Tag: hashimoto’s disease

RACE #143: Emigration Canyon Half Marathon

Welp, I finally got the Emigration Canyon run I’ve been wanting since at least last week. And, I can’t be any more happier with my effort AND results. It’s been a good two years since I last ran down Emigration Canyon — well okay — 18 months-ish? Whenever the Haunted Half was in 2015? Anyways — I’ve needed a good Emigration Canyon run for QUITE A WHILE.

And, I got it this past weekend.

Canyon races here in Utah have a tendency to be seen as pure downhill courses. While that may be true in some canyons and for some races — this is a different kind of race. Sure, you get some AWESOME downhill, but you’ve got to earn it first. The first 4-4.5 miles of the race are pretty much all uphill. It’s kind of a beast.

I ran this race back in 2014 so I knew what to expect. I knew it was going to suck. I knew it was going to be tough. But, I knew if I endured it well and ran it smart, the rest of the race should be a fun brisk run down the canyon.

Even with the daunting first 4.5 miles of the race, I felt I had it in me to do really well and get the sub-three time goal, I’ve been pining for the past couple of races. I just had to be smart, be patient and keep my goal in my mind during those first few miles.

I was still trying to figure out exactly how I was tackle the climb at the starting line. I knew I was going to have to employ some sort of run/walk method. If I tried to run those first few miles I would burn out before I got to the summit. So, I had to reserve some energy, because once I hit that summit I was planning on cruising down the canyon.

So, that’s what I did. Once the gun sounded, I started doing a two minute run/one minute walk. I did that for about the first mile or so and then I did a one minute run/one minute walk. After a while it went to a 30 second run and minute and a half walk. And, when the climb was a bit too steep, it went to a nice fast mall walk.

Basically by mile 3-4 my pace was kind of all over the place.

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It was hard to gauge where I should be putting my effort and where I should be holding back so I don’t tank my later miles. So, I just kind of played if by ear and tried just listening to my body. I reached the summit (mile 4.5-ish) in about an hour and five minutes (14:27 min/mile). I didn’t know how I felt about it, but in retrospect, I was okay with the pace. Especially, considering the last 8.5 miles were much faster (.12:35 min/mile).

But, once I hit the aid station at the top of the summit, I just hit cruise control and immediately felt right at home. I was on familiar terrain. I immediately passed a couple of runners. I was a bit worried I was going out too fast — and while I thought about it, I didn’t really care. I figured my 4.5 mile warm up was enough and I’d just listen to my body the rest of the way.

Which is what I did.

I walked the aid stations and ran most of the way. There were a couple spots around miles 11 and 12 that I had to walk, but I tried to focus on my goal at hand — and that was to sub-three the race. So I pushed myself.

The last mile was really tough on me. I was just gassed. And, part of that — meaning all — was because of fueling. I brought some Clif Bloks with me, but I figured I’d be fine with the water and Gatorade at the aid stations. The only problem was — the aid stations had only water. This threw me off, especially as we ran out of the canyon and into the warmer valley. My body needed those electrolytes.

I was worried about depletion so that is why I slowed down a bit those last couple of miles. And, because, I just didn’t have much else to give. As I turned toward the home stretch I kind of chuckled of the thought of someone carrying me across the finish line like those two runners did to the one runner in Philadelphia a couple weekends ago. But, I carried myself across the finish line and double pumped my fist when I saw the clock read 2:52:21.

I did it. I reached my goal.

And, not only did I reach my goal, but I also placed AGAIN! I was third in the Clydesdale Division! This was the second time in the past two races that I placed! This made the effort and result that much sweeter.

As much as I am happy with the results, I know it’s just the beginning of what I want to do with my running and training. As much as I’d love to get back to my 2:08 hour PR days, now isn’t that season. I have a few ultras I am planning on running this year and ultrarunning doesn’t mix with half marathon speed training. At least for me.

But, I want to consistently get back to my 2:25-2:35 race times and I feel like I can do that with my ultrarunning hand-in-hand. It’s just a matter of continuing to train smart, continue losing weight and temper my Hashimoto’s. I know no doubt I’ll get there — and I want to be there by the Revel Big Cottonwood Half Marathon in September.

I’ve got a lot of running coming up in the next 4-5 weeks — including my 50K at the end of the month. While my focus is on that — the Riverton Half is next week and I really want to build upon what I have right now.

Which I know I will.


MY NEXT FIVE RACES


Here’s to the Happiest of Birthdays to my dear mother. Words can’t fully express the love and admiration I have for her. She’s simply amazing. Besides ALWAYS going above and beyond what’s expected, she has the purest of hearts I know. She’s the greatest example of “The Golden Rule” in my life. I’m also grateful that she never told me what I could or couldn’t do in life. She never, and still hasn’t, put limitations on my abilities. Even when everyone else tried to. As tacky as it sounds, she gave me wings. She’s also taught me the value to fight. Seeing her fight breast cancer … AND WIN … showed me the necessity of faith and grit with a side of stubbornness to overcome and accomplish anything truly great. Happy Birthday Mama!

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Moana Singalong Chorus.

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Hoka. Hoka. Hoka. Hoka. Hoka. And, those might be filled with race medals too.

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GET THAT GLUTEN OUTTA MY FACE!!! đŸš«đŸž

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Weekly Review

It was a great week of running for me. Not only did I meet my race goal time, I got some really good training in. I am being coached by RYR (Run Your Race) and I got some awesome assessment runs in — along with a couple good recovery runs. I had a fast clipped 5K and all out mile run to do — and they were beasts. But, that will give my coaches a starting point to help with my race goals.

I am hoping to gain some speed, but also endurance for my ultra races coming up in the next month and year. I’m excited to start seeing my progress.

Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 7.0 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 24.17 miles
TOTAL MILES — 44.27 miles
Race(s) this week — None.

March 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 44.1 miles
Race Miles — 26.2 miles
Walking Miles — 110.52 miles
TOTAL MILES — 180.82 miles
Races in March — March Madness Half and Lucky 13 Half Marathon.

April 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 0.0 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 2.7 miles
TOTAL MILES — 15.8 miles
Races in April — Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Salt Flats 50K and Tulip Festival Half

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 181.75 miles
Race Miles — 109.22 miles
Walking Miles — 328.16 miles
TOTAL MILES — 619.13 miles
Races done in 2017 — New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half, Lucky 13 Half Marathon and Emigration Canyon Half Marathon.



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Living with Hashimoto’s: The Next Phase

It’s hard to believe that we’re in March already. I’m thankful for that. I hate January. And, I’m not too fond of February either. The whole thing February has going for it is that it lingers around for only 28 days or so.

I just hate the winter months. I hate the winter blues. I hate the snow. So much hate. You’d almost think I’m one extra winter month away from joining the Dark Side. Thankfully not. December manages to warm my soul with Christmas.

Anyways, I’m plugging a long with my Hashimoto’s Disease.

Just a short recap of this journey — I was diagnosed back in late November, lived in denial of the diagnosis in December, came to terms with it in January by going gluten and dairy free and then went somewhat militant in February with the diet.

I did an elimination diet and hyper focused my food to a list of 33 things. For the most part I did really well with it. I won’t lie — I didn’t stick to it 100% during February. When I was in Las Vegas I ate foods that weren’t on my list — but, I was 90% gluten-free and dairy-free during the trip (there were a couple times when I ordered food that I forgot to be UBER specific about no dairy or gluten … luckily, I didn’t get too sick, though I felt it).

Anyways — I feel good about the progress I made this past month. It was tough eliminating many of the foods I love and enjoy — namely eggs and bananas. But, I stocked up on plenty of steak and sweet potatoes which I will always love.

Oh, and avocados.

Basically, there was still plenty of food to love and enjoy.

Now that my 33 days are over I have been reassessing my diet. I plan on adding back bananas and eggs slowly and less frequently. But, also being deliberate of when I eat them. Basically, I plan on focusing on eating bananas and most fruits around my workouts and runs to help give me a natural boost so I am not as dependent on caffeine or energy boosters (ie-5 Hour Energy, Preworkout, etc).

As you can see below I have made another list of 33 foods. I like this idea of 33 foods and focusing on them for the next 33 days. Because I know if I stick to those foods I’ll feel good, have the needed energy and stamina for my workouts and runs.

That’s the beauty of this list. If I defer from it — I feel it. That’s both a motivation and fear. A good fear though. Because, I want to feel 100%. I want to lose weight. I want to feel “normal” again.

And, I have felt a difference the past month. I had more energy during a lot of my long runs and races, especially during my ultra. I feel faster. I feel slimmer. And, I feel the difference in my clothes too. I love the feeling.

But, with the progress I’ve made, I have made a few changes I felt during my last month. Stuff, I am either eliminating or adding — because I want to see how my body reacts or acts with it back or in my diet.

For instance, I am swapping out the rice for brown rice. If I am going to eat rice I might as well get some more nutritional benefit from it, right? I am also adding Daiya — or vegan cheese — well, dairy-free cheese on the list. I need that on the list. Sure, it’s processed and I want to keep the food as non-processed as possible, But, I need some semblance to cheese.

Anyways — check out the list below.

In addition to the food list, I am also being more specific on my eating schedule. I’ve been reading a lot lately on intermittent fasting and I am adding that into my diet. No, it’s not an everyday thing, but it’s something I am planning on doing three times a week — Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Basically, I won’t eat or drink calories until 2pm those days. Water, yes. But, no food. This was something I tried doing last fall, but after my diagnosis I just kinda stopped doing it. But, I really like the idea and science behind — especially with how it is suppose to help rev up the metabolism.

There are a number of differing intermittent dieting methods and the one I will be doing is based off the Bulletproof Diet. But, unlike the diet, I am not doing it everyday. I am doing this for a couple of reasons — I hate jumping straight into a strict diet (because I hate the ‘all or nothing’ mentality) and I am planning on exercising in the mornings that I do eat before 2pm. I fear not giving myself enough calories on those days.

In 33 days if I feel better on my fast days — then maybe — MAYBE — I will look into doing more fast days during the week? But, we’ll see after I assess everything next month.

Oh, you will notice I do have one ‘FREE CHOICE’ on the 33 list. That’s basically one dairy and gluten-free food of my choice that I can have — regardless of whether it is on my list or not.

BUT

And, it’s a big but. It’s not something I can freely choose each day. It’s a once a week choice. So, this could be dairy-free sherbet, a Slurpee, a slice of gluten-free banana or whatever tickles my fancy. But, it’s one serving and once a week, that I will consume around my weekend races and long runs.

You might be throwing some shade at that choice and I get that. But, I need some variance. And, I do much better on diet and food plans when there is some kind of variance. Plus, I made up this diet regime — so I am kinda making the rules as we go here.

So, if you are going to judge me, please judge me more on my inability to properly match my shirts and pants. Because that is probably the biggest problem I have with my life at this very moment.

Anyways, here is the food list and my workout routine for the next 33 days …

(CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Anyways — if you have questions or suggestions — I am always open to them. This journey is still very much brand new to me and while there is a guideline on what works for people in my same shoes — everyone doesn’t fit in my shoes.

So a lot of this is trail and error, success and failure and everything in between.

Fun stuff.

