The Ten Best [non-medical] Defenses Against Hypothyroidism

Published: September 8, 2014

I'm a fourty-six year old mom of four who spent the first three quarters of my life underweight.  However, once I hit my mid-30s and decided to have a second family, things changed.   

I had my first two children at the ages nineteen and twenty-one, and losing the post-pregnancy weight was no problem at all.  In fact, after my first child was born, within three weeks I'd magically morphed into to a breast-feeding, five-foot-three, ninety-eight pound weakling.  At twenty-one, my second child was born; everything was easy... the three hour delivery, the weight loss... even the divorce from their father a few years later!

However, I re-married in my mid-30s and delivered my third and fourth children. Those pregnancies (and a doughnut addiction) took me from 112 pounds to nearly 170 pounds.  Since then, I never been below 136 - until recently.

I visited my doctor with a vertigo issue and came out diagnosed with hypothyroidism.  I took Levothyroxoid for seven weeks, at which point I decided I couldn't stand the arthritic feelings in my hands, hips, and feet any longer.  The medicine had brought my TSH level down just under the level indicating an issue, so I was given a green light to stop the medicine and to call back if I had any further issues.  Almost immediately the fatigue returned, and thus began my personal search for an alternative to lifetime meds to deal with my hypothyroid issue.

Please do not use this information as a substitute to your doctor's care.  This article is base upon my personal research, experiences, and choices.

  1. Exercise

    I hate to say it, because I HATE exercising, but, I am convinced that exercise really is the best defense to a sluggish thyroid.  I've been running a personal experiment with my diet and exercise, tracking my weight and calories on a daily graph.  I've been dieting for forty-six days as of this writing.  I seem to be able to eat more calories and still drop weight after exercising. Likewise, when I sit around, my weight doesn't drop, and sometimes even goes up, inspite of my reduced caloric intake.

    The first thing I tried was purchasing an oval rebounder to jog on.  This feels much better than jiggling around my neighborhood as my feet pound my shins into my kneecaps.  And since I live in an apartment, this was also a good space-saving option that the kids enjoy using, as well.

    The second thing I did, was look for workouts that I might enjoy.  This turned out to be overwhelming and depressing, but I found one useful suggestion: develop my own routine consisting of one-third stretching, one-third resistence, and one-third cardio.  I believe cardio is the one that pumps up my metabolism - but it's the hardest one for me to motivate myself to do.  Resistence work is great for building muscle - and muscle burns more calories than fat.  But, who doesn't want to feel more nimble when everything is trying to stiffen up due to aging? (Well, almost everything!) Therefore, stretching is equally important.

  2. Eat better

    I'm the first to admit it - I'm a carb-o-holic.  I LOVE bread.  I love baking.  I love sugar!  And I was drinking way too many adult beverages.  I knew that my addictions had to be broken.  

    In the beginning, I was really motivated to lose weight fast by virtue of starvation.  I went on a 500-600 calorie-a-day diet for the first week (with help - see section on saffron).  

    However, my kids started asking me if I was sad (I wasn't).  I researched more on low-calorie diets and found that our brains consume 20% of our energy.  I think mine was just going into reserve power mode.  I lost only three pounds that first week.  

    I have a personal trainer friend who told me to make sure I eat enough protein, or risk losing muscle too.  Another friend told me that going too low with my calories may throw my metabolism into slowdown mode.  I researched and found that my friends were probably right.  So I upped my calories to between 800 and 1000 a day.  In my second week, I lost an additional... drum roll please... two pounds.

    In my third week, I upped my caloric daily intake to around 1100-1200 per day and changed my food from mostly fruits and vegetables and cheese to mostly animal protein.  For years I'd been trying NOT to eat meat (conscience reasons after watching a PITA video), but I'd also heard about the blood-type diet.  I'm O- which makes me a paleo type if you subscribe to that.  I lost another pound.

