Tag Archives: thyroid

What This Non-NBA Fan Learned During the Finals

I’m a college basketball fan, but I rarely watch the pros.  My 12-year old son, who is enamored with the game, begged me to watch the 2017 NBA playoffs between the Warriors and Cavaliers with him.  As a mom of a “tween,” I’m looking to seize any opportunity for mother-son quality time—so I enthusiastically said yes.  Once I got past the lackluster fundamentals in the NBA, I actually got into the playoffs.

I’m familiar with most of the big names out there, but could tell you very little about their stats or their stories.  My son, like many young boys, is a Stephen Curry fan –apparently you’re extra cool if you call him “Steph” for short.  After watching him play, I understood why.  He’s an incredible shooter (and rebounder…HELLO?!), and at 6’3’’- 190 pounds, often one of the smallest guys on the court.

I wanted to know more about this player that my son admires.  What’s his story?  Is he a good role model?

In my research, I stumbled across the following quote on Biography.com, and was struck by how it applies to many aspects of life beyond basketball:

“Make it work no matter what you have to work with – that’s something that stuck with me very early on as a point guard. Adjust. Get creative. Try a different angle, a different lane, a different move or a different shot – just make it work.” – Stephen Curry

This is my fitness journey.  And it might be yours, too.

We all have unique challenges and “cards” that we’ve been dealt, whether physical, medical, or psychological.  Perhaps we wish that we could do certain things…an intense 60 or 90-day workout program, a sprint triathlon, a Tough Mudder, or run a 10k.  Or maybe you are simply wanting to be consistent with exercise.

Whatever your goals, there might be times when you must adapt and adjust to your needs and limitations.  And that’s ok, because this is real life.  The greatest disservice we can do for ourselves is to choose to sit it out—because somehow doing nothing seems better than trying and failing.

Mindset can hold us back or propel us forward.

It’s easy to get stuck in the past.  Don’t let your used to’s haunt you.  I get it.  There are many things that I used to do, some I can still do, and some that require adjustments.

I’ve gotten creative with my own routines as my body’s needs changed (hello, thyroid disease).  I don’t do as much cardio as I used to and my sessions are shorter and smarter.  I lift weights strategically and focus more on recovery days/weeks than ever before.

My unique challenges taught me that I can still get results by trying a different angle, a different approach, and making it work with what I’ve got.  Thanks, Steph Curry, for making my point.

Do you need help making it work no matter what you have to work with?  Fill out a contact form…I’d be honored to train you!

“Odd” Habits – Part 2: Detoxing

I sometimes get anxious about all of the potential things in our environment that can cause us harm.  It’s overwhelming to weigh all of the advice: don’t eat that kind of seafood unless you love mercury…sunscreen can do more harm than good…sure, that food is healthy but did you know that the container it comes in causes cancer?  Good grief!  Is there really anything I can do about all of the things I’m exposed to every day?

When I was thyroid sick, I decided to learn the ins and outs of detoxing, pun intended.  I had no clue what it was, much less whether or not I should be doing anything about it.  Here is a simple run-down of detoxing:

WHAT: Detoxification is a multi-phase process that our bodies go through automatically and continuously.  Some of the primary players in detoxing are the: skin, lungs, lymphatic system, liver, kidneys, and large intestine.  We take in all sorts of toxins from our environment; it is amazing how our bodies were designed to get rid of the bad stuff!  Unfortunately, today we are inundated with toxins, and our built-in mechanisms are overburdened. Consider that Americans of all ages are carrying over 219 toxic chemicals in their bodies, according to the CDC’s 2009 report.  Many don’t realize that they also have genetic predispositions that inhibit their body’s detoxing capabilities.

WHY: I was surprised to learn that many of my symptoms that I shrugged off as “just the way I am,” could be the result of my body’s increased toxic burden.  This burden is described as the point when the level of toxins coming into the body exceeds the body’s ability to remove them.  Toxins can cause a wide variety of symptoms: fatigue, inflammation/joint pain, bad breath/coated tongue, digestive complaints/constipation/hemorrhoids, general nausea/lack of appetite, weight gain, acne, excessive body odor/belching/gas, headaches, brain fog, hot flashes, allergic reactions, sinus problems, and infertility.  Taking steps to support detoxification can improve or eliminate these symptoms, and optimize the body’s metabolism.

