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I have been struggling with what to talk about this month as you probably noticed from the lack of posts. Originally, I was going to write about mental health during the pandemic but then I realized that I did not want to give this pandemic any more energy, so I scrapped it. Instead I want to discuss something that I have touched about in the past but have had very poor implementation of. And that is the importance of rest and relaxation for improved fitness.
I am almost certain if I went back and searched my older blog posts I’d find some where I talk about how rest is important. Intellectually I knew it was important and something that my muscles needed in order to recover but it is very hard when you have a goal to accept the idea that doing nothing will help you get closer to the goal. We are wired to think that working harder and longer will mean a better chance of success. While that may be true for your career or business, it does not apply to your fitness. There truly is such a thing as diminishing returns when it comes to working out.
Two weeks ago, I received confirmation that my thyroid was underactive and I have hypothyroidism. But the interesting point is how it got that way. I learned that my body wasn’t attacking itself because I had no antibodies present but my body was chronically stressed. I have always pushed myself too hard. I took too many classes in college. I pursued the most difficult coursework offered in law school. I worked out 7 days a week, sometimes going weeks without taking a rest day. I worked 70 hours a week when I still litigated. I thought having a baby, working, and going to school all at once was a good idea, while also working out 6 days a week. I worried about everything and let the smallest things bother me. I never made time to do things to unwind. I didn’t get massages. I didn’t take soothing baths. I didn’t get adequate sleep. I didn’t practice activities to lower my stress levels. My body pumped out cortisol day after day in response to what it thought was a battle for my life. Compound that with aggressive caloric deficits to get rid of the baby weight and my body (and specifically thyroid) had enough.
Thyroiditis in September and a forced full stop of everything after I almost suffocated on a mountain in the Smokies and I had to start to reevaluate things. But it wasn’t until I heard Juli Bauer Roth of Paleomg talk about her struggles with her adrenals from over working her body that it started to click. The thyroid numbers were just the last nail in the coffin — I needed to change or my health was going to continue to deteriorate.
So that’s what I have been working on the last couple of weeks — being okay with doing less because my thyroid wants me to rest. It’s probably the same for some of you out there that have been having a hard time losing weight even though you’re working out every day and tracking your macros. So it wouldn’t hurt if you’re already maxed on training and counting calories to pull back and try something different.
My programming has changed to 3 days of active workouts. Two strength days and one cardio day. The other 4 days I will be doing restorative yoga which is just stretching and gentle holds. Once I see that I am recovering well between workouts I will consider adding a fourth day of workouts but do not believe I’ll go over 4 days a week. Everyday I’ll try to get some walking in but there will be no particular drive to get to 10,000 steps a day like I used to have. Walking will just be to get some sun and take in a little nature. As a Mom I get plenty of steps in these days from chasing my toddler and I already work standing up about 90% of the time (because of said toddler) so I think I’m pretty set with non-exercise activity.
As far as my nutrition, after reading the book Thyroid Healthy by Pharmacist Suzy Cohen (along with other materials written by doctors but Cohen’s is the most concise), I have decided to do a better job about sticking to gluten-free options. I usually fail at it the most during lunch time because it’s hard to think when Rigel is pulling at my legs, so I make a sandwich with whatever bread is in the refrigerator. So I started a subscription meal service with Snap Kitchen to cover my lunches. All of their meals are gluten-free and so far I’m really enjoying them. After reading a suggestion in Thyroid Healthy to take DPP IV enzymes to help with gluten-intolerance when I do want to eat a regular pizza, I purchased NOW Supplements Gluten Digest. I’m looking forward to trying those out to see if they help me better digest things with gluten and avoid some of the inflammation that builds up.
I’ll be retested at the end of May to see if my numbers are improving and depending how those look we’ll reevaluate the approach. I tried Singulair to get some of my night time asthma symptoms under control because I was worried that was causing unnecessary inflammation and that was a huge fail for me. I got several of the upper respiratory side effects that are described in the pharmacology packet. So I have discontinued that and I’m hoping that the dietary changes help to minimize my asthma symptoms.
As far as how all this affects our TTC journey well we’re not focusing on fertile windows for the time being but are not preventing. I know that hypothyroidism can affect cycles and it seems to have affected mine some, with periods that have been up to a week late the last few months. I have stopped taking Vitex while I work on my thyroid. I haven’t found any literature that says it would negatively impact it but I don’t know how many more pills I can keep track of. So basically, it’s in God’s hands, as it’s always been. If he thinks I’m ready to carry another baby, even with a little extra pudge, then I’m ready. So we’ll see how it goes. (and don’t worry I won’t keep you guys in the dark for months before I let you in on what’s going on in my womb)
So that’s the update, doing less to accomplish more. I’m already feeling more energetic and less achey so I’m motivated to keep this up regardless of what the scale might say in the short term. I mean it’s not like everything is just going to switch on overnight.
So let me know, have y’all experienced aches and pains that don’t ever seem to go away? Do you always feel tired even though you’ve gotten 8 hours of sleep? Have any of you been diagnosed with a thyroid issue? Let me know in the comments what you’re going through because we’re all in this together.
Love and healing,