The SY 2013 health story

My 2013 health story

Nikki ParkinsonHealth, Life 147 Comments

Hello my name is Nikki and I’m a much healthier person than I was this time last year.

Yes, I may have indulged in one too many glasses of champers over the past few days but I’ve done so in the knowledge that I think I’ve finally come up with a health formula that works for me.

It’s a formula I needed to find fast when in July I was offered a book contract with Hachette. I knew if I were to keep on track with the book, turn up here on the blog and help my family through a very busy second half of 2013 that I had to be at the top of my health game.

I’ve had more than a few requests over the past few months to share my health story so here goes.

I’m sharing – not from a position that I think this is something that will work for you – but more from a position that if you’re not happy with your own health then maybe the New Year is a time to work out a formula that works for you.

July to December - the Styling You 2013 health story

The back story

If you’re a regular here you will know that I live with the auto-immune condition, Hashimotos. I have an under-active thyroid that is treated by medication – Thyroxine and Tetroxine. I’m resistant to Thyroxine so need to take both.

I have blood tests twice a year to make sure my TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) levels are correct but that’s the extent of what the world of medicine can help me with.

It’s up to me to look after my immune system the best I can. And I’ve made a number of lifestyle decisions with the help of a naturopath to do that. The biggest decision was removing gluten from my diet. Within three weeks it had made a difference and I’ve never looked back.

I SHOULD drop alcohol as well. Instead I limit it and have a couple of periods throughout the year where I abstain for a least a month. This is the compromise I make with myself.

I’ve got better at recognising when I’m having a thyroid-y day and respecting it. Laying low, catching up with a nana nap or just taking some time out for myself.

I found out the hard way that hard core, vomit-inducing workouts not only make me put on weight but also make me physically ill because of the stress they place on my immune system.

Managing my weight with Hashimotos is not a fun exercise. It is very easy for me to put on weight and it is very difficult for me to shift it. It’s bloody frustrating but it is what it is.

Early July I got the mother of all flus. You know the kind? The once-of-year kind that tells you that something needs to change about your health. That was all I needed to make a health pact with myself.

The scales in our bathroom needed their batteries changing. I took this as a sign and didn’t change them.

I wanted this to be about how I FELT.  I didn’t want how I felt to be determined by the number on the scales.

I know for many this would not be a motivator but for me (because of my condition), even when I’m sticking to the most strict eating and exercise routine, I can go days and weeks without shifting a gram.

It becomes de-motivating and depressing.

I’ve felt neither of those feels over the past five months.

What I did

The SY 2013 health story

(yes, I could really do with upgrading my dumb bells!)

1. Stuck to the HCG protocol for the first five weeks. This is something I did twice in 2012. It is HARD. For me, it’s like re-booting my metabolic computer … well as much as it can be re-booted when thanks to Hashimoto’s it’s more like a 1985 Commodore 64 than the iMac sitting on my desk. I didn’t drink during this time – and like previous times I’ve done this, my energy levels were through the roof. You can find out more about HCG through the Changing Habits site. I’ll probably do this again early in 2014.

2. Spent the weekend at Gwinganna. I was fortunate to return to Gwinganna, so I timed my coming off the HCG for that weekend. It was a weekend for ME. A weekend to get back my motivation to exercise and to calm the mind before the huge writing task ahead. One of the best takeaways from the weekend for me was learning the “Five Essentials” – five strengthening exercises I could do at home in under 20 minutes. The Five Essentials are two sets of 16 squats, push-ups, lunges, standing rows (using dumb bells) and one minute planks.

3. Returned to yoga. It had been two – maybe three – years between me and a downward dog. An email from my former yoga teacher landed in my inbox at just the right time. I bought a 10-session pass and signed up there and then. I committed to attending the beginners’ class every Thursday morning after the school drop-off. I feel stronger – physically and mentally – for making that commitment. I’ve already signed up for a yoga studio in Brisbane for 2014 so that I keep it up.

4. Created an exercise schedule that worked for me. Being a commuters’ wife does not make it easy to make the time to regularly exercise. I had to commit to getting up at 5.30am each morning (except for yoga mornings!) and hitting the pavement for a walk to the beach and back before Mr SY jumped in his car to travel to Brisbane. On one or two mornings I’d do the Five Essentials. Importantly, this was a routine that I could implement and stick to without compromising my health. I haven’t been sick at all.

