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