But it’s not keeping me down. As a matter of fact – it’s fueling a fire inside that I never realized I had. Until now.
First things first, I am OK. But real talk, Hashimoto’s 10000% sucks. The majority of symptoms are internal and things you would never notice just by looking at me. Chances are, you’ve never even heard of Hashimoto’s or, if you’re like me, you thought it was something you got from being in a river somewhere. So let’s clear that up.
Hashimoto’s Disease: an autoimmune disease where the body creates antibodies that “attack” the thyroid; the most common cause of hypthyroidism (an underactive thyroid).
Second, and this is maybe the most important thing I’ll write in this entire post, do not – I repeat DO NOT – take any of what you read below as medical advice. This is a peek into my personal journey & experience and is in no way meant to supplement or replace medical advice from your doctor or physician. If you find yourself experiencing similar symptoms, consult with a doctor before self-diagnosing. It’s so important to understand that we are all different and our bodies react differently to certain stimuli/changes.
Now that we got that out of the way, let me tell you a little bit about what’s been going on in my life.
November 2019 – July 2020
Weight gain + inability to lose weight
Low libido (sex drive)
Infrequent bowel movements
Fatigue – I would wake up after 8+ hours of sleep and still be exhausted
Bloat and poor digestion
Dry skin + eczema
For a little background: I began my fitness journey in July 2018. I started weighing 172 lbs and being in the worst shape of my life. Fast forward to February 2019. I weighed 146 lbs and was the strongest and healthiest I’ve ever felt. I wasn’t restricting calories or overworking. I was eating a balanced diet and was incorporating more strength training workouts into my routine. Fast forward again to November 2019. I was up nearly 17 lbs in less than ten months. And to be clear, it was not 17 bs of muscle. I did a body scan and my bot fat was up 17 lbs – and that was not normal. I started working with Kristin Oja, DNP, FNP-C, IFMCP at STAT Wellness and feel confident saying that my life will be forever changed.
MY HASHIMOTO’S TIMELINE
NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2019
I visited Kristin for the first time with my concerns in the winter of last year. I was feeling frustrated with my weight gain and nothing seemed to be working. I knew that some of the weight gain was due to some over indulgences (hello, Amalfi Coast), but nothing “normal” warranted a gain of 17 lbs in ten months.
After an initial consult + lab draw, we discovered I had a few vitamin deficiencies as well as high levels of cortisol and some adrenal fatigue – all things that can trigger weight gain. I started incorporating a few supplements/vitamins into my routine and put more of a focus on decreasing stress (emotional, mental and physical).
A few months later, and I’d say I was giving it about 50%. I was taking the supplements on and off and struggling a bit with nutrition but I was still starting to see a little bit of change with my body composition. I stopped doing two-a-days by this point and I think that elimination of extra stress on my body definitely helped.
We ran updated labs and the results were…interesting. My cortisol was improving – still on the higher side, but not as high as before and my other vitamin deficiencies were improving. My thyroid, however, did not improve, it actually “worsened”. TSH increased (meaning lower thyroid function) and was out of range which indicated hypothyroidism. This can slow down digestion, hinder weight loss abilities, cause dry skin/hair loss, and low mood – all of which were symptoms I was experiencing. Typically, you see hypothyroidism related to nutritional deficiencies, autoimmune (Hashimoto’s), or stress (high cortisol). Because my cortisol was better than before, but still high, this was the first time we discussed the possibility of Hashimoto’s.
I started NP thyroid which is a medication that includes T4 and T3 to help support the thyroid while trying to reduce the antibodies.
After 6 weeks of taking the NP thyroid medication and making a few small changes to my routine (aiming for better sleep, more water, strategic workout split, cleaner diet -ish), I was beyond frustrated. I had made all of these changes and was still not seeing any changes in my body composition. I was feeling a little better but not 100% and as embarrassed as I am to admit this, my physical progress, or lack thereof, was really upsetting. As a personal trainer and wellness advocate, I was starting to feel hopeless. I was doing all of the things I would tell a client to do but couldn’t seem to make any traction.
We ran updated labs. Rather than a full panel, we focused on TSH, T4 free, T3 free, and thyroid antibodies. The lab results showed us that there were indeed antibodies present which signals a Hashimoto’s diagnosis (remember, Hashi’s is an autoimmune disease where the body creates antibodies that attack the thyroid).
As a result of the lab work and my lack of “physical progress”, we came to the conclusion that inflammation is likely the cause. And that’s where we are now.
A way ahead…
The Goal: Kristin’s goal is to help me identify the root cause of my symptoms and the autoimmune disease. We want to figure out what is triggering the inflammation and immune dysfunction. We want to treat the root cause rather than just managing the symptoms.
No. 1: Medications + Supplements
I’m continuing NP thyroid which is a desiccated thyroid medication derived from porcine that includes T4 and T3 to help support the thyroid while trying to reduce the antibodies. I’m also taking LDN (low dose naltrexone) to help with inflammation and immune dysfunction which is a more functional approach to autoimmune.
Additionally, I take a probiotic (for gut health) every single morning as well as B12, Ashwagandha (a great adaptogen for stress) and Boswellia (for joint support).
*this is not to be taken as medical advice. please consult with your physician before taking any new supplements or medication.
No. 2: Nutrition
One of the “triggers” of inflammation in people with Hashimoto’s is gluten so as of Monday, July 13th, I am completely gluten-free. I’ll also be sticking to a diet of mostly whole, nutrient-dense foods (similar to Whole 30). My goal is to eliminate foods and additives that might be causing inflammation and instead focus on the fuel my body needs to thrive and heal. I’m currently in the process of cleaning out my protein powders and other supplements and replacing them with cleaner alternatives.
Another element of what I put into my body is what I put on my body. I recently lost my entire makeup bag so decided it was time to finally invest in some cleaner makeup and skincare products. I stocked up on a ton of new goodies from beauty counter and am already obsessed. I’ll share more of my favorite products soon so stay tuned.
No. 3: Workouts + stress
Rather than doing two-a-days or hours of cardio to lose weight (we’ve all been there), I’m focusing on lower impact strength training paired with bursts of HIIT and shorter form cardio. I’m also taking additional steps to eliminate stress, get more rest, and create more intentional and mindful moments throughout the day (more walks, reading vs. looking at my phone, etc.).
No. 4: Updated labs + next steps
I will be getting updated labs in a little less than 8 weeks. Our hope, at that time, is to see improvements across the board and decrease/simplify the supplement protocol. I love that Kristin & STAT’s mission is to find the root cause and heal my body from the inside out with a heavier focus on overall wellness. Because my numbers are on the lower side, there is a possibility that I won’t have to take a ton of medications for the rest of my life and that’s something I’m holding on to.
I still have so much to learn about Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism. I’ve set up a consult call with a nutritionist who specializes in this field and plan to do a ton of research on my own. I’ll continue to share more about my journey and healing with you guys. If you ever have questions, you can always slide into the DMs or shoot me an email.