I've always loved running and staying active. But during my second pregnancy, everything changed. Excess weight just kept piling on. It turned out, I had a condition called Hashimoto's disease as well as hypothyroidism. But my doctors couldn't figure out how to solve my problem until about two years after my symptoms first developed.
When I first found out I had Hashimoto's and hypothyroidism, I was shocked. It was actually really hard to figure out what exactly I was suffering from because a lot of the symptoms of hypothyroidism are similar to pregnancy symptoms—like low energy and weight gain—and I was experiencing those things simultaneously.
After delivering my daughter, I got a diagnosis, and my doctor placed me on a common medication for hypothyroidism. After two years of taking the med, my weight continued to go up, even though I was exercising daily and watching what I ate. My diet was pretty standard clean eating, but still, no weight loss. I expressed my concern to my doctor, but I didn't really feel heard.
My turning point
I was totally fed up, so I decided to find a doctor that would listen to me. Even though I felt like I was voicing my concerns about my weight gain to my current health care provider, it came off to me as if they were being brushed right off.
My new doctor actually suggested trying the keto diet—but I was very sceptical about it. At that point, though, I was desperate. I thought, fine, yeah, I'll try it. And it ended up working out for me! My hormones are now all at normal levels, I've lost weight, my energy is back up, and I'm off my medication as well.
Let me be clear, this isn't to say that going keto cures thyroid issues. But dietary changes, including upping your protein, can have an effect on hypothyroidism-related symptoms—and it worked for me. But you should *definitely* talk to your doctor first though if you're in a similar situation for guidance.
Before being on keto, I was having a hard time finding the stamina and energy to balance everything on my plate. Now, I'm finally able to live again with pep in my step.
What I eat in a day now
Eventually, I started adjusting the keto diet to fit my lifestyle better. For instance, at one point, I was trying to eat six meals a day, but it was really hard to find so many opportunities to sit down and have a mini-meal with my busy school schedule. So I started incorporating intermittent fasting, which allows me to eat fewer times during the day. Because I'm eating a high-fat diet, that fills me up when I'm fasting.
A lot of people start out with the 16:8 method, or 16 hours of fasting with an eight-hour eating window. But I started out with 12 hours fasting, which I found easier in the beginning, and now I'm up to 14 to 16 hours of fasting. Plus, I only fast during the weekdays. I find it stressful on my body to do it every single day of the week, so I give myself the weekends to scale back and loosen my routine.
A day of eating for me might look like this:
- Breakfast: I usually skip eating a typical breakfast due to intermittent fasting. But I do enjoy some tea or black coffee before I go to school.
- Lunch: I make sure to include fatty meat cuts and many vegetables. People think being on keto means cutting out veggies, but I actually enjoy plenty of them.
- Dinner: My current favourite meal for dinner is Fathead Keto Pizza.
How I sweat
For me, my issue was never that I wasn't working out enough. It had to do with what I was eating and my hormone imbalance. Before I started this new journey I was actually running six times a week and weight lifting every other day. But likely at least somewhat due to my thyroid issues, I was not seeing any progress at all.
Now, I only run three times a week and incorporate weights twice a week. Plus, I like to throw in a Zumba class every now and then.
My top three tips for success
When other women who want to lose weight and keep it off ask me about how I did it, I suggest three simple things:
- Find what lifestyle works for you.
- Find an activity you actually enjoy doing.
- And once you discover those two things, keep your routine consistent.
Nataly Davies, as told to Alexis Jones. This article originally appeared on Women's Health US.