At 21 years old, I went to the doctor for my annual check-up. I always had a level of anxiety at the doctor, because I am was convinced something had to be wrong with me. Besides my loopy mind.
The appointment went fine up until the end, when the doctor felt my thyroid and said it felt enlarged. I knew nothing of thyroid disease, so I asked her what this meant. Her response? ‘Well, you could have nodules and they could be cancerous.’ Great bedside manner, right?
So after days of crying and weeks of flipping out, blood tests, sonograms, and nuclear medicine scans, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism – more specifically, Hashimoto’s Disease.
My initial thought was that I had an answer. This must be why I have always had a difficult time losing weight, right? I had exercised consistently for years, but had always remained on the ‘thicker’ side. I was proportionate, but plump, usually outweighing most people my age.
My second thought was that I had an excuse. For 4 years I had wanted to train for a fitness competition. However, I just couldn’t lose the weight. I tried. I remember fearing that hypothyroidism would hold me back from ever competing. So instead of push forward with the rigorous training and try, I accepted that I probably would not ever be lean enough to compete.
My pre-diagnosis situation was different.
I had no symptoms prior. No lethargy, no hair loss, no rapid weight gain or loss. I began medication and remember feeling slightly more alert, but it was most likely just in my head. I still didn’t lose any weight.
I had done my research and and knew that going on medication was not an answer to weight loss, but I secretly hoped that it would be – at least a little bit. It never was.
That is when I took my head out of my arse. I was honest with myself. It wasn’t the hypothyroidism that kept me ‘thick,’ it was the copious amounts of junk food that I enjoyed in between my healthy meals. And the 3-day splurges I would have on the weekend where I basically consumed sugary cereals, dinners out, and late-night snacking.
I learned that hypothyroidism was not an excuse to lead an unhealthy life.
Over the last 5 years, I’ve had numerous clients and members of the gym sit down during our first training session and tell me that they have a thyroid issue. That it is the reason they have been unsuccessful in losing weight.
Even once I tell them that I also have a thyroid condition, some still ‘assume’ that it must be a mild case, or I must only survive on lettuce.
The truth is – losing weight is hard any way you play it. It is much easier to find an excuse to the excess weight than to find motivation after work to get moving and exercise. It is difficult to change years of behavior for something that most think is less appealing.
And even though there are books, TV shows, bloggers, and countless sources of information that tell us how losing weight can be fun, it is tough! Especially when you have a medical condition that is known for weight gain, or the prevention of weight loss.
I want everyone to know that it can be done. If you really and truly want it, it can be done – thyroid disease or not. I am hesitant to list the symptoms of thyroid disease because if you are loopy like me, these symptoms will make you think you have a thyroid problem.
I have read before that there are millions living with thyroid disease and it often goes undiagnosed. There is also much controversy surrounding medication and treatment, but then again – what isn’t there controversy surrounding these days?
Before you assume that you cannot lose weight because of your thyroid condition, or go running to your doctor thinking you have a thyroid condition, ask yourself a few questions.
Are you being honest with yourself?
Are you exercising properly and consistently?
Are you eating the proper foods to fuel your body?
Are you eating enough or eating too little?
Are you looking for an excuse to avoid the hard work?
Once I took charge of my health, I knew that my hypothyroidism would not hold me back. In fact, it would not even be an issue. There are people out there that are gravely affected by the disease, including their weight. I am by no means trying to play that down, but it is not the majority.
If you suffer from hypothyroidism, staying fit, or are losing you own battle with weight, I want you to know that you can change. Take hold of your health. You will feel so much better.
It is always worth the fight.