hypothyroidism

You sound stupid when you blame your weight on your thyroid

Don’t believe me? Hi! I have hypothyroidism. It’s genetic, every single person in my family minus two have and take medication for it. One of the things that made me the most angry while researching the fat/anti-fat acceptance movement was their frequent use of hypothyroidism/other thyroid and metabolic disorders as an excuse for being fat. Due to my own hypothyroidism, I have obtained medical information from my own doctors that, quite frankly, makes that excuse look as shitty as it actually is, and I’ll explain a bit how the misinformation caused by these excuses can actually be quite dangerous. 

Firstly, according to the American Thyroid Association, only 10-15lbs can be attributed to a malfunctioning thyroid alone. Their website actually states only 5-10lbs, but I upped it due to the fact that I’ve heard from a few of my own doctors that severe cases can range around 15lbs. Mind you, this is WITHOUT treatment yet: once you receive proper medication, most symptoms related to the thyroid issue disappears, including weight gain.

The confusion behind this lies in how we consider “weight gain” as a symptom. Other symptoms of untreated hypothyroidism can encourage weight gain in some, for example the lack of energy and sleep issues. However, these are some of the symptoms that begin to really impact a person’s life - if you ever experienced prolonged sleep problems, depression, and fatigue consult your doctor immediately. Thyroid issues are easily detectable by a simple blood test. Treatment is a medication (in the U.S. I believe the common name is “synthroid”) that balances hormone levels and essentially takes over the job of the no longer working thyroid .

Secondly, this also means that again, all related symptoms once properly treated disappear. And we’ve also concluded that the debilitating symptoms besides weight gain (the list is lengthy, they range from thinning nails and hair to depression and if left untreated long enough, other serious mental disorders) would mean that someone with untreated hypothyroidism couldn’t stay that way for long, and most would have gone to a doctor at some point to seek treatment. Even if they didn’t, they would find themselves in the hospital, not as a functioning overweight person. Thyroid disorders are DEADLY if not treated, no one with hypothyroidism would be able to survive without treatment long-term and in addition, a regular doctor’s visit and blood test would easily find it. 

Lastly, anyone who is overweight with hypothyroidism is making their condition worse, period. Doctors encourage exercise and a balanced diet (usually avoiding empty carbs like white bread, as this gives us little energy and for someone with hypothyroidism can make them feel quite “groggy”) to combat depression and fatigue for those whose thyroids are declining. This is a way to prevent having to take medication in the first place, as exercise increases our resting metabolic rate and therefore combats hormone imbalances related to thyroid issues. Healthy diet and exercise are also recommended for those with hypothyroidism to prevent health conditions that can arise from hypothyroidism, such as heart conditions. Excess fat causes hormonal imbalances in the body, and contributes further to the hormonal imbalance of the thyroid. It is recommended for those who are genetically pre-dispositioned to hypothyroidism and are overweight to lose weight in order to reduce the chance of contracting hypothyroidism. It is also recommended for those who are overweight with hypothyroidism to lose weight, as excess fat can lessen the impact of thyroid medications.

And yet, despite these facts, the common idea people have is that hypothyroidism is a legitimate reason for someone to balloon to 200+ lbs. The problem is, this idea is not only misleading, but potentially dangerous. Most are not aware of other symptoms related to hypothyroidism, as they only regard the factor of weight gain. This means that many who might be experiencing the onset of hypothyroidism but have not gained weight, or perhaps even lost weight, might not understand the implications of these symptoms, and not consider a blood test. In fact, many who experience the onset of hypothyroidism are unaware that they have a physical issue as many of the symptoms are mental. Instead they might seek therapy for depression issues, not knowing that their problem is also hormonal. 

