Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Atkins, Hypothyroid, and a Metabolic History of Me

(At my mom's house, helping her cook a poached salmon dish with lime and ginger)

Like the other 5 million people New Year's dieting, I'm buckling down again in order to lose holiday pounds and the pounds I needed to lose before the holidays.  When I need to lose weight, cutting out sugar and limiting carbs is the most successful method for my metabolism. 

I didn't have to diet until I was about 28 years old.  I was always the "skinny" girl who ate whatever she wanted and still wore a size 2.  It was not something I flaunted, but I sure took it for granted.

When I hit my late 20's, my metabolism started to finally slow down, and when I got married at 28, I started Atkins a few months after my wedding.  I was still very normal and by no means overweight, but some of my coworkers were going to try the diet and I was hoping to lose about 10 pounds and reach "skinny" status again.  I was able to lose 15 pounds fairly easily, and I kept 10 of those off for years. 

Then, I had my children.  By the time I had my second boy, I was 34, and my genetics dealt me Hashimoto's disease (a type of hypothyroid disease).  I wasn't diagnosed right away, but I was frustrated with dieting and working out and not losing weight very easily.  In addition, I was able to GAIN weight by blinking.  When I told my mom I was exhausted as if someone had given me sleep medicine, and I also was having insomnia, she sent me to her endrocrinologist.  The diagnosis was Hashimoto's--my immune system was attacking my thyroid.  It was a relief to know I actually had a medical reason for all the symptoms I was feeling.

Within two years, the amount of synthroid (medicine) I need to take has tripled as my Hashimoto's progresses.  Last spring, I had clumps of hair falling out of my head when I showered or brushed my hair.  It was horrible.  Thankfully, God gave me thick, thick hair, and what would cause bald spots on many heads just thinned my hair.  Now, after my synthroid has been adjusted and raised, my hair is growing back in and I have many "fly away" hairs sticking up as my hair recovers and regrows.  Pomade is currently my best friend.

There are a couple of myths I want to debunk:  Hypothyroid patients don't just have slow metabolisms.  I get foggy brained, low energy, dry skin, brittle hair, digestive issues, and other fun side effects.  For some reason, many doctors and people think hypothyroidism is just a term for being "fat" and blaming it on a medical issue.  I wish.  Everyone's metabolism slows as they age, but this is much worse than the norm.

Also, hormone thyroid replacements, such as synthroid, don't help you lose weight--at least that isn't my experience.  They help you not continue to pack on the pounds like before, but you still have to work hard at dieting and working out, in fact much harder than a non-hypothyroid patient in order to lose the same amount of weight.  I have had people say, "I wish I had hypothyroidism and got medicine to lose weight."  Um.  That isn't quite how it works, unfortunately.  In fact, often thyroid patients can get their TSH levels back to normal and still feel many of the side effects of an underactive or overactive thyroid.  Everyone is different, so it is a tricky disease.  I highly recommend going to see an endocrinologist often if you are diagnosed with Hashimoto's Disease.

Overall, it is just a good reminder that I'm in a decaying shell and to concentrate on my eternal state and relationship with God more than I do on eating and exercise.  Every gray hair, skin blemish and wrinkle remind us that we are falling apart and fighting an eventually losing battle to physically stay the same. Still, I need to take care of what God has given me and be healthy so I can be an effective wife, mom and friend.

You might hear me share some Atkins type recipes over the next few months as I diet.  Last night we had grilled Mahi Mahi with kalamata olive butter.  Tonight I made a chicken and sage soup with lemon zest and chicken broth.  My favorite low carb food is Perfect 10 bagels.  They are high in fiber and protein, and they have only 10 carbs in a whole bagel. 

Are you starting a new diet or way of eating?  Link up your post or tips in the comments!  It is great to encourage one another as we aim to eat better, live a healthy life and get moving!

I linked this to: House of Hepworths


  1. Oh, Chiara, so sorry to hear about this. It must be very frustrating. I think you're beautiful inside and out. We will be praying that you lose the weight that you feel comfortable with. i too would like to shed those unwanted pounds. I started drinking the GGS (glowing green smoothie) for breakfast. I find that keeps me going until lunch. I also found this great web site Her recipes are fantastic and weight friendly. Kelly and i started yoga in November and that has been such a wonderful addition to our lives. Not only is it a good work out, but it's a good stress reliever. i'm looking forward to everyone's comments and tips!


  2. Chiara,

    Your post encouraged me to finally be motivated to get my blood work done. I am always so very encouraged when I hear your stories and how you always praise God and always give him the Glory. SO excited to see more posts about low carb recipes. If I make anything worthy of posting I will let you know. The Mahi Mahi with kalamata olive butter sounds delicious. I hope you will post that recipe!!!

  3. Hi Chiara-- Just catching up on your blog! Sounds like you're doing well. I am so glad you shared this. I have struggled with hypothyroidism all of my life and since having kids gained more weight than seemed likely. In August of 2010, my doctor decided to send me in and have my thyroid removed completely. Best decision ever. Found out that I actually had thyroid cancer...which rendered my thyroid completely "dead". I am now on Levothyroxine (very similar to Synthroid which I've taken in years past) and feel better than I have in ten years. Thank you for bringing attention to this. Thyroids are nothing to mess around with! I'm now cancer free and happy as can be!
    Blessings in 2012 to you and yours!

  4. I am only in my 14th day of using desiccated bovine supplements and what a significant change this has made! It's a good choice.


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