I’ll never forget the day that I posted this nutritionist’s first guest article for Hypothyroid Mom. My social media channels literally lit up like a Christmas tree. Her article How To Lose Weight When You Are Hypothyroid consistently ranks in the top ten most viewed pages on my site and I know why. She is hypothyroid, just like us, and she gets real about one of the most infuriating symptoms of this disease – that darn hypothyroid fat – even through a pandemic that feels like a horror movie written by Stephen King and directed by Quentin Tarantino.
Written by Sophie Anson
Many of us are finding it hard to remember a carefree life before March 2020. I do recall having a Valentine’s lunch with two girlfriends in February. At that time Covid was still as remote a concept as: “Have you heard?” Had you told us we’d be wearing masks for everyday activities months from then, that gyms would be closed, free weights sold out online, we wouldn’t have believed it. At that time we were still dressing up, wearing nice suits, heels, blowing out our hair or putting on a tie or pair of jeans. Being in shape – appearances for others – still mattered.
My husband and I have been complaining to each other that our bodies are starting to look like balloons three days after the party: deflated, neglected, less-than-taut. As far as weight management goes, we’re trying, but apparently not hard enough. We’re running and throwing our body weight around, heaving ourselves up and down sandy dunes and encouraging each other to do another set of push-ups, another plank. It’s not working.
We are also far more sedentary: housebound; inactive; waiting. Our dog, a 4 lb. chihuahua, needs to be walked, but not far. Our workouts can’t make up for the fact that largely, we sit around all day on zoom calls… or just sit around, waiting for news. He doesn’t struggle with thyroid issues, but I do, and have the added anxiety related to worrying about whether I’ll be able to fill my prescription. I keep Googling: “Does worrying about hypothyroid related weight gain contribute to hypothyroid related weight gain?”
I was reading the other day that a surfer off the coast of Australia got attacked by a great white shark who bit off his arm. The surfer punched the shark in the nose (presumably with the other arm), told the animal to “F— off”… and the great white did just that. When I read this, I thought: “That’s the right attitude! This is someone who is fighting for himself, not for appearances, but because he wanted to get back on his surfboard. He had waves to catch. He wasn’t about to be distracted. I would have surrendered. This guy thought: “I have the other arm left, and I’m going to use it.”
If Covid has done anything to the world of weight loss, it has disrupted our sense of direction, our motivation, our willpower, and our WHY. What I keep hearing again and again from my clients is: “I’m just not sure I have a reason to lose any more”… “ I’m not even seeing people”… “no one is seeing me”… “I’m in sweatpants all day” and what it really it boils down to is….“at this point, who cares?”
So, how do we tackle this general sense of apathy? How do we overcome the feeling of impending doom and prevent ourselves from slipping into an all-you-can-eat-buffet mentality?
Problem: At this point who cares?
Answer: You do. This has, and always will be true: you are doing this for you. This has never been and never will be for anyone else but yourself. If you were getting in shape for someone else, you were bound to lose steam eventually. If that was the case, redefine your WHY. Reestablish your reasons for wanting to do this. Weight management can never be about other people. Good health is a GREAT reason but tends to be hard to grasp. Superficial reasons are 100% ok. No one needs to know what they are but you. You can always have a back-up, public reason such as “clear skin” or “heart health” when what you actually privately mean is “I want to look really, really good in a tight pair of jeans”. Your best resource? YOU, your best friend, that one person who is super honest with you and has your back without judgement.
Problem: No access to the gym
Answer: If you can find a yoga mat and two sets of weights you’re good to go. Four gallon water-jugs with handles filled with sand at varying levels will do in a pinch. Can’t find those either? Resistance bands or simply your own body weight. There are unlimited FREE online workouts available. For those of you who foolishly think – as I did – that you won’t be challenged, OH MY G-D. Think again.Though I consider myself in relatively decent shape, I felt my eyeballs rolling back into my head 11 minutes into the first half hour. I have never been so challenged in my life, not with triathlons, not with weights. And I’m LOVING it. Not least, the part which means it’s over with so quickly in the privacy of my own home.