SOURCES of TOXINS

Food – It might seem obvious that processed foods, food additives/preservatives, artificial sweeteners/colors, sugar, alcohol, and pesticides are toxins.  Would you believe that excessive amounts of certain foods are also toxic?  Brazil nuts, tuna, cruciferous vegetables (kale, Brussels sprouts, spinach, etc.), and certain spices (cinnamon, nutmeg).

{I personally overdosed on cruciferous vegetables several years ago.  I ate a lot of raw kale and spinach (approx. 7 cups/day) and gave myself a serious iodine deficiency, which was crippling my thyroid.  Our bodies need iodine and I was repeatedly depleting my body of it because those vegetables in raw form steal iodine!  I still eat those foods, but I cook them and balance them with other non-cruciferous vegetables. This was a valuable lesson in the realm of “more isn’t necessarily better.”}

The point is that if certain healthy, natural foods can be toxic in massive quantities, how much more-so are processed, fake foods.

Environment – heavy metals, medications, beauty and self-care products, plastics, air, water (even tap water), and cleaning products.  These toxins can disrupt hormones and cause disease, including cancer.  Good grief. Do you feel like you want to live in an organic, BPA-free-non-plastic, bubble yet?

The Body – Before you start googling alternative living arrangements, you must know that your body is also a toxin source.  Chronic stress alters the body’s metabolic processes, hormonal balance, and immune system functioning.  It can also increase inflammation and the overgrowth of bad bacteria, hampering the body’s natural detoxification processes.  This bad bacteria can produce endotoxins that accumulate in the body’s fat stores and bloodstream, making us sick.

HOW:  So what can we do?  First, detoxification in the liver (our primary detox organ) occurs in two phases, and then the toxins exit through the bladder via the kidneys, or the bowels via the bile/gallbladder.  You may have seen “cleanse” or “detox” products on the market – many of them are merely colon cleanses, and do nothing to help with the first 2 detox phases.

Before you turn to products on the market, here are some things you can do on your own:

DAILY Detoxing 

Decrease the burdens on your body: try natural personal care and cleaning products; drink the cleanest water you can; use glass instead of plastic; choose organic whole foods; eliminate processed foods, sugar, and reduce/eliminate alcohol consumption (which impacts the liver’s ability to detox).

Manage your stress effectively by building in regular activities (daily/weekly) that relax and recharge you: walking (not speed walking), restorative yoga, tai chi, meditation, quiet time, unplugging from media, naps (can I get an amen?), face to face social connections, Epsom salt baths, sauna and spa time.

Nutritionally support body’s detox mechanisms: drink plenty of water; eat plenty of vegetables –especially leafy greens (deeper color is best), beets, carrots, and celery; fruits –especially berries and granny smith apples; and use spices such as turmeric, rosemary, cayenne, cumin, and curry. Fiber and probiotics are crucial. If your liver is good at detoxing, but everything gets backed up in the colon, you’ll make matters worse.  Toxins need an effective exit strategy!

SEMI-ANNUAL Detoxing

Every 6 months, especially in the spring, you can do a focused detox for 1-3 weeks:

  1. EAT more veggies (7-10 cups/day) and little or no animal protein or dairy (which increases the burden on the liver). Whole grains should be high quality: quinoa, aramanth, millet, or buckwheat. If you like protein shakes, opt for plant proteins powders (my favorite “affordable” powder is Naturade Vegan Smart). Focus on soups, salads, fruits, and healthy fats in food form (i.e., avocados, coconuts, olives, flaxseeds).
  2. DRINK tons of water, no alcohol or caffeine. Herbal teas (especially milk thistle and dandelion root teas). Some experts say green tea is ok, even though it does contain caffeine. I know, coffee lovers, this one kills me too.  It’s just a week or two, right?
  3. ADD fermented foods – cultured vegetables, kombucha (GT’s Organic multi-green flavor has a double benefit due to green ingredients and probiotics), and apple cider vinegar in water. Here is a drink that I make every day. I must give credit to Dr. Axe for the main recipe, and I’ve tweaked it a bit:
  • 12-16 ounces of hot or cold water
  • 1 T – Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 T – lemon juice or one drop of lemon or grapefruit oil
  • 1 tsp – wild raw honey
  • 1/8 tsp each: cinnamon, turmeric, and ginger
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  1. REDUCE stress – deliberately address your stress daily during your detox week(s) using tips from the list in the previous section.
  2. SWEAT, but don’t overdo the exercise – this isn’t the time to engage in intense exercise, but sweating is an excellent natural detoxifier. Spend some time outside in the warmer months, walk, do yoga, go kayaking, go to a sauna. If you are an avid exerciser, this is a great time to do a recovery week or two.
  3. THINK progress, not perfection. These brief detox periods can be a great way to gradually integrate healthy eating habits into your lifestyle. You may not hit all 5 of the strategies at first and that’s ok!  Strive for improvement each time you do it.  As a special note to women, it’s best not to attempt a detox week during the time of the month when you are ravenous and could eat anything not nailed down.  Believe me, it sets you up for failure!

