All posts in the PCOS category

The One In Which I Come Out as a Diabetic

Published June 1, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

Well, last week I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

Cue the trolls:

  • But you brought this on yourself!
  • Serves you right, you should have just put down the cheeseburger!
  • I told you it would happen eventually.
  • Don’t you care about your health?
  • If you’d just lost weight, you wouldn’t have got diabetes.
  • Well, you’ll just have to lose weight now, won’t you?
  • You’re driving our taxes/health-care costs up!!
  • You’ll probably die now, thanks to your obesity.
  • You’re a walking heart-attack/stroke, it’s just a matter of time.
  • Turns out being fat DOES mean you’ll get diabetes after all huh?  Told you so.  Maybe you’ll see sense and give up this fat acceptance rot now.
  • Get off the sofa fatty, no wonder you got diabetes, all you do is just sit.

I could go on, but we’ve heard them all before.  I just wanted to sprinkle a few out there to save the trolls some breath.

Thing is, I’m not at all unwell, nor was I when it was discovered during a routine annual blood work up (the kind every one of you should get annually, whether you’re fat, thin or in between).  I have no symptoms, and every other blood test came back embarrasingly healthy.

I’ll talk more about my thoughts, feelings and the stuff around my diagnosis later (especially about my anger in taking Metformin to prevent diabetes for YEARS but developing diabetes anyway), but I just wanted to announce to the world that I am now officially… wait for it…




Guess what?  That doesn’t mean I’m lazy, that I eat too much, that I should have lost weight and I wouldn’t have got diabetes (tell that to my 81 year old Grandma and various other relatives on both sides of my family who sent that gene my way – who are a liberal mix of fat, thin and in between) or that I’m going to die.  What it does mean is that my doctor and I are working together to optimise my health and mitigate any future issues.  We are not approaching with dieting, and we are looking for a Health at Every Size (HAES) plan.

I do have to eat more.  Yes, this fatty has been instructed to eat more because I am not eating enough.  I need to add more Low GI foods to my daily intake.  The worst thing?  I cannot find Low GI information that isn’t loaded with fat shaming and weight loss crap.  It’s of no use to me if it’s shaming me for my body, only if it’s informing me on the best foods to add to my daily intake.  It’s frustrating and confusing because there is so much conflicting information and I see so much fat loathing and scare-mongering that I just opt out of viewing it all together.

There is a Facebook community for Diet Free Talk for Diabetes/Insulin Issues in infancy (email me if you want to be included – it is a closed, private group to keep the fat hating trolls out and preserve a safe space for us to talk) and I hope to come up with some more resources I can share with you all in time.

But most of all, today’s message is this:

A person’s health, and their body, is their own, and nobody has the right to judge, bully, troll, lecture, vilify, disrespect or discriminate against anyone for their health or their body shape or size.  Even if their weight DID contribute to an illness, it’s nobody’s business but THEIRS.

So unless you have something constructive and supportive to add to the topic of diabetes and fatness, you are not welcome here.

A Letter to My Body

Published November 14, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Dear Body,

I owe you an apology.  I’ve not been very kind or accepting to you in our relationship.  In fact, I’ve downright hated you for most of our life.  I realise now that the hatred I had for you was very unfair, and that you were undeserving of it.  You deserve more respect than that.

I am sorry that I did so many things to hurt you over the years.  I’m sorry that I starved you, exercised you into the ground until you simply failed to function in several ways, and that I punished you for just being yourself.  I’m sorry that I cut you, filled you full of pills and other substances that affected you in so many damaging ways.  I’m sorry that I didn’t give you what you needed, that I forced you to ingest things that you hated, or that made you feel bad, simply because I hated you so much.  I’m sorry that I picked you, tore your hair out, chewed your fingertips, and didn’t listen to what you were trying to tell me.

You’ve given so much to me through all the hard times.  You kept me going when depression really, really tried to stop us in our tracks.

You didn’t deserve to be hated so much.  You’ve looked after me for over 38 years now, mostly uncomplaining in the scheme of things, and how have I repaid you?  By hating you and trying to force you to change, by picking you apart as if you’re not a whole being, by desperately trying to reduce you and starve you away, and at times, I tried to kill you.