    In my fourth week I lost two pounds, consuming about 1300 calories a day and about 50-60 grams of protein in animal sources.  My protein sources were mainly boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pork loin, salmon, tuna, and anchovies (you either love them or you hate them).

    In my fifth week, I had my period and was interviewing for several jobs, and only lost one pound.

    In my sixth week, I had flat-lined and not lost anything. I was offered one of four jobs I interviewed for.  The one with the least amount of hours, unfortunately!

    I am now in the middle of my seventh week and I am down another pound and a half, yay!

    It is slow and steady that wins the race!

  3. Satireal saffron

    Dr. Oz recommended this as an "emotional eating" deterrant.  I knew that my eating was a substitute boyfriend, so to speak.  Yes, I became single again... and cooking, baking, eating, and drinking made me happy... and fat.  I had no will-power of my own, but I have not been snacking for over forty-five days now.  I believe in saffron!

    Since I started trying to lose weight forty-six days ago, I have been taking two Re-Body's Satiereal Saffron Hunger Caps per day.  Apparently the spice saffron raises serotonin levels which give us a sense of well being.  This is helpful to those of us who eat for emotional reasons.

  4. L-tyrosine

    Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid.  Most people are not low in tyrosine, however low levels are sometimes associated with hypothyroidism. Apparently, taking doses of this amino acid after not getting enough sleep, can help a person feel more alert.  And it may even raise dopamine levels in the brain.  

    I gave it a try, taking 1500mg a day to start (which DID eliminate my fatigue) and then I upped my dose to 2000mg a day.  At 2000mg, and even 1500mg, I experienced quite a lot of muscle aches.  I believe this was due to the fact that I wasn't exercising much nor performing muscle-building activities.

    I am currently experimenting with a dose of 750mg a day.

  5. Count your calories

    Caloric intake really does matter.  Google is your friend here.  Simply enter the food you're counting, along with the word 'calories' and you should get a quick answer that you can work with.

  6. Choose your food wisely

    Vegetables are so low calorie that you can really eat a lot of them if you like the feeling of putting something in your mouth like I do.  I love the convenience of using frozen vegetables - especially the ones that steam right in their own bag.  

    A few of my favorite frozen vegetable dishes:

    -Green beans, microwaved and topped with salt, rosemary and dill, served with baked, boneless, skinless chicken breast

    -Sweet peas with a tablespoon of butter, salt, one-quarter cup of whole milk mixed with one-quarter cup of water, and baked pork loin

    -Steamed carrots heated with baked pork loin, and one TBS katsup mixed with one TBS real maple syrup.

    Proteins will keep you full longer.  Vegetables will enable you to eat a lot of them while not contributing many calories.

    Breads, pastas, and grains will stack up the calories quickly.  I do not personally find them very filling nor satisfying.  In fact, eating a little only leads me to want to gorge on a lot more of them, but to each his own. Perhaps there IS something to the blood-type diet.

  7. Track your weight

    Purchase a digital scale and record your weight two to three times a day:

    Once in the morning when you get up, once naked before you shower, and once before bed.


  8. Take notes

    Take notes about your eating habits each day.  How were you feeling?  Were good things happening?  Were bad things going on?  Did you crave sweets?  Did you give into salty or sugary food cravings?  Were you stressed? 

    Watch what is going on in your life and how your eating is affected by it, and in turn, your weight in the day(s) following.

  9. Drink your water!

    I know you've heard it before, but, it's recommended to drink between sixty-four and 128 ounces of water a day.  Our bodies are in large percent, water. I've noticed that it's true... sometimes I think I'm hungry, when really my body is just calling for some water to re-hydrate itself.

  10. Give yourself a break

    On the days that you don't get the results you want, don't stress!  It's no big deal!  Tomorrow is another day and you will keep trying.

When dealing with hypothyroidism, diet alone may not be enough to combat the associated weight-gain side effect.  For those of you who dislike exercise as much as I do, the number-one thing you need to do most is also the hardest one to motivate yourself to do.  Take heart.  Just keep swimming!

Just keep swimming!