Day #1: Hashimoto’s 33 Elimination Diet

Well, it’s been a whole day without eating a banana. I won’t lie — I’m a little sad. But, I survived.

As noted last week, I am doing an elimination diet of sorts for my Hashimoto’s Disease. It’s not straight from a doctor, specialist or dietitian. It’s a system I came up with myself.

The foods on the list are all from Hashimoto’s Disease plans. I based it off a number of diet plans I read online. I then cross-referenced those lists with the elimination diet my sister and Mom are doing for their Hashimoto’s and made my own elimination diet.

One thing that annoys me about specific diet plans is the plethora of specific foods one should and shouldn’t eat. To me it makes the food lists rather overwhelming. Not to mention the grocery list — longer.

The 33 Diet is created to simplify the diet. I make a list of 33 food items and stick to those foods for 33 days. It sounds rather limiting, but when you combine it with fruits, veggies, meats, oils and seasonings — you’re also creating a list of ingredients for a number of other dishes.

My 33 Diet list is specific to my needs on this elimination diet. But, after a month I am going to swap out some foods with bananas and probably eggs to see how my body reacts to them. If they agree with me — they’ll probably stay on the list.

Going gluten and dairy free can be expensive — and by focusing on 33 food items I am narrowing down my grocery list. There’s really no need to stand in the aisles reading every label when you know exactly what’s on that list.

Plus, this challenges me to cook more — and be creative with it as well.

Sure, it will be a challenge, but I am up for it.

And, as the graph in this post says — this diet can be applied to any diet need or restriction. This is a guinea pig run for it, but I’ll for sure keep you posted as carry along the next 33 days or so.

But, I’m still alive — so that’s a good start, right?

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Figuring this Hashimoto’s thing out …

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for me. Besides figuring out this whole Hashimoto’s Disease out — I’ve been dealing with a beastly bout of bronchitis. I feel lucky it hasn’t been the flu, but that hasn’t stopped the fatigue of restless nights from coughing up a lung and a half.

I thought I was turning a corner after sleeping most all day on Sunday, but I ended up coughing all night Monday night and skipped work. It’s been frustrating, because I’ve wanted to get into a good rhythm with my workouts and runs. But, I don’t have the stamina or lungs for it — yet. And, I just need to be patient.

But, while I’m somewhat impatient to get back into my groove — I’ve really been focused on the adoption of my gluten and dairy free diet. It’s been tough. I won’t lie. I haven’t been as aware of labels and food content under any diet. But, this isn’t just a diet — this is my new lifestyle.

I wouldn’t say I have a specific diet down at this moment. To be honest with you I’m kind of trying things out to see what works best for me. I’ve been trying gluten-free breads and other foods to kind of see what I like. And, I won’t lie — not a huge fan of gluten-free bread — or at least what I’ve tried.

I’ve been sticking to a lot of what I ate while doing Whole 30 — and I think that’s where my focus will be mostly on my diet. Meaning, a lot of salad, steak and sweet potatoes — not to mention fresh fruit and veggies.

But, for now, I really want to see what I like and don’t like within the realm of gluten and dairy free foods.

One of the biggest omissions in this new lifestyle is that of cheese. I love cheese. I love it. And, I miss it. I’ve had some tips on vegan cheese that’s a good substitute. I haven’t tried those yet — but, I am sure I will get around to it. Especially when it comes to nachos.

Anyways — this is transition isn’t easy,

But, this week being sick and not able to get a whole blown workout regime in, I’ve had to focus on my diet. Which I think is a blessing in disguise, because focusing on just the food has helped me kind of further — process — what I am going through. Mainly, that this is a new lifestyle and my decision for food need to be precise.

Plus, I need to find that rhythm that works for me and I think I am getting that down a bit better. Not to mention changing my thought process so I’m not focusing on what I CAN’T eat and what I can or should so I can feel better.

I guess in a way, I’m approaching this like any other race or new distance. I’m starting it in slowly — learning, experimenting and doing — while mentally and physically preparing myself for the long haul. While there is no finish line to all of this, the mentality and approach is the same. This journey just happens to be longer than any race I’ve run before.

Anyways — I’ll keep updating you on all of this throughout the next few weeks and months. But, while my focus has been acclimating myself to the new diet, I’m also focusing on my training and fitness. I’ve got a few looooong runs and races coming up that I want/need to be ready to tackle.

This weekend I am running the Olympic Oval for 5-6 hours, hoping to get in a good 20-25 miles. I have the Jackpot Running Festival in about a month I want to get a couple more looooong runs in before I tackle the 12 hour race. And, since you won’t find me running outside right now with the air and weather — I’m taking it inside.

There is a group of runners meeting tomorrow morning at the Oval at 6am and — well — just running. We’re running circles around the ice sheet. It should be a lot of fun. There is quite a group gathering that should make it fun. It won’t be as big as the New Year’s Run Resolution, but it’ll be a party.

Besides Jackpot, I also have my self-supported 50 miler in March and the Salt Flats 50K in April. So, I’ve got some training to do. And, not that I am getting past this stupid cold and bronchitis — I’m feeling up for the challenge. Not to mention now that I am fueling myself even better.

LET’S DO THIS THING!

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The Focus on 2017 …

I love this time of the year. I specifically love the week between Christmas and New Year’s — for a number of reasons. Not only is it a time for slow work flow. But, it’s a time of reflection of the year past — and the year ahead.

Regardless of the year behind me, I always love looking ahead and planning for the year ahead of me. It’s a time of self-reflection, self-inventory and goal setting. It’s a time of optimism and excitement for me.

I just really, really love this time of the year.

