Thyroid Health Recovery Action Plan Steps #2 & #3
January is Thyroid Awareness Month…
As I mentioned in my previous blog, it’s estimated that 1 in 8 women have a thyroid disorder such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Grave’s Disease, or Hashimoto’s.
I’m a thyroid statistic, diagnosed with Hypothyroidism in 2008, but I’m grateful to say that within 9 months of putting myself on a functional D.R.E.S.S. (diet, rest, exercise, stress reduction, supplement support) protocol, I was in remission and now my thyroid test results couldn’t be more perfect.
Unfortunately, not everyone has their thyroid properly checked and those who are diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, aren’t always provided the right lab tests or resources to get their thyroid issues under control as quickly as I did, or ever.
(To learn how to spot some of the signs of thyroid disease that lead me to finally getting properly tested and diagnosed, check out my post, “What your face says about your health…”)
Most people who are diagnosed are immediately prescribed thyroid medication, which can provide immediate relief for those who are suffering, but medication is not necessarily a long-term solution and it certainly does not solve the root of the problem.
In fact, medication can become less effective over time as the thyroid continues to deteriorate as a result of the root cause not being addressed, and over-medicating can trigger secondary hypothyroidism.
Medication doesn’t address why you might have low thyroid hormone in the first place, and if you have an autoimmune disorder it doesn’t stop the body from attacking healthy tissue; that’s simply not the mechanism of thyroid medication.
However, if you are currently on prescription medication for a thyroid condition or any other health concern, never stop or change how you take any medication without your doctor’s approval.
The good news is, there are natural ways to support your thyroid health to prevent thyroid issues from happening and even reverse an existing thyroid disorder.
I want to help you elevate your thyroid knowledge so you can avoid becoming a thyroid statistic, or so you can restore your thyroid function and get back to feeling like yourself again too.
In this 2-part blog series, I’m sharing with you the major action steps I took, along with the steps I guide my clients through, to support and revive the thyroid naturally.
In Part 1 of this blog series, I addressed Action Plan Step #1 – getting the right tests to know your thyroid numbers.
Knowing your numbers is important for a couple of reasons:
- To understand the type of thyroid imbalance (hypo, hyper, autoimmune) you might have
- How severe your thyroid situation is so you know how much support your thyroid needs
- To get a baseline so you can measure progress with different therapies you might introduce
Progress is only made in what you measure.
This week, I’ll be discussing Action Plan Steps #2 and #3…
When I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism back in 2008, I immediately felt overwhelmed with a sense of fear and failure.
I was afraid of what my life would look like moving forward – I wondered if I was doomed to a life full of relentless weight gain, hair loss, being constantly cold and tired all of the time.
I was crushed by the realization that my family history of hypothyroid disease had finally caught up with me. Despite eating healthy and exercising regularly, I felt betrayed by my body and genes. I questioned what more if anything I could have done to prevent this. But then I remembered…
…although the statistics for being diagnosed with a thyroid disorder are high, it’s not fate or written in stone.
The majority of thyroid disorders are triggered by your lifestyle choices or factors such as:
- Foods you put in your body
- Quality and quantity of sleep
- Frequency and intensity of the exercise
- How you deal with stress and emotions
- Toxins you’re exposed to and your body’s capacity to detox them
- Other underlying hormone imbalances, a sluggish liver, poor digestion, and an overwhelmed immune system
Which meant I had more control over my thyroid health than my panicked state lead me to believe, and so do you.
At first, the list of contributing factors might seem overwhelming, make you feel guilty about the choices you made, or leave you unsure where to even start. However, the good news is that with a little know-how, the right lab tests, and helpful resources you can step-by-step take back control of your thyroid health.
In this week’s blog, I share Thyroid Health Action Plan Steps #2 and #3 I took to recover my thyroid health so I could feel like myself again – medication-free – and have also helped others to do the same.
Action Plan Step #2 – Take Back Control
Despite feeling perhaps like you are a victim of fate or bad luck, the truth is you do have control over the food you fuel your body with, how you sleep, the way you exercise and strengthen your body, how you manage mental and emotional stress and even some of the toxins in your environment – all of which can burden thyroid function.
However, let’s be realistic …
It’s impossible to be perfect 24/7, even for perfectionists (guilty)!. A better strategy is to ditch perfectionism and replace it with awareness.
