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Thought I would bring a psychotherapist's perspective to treating PCOS. In the past few months I have attended three scientific conferences and one practitioners conference on PCOS. The one unanimous and certain recommendation from every one of them was 'lifestyle, lifestyle, lifestyle'. But what does that mean? Does it mean eat less and exercise more? Does it mean feel shame when you indulge in holiday egg nog this season? No. Lifestyle to me means just that…style your life. Make changes to honor your life and take care of your chronic condition. Attached is an outline I wrote to help me explain and promote 'Lifestyle' to my clients.

Treating PCOS: Lifestyle for Success A Psychotherapist's Approach Stacy Korfist, LMFT
L is for the lifestyle change that is critical to make. No more diets, no more ‘someday’. Lifestyle change obviously includes nutrition and exercise, but it also includes stress management, adopting a new way of living, a new way of coping and a new way of playing that is essential.

I is for Identity. This is your sense of self; your self esteem. This includes facing anxiety and depression. Setting appropriate boundaries helps you to claim yourself. I is also for Integrity. No more broken promises to yourself or others. They only lead to self deprecation and more shame and depression. Be a person of your word.

F is Food & Feelings. Eat when you are hungry; stop when you are full. Understand the thoughts and ideas which fuel eating behaviors. Learn all you can about insulin resistance. Don’t be fooled into another diet that is too difficult to sustain. See a dietitian that knows about polycystic ovarian syndrome.

E is the Education and knowledge that you must obtain in order to take care of yourself. PCOS is a chronic condition, not one that requires only medication. YOU must be your own case manager. PCOS involves almost every organ in your body. Learn about lab work and what your results mean. Don’t assume your treatment team is aware of your ‘whole self’. Trust yourself. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Remember, PCOS is a syndrome, a squirrely disorder which pops up in many places.

S is for Support and Healthy Environment. Surround yourself with encouraging people and rid yourself of as much conflict and chronic stress as possible. Pay a little more for organic food and avoid false estrogens in plastics and cleaning products.

T is Teamwork. You can’t do this alone. Ask for help, make plans ahead and let others help you. Being strongly-weak will get you so much farther than being weakly-strong. Assess your treatment team. Are you being seen by too many providers; broken up into too many pieces? Are you taking too many medications?

Y is for YES! Yes is the attitude to have. In order to avoid deprivation backlash, it’s important to focus on what you can have versus what you cannot have. Live with full passion. Y is also for Yesterday. Let go of yesterday and focus on today and tomorrow. Having a positive future-focus will help achieve successful endeavors.

L is for Lower Threshold, not lower calories. Although weight loss is important for some, reducing calories too much can prove counter-productive. People with PCOS can have a lower threshold for oxidative stress. It doesn’t take as much to put the body in stress mode. Exercising too much or restricting too little are stressful on the body. When you do this, you often experience backlash and yo-yo weight gain.

E is for Energy and Experiential Therapies. Learn mindfulness skills. Occupy your body. Achieve mind-body congruity. Change requires an awakening. We awaken in movement, awaken in relationship and awaken in journaling and art. This allows us to be with ourselves, in our own space. It teaches us self monitoring and self regulation, which slows down reactivity.

Stacy Korfist, LMFT
Redondo Beach, California
(310) 720-6443

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LIFESTYLE For Success + tips