What is a Thyroid? What does it do?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits low on the front of your neck below the laryngeal prominence (commonly known as your Adam’s apple).
The primary function of the thyroid is to secrete thyroid hormone which essentially controls the body’s metabolism. Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid secretes lower than normal levels of hormone, resulting in a slow metabolism. People with hypothyroidism may experience some or all of the following symptoms:
-Weight Gain or Difficulty Losing Weight
-Hair Loss, or Coarse, Dry Hair
-Muscle Cramps or Aches that linger
Hypothyroidism is actually very common! Millions of people have it and don’t even know it!
What is the cause of Hypothyroidism
Below are two of the most common causes of hypothyroidism. However, there are many other rare causes.
1. Autoimmune Thyroiditis (AKA: Hashimotos) – a form of thyroid inflammation caused by one’s own immune system. This inflammation leaves a percentage of the cells of the thyroid dead or damaged and incapable of producing adequate hormone
2. Surgery – A doctor may decide to remove part of the thyroid due to a worrisome nodule, for example. Only part of the gland is left in the body to secrete hormone, which may not be sufficient to maintain hormone levels within the normal range.
Potential Dangers of Hypothyroidism
If left untreated, the symptoms will progress. In rare cases complications can lead to life threatening depression, heart failure, or coma!
How is hypothyroidism diagnosed/treated
A simple blood test can often diagnose this condition. However, some people may need additional testing in which case it may be beneficial to seek out an endocrinologist. As far as treatment goes, most of the time one pill a day can maintain hormone levels. However, everybody is different and sometimes a pill is not enough. This is why it is important to have a good endocrinologist who will diagnose and treat your specific condition accurately and effectively.
Why Am I Telling you This
When you are dealing with hypothyroidism, sometimes your efforts can seem wasted. I completely understand where you are coming from, but I can assure you that it is NOT IMPOSSIBLE for you to achieve your dreams in fitness! You may have setbacks as your thyroid fluctuates, but regular monitoring is key! Let me tell you my story with hypothyroidism.
When I learned that I had hypothyroidism at age 17, I didn’t know what to do. I honestly did not even know what it was or what it meant! By this age, my confidence had been beaten down to nothing because of all the teasing I had endured growing up as an overweight child. I never felt accepted and it was very emotionally damaging. I ALWAYS compared my body to others and even my achievements to other people’s success. It took me years to regain confidence. I had to learn to be proud of how far I had come and how I had overcome my own challenges along the way. I had to remind myself that I am not other people or their accomplishments; I am my own person with my own great things to do!
This revelation came when I turned 20 and decided that I had simply had enough! I knew that I had to at least try to make a change if I wanted to get in shape and be healthy. So I took up P90X and running, and cleaned up my diet. Within 2 months, I had lost 30 pounds! That right there is proof that even with hypothyroidism, you can achieve your weight loss goals. It takes consistency, though!
I am now working on myself everyday just to be the best me, not the best anyone else. I don’t dream of having someone else’s body. I am proud of my own.
While hypothyroidism is not an easy health condition to deal with, it can be managed well with the right plan in place. YOU CAN get the fitness results you desire – and I will help you get there!
Tips for Athletes with Hypothyroidism
Avoid overtraining – This causes adrenal fatigue which will significantly decrease your endurance. When your body is telling you to rest, do it. Try having a rest week every 3 weeks instead of every 4-6. Your body may not function as high as the average athlete and you will need more rest in order to make progress.
DO NOT – I repeat – DO NOT over supplement your thyroid with more medication than prescribed! This can cause you to go into a hyperthyroid state. Many may think this is the “cure all” to weight loss and enhanced performance, but it is very dangerous. You could experience severe anxiety, inability to sleep, severe weight loss, increased appetite, nervousness, racing heart, shaky hands, weakened muscles, diarrhea, and overall malaise, crappy feeling. You would be in a state of feeling over-trained everyday! NOT FUN!
When experiencing digestive issues associated with hypothyroidism, get up and move! Digestive problems can be very frustrating. When you are constipated and bloated, you don’t feel confident and you feel heavy like you don’t want to move or do anything! As hard as it is, get up and move. That will get your GI tract moving. If this doesn’t do the trick, I highly recommend the Shakeology plan by Beach Body! It is packed with probiotics, prebiotics, and fiber, as well as many other proteins, vitamins, and minerals that support healthy digestion. In all honesty, even with my thyroid under control I always have the constipation symptom; I have for years! But ever since I started Shakeology my digestion has COMPLETELY straightened out! I was NEVER one for shakes or supplements but I took a chance on Shakeology and I am so glad I did!
NUMBER ONE IMPORTANCE – be consistent in your training – Try to workout at the same times each day and stick to a regular eating schedule. Our bodies like consistency in general, but it is especially important with hypothyroidism to keep your hormones as balanced as possible.
Lift weights. With hypothyroidism you are prone to gain weight; it is just the nature of it. One way to help combat weight gain is to lift weights. You need to build muscle in order to speed up metabolism. Many runners do not like to spend time lifting weights because they feel that it takes time away from working on performance. But with only running in your plan, you are not only more prone to injury but also to over-training as well. Substitute at least one of your run days for a strength day – or even better – two.
I hope this insight on hypothyroidism was helpful! I know it can suck to deal with but it is not impossible to achieve your goals with the right plan and a positive attitude, even when it feels hopeless!
Contact me to discover a plan to transform your life