But you kept on going.  You kept on doing your job, and doing it very well, for all these years.  Even when I wore you down to exhaustion and pain, you still kept going.  You patched yourself together as best you could, even though you tried to tell me you were exhausted and in pain, I wouldn’t listen, so you just did the best you could.

You’ve done so much for me.  You’ve allowed me to do every single thing in my life that I’ve ever done.  You’ve allowed me to experience love, and joy, and happiness, and laughter, and fun.  I’m sorry that I never acknowledged you for giving that to me.

I tried to make you do things you simply couldn’t.  Like be completely different to what you actually are.  I measured you by other people’s standards, tried to change you to be something you’re not, and tried to force you to perform in a way that you’re not designed to, just because other people’s bodies behave differently.  I realise now that I have been completely unreasonable in my demands on you.

I want you to know that I am deeply sorry, from the bottom of my heart.  I ask you to forgive me for hating and punishing you for so long, and know that I will work very hard to never do that again.

I want you to know that you are beautiful in your own way.  You are strong, powerful and healthy.  I don’t hate your big belly, or your fat arms, or your thick legs any more.  Your rolls and bumps and lumps are not objects of loathing to me any more.  They are now things of beauty.  They always have been, I just recognise it now, where I didn’t before.  You are a feminine body.  I never used to see you in that way, but now I do.  You’re all woman baby!

I don’t hate that you are hairier than other bodies.  I don’t hate that you pump out more hormones of all kinds than the average body.  I don’t hate that you sometimes have trouble keeping your skin smooth and clear.  I want you to know that I am not ashamed of you any more.  That I will stand up for your right to be as you are, and if anyone tries to change you when you don’t choose to change of your own volition, then I will fight them from doing so.

You and I, we’re going to work together.  Because we are together.  We’re one and the same.  You are me, and I am you.  We’re going to take care of each other, and make each other happy.

I love you.  You are beautiful.  Please forgive me.


P.S.  I’m going to shave your head in January, but it’s for a good cause.  You might feel a bit naked for awhile, but let’s just show your pretty scalp off and rock it huh?  We might have some fun.

Lightning Cross Promotion

Published July 26, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Just a quickie for you again tonight.  Some of you might know that I also run a bit of a group blog for women with PCOS over at Cysters United.

In case you’re a reader here and are a PCOS sufferer (aka a Cyster) like me, which is highly likely because PCOS makes ya fat and all, but haven’t been on over to Cysters United, I just wanted to make sure you all knew about it.

I want to inject more Fat Acceptance and self esteem content over there, and may even cross post some of the posts here.

If you’re a Cyster, give a holler in the comments hey?

A New Project

Published March 19, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I’ve done a couple of posts on here about Poly-Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and fat acceptance, and got really strong feedback from many fellow cysters.  Recently I had a conversation with my fellow fat acceptance blogger Barbara over at Big, Beautiful and Learning to be OK With It, and we decided that while there wasn’t much out in the interwebs (or any other media for that matter) about real PCOS stories and experience, especially around fat acceptance, there was nothing to stop us starting something ourselves!

So let me introduce Cysters United.


A blog about PCOS, by those who live with PCOS.  We have a nice little collective of cyster contributors, with more to come I am sure.

So if you have PCOS, or think you might have PCOS, come on over and join the discussion.

More Talk about PCOS

Published October 29, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

A question came up on a forum today about PCOS and whether sufferers are a genetic “throw back” for want of a better term to earlier times of famine and higher birth rates.  I had heard this theory before, or something very much like it, when I went to the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Association of Australia (POSAA) conference a few years back, when Dr Warren Kidson, a leading endocrinologist and researcher into PCOS and insulin resistance in Australia, was talking about a similar concept.

I Googled Dr Kidson to see if I could find any relevant articles to share with the ladies, and I found a few interesting pieces.

The first was this transcript from the George Negus Tonight programme on the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – our public media network in Australia for those who are overseas).  It’s a fascinating interview with a couple of PCOS sufferers (and brave ladies too) that is well worth reading.  The quote that really popped out at me was from Dr Kidson

For years, when a woman would come to us and say that she dieted and exercised and couldn’t lose weight, we used to think that she was cheating – she was a liar, she didn’t diet, she didn’t exercise. But we’ve now come to realise that we were wrong – that these people try very, very hard, and despite diet and exercise, they just cannot lose weight.