This that and everything else are the reasons why I can’t help but feel a bit sickened when I see the look of an overweight person after they’ve used thyroid issues as their excuse - and I mention to them that I have a thyroid issue too. It sickens me because they look offended, as if they feel like I have taken something from them by exposing the fact that thyroid disorders don’t make people destined to be obese. By the way, surprisingly a lot of the people who use this excuse if ever prodded a bit admit that they have not yet seen a doctor to verify their claim - self diagnosing is a no-no. That right there is not ok. People do actually have hypothyroidism, it does actually cause a lot of issues and can really impact someone’s life depending on its severity. To take an actual medical issue that most likely, you’re just using a common myth to validate that you’re not in control of your weight, is probably the best definition of “denial” I can find. And to act sadly to the reaction that your weight isn’t from a condition? Just think about that, in what situation would it be sane to be upset or offended that you DON’T have an uncontrollable issue? I would be thrilled if I walked into my doctors office next week and he/she told me I didn’t need my thyroid medications anymore (and that I could start growing my nails back, seriously wtf). 

So there you go, this is why you sound stupid - at least to those who know better - when you say your weight is from a thyroid issue. And if you want other people to know better too, feel free to reblog. And if this offends you, don’t blame me, I’m just here just spreadin’ some knowledge.

It’s amazing what 18lbs can do! I feel so much better! I’ve followed Natasha’s (@natashaxjade) boot camp plan since January and it’s safe to say it has literally kicked my ass! I’ve been doing the 21 day fix in November and a few weeks of 30 day Shred in December! My eating habits have been bad this week (birthday week) but I’m looking forward to getting back on track with that! I’m excited to see how the rest of the year plays out at this rate!!! 🙌🏻🎉💪🏻🎂🎈 #flabbytofabulous #beforeandafter #motivation #fitfam #fitspo #fitness #fitspiration #losingweight #weightloss #eatingclean #workinghard #workout #hypothyroid #hypothyroidism #justdoit #jillianmichaels #excited #youcandothis #icaniwill #pushyourself #birthday #birthdaygirl #noexcuses #noregrets

As of this morning, River is down to 71 lbs.

I’m so happy for her. It’s been two years this month since we started her on thyroid meds. She’s lost a total of just about 40 lbs. She’s all fur now and a bit of jiggly skin. No more kneecap slipping, either. She’ll be 7 in February. Time goes so fast. I’m so glad I didn’t listen to the people that kept telling me to feed her less and less instead of considering it might be a thyroid issue. 

She was fairly thin at 60 lbs…

…so I’m comfortable with her around 70-73.

Love you Riverboat. <3

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  • Person:I'm overweight
  • Tumblr:DIET AND EXERCISE
  • Same Person:that's all fine and dandy but see I have hypothyroid--
  • Tumblr:DIET AND EXERCISE
  • Another person:See I'd love to but I have a chronic illness and the energy required--
  • Tumblr:DIET AND EXERCISE
  • Another person:Right now I'm struggling through some pretty severe mental health issues and unfortunately my physical health has taken a backseat to my mental--
  • Tumblr:DIET AND EXERCISE
  • Another person:I eat healthy and I run 10 miles a week. This is my body and I love--
  • Tumblr:DIET AND EXERCISE
I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism yesterday.

Ever since I was about 16, I’ve felt like gravity has affected me differently.  I get tired way faster than other people.  I sleep a lot.  I can’t think straight, I’m sad a lot.  Until yesterday, I thought it was psychosomatic.  Most of my life, people have told me it’s my own negative attitude that’s kept me in this limbo, and that I have no one to blame but myself.  I always found that strange, because I’ve found myself to be a very optimistic person.  My brain and my body were telling me two different things, it was very frustrating.

Invisible illnesses are real, and by telling someone they’re imagining all of their symptoms, you are basically challenging their entire reality.  I cannot get this diagnosis out of my head.  Almost every single one of my issues is explained by this one diagnosis.  Why wasn’t I diagnosed sooner?

I found out that hypothyroidism often goes undetected for years.  Even if your thyroid levels are a little funky, and you complain about the symptoms, until it actually gets really bad, doctors don’t seem to care to do anything about it.

I want to do more research on this, and definitely see how I feel after a few weeks of taking synthroid.  I want to raise awareness about this.

I’ve always been the slowest one, the “lazy” one, the one everyone has to wait for.  In a few weeks, I might not be that person anymore.  It boggles my mind to imagine it, but we’ll see.