Step back and start to take note of your present reality. Notice what is going on in your day-to-day lifestyle that might be impacting your thyroid and your overall health. Identify ways you can make changes that would best support your body the most.
Here’s a list of 4 of the top health-building lifestyle changes that led to the most significant improvement of my thyroid function and also for the clients I have worked with…
- Eating an Autoimmune Paleo Diet (AIP) for 90 days to eliminate the most common inflammatory foods (sugar, caffeine, alcohol, grains, nuts, seeds, eggs, beans, legumes, and nightshade vegetables) if you’ve been diagnosed with a thyroid condition. At minimum ease into a modified AIP diet for 30 days or try to avoid or significantly reduce eating gluten, dairy, soy, and sugar to prevent triggering a thyroid problem.
- Getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night, ideally from 10 pm to 6 am. This will help to promote a natural circadian and cortisol rhythm and bring balance with all the thyroid interacting hormones. (Find some sleep tips here, “Four Tips for Your Best Night of Sleep Yet”)
- Reducing the frequency and intensity of exercise, opting for a gentler fitness regimen more rest days to reduce physical stress and inflammation and support the body’s ability to recover. (Check out, “3 Ways to Move Your Body Without Working Out.”)
- Minimizing environmental exposure to endocrine-disrupting toxins by drinking, cooking, and bathing in filtered water and using non-toxic cleaning supplies, makeup, body, and hair care products. (Here’s “5 Apps to Find Clean Beauty Products.”)
Don’t expect to or even try to make these changes all at once. That’s unrealistic and setting yourself up for failure, and I definitely didn’t.
But step by step you can start to make small shifts, make better choices, and address the factors that can lead to poor thyroid health. Try focusing on one thing each week to make it a habit, and once it becomes second nature, move on to the next action item on the list that would support your thyroid health. Start with the easiest change for you and work yourself up in taking back control of your lifestyle choices.
The 3rd Action Plan Step to supporting and restoring your thyroid is definitely a topic that most health professionals aren’t talking about – which is funny because it involves communication and listening!
There is more to thyroid health than the scientific approaches of modern medicine.
The study of epigenetics, frequency, emotional and vibrational energy has proven to us over time how health can be impacted by our beliefs and experiences.
After being diagnosed with hypothyroidism, I took action to support my thyroid by changing my diet, prioritizing more sleep, dialing back my exercise intensity, swapping out household and personal care products for clean toxin-free versions, adding in supplements to support and promote my body’s healing process, and testing for other contributing factors such as viruses, parasites, bacteria, and yeast.
I had all the “scientific” approaches nailed and my thyroid scores improved to the point where my endocrinologist felt confident to take me off prescribed medications. But despite my healthy lifestyle, I would find my thyroid function to periodically crash after extended stressful points in my life and I would have to go back on medication and rebuild. That’s when I came to really understand and appreciate the importance of HOW I chose to respond in times of stress and is something I emphasize with my clients all the time…
Healthy is a way of being, not just doing.
I was doing all of the “healthy” things, but the question was, “who was I being that led to a decline in my thyroid health?”
As a childhood trauma survivor, I came to understand through a lot of counseling that I had become “wired” at an early age to “freeze” and prepare my body to avoid danger the instant I sensed the slightest negative shift in mood, disapproval, or pending confrontation with anyone I was with. Unfortunately, this followed me into my adult years and even though I intellectually knew my life was not in danger, my brain and body were constantly triggered into safety preservation mode. I was practically incapable of speaking up or expressing my needs.
Ironically, I presented outwardly to the world as extremely confident, controlled, and well-spoken. My coping mechanisms were hidden and masterful, to a fault.
Unfortunately, even though I had become enlightened to my freeze response, I thought all of this was just taking place in my mind, disconnected from my body. I was so busy being hypervigilant in seeking-safety mode, I never took a moment to stop, check in with how my body was feeling during these situations, and listen to myself. These episodes would deplete and exhaust me for days, even weeks, and typically I’d have some sort of health breakdown shortly afterward.
One day after an extremely emotional and frightening confrontation in my early 50s, it dawned on me that I had responded as if I was still a child, frozen without a voice or the ability to leave the room. I remembered from my functional health training how a freeze response primally floods the body with cortisol and even shuts down certain metabolic functions. The resulting inflammation was breaking down my body’s function. The mind-body connection is not to be dismissed.
