One day, many years ago in the 1990s, life as I knew it, changed forever. Pregnant with my older son, I went for my first ultrasound and heard the term PCOS for the first time. My radiologist, the wonderful Dr. Ashok Khurana broke the news to me and told me that while it wasn’t life threatening, this condition could play havoc with my system if I didn’t take care of myself. My gynaecologist warned me to avoid stress and anxiety as that can impact hormones. In those days, before the advent of Google, this diagnoses was a difficult and somewhat baffling one to tackle. I set about reading books on the subjects to educate myself and deal with this problematic condition. I have been living with PCOS for several years now and not only have I managed my weight successfully, I have also shrunk the cysts without medication and without hormone treatment. I have had two normal pregnancies, 2 healthy children and no thyroid or skin and hair problems. It is not impossible to do. With some lifestyle changes, right diet and appropriate exercise, you can also manage PCOS successfully without being dependant on hormones.

The first thing you need to do, is understand the disease. What causes it, what are its symptoms, what can it lead to. Once you have understood these, you will realize that a comprehensive lifestyle change is important. Start with your food habits. Cut out refined processed foods. A simple rule of thumb is to cut out all the whites – white rice, white sugar, white flour. Add fibre rich carbs like brown rice, multi grain flour, chick pea flour, lentils. Eat proteins like lean meats, fish, eggs and nuts. Avoid carbs after 6 p.m. Drink lots of water through the day, at least 1-2 litres, and try to have 2-3 cups of green tea. Add some essential supplements to your diet. My research on the subject led me to a multi vitamin formula with chromium. Chromium is a trace mineral which means only a tiny bit is produced naturally in our body. It helps in weight loss by monitoring your blood sugar levels. Do consult your doctor if you want expert medical advice on multi vitamins. Another excellent supplement is fish oil. Rich in Omega 3, this oil helps improve mood, helps improve insulin sensitivity and reduces inflammation which means less painful PMS and periods.

Critical to the management of PCOS is exercise. Cardio routines, kick boxing, aerobics, interval training, yoga, Zumba, swimming – go for any form of exercise that you enjoy and are likely to keep up consistently. 4-5 days of exercise and a sensible diet go a long way in managing not just PCOS but overall health and fitness. All the exercise and intense hydration will have another welcome effect. Your skin will look gorgeous with none of the major skin problems associated with PCOS. I had the occasional pimple of two, but none of the terrible acne that a lot of people suffer from. Good skin care products and topical pimple treatment usually works well with an overall healthy lifestyle.

Last, but not the least, keep a check on your condition. I schedule two ultra sound check-ups every year just to make sure that everything is in control and the cysts are not getting bigger. PCOS is, after all, a medical condition and it is important to know when to consult a doctor if required. It has been many years since that confusing somewhat frightening day in the doctor’s office and I am happy to say, I have beat this disease so far. I live a full, active life and in my 40s I am fitter and healthier than ever. Don’t despair if you are diagnosed with PCOS. Accept your condition, learn more about it and work towards beating it with some small lifestyle changes.

Let me know your thoughts below, or write to me using #stayrealstayyou on Instagram @shagunkhanna