One of the most common frustrations I hear from my clients is that they are tired all of the time and can’t lose weight despite applying their doctor’s cursory advice to eat less and exercise more. Our bodies are much more sophisticated than this vexatious panacea that spills out of most doctor’s mouths in an effort to rush you out of their office so they can move on to their next patient.
I was working with a client who experienced fatigue most of the day and couldn’t lose a pound of body weight to save her life. I asked her to create a food journal (a simple list of foods eaten and drunk throughout the day) for a week. I was sure to find that she had been eating more calories that her body required to remain at her current body weight. After vetting her food journals, I found that she had not only been faithfully keeping her calories under control but she had also shied away from sugars. So it wasn’t that she was unconsciously consuming more food. And most of her diet was healthy foods that I advocate.
It wasn’t her caloric intake causing her defeat of weight loss so I decided to bump up the intensity and tempo of her workouts. Based on her heart rate monitor (www.polar.com), we started interval training by bumping up her heart rate to 95% of her maximum heart rate (220 – current age) while performing exercises with 1-minute rest periods between exercises.
According to her heart rate monitor, on average, she was burning 515 calories during her thrice-weekly workout sessions.
After two months of this protocol and carefully watching her diet, she continued to grumble about not losing weight and dragging ass all day. I could see the frustration in her eyes. I finally asked her when the last time she had a physical by her family doctor.
And here’s where we found the problem to her to her lethargy and steadily increasing weight issue…
Your thyroid controls your metabolism so I suggested she ask her doctor to order a thyroid test. Her TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) score was normal, which is a superficial indication that her thyroid was functioning properly. But I wasn’t convinced this test told the whole story regarding her inability to drop the extra poundage and her lack of energy.
I then suggested she ask her doctor for a full spectrum of thyroid function tests (TSH, T4, T3, rT3, and thyroid antibodies). A few days later she got her test results and found that even though her TSH was normal, her T3 was low and her thyroid antibodies were high. After working with her doctor to address this issue, she was able to drop the extra weight and had more energy than she has had in a long time.
IS A SLUGGISH THYROID KEEPING YOU FROM LOOKING AND FEELING YOUR BEST?
Hypothyroidism has been linked to health issues like:
1. Weight gain
2. Low energy levels
3. High cholesterol
4. Increased risk of a heart attack
5. High insulin levels, and
Your thyroid is primarily responsible for about 70% of the amount of calories you burn per day. If you have a sluggish thyroid, it could be the cause of your weight gain or inability to lose weight even when you’re practicing most doctors’ weight loss advice to “watch your diet and exercise.”
If you’re experiencing:
1. Unexplained weight gain,
2. Inability to lose weight even though you’re reducing your food intake and exercising
3. Fatigued most of the day
4. You have cold hands and feet
You may want to do this one simple test to check if you might have hypothyroidism.
1. Get a traditional glass mercury thermometer, a pen, and a piece of paper
2. Before going to sleep, shake the thermometer to reset the mercury level.
3. Put these three items on the night stand next to your bed within arm’s reach,
4. As soon as you wake up (with as little movement as possible), place the metal tip of the thermometer underarm,
5. Lie still for 10 minutes,
6. Write down your morning temperature,
7. REPEAT for 3 CONSECUTIVE DAYS and take the AVERAGE of these 3 readings
You want to use this basal body temperature test because one major role of the thyroid gland is to regulate body temperature. So this test is a good indicator of your thyroid function.
If the average of your three temperature readings is within 97.8 and 98.2 degrees, this suggests that your thyroid is functioning just fine.
However, if your readings are consistently lower than 97.7 degrees, you may have HYPOTHYROIDISM and you might want to consider talking to your doctor about a few things.
First, ask your doctor for a full spectrum of thyroid function tests, including:
1. TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone)
4. Reverse T3
5. Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO) – your doctor may know this test as thyroid antibodies. This test is to see if there’s an autoimmune reaction against your thyroid, which attacks healthy thyroid tissue.
These tests are best to be done in the morning right after breakfast. If you fast before this test (like most doctors advice you to do for other blood tests), it’s likely to skew the results.
Secondly, two supplements you may consider talking to your doctor about adding to your diet are iodine and selenium. A high quality multivitamin should contain these two trace minerals.
1. IODINE – this mineral is required for thyroid hormones to be made. *The suggested daily amount of iodine is 150 micrograms.
2. SELENIUM – reduces the risk of an autoimmune disease. *The recommended daily amount of selenium is 200 micrograms.
* I’m not a doctor and cannot personally recommend dosages for supplements. My intent is to educate you so that you can ask your doctor intelligent questions that may help your possible health condition.
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