That’s when the 3rd and final major action plan step in reclaiming my thyroid health became very clear.
Action Plan Step #3 – Find Your Voice and Listen
In various Eastern medicine and healing modalities, the thyroid is related to the throat chakra. Chakras are known as energy centers, located in specific places of the body that help to regulate processes such as organ function, the immune system, and emotions.
The throat chakra, also referred to as the fifth chakra, is located at the base of the throat at the larynx where the thyroid gland is. It is associated with the thyroid, mouth, throat, and ears as well as our ability to express and communicate. It is described as having bright blue energy that is purifying, calming, and healing.
When the throat chakra is out of balance it might show up as:
● Over or under communication
● Inability to express self, stand up for your beliefs, or follow your dreams
● Sore throat, asthma, and fatigue
● Struggling to find your words
● Thyroid disorders
This made so much sense to me as I had a difficult childhood where I was not permitted to speak up and my personal safety depended upon my keeping silent and hidden. From the age of 5, I had continuous ear infections, severe allergies, and throat infections so horrendous that I was hospitalized for weeks with polyps and unable to swallow several times. These issues became worse and more frequent to the point where the constant courses of antibiotics barely worked. Yet, “miraculously”, when I was old enough and left home, it all disappeared.
So as part of step 3, I engaged in some transformational personal self-growth work to get still to check in with my mind and body and listen to my inner voice. I learned to calm and rewire old negative response systems. By doing this, I could strengthen my ability to empower myself to communicate my needs confidently. Finding my voice and listening to my body became the most impactful thing I could do to “rebalance” my throat chakra and assist my thyroid in its recovery process.
So one day at a time I shifted my mindset, I learned to calm my mind and body so I could be present and listen and then strengthened my ability to communicate my needs I noted confidently by:
● Meditating for 20 minutes in the morning and evening
● Writing down 5 things I’m grateful for and 5 things I appreciate about myself daily
● Learning and using calming modalities (emotional freedom technique (EFT) tapping, breathwork, binaural beats music, somatic experiencing visualization, journaling, grounding (earthing), Kundalini, and therapeutic yoga)
● Taking time to stop and check in with me several times during the day and giving my body and mind what it needs (Here’s a post on creating more me-time with 3 Steps How to Make Self-Care a Priority.)
- Honoring myself by setting and clearly expressing my boundaries, needs, and expectations and speaking up immediately when I’m uncomfortable.
● Talking openly about my journey and letting those around me know how they could support me.
(Here are more options, “4 Tips to Transform Your Mind.” You can find other stress-reducing strategies in my blog, “5 Simple Mind-Altering Strategies to Reduce Your Stress.”)
Not everyone around me understood or was supportive, but that was ok. Sometimes we need to clear the toxic relationships, like we do with our diet and environment, and have to leave people where they are in order for us to move forward in pursuit of our goals, dreams, and wellbeing.
To reiterate, when it comes to supporting and restoring thyroid health for myself and my clients, I rely on following these 3 Action Plan steps.
- Knowing your numbers with the right lab tests allows you to create an effective thyroid supporting strategy plan, take empowered action towards your thyroid health goals, track your progress, and make adjustments as needed.
- Take back control of of your lifestyle choices, when you can. With guidance, resources, and accountability you can make educated and conscious decisions about what factors in your diet, sleep, exercise, and environment you need to shift in order to feel your best.
- Find your voice and listen to you. Honor your mind-body connection by stopping to be centered and present with yourself so you can check in and listen to what you need to feel safe and well. Find ways that work for you to rebalance the calming and healing properties of the throat chakra. Get empowered with finding your voice and speaking your truth and needs.
And remember to be kind and self-compassionate with yourself! Your thyroid didn’t stop working properly overnight. Most likely the contributing factors were taking place over many months, even years, to get you to this point, so it will take time to mend and recover – have patience.
As a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Practitioner and Holistic Health Coach, trained in functional lab testing, data-guided health protocols, and transformational goal-achieving methods, I help people take back control of their fatigue, weight, and digestive health in similar ways as I have done, and that I have described in this series, so they can restore their spark and feel good in their body again.
If you want to get your hands on the right lab tests, resources, guidance, and accountability so you can prevent or reverse a thyroid issue, schedule a Health Discovery Session call with me here.