5. Embraced the 5:2 way of eating. I bought this book after hearing about lots of people embracing the concept of intermittent fasting. It made enough sense to me to give it a go. It won’t be for everyone – two days a week you have only two small meals – but for me it works. I usually do a Monday and Wednesday or Monday and Thursday, switching days if there is an occasion or event to attend. The rest of the week I continue with our normal healthy cooking and eating at home. We have long embraced whole foods over processed as part of our regular diet but these two books below – Don’t Quit Sugar and Clean Living – have provided fresh inspiration. Also, discovering and regularly ordering gluten-free protein bread from the Whole Meal Cafe has meant that I’ve always felt that I’ve got an easy breakfast option without resorting to regular GF breads that are mostly just refined sugar and additives.

Don't Quit Sugar | Clean Living

How I feel now

The thyroid-y days are still there but they’re usually the result of my own misbehaviour. A girl’s got to have fun, hasn’t she?

I love that I love getting up to either walk, do my strengthening program or go to yoga. I love that I really miss it should work or life get in the way of a day’s planned activity.

I love that without actively setting out to quit sugar I’ve actually lost the craving for it. I may think I want something sweet, then I have something sweet but find after a mouthful that I really don’t need any more. That it’s too much.

I love that my clothes fit me comfortably.

I love that this is something I plan to keep up for 2014 … because I know I can.

Tell me about your health formula? Any plans to change it or up the ante in 2014?

NB. It’s important that you talk to a health professional before making any drastic changes to your diet or exercise routine. I’m not a professional – I’m just sharing my story.

Comments 147

  1. Well done you Nikki,

    We are also a GF house, I have been for 4 years and have been mostly dairy free for about a year and feel awesome, the Hubs on the other hand was not. He had bad eczema and was just feeling rubbish, his mum gave him the Eczema Diet book for Xmas, he read it and while he found some aspects a little over the top we negotiated cutting out dairy, gluten and what they call the itchy 12 which included tomato and avocado. Within a week his skin was better and he felt that fog in his brain that gluten causes lift. Fair to say we haven’t looked back.

    The other thing we changed last year was cutting out white sugar and embracing honey and natural sugars such as date paste which has been wonderful, if you haven’t had honey in your coffee, it is a winner!
    Unfortunately my exercise routine in 2013 was a bit tricky, as a teacher I am always on the move at work and when I move, I move fast and I took up pole dancing at the start of 2013 and was loving it. I loved watching my muscles work as I lifted my body weight up, the confidence it gave me when I landed a move was amazing BUT then a simple leap to avoid being run into by a bike resulted in a full rotator cuff injury to my shoulder (yup, I injured myself avoiding getting hurt). I was in a sling for a week or two and 8 months on am still struggling with everyday activities and have recently come to the realisation that as much as my brain wants to go back to Pole, the body is not willing.

    Cue yoga. After a lot of research and finally being prompted after reading your experience, I have literally 20 mins ago signed up for an introduction course. I am hoping that it will not only help me feel physically good but also help with stress and to manage my lovely little anxiety monster that follows me around.

    Thanks for sharing your story and for giving me the kick to enrol!

    1. Oh Allira, that is heart breaking … your yoga teacher should work with you in the knowledge that you’re rehabilitating an injury. I’ve done yoga with some shoulder stuff I get but I just let my teacher know at the start of the class and he’s suggest other things as alternatives throughout the class. Also as yoga a personal thing, you only have to go as far into a posture as where you’re at right now. So the stretch is gradual. Hope you like it. I’m heading to my new yoga centre next week!

  2. Hi Nikki, this post was so inspiring. I have Multiple Sclerosis and struggle with many of he symptoms you mention. It’s great to have someone like you as a role model to know that you can successfully juggle family, career and health. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Hello Nikki,

    My first visit to your site – but I’ve think I’ve been occasionally
    connecting with you on twitter for ages. Mel Kettle suggested I take a look at
    your site. I too have Hashimoto Thyroidism. It’s always interesting to hear
    what someone else’s experience is with this disorder. It seems there is a
    disconnect with what the *medical profession* say and what people in reality

    Thank-you for sharing your story, lots of interesting
    suggestions and ideas, both from you and commentators.

    I had 5 books published in 2013 and ended the year
    completely and utterly exhausted. So I rested, relaxed and recharged over the
    break – But do mums really get a break? Good Luck with your book – it is such a
    rewarding process, enjoy every step J

    Another thing about the 5:2 diet attractive to myself – is the
    low calorie element of the diet is said to be beneficial for *clarity* and
    minimising dementia.

    All the best for your health in 2014.


