7-Steps to Kick-Start Your Fitness Journey & Balance your Thyroid
The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland located at the base of the neck, right below the Adam’s apple. Thyroid glad is a small gland, the size of a pecan or walnut, however, it’s function is crucial for a healthy-normal living. The thyroid glad is responsible for regulating body temperature, metabolism, and cellular function, which means every single one of the 10 trillion cells in our body is dependent on it’s optimal function, and is effected by it’s abnormal function.
Since thyroid glad regulates metabolism, when it’s function is not at it’s optimal level, it becomes difficult for our bodies to convert food into fuel efficiently. Imagine this: your thyroid gland is the gas pedal for your metabolism, when it’s low, there isn’t enough push power to get the wheels moving, so there is this simultaneous idling and slow moving games going on. This is the reason why for majority of women with hypothyroidism, or an under-active thyroid, weight loss becomes a challenge.
Here are some steps to break the challenge barrier and lose weight without getting bogged down with the emotions of having an under-active thyroid.
Step 1. Be on top of your Labs
Ask your doctor to run a thyroid panel and specific tests that show the values for the following hormones: Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), Triiodothyronine (Free T3), Thyroxine (Free T4), Reverse T3, and Thyroid antibodies (for autoimmune situations). You want to make sure the values of all these hormones are in the upper half of the normal range. For example: if TSH is considered normal at 2.5 and the normal range values are between 2.5 -5.0, you want your TSH values to read somewhere in 3.5-4.0*
Step 2. Eat REAL Foods
We have an intimate relationship with food. It’s mostly dictated by our emotions, habits, memories, and culture or sometimes by an advertisement by the psyche-hijacking food industry ads. When we feed our body wholesome clean foods, we nurture it in a wholesome way making hormones responsible for breaking down, converting and processing those foods work for our bodies.
Real Food simply means ‘Farm/garden to table’. Stay away from anything that is processed and packaged for you. So opt in for produce that is least processed, preferably organic, fresh, from a local farmer’s market. Think NATURE, earth to table, so consume more of what comes from earth/nature. If you consume grains, opt in for unprocessed whole grains (limited consumption), lentils, and legumes. If you eat animal products, make sure they come from a clean source with little packaging and no artificial ingredients.
Step 3. Practice Mindful Eating
Imagine your stomach being the size of your fist, eat only to the 3/4 capacity or 80% capacity. To do this, you need to practice mindful eating. What is mindful eating? Well, it is eating mindfully or being present while you are eating.
Engage all your senses while you are eating, touch it, smell it, notice the texture, adore the sight, and really chew your food. Chewing your food activates digestive enzymes, that’s why we say “digestion begins in the mouth”. So, really get intimate with your food through your senses. Put down your fork and knife after each bite, this will really help you stick with that eat until 80% full part.
Step 4. Reduce inflammation
Inflammation is at root cause of all health issues. We are exposed to all sorts of inflammatory factors: processed foods, chronic stress, and environmental toxins. These factors interfere with the normal functioning of our physiology causing damage to our tissues and cell, a process called oxidation. What can you do about it? Fill your plate and smoothies with leafy vegetables, berries, and vitamin C on daily basis. You can also use spices and herbs that are anti-inflammatory to add some zing to your plate. Some of the most effective herbs are turmeric and ginger.
Step 5. Adrenal TLC
Your adrenals are two tiny glands that sit on top of your kidneys. Their job is to respond to stress by releasing the fight-flight-freeze response hormone, Cortisol. Adrenal glands release cortisol in the same way if you are chased by a tiger as it would to a non-tiger-chasing stressful situation. It depends on what is ‘stressful’ defined by you or your sympathetic nervous system (SNS). The problem is that cortisol has a habit of hanging out in the bloodstream way longer than the threat has passed, causing a spike in insulin. When there is a insulin spike two things happen: you feel hungry and you reach for a quick-unhealthy food.
This further causes more insulin spikes, and you are stuck feeding your insulin spike all day. Therefore, causing you to gain weight (specially around our belly) and feel lethargic. Understanding this cycle is very important to learn to manage our stress, and manage those lifestyle choices that can make us vulnerable to experience stress like lack of sufficient-restorative sleep. So, it’s crucial to be mindful of our triggers – what causes us stress. This way we could choose alternative choices such as journaling, yoga, meditation, taking a breathing break, taking a nap, walking … etc. to keep adrenals from releasing cortisol and causing havoc in our bodies. It also makes us body smart, we learn to respond to our body’s needs in an effective way.
Step 6. Get Moving!
Our bodies are not made to be sedentary. We are made to move and be active. We spend majority of our time being sedentary: in the car, behind the desk, infront of the TV, and so on. Movement or exercise can compliment all of the above mentioned steps and help you have more energy, mental clarity, and in the process lose weight. How can you incorporate it in your daily life? Create a playlist of upbeat music, take a 15-min dance break at work, stretch every hour, go for a walk upon waking or for lunch break, or after dinner, go for a swim … get creative because the possibilities are endless.
For under-active thyroid, you may have to work a bit harder to break a sweat, because those of us with hypothyroidism have low body temperature. So don’t be afraid to go vigorous with your exercise and try a sauna session afterwards.
Step 7. Ignite your Digestive Fire (Agni)
In Ayurveda, optimal digestion is key to have a healthy life. Your digestion is considered as a fire (Agni) that cooks, transforms, and disperses nutrients to the rest of your body through your blood stream. When your thyroid is under-active, your digestion is usually slower that normal. You can speed up your digestion naturally by incorporating these simple shifts in your daily life:
- Begin your mornings with a warm cup of lemon-honey water.
- Have a teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar before lunch and dinner.
- Drink warm drinks all day long.
- Eat warm meals, making lunch your largest meal between 12-2pm
- Manage Stress with meditation, yoga, journaling, or any calming activity
- Drink ginger tea throughout the day* (if you experience acid reflux or occasional heart burn, use ginger powder instead or omit taking ginger)
I’ve had tremendous success in helping women in my coaching practice with their hypothyroidism through nutrition and lifestyle shifts. These amazing women are living their life to fullest, and are making the rest of their lives the best of their lives, symptom free and whole wise & whole fit. I am confident that putting the above 7-steps in practice will really help you reduce symptoms, and claim your health and life back.
Would you like my support? Join me for a FREE 7-Day Health Habits Challenge to Balance your Hormones here! During these 7-days, you will receive one healthy habit in your email box. Then, I will do a LIVE session each day of the challenge in my FREE & PRIVATE Facebook group to emphasize more on the importance of these healthy habits, how to incorporate them in your daily life, and any questions you many have. So give your thyroid a healthy jump start for 2019 and sign up here to participate. Looking forward to seeing you there!!!
To your best hormonal health in 2019!
Mahmooda Hotak, CHC