I remember bursting into tears at the POSAA conference when Dr Kidson said pretty much the same thing, though I remember him using the words “Ladies, you are not disgusting pigs.” which really hit home with me.

Dr Kidson’s quote above shows the attitude of many doctors still out there, all around the world.  While many are starting to change their attitude, there are still a lot of them that still hold the attitude that women who cannot lose weight with a healthy lifestyle are cheating or liars.  I’m very thankful that Dr Kidson is working very hard to change this attitude.

I’ve mentioned before that for many years (20 in fact) I was not diagnosed with PCOS, just told that I was too fat and to come back when I’d lost weight and wanted to have babies.  In that time I was in absolute agony, dealing with a whole host of other symptoms (none of which were pleasant), violently struggling with poor nutrition due to constantly starving myself and battling crippling depression which has now been linked to PCOS.

The other link that I stumbled across was this one from the POSAA website, titled “What Every Woman and her Doctor Should Know About PCOS“.  It links to a PDF file of a paper in common language that Dr Kidson and Dr James Mackenzie Talbot wrote a few years back for women to take to their doctors.  Copies were handed out at the POSAA conference, as the good doctors hadn’t yet been able to have the medical paper version published in the Australian Medical journal yet.

I photocopied it and took it to my doc, who is a lovely lady and she promised to read it.  When I returned on my next visit, she mentioned that she had read it, and that “Perhaps we need to try a different tactic.”  I think this might have been one of the catalysts to a turning point in how she treats PCOS.

About six months later I went in to see her and she greeted me with “Hey!  Your doctor fellows have had their paper published!”  I was so glad to hear that it had gone out in medical journals for other doctors to read, in the hope that they might change their attitude in treating women with PCOS.

If  you have PCOS, or you suspect that you  might, please download the PDF, print it out and take it to your doctor.   It is useful for non-Aussies too. Highlight the bits that you match up with symptom wise.  If your doctor will not listen to your suspicions on your health, find another doctor.

After all, you, or the medical insurance you pay for, is paying for them.

PCOS – Let’s Not Be Silent Any More

Published September 18, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

This morning I finally took the time to read this article from ABC News by the rather fabulous Sabra Lane, who used to be the President of the Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome Association of Australia (POSAA) on the “hidden epidemic” of Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). A very comprehensive article on PCOS by Sabra, and though I disagree with the concept of “lifestyle changes” actually being of any use, the article outlines the difficulty of living with PCOS that at least 11% of Australian women face every day.

I actually wanted to talk about one particular sentence in that article tonight. And it’s this:

A study in the UK a couple of years ago found some PCOS women experience the same level of anxiety that breast cancer patients do.

I actually read the report from that study when it first came out. It sounds shocking doesn’t it? It sounds almost like an exaggeration, after all, how can women with a syndrome that isn’t terminal have as much anxiety as someone with cancer? After all, isn’t cancer the most terrifying, horrible thing that can happen to your health?
At the time I posed this question to a man I knew who had been through the cancer battle with his ex-wife. And his answer shocked me. He said “Well, I can understand that, because everyone steps up to help you when you’ve got cancer in your life, but most people don’t believe PCOS really exists, or that it’s any big deal to it’s sufferers.”
The more I thought about it, the more I can see it. Not that I’m diminishing the horrible impact of cancer on people’s lives, both sufferers and loved ones. I can think of nothing more devastating. But when it comes to anxiety, I can totally understand it.
After all, most women with PCOS have to fight for a long time to get a diagnosis. I myself had 20 long years of presenting to doctors with PCOS symptoms before I was diagnosed. We’re told we’re just too fat, lose weight and all our problems will go away, though anyone who knows anything about PCOS, knows that losing weight is extremely difficult for a PCOS sufferer. Even if we do lose weight, more often than not it makes not a lick of difference to our symptoms. It didn’t to mine, I maintain that it made them worse in most cases.
PCOS has been referred to as the “Ugly bitch disease” by some misogynistic douchebags. Because it causes weight gain, cystic acne, hirsuitism and hair loss (yep, you can have both at the same time!) and a myriad of other fun symptoms. I also believe it causes depression, though this has not been added to the official swag of symptoms yet. So as well as all the so called “ugly” symptoms, we’re also not always able to be shiny-happy women.
Is it any wonder we suffer anxiety as well?
PCOS also rips apart a woman’s self esteem. Because it tears apart the fabric of what women are usually expected to be in Western society – thin, clear skinned, hairless, cheerful and good breeders. As Sabra says:

PCOS is a hidden syndrome in our society, because it encompasses many social taboos: excessive hair, obese/overweight women, childless women, depressed women.