So as I reflect on 2016 and look forward to 2017 — a few things come to mind. One, I’m better understanding my health. I’ve got more concrete answers and better defined solutions to help me regain some of athleticism of the past. Knowing now I have Hashimoto’s Disease is a HUGE step in the right direction.

I have felt the past couple of years that as hard as I try — my health problems have pulled me back from where I want to be. I don’t necessarily want to set new PRs or get six pack abs — I just want more stamina in my running, feel faster and be slimmer. I know those aren’t very defined goals, but not having those consistently for the past 2-3 years — I miss those feelings.

But, now knowing how to tackle those issues — I feel extremely optimistic about 2017. I feel like this is the year to get those back. And, I really do feel like this is that year. I look forward to runs down American Fork, Big Cottonwood and Little Cottonwood Canyons with the energy, stamina and speed I want to feel.

That is happening.

Of course this reality will take a lot of effort on my part. A lot of that change will be happening in the kitchen as I cut out the requisite gluten and dairy from my diet to minimize the effects of Hashimoto’s. But, that’s going to also require the effort and focus of my training as well. And, I am ready to accept that.

It’s just going to be really tough.

But, I have three main focuses in 2017 when it comes to my running and health. They are (in no particular order) …

  1. Be within 10-12 races from my 180 race goal at the end of 2017.
  2. Cut out the gluten and dairy from my diet to give my thyroid a fighting chance.
  3. Get that elusive sub-2:30 half marathon time by Revel Big Cottonwood in September.

Now, these aren’t necessarily goals. I do short-term goals year round, but I like to take the time before a new year to refocus or refine those to help meet my long term goals.

My main long-term fitness goal is to get a sub-two half marathon time. I’m not stupid nor unrealistic to think that’s going to happen this year. That’d be nice. But, there’s a few things in my way to achieving that goal.

One, I run too many races. I need to train deliberate and specifically for my goal time. Two, I still need to cut probably 20-30lbs. and strengthen my core to make the feat physically possible for me. And, three, I need to set milestone and smaller goals to get me to that goal time.

Hence those three focuses.

I feel like if I really focus on those three things I could give myself a shot at my sub-two in 2018, especially after I am done with my 180 races in July. A run down Big Cottonwood or Payson Canyon in the fall could render that goal. Or at least a shot at the goal.

Either way — I just need to be smart and deliberate about it all. And, I feel like I am moving in that right direction.

 

So, what are some of your goals or things you are looking to work on in the upcoming year?

Coming to terms with Hashimoto’s

Hello moto.

Okay, that’s a pretty lame way to open a blog post, but I’ve had that stuck in my head for WEEKS. Not only because of the stupid commercials, because I’m constantly reminded every time I say, type, mention or research Hashimoto’s Disease.

Anyways — if I haven’t told you now then you should know now — I have Hashimoto’s Disease. After a couple years — well, probably more like 2.5 – 3 years — of trying to figure out what was going on with my thyroid. We finally figured it out. It’s Hashimoto’s (okay at this point I think I just like to type it?).

It explains a lot. The unresponsive medication. The weight-gain. The fatigue. The lack of endurance. The lameness of it all. But, when I did three months of Whole30 and followed a paleo diet — a lot of those issues were minimized. Because of the elimination of gluten, dairy and a lot of added sugar.

Hashimoto’s and gluten intolerance go hand in hand — among a couple other issues. And, it just all makes sense right now — looking back at it all.

So, here I am.

And, you know what? It kind of sucks. A lot.

When I was first diagnosed with hypothyroidism all I had to do was pop a pill, do some moderate exercise and watch what I ate to see results. You really can’t do that with Hashimoto’s — it’s a complete lifestyle change. A fairly strict diet on top of the pills and exercise so you can see results.

And, this runs in the family too. My Mom and sister have Hashimoto’s — and I am sure my other sister probably has it or will have it eventually. That’s what you get when you have generations of relatives with thyroid problems — I mean, my great grandma died from thyroid cancer, so it’s something that shouldn’t be taken lightly in our family.

I won’t lie — I am bummed about the news, because I wish it could be as easy as popping a pill with little maintenance needed. But, it isn’t. And, while I know I can live and maintain a paleo diet — it just feel restrictive KNOWING my body can’t or shouldn’t deviate from that.

And, it’s not like I eat crappy 24/7. I’m not eating Big Macs and Ding Dongs every day or every week. And, in fact, I can’t even remember when the last time I had a Big Mac was? So — there’s that. I live by a 80/20 diet — and I am not sure now how that’s going to fit into everything?

If it sounds like I am kind of whining about this all — I guess I am?

It just sucks.

But, I’ve had a couple of weeks to let myself throw a pity party. I’ve been enjoying things I know I’m cutting out of the diet. Namely bread — and dairy. I mean — I love bread — and that’s going to be REALLY hard to let go of. Sure there’s gluten-free bread, but I’ve tried it already and — um — no. There’s no point in me eating a slice of toasted sadness for breakfast every morning. If I’m eating bread — it’s going to have gluten in it.

I’ve been researching and reading up on a lot of studies and diets for people with Hashimoto’s. It’s pretty much a paleo based diet that’s recommended by most. I don’t mind paleo — so it shouldn’t be that tough of adjustment.

But, besides following paleo — there are also certain foods that are recommended for me to eat to aid in the Hashimoto’s. Everything from grapefruit to iodine salt to Vitamin D enriched foods to copious amounts of veggies. You get the picture.

I am going to blog a bit more about all those particulars later. But, the point and focus this week to get everything in line and a regime in order. I’ve already started following a diet — as I slowly eliminate gluten — because I know that’s the hardest thing for me to give up. But, I am giving myself until Saturday to do that.

Slowly, but surely.