Telling a Thyroid Patient to Lose Weight is Like Telling a Drowning Person to Swim

1. I feel like my Doctors don’t listen…
When a patient’s Thyroid test come back normal ,whether on Thyroid medications or not, they are told everything is fine and that they are normal (even though the patient is very aware that their continued symptoms are thyroid related). I have had many patients tell me that their doctors have told them “your symptoms are all in your head.” This is very untrue. Our patients know their bodies, they know something is not right, and that there has to be answers to why they continue to have symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, loss of libido, hair loss, trouble sleeping, digestive issues, moody, depression, anxiety, etc.

2. I’m tired of all the medications…
Instead of answers, patients are often given prescriptions (Sleep meds, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds, weight loss pills, etc) for symptom relief. Despite drug treatment, most symptoms tend to get worse. Many patients will say that they felt better for a short period of time but quickly noticed that their symptoms started to get worse. The patients who come to us want to know WHY, Why don’t they have energy, why are they gaining weight, why are they moody and depressed, etc. 

3. I’m eating less and gaining more…
Most patients are often told by family, friends, or even their doctor, that if they would “just lose weight” it would solve all of their problems. By the time patients come to us, they are eating healthier, some are eating gluten free, dairy free, following the paleo diet. Many of them are barely eating and still gaining weight. Dr. Twohey says “Telling a thyroid patient to lose weight is like telling a drowning person to swim.” 

By Kayla Restko and Dr. Wendy Twohey

Hypothyroidism

Since I promised you all content on non-communicable/chronic diseases and we’re still in the process of introducing me to you all here’s a little segue, the very condition that plagues me.

The Disease

The general concept is simple, as with most medical cases the prefix “hypo-” is referring to something that is below average, in this case thyroid activity. The disease affects about one in every thousand individuals. In its healthy state the thyroid produces a hormone known as Thyroxine (T4) shown below:

This is generally dionised (note the 4 iodine’s) in order to produce Liothyronine (T3) which is a little more potent. The hormone pair’s main use is in the stimulation of oxygen consumption for your cells, this means they play a key part in cell and overall metabolism. This of course affects a huge range of other processes in several systems such as growth or hormone production. The levels of these are hormones are maintained by the hypothalamus (thryotropin-releasing hormones) via the pituitary gland (thyroid stimulating hormones) producing a negative feedback loop that helps keep the body homeostatic.Hypothyroidism cases arise when the produced level of either T4/T3 decreases and therefore all the cells within an individual begin to metabolise much slower, disrupting the entire biological system.
 

The Cause

There are a number of reasons for why the illness might arise in an individual and in some cases it has been seen to have occurred with no apparent trigger to begin with. However here are a few common ones.

Decreased Serotonin and other hormones: As mentioned, the body tends to remain in a state of homeostasis through a series of feedback loops. Interfering with these can cause a range of problems elsewhere in the body. The thyroid’s interaction with mood and sleep modulating hormones such as serotonin and dopamine have been studied for some time now. In many cases low serotonin levels have been shown to disturb brain chemistry enough to alter the production of other hormones as well as the increased level of stress associated with conditions such as depression.

Autoimmune diseases: Occasionally the thyroxine produced by an individual or the thyroid itself is set upon by an individual’s immune system (The former is what they currently believe is happening to me).

Decreased Iodine in the diet: As iodine is a key component of thyroxine low levels within a diet hinders the hormone’s production.

Stress or other long term conditions: A range of problems such as these are known to disrupt the natural body chemistry and thus may be a potential cause. Stress in particular is associated to a hormone known as cortisol, this hormone blocks the conversion of T4 to T3 lowering the efficiency of cell metabolism. 

Hyperthyroidism treatment: One method of treating an overactive thyroid is to attempt to shrink it via radioactive iodine intake. This process is harmless but in some rare cases it hampers the productive of T4 too much. More commonly however the condition can arise from a system becoming too adjusted to antithyroid medication built to inhibit T4 production, leading to a permanent reduced production. 

Surgery: Removal of all or part of the thyroid gland will obviously lead to cases of hypothyroidism in the particular individual.

