I am not going to sit here and tell you that if you are overweight, then it must be your thyroid. Most of you likely need to get your diet and exercise in check and stop crutching on supplements before you visit any deeper issues. But, if you are someone who feels like you have been doing everything right and still can’t seem to lose the inches around your waist, then it could be due to an under active thyroid. This is not the end all, be all and you will wake up with inches just falling off of you. But I will say this could be a great avenue to walk down and see if it pertains to you. Exercise and diet are number one, but could hypothyroidism be causing your weight gain?
**I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. Please see your doctor and ask about further testing if you think this could be something you are struggling with. Do not take this information as medical advice. I did not go to school for 10 years and I cannot diagnose a thyroid condition for you.
What is Hypothyroidism
“The thyroid gland controls the metabolic rate of every organ in the body – From the production and regulation of sex hormones, adrenal hormones, body temperature, brain function, heart rate, to every other element that keeps the human body functioning” – Elle Russ, Author of Paleo Thyroid Solution
In English…this means – our thyroid affects us mentally, physically and emotionally. It is a major gland, and we need it on our side.
The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that sits at the front of your neck. It is basically responsible for giving your body energy, everywhere it needs it. So all the rogans, the glands, the nerves..all of it!
Hypothyroidism means your thyroid is NOT making enough thyroid hormone, and therefore, under active. This can cause a lot of health conditions (which we will chat about later) and could also be the reason for your waistline growing despite you doing “everything right”.
Common Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Because the thyroid ties basically everything in our body together, it is hard to pinpoint it as being the problem. And a lot of the symptoms it creates can also be blamed on something else, which can lead to a long road until you finally reach the correct diagnosis. Here are some of the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism..
• Weight gain, inability to lose body fat
• Low energy
• Hair loss
• Digestive issues (constipation or diarrhea)
• Brain fog (inability to concentrate)
• Menstrual irregularities (heavy periods, long periods or lack of a cycle)
• Always feeling cold
• Difficulty sweating (even during a workout)
You don’t have to have all of these symptoms to have hypothyroidism, but if you have 2-3, I would definitely get your levels checked. Hypothyroidism is hard to diagnose because of the symptoms. Low energy could be lack of sleep, being cold could be due to your climate, digestive issues could be due to your diet. This is why it is important to get your levels checked yearly, even if you don’t feel like you have a problem. Most hormone conditions go untreated for months, and even years, because of the way the symptoms present themselves.
Contributing Factors to Hypothyroidism
So now that we know what hypothyroidism is, and we know the symptoms of it, what causes it? Is there certain lifestyle choices you make that could be leading you down a road to an under active thyroid? Why yes, yes there is. But let me preface this by saying, just because you do 1-2 of these, or have in the past, doesn’t mean you are going to harm your thyroid. Some people are lucky and their hormones never really get affected, and some people are sensitive and even a small change can make a big ripple effect (aka me. It’s me. This is me). Hypothyroidism can also be genetic, so even though you have never done any of these contributing factors, but your mom has a low functioning thyroid, then I would also still get checked. This is the power of changing your lifestyle for your future family, so that you don’t have to worry about them “following in your footsteps”.
• Low fat diets
• Low carb diets
• Chronic dieting (aka always trying to eat less food to lose weight)
• Hormonal birth control (here is a blog about the dangers of HBC)
• Poor adrenal health (too much stress)
• Poor liver function
• Overconsumption of coffee and/or alcohol
• Nutrient deficiencies (things like zinc, magnesium, selenium, B vitamins, vitamin D)
So basically, if you got on birth control at a young age because doctors pushed it on you, yo drank like a fish while partying in college, and then you started dieting trying to lose weight after college and have been trying to for years…then I would say you need your levels checked. Now, and then every 6 months. This is why “being healthy” is more than just losing weight or being skinny. It’s about making sure you body is taken care of from the inside out. Because if you only focus on the outside, you are going to end up with hormone conditions that take years to come back from. Take the advice from someone who has been there, and done that. It’s not fun, don’t try this at home kids!
Diagnosis and Treatment of Hypothyroidism
Treatment and diagnosis of hypothyroidism can go multiple different ways. But the first step is getting your levels tested. These are the tests you want – and you need ALL of the tests to be able to determine what is going on. Most doctors will NOT pull these unless you ask and are very adamant about it. Be your own advocate and speak up. This is your body, and your health, no one else gets to tell you what to do or what to test.
Labs necessary to evaluate thyroid function:
– Free T3 (Ideal range between 3.0-4.5)
– Free T4 (Ideal range between 1.0-1.53)
– TSH (Ideal range between 1.8-3.0)
– PTO/Thyroid antibodies (Ideally less than 10)
Some doctors use out of date ranges, so make sure you check in with these, and then double check them! If your doctor is not willing to run these, or you are like me with health insurance that makes you pay a lot for visits, Paloma is a great at home testing kit!
Once you have done testing, then you can move on to treatment. Sometimes medication is necessary and sometimes lifestyle changes do the trick. Either way, you want to start implementing lifestyle changes so that you aren’t always just relying on medication to get you through. Here are some of the changes you should make to support your thyroid naturally.
• Consider working with a professional to transition off hormonal birth control
• Make sure you are eating enough – this means eating as many calories as you burn in a day.
• Get enough healthy fat in your diet
• Minimize exercise intensity and frequency for time being (the Collective is great for minimizing duration and frequency)
• Reduce caffeine intake
• 8-10 hours of sleep at night
• Make sure you are getting enough water – about .5-1.0 oz per lb of body weight
• Minimize dairy and gluten in your diet
• Reduce exposure to plastics, parabens and pesticides in your daily life (this means water bottles, skincare, cleaning products etc)
• Work on your gut health – probiotics, bone broth, fermented foods
All of these are simple ways you can start adjusting your lifestyle to support your hormones.
Hypothyroidism doesn’t just mean getting on medication and calling it a day. You want to regularly check your levels, and change your lifestyle so that you are helping to naturally boost your levels. And also to make sure you are supporting your body in a way in needs. Like is aid, health is more than just how much you weight or how much weight you need to lose. It’s about being healthy from the inside out.
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