Low thyroid symptoms like weight gain, brain fog and feeling blah are so common among women (even those already on thyroid meds)…they’re almost considered normal. Good news, help is on the way! Listen to this episode to hear how one woman turned things around…and the testing you might need to do the same. (And stay tuned next week for part 2.)
- Download Michelle Thyroid Labs Cheatsheet at http://ShesGotPower.com/thyroid
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Some things start to become predictable
What’s something that you’ve been doing for a really long time? Something you know really well?
I’ve been practicing yoga for nearly 15 years. When I take a class, I can almost predict what the teacher is going to say next.
Within my private coaching practice (I’ve been working in women’s health for 11 years) some things have also started to become predictable.
Time and time again, I hear stories from women around such things as…
- Brain fog
- Feeling cold all the time
- Feeling blah, no energy, or flat out exhausted
- And feeling irritable
Those are REALLY common. In fact, I think culturally we almost expect them.
Exhausted? Irritable? Welcome to being a woman!
It doesn’t have to be that way, but it’s so common we consider it normal.
I also hear about…
- Digestive problems, IBS
- Hair loss or thinning hair
- Stories of trauma
Amy had it all
Amy was a client of mine (name changed for privacy, obviously!) Her story really encapsulates so many of the issues mentioned above.
If you can see any of yourself in Amy, I’ll share some important testing you may want to get done and tell you why it’s important at the end of this article.
Can’t wait? You can download a list of the tests you need right now at ShesGotPower.com/thyroid.
And next week, I’ll share a part 2 to this article, with exactly how Amy made changes to her diet and lifestyle. The results were stunning.
Here’s a little backstory…
Amy came from a tough family where she felt “on the outs” with her siblings. There was a lot of toxicity in the home.
She was sexually abused by her brother at a young age. Later, as a teen, she encountered a similar situation with her boss at work.
That part right there?
I can’t tell you how many women share stories of traumatic events in their younger years. You can almost trace a line from those experiences to the health issues that show up soon after…
- Amy had her first IBS flare soon after the unfortunate events with her boss.
- A few years after that, she was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and put on Synthroid.
- In her early 30’s she got married and struggled to get pregnant (she never did.)
- Since her mid-30’s she’d been on antidepressants.
Like the walking dead
I met Amy in her mid-40’s. Before I knew anything about her story, my impression was…this woman is the walking dead. Her voice was flat – no expression, no sense of life.
She came to me, not because of the IBS or the depression or the hypothyroidism — all of that felt very “normal” to her — but because she wanted to lose weight.
She had actually seen one of my other clients (who, by the way, had had similar issues.) On the surface she could see this client’s tremendous weight loss.
That’s what’s visible, right? And that’s what’s accepted to talk about openly.
Behind every woman who can’t lose weight, there’s a story
I assure you, behind every woman who can’t lose weight, there’s a story.
A source of inflammation.
(Learn more about the reasons behind stubborn weight here.)
Amy’s reaction was:
“Wow, no one has ever ASKED me about my story.”
No one had ever connected the dots between her emotional life and physical issues.
This is how integrative and functional medicine works…we look for the root cause, not just how to fix a symptom.
Amy’s first steps towards healing
The woman I met was lethargic, lacking motivation, feeling overwhelmed and heavy in body and spirit.
These were her first steps:
First, finding a therapist. Amy needed to properly unpack the traumatic experiences she’d had with a professional trained in this area.
Second, she needed proper testing for her THYROID.
Soooo many women like Amy have a low-functioning thyroid, or hypothyroidism.
Some are not on the right dose of medication.
Even fewer understand whether or not they have Hashimoto’s disease…and why that matters.
Here’s the deal with thyroid medication
Important: If you are taking thyroid meds there is NO problem with being on synthroid (or levothyroxine, or any form of supplemental hormone.) Don’t stop taking your doctor’s prescription because you think, “oh, I shouldn’t need medication, I can solve this naturally.”
Taking supplemental thyroid hormone is like a Type 1 diabetic whose body does not produce insulin. They take insulin to supplement. They need it.
If you are not producing thyroid hormone, for whatever reason, you also need to supplement. It’s not like an antibiotic – thyroid meds aren’t changing or curing anything. It’s a replacement or supplement to provide what your body isn’t producing.
The reason behind MOST women’s hypothyroidism
Your immune system is supposed to attack invaders like a virus or bacteria. When it starts to attack itself, you can a problem called “autoimmunity.”
Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition where your body attacks your thyroid gland.
Now, there are other reasons for a low-functioning thyroid, but this is what’s happening in the vast majority of cases.
You should know if your hypothyroidism is due to Hashimoto’s or not.
When you have one autoimmune disease, you’re more likely to develop another. Because it can be difficult to get a proper diagnosis of autoimmune disease, having this knowledge gives you a leg up.
Also, having Hashimoto’s completely changes how we can help you and get rid of your symptoms. (It’s a very different root cause of hypothyroidism than if your thyroid got fried from standing too close to a nuclear reactor.)
Amy didn’t know if she had Hashimoto’s or not, so I gave her a list of tests to talk to her doctor about.
Many symptoms, one underlying problem
The crazy thing is that ALL of Amy’s symptoms could be traced back to her low functioning thyroid.
Your thyroid is the master behind your body’s metabolism. When it slows down, your body slows down.
Results? You gain and hold onto weight.
How about the gas, bloating and constipation of IBS? Amy was experiencing these symptoms because low thyroid function slows down the motility of your intestines. When things don’t move, you’re going to get gas and bloating.
And when you’re slowed down by a low-functioning thyroid, your mood tanks. Your energy tanks. You feel low. That’s why so many women are put on Prozac when what they really need is a full panel of thyroid testing.
And hair loss? Infertility? Also classic symptoms of a low functioning thyroid.
It was great news when Amy’s tests revealed Hashimoto’s disease because then there are specific steps to take towards healing.
Proper thyroid testing is key
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with hypothyroidism or just have symptoms, the right testing could be a game changer.
Bring it to your doctor and discuss, ok?
Here’s an overview…
Most doctors will test your TSH. That’s it.
The results will be based on what’s average or normal for the population. Do NOT go by standard lab test results that say you’re “normal.” We don’t want you to be “normal” because normal people in the general population are not necessarily very healthy.
We want you to be in “optimal” range with all your testing.
You’ll also want Free T3 and Free T4 tested. These are the two forms of thyroid hormones. If low, they indicate hypothyroidism. Makes sense.
And of course, I always want to see a test for thyroid antibodies. If you’ve got antibodies, it is evidence that your body has been attacking the thyroid. That means you have Hashimoto’s.
Note: There are TWO different antibodies, and they should both be tested.
It’s also smart to look at Reverse T3. If high, this test shows that your body is conserving energy. Something might be off.
And finally, it’s a good idea to test for iodine and iron levels. Iodine is necessary for the production of thyroid hormones. Low iodine can therefore be a reason for hypothyroidism. Low iron, on the other hand, isn’t directly related to your thyroid. But it can cause some of the same symptoms, from low energy to hair loss.
Next time, I’ll share more about how Amy made changes to her diet and lifestyle so you can get a sense of what’s involved. And I’ll tell you about the changes she saw in her body, mind and spirit.
You could be next.
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