    1. Hi Heather, thanks for popping by … and yes there is a lot of disconnect between western medicine (blood test diagnosis and level count) and what we actually feel on a day to day or week to week basis. It’s taken me a long time to realise that my lifestyle is key to helping the medication along.

  4. Nikki I gasped when i read that you did the Protocol. I too followed the Protocol in June last year and found the results to be outstanding. I maintained the weight loss until now…..a few Christmas kilo’s have crept on due to over eating and drinking over the month leading up to Christmas and now from being on holidays. Over the last few days I decided that I will go back on the Protocol at some stage in the next month. I love the fact that I lose weight on it (not only for how I look but how my body feels and how my clothes fit) and I love how I feel on it and afterwards when I stick to clean eating.
    I didn’t experience outstanding energy gains because I never really felt I had an issue in that area, but now that I have over indulged in all the stuff that just doesn’t agree with me I am noticing how lethargic I am feeling despite being on holidays and less active than normal!
    I didn’t know about your thyroid issues but my sister has Graves disease and I think now I should really encourage her to give the Protocol a go too.
    Thanks for sharing your story. I have generally laid low about doing the Protocol because people freak out about the restriction in calories – but I really believe it works.
    Good luck with your move and maintenance.

    1. Yes, I haven’t walked much about the protocol for the same reasons but it is a good re-boot for me. I don’t lose the weight that others do because of my condition but it is beneficial in so many other ways. I’ll be doing again soon. With your sister, Graves is the opposite to me – the thyroid is over-active and it can be a scary thing where you have to be careful of your heart. She would easily lose weight – I’d have her check in with Cyndi about what research she’s done about the Protocol and Graves.

  5. Hey Nikki – you have truly inspired me too! I need to kick-start my diet and exercise programme, esp after all this Christmas party indulgence. I need more energy to do what I need to do this year, and good health is key to that. Thank you for sharing your story, you are awesome!

  6. Congratulations Nikki, thank you for providing some great inspiration. I am 27 yr old and 15 years with 24 hr back pain. In 2013 I let me health go and spent the whole year on pain medication, in and out of hospital and caffeine
    to get through the day to keep up with my 80-100 hr weeks at work. Bring on December 2013 I have decided to take charge and reading your story as really inspired and helped me to take it one step at a time and not give up.
    Thank you for sharing and I hope your health continues to improve. Take care

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this Nikki. I’m looking into changing my diet this year including dropping gluten and cutting down on sugar (I need to get a copy of that book). My husband is an avid IF fan and he looks amazing for it. I joined Operation Move to kickstart the NY in the right way. Hopefully I can stay motivated. Health goals are the most important! x

  8. Bloody good on you for taking control of your health and making the changes you knew your body needed. I’ve allowed myself 2 weeks of indulging while we are on holidays, but as of next Monday when I go back to work, I want to do all the right things for me and my health – regular gym visits, walking the dog everyday, cutting back on alcohol, eating well and drinking plenty of water. I know it won’t take long before my body thanks me.

  9. Thank you for sharing your story, I lost my thyroid a few years ago to thyroid cancer, I have since then really found it impossible to lose any weight, eat less, exercise more, exercise even more, eat even less…. still nothing on the weight loss front, I did however not feel well…. thyroid levels testing fine, yet I still have the symptoms of someone with an under active thyroid… I have dabbled in following the paleo life style, eliminating grains, eating only non processed foods and have seen some improvement but have found it difficult to maintain as I don’t want to be the social outcast, reading your story I realize now I need to stick with it, I have to make 2014 my health year. Time for me to stop dabbling and start committing. Wishing you excellent health in 2014.

  10. This is a great post. My girlfriend has recommended Cyndi’s diet to me to rectify hormonal issues, odema and heal adrenal fatigue but I have been put off it because it looks so HARD. Maybe I’ll investigate in February as I always participate in Febfast then so it seems like a good time of year to reboot.

  11. My mum suffers thyroid problems and ITP (low blood count) but thankfully I don’t. My motivation came from feeling horrible for a year after my hysterectomy and recurring pain from scar tissue near my bowel. I’ve started losing the weight, following the recipes in a great book (The Hairy Dieters) and now I finally have an appointment at the pain clinic, I’m hoping for a miracle injection so I can start exercising again! I started a blog to record my new eating regime and because the writers of the book are now following me, I have no choice but to continue 🙂 I’m loving it.

