• body / hormones / lifestyle

    Hormone Update: Getting my Thyroid Back on Track

    thyroid health

    Before reading this post, please know that there are far more serious thyroid issues and each person’s story is different. I am not a doctor nor an expert, just speaking of personal experience. Please consult your doctor and find one that works in line with you and your health values to help manage any thyroid or even hormone issues you’ve you may have!

    At the end of 2017, I opened up about my high cortisol levels and stress ball with an urge to better manage this and start feeling better.

    It is so common (almost too common) in our society to brag about being stressed and having too much to do. We think it gives us a sense of validity and the busier we are, the more successful we are and so on. Little do we know how much stress can truly impact every single part of our health..Not just give us wrinkles and grey hair (which is equally as annoying!!).

    It can also be very deceiving to follow someone on Instagram and think their life is perfect. I follow various fashion bloggers, fitness bloggers and other food bloggers and was captivated by the perfectly curated content that was posted. You know what I am talking about, the shirtless toned selfies, perfectly food styled lunch bowl or the quintessential family photo with everyone looking happy and festive. Why is no one talking more about the realness of what is going on?

    I know I am guilty of portraying that I have my shit together. I recently had a reader comment on a photo saying “I’m so happy you’re opening up more with your insecurities because I was really starting to hate you and your perfect looking life”.

    I read that comment over a few times and while some may have taken that offensively, I chose to view this as a compliment. A reader is telling me they like seeing the not-so-perfect parts of blogger’s the follow.

    The vulnerabilities we share, connect us to one another. And give us a sense of not feeling alone in anyway. They also give my blog a pulse that you can all feel.

    A few of my juicier and not so sexy blog posts:

    Let’s Talk About Hormones + My Story
    Post Unemployment Aftermath
    Eating Meat for First Time in 5 Years
    My Relationship with Food
    2017 Reflection

    Hormones have been my biggest struggle for awhile. My hormones have been pretty out of whack for years now and many of you know that I haven’t had my period since going off birth control almost two years ago. I have been all over the place trying to figure out what the beep is causing my lack of period but it really isn’t as easy as you’d think. There is no one issue and there is also no one answer.

    Just like everyone’s body is different when it comes to food and fitness, our bodies are also very different hormonally.

    I’m going to be sharing a larger update as soon as I feel I have one that actually will be of help instead of me just complaining to you for 1,000 words how it hasn’t returned. And listing every single thing I have tried in the past two years to help manage my Hypothalamic Amenorrhea. Or is it PCOS? Because every doctor says something different. Herbs, cleanses, not working out much, gaining weight and so on. You name it I’ve likely done it. I even rub essential oils made for women on my stomach at night.

    Today I’m sharing more about my thyroid, which isn’t something I have chatted about on here yet. Ultimately because I didn’t think I had any issues with my thyroid until a few months ago.

    My TSH levels were usually within “range” at the lab and I did frequent full thyroid panel as well to test T4, antibodies, free T3 and so on. Everything looked good, nothing stood out too much. My TSH (Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone) was a little higher than it should be but nothing to worry about at that point. It was shocking to me that I was told everything was okay. I felt like my thyroid really could have been an issue here and my gut was telling me that something was off, even though blood work supposedly came back in range.

    Fast forward a few months (we are in summer 2017 at this point) and I started seeing a doctor (within the functional medicine space) who did A LOT of blood work on me. He came to the conclusion I had candida overgrowth and put me on a crazy insane protocol that was not fun at all. I didn’t talk about it on the blog or on Instagram ever because it really just was depressing to think about. I also didn’t even believe I had it and boy should I have listened to my gut (ha! get it?!).

    I didn’t experience any symptoms of candida overgrowth. It just looked like I had an imbalance in my gut based off the blood work I did. But I felt fine. I never had stomaches and my digestion was great. What gives?

    In effort to be the best patient, I went along with what the doctor said. I omitted grains, gluten, dairy, cashews, most sugar (even bananas and dates) and ate a lot of fats and protein with very little carbs. I ate this way for over 3 months and to be honest I really didn’t feel any different. My parents and Jord definitely thought I was nuts but went along with it because I felt this would bring me one step closer to getting my period. If you told me running around naked would bring my period back, I’d do it.

    I eventually got sick of following this crazy protocol. A life without bananas is not a life I am trying to live, ya know?! I then got more blood work just to check on things and my TSH level went up like CRAZY. It went up almost 4 full points, which if you are familiar with TSH levels, that is kind of scary to happen in such a short time. Especially when you think you are supposed to be helping your hormones and body with this protocol.

