To be honest, I feel like a bit of a fraud when people make a fuss about my weight loss.
I was simply desperate to be healthy and happened to lose weight along the way.
That being said, I was always tubby. In fact, I even joined Sure Slim before my 13th birthday, so I could start High School as a normal child – that’s also the last time I think I was ever skinny.
By the time I had settled into a professional career, my average weight was generally somewhere between 80 and 84 kg, depending on my mood and stress levels.
In about 2012, in the middle of studying part-time and recovering from surgery, I started getting really sick. I could barely keep food down, my stomach was a mess, I had less energy than a sloth on a bad day, I was pretty much always crying and I started blowing up like a balloon.
Of course these are all common symptoms of an easy diagnosis: Stress. I was convinced something else was wrong though, and went from doctor to doctor looking for an actual answer.
Eventually my step dad asked if I’d ever had my thyroid checked. I was barely eating a thing but had picked up 15kgs in a matter of nine months.
Turns out my thyroid was very underactive. In a nutshell, the thyroid is referred to as the master gland : It regulates pretty much every other bodily function, including hormones and metabolism. Thyroid expert Mary Shomon says you can think of it as the petrol that makes a car move. So basically, my body was trying to function without fuel. (thyroid.about.com and www.stopthethyroidmadness.com are pretty good resources if you’d like to learn more)
All the online articles I’d read said that hypothyroid patients don’t lose weight. So I gave up. I lived off a steady diet of fried chicken, frozen foods and lamingtons… and continued to get more sick, more sore and unhappier.
I wasn’t living anymore – I was simply existing. My blood test results were all over the place and I couldn’t figure out how to feel normal again.
Somewhere between all my visits to specialists (who were treating me for everything from autoimmune disease to IBS) I went to see a bio-feedback therapist who suggested I was allergic to gluten and sugar. I had already started cutting the two out of my diet after reading about their inflammatory affects (in terms of autoimmune disease) and knew from allergy tests as a child that I was definitely allergic to wheat.
So I went on a strict “gluten and sugar free” diet – I became one of those annoying people who reads every single label. I soon realised that almost everything on the shelf has the two nasties in, so I started eating almost no processed foods (I still can’t give up cheese curls) and cooking fresh foods.
Over Christmas I experimented by eating everything on the menu (hello, garlic bread my old friend), but I was man-down till after new year’s, which was enough to permanently put me off ever “cheating” again.
In the beginning I was using lots of alternatives like maize pasta and sugar-free chocolate, but eventually I stopped thinking about them – except for pizza: gluten-free bases are a godsend.
I came across the Sleekgeek group on Facebook and relished in all the new recipes I could try and all the new information that was being shared. I saw the success stories and knew that with time, my little habit changes would have a big impact.
I went from being the kind of person who hated being in the kitchen, to experimenting with interesting recipes and perfecting recipes I love, like my stew. My comfort food went from being anything baked to roasted veggies, the perfect cure for a bad day.
The result? It took two years, but I have lost 30.7 kg and dropped from a size 42 to a 34. More importantly though, I am happy. Not because of the weight loss (although I do get still get a kick when people comment on it) – but because I am SO much healthier.
In fact, I had blood tests done last week and I’ve almost corrected my thyroid – with a little help from medication and a lot of help from food.
While I’m not back to exercising yet, I have far more hope that I’ll get there eventually.
My three tips for living a healthier life?
- Get your thyroid checked!Whether you are male or female, thyroid disease is one of the most common challenges facing modern “man” and can cause a myriad of health problems that can all be fixed by simply regulating your thyroid hormone.
- Listen to your body.If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Eliminate foods that make you feel bad and don’t be afraid to keep questioning until you get an answer.
- Don’t ever give up.Everybody can live a healthy life. It all about finding what works for you.