Underactive thyroid and weight loss. Last week I started talking about the thyroid issues I’ve been having and how they’ve affected me. Coming to all of this with a strong background in fitness and actively taking part in dance classes, sometimes I feel like the subject of diets permanently surrounds me. Everyone seems to know everything the best (don’t get me started on all the diet advice I constantly hear from everyone). Normally I just roll my eyes and keep to myself, but now I have a whole new dimension to consider with my thyroid.
UNDERACTIVE THYROID AND WEIGHT LOSS
The weight gain. There was a moment a number of years ago when I started gaining weight inexplicably. Mind you, it wasn’t a huge amount of weight. Technically I was still in the healthy range for my height, but I didn’t feel good and my clothing stopped fitting. No matter how much I worked out or how little I ate nothing helped. On top of that, my joints and muscles were always sore and no amount of stretching helped. If that weren’t enough, I was so tired all the time that just getting my butt moving sometimes seemed like a monumental effort.
What I’ve now realized is that the usual diet and weight loss tips don’t exactly apply in the same way when you have an underactive thyroid. In fact, one of the worst things you can say to someone who is struggling with this is to tell them to sleep more or start giving them advice. It’s such a frustrating condition that you are only adding to it.
Normal numbers. Once your thyroid is under control you’ll find that you do lose some weight and you should be able to control your weight. The key word here is “should” because it still is a little different than usual. In theory, if you are eating well and exercising then you will lose weight. What happens, however, when certain foods seem to make you regress? For me personally, even after my thyroid levels dropped I still found myself with lots of stomach issues and with a very stubborn scale. Not only that, I also found that I was very sore after each workout, but not the normal kind of soreness. This pain lasts longer than it should and causes me enough discomfort that I have to drag myself to a dance class or the gym. It becomes a vicious cycle if I start skipping my activities. I’m extra sore and tired and yet I know that I have to go workout.
The grey area. Here’s where we enter a bit of a grey area. My endocrinologist is telling me that my thyroid hormone levels are normal, but I still have extreme fatigue, the inability to lose weight, a sensitivity to cold and brain fog. So how can I be okay? Never taking no for an answer, I immediately started searching the internet and came up with hundreds, if not thousands, of sites apparently dealing with all of my issues. As I started weeding through them, I quickly realized that some of the advice went too far into alternative medicine without any respect for traditional medicine or rigorous research and I believe there needs to be a balance. A lot of what I read, however, made sense. So who do you trust? Who do you believe?
You take charge. Unless you are lucky enough to have found an amazing doctor who is willing to work with you, it’s likely that you will have to pick and choose your treatment from all the available information. My journey is a long way from being done as I still have a number of issues that I’m dealing with, but there are several that I’ve already been able to establish.
- If I’m feeling particularly exhausted, I stop whatever I’m doing and I take a nap. I realize this may not be possible for everyone, but sleep and rest are very important.
- I’ve simplified my diet. It’s a bit of a struggle to get all the necessary nutrients, so this is a work in progress, but I’m being very meticulous with what I eat. I have it down to specific times and food combinations. For instance, greens are always good and sugars are not. Sounds simple, right? Also, I can’t eat too much in one sitting and my meals have to be spread out throughout the day.
- There are days when my body is so sore that it’s tough to get up and move. Luckily I have a dog which needs to go out a couple of times a day, forcing me to walk even when I don’t have the energy to take a class or go to the gym. I’m a huge believer in moving even if it’s slow and at a low intensity. Your muscles were built to move and sitting for too long just is not good for you. So even if it’s just walking, I make sure to move my muscles every day in addition to whatever I’m doing.
Remember that there is a reason you are having thyroid issues which is bigger than just your thyroid. You are probably dealing with an autoimmune disease, whether it’s Graves or any one of a multitude of other diseases. Taking control of your thyroid is important, but it’s even more important to understand what’s causing it to malfunction. And at the end of the day, you’re not well until you feel well, regardless of what some number on a particular test tells you.