I (Shelbs) have PCOS. Saying it out loud, it doesn’t really sound like that big of a deal – until I take a look at the way my body has handled the last few years. I realize I should be taking it a lot more seriously than I ever thought I was going to need to. I can remember being 22 and breathing off pounds after sleeping only four hours before and a stressful exam like no problem. Flash forward to 5 years later, and I’m 40 pounds heavier and learning to treat and manage my PCOS.
My PCOS ‘journey’ is really just starting because I only learned that I had it in 2020. I was also diagnosed as pre-diabetic and that’s what led to a PCOS discovery.
What Does PCOS Feel Like While Traveling?
I didn’t even realize this was an issue for me until about halfway into our last trip! I thought I was just worn out and upset – but in reality – manageable symptoms were keeping me from enjoying my day. Read that again – my manageable symptoms. I’ve realized that to enjoy my travels, I need to keep stock of certain things to make sure I get the most out of our adventures!
Heavy sweating at night was a BIG indicator for me that something was wrong. Hot flashes were never something I experienced until PCOS flared up for me! The combination of the anxiety and the new place was challenging before I realized my triggers and what made my sweating at night worse.
Over time, after traveling a lot, my hair was taking a beating. Not only falling out more but also just becoming more dry and brittle during our travels. There’s so much that goes into good hair care, but with PCOS – your hair, skin, and nails become so much more brittle, and you need extra moisture!!
The fatigue from PCOS was starting to cause me to NOT ENJOY MY TRIP! That was totally unacceptable for me! I started taking note of a few things:
- If my blood sugar was low
- When I hadn’t had enough water
- If I was eating foods that didn’t make me feel good!
Fatigue doesn’t just affect you physically- it affects you mentally too.
To really take in your adventures, you need to be mentally all there. The ‘brain fog’ that accompanies insulin resistant PCOS can be difficult to navigate. Brain fog is potentially a symptom of low-grade inflammation that accompanies many women with the condition.
Gut problems during PCOS go hand in hand with the fatigue. The more ‘bad food’ I ate, the more I was exhausted and struggled. In general, eating anything that makes my gut feel bloated or painful means inflammation. While on vacation, I want to try new things – but that doesn’t mean I need to eat all of these things. There are also things I can do to mitigate the symptoms when I eat inflammatory foods.
Anxiety + Depression Flares
I got really anxious about missing things and our safety on the trip. In reality, things were fine but my anxiety just got the better of me sometimes.
Managing PCOS Symptoms While You Travel
It is possible to manage and treat PCOS with a few lifestyle changes. I’m working on getting to a managed point – and there are things I’m doing at home that I need to continue while we’re on vacation.
Exercise During Your Travels
Oh, the little PCOS belly. Truth be told, you may never be 100% rid of it, and that’s ok. But you can manage it. Any article out there that you read about PCOS says that a major component of any successful PCOS treatment is lifting weights!
Don’t let this become your last priority on your trips. Include days where you walk the cities you’re visiting, hike the gorgeous trails nearby. Anything that gets you moving!!
Limit Your Stress by Not Planning Too Much
We can’t stress this one enough. Aside from just enjoying your trips more, you’ll keep your cortisol levels much lower if you can implement the 50/50 planning rule. See more tips on how we plan low stress below!
Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking plenty of water has long been shown to help women who suffer from PCOS. I carry a bottle while me every time we go on a hike and every time we’re leaving the house in general.
Talk to Your Partner About PCOS
We’ve started to really pay attention to our health during our travels by incorporating at least one exercise-related activity every day (even if that’s a 10-minute walk). Believe me when I say that making these times technology-free (except for the camera or GPS while hiking) has made such a difference! Bringing Ev in on my journey to figuring out the right treatment for PCOS and making my body feel better has made us feel so much closer.
Tips for Managing Your PCOS Diet While on The Road
Don’t get into the mentality that you can ‘start when you get home’. Try the foods that you know aren’t great for your body in moderation and then fill up on healthier foods. You can have your cake and eat it too.
- Don’t Eat After 8 – I’m pretty strict with this rule. Eating after 8 will cause me not to sleep well! I don’t know if it’s like this for everyone with PCOS? Since the best time to workout is after you eat, I’ve found that getting ready for bed is semi-active. This means taking a shower, shaving your legs, get ready for the next day while you’re digesting your last bits of food for the night.
- Pre-Shop for Protein-Rich Snacks – These are great to have on hand while you’re out exploring. (Lessens the likelihood that you’ll grab fast food!) Questions about what to eat for PCOS diets usually surround protein-rich, low-carb diets, (Unless you have Adrenal PCOS. I’ve discovered I have a mix of both after some trial and error!)
- Prepare Your Hosts – If you’re staying with someone – talk to them about what the menu will be. Offer to do some of the grocery shopping and cooking. Most people will be accomodating. If they’re not – you can make a small side salad and try small portions of what’s been prepared. Managing your stay is so important to staying stress-free and able to sleep!
- Incorporate More Cruciferous Veggies – Remember me talking about the brain fog and gut problems? Eating more cruciferous veggies around foods that are ‘bad’ for your gut helps eliminate those toxins from your gut.
- Portion Control – Even when you’re trying out new foods. You can still try that amazing she-crab bisque from the Biltmore in Asheville if you’re moderating your portions!! Don’t have an entire bowl. Have a cup, or share the bowl with your hubs and then walk around Antler Village!
- Plan for When You Get Home – Don’t slip into a bad habit of eating foods that affect you negatively just because you didn’t plan. Give yourself time when you get home to get back to normal life. This means making grocery lists and preplanning what you’re going to do for dinner!! The times we eat the worst are always after vacation because we had nothing prepared!
What You’ll Start to Realize About Living With PCOS
You’ll start to realize that your life is a sum of the things you did get to do and not the things you didn’t get to do. PCOS doesn’t have to keep you from exploring the world or trying out new foods. It just means that you’ll have to make sure you’re paying attention. Stay aware of moderation and allow yourself to drink in those moments!!
Disclaimer: This article is not designed to provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment, or services. Through this article, My Colorful Wanderings provides general information for educational purposes only. The information provided, or through linkages to other sites, is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and you should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation, or the advice of your doctor/travel nurse or other healthcare providers. My Colorful Wanderings is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or product you obtain through this article.