In my early twenties, being diagnosed with Graves’ Disease was devastating. Graves’ Disease speeds up the metabolism, and you lose a huge amount of weight over time, with no changes to your food choices and exercise routine.
A year before my diagnosis, I tripled the amount of food servings I ate at each mealtime to satisfy my stomach, and I would experience high energy levels—despite the fact that anyone looking at my face could tell I looked tired—and also had trouble staying asleep through the night.
Undergoing treatment to reverse the effects that Graves’ Disease had on my body was also devastating. Over time, I would gain a huge amount of unwanted weight, and every day, I would feel constantly tired.
The most worrisome effect of this treatment is experiencing difficulty with losing body fat. It becomes a slow process, as the thyroid gland slows down the metabolism. Despite these challenges with experiencing the effects of hypothyroidism, during the last six months, I have lost a whole six kilograms. At the same time, I feel more energetic with every passing day.
Here are three tips I would recommend to anyone with Graves’ Disease who is trying to make progress with losing body fat, while also keeping their energy up throughout the day.
Listen to your stomach
From a young age, I would sit at the kitchen table for three meals a day with my parents. After a while, this would become a routine. At my childhood home, breakfast would be between 7 and 8 a.m., lunch would be between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., and dinner would be between 4 and 6 p.m. I would eat my meals at these times, even if I did not feel hungry.
A slower metabolism and eating three meals a day only supported weight gain. I tried reducing the portions on my plate so my metabolism could digest the food at a reasonable speed, as the regular portions I ate before felt like they would take 24 hours to digest.
While I saw some success with reducing my portions, the most successful change I made was during my third year of university. I only ate when my stomach felt hungry.
This could mean that if my stomach felt hungry by 1 p.m., I wouldn’t stress over not having breakfast and possibly even dinner, as my stomach was telling me when I was hungry instead of an eating routine that was controlled by the clock.
So how do you tell if your stomach is saying it is hungry? Feelings of emptiness in the stomach after completing tasks or activities that take up energy and focus will be the signal.
Move as much as possible
Many homes have pieces of technology ranging from kitchen appliances to home entertainment devices. With the advancement of technology, many people move around less than they used to throughout their daily lives.
For people suffering from low energy levels, taking advantage of technology and sitting down on the couch to watch television (or heading to bed for more sleep) may keep those energy levels on a constant low. During my second year of university, I would spend as much time as I could completing assignments on my laptop before the feelings of tiredness would begin to tell me to get some sleep.
Waking up the next day, I would experience a similar level of tiredness as I did the night before, even though my total sleep time was around seven hours, which is the recommended minimum number of hours to be considered a good night’s sleep.
When I became more active by washing my dishes in the sink each time I ate, rather than using the dishwasher, and taking 30-minute walks around the neighbourhood multiple times a day, I began to feel greater energy levels.
So how can you tell if you have higher energy levels? You may feel like you want to be on your feet constantly. You will smile more often, without realizing it. You will also have less difficulty making decisions and expressing thoughts or ideas.
Drink plenty of water
A family member or even your doctor has probably told you about drinking eight glasses of water every day to stay hydrated. A benefit of water, in regard to hypothyroidism symptoms, is being able to flush out the water weight that arises due to your salt intake. An imbalance of salt and water in the body contributes to the bloating and puffy appearance of the already bulging stomach.
When I tried drinking eight glasses of water every day, my body would be in a state of mild dehydration and my mouth would feel dry, despite the advised number of glasses I took in. To reduce the puffiness and bulging look of my stomach, I decided to instead drink 10 glasses of water every day.
I noticed changes within myself, such as feeling fuller before eating my meals, and having more energy as I moved through my daily life, since my body was not in a state of mild dehydration. Knowing how many glasses of water you need to stay hydrated is different for everyone, so do not feel discouraged if not even 10 glasses of water are enough for you.
Having more energy and bettering my plans to manage stress, as I enter my mid-twenties, benefits the increasingly fast pace of my life. I can see the physical improvements in my body, as I am appearing leaner, and the best part about it is that I did not have to go on a restrictive diet or pay for a gym membership.
Regardless of how much unwanted weight you desire to lose, it is a slow process that takes dedication and enthusiasm. In the end, however, dedication and enthusiasm are wonderful qualities to have when it comes to achieving anything else you desire in life.