Hating our body image when we suffer from hormonal and autoimmune diseases.



Body image is a biggie. We’re constantly bombarded with images of how the female body should look.

If we exercise we should have washboard abs!!


I’d love to know who said this is the picture of health.

In fact, there’s lots of people who’ve inherited this ‘so-called’ body beautiful physique. And guess what, a lot of them are the most unfit people ever.

Being thin doesn’t equate to being healthy.


Who said that the perfect body image of a woman should be slim, with curves in a particular location.

I remember the emaciated look of the 1990s, where women wanted to look more like young boys with no hips.

In the 1950s, having a more voluptuous physique was seen as the norm.

In the 1980s being more muscular was seen as the norm.

And now, well everyone wants to have big breasts and butts.

This is the ideal womanly physique today, but what will it be in twenty years time?

Will we need to conform to yet another fad.

At the moment, I’m voluptuous and muscular, this possibly due to having PCOS. I have muscular arms and legs and I’m apple-shaped, so I carry and tend to gain weight around my stomach.

Am I unfit?

Hell no.

But to the eye, I may appear as being unfit.

Do I care.


I was teased for my

PCOS body as a teenager and in my 20s. I refuse at the age of 41, to conform to this so-called ‘ideal body image’ of how I should look as a woman.

If you’re a PCOS sufferer, start loving yourself. Our PCOS bodies are beautiful. Ladies embrace your curves and muscles.

Related website: This website gives an example of the history of body shape image.

Hating body body image due to having hormonal and autoimmune disease
Hating your body image. Image pexels/Kat Jayne

Hello, I’m Cheryl.  I’m a Yoga Teacher and Nutritional Therapist and I provide advice and programs to help people who suffer from digestive, hormonal, thyroid and joint-related conditions.

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To be clear, I’m not condoning being unhealthy. I’m just making it clear that we should stop aiming for this so-called ‘perfect’.

I embrace exercise and healthy eating after having success myself.

This success led me to train as a nutritional therapist and a yoga teacher.

So, I’m a fan.

But please, exercise and eat well to enjoy ‘wellness’ instead of doing so to look thin.

The pure stress of worrying about how you look is so detrimental. Sufferers of hormonal and autoimmune disease have enough issues to deal with, we don’t need this as well.


As said earlier, I’m currently embracing my curves. But, I’ve also experienced being extremely thin due to illness.


With all my pregnancies I’ve experienced extreme vomiting called hyperemesis, a condition which causes extreme weight loss.

During this time I was judged because I didn’t look pregnant.

As well as PCOS, I have Graves Disease which causes an overactive thyroid. For many Graves sufferers we experience extreme weight loss and struggle to put weight on whilst our thyroid hormones are high.

Many sufferers opt to have their thyroid glands partially or totally removed. The removal of the gland forces them to take synthetic thyroid hormones. Resulting in a back and forth battle of weight gain and loss due to trying to find the right dosage of medication.

During my first three years of having Graves Disease I was extremely thin. Some people would tell me how fantastic I looked, and some would tell me I was too skinny.

People who hadn’t seen me for a few years would look in horror, because of my thin body and changes to my face, due to my protruding eyes.

Also, coming from an Afro Caribbean background, it’s often viewed that a slim body is not a healthy body. So to family I looked ill and told numerously to eat more.

Now, Graves sufferers will know, that during the period when your thyroid levels are high (thyroid storm) you’re always hungry. So it was extremely frustrating to be told to eat more when I was eating for twenty people and couldn’t put weight on.


In fact, for me, being underweight was worse than being overweight.

As in my eyes, I looked ill. With PCOS I was overweight, but people were less likely to question my weight gain. Whereas with Graves disease and hyperemesis people would question if I was ill or would give me a look which questioned the state of my health.

As a Graves and PCOS sufferer it’s not just the weight issues, you also have to deal with the way you look facially, which causes further body image issues.

So I’ve experienced body image issues at both ends of the spectrum. Being overweight as a PCOS sufferer. And being underweight as a Graves Disease sufferer and with all my pregnancies.


