You might know someone that is complaining about their body weight, wanting to lose weight
or frustrated about putting on weight. You might think to yourself that all they need to do
is clean up their diet and exercise more. That may be the case but as a personal trainer,
the answer is usually not that easy. Take for example my girlfriend. She was training with a
personal trainer 3 times a week for 2 years and was enrolled in a nutrition program. During this
time she had excellent results, losing 35lbs. She was within 10 lbs of her weight loss goal and
decided to step it up another notch, working out 4-5 times a week before work at 6am.
Unfortunately, improved results didn’t come with more effort and in fact, just the opposite
happened. She was having a hard time losing weight and started slowly gaining some back. It
was chalked up to stress as she was going through a separation and a few months later, she also left
her job because of poor/negative working conditions. She started complaining about dry skin
but thought maybe it was just the air or water in the new house. She was waking up really tired
but accounted that to the different schedule with the new job. It wasn’t until some hair started
falling out that it become obvious there was a problem.
She booked an appointment with her doctor, had some tests taken and discovered that her
thyroid was dysfunctional. She was given a prescription for a synthetic thyroid medication
to help but things only got worse. Within four months she gained all her weight back and
more, she was having anxiety attacks, bouts of light headedness, couldn’t sleep, but constantly
tired, and the list of problems goes on. Thinking there might be a problem, we looked into the
possible side effects of the medication as the pharmacist and doctor didn’t mention any. Lo and
behold, all the issues, aside from more weight gain, were listed as common side effects. In her
next appointment with her doctor, she discussed the issues she was having, explained that she
read about them as common side effects and asked about a natural thyroid medication. This
idea was shot down as the doctor provided several reasons why this wouldn’t be advisable.
Instead the doctor decided on increasing the medication dosage.
Feeling the doctor wasn’t on the same page, an appointment with a Naturopathic Doctor was
the next step. This validated our thoughts on a natural thyroid, and she was given some great
information to help ensure the medical doctor would prescribe it, as naturopathic doctors
are still unable to. As well, supplements were suggested that would help support the thyroid
function, some homework was given to help identify specifics about the causation of the issue
(Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome) and some helpful books were recommended.
The next trip to the doctors saw a switch in medication and weight stabilizing. With the change
of medication came a significant drop in symptoms but no real change in thyroid function. So
off she went to see an endocrinologist as she felt her family doctors resources wouldn’t be enough to get more results. The endocrinologist’s approach was to dial the thyroid hormone
levels into the optimal zone appropriate for the individual not necessarily the umbrella
normative score. Just like the naturopathic doctor, the endocrinologist used internal feedback
from the client on level of energy, mood, sleep, menstrual cycle, and more. This really made a
lot more sense to us since optimal ranges are based on norms not individuals and each of us has
an ideal setting where our body functions best.
Along the journey, we got to learn about the thyroid gland, optimal hormone levels, provincial
variations of optimal ranges in the medical field, strategies to optimize medication use, side
effects and more. For the most part, she got great support and information but we felt there
was more to know than this. We wanted a holistic approach encompassing diet, lifestyle,
and exercise, so I sought out additional material for this plan. I found many books with great
material and in-depth strategies, however, there wasn’t one comprehensive book that covered
everything. It took us over a dozen books to round out an effective diet and lifestyle plan as well
as identify effective parameters for exercise. In part 2 and 3 of this series, I will be sharing how
to identify a thyroid dysfunction as well as many of the strategies to aid the thyroid function.
Chris Leblanc, B.P.H.E, is a certified exercise, nutrition & lifestyle and golf performance coach
and owner of CHI Training Studio. He is certified through the C.H.E.K Institute, a globally
recognized professional school teaching in corrective, holistic, exercise kinesiology. Chris has
been working in the fitness industry since 2003 and is currently the highest accredited C.H.E.K
Practitioner in Ottawa. For more information about Chris and CHI Training Studio, please visit
www.chitrainingstudio.com or contact him at .