There is nothing more frustrating than eating a healthy diet, exercising and not losing weight. Doctors look at you suspiciously when you air your complaint (as if you have a 2 pound bag of M & M’s hiding in your purse) and your girlfriends think you’re living in denial.
What’s really going on? Could be an underactive thyroid. This is my personal story and one that is familiar to more than 25 million Americans. The metabolic slowdown of the thyroid may not be the natural progression of “middle age” but a true, under-diagnosed condition of hypothyroidism.
TSH tests (thyroid stimulating hormone) may come back in the “normal” range, but find out what that number actually is. Some practitioners say that conventional medicine’s normal range is too broad 0.5 to 5.5 uU/ml) and point to a .02 to 2.0 range as being more in line with what is optimal.
When I was finally diagnosed, my TSH came back as almost a 6. No wonder my efforts at the gym weren’t paying off. No wonder my healthy diet, calorie careful diet wasn’t helping! And then it got worse– I put on 30 pounds from August to October of 2003 while under a huge amount of stress (this is a root cause of thyroid burnout) and none of my clothes fit. My face was as round as a pumpkin and I was freaking out.
Finally, I was diagnosed with “mild hypothyroidism”. I chose to use a low dose natural thyroid medication (Armor as opposed to synthetic thyroid meds) even though my doctor wanted me to take something else. 7 years later, I’m still on it.
The result? Well, read (or listen) to my book, Body Clutter! I tell my story there. Yes, I lost the weight and it’s stayed off for over 5 years. Here is some interesting stuff I’ve learned along the way:
The causes for hypothyroidism can be numerous: stress, poor diet, pregnancy, hormone imbalance, some medications, failure of the pituitary gland, inactivity, iodine deficiency, and Hashimoto’s disease (or any other disorder of the thyroid).
The treatment usually includes medication (and according to doctors, for life). Food recommendations are iodine rich foods like sea vegetables (I love sushi and the nori that wraps around the sushi is wonderfully iodine rich), fish, flaxseeds (mill your own flaxseeds in a clean coffee mill and throw this on top of your oatmeal/oatbran cereal in the morning), and walnuts. I adore walnuts crumbled in a salad. Try this salad: chopped romaine lettuce, chopped green apple, walnuts and crumbled blue cheese tossed together with a little olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette. Great stuff!
Becoming aware was the main thing. I knew in my heart of hearts something was wrong. It was ME that asked for a thyroid test (btw, ask for a FULL PANEL thyroid test, not just the TSH) and it was because I listened to my body.
I invite you to this same empowered place of listening to your body. It’s yours for the asking. If you know something “just isn’t right”, get yourself to a doctor. If your doctor is condescending, pats you on the hand and wants to give you antidepressants instead of evaluating you, run for your life and find a doctor who will listen. There are a lot of them out there! You need to be heard, not placated and left feeling stupid.
I’m still dealing with my thyroid 7 years later. It’s a battle and tough one at that. But I don’t give up, I don’t stop doing my own research and I try with all my heart to take the best care of myself possible. I’m worth it.
And so are you.