There are more advanced steps that one can take to support the detox process (i.e., genetic testing for mutations that predispose one to impaired detoxification, supplementation, etc.)  Since I am not a doctor, it is beyond my scope to discuss these things.  I have tackled these issues in my own life with the guidance of an integrative/functional medicine doctor, and highly recommend this avenue for those who have tried all of the above and are still struggling.

Setbacks Can Reset Your Priorities

Have you ever been stopped in your tracks by a setback? It might have been with your health, career, finances, or relationships. While I will focus on fitness setbacks here, the takeaways can be applied to just about any situation.

Some people are fortunate enough to emerge from a health condition or injury unscathed, but most of us retain physical and/or psychological scars from the experience.  Are you scarred?  You’re in good company.

It stinks to have setbacks.  I’ve had my share of them…injuries, surgeries, disease, crushing fatigue, broken metabolism, surgeries.  Oh, and did I mention surgeries?

When I first got in shape and became a trainer, I had a plan in mind about how my “fit life” would progress…the workouts I would be able to do…the races I would be able to run…the body I would achieve.  Then, life happened…

In the thick of my struggle, it was hard to see the big picture.  I wondered if my situation would improve or if I would have to say goodbye forever to my definition of a fit lifestyle.

There were physical scars that taunted me: will this inflammation go away or will I always have a belly like this? I can play connect-the-dots with the incision scars on my abdomen. My neck looks like the laces of a football.  I’m too exhausted and in too much pain to exercise. 

The psychological scars were really tough, too: What will it mean for me if I can’t exercise like I used to? What if I have to go up a jeans size (or two) for good? I may not ever have the body that I hoped for.

These scars can be dream-killers. But what happens when we tuck them into our stories and press on to more meaningful goals?

Perhaps the lessons I have learned will resonate with you:

  • We have plans for our lives, but they may not be God’s plans for us. If anyone is guilty of over-planning and “control-freaking,” it’s me. I have to continually remind myself of this teaching…

James 4:13-15 – Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.

Perhaps if I ran all of my goals by God first, allowing him to edit them as needed, I wouldn’t have been so devastated by life’s setbacks.

  • My goals – vs – living a full life: do these concepts complement or compete? When you are forced to re-examine your goals during a setback, it could be a gift of perspective. My goals of achieving a certain size or look were limiting my potential and had little to do with living a full life. I was given this gift of perspective during an 18-month ordeal:

Thyroid-related fatigue, my nemesis, threw a giant wrench in my goals several years ago. It was crushing and incapacitating. I could barely care for my family, my memory and decision-making skills suffered, my body ached constantly and exercise was extremely difficult. Despite sleeping 14 hours a day, I never felt rested. I was living half of a life, barely keeping my head above water.

During that season, I yearned for the energy to be a fully engaged mother, wife, friend, and trainer. My goals of achieving a flat stomach and toned legs suddenly paled in comparison. Ironically, certain exercises were making my condition worse, and in order to get well, my fitness goals HAD to change.

I adopted a new perspective. What can I do fitness-wise to improve my health in a way that will help me to live a full life? I wanted to be “fit to serve” those around me: my family, friends, clients, church family, and even strangers.

Investing in relationships, intentionally loving others, living in the moment, and being God’s hands and feet—this perspective suddenly became more important than having less cellulite and being able to do unassisted pull-ups. I’m not saying that you should never have these goals…just don’t stop there!

  • Having eternal impact. Our lives are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes (James 4:14). Every once in a while we get a reminder that life is fleeting, that there is a bigger picture. We have such a short time on this planet and time’s a wastin’. What enduring legacy do you want to leave? How can your goals maximize eternal impact?

The physical and emotional pain from setbacks is real. Acknowledge it. Give it a voice. Tuck it into your story, but don’t let it define you. When you are ready, take your next step with renewed purpose.