things, and check out all of my keto supportive programs, bundles, guides, and other cool things over at healthfulpursuit.com/shop and I’ll see you next Sunday.
This entry was tagged: eating high-fat, eating keto, eating low-carb, fat-adapted, hormone, hormones, how eat keto, intermittent fasting, keto basics, keto diet, keto for women, keto life, ketogenic diet, ketogenic for women, ketosis, low-carb paleo, what is keto
HI! I’M LEANNE
Nutrition educator + keto enthusiast. I want to live in a world where every woman loves her body, nourishing fats are enjoyed at every meal, and the word “restriction” isn’t in the dictionary.