Anyways, I’m coming to terms with what this all entails. And, while I might be slightly depressed about it — now I know how to TRULY fuel my body. And, I have no doubt that over time — I’ll get to where I want to be with my fitness and health.

That’s what’s exciting.

That’s what I have to remember.

So no more moping around and feeling bad bout myself. It is what is. So, here it goes …

#Hypothyroidism runs in my family. So that’s why it’s surprising it took me until 2008 to finally get diagnosed. I think part of the problem was my physician didn’t believe me, because … 1) I was just #fat, 2) I was a guy and 3) I was just a fat guy. I mean, she was right there. I was pushing 400lbs when I finally got diagnosed. Hypothyroidism isn’t just a “woman’s problem.” I’m a good case in point. It’s been an issue even since I’ve been on medication. And, that’s what has lead to the discovery I suffer from #HashimotosDisease. A condition that my mom and sister were recently diagnosed with as well. I’m hoping to reverse the affects through my diet. I’ve lost a lot of my running speed the past couple of years — and I’d like that back. I want my energy levels back. I want my mojo back. And, as frustrating as it’s been to see it gone — I know it’s also coming back. I just gotta take it — step by step.

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HEALTH MATTERS: Creating a Happy Thyroid & Testosterone

test-thy2.fw

Finding a solution to health problems can be frustrating — very frustrating. Especially, when you’ve dealt with that problem for years with almost no solution. And, when you go to a doctor who should know a thing or two about that issue — they’re no help.

That’s the time you take a self analysis of the situation and basically say — “screw it, I’m doing this my way!”

Well, that’s where I am at with my thyroid and testosterone right now in my life.

I was officially diagnosed with a hypothyroid back in 2008-2009 while I was still in college. It accounted for the dramatic weight gain the two years prior — and the lack of engagement, depression and heightened anxiety I felt up to that point.

I got regulated and this spurred my weight-loss journey between 2009-2012. Over the past 6-7 years I’ve had to regulate my thyroid yearly. It hasn’t been much of a problem until about two years ago. For some reason — it just tanked.

After regulating the medication — with hardly any results — and further tests, it was found that I had abnormally low testosterone levels for a man my age. Sure, after 30 it’s kind of expected for it to drop — but, it was pretty low. So, I was put on testosterone replacement meds.

I kinda wish I didn’t do that, because that messed with my thyroid medication and it’s been an up and down battle trying to figure out how to balance the two.

One will be in the normal range, while the other will be low — and vice versa.

It doesn’t help that I come from a family that has both issues. My Mom’s side pretty much all has thyroid issues. In fact my great grandmother died from an unchecked thyroid. Then on my Dad’s side — I get the testosterone issues. It’s something my Dad and all my brothers deal with. Well, not my youngest brother — but, I am sure his day will come.

So, here I am — the great science project that my parents created. Sure, a lot of my problems are hereditary — but, that doesn’t make any less frustrating looking for a solution. Especially when you’re an athlete and know the level you can compete at.

The last two years of my running have been frustrating to say the least. I will always love running and have had some AMAZING moments — but — I feel slower. I know I am slower. The clock doesn’t lie.

I put my miles in — I workout — and — well — here I am. About 40lbs. off of where I want to be with not much stamina to run through even a 5K or 10K race. Being an ultra marathoner and regular half marathon runner — that’s though.

This is one reason why I am not racing much the first part of the year — so I can build up that stamina. Or at least try to, while I am tackling my body as a whole.

My focus as of late has actually been three-fold when it comes to finding that balance —

  1. Finding better doctors (Endocrinologist & Family Medicine)
  2. Being consistent and deliberate with my workouts
  3. Fueling my body with foods that will optimally aid my thyroid and testosterone.

Fairly simple goals, right?

Too bad the simple goals come with a complex equation first in order to get to the best outcome.

But, that’s life — I am not crying about (already did that). I’ve just come to the realization that I just need to fight for it. I’ve got to be relentless, tenacious and determined — because it won’t just come to me.

So this post — is kind of an outcome of that. It’s an outcome of my homework over the past couple weeks. This list final? Probably not. If there’s anything I’ve learned about my thyroid and testosterone — the variable always changes. That’s the joy — well curse — of it all.

Plus, thyroids and testosterones are also personal little buggars. Meaning, what works for me — probably won’t work for you or even works better for you than for me. So, really, these are good guidelines to start testing with your body. I wish it was easier than that. Oh, how I wish.

Either way — here are a few things I’ve learned from doing my homework on thyroids and testosterone.


HYPOTHYROID & FOOD

Like with any diet — it’s not exactly what you do in the gym that gains the biggest results — it’s what you do in the kitchen that counts. And, with a faulty thyroid — it’s never more true than that.

I’ve poured over hundreds of articles on hypothyroidism and food — good foods, bad foods, diet plans and the like. Here are a few things I learned (and I am keeping it simple on purpose) —