The Symptoms

Due to the diseases wide area of effect the symptoms for the condition are plentiful and range greatly in extremity. To avoid making this post longer than “do you like the colour of the sky?” post I’ll note down here a few of the main complaints patients report the effects of and leave a few useful sources at the end for those curious.

Decreased metabolism: Your cells being unable to carry out general functions will obviously hinder the metabolisation of foodstuffs for energy.This generally leads to the following symptoms. Increased weight gain (more common in females) Fatigue /Brain Fog / Decreased Concentration / Exhaustion / slower bowel movements / constipation. 

Decreased Serotonin: Sadly, the decreased thyroid activity has been associated to both the decreased levels of the serotonin hormones and their receptor sites. Permanent damage to the entire serotonergic system has even been witnessed in long term cases. Decreased serotonin can be displayed in the form of depression, anxiety, stress and Insomnia. Furthermore, it creates a positive feedback loop as decreased serotonin only worsens the condition.

Muscle Pain: As with serotonergic system, nerve receptors may face permanent damage from the condition, this leads to periodic feelings of pain the patient’s muscles and extremities.

Other/Miscellaneous: Loss of appetite, loss of libido, period alterations, dry skin, swelling of the thyroid, high blood pressure, lower resistance to the cold, high cholesterol, thinning hair and difficulty conceiving. 


The Detection

The most common test for hypothyroidism is a blood test to check an individual’s thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels. These values generally average around 0.4 to 4.5 mU/L (milliunits per litre) but may vary depending on the testing method. A higher concentration in the blood (>4.5) is indicative a greater need to generate the hormone due to the thyroids underactivity (Similarly, low TSH values are often the calling card for hyperthyroidism).

The levels of free T4 in the system can also be indicative however these tests vary so much an average value would be hard to give for you. Just as above a patient suffering from hypothyroidism will see reduced concentrations of T4 in the blood.


The Treatment

The main form of treatment for the condition is a prescribed dosage of levothyroxin, a synthetic replacement of the original hormone. It is especially beneficial in that it isn’t targeted by the immune system in autoimmune cases. The drug dosages range between 25-500mcg but rarely does a patient need to take a dosage above 200mcg a day (my dosage is currently 75mcg). Most values above 300 are used as loading dosages for treating the life endangering condition known as a Myxedema Coma, an extreme state of hypothyroidism like symptoms and almost inactive metabolism and blood circulation.

The medication is usually prescribed in increasing dosages of 25mcg and the patient is monitored through periodic blood tests every few months until the TSH/T4 levels stabalise. In most cases the cause of the illness means that the medication needs to be taken indefinitely. However in some, such as those with poor diets or just general destabilised hormone levels

Alternative medicine is generally a mix of unmeasured thyroxine samples taken from natural sources. Due to their inconsistent measurements however these are generally not advised to treat a long term illness. Also, though no scientific evidence has been found to support the case, some patients report feeling better results (possibly a placebo effect) from taking a mixture of both T3 and T4 based medication.

Sources:
NHS 
Britannica
Drugs.com

So if anyone follows me for my weight loss journey and you’re wondering why I haven’t posted anything related in a while - here’s why.


I gained a heap of weight. Almost all of it back. I went through a period of not eating wonderfully (but not terribly), and I gained a tonne. I restricted, and started running, and I’m still gaining. I am constantly freezing cold and tired so I know my thyroid medication is too low and it’s completely fucked over my sense of self worth and self esteem. I am trying so hard and getting nowhere - not even losing but continuing to gain. My metabolism is at a crawl. I am seeing my doc next week, but in the meantime, I won’t pretend like I’m not struggling. Trying so hard and seeing your body refusing to cooperate, it makes me wonder why I bother. It makes me hate myself most days.

Fingers crossed new medication will help, but for now, ‘fat day’ is every day. My boyfriend is wonderful and so supportive and tells me I’m beautiful - I’m starting to wonder if we see different things when I look in the mirror. I’m having a tough time, and wish I could be stronger and feel the beauty and body positivity I see in other women. But it will get better.