    So now I had a clean gut (even though I already had a decently cleaned gut in my opinion), had no period and corrupted my thyroid?! Cool Rach, real cool.

    Now we are in late Fall and I was no longer seeing that doctor (he ghosted me BTW!). I began eating all the things my heart desired again. Bananas, sweet potatoes, dates, sugar, bread, some dairy, everything. Spoiler alert: I feel so much better both mentally and physically.

    When I began seeing Dr. Lipman in November we retested my thyroid and it was definitely still off. It went down a couple of points but wasn’t really within the ideal range. I also was experiencing hair loss, my skin was getting cold very very easily and few others symptoms of thyroid being out of whack for awhile (insert all the Vital Proteins and Garden of Life vitamins, please). Looking back, the were symptoms I had for awhile like way before messing with my TSH even more with the candida diet but they had continued to escalate a lot.

    Dr. Lipman taught me that my thyroid wasn’t working as well as it should. I wanted to hug him when I finally heard a doctor say that. I cannot even tell you how many people I saw who said my thyroid looked OK!

    I’m not going into details here about my levels because I am not a doctor and would like to keep this as not science-y as possible. But I also learned from Dr. Lipman that my stress was going to basically destroy me if I didn’t slow down. I had massive bags under my eyes, I looked pretty much like shit and needed to revamp many things to get back on track. It was clear to us that my stress was impacting my thyroid. And that may be why my period is MIA.

    Fast forward two months and I just got my TSH level tested again last week and guess what?! My TSH went down and it is actually at a better number than it was a year ago! I feel so much better. I feel more energized, I feel less stressed and I’m eating all the foods I want and craving so BOOYAH! I got this news at the best time as I was really starting to feel discouraged since still no period, but now that my thyroid is thriving, I feel so so much better! One step closer you guys!

    I am by no means a professional but I want to share what I have been doing to help get my thyroid back on track. This does not mean it will work for everyone as we are all so different. But I know that if it wasn’t for learning from others around me and leaning on each other, I’d be in a dark hole somewhere thinking the world was going to end. Please take my tips, bring them to your physician and see what can work for you!thyroid health

    What I have been doing to get my thyroid back on track:

    1. Managing my stress levels (*so key). This includes things like:
      1. Better work life balance aka slowing down and taking BREAKS
      2. Only checking email 1-2x per day
      3. Shutting my phone down and not going on it all day (I try to get off Insta by 9:30 and don’t check much during day only to upload stories!)
      4. Saying NO to social events and work that I do not want to do or go to
      5. Clearing negativity and people out of my life
    2. Eating a balanced diet. Ha! Sounds easy enough right?! After doing the Be Well cleanse and figuring out my rashes and bloating, I started eating back on track again. AKA many many more carbs again. Sweet potato fries are a weekly staple of here. Bananas are a daily part of my life again and I also have been eating more dairy than before. Basically I am listening to my body and not omitting any foods that I want to eat. No food rules (just monitoring gluten and focusing on quality forms like sprouted spelt flour, etc.). Something I was very good at prior to being told I had candida. It feels so good to be back to listening to my body. Fats + carbs + protein. My body needs everything to feel its best. And everything includes eating banana bread.
    3. Limiting working out to 3-4x per week. I also really only do low impact classes like barre and yoga. I’m not a cardio or high intensity training fan. Not saying it is bad but for me, slowing down has really made a difference for my health overall.
    4. Taking Licorice Plus and supporting my adrenals. Thyroid and adrenal glands work together so if one feels good, the other feels good and visa versa.
    5. A thyroid support formula I get from Dr. Lipman. It a capsule with vitamins, adaptogens and a few other random ingredients. But these are supplements to take under the guidance of a doctor! You also cannot buy online but it is not a prescription. Just a supplement to help support thyroid health with various vitamins in it. *Please note depending on your own thyroid health, you may need something else!
    6. Getting on average 8 hours of sleep a night. This isn’t really an issue for me because sleep is my favorite activity after eating. I have been trying to let myself sleep in when I can and not set an alarm when my schedule allows. I also have black out shades, which have been a game changer for a deeper sleep.
    7. Getting acupuncture every other week or so. I have been getting acupuncture for two years now. Have been to a handful of acupuncturist and have not seen results until seeing Dr. Lipman. Seeing him every week or so has been amazing to relax for 30 minutes, lay with the heat lamp over me, head phones in and phone no where in site. If this is out of budget for you, check some of the community acupuncture centers where you don’t have our own room. I have heard great things!

