Having issues with your thyroid can make getting to a healthy weight and maintaining it very difficult, but it isn’t impossible. I usually don’t like to talk about my thyroid problem because I don’t want to use it as an excuse, but hypothyroidism is a real problem and it does make maintaining a healthy weight more challenging. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to make it easier.
Here are some simple guidelines that help me to live an active, healthy, happy life with an underactive thyroid:
1. Eat clean…or at least, eat cleaner. My friends tease me for my “#eatclean” hashtags on my recipes and my tireless crusading against processed food, but I firmly and truly believe that a healthy, whole-food diet is the number one key to alleviating a variety of health problems. What is eating clean? For me, it is a commitment to eating whole, real, minimally processed or unprocessed foods, and creating my own clean recipes. One approach is to try eating things that have as five ingredients or less. Just being mindful of what you eat, and trying to avoid ingredients you can’t pronounce or have never heard of, can be very helpful. Do you have to follow this 100% of the time? Nope! I try to follow the 80/20 rule. That means that 80% of the time I am pretty diligent, and 20% of the time I give myself a break. Once you feel the difference in your body from eating healthy, nutrient-rich, vitamin-packed whole foods, you’ll think twice before going back to the processed stuff.
2. Get active every day. Do you have to work out hardcore at the gym 6 or 7 days a week? No. But the act of moving, even if it’s just a 20 minute walk, should be a part of your day every single day. For me, being hypothyroid means that I feel tired and sluggish. And if I give into that, it lingers. Even one rest day can sideline me for a few extra days because my body gets tired from inactivity. I truly don’t believe that we should ever take a full “rest day” where you are not active at all. The body was designed to move. You do need rest from strenuous activity, but lazing about like a bump on a log isn’t good for anyone. Fitness is so important. Getting in activity whenever you can will keep your body working right.
3. Listen to your body. Are you tired? Is your skin dry? Do you notice that your hair is thinner? Your thyroid could be causing these issues. Do your research and look out for the warning signs. Even if your thyroid levels are under control thanks to medication, your TSH levels can still fluctuate. Look out for any warning signs and get your levels tested by your doctor. Get regular checkups and pay attention to warning signs. Knowledge is key. You can learn more about thyroid disorders here.
4. Don’t stress. Stress causes your body to produce excess cortisol, which makes it hard to lose weight. Having stress AND an underactive thyroid is a recipe for disaster. Your body will literally fight you every step of the way. Learn to avoid and properly deal with stress. Unfortunately, it sounds a lot easier than it is! Work, obligations, finances…so many things in life have the potential to cause stress. Learn to manage stress: practice deep breathing, meditate, listen to calming music, watch funny movies, hang out with friends- find whatever it is that keeps you mellow and happy. The better you learn to deal with stress, the better off you’ll be, mind and body.
5. Don’t use your thyroid as an excuse, use it as ammunition. Losing weight isn’t easy, and that goes for almost everyone. It takes a lot of effort to lose even just one pound. Think about it: you need to create a deficit of 3,500 calories in order to lose one pound. According to my heart rate monitor, during an hour-long workout, I usually burn between 400-600 calories. That means I have to work out at least 6 times a week if I’m not cutting calories in order to lose weight. And you know what? I don’t always have time to work out 6 days a week. But you know what else I don’t have time for? Letting something hold me back or drag me down. I have made a commitment to never give up, even when the going gets tough. And the going definitely does get tough sometimes. You’ll see the scale going in the wrong direction from time to time, but if you make a firm decision not to let your thyroid dictate your health, you can succeed at weight loss. Just make a few simple changes, stay determined, and be patient.
You’ve got this! When the going gets tough, just keep going. Like Ultra-Marathoner Dean Karnazes said: Run when you can. Walk if you have to. Crawl if you must. Just. Never. Give. Up.
Do you have a thyroid issue, or any other health issue that makes weight loss challenging? How do you deal with it?