Which is also part of the reason why this doesn’t make news. News executives far prefer to concentrate on young, pretty, fertile women.

So consequently, most sufferers of PCOS feel anything but feminine and valuable. They believe themselves to be failures as women. They feel (and are often told by the douchebags of society) that they’re fat, ugly, hairy, stupid, lazy, gluttonous, barren, unfeminine failures. That they are worth less because they don’t fit some kind of ridiculous expectation of what a woman is supposed to be. Plus we’re not allowed to talk about it, because it’s taboo.
Is anyone still doubting that women with PCOS often suffer high anxiety? And that hasn’t even got into the vast physical pain we usually suffer in our reproductive cycle.
Here’s something I want to say to all the women with PCOS who might be reading this.
For about 4 years now, I’ve been actively seeking out other women with PCOS, or “cysters” as we’re known, to have women around me who know what it’s like to deal with all the icky things we cysters have to deal with, as quite often I didn’t really feel like I had the right to have “normal” women around me. I have met hundreds of cysters, both here and in the US when I travelled there almost 2 years ago, not to mention the hundreds I have met virtually through various online communities that I haven’t had the pleasure to meet face to face yet.
Those women have been incredible. Awesome. Amazing. Inspirational. Generous. Loving. Strong.
I seem to be able to spot a cyster a mile away. There is a mix of outer vulnerability and yet deep inner strength that I can see straight away. I see the signs of low self esteem, but also signs of grit, strength and inner fortitude that most other people never need to develop. Cysters so often feel they have to fight, they have to work, they have to protect, they have to struggle just to get through day to day life. I believe that develops in them an incredible strength of character that many other people never develop.
Being active in the cysterhood has brought me so many amazing women into my life, who have given me so much love and kindness, I could never repay it back. It’s through loving them that I’ve found the ability to let go of all the PCOS self-loathing and love myself.
I want to give that back. I want to help cysters find the ability to love themselves. I want to build their self esteem like they built mine, to squash the demon of self-loathing that haunts cysters. The only way I know how to is to write. Then write some more. So I’m going to do that for my cysters.
Ladies, if you’re reading this and have PCOS, speak up here in the comments. I want you all to tell me a story about a cyster you know who is awesome. Because she probably feels like she’s a failure every day, just like you do. Let’s celebrate the cysterhood.

PCOS in the Fatosphere

Published September 3, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

Before I get into the meat and veg of this post, did you see my new mascot, there on the right? That’s my new heffalump, created by the rather talented Luke Bamkin. I have got plans to change the whole layout of the blog more and feature this art more prominently, but I wanted to pop my new friend up there straight away, with her shiny, round, fat buttocks. Cute huh?

