Ever since I was first diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease at 17 (and most likely before my diagnosis) I’ve often felt like I’ve been at the mercy of my thyroid function when it comes to my weight. Whether it be that I gain weight during a flare, or lose weight from being overmedicated or a hyperthyroid swing, it’s just all over the place. With weight gain being one of the more loathed symptoms of hypothyroidism, and hashimoto’s disease, I know I’m not alone. However, living in a world where we’re constantly made to believe that weight gain and loss is nothing but a display of self control, hard work, and willpower, the social and emotional implications of gaining weight due to hashimoto’s are huge.
First, know that I’d be lying if I said that I was actually ever very overweight or extremely underweight. I’ve always been close to being within a healthy range, and by no means am shaming myself here. I’d also be lying if I said that all of my weight fluctuations have been weight gain related. Though it’s not always typical for Hashimoto’s sufferers, I’ve seen my fair share of drastic weight loss as well. My hashimoto’s initially presented itself as hyperthyroid when I was first diagnosed, and my body has this weird tendency to immediately switch to hyper once I start a new thyroid medication dose.
This time last year, I was in another hypothyroid slump and about 15 lbs over my normal weight. Though, I honestly don’t really even know what my real normal is. More than just my weight, I was dealing with some serious brain fog, migraines, fatigue, and blood sugar issues. Sound familiar? Something had to change. That’s when I started tightening up my diet to cut out the junk and start embracing real food again. At first, it feels absolutely liberating. I shed the initial 10 lbs that my Hashimoto’s was holding onto, and my symptoms drastically decreased. I felt like me again. Things were normal.
However, it took a turn at some point. I went from being, and looking healthy to starting to swing towards hyperthyroid again. The stress of my wedding along with life in general, and most likely being over medicated, pushed my TSH down to 0.05. I lost about an extra 12-15 lbs which when you were starting at 135 lbs, 5ft 6in, it’s pretty noticeable. The cycle is always the same. All of a sudden everyone starts noticing. “Have you lost weight?” becomes a more common greeting than, “Hi, how are you?”. I couldn’t go 48 hours without someone calling me tiny, or little, or asking about my weight.
It represented will power, and hard work. Like I did something to get that thin. It was desirable.
However, that’s the farthest thing from the truth. I did absolutely nothing that anyone would conventionally assume would cause weight loss. I actually cancelled my crossfit membership and amped up my carb intake hugely. I actually ate six sweet potatoes two days before my wedding because my body was craving it so badly. Everyone wanted to know what I did to lose weight, but really, it had nothing to do with what I did, but what was happening to me and my body.
Fast forward a few months, and now my TSH is normal, and my antibodies have decreed by 60% since my hyper stint. I feel better, sleep better, I think more clearly, I’m not jumpy. And of course, that weight that was unhealthfully lost came back. No, I haven’t been called tiny in months, and no I probably don’t scream “will power” and “discipline” anymore. However, I’ve gained, so, so much more than weight. I’ve regained so much of my health.
On the outside, my weight, your weight, everyones weight, so often represents our “habits”, “will power”, or “discipline”. We watch shows like the biggest loser where contestants have panic attacks on a treadmill and lose 20 lbs in a week and say, “Wow, I wish I could be that disciplined!. We mindlessly like image after image after image of meal prepping and body building on Instagram and we say, “Wow, I wish I had that will power!”.
Weight loss can be about hard work, yes. But in my world of Hashimoto’s, and so many other disease, it has literally nothing to do with it. Sometimes it just happens. It doesn’t mean that we can’t work to be healthier, but it doesn’t automatically mean that we’re doing anything to cause it. People are judged constantly for their weight and it can have nothing to do with the choices that they make. We need to stop measuring people’s character by their outward appearance.
So, here’s a little something addressing my weight gain…
Yes, I’ve gained weight, but it has nothing to do with my willpower.
Yes, I’ve gained weight, but I’m now healthier for it.
Yes, I’ve gained weight, but I’ve also inspired hundreds of others who also suffer from Hashimoto’s disease to eat real food, address their root causes, and live holistically to get healthier.
Yes, I’ve gained weight eating kale, salmon, parsnips, and brussels sprouts. No, I do not eat fast food or drink soda.
Yes, I’ve gained weight, but I still love myself, so bye.
Yes, I’ve gained weight, but I’m not going to starve my body and punish it with intense exercise.
Yes, I’ve gained weight and God, and family still love me regardless.
Yes, I’ve gained weight… my weight and however you want to judge me for it will never, ever define me.
Though my weight loss, and eventual gain were a symptom of my disease and our weight can be dictated by our thyroid function, we don’t have to just rely on medication. Hashimoto’s and other chronic autoimmune disease can be managed by listening to our bodies, and feeding it nourishing foods rather than starving. I wrote more about how I live holistically with Hashimoto’s and reduced my symptoms here.
So, how can you start dealing with unintentional weight gain or loss due to Hashimoto’s, today? You can start thriving regardless…
- Address your digestive distress, adrenal fatigue, and possible underlying causes.
- Feed your body real, nourishing food. Protein that’s wild caught or pasture raised, good quality fats, fruits and vegetables from a local source, and treats within moderation.
- Drink lots and lots of water.
- Move your body in a way that’s freeing, and fun, rather than punishing and oppressive.
- Get a handle on your nutritional deficiencies and supplement where needed.
- Lean on the Lord, prayer and support from loved ones.
- Help others.
- Rest, sleep, and give yourself a darn break.
- Understand that you’re worth more than others perception of you, and that weight is literally just a number.
I pray that if you’re dealing with weight gain and hashimoto’s that you too will recognize that your weight doesn’t define you, and that you are not a victim.
As always, much love, and shoot me a message if you want to talk more.