    That is where we are at today friends. I commend you if you made it this far down into the longest post ever. My goal here isn’t too tell you what to do for your own thyroid or even tell you there is something wrong with it. There are many people and close friends of mine who take synthroid and it works for them. Sometimes solving things holistically may not work as well (I am see this first hand with my period) but I am grateful that we found success with my thyroid. I am also grateful that I finally found doctor who was in agreement with me that my thyroid was off.

    My biggest piece of advice I can give is:

    Be your own biggest advocate. Follow your gut and always get second opinions. Things like candida overgrowth are passed around way too easily these days. No comparing ourselves to others, learn from each other and find what works for YOU.

    xx, Rach

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  • Reply Jess February 21, 2018 at 6:24 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing all of this! I took birth control for 9 years straight, stopped in September and still no period. While mine has only been missing for about 6 months, I can totally relate. I feel like stress is really keeping my period away and am definitely going to look into taking licorice root.

    Looking forward to following your journey and hearing the great news when your period returns!

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    • Reply Rachel February 22, 2018 at 5:10 pm

      aw so sorry to hear that!! i hope you feel better soon! sending all the love! xx

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  • Reply Ashlee February 21, 2018 at 7:10 pm

    Rachel! This is amazing. I recently went through this as well and wasn’t getting my period either. I had oligomenorrhea which was super sad to me because 1) i wanted my period and 2) I work with women all the time that have these issues and I STINKING HAD THEM! But, it all is well and after major major changes in stress management, some supplements and acupuncture, it came back and has been back for like 5 months now! Praise God. Thanks for sharing your story. Keep me posted!

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    • Reply Rachel February 22, 2018 at 5:11 pm

      oh no! so sorry to hear that. so happy to hear you are back in action! xx

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  • Reply Charlotte Faith February 21, 2018 at 9:07 pm

    I lost my period 5 years ago…went off birth control and it never came back…. I work with a functional Medicine Doctor in Atlanta (DR. TAZ) and I have had no luck… yet. I am in my Early 20’s and I just wanted to say thanks for sharing cause I thought I was.the.only. one. on the planet. I have seen SO many doctors that led me astray and left me hopeless. I know I have a Completely different health history than you but we do relate in many ways of trying to retrieve a period. Good Luck this year and I hope we Both find our Period again!

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    • Reply Rachel February 22, 2018 at 8:27 pm

      oh i have heard amazing things about Dr. Taz! i hope you feel better soon!! xx

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  • Reply Laura February 21, 2018 at 9:16 pm

    Reading this post I feel SO identified, the MIA period, “everything’s fine” commenr from numerous doctors, rashes, bloating.. you name it I’ve also encountered it. And all of this while living the healthiest life I can think off.. Last week I started seeing Dr. Lipman, I’m honestly in love with him and going to my second acupuncture session tomorrow 🙂 I hope I start getting my health back on track soon just like tou.

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  • Reply Dora February 21, 2018 at 11:09 pm

    Hi Rachel I’m so glad to hear that you’re starting to feel better! I study nutritional medicine and pathophysiology at university and a lot of what you’ve described we learn about from a holistic point of view. I just wanted to share with you my personal stress busters (and believe me studying what I’m studying is stressful!) A beautiful, relaxing nurturing massage especially at the end of the day is my personal favourite along with yin yoga and a warm bath or shower before bed. Wishing you all the best!

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    • Reply Rachel February 22, 2018 at 8:26 pm

      thank you so much for reading!! oh that sounds amazing !!! xoxo

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  • Reply Ashley February 21, 2018 at 11:53 pm

    It’s amazing how much of an effect stress has on our bodies!!! I dealt with hypothalamic amenorrhea for about 3 years and felt like I had tried everything as well – including trying to manage my stress. Turns out I was stressed mainly because I wasn’t completely happy with where I was living and working, even though I didn’t “think” I felt that way at the time. My husband and I moved out to Colorado (from Michigan) and my period came back 3-4 months later! (And that’s even with a big increase in physical activity as we were Marathon training, and some corresponding weight loss) It’s amazing how much happier I am out here, it wasn’t until the move that I realized how unhappy I was back home. Keep sticking with it, I have no doubt yours will be back in no time!!

