Best known for her role as Alison in Pretty Little Liars, actress Sasha Pieterse opens up about her experience with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), and why she’s launching her new book Sasha in Good Taste, coming to shelves on October 8th.
Mediaplanet:You’ve been somewhat of a leader in advocating for Women’s Health, why is this cause important to you?
Sasha Pieterse: I think it’s important for young women to know that they aren’t alone. That they’re not going crazy if they feel like something isn’t right. Before I got diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome I saw 17 gynecologists that all told me I was just eating too much or not exercising enough, and never believed me when I said that that wasn’t the case.
It took 1 endocrinologist to most importantly listen to me, but to also have the expertise to sort through my symptoms. That one doctor that listened gave me answers and relief and a road to recovery. I think it’s equally important to remember that physical health issues effect your mental health too. We are constantly reminded by society that we’re supposed to look and feel a certain way, and that is just such a useless and ignorant thought process. If we all looked and felt the same way we would be a very dull and boring species. Our differences and so called “flaws” are what make us beautiful.
Why is it important for women to advocate for themselves when it comes to health?
We need to be our biggest advocates because if we aren’t, who will be? We know our own bodies better than anyone else. It took persistence and my own will power to find answers. It’s so important to stand up for ourselves and each other. If you stand up for yourself and use your voice, you inspire others around you to do the same. We are powerful in numbers. If we stay tight lipped and embarrassed about our bodies we will never truly know how big our community is and how common our health issues have become.
Change in perspective doesn’t come from staying idle, we have to move forward and use the momentum that we provide each other to change the world we live in.
How has PCOS affected you?
PCOS has affected me both negatively and positively. On the one hand I went through a lot of emotional torture and confusion but on the other hand I became stronger and more empathetic and compassionate towards myself. Realizing that there is something opposing my bodies natural functions on such a grand scale gave me one option, to be gentle.
I was so frustrated and angry that I couldn’t change my exterior no matter how hard I tried. I always had to work a little bit harder than others and eat “perfect” to keep my body looking a way I thought it was supposed to, but when PCOS hit me head on, nothing I did and no matter how strict I was, worked. I had no other option but to stop comparing myself to others and relish in my small steps forward. I had to reprogram my mindset and shut out the negative voices in order to start regaining control of my life. Instead of trying to make my body look like someone else’s, I now only strive to be the healthiest version of myself.
What are some changes in your life that have helped you manage your PCOS?
With a combination of patience, supplements, and my endocrinologist’s guidance I have been able to balance my life. Like everything, it’s a continuous juggle and I have good days and bad days, but now I know that there is a consistent light at the end of the tunnel.
I have also done some needed weeding out, not just with diet but with the company I keep. I have realized that because our minds are so extremely powerful it affects every part of us, even internally. When I’m feeling down and emotionally drained, it affects all aspects of myself. Positive thinking comes with reinforcement, and I am so blessed to have a ton of it, especially from my incredible Husband who has been with me every step of the way.
By finding and nurturing the good and uplifting relationships in my life, I have truly been able to find peace. I have been shedding negative relationships and I’m constantly reevaluating what makes me feel good and what doesn’t.
What inspired you to start a YouTube series and Sasha in Good Taste?
I wanted to share another side of my life that hopefully inspires viewers and empowers them to create in their own spaces. You don’t have to be a professional chef or designer to bring some magic into your home, you can do it yourself.