GOOD FOODS
  • Clean Water — Kind of a duh — but, really, how often do we really just simply drink clean cold water? This means — without anything else in it? No lemon, no lime and especially no Crystal Light. Not only does it promote a healthy metabolism, but it helps fight fatigue, constipation and sugar cravings. And, like it shouldn’t be said, but should — drink about 8oz. of cold water every two hours. This is one reason why I have a water bottle with me throughout the day at work. Gotta keep it flowing.
  • Fish — There are a couple benefits for adding fish to your diet. First, the Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the risk of heart disease — which an under managed thyroid can increase. And, secondly, it’s a good source of selenium — which is mostly concentrated in the thyroid and helps decrease inflammation. So throw in some salmon, tuna, trout and sardines to the ‘ol diet plan.
  • Nuts — Another selenium rich food that aids the thyroid. Especially Brazil, macadamia and hazelnuts. Like any nuts, watch your portion size since they all tend to be somewhat fatty.
  • Whole Grains — A lot of thyroid sufferers will actually avoid whole grains because fiber tends to interfere with the thyroid hormone replacement. But, if you wait 30-60 minutes after taking your medication you’ll generally be okay. Just watch your portion size and stick to the whole grain pastas, breads and rice — the less processed the better.
  • Fruits & Vegetables — This is pretty much a given in many or most diet plans. But, foods like blueberries, cherries, sweet potatoes and green peppers are high in antioxidants and can aid in lowering your risk for heart disease. But, make sure to avoid consuming too much cruciferous vegetables (see below in foods to avoid) because they can counter the effectiveness of your thyroid.
  • Seaweed — Kind of a surprising food to see on this list, but the biggest benefit of seaweed is the iodine. If you don’t have enough iodine in your diet — the thyroid won’t get the jump it needs. Plus, it’s high in fiber, calcium and a plethora of vitamins.
  • Dairy — Kinda surprised to see this on the list, probably more than seaweed. But, there is a link between Vitamin D deficiency and Hashimoto’s disease — so the more the better. Plus, Vitamin D enriched milk and dairy brings with it an increase in calcium, protein and iodine. And, if you’re not much of a dairy fan — there are always Vitamin D supplements.
  • Beans — Not only are beans a great source of fiber, but for hypothyroid sufferers they are a great source of sustained energy. Especially if your energy levels are left low and drained throughout the day. Beans are loaded with complex carbs, antioxidants, protein, vitamins and minerals — that have more benefits most things on this list. I for one — will be adding a few more beans to my diet.
  • Coconut Oil — The fatty acids in coconut oil help promote a healthy thyroid, fight fatigue and provide more energy — a MUST for all thyroid sufferers. Well, at least for me. Not only is coconut oil easy to digest, but it also contains antioxidants that aid in keeping your blood sugar level. So if you’re going to replace butter with anything — this would be it.
  • Sprouted Seeds — Most notably — hemp, flax and chia seeds — are the best sprouted seeds to add to your diet. Not only do they provide awesome Omega-3 fats, but they will help lower inflammation, stabilize blood sugar and your mood. These are great additions to a smoothie or protein shake.
FOODS TO AVOID
  • Soy — Researchers believe it can heighten one’s risk of hypothyroidism because it is loaded with phytoestrogen. The estrogen can interfere with a healthy thyroid.
  • Cruciferous vegetables — Sadly this includes broccoli (my favorite vegetable) along with Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, turnips and boy choy. Eating too much of these kinds of vegetables can block the thyroid’s ability to absorb iodine. So if you have an iodine deficiency along with a tanked thyroid — probably best to avoid this list.
  • Gluten — I saw various opinions on this. Avoiding gluten is somewhat of a fad in today’s health consciousness. Gluten CAN hamper the absorption of thyroid replacement medication, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid it. I also read that if you do choose to eat gluten products to focus on whole-grain breads, pastas and rice with high fiber. Also, of note — if you’re going to eat those — you should avoid taking your medication with them, because fiber can interfere with its’ absorption effectiveness. Interesting.
  • Fatty Foods — This includes fried foods (good to cut from any diet), butter, mayonnaise and fatty cuts of meat. Fats have been found to interfere with the thyroid’s ability to both absorb your medication and to produce hormone. I loathe this knowledge, because I love mayonnaise on my sandwich. But … if it must be so .. let it be so …
  • Sugary Foods — If you haven’t seen the documentary Fed Up it’s a must for anyone whether or not you have a faulty thyroid or not. Sugar slows down the metabolism and makes it extremely easy to gain weight. Sugar is the stuff that makes you fat — not necessarily fatty foods. Most of what I read recommended that you cut sugar significantly or completely out of your diet. Which sounds much easier than it is — not only are we all most likely all addicted to sugar, it doesn’t help that nearly EVERYTHING in the grocery store contains sugar in it. And, you wonder why America is fat? This is a rant for another day …
  • Overly Processed Foods — Not only do most processed foods come with a high fat and/or sugary intake — but, they are usually high in sodium. And, with an underactive thyroid — extra sodium should be avoided, because it increases the thyroid sufferer’s chances of high blood pressure. No beuno. Plus, processed foods are kinda nasty — let’s be honest.
  • Coffee — Being Mormon this doesn’t really affect me, but should be stated nonetheless. Researchers found that people who took coffee with their medications had uncontrollable thyroid levels. Interesting. I am not sure however if this is because of the coffee — or caffeine content? Either way — if you’re a coffee drinker wait about 30 minutes after taking your meds with water to get your cup.
  • Alcohol — Again, one of those things I don’t really have to worry about being Mormon and all. But, it should be said. People with hypothyroidism should avoid alcohol or extremely minimize it’s consumption. Alcohol has shown to have a toxic effect on the thyroid gland and suppresses the body’s ability to use the thyroid hormone. Makes sense.
  • Iron and calcium supplements — Surprisingly, but not really — iron and calcium supplements can interfere with the absorption of your thyroid medications. So, if you are going to take a supplement (or food with increased iron and/or calcium) you should stagger it throughout the day. Wait 30-60 minutes before you take it. Personally, I wait longer than that — about two hours.

