Thursday, July 12, 2012

Weight gain. Yep, I worried about it. I started getting heavy in my teens (right around when I likely became hypothyroid. Coincidence? Don't think so). I worked out. I tried to eat well. I did all the stuff you're supposed to do to stay in shape. In my early 20s, I became a vegetarian, I regularly did aerobics. I rode my bike. You get the picture.

But still the weight piled on like I was secretly eating four slices of cheesecake a night. And no matter what I did, I could not get the weight to come back off. When I got diagnosed with the hypothyroidism (I just realized I wrote it like it's a major epidemic like, The Plague, or the Black Death and heck maybe it is), it started to make sense. It wasn't my fault the weight had piled on. My thyroid was sluggish and the weight gain was one of the major symptoms. My metabolic rate firmly sat in the toilet and refused to budge. And exercising and eating healthfully made no difference whatsoever. (And the heavy exercising made things worse by taxing my already distressed thyroid.)

Now that I knew what the problem was, I was faced with a decision. Meds or no meds (oh and another thing they don't tell you: even if you go on meds, that doesn't mean that you will lose any weight at all. And you know, if you have read any other posts here, that I chose the non-meds method.)

You have to understand, the weight gain wasn't the main reason I finally went to the doctor to figure out what the problem was (the lack of energy and a menstrual cycle that wouldn't turn off was what did me in), but it was up there. I didn't like that my body hurt. I hated some of my other symptoms, but the weight gain and the accompanying issues pressed on me as if I was doing something wrong by not taking the weight off.

That's the thing, I think. Somehow, I felt guilty for not being effective enough in my effort to control my weight and my body. To top it off, as I gained more weight, people started commenting on my appearance. "Lose some weight!" or "Why don't you get some exercise?" were just two of the milder things I heard in the street from complete strangers (of course any friend that said something like that to me would stop being a friend immediately, but that's another story). The people who took it upon themselves to "advise" me on my weight/health/appearance had no idea about my efforts to maintain or lose weight. The only thing they saw was a fat girl/woman and for some bizarre reason they felt it was within their purview to harass me about it (sometimes under the guise of "caring." One particular woman said, "You're so pretty. If only you would lose some weight.")

I am sure there are some people out there who would like nothing better than to lie around, eat cheesecake and gain weight. I am sure there are people out there who are perfectly happy with their weight (no matter their size) and who don't give a da*n about the fact that they are fat. And I'd love it if we lived in a world where people of different sizes were just that, people of different sizes. And no one would say jack to them about it. But the perception persists that if you are fat or heavy that you are only that way because you don't care enough to get off your fat butt and do something about it (and that they get to talk to you about it). Is that perception appropriate? No. Is it still prevalent? You bet.

The idea that I didn't/don't care about my health and my weight, is patently untrue. I tried. I tried, hard, to lose the weight, but with hypothyroidism, it wasn't going to happen. So, I have had to deal with the lack of energy in combination with weighing more. And here's the thing, when you weigh more, it takes even more energy/effort to do the simplest things. So, it's a double-edged sword. Not only does the hypothyroidism make you gain weight, but you also have no energy, and then because you are heavier, it takes even more of that already scant energy to accomplish just about any task. It's enough to make you want to tear your hair out. Oh wait, the hypothyroidism takes care of hair loss for you, because, yes, that's another symptom.

Here's an image of a typical hypothyroidic.
This body shape often characterizes people with hypothyroidism. Often, the person will be barrel-shaped with smaller arms and legs but with a big, rounded torso. The upper abdomen will sometimes protrude further than than the lower.

We tend to carry our weight in the middle. Often, the upper part of the belly is big while other parts of the body are well within what would be considered a normal range by the CDC. They say that the stress hormone, Cortisol can be responsible for fat that gets stored in the middle of the upper belly. (Here is more information on Cortisol: and here is information on Cortisol and belly fat: This is the way I am shaped as well. Because of this, I have been asked many times when I'm due, as if I am pregnant. It's quite shocking really that people don't realize that this isn't something they ought to be asking about.

For some reason, a person's weight (or reproductive status) seems to still be a subject up for discussion.  It boggles my mind.

Regardless, what can we EZH* do about the weight gain? There are things. First and foremost, get more sleep. I don't care what you have to do. Figure out a way to get more shut-eye. First, it will help you relax and release some of the burden on your thyroid. Second, it will give your body a chance to repair itself. Third, fourth, fifth ... there are lots of reasons. It might sound counterintuitive but it's so very true. So, get more sleep.

Second, keep your exercise consistent but minimal. That means no major heart-blasting super nuclear aerobics that blow the top off your head. The most important thing you can do for your thyroid and your metabolic rate is to give it time to recharge. Big, explosive exercise will kick your metabolic rate's butt straight into that commode from above. Do a little bit of exercise every day and consider doing whatever exercise will make you calm. Raise your heart rate a little but not too much. (More on all this at a later time.)

Third, regarding your food intake. Oh boy does it matter what you eat! EZHs tend to crave fast carbs and sugar. I think we do that because we desperately need energy, at all times. It is crucial that you stop eating white sugar (and all sugar, if you can). It fools your body into thinking you have more energy than you do. Don't trust the energy you get from it. It's pulling its sucrose-y wool over your eyes. Here's another counter-intuitive idea. Eat slower foods, in general. Instead of white rice, eat brown rice. Instead of white bread, try not to eat any bread and if you must, make it the really crunchy whole grain stuff. It will take longer to digest but it will give you better long-term energy. No, it won't be the quick fix, but the quick fix just leaves you desperately burning for more quick-fixes.

And that's the crux of it. Dealing with my thyroid issues naturally is a long-term proposition. There is no quick fix. Even meds won't be a quick fix. It takes consistent, daily work. I find that it's taken a daily commitment to myself. It takes me away from other things I could be doing, but it's worth it. The changes in my exercise regimen, awareness of what and how I eat, sleep patterns, and stress levels have raised my energy, brought the weight down, and gotten me *this* close to normal range. Oh how I will celebrate when I get there.

Until next time. Izolda

*Exhausted Zombie Hypothyroidics

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Please Note

Welcome to Natural Thyroid. This blog details my process of treating my hypothyroidism naturally. Please note: I am not telling you *to* do or not to do anything with my posts (remember to work with your medical practitioner, whether it's an allopath or an alternative medicine practitioner).