Many women come to me after having starved themselves and overexercised for years. Although it’s well known among my clients that I got off lithium and antidepressants after 18 years, what I haven’t written about—until now—was how I got off Synthroid, the medication for low thyroid function. Here are a few suggestions:
Understand the brain-thyroid connection. Unrelenting stress disrupts the HPA axis—the relationship between the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenals—and lowers your TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) as well as inhibiting the conversion of thyroid hormones. Through specialized kinesiology for the brain, neurotransmitter function can be improved to optimize the pituitary and thyroid.
Give your thyroid what it needs to function—adequate minerals, including zinc and selenium, essential fatty acids and protein—especially the amino acid L-tyrosine.
Lift weights. Seventy to 75 percent of your metabolism is based on your lean mass. If you have more muscle on your body, you will burn more calories during the day. Just adding 5 pounds of muscle can boost your metabolism by as much as 200 calories a day.
Do not exercise above your ideal heart rate zone more than twice a week. Exercising at too high of a heart rate too often may paradoxically lower your metabolic rate.
Use yoga postures, including shoulderstand and fish, which traditionally energize the thyroid gland.
Examine psychological issues related to the fifth chakra. The chakras are major energy vortexes in the body whose existence has been confirmed by modern medical researchers. The fifth chakra can be healed by learning to speak your truth, honor your innate creativity and listen to your intuitive guidance.
Learn to breathe. There are five flows of breath that must all be working in order to properly direct life-giving energy through the body. Udana vayu, the breath around the throat, often malfunctions in thyroid disorders.
Remove heavy metals. Bladderwrack, an herb, is helpful for removing heavy metals that interfere with thyroid function. Ask your dentist about removing mercury fillings.
Eat frequently– 5 to 6 minimeals a day. Ten percent of your metabolic rate comes from the thermic effect of food. Choose concentrated foods—meats, starches—that put together do not exceed the size of your fist at each minimeal.
Consume adequate amounts of protein for your activity level. Not eating enough protein—or poorly absorbing the amino acids from meats due to poor digestion—may shift your body into a catabolic (breaking down state). The amount of protein you need depends on what kind of as well as how often you exercise.
Thyroid Disease, A Personal Observation
After getting off lithium and antidepressants after 18 years, I took Synthroid for six years. Although I wanted to be completely drug-free, whenever traditional or alternative practitioners would test my thyroid function, the tests would show I was not even in the low end of normal. So, I reluctantly took medication to improve low thyroid function. Finally, at the end of six years, I reviewed the medical tests that had been done during the time I was on the medication.
The tests showed virtually no improvement—and I had tried not only Synthroid, but also so-called “natural forms,” including Armour thyroid. I was fed up. One of my yoga students reviewed my tests with her doctor, an endocrinologist who had been practicing 30 years, and he said he had seldom seen such low thyroid function in all his years of practice.
That’s when I began focusing on the underlying reasons behind my low metabolism—some of which I describe in this newsletter. The medical doctors had told me I would have to be on Synthroid forever—just as they had said I would be on lithium and antidepressants the rest of my life. Moral? Question conventional wisdom.
How Do You Know If Your Exercise Is Really Working?
Contrary to popular opinion, the sign you’ve had a great workout is NOT being so sore the next day that you can’t sit down, walk up a flight of stairs or feel stiff when you get out of bed. Here are a few ways you can tell you are getting great exercise:
Over time, your fitness regime is making you healthier. You have fewer colds. You get sick less often.
You get to the end of the workout and feel like you could do it again—not necessarily that you want to do it again, but you could if you had to. If you exercise so hard that you could not repeat the experience immediately, you have probably worked out too hard.
You use your heart rate monitor and your hear rate has NOT exceeded your ideal zone (ask me to help you figure yours) more than twice in the past week.
You look forward to your exercise, both mentally and physically. Boring exercise makes you disconnect emotionally and intellectually from what you are doing, and when that happens, you are not only more likely to injure yourself, you are probably not maximally engaging your muscles. Immerse your whole self—mind, body and spirit—and you will get better results.
You have more energy, period. If your energy level drops, you may be working too hard in your workouts or working too hard, period. You can always find a way to move your body—just adjust your exercise to match your stress level.
Your body is becoming more structurally balanced. Over the years, I have had more than a few clients who have actually lost inches in height training on machines by compacting and contracting their show muscles while neglecting their core muscles—including their back and their abdominals. If you are working out correctly, you will have no joint pain, back pain —or pain anywhere. Few things are as pitiful as watching a runner defy logic by exercising on an injured knee.
Your posture is improving. You stand up straighter, your carry yourself with ease. You glide when you walk.
You enjoy a wide variety. Different kinds of workouts integrate all muscles in your body. Most people overuse only a few large muscles.