HYPOTHYROID & FITNESS

  • Get plenty of sleep — Most adults think they can get by with 4-6 hours of sleep. To get the optimal amount of sleep one should get on average 8 hours of sleep a night. Not only does this promote healing within your body overnight, but it also helps minimize stress — the common enemy to a healthy lifestyle, especially weight-loss.
  • Strength Training — I found a number of training plans and suggestions for hypothyroid sufferers, so I am listing the three main ones I found. Strength training is ideal for hypothyroid athletes for a couple of reasons — one, it helps strengthen the joints, tendons and ligaments — which most hypothyroid sufferers find painful. And, it also helps boost your metabolism and burn the most fat over time  than any other exercise. Some suggested workouts include squats, push-ups and leg raises (these help strengthen those joints I just mentioned).
  • Aerobic Interval Training — Pick any kind of aerobic exercise — running, biking, swimming, jump roping, climbing stairs — really whatever gets your blood pumping and do a 20 minute interval of that exercise. Meaning every couple of minutes or so you’d change the effort of that exercise according to your plan. For runners this would basically be called ‘fartleks.’ Here’s a sample of what a typical interval would look like — just chose your exercise and do it.
  • Aerobic Training — Aerobic training is two fold, not only does it get the blood pumping and going, but it also helps elevate the mood and is a natural antidepressant. If there is one thing any thyroid sufferer understands is it’s affect on your mood — depression, anxiety, the works. Kind of like interval training just choose something you like to do — walking, running, swimming, biking — whatever. The biggest difference between this kind of exercise is the intensity of the workout. Use the aerobic interval training as weekly training for your aerobic workouts which would be a sustained level throughout the workout. This is why I love running — it provides that needed balance between the two kinds of exercise.
  • Yoga — I won’t lie, I’ve never done yoga. Well, I should say I’ve never done a Downward Dog on purpose. But, there are some real benefits for yoga and hypothyroid sufferers. Not only does yoga provide excellent joint strengthening, but it can also be help destress you — a common enemy to overall health.

LOW TESTOSTERONE & FOOD

GOOD FOODS
  • Bananas — I am so happy to see bananas on this list. Bananas contain the enzyme bromelain, which some studies have found boosts a man’s libido. They are also rich in B vitamins, such as riboflavin, which are essential for the manufacturing of testosterone. So, yeah — I’m not slowing down on eating yellow fingers.
  • Fish — Fish, especially tuna, is high in Vitamin D. A serving of tuna contains your needed serving of Vitamin D. But, other fish like — trout, salmon and sardines are just as good. This is one food I can actually eat and benefit both my testosterone and thyroid! WOOHOO! Good thing I love tuna.
  • Shellfish — Kind of in the same boat (pun intended) with fish. Great source of Vitamin D, a very good lean protein and well — in my opinion — also great tasting! So load up on the crab, shrimp and lobster and raise your testosterone levels.
  • Vitamin D supplement — By increasing your Vitamin D intake you’re helping to strengthen your bones, immune system and other functions of your body. Plus, it helps that researchers have found that Vitamin D is linked to a longer life and better testosterone production.
  • Vitamin D fortified dairy — Kind of goes without saying after reading above, but if you can find skim or non-fat milk that is fortified with Vitamin D the better. Not only does it provide the nutrient punch that you need, but without the added fat or sugar.
  • Egg Yolks — Another great source of Vitamin D. The only thing you should be careful of here is if you have any cholesterol problems. If you do, you’d definitely want to avoid too many eggs.
  • Oysters — I won’t lie — I’ve never had oysters before. And, I don’t know if I really plan on eating them any time soon. But, they do have some good benefits for people suffering from low testosterone. Namely, added zinc.
  • Beef — There are a number of health risks for over consuming read meat (ie-colon cancer, more fat, etc). But, there are also certain cuts of beef that can also be advantageous to your testosterone — namely the beef liver (high in Vitamin D) and ground beef and chuck roast (high in zinc). Obviously, choose leaner cuts and eat sparingly.
  • Beans — Another food that’s great to add to the diet that will benefit both the thyroid and testosterone. For stronger testosterone levels white, black and kidney beans are all considered a great source of Vitamin D and zinc. Apparently baked beans are as well, but really don’t offer much nutritional value. Makes sense — I actually despise baked beans with a passion.
  • Pumpkin seeds — Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc and it’s easy to slip them in your daily yogurt, salad, oatmeal or even smoothies. Heck, even just eating a handful mid-afternoon is a great way to eat them.
  • Wheat Bran — There was a study in Turkey that showed those that ate wheat bran in their diet had increased testosterone. But, this was only if the subjects also paired it with high-intensity workouts. Not sure why? But, this is duly noted.
  • Strawberries — Strawberries are loaded with antioxidants that help lower cortisol levels. Cortisol is shown to adversely affect your testosterone levels, because after a lot of stress on the body (ie-workouts, etc) the cortisol can crowd out the testosterone and it’s usefulness.
  • Spinach — Popeye is the poster child of this vegetable, right? Spinach is pack full of magnesium which has been shown to impact the testosterone more than any other nutrient. Sure there are plenty of other magnesium rice foods, but it’s also VERY easy to blend up a bunch of spinach in your morning smoothie or protein shake.
FOODS TO AVOID
  • Soda — This is just a good practice in general. But, most sodas are loaded with sugar and empty calories. Even diet soda drinkers aren’t immune to it’s effects on the testosterone and body’s overall health. Diet sodas have been linked to coronary heart disease, stroke and type-2 diabetes. This is why I haven’t drank soda in over three years now. No thank you!
  • Soy — Much for the same reasons that it affects your body with hypothyroidism, soy affects testosterone levels because it promotes the increase of estrogen in your body. Why are we even drinking or eating soy then? I will say tofu that is cooked right can taste rather delicious, but still … the benefits should out weigh the risks.
  • Processed Beef — Yes, there are good qualities to beef consumption as listed above, but avoid the processed beef that you’ll find in fast food restaurants namely burgers and hot dogs. The nutritional value of them is pretty much zapped out and there are added chemicals that can adversely affect your testosterone levels. Just best to stay clear.
  • Alcohol — Alcohol can turn testosterone into estrogen, especially if you go overboard. Interesting tidbit, eh? The recommended intake for men is two drinks a day — or basically a glass of wine. And, the recommended intake for me? None (psst … because I’m a Mormon).
  • Flaxseeds — I’ve seen some things about the impact flaxseed to one’s testosterone levels … and I am not sure exactly what to believe? Because some diet plans don’t seem too concerned with it? But, apparently, flaxseed is rich in the compound lignan — which is highly estrogenic. It can also reduce the free testosterone levels in men.
  • Licorice — Apparently licorice contains something called — glycyrrhizic acid, which can suppress testosterone production. This is really sad for me considering my love of black licorice, Good n’ Plentys and any product that Red Vines throws in front of me. And, according to researchers even a small amount of glycyrrhizic acid can dramatically affect your testosterone levels. Sad day for me, eh?
  • Mint, Spearmint, Peppermint — All of these come from the “mentha” family which are known to have testosterone lowering effects on the body (I am literally chewing on spearmint gum as I am writing this). Researchers believe that mint induces stress levels and negatively affects the level of testosterone in the body. But, the good thing is, this theory is probably more debated than the affects of flaxseed on the body — sooooooo — I’m still chewing my gum.