Tonight I want to talk some more about PCOS and fat acceptance. I suffer PCOS, and for some years have been quite active in the “cysterhood”. Finding women out there that knew all the things I was going through was a hugely healing and strengthening process for me, as prior to being welcomed into the cysterhood, I had always felt inadequate and somehow less than other women. Mostly because I didn’t fit what was sold to me as normal for a woman physically. Not just in my body shape and size, but because my body didn’t do things that other women’s bodies seemed to do naturally. And as my fellow cysters know all too well, sometimes our bodies do extra things that other women’s bodies do not do.
To start with, it was nightmarish for me to get a diagnosis of what was wrong with me. In hindsight, I first presented to a doctor with PCOS symptoms when I was 12 years old. I was first officially diagnosed an astonishing 20 years later! Can you believe it? For 20 years I went to doctor after doctor after doctor with all of these things that were happening to me, only to be either misdiagnosed or fobbed off.
And of course, the most common response from doctors in that 20 years was “Lose weight.” With no explanation of what losing weight would actually do (other than make me thin) or what was wrong with me. I can remember at 19 going to the doctor after having bled heavily and been in pain for 18 months straight and his treatment? “Go and lose some weight and find yourself a bloke, when you’re ready to have babies, we’ll look at it all.”
How this is not grossly negligent, I do not know. But it was indicative of most of the “treatment” that I got over that 20 years. PCOS sufferers often suffer debilitating depression as a result of the vast amounts of hormones flooding their bodies, but can you imagine what this kind of treatment at the hands of the medical profession does to women who already have low self esteem, feel unfeminine and who often live in vast amounts of pain?
However, at 32 years of age, I finally got a diagnosis. With a very good doctor who was, and is, the most sensitive I have ever encountered and I’ve been her patient ever since. However, her first treatment was to get me losing weight. Being the good girl, I followed her advice, and we tried a LOT of things to get me to lose weight. From food diaries to Metformin to the worst of them all… duramine (legally prescribed speed – EVIL stuff).
I joined a lot of PCOS groups and forums online. I met literally hundreds of amazing women, some of whom I am now lucky to call my dearest friends, all over the world. But the entire culture of “fat is evil” is rampant within the cystersphere, from high profile cysters who have their own boards who promote boot camps and radically restrictive diets, which I believe are projections of their own fat fear and self hatred, to the high promotion of weight loss surgery, diet fads that come and go, and many frightening medications that make cysters very, very sick with their side effects (oh that duramine!)
As per my last post, I did lose weight, a LOT of weight (though not with the duramine, that shit nearly killed me) and guess what? My PCOS symptoms got worse. And I fell apart, emotionally, mentally and physically.
But as hitting rock bottom often is, it was the push I needed to start swimming to the surface in my life. The fabulous GP referred me to a psychologist who specialises in cognitive behavioural therapy. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.
It started with finding some confidence. Not being so hard on myself. Building up the self esteem. I started reaching out to other cysters the way many had reached out to me, because I want to give back and the feeling of seeing a new cyster friend hit that moment of “Oh my God I am NOT a FREAK!” is just wonderful. I started pushing back gently with my GP about the weight loss thing, and amazingly, she has responded positively. I gave up the Metformin (which I will admit, did give me a clockwork cycle if nothing else) and found the fat acceptance movement. I stopped obsessing about food and exercise and my body and focused on feeling good, inside and out. And I feel healthier than ever right now.
I really feel that we cysters are put through so much. To start with our bodies aren’t like “normal” women’s bodies, and that not only causes us pain and low self esteem, but it worries us as well. Then we go through the whole cycle of doctors telling us we’re too fat, lose weight and our troubles will go away which is so often simply not true. Then they shove us through all kinds of invasive, painful and humiliating medical procedures and drugs to try to get us to lose weight. Let alone the ones they foist on us if we want to have babies, which so often just don’t work either. Finally they wash their hands of us once we either finish our breeding or decide not to breed. As though the value of our health is only valid when we are breeding. And finally when we do reach menopause, they ignore the fact that it is more likely for us to have traumatic menopause because of the different hormone patterns.
If you’re a sufferer of PCOS, leave me a comment, tell me your experiences. Particularly around fat acceptance/discrimination with your PCOS.
I want to connect cysters up within the fatosphere, without all of the fat hatred and the “You must lose weight or you’re never going to survive PCOS” schtick. I want to connect up the single cysters, the lesbian cysters, the very young cysters and the older cysters, the cysters who have chosen not to have children or who have reached the end of that fight. I want it to be about who you are as wonderful, strong, resilient women, not about your body shape and breeding abilities.
Most of all, I want cysters to find their self esteem, to learn that they are awesome women and that the healthiest thing you can do is learn to love yourself.

The Myth of Weight Loss

Published August 23, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

I’m sure you’ve all heard it before. Every time you have a problem in your life, some well meaning person, be it family, friend, doctor, douchebag on the street tells you to “Lose weight fatty, your life will get better.” Or variants thereof. I know I’ve heard it plenty of times. Over 25 years it’s been said to me so many times, it’s practically carved into my skin.

