“Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones to meet the needs of the body. The thyroid is underactive. Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism, or the way the body uses energy. If thyroxine levels are low, many of the body’s functions slow down.”
-Medical News Today ‘What is Hypothyroidism?’ BycIntosh
Approximately 3 million people in America suffer from hypothyroidism. Before I was diagnosed I had vaguely heard about the disease from a friend who was diagnosed at a young age. She didn’t really tell me much about it other than as long as she took her medication at the same time everyday she felt good. She was actually hyperthyroid and when she took her medication she wasn’t jittery and if she skipped it she was jittery. It seemed pretty simple to me. Fast forward to 2010, thyroid issues our way complex and anything but simple.
I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in 2010, shortly after my daughter was born. I wasn’t in a rush to get back into shape, I was breastfeeding and slowly the weight was coming off. Then around 6 months I was forced to stop breastfeeding because of my work schedule. I was so stressed and overwhelmed because of a few situations at work that my milk completely dried up. Once I was done breastfeeding I started to notice the wait was no longer coming off I was increasingly tired even on nights I did get sleep and my hair was starting to fall out in clumps in the shower. I blamed the weight on being sedentary at work and at home. I blamed the tiredness on being a new mom with a newborn of course. My hair falling out was the real wake up call. I know that sounds silly because many women suffer from hair loss after a baby but I have extremely thick, full, frizzy, poofy, over-the-top, big hair and it was falling out in clumps. And just to make it sound even scarier these were the types of clumps you would pull out of the shower drain and think that there was some kind of hairy monster living in the shower and you just pulled it out of the drain. I started to look online for ways to remedy my hair loss and I stumbled upon hypothyroidism and its connection to hair loss, weight gain, and fatigue. I read deeper into the symptoms and started to see many things that I suffer from that I had never connected the dots. I’ve always had mild anxiety that I’ve just dealt with. I’ve always had small bouts of chest pain but nothing that really scared me. And I’ve always been on the fluffy side. Those are just a few of the wonderful things hypothyroidism has to offer. There are literally hundreds of symptoms because our thyroids are so complex they control everything in our bodies.
After all the WebMD searches and trying to self-diagnose I finally went to the doctor. My primary care physician took some labs and came back and said that I was hypothyroid. She quickly described what that meant and slapped prescription in my hand that said Levothyroxine. Of course, me being the uneducated at simple-minded person that I was I took her diagnosis as the end-all-be-all. After about 6 months of taking Levothyroxine daily I gained close to 60 lbs! I was completely shocked and sad and had no idea where to turn. I had heard all these wonderful stories about women who started taking their thyroid medication and dropped a quick 50 lb and felt amazing but unfortunately I had not done enough research and enough reading. I also allowed myself to keep taking a medication that was obviously not meant for me.
I started to dig deeper into hypothyroidism and found that levothyroxine is a synthetic drug that for some can be successful but for many it’s not the right prescription. A friend of mine was going through some weight issues and posted about a doctor she was going to try. It was a wellness clinic that was focused on diet and Alternative forms of medication. I decided to take a leap and make an appointment at this Clinic. Their website talked about infertility weight loss and hormonal issues.
I made my first appointment and from that day it has been so much better. I found out that many doctors only test one level in your thyroid when in all reality there are many different levels that need to be tested. Things like T4 free T3 vitamin D the list goes on. They drew so many more labs and were able to paint a much bigger picture of my thyroid and its needs. Don’t let a doctor tell you it’s ok to check your T4 only. The free T3 is very important as well! I was prescribed NP Thyroid which is a natural version of Levothyroxine rather than a synthetic. Basically I’m getting the hormone my thyroid needs naturally rather than with a synthetic drug. Within 6 months of starting my new prescription the weight gain stopped all together and I was able to maintain my current weight. I was still extremely overweight but I had finally stopped gaining. My anxiety was much more in control, my hair was no longer falling out, and I was sleeping better even with my rotating work schedule.
After a full year on my dose of NP thyroid I was feeling pretty good. I went back for a lab retest and it was determined my dose needed to be raised. I had good labs but she wanted better than good, she wanted “optimal” Once my dose was raised I was feeling pretty good. The anxiety was almost completely gone and I was starting to slowly see some weight loss. Typical mom excuse: I was extremely busy with a toddler a job and at that point a failing marriage. Let me explain, not an “excuse” but a valid reason is a better way to say it. I know it’s possible to be a fit mom and there is no excuse not to be healthy but with everything I had on my plate at that time I wasn’t in the right mindset to even focus on my health. There were other things that needed to come first and that was my daughter and figuring out how I was going to handle my marriage.
We’ll go ahead and skip the marriage part but long story short I ended up divorcing. From late 2013-mid 2016 I stayed busy with my daughter, my jobs, and life.
In 2016 I knew it was time to make some changes and put myself first. I started to really hit the gym and was feeling great. From September 2016 to December 2017 I was able to lose over 125lbs. I’ve posted many times about my weight loss including some Diet information and gym routines but I’ve never really told the hypothyroidism side of my story. I guess the lesson to learn from my story is never assume what a doctor tells you is your only option. Do your own research read anything and everything you can find and always get a second opinion. Obviously doctors are extremely knowledgeable and important but trust your gut. Trust your instincts. There is no quick answer to any medical issue so be patient, be willing to try new things, and be open-minded.
I recently had my yearly thyroid test and I was actually on the high end?! So my dose will be lowered. My doctor wants me to see how I feel with the new does. If all goes well I’ll retest in another year.
Now that baby number 2 is here, my milk supply is good, and I’m past the stressful newborn stage it’s time to get back in the gym! I have 30lb to lose to get back to pre-baby weight!