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  • Reply Kate February 22, 2018 at 7:58 am

    Hi there! Thanks so much for putting thyroid issues on blast! I also live in Hoboken and have suffered from Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (hypothyroid) since I was 21 – I’m now 26 and have been on thyroxine for years and feel only marginally better: still have brain fog, always cold, v dry skin. If I could afford a naturopath or functional medicine doctor in Hoboken, I would 😞 My next step is going to be seeing a nutritionist – so many things are in play with the thyroid and your blog has been a great source of healthy recipes for me in the meantime. Please do keep us updated on your journey!

    Xo Kate

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    • Reply Rachel February 22, 2018 at 8:25 pm

      hi!! so sorry to hear that!! hopefully ill run into soon!! xx

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  • Reply Katie February 22, 2018 at 9:05 am

    Thank you for sharing and being so real about this issue with everyone! It cannot be easy to share this so publicly, but you are surely helping others to feel comfortable to share their hormonal issues and/or finally seek the help they need! Wishing you all the best in health and hoping your period returns soon!

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  • Reply Savannah February 22, 2018 at 11:26 am

    Thanks for sharing! I’ve been wondering about my thyroid lately and some of what you said gave me a lot of clarity!
    On a side note have you done anything with your lighting at night to try to get your period back? I am a nutritional therapist and have been researching about period health and fertility.

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    • Reply Rachel February 22, 2018 at 8:25 pm

      what do you mean lighting at night? lol. we don’t have an alarm in room or clock and i also don’t look at phone in the dark!

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  • Reply Rebecca February 22, 2018 at 11:41 am

    Thank you for reading your story. I actually didn’t get my period for over 2.5 years after quitting birth control. I had tests done and all. It eventually came back and is now regular! It was not fun! Best wishes <3

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  • Reply Rebecca February 22, 2018 at 11:41 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. I actually didn’t get my period for over 2.5 years after quitting birth control. I had tests done and all. It eventually came back and is now regular! It was not fun! Best wishes <3

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  • Reply Natalie February 22, 2018 at 11:44 am

    Rachel! You sweet soul ❤️ Thank you for sharing this post with the world. I have had many struggles with y thyroid in the past and know what it feels like to not get your period for a very long time period. The smallest, tiniest things like taking those moments for yourself, eating what your body craves, getting enough sleep and surrounding yourself with people who understand and love you will ultimately be the biggest steps for the future. Just be patient and never give up. Love ya and I’m so proud of u! Xoxo

    Natalie (@thenaturallynatalie)

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  • Reply Rachel February 22, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this update. I am going through the exact same issue as you (post-pill amenorrhea, with a slightly funky thyroid), and find the toughest thing not to be the medical issue itself, but rather how hopeless and out of tune I feel looking to health care professionals who toss out a quick diagnosis without looking at the whole picture. I, too, realized through this whole process that only you can be your own advocate, and listening to your gut is more important than ever. As my sister (who has a chronic health condition) told me, “its ok for your doctor to not know the answer—but they need to be willing to work on your behalf to do the research to connect you with the right people to find it.” Your a champion for putting your story out there, and I commend you for actually taking steps to slow down and de-stress, which is SO much easier said than done. Here’s to getting that bleed back!

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    • Reply Rachel February 22, 2018 at 8:23 pm

      ugh i am sorry to hear you went through this too!! i love that quote from your sister, she is a smart cookie! xoxo

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  • Reply Kristin February 22, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    This is so eye opening for me! I’ve had the same problem with trying to figure out what’s going on with my digestion but I still feel in my gut that something is off! Do you do health coaching with Dr Lipman or regular office visits? (I’m based in Weehawken!)

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    • Reply Rachel February 22, 2018 at 8:22 pm

      sorry to hear that! yes i go into see Dr Lipman weekly at Eleven Eleven Wellness Center

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  • Reply Alyssa February 22, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    Thanks for being so open and honest, especially in today’s Insta world where everyone seems (or so it seems) to have their crap together. It’s definitely refreshing. Wishing you the best of health!

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  • Reply Danielle February 22, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your story because it makes me feel less alone. I know something is wrong because of no period and a ton of stomach issues. I just feel like all the doctors keep telling me that everything is okay based on bloodwork. It is really frustrating when I try and express that I just know something is off and they assume you just spent too much time on WebMD. I have a doctors appointment tomorrow and am hoping to get some answers. Silly question, but is your doctor a primary or a endocrinologist?