Well I did it. Some years ago now, when I was at one of the lowest points of my life, and had been freshly diagnosed with PCOS, I made the decision that I was going to lose weight. I started with swimming, which I do really enjoy. And I lost a little weight straight away and then it settled at a constant level, which was what totally spurred me into a very frightening spiral into insanity.
I had been assured that by losing even as little as 5% of body weight, all the horrible PCOS symptoms would go away. “Cysters” know about the ones I am talking about – all those physical things that make us hate ourselves because we feel ugly. Not to mention the agonising hormonal cycle, that left me in crushing pain each month. So I jumped in with both feet determined to chase all these horrid things away by losing weight.
It started with little compliments. “You’re looking good, have you lost some weight?” People who didn’t normally speak to me suddenly started asking me what diet I was on, how much exercising I was doing. It was like a drug. I ramped it up from swimming a few days per week, to swimming 5 days per week, and walking every day. I then started to starve myself. All I ate was fruit and salad.
Soon after that, my workplace offered a gym course for overweight staff. I was on a roll, so I joined. Once that started up I found myself exercising a minimum of 4 hours per day. All I talked or thought about was losing weight, how much exercise I was doing. I became one of those boring women who talks about nothing about how fabulous it is to have all that exercise and my diet habits. I stopped socialising with my friends. I made new friends, all of whom never spoke to me before I started losing weight. I told all the fat people I knew “If I can do it, anyone can!” In short, I was a nutcase.
It worked. I lost over 25kg (55lbs) and dropped FIVE dress sizes. Yep, five. People told me I was fabulous and awesome.
But inside, I was dying. I was so miserable. My entire life consisted of the gym/pool and obsessing over what I wasn’t allowed to eat. I alienated a lot of my real friends because I was so boring and militant with it all. I hated myself because I couldn’t get any thinner than the 25kg I had lost. I swung between manic hyperactivity and crushing depression. The only people around me were people who had only decided to value me because I was thinner. And the worst thing? My PCOS symptoms got WORSE. Yep, the acne, the hair, the painful or non-existent periods, the constant heartburn.
I felt so robbed. I’d worked so hard, I did everything that the “experts” and everyone else told me I should do, and it still didn’t work. I was a failure even when I succeeded.
Quite predictably, I had a breakdown. Both physically and emotionally. I couldn’t maintain the insane lifestyle I had to adopt to lose any significant weight, nor could I handle not having a life with any depth in it. Everything was superficial and about my body, not about ME. I hit absolute rock bottom and ended up a real mess.
And of course, gained all that weight back and more, which just sended me even deeper into the pit.
At my lowest point, my GP referred me to a psychologist who specialises in cognitive behavioural therapy. Mostly to teach me out of the self loathing and total lack of self esteem spiral I was in. Her first step was to ask both my GP and I to stop weighing me on my visits. I haven’t been weighed since. And over the past two or so years, she’s been working with me very closely to build my self esteem and self worth up to where it should be. We’ve worked through it all, from my body hatred to relationships, family, work, you name it.
But she does still push me to lose weight occasionally, but I have the confidence to be able to push back now. I know that losing weight does not solve my problems, and it didn’t even make me healthier. I know when I feel at my healthiest and at my best. I am probably at the top end of my weight scale these days (no pun intended) but I seem to have settled to a level that I feel good at and have the most energy. All my bloodwork etc comes back in the normal range, so I don’t feel that I have to fix anything there either.
I’m not saying don’t eat healthy or exercise. Not at all. But forget about the number on the scale and the size on your clothes, forget about foods being good or bad, forget about valuing yourself by your body shape. Eat healthy because it makes you feel better. Good quality food, from ALL of the food groups, will do you good. Move because you enjoy it. I want to get a bicycle, cos I love that feeling of riding around, the wind in my hair. I like to swim because I find it really relaxing. Dancing is so much fun because music sinks into my bones. Find whatever it is that you find fun and pleasurable by way of movement and do it.
Most of all, forget the myth that your life is suddenly going to be better if you’re thinner. Because it’s not. Firstly it takes more than body size to make a life good, and secondly it’s statistically more than likely you’ll put all the weight back on and more anyway.
To make your life better, learn to like yourself. It’s what has made my life immeasurably better.