Having Hashimotos But Not Letting It Have You.
Updated: Mar 15, 2018
Hi everyone! Let me start off by introducing myself! I am a 35 year old entrepreneur and published glamour model who runs 3 businesses as well as has stake in others but also happens to be a health & fitness enthusiast. Basically, in summary, a busy biiiissssh! Lol. If you have seen me online anywhere, chances are, you know that I have hashimotos disease and a few other health issues.
I have a lot of people asking me to share my experience & knowledge with my thyroid journey, so I am going to share my story.
**Please know that I am NOT a medical professional or in the health care industry whatsoever. I am not offering medical advice and highly recommend going to a Doctor in your area that is well versed in your condition-If thyroid issues are what you are diagnosed with. We are ALL made up very differently inside & not everything effects us the same, therefore, I cannot tell you that what I am doing will work for you.**
Starting from the beginning, if you are like me even a little and are in tune with your body, you can tell when something is off. Over a decade ago, I began telling my doctors of my symptoms that seemed to be getting more persistent as time went on. The symptoms for me were terrible cystic facial acne, very serious mood swings, dry mouth, excessive sweating, hot/cold flashes, depression, fatigue, potty issues, insomnia and the list went on. I was in my early 20s and the consensus from the doctors was; "You're too young to have hormonal issues," "You just have bad PMS" and the one that made me feel the worst was, "It's all in your head, you need to get over it."
It seemed like an uphill battle, so I conceded and listened to the last doctor that pressured me into seeing a psychiatrist. The shrink immediately put me on anti-depressants. It not only didn't help any of my symptoms but made them worse and added a few more in the form of side effects! I gave it a good try, and decided to ween myself off as I was feeling worse and worse each month. Being that diabetes and Hypo-thyroid is hereditary and both my mother & paternal Aunt had hashimotos, I kept begging Drs to test for them. I was very young at the time and when they told me, "no the insurance won't cover it, you're too young..." I just took their word for it. I didn't know that I could challenge the insurance or even just pay for it out of pocket.
So I went about my life thinking I was perhaps imagining the symptoms as I was living a "healthy" lifestyle (more on this later), keeping myself at a weight I was happy with when all of a sudden, I started feeling so sick. Throwing up & nausea daily. Weight gain etc. Boom, I was 5 months pregnant and had no clue! I still had a normal cycle each month and was on the pill! It was pretty crazy. The result was a miscarriage later that month. This was the turning point in my health as I knew it. I went into a depression and gained around 70 lbs. That is where you see my before-during that time, and after, when I saw myself in my brothers wedding video and with utter disgust with how far I let myself go, made a huge change.
I lost all of the weight within a year and although I was doing everything properly, training perfectly (I got NASM certified) and my nutrition was great....I only maintained that goal weight for a year and then out of the blue, the weight started creeping back on. Terrified of gaining weight (mainly due to the modeling industry I am in), I continuously added time to my already long & strenuous workouts. I also drastically cut my calories. In my head it made perfect sense. Output more than you input and it equals perfect weight control! That worked.....for a while. The whole time, I continued having extreme symptoms that felt worse and worse every few months. My skin was TERRIBLE! I look back at old photo shoots now and thank God they weren't in super HD yet, like they are now! My moods were erratic and uncontrollable. I would swing into a horrid depression and then go into a more normal state. It really sucked, but my weight was good so I was happy with that.
Then all of a sudden, I started gaining weight again! F*CK! I was also sick ALL of the time, had multiple muscle and tendon injuries from all of the over-training and my quality of life was shit. After really being sick of all of the a-hole doctors telling me this or that, but never trying to find out what it was, it dawned on me. Hmmm, doctors are just people, they are not all knowing beings with the ability to look at one person to the next and determine what their issues were. I said f*ck it, I will pay out of pocket for a doctor that will take the time to see what is really going on.
I found a well recommended MD who also specialized in holistic health. If I could tell you just how simple it would have been for every other doctor over those many years to give me a few specific blood tests to figure things out, you wouldn't believe me. He straight up said, well, you have a family history plus all of your symptoms match up... Let's do an in depth test of your thyroid.
**I will say that there was one doctor that did test my TSH., which showed normal-however in a young woman that is overall healthy, it will show normal**
It wasn't until the naturopath tested my T3 T4, free T3 T4, DHEA, estrodial etc that it showed what they could have easily seen that entire time! I had hashimotos disease. My levels were so low that the doctor was shocked I wasn't 300lbs! Being an athlete fended that off.