Problem: No idea what to eat
Answer: Start somewhere and stop trying to tackle the whole problem at once. You don’t need a degree in nutrition, you just need to nail three good breakfasts on rotation, four or five easy lunches, and four or five simple dinners. You don’t need to learn how to cook – not really. And you don’t even really need to understand why you’re putting those meals together just yet (although it’ll DEFINITELY help you stick to the plan long term if you do, so more on that later). For now, just research the basics, and write them down. Again, you’ll be able to find all this online for free. Keep Googling “weight management diet plans” and keep mixing and matching until you create several days that feel realistic. Include snacks. If you’d rather outsource, hire someone to do the heavy lifting for you. So many online resources are free, online meal plans are free. Google nutritionists near me or online. Are you willing to work with a student? You could get a significant discount if they are training with you or just starting out.
Problem: I’m exhausted, possibly depressed, and so tired. I could be deficient in something, but can’t get to a doctor to get tested.
Answer: You might be deficient in something, but until you are tested err on the side of caution and don’t start supplementing unnecessarily. Here are some of the basics you may want to consider: If you’ve been dieting, consider a multivitamin to cover your bases. If you work indoors, consider 2,000 IU vitamin D. If you have ever taken antibiotics, or suffer from gas, constipation, bloat or irregular bowel movements take a pre/probiotic with a minimum of 15 billion CFUs and a broad spectrum of probiotic strains. If you want to lose body fat, look for a probiotic containing lactobacillus rhamnosus like the probiotic Losers’ Chews that I created to help my clients shed unwanted weight. If you are struggling with insomnia, consider 1 mg melatonin 1.5 hours before bedtime (careful with melatonin: less is more). What to avoid? Avoid “Fat Burner” pills as these often contain (unproven) ingredients that will make your heart race and will make you feel much worse.
Problem: Family falling apart/friends are unsupportive/say it’s all in my head
Answer: Ignore them, without telling them you’re doing so. If they pushback against your efforts, ask, “How can I make this easier you?” If they say you’re boring, no fun, or annoying you can say, “This won’t be forever. This is just something I need to try for now.” Often, family and/or friends feel alienated or abandoned when we go off on a quest for better health fearing they’ll be left behind. There’s a genuine concern that things will change “forever”. It helps to remind them that this is just “for now” even if you intend it to be forever. There’s no sense in rubbing it in, and odds are you’ll inspire them to join you along the way, so it won’t matter. Be kind, because pushback is ALWAYS rooted in insecurity, and we have all been on the other side of that feeling ourselves. Remind your family and friends: “This doesn’t change who I am. I still love you, and I hope you still love me and will support me.” If they don’t or won’t – time to quietly move on and find a group of friends who will.
Problem: I’ve gained so much weight already, and am feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of starting over, again
Answer: One. Day. At. A. Time. There are so many people like me, like you: uncertain, unsure, but hoping. My advice is this: the more you explore, follow and immerse yourself in following others and reading about their success stories, the more you will believe. So much of this journey is about suspended disbelief, hope and believing in possibility. One has to have faith that what we hope for CAN come true – otherwise, there is nothing to work towards. Really visualize what you want and spend lots of time imagining yourself getting there. Spend time looking up people like you online, on Instagram, on Facebook, who have successfully completed the journey – other 55-year-old men with hypothyroidism who lost 150 pounds, other 46-year-old women with 4 children who lost 60 pounds, other 35-year-old women who have battled depression, hypothyroidism and lost 80 pounds. Find them, and know you can, too.
My Ten Weight Loss Gems
No matter what else you do, you can’t go wrong implementing the following:
- Drink 120 oz water a day. (If you weigh over 220 lbs make that 140 oz.)
- Get. Enough. Sleep. Find a way and make it a priority. You will not lose weight if you are not sleeping enough, so figure out a way to get 7-8 hours a night.
- Eat a primarily plant based diet, focused next on lean, clean hormone-free/pasture-raised/grass-fed/wild protein.
- Move every day. Don’t worry so much about “cardio” as MOVEMENT. Walk everywhere. Take the stairs. Carry groceries. Run errands.
- Lift heavy things often.
- Aim to eat within a 10 hour window for example 10am to 8pm or 8am to 6pm (or for those of you up late: 12pm to 10pm).
- Avoid added sugar – completely.
- Avoid gluten – completely.
- Keep a food journal for a month. You’ll be amazed at what you eat… yes I know, you think you already know! Write it down and prepare to be amazed at what you discover.
- Be prepared to start over at lunch, in the middle of the afternoon, or half way through dinner. Never wait until “tomorrow” or “Monday”.