There is so, so much. Possibly too much information available online of how to manage our conditions.

This is fantastic, as when I was diagnosed with PCOS twenty years ago, there was, nada.


In fact, no one used the internet, no one spoke of google and guess what. Our phones were used to call people.

Wow, imagine that.

So, having information on tap is fabulous.

But when I look at information about the conditions I suffer with, I can at times get a little disheartened.


The majority of online information is about what diet to follow or how to lose weight. There’s very little about the mental battles that you and I have to conquer, which I think we need more of.

I also see pictures of women who have lost loads of weight, portraying the body beautiful look.

You know, those before and after pictures.

And yes, it’s very encouraging.

But, I’m not sure it’s the right message to put across to women suffering with weight issues due to illness.

It’s more likely, that with the loss or gain in weight you’ll still not achieve this perfect body image.

When I lost weight with PCOS and with my extreme loss of weight with Graves Disease. I wasn’t happy!

In my mind. I still had curves in the wrong places. This after practising yoga daily, for an hour per day. Which I did religiously for several years.


It took a change of how I view myself on a mental level to become happy with the way I look.

I’ve accepted I will never be slim, I’m a little muscular due to PCOS and I have big beautiful bulgy eyes due to Graves disease. I’m ok with that.

The so-called perfect body images we see thrusted in our eyes are so unhelpful for women. We need more images of women who have learnt to accept all the lumps and bumps of their bodies. This would help women battling with body image.


Throughout my wellness journey with PCOS and Graves Disease I’ve had fluctuations in weight.

I’ve always exercised and ate healthy.

When I was younger I would get frustrated that the pounds weren’t shifting the way they should.

You see, for hormonal imbalances it’s not the case of trying to burn the calories away. Or counting calories. Or indeed removing a food group. Instead, we have to address a number of issues.

I’ve had to realise that the following issues may cause my hormonal imbalances to tip over the edge.

•Am I sleeping well.
•Is work stressing me.
•Disorganised house stuff (bills to pay).
•Money worries.
•Drinking too much alcohol.

This list goes on and on. But it’s just to point out that there will be things other than diet and exercise to take account of.

When dealing with my symptoms I look at my whole life, not only diet and exercise.

I still have fluctuations with my weight. My weight and how my body looks is no longer important to me.

For me, my goal is to not battle with the nightmare symptoms I once had. I achieve this not only with diet and exercise, but relaxation is key for me.

It took some time to realise that stress is a big issue for me. Stress has been the number one cause of my relapses in the past.

So, it’s important. It’s vital that I monitor my stress levels and practise relaxation techniques.


Hello, I’m Cheryl.  I’m a Yoga Teacher and Nutritional Therapist and I provide programs to help people who suffer from digestive, hormonal, thyroid and joint-related conditions.

Do people meditate to only be happy?” data-jpibfi-src=”https://i2.wp.com/www.radiantnubeginnings.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Want-help-1.jpg?resize=525%2C394&ssl=1″ data-recalc-dims=”1″>


Losing weight with any hormonal disease is needed to create balance in your body. But once there, be careful to not push your body too hard.

In fact, I would say that I don’t believe you should be pushing your body to achieve the perfect body. Working too hard may cause more issues with your body.

I speak from experience. I had to give up my beloved practice of Ashtanga Yoga.

In my 20s, this intensive style of yoga helped me to lose weight when dealing with PCOS.

But that level of exercise caused a lot of problems when I was diagnosed with Graves Disease in my 30s.

Long bouts of cardio based exercise caused extreme hyperactivity. Resulting in increased fatigue, heart palpitations, nervousness and anxiety attacks.

Today, I exercise at home for 20 minutes per day, this is more than enough for me. This, in comparison to exercising for more than one hour per day.

One hour was far too much for my body which eventually led to more stress and harm to my mental and physical health.


Constantly worrying about your body image can cause havoc with your adrenal glands.

