A Dietitian’s Journey (Part III) – the next phase

Thirteen months ago, I was diagnosed with an auto-immune condition and was the sickest I had been in many years. Thankfully, I am entering the next phase, where I hope to restore my health to what it was before my diagnosis.

At the time of my youngest son’s wedding on June 3, 2022, I was incredibly swollen all over, had pronounced joint pain and muscle aches, and significant edema in my legs and ankles — so much so, that I was wearing compression stockings all the time, even at the wedding.

The skin on my cheeks was dry and  flaky and despite trying multiple types of intense moisturizers, nothing helped.  My mouth symptoms had progressed to the point that I found it difficult to say certain words because my tongue was swollen so much that it seemed too large for my mouth, and the salivary glands underneath my tongue were swollen.

The debilitating fatigue made life very difficult.

The muscle weakness had progressed to the point where it was difficult for me to get up from a chair, or to get out of the car without pushing myself up with my hands. My eldest son was helping me get to and from the beach for the photos for the wedding and he thought it was me aging. Even my other two sons began to assume the same thing because the changes occurred too slowly for them to see that they only started a few months ago.  I was thinking that I may have some form of “long-Covid,” but what got me starting to think that my symptoms may have had something to do with my thyroid was the very noticeable swelling in my face.

The phase immediately prior to diagnosis was the most difficult because on the occasion of my first son’s wedding, I looked like I did when I was 55 pounds heavier, but wasn’t. What was very stressful was not knowing why I was so sick.

LEFT: March 5, 2017, RIGHT: June 3, 2022 at my youngest son’s wedding.

The First Phase of Recovering from Hypothyroidism 

Just as weight loss and metabolic health recovery rarely take place in a straight line, the same is true with recovering from hypothyroidism.

At the end of October 2022, my thyroid hormones had improved significantly taking two types of thyroid medication. My free T3 (the active thyroid hormone) was at 65.5% of the reference range, however my free T4 was only at 41.75%.  Unfortunately, the medication adjustment we made at that time to “tweak things” made everything worse. By April, I was exhausted and cold, and found it very difficult to get through the day.

After having my thyroid hormones retested, it was evident why I felt awful, as my free T4 and free T3 had both dropped significantly.

Once again, my doctor adjusted my medication and thankfully my symptoms improved within a few weeks. Unfortunately, the less-than-optimal dose of thyroid hormones from January to April triggered another round of excessive hair shedding, but rather than “sweat the small stuff”, mid-June I opted for a new haircut which allowed my natural curls to fall where they may and it helped.

Since my condition is autoimmune, I continue to follow the specific dietary recommendations that I outlined here, as well as supplementing with the nutrients of importance in hypothyroidism while periodically having my serum nutrient levels tested.  I also continue to eat a lower carb diet that is high in highly bioavailable protein to support my continued metabolic health.

A Dietitian’s Journey Continues – the next phase

While I was feeling much better for the past few weeks I was bemoaning the fact that I was not well enough to resume hiking. I know, “first world problems”. Now that the son that got into hiking with me a few years ago was married and had moved out of town, it was up to me to figure out a way to regain my strength.

Last week, someone on social media posted about a local fitness program and I thought to myself, “I am going to join that“! It was perfect. It was close and would give me access to the weight-training facilities that I needed to rebuild my muscles, as well as classes that would provide me with some fun and aerobic exercise at the same time. They even had several pools where I could to re-discover my age-old love of swimming!  Realizing that the last bathing suit I owned was size 16 (from before I lost weight in 2017-2019), it was time to go shopping.

By the end of this past weekend, I already had a 3-month renewable fitness center membership, a one year parking pass, a new gym bag, and a bathing suit in my size. While I wondered to myself if I will even remember how to swim, but that was okay as I was determined to begin with “lifting, pushing and pulling heavy things often“.  Along with eating sufficient protein intake over each of my meals, weights and resistance training was the most important for restoring my muscle mass and avoiding sarcopenia (muscle-loss) so common in older adults. I was determined NOT to become one of those frail older people and this program would get me there.

A Dietitian’s Journey Continues

I was planning to start at the gym this past Tuesday but ended up taking one of my sons and daughter-in-laws to the airport. When I woke up on Wednesday morning, I was ready to go.  Not only was I ready, but I was excited to go, because for the first time in a year and a half to two years, it was possible. I was finally well enough again.

When I arrived at the fitness room, I asked the trainer to show me how to adjust the machines. She ushered me over to the cardio equipment, while encouraging me that this is where I should start.  I replied to her that my first priority is to rebuild lost muscle mass and asked her to please show me how to use the resistance equipment, which she did.  While cardio definitely has a place in my long-term goal of being able to hike again, lifting weights and doing resistance training will enable me to rebuild lost muscle, and strengthen joints and connective tissue as well as help with restoring my metabolism and mobilizing residual fat.

This is me after my first weight training session yesterday. I was sweaty and tired, but it felt amazing to finally be at this next phase of my journey one I have waited for as patiently as possible.

I hope that a Dietitian’s Journey – Part III encourages others who are recovering from Hashimoto’s as well as other types of auto-immune disorders.

If you would like more information about how I can support you in your health journey, please reach out to me through the Contact Me form on the tab above.

To your good health,



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