LOW TESTOSTERONE & FITNESS

  • Sleep — Simply put — sleep is essential for a healthy balanced life. The more sleep deprived you are — the more cortisol your body produces (from the stress of a fatigued body), which naturally lowers your testosterone levels. So the two really go hand in hand — so if you want to boost your testosterone levels, make sure to get a good night’s sleep.
  • Destress — Stress, like with the thyroid, is an enemy to a health level of testosterone. The more stressed you are — the greater effect it will have on your testosterone levels. Meaning — it can nose dive the levels. This is why taking time out to destress in the gym, a brisk run or walk or on a yoga pad is important. Don’t forget your sleep either — low amounts of sleep combined will make you more prone to higher stress levels.
  • Interval Training — By regularly exercising, especially through interval training, you’re helping your body build muscle mass that also helps release more testosterone from protein. Makes sense, right? The more you move and build, the more testosterone you’ll produce.
  • Watch your BPA Levels — There’s a link between BPA (found in a lot of plastics, including plastic bottles) and lower testosterone levels, because BPA is found to act like estrogen in the male body. So avoid cooking your foods in plastic containers along with plastic bottles and cups that aren’t BPA free. The best way to drink your water — in a glass.
  • Sprinting — I found this interesting. A study showed that people who did short six second sprints increased their testosterone levels naturally — even after they fully recovered from their workout. I don’t know exactly why this is — but this is good to put into my
  • Lift Heavy — Full body, heavy exercises like squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and Olympic lifts are ideal workouts for heavy lifts, at 85-95% of your 1RM (or one repetition maximum). You need to do 2-3 full body weight lifting workouts per week to get good testosterone-boosting results.

MY FITNESS PLAN

Okay, after processing all of that — I made myself a fitness plan. This is putting into consideration both my hypothyroidism and low testosterone levels. The diet is pretty specific and basic — which is by design. Make something overly complicated, right? It’s just not in my nature — gotta keep it simple.

Just a few things of note I didn’t put on my plan — my sandwiches are all on whole grain bread and includes the meat, a fat and veggies. Pretty simple.

You’ll also notice a few lines a bit off on the graphic — this might not bug you, but it’s kinda bugging the hell out of me. So, don’t be surprised if my OCD gets the best of me and I try to fix that. It’s just a matter of getting the motivation to do it.

But, I digress.

Anyways, feel free to use this fitness plan. It’s kind of tailored towards my needs and fitness goals for the next 6-8 weeks. If it works well — I’ll probably keep and tweak it a tad (to prevent boredom).

And, like always — I’m not a nutritionist, doctor or trainer — I’ve consulted mine for advice on this and you should too if you’re planning on changing your diet plan … blah, blah, blah.

Anyways here’s the plan in a neat little graph I made …

CLICK TO ENLARGE

Fight4Phat


THE FINAL WORD

This has really turned into one looooooong post. Probably the longest post I’ve ever written? I know it’s one of the most researched posts I’ve done … and that’s all by design.

Because I want to tackle this — I have to tackle this. It’s worn on me the past couple of years without much help from doctors. And, I’ve realized that shouldn’t be my sole source of answers — I’m a smart person. I have a college degree. I know how to use Google. I can do my own research, my own trail run and find my own solutions.

This obviously doesn’t minimize the need of a doctor — I still need someone to draw my blood and test my levels and help medicate accordingly. But, I am done with looking for absolute answers with their sole help. This is MY health, so it really should be MY responsibility.

So, here I am.

And, if you’re finding yourself reading this, relating to a lot of my same struggles — just remember — you’re not alone in this. An estimated 20 million Americans have issues with their thyroid — whether that’s hypo-, hyper, Hashimoto’s or even thyroid cancer.

That’s a lot of people.

I would just encourage everyone to crave their own journey and do what’s best for you. Maybe this struggle has been longer than mine, maybe you just found out about your thyroid issues? Whatever the case may be — this is your journey, take control of it and don’t rely solely on a doctor’s check list response.

Because, as hard as this has been over the years — I know this fix is a lot more complicated than by joining Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig to control my weight.

Anyways — I hope you find value in this post and let me know what you think. But, more than that, I want to know what has worked best for you! Feel free to email me or leave a message. The more we connect the better, right?

Oh, and you can also join a support group I started on Facebook last week — ThyroidRunners. The best thing we can do in journeys like this, is do it with others, right?

Happy Trails!