Your adrenal glands love it when you’re stressed. And respond by producing hormones to help us to cope with stress.

And guess what your adrenals glands do?

Yep, they play a role with your weight, stress and hormonal balance.

The problem, is that constantly being stressed causes constant production of adrenal hormones. Which are needed in times when we need to fight (not condoning violence) or to run away from danger. It’s difficult for the body to distinguish the difference between stress. All stress is viewed the same whether it’s stress due to how we view of bodies, or stress due to the need to fight or runaway.


When we are stressed the body signals the pituitary gland to produce ACTH (Adrenocorticotropic hormone), this further signals the adrenal glands to produce hormones to help us deal with the stress.

The hormones to deal with stress are cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline.

For hormonal sufferers producing too much cortisol can be troublesome. Cortisol plays a huge role in maintaining your blood sugar levels.
To be able to fight or flight we need energy in the form of glucose. Remember the body doesn’t know that we’re stressed, it believes we need to fight.

With the help of Cortisol, stored glucose floods into our bloodstream in order to deal with the stress we’re experiencing.

If you’re a sufferer of hormonal issues, you’re more likely to have raised cortisol levels.

Stressing about how your body looks will not help. Nor will pushing your body with excessive exercise. This stress is not liked by your body.

Cortisol praises you by making your symptoms worse and causing you to lose very little weight in the long run.

Don’t give your body more stress.


As women, we’re always comparing ourselves to others.

We hear a lot about teenagers and women in their early 20s worrying about body image.

We’re led to believe that these bodily insecurities diminish with age. But I’m not too sure it does. I think it festers silently, becoming worse as we age. Lasting a lifetime for many of us.

We need to get a hold of this, as we are in danger of passing our insecurities and obsessions to future generations of females.

I have three children, one boy and two girls. All three of my children are at risk of developing Graves Disease. And my daughters may develop PCOS. It’s important that I set a good example for them to follow.

Join me. Let’s start breaking this cycle.

I love seeing examples of PCOS women who embrace their PCOS bodies. This website shows examples of women who are embracing facial hair.

The more images we see of women embracing PCOS and its symptoms, the more likely we are to normalise these ‘so called’ imperfections.


Changing your lifestyle may change your perception of your body. It has certainly helped me.

Exercising and eating well are certainly important to manage your health. While losing weight, you witness a decline in symptoms and you feel great. But if you have issues with your perceived body image you may still feel unhappy with the slimmer you.

For me, meditative practices have helped me to accept my PCOS body. My Graves Disease body. And my post Pregnancy body.

I practice gentle yoga with the aim to exercise my body but also to calm my mind. I practice breathing practices to calm my racing mind.

This in favour of pushing my body. This suits my needs, helping me physically, emotionally and boosts my self-worth.


So, my message.

Let’s stop trying to achieve this so-called body image of beauty.

If you’re looking to lose weight or indeed gain weight, then do it for the right reasons.

Do it to feel better!! And not to suit this so-called view of how you think you should look. Or how you think others believe you should look.

As sufferers of hormonal and autoimmune disease we have enough to deal with.

Do you think you should be stressing about diets and exercise to achieve this ‘ideal’ body image?

Is this what your highly sensitive body needs at this time?

Find gentle body and mind exercises to do. Ditch the quick-fix diet and exercise plan. Think of this as a lifetime plan.

Don’t force results, take your time, and with time and patience, your views on your body may hopefully be better.

Look back at what you’ve achieved and hopefully, you’ll be happy to embrace your curves in your right places.

[1]https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/stress-weight-gain [2]https://chriskresser.com/adrenal-pcos-surprising-ways-stress-affects-your-hormones/


Hello, I’m Cheryl.  I’m a Yoga Teacher and Nutritional Therapist and I provide programs to help people who suffer from hormonal, thyroid and joint-related conditions.


Do people meditate to only be happy?” data-jpibfi-src=”https://i0.wp.com/www.radiantnubeginnings.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Want-help.jpg?resize=525%2C394&ssl=1″ data-recalc-dims=”1″>

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