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    • Reply Rachel February 22, 2018 at 8:21 pm

      awww i am so sorry to hear that. definitely try to find a doctor who will understand you. dr. lipman is an MD for functional medicine but i have an endo too.

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  • Reply Alexandra February 22, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    Rach, I am so glad you are feeling better and thriving! I have hyppthyroidism by the way, is that your case as well? Im taking a pill everyday to keep my thyroid in balance and I have been struggling with weight and fat loss. How can you eat that much doing no cardio, but still look fab?? Please do share your secrets!! Lots of love!! Xxx

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  • Reply Whitney February 22, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    Thank you for sharing! As someone who suffers from thyroid disease and is having infertility issues it is really good to hear I am not alone in this fight!

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  • Reply Katryn February 22, 2018 at 8:16 pm

    Have you heard of or read the book No Period Now What? (www.noperiodnowwhat.com). I was missing my period due to HA for the better part of 10 years and thought i had no chance of recovery or ever having children. This book and following it’s recommendations (going “all in” for recovery so to speak) turned things around for me. I regained my period in Dec. of 2016 and am now 32 weeks pregnant (naturally) with a baby girl. There is a great FB support group too. I hope you check it out! I know what it’s like to not get your period for years and i wish you the best!

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    • Reply Rachel February 22, 2018 at 8:19 pm

      i have! i will have to read again maybe 🙂 i am so happy to hear you are doing well!!! xoxo

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  • Reply Joana February 23, 2018 at 10:58 am

    Hi Rachel I’m 27 years old and been throught the same. Stopped birth control pill last year in April and was so frustating as my period wouldn’t come for months and months I then had some stomach problems what made me feel even worst mentally. But…last month my period finally got back 😊 I was so so happy! But…it’s late again 😔 I just think it will take time for the hormones get back to normal.
    It is really good that you shared your history with us, as it made a lot of girls feel not lonely in this journey and also to aware about how bad birth control pill can be and how it affects our hormones so bad.
    Really hope you get your period back and wish you all the best Rach! Lots of love,

    Joana

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  • Reply Janet March 9, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    Hi, Rachel.

    I’m not sure why I didn’t think of this when I first read this blog post, but I’m wondering if your endochrinologist has mentioned anything to you about exposure to endochrine disruptors that could be affecting you. Unfortunately, endochrine disruptors are so prevalent in today’s society that they are impossible to completely avoid no matter how hard we try. I read this article today and thought of you: https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/index.cfm (the featured video, “Our Chemical Lives,” is extremely informative.

    I am still learning about ways that I can choose to try and limit my exposure to endochrine disruptors, including soy and other estrogenic foods and supplements. It’s amazing how many of them are touted as healthy to an unsuspecting world, even when they can negatively impact our bodily systems like thyroid function and our reproductive organs. For example, many women don’t realize that they suffer from estrogen imbalance, which can have a lot of health ramifications. This is a good article that tells how to avoid excess estrogen: https://draxe.com/endocrine-disruptors-how-to-avoid-excess-estrogen/ And this is a helpful article that details estrogenic foods to avoid: https://draxe.com/5-high-estrogen-foods-avoid/ I’m sure there are countless other articles like these available online.

    By the way, I am not a doctor or even a medical professional. I don’t know if endochrine disruptors are contributing to your particular health issue or if they are even affecting you at all. I just thought I would pass this information along to you in case the idea hadn’t been considered by you or your doctor. I read a lot of medically-related information to try and help myself and other family members who have chronic health issues. I’m sure you would agree that we just can’t learn enough from our doctors in the short amount of time that we get to spend with them. I find that it helps to glean as much information I can on my own. Occasionally I find that I am actually educating my doctor!

    I pray that you will find some answers soon!

    Janet

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  • Reply alex March 23, 2018 at 12:49 am

    nice phtography and cute poses

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  • Reply margeaux egelston April 13, 2018 at 9:39 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I have A very similar thing going on right now and this makes me feel less alone. I love Following Dr. Lipman on insta and it sounds like you are in good hands! Hoping you get some relief soon 🙂

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  • Reply Tori May 23, 2018 at 3:25 pm

    I would love an update! Going through a very similar situation so it would be great to hear where you are now in this journey:) Really appreciate the transparency!

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  • Reply High Cortisol Levels: My Story (hormone update!) - rachLmansfield June 4, 2018 at 9:41 pm

    […] ago, I opened up about my high cortisol levels, hormonal imbalance and how I eventually got my thyroid back on track. I have been receiving daily messages asking for an update on all of the above, but to be […]

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