Hashimotos disease is an auto immune disease in which your immune system attacks your thyroid, a small gland at the base of your neck. The thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system, which produces hormones that coordinate many of your body's activities. When this is disrupted, your hormones either aren't secreting properly, aren't being sent to the right places, or doesn't allow you to absorb properly... Or in my case, ALL OF THE ABOVE! Which explained a few other health issues I had. Your hormones control your entire body! Skin, moods, weight, everything I was having issues with. >>more info<<
I did not know how hard it would be after being diagnosed to then figure out the proper treatment with the right doctor. I began 3 years of being a guinea pig to find the proper treatment plan for me. I will be forever grateful that this Doctor made the original diagnosis. However, he was unable to correctly prescribe medications to manage my hashimotos effectively. None of the natural meds worked for me, so we went synthetic. At one point my medication levels were so high that I was having heart palpitations daily. I couldn't do the intense cardio that I was used to. I remember breaking down in the gym and just wondering WHY my body would not cooperate with me.
Once the heart issues arose, I felt it was time to see an endocrine specialist who immediately took me off of the super high dosage of Levothyroxine and put me on a lower dose. It took time for my body to get used to it and another shift in hormones occurred but the heart issues stopped, so I thought that was better. I patiently waited for my body to regulate back to what I thought it should be normally.... Patiently for over a year. I asked this doctor why am I still not losing weight? Why is my skin still so bad? My moods etc? She simply said, "Look, you're just always going to be a little heavier than you want to be and the older you get, the more mood symptoms you'll have." (My uncontrollable moods were so bad that it had major effect on my loved ones around me. My family and friends.) Again, something had to change before I lost it.
I was able to "manage" and although everyone thought I looked great on the outside, my insides were really suffering.
I had been on a waiting list for an endocrine Dr, Dr B. who was not accepting new patients. He was said to be the best in town. I went in person to BEG them to take me in. They did! I was elated! I thought this was it! I would be cured! He took me off ALL thyroid meds and began to treat the symptoms one by one, prescribing me a strong med for skin, for moods etc etc. He said, please give these all a try for at least 6 months. After the 1st week, I know why he urged me to give the meds a chance. I was suffering the worst dizziness, nausea and other side effects from them that my quality of life again diminished.
Meanwhile, I still had 2 companies to run, a household, my family, my jobs on top of the businesses and travel. After 8 months of HELL, I kept telling him that I was just too sick feeling every day to continue. He never once told me to stop the meds but I again said, F*CK THIS! I have been so patient and I am losing so much of my life! Time I will never get back. A trip to Europe that was overshadowed by my constant nausea and exhaustion. You do what you can not to let it effect you, but there really is only so much a person can tolerate. I stopped the meds on my own and stopped going to Dr B.
As fate would have it, my insurance forced me to select a Primary Care Physician and Dr B had referred me to my current Dr. Dr A., an internist that preferred a holistic approach when available. She ran all of my blood work and noticed a lot of issues with my thyroid, my adrenals etc. She took SO much time with me. Really knew her shit and anything she didn't know, she said so. We started off slowly, one medication at a time as to not disrupt my body dramatically. It also allowed us to know if one of the added items was causing a negative effect. This was the doctor that I had been waiting for all of these years. We addressed the possible root causes of the hashimotos as there is normal an event in our lives that allows the major change in our body. For me, it was the miscarriage. That sudden change in hormones and sickness was what caused the hashimotos to appear for me.
As if enough wasn't enough, BOOM, no progress in the gym, no matter how healthy or how portioned I was, I would gain and/or hold onto weight. I was then referred to an amazing coach who had a lot of experience with women in general but women with thyroid/hormone issues. He immediately let me know that from the many years of over training and under eating, I trashed my metabolism, creating >neuroendocrineimmune dysfunction< (or in easy to understand terms-metabolic damage). Now MOST of you out there will not have this issue. It's pretty loosely thrown around when people hit a plateau or can't lose the weight they want to. I created this damage to my body over a 7 year period of doing 4-5 hour workouts each and every day. Eating less than 1500 cals each day. Not taking any days off....
