Who you are: Shelby aka PCOS Support Girl
What you do: Certified Fitness Nutrition and Weight Loss Specialist (NASM), Online health and fitness coach, Founder of PCOS Positivity, Full Time mom
Where you do it: From my home in Atlanta GA!
On your blog you describe yourself as a PCOS sufferer and ED warrior. Can you talk about what those two things are and how they affect your life?
I have always been the ‘big’ girl in my life. Out of 4 girls, I was the only one who significantly suffered with weight and health issues. I was always the biggest girl in my group of friends who couldn’t borrow any of their clothes because my boobs were too big or my belly too round. I was the chubby girl on dance team who dreaded the days we had to wear the crop top uniform to games. I vividly remember pretending to have the stomach flu those days.
Struggling with my weight, low self esteem and pressure from every direction to be a certain size or weight lead to my long rocky road with disordered eating (for more of my ED story).
I didn’t know it then, but part of my body weight issues were amplified by having PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. PCOS affects approximately every 1 in 10 women of reproductive age. Symptoms and complications of PCOS include: ovarian cysts, amenorrhea, hirsutism, acne, insulin resistance, weight gain, anxiety, depression, fatigue, hypertension, Type II Diabetes, and infertility.
But here’s the thing. I didn’t know one other single person going through what I was going through with my disordered eating and PCOS. I turned to social media, looking to connect with maybe one person who knew what I was going through. I was amazed by how many women I met going through the same things. So I decided to connect and help as many people as I could and built the PCOS Positivity community, a network of women across the world who come to together to share support and promote self love and acceptance.
The biggest thing these battles have done for me has set me on my path to self love and acceptance. I want to help others understand they are not alone. I want people to know loving yourself is not easy. Whoever says it is, is a liar. It’s a deliberate decision. And you have to work at it everyday. And hating yourself is exhausting. It really is. I got so tired of disliking myself.
I had to think WHY do I dislike this about me? Why is it so wrong to be okay with who I am, flaws and all? The truth is, I am not your poster girl for perfect anything by any of society’s standards. But why is what society thinks of me any of my business? I had to decide that what others think of me is none of my business. And to be honest, in the end it just didn’t matter. What mattered was if I liked myself. The minute you stop searching for gratification and fulfillment from outside sources is the moment you can be who you really are.
I am not saying I don’t stop and think about what I post before I do it. I have questioned if I am sharing too much, or being too vulnerable. Too open and exposed. Too much. I always ask myself before posting anything:
If my daughter was posting this, would I be proud?
As long as I am being true to myself, and being an example of the kind of woman I want to raise, I’m confident in sharing myself.
But you will always be too much for someone. Not everyone will get what you do. Doesn’t mean you should quit doing it.
There is freedom in knowing who you are, and not being afraid of it. The minute you stop caring what people think about you is the minute you can focus on more important things.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I had no idea what I wanted to be when I was growing up. It changed daily. I wanted to be anything from a dance teacher to a math teacher. Indecisive, much? It wasn’t until I turned 30 that I found my true passion in helping and supporting other women. It is so true when they say, “You know you’ve found your calling when you wake up wanting to go to work.” I enjoy every second of the work I am doing.
You talk about your journey to health on your blog. What does that look like for you– what is your “ideal” state? What are your goals and how are you working toward them?
It’s simple. I want to be happy and healthy. I want to know that even though I have this condition and have had these struggles, It’s not who I am. I am a mother and a friend and a woman of strength. I just happen to have a shitty endocrine disorder and an eating disorder.
As far as what I want to contribute to these communities, I want to be an example to anyone living with these battles of a REAL woman with REAL struggles that is living a happy healthy life despite her diagnosis. I want to continue to share my stories in hopes of helping others. I want to be a positive example of how being positive and loving yourself despite your struggles can be just as healing and productive as the physical aspects of treatment.
And most importantly, I want to be the person I needed at 14. I want to let younger girls know that they aren’t alone. They aren’t any less worthy or pretty or lovable because of their diagnosis.
I have PCOS. So what? PCOS sucks, but I don’t have to. I’ve battled the demons of disordered eating. That doesn’t define me. I want to see women overcoming, living life fully, surviving. I want to see how women can take a negative and turn it into a positive. But most of all, I want to be around women who support other women. Because positivity breeds positivity. Being real and sharing our stories encourages others to do so. And everyone’s stories have something someone can relate to. Can feel less alone in. Find strength from.
What is the best song to sing in the shower?
What song ISN’T the best song to sing in the shower is the better question. My go to is always Britney. Or Journey. Now Don’t Stop Belevin’ is going to be stuck in my head.
What is the best piece of advice you have heard? What was the worst?
It’s a bad day, not a bad life. It’s a reminder for me that you just need to take everything one day at a time. Forgive yourself for your past, accept yourself in the present, and work on the future.
Worst advice I’ve ever heard is Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. First off, Kate Moss, you’ve clearly never had Hawaiian rolls. But more importantly, it just promotes disordered eating. Everyone thinks being ‘skinny’ or a certain size or weight brings this magical euphoric happiness. I have been everything from a size 0 to a size 18, and I can tell you I was just as unhappy at both sizes.
How do you spend your down time? Favorite books, shows, movies?
When I do find myself with down time, I enjoy a bubble bath, a good book, music and a big glass of Shiraz. I love reading self help books. I spend most of my days being a support system and uplifting others. I find it’s a nice break to try to help my mind so I can better help others. Currently I’m reading, “ You are a Badass” by Jen Sincero.
If you could have coffee with any woman, past or present, who would it be and what one question would you ask?
Betty White. I think there is such a beauty in her nature. Behind the funny words and humorous quips is a woman with powerful, empowering words. My favorite quote of hers is, “I don’t know how people can get so anti-something. Mind your own business, take care of your affairs, and don’t worry about people so much.” I think I would just pick her brain. There is something so intriguing to me about a woman who is completely herself, unapologetically.
M&Ms: peanut or regular (or crispy, or peanut butter, or…)
All of the above. Have you tried the coconut ones? They are amazing!
What did you have for breakfast this morning? What is your guilty pleasure?
I just finished up a egg white omelet, a ton of bacon (because, well, PROTEIN) and tomato slices. I don’t get why everyone dislikes tomatoes so much. They’re delicious
Guilty pleasure, eh? Which one? I would have to say reality TV and long strolls down every aisle at Target. Alone. With a 6 shot iced skinny latte.
Is there anything we haven’t touched on that you want to chat about?
You have to just forgive yourself. So you’re 60 lbs heavier than you were on your wedding day? So you ate a whole pizza and drank a whole bottle of wine last night because they killed McDreamy on Greys? It happens. Everyone struggles. Everyone falls down. It’s not the falling down and failing and binge eating cheeseballs that makes it a failure. You’re human. Welcome to the club. There’s like, 7 billion of us. The failure comes in not getting back up. Wake up the next day, get your ass to the gym or get to the grocery store or quit rescheduling that doctors appointment you’re afraid to go to. Just keep going. And if you get stuck, find help to get you unstuck. We are not meant to be perfect. We are meant to be flawed. Quit beating yourself up and start focusing on your shit. Take it one day at a time.
What is your definition of beauty?
Beauty is knowing who you are, being proud of it, and rocking it. I’ve never felt more beautiful than now. There’s such happiness in being yourself unapologetically.
Need more Shelby in your life? Check her out on her blog, or on any of these social media platforms:
All of the beautiful images in this post were right from Shelby’s site and her Facebook page (well, except for that shot of Betty White). The edits were done by little ole me.