Back to Paleo

In honor of my almost 1-year anniversary being diagnosed with hypothyroidism, I'm reflecting on my food and exercise journey thus far. It's been a never-ending quest to find the right diet/exercise combination that will raise my metabolism, without killing my adrenals. I'm exhausted just typing this.

Those of you who share my lovely disease are aware of what I meant when I said I'm exhausted. Being completely drained of all energy is a common symptom (there are over 300, by the way). A close friend of mine, Loren, self-diagnosed and was self-treating because she couldn't get a doctor to listen to her. She pretty much diagnosed me as well. I had gained 75 lbs in 6 months, I felt like death warmed-over, and I had a nagging feeling that if I didn't do something, I was going to be in some serious trouble, if not dead.

So, I went to a doctor, after doing research, and gave her my symptoms. My blood results were frightening. I had a TSH of 94 (normal range is 1.5-1.9), my cholesterol was through the roof, and I was pre-diabetic. I was simultaneously diagnosed with high blood pressure. To say that I was concerned would be an understatement.

Thankfully, Loren was there to help guide me. I requested that I be put on Naturethroid, versus a synthetic thyroid medicine, I began making major changes to my diet, including taking supplements like maca root and biotin. In my younger days, I was an athlete, so getting into shape was something I really loved doing. Unfortunately, my body didn't seem to agree.

I joined a gym, began working out like crazy, and when I saw my doctor 8 months later, I found that I had only lost 3 lbs. I was walking 4 miles per hour per day, and was eating 1200 calories a day. This was insane!

I went for blood-work, and my doctor insisted that although I was symptomatic, she didn't think I needed a higher dosage of hormones. She tried to put me on a diet pill- Phentermine. I disagreed with her, stating that I was NOT overeating, but she insisted we give this a try. Reluctantly, I filled the prescription.

On day 1, it felt like I was on speed. My heart was racing, I couldn't stand still, and I had no appetite whatsoever. I figured I would get used to it, and it was only for 30 days, so I'd be fine. The next day, I took the pill, and it felt like my heart was going to pound right out of my chest. I could barely eat anything, and I thought, "I can see how people lose weight. They starve themselves." Day 5 was when I decided I'd had enough, and I went off the pills.

I almost didn't go to my doctor again. I was livid with her. She wouldn't listen when I told her that I wasn't eating too much, and she wouldn't look at my blood-test results properly. She had me set up an appointment with an endocrinologist, but I couldn't see that doctor for 2 months. I became extremely discouraged, and decided, "Fuck it. If this is how my life is going to be, I might as well stop trying."

So, I quit the Paleo and took a break from exercising. I didn't see much of a difference, energy-wise, and if I wasn't losing weight either way, it didn't really matter if I ate Paleo or not. I talked myself into going to the doctor, and I was determined to just keep a good attitude, regardless of the outcome.

I went in with a pleasant demeanor, and she asked me how I was doing. I told her that I had to go off of the diet pills, but I had kept a food diary so she could see what I was eating. She acted like we hadn't discussed any of this stuff before. She said, "oh, you are not eating enough calories! I need you to eat at least 1400 calories per day." Um, yeah, lady. I told you this before.. I didn't say that, but I thought it really hard. Anyway, she looked at my blood-work again and said, "Oh, your free T4 is way too low. We need to up your dosage. Let's try going to the next level, and we'll see how it goes in a couple of months."

The heavens opened, bright lights shone down upon my face, and the multitude of angels sang choruses of Handel's Messiah for me. Not really, but that's how I felt inside. I simply smiled and said, "OK, if that's what you think I need to do, then let's go with that."

Still, I didn't go back to my diet. Last week (about a month after this visit), I began having issues with my digestive system. This is also a common symptom of hypothyroidism. I realized that I needed to get back to my Paleo diet, because even though I might not have been losing weight, I definitely felt better. So, I wrote up my list of things I need, and I'm back on the wagon again. I've also added a pre/probiotic supplement, as well as L-glutamine.

This year, I plan to heal my body, and focus on things that inspire me. My friend, Loren, inspires me. She is more in tune with her body than anyone I've ever encountered. She pays such close attention that she knows exactly what's caused an inflammation or disturbance. I'm amazed at her intuitive approach to her health, as well as her internal strength to keep going every day.

My sister and brother-in-law also inspire me. They went vegan a few months' ago, and they are killing it on the fitbit challenges we have. The weight-loss has been amazing, and she feels better.

If you're suffering from a thyroid condition, I highly encourage you to self-educate, fight for what you need, and don't take "no" for an answer. I'm doing the same. Hang in there, and if there's anything I can do for you, let me know!

Here are some resources that have been really helpful for me:

Sláinte! (to your good health)

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