I thought that was the only way that I could maintain a weight I was happy with, but in turn I f*cked myself worse than I could have ever imagined! Reversing the damage took more inner strength than I thought I had. It required me working out a LOT less and eating a LOT more! UGH. I got used to the working out less as my body was so badly beaten up, injury stricken etc. but every time I had to put food in my mouth I felt sick. It was so much more than I was used to and I was gaining lbs to boot! All things my coach warned me about. He said it would take anywhere between 1-2 years for me to fix things. During that time I was also getting my hashimotos treatment plan in place with Dr A. Little by little, I got there. It took an ENTIRE 2 years that I am just at the end of now to heal the neuroendocrine immune dysfunction.
I mentioned my "healthy" diet before, while I was on a diet of low carb/low-sugar, healthy fats, proteins & all portion control... I had NO idea of the many food allergies/sensitivities that were also impeding any progress.
Today, I have finally found a Dr that encompasses not only traditional medical health but has the knowledge of a naturopath as well as being very into fitness. I am on a treatment plan with both synthetic and holistic remedies. I learned that my body does not tolerate any generic form of Synthroid or Cytomel, so I am on both name brands of those. I am also using a low dose of DHEA & progesterone-in pill form. I have been very inspired by my holistic coach, Lyzabeth Lopez, who is the best in her field. Over the past year I have been educating myself on proper holistic nutrition. Recently, I have been getting rid of any & all "hidden" additives or food allergens that may effect my body & create more thyroid/adrenal distress.
Part of hashimotos treatment has to be dealing with your hormones and adrenals. Nothing alone worked for me, it is the combination of things for me that is helpful. I feel better than I have in many years. I do need to mention that just because I am on a treatment plan, does not mean I am cured or do not experience symptoms. In some way or another, I am effected by hashimotos each and every day. Sometimes I feel amazing, like yesterday when I was able to wake up without being groggy, have an amazing workout where I doubled my normal max weight, go off to accomplish a million things!
And then there are days like today, where my brain feels foggy, I feel a bit down, exhaustion to the point of wanting to crawl in a hole and never come out. BUT listen, YOU control how your life is going to be. I now realize that I cannot be so very hard on myself. On days like today, you better bet your ass I still got up... Stumbled around dropping things... Got to the gym, did a very good-hard workout, even though I did not have it in me, I DUG into the depths of my mind, and I fucking did it. Then I got home took my little dogs out for a walk (which is scientifically proven to increase your serotonin levels, making you happier.) I didn't get everything I wanted done today, but I did a lot and I am happy with that.
I've seen people with a LOT of excuses my entire life. There's literally ALWAYS going to be a reason NOT to be healthy. I have rebuttals to all of them! There's always the, "Oh, I'm so stressed, I deserve this giant chocolate cake", "Oh my back hurts, I can't go to the gym." Sweetie, I have been in over a dozen car accidents and am blessed when I have a day without a severe neck/back/hip issue and I still hit that gym as hard as I can! :O) It's really up to you if you decide to let things rule your life. I chose not to. I am WAY too busy to get to food prep properly or the gym everyday, but I MAKE the time, for me, not anyone else. They're not the ones that walk around in my body all day. I choose to be as healthy as I can and am constantly increasing my knowledge to improve often.
While I am NOT perfect in any way, I strive to better myself each day-inside and out. I don't know if I will ever be completely rid of the body dysmorphia that I have created but I am learning to love myself and be comfortable with myself. Baby steps guys.
In closing, I hope that my story can help at least one other person whether it motivates you to make some healthy changes or if you have not been feeling like yourself lately. If you have symptoms, or you feel off. DO NOT allow another person to tell you that it's in your head! Do not be afraid to challenge authority, do not be afraid to get 2nd or 3rd opinions! I have learned that in women (and sometimes men-my Uncle has a less severe form of Hypo-thyroid) approaching or in their 30s, it's super common to have imbalances. If your hormones are even a little off, it can create a lot of issues within your body.
It doesn't mean you have to be medicated, but there are natural things you can do as well as lifestyle changes. I do not eat gluten for example, if it were a cheat I was dying for, in the past, I may have gone for it.... But less and less do I even want to feel the after effects of that-swelling, bloating, gas, nausea. So little changes can help too if you are not as jacked as I am lol! By all means, get
checked out at the very least! Never wait around for symptoms to get worse. I will also add that most of you will not have such a difficult time finding doctors. I live in Las Vegas, NV which is great for many things but not for healthcare. Few and far between.
Now that I know that I am the main one that controls my health, I won't allow another individual to tell me I am not feeling what I feel.
Thanks for taking the time to read and I wish you all the very best!
Brianna, Holistic Healing Fit Club