  12. Hi Nikki
    Thanks for a great post today. I too live with an auto immune disease,psoriatic arthritis,which some days make me feel as if I’ve been run over by a bus;) Over the last three months I have taken control over my health…listening to my body telling me I have to rest…lost 4kg with 5:2…bought a FITBIT ONE and have walked at least 10,000steps every day. Planning to add more exercise and better food choices in 2014.

  13. Hi,Nikki,can you explain what your thyroid-y day’s are like?I have been diagnosed with low thyroid.The symptoms i have had ive put down to stress and anxiety.Strange how your story popped up on my facebook,because in the new year it will be all about me,my health,exercise,etc.Oh and i love your blogg looking forward to a copy of your book.

    1. Christine, for me (and everyone is different), they are low energy days where it’s like walking my brain and body through a pool of mud. They are days that if I lie down I’ll fall asleep in seconds and sometimes I just do that. Other people get muscle aches.

      1. Thank you for that info,yes i get very fatigued ,my muscles ache,sometimes i get cramps in my legs.Some day’s i just go slow and relax with a long sleep-in.My mantra when i get strange look’s from the family is”the body needed the extra sleep”!!

  14. I LOVE this post and I particularly love how you’re not saying that this is what’s going to work for everyone but that it’s your personal journey because I’ve made the mistake of becoming so absorbed with my journey that I’ve felt ‘preachy’ at times. Last February I started on my own health journey which lead me (and my family) to cut out sugar, introduce green juices, go organic, cut out gluten, cut out dairy, then go paleo, then realise paleo wasn’t working for me, so I reintroduced non gluten grains and a small bit of dairy, and now I’m wondering what I was doing around the 3 month mark that worked so brilliantly that I need to start doing it again. I’m totally committed to finding that sweet spot (for want of a better word) where you have a balance of the ‘right’ things for your body plus the ‘right’ balance of fun. Thanks for sharing your story 🙂

  15. Thank you for this great post Nikki. I don’t suffer from a condition (that I know of…) but I was sick of feeling lethargic and just yuck about 5 weeks ago. From that day I started to exercise each day. It didn’t matter what but I just had to do something. Thursdays are also my yoga day but with two toddlers I’ve been doing Youtube videos etc. It’s made such a difference. I am thinking about the 5:2 diet coming into 2014. My sister has been doing it for some time and has had great results so I think it’s something I need (after having eaten a bowl of ice cream while reading your post, which I really wished I didn’t have..). I like your idea of not weighing in. I will do a start weight but I’m going to try to only weigh once a month (that’s huge for this daily weigher). Well done, you look great and I love your everyday style posts. One day I may just be game enough to post one of my own… Here’s to a great 2014!

    1. I hope you will post your own Kym! And good on you for making a commitment to exercise with two toddlers. It’s not an easy feat. Glad your sister has had good success with 5:2 – it’s definitely a winner for me.

  16. Thanks Nikki for sharing your story. I have recently had to go off gluten due to finding out I have Coeliacs disease. I have also gone dairy free and I have never felt better.
    The brain fog has lifted and I have lost nearly 5 kgs since September.
    It’s still a confusing process and I am slowly working it out.
    I have also suffered from chronic aching pain in my knees, ankles and elbows for years and since giving up gluten and dairy and pretty much all grains the pain has almost gone. I’m 40 next month and my doctor thought I had osteo-arthritis.
    Food plays such an important role in our well-being. I know that if I am to eat a certain food I will probably pay for it the next day. If I eat rice I know I will ache the next day! Go figure!

  17. This is a great read. I also have an under active thyroid but not hashimoto disease. But I still recognise signs and check regularly.

  18. Great post Nikki. I love your story. Like everything you post its so real and relatable. I did my first round of the HCG protocol this year and it has changed my life. Apart from the kg’s I lost, which was fantastic, my energy and the way i feel changed dramatically. Cyndi O’Meara is an angel!

  19. I’m sitting here in Noosa, watching a rerun of biggest loser and thinking of my health goals after this week (on holidays, catching up with friends and enjoying my food and wine). At my request, hubby bought me a fitbit and scales. Just knowing how many steps in the day I am taking and being aware of my sleep really shines a light on things. I will be upping the ante on steps in my day and look forward to reaching my goal of losing 8 kilos in 2014.

  20. Hi Nikki
    Good on you for your lifestyle changes. I give up gluten just during the week and indulge over the weekend. Its amazing how less bloated I feel. I also run 30-40 kms a week, box and do weights. I love exercise. Thanks for sharing your story, love your blog.
    Yvette (The Stylist Splash) xox

  21. Lovely to hear Nikki. I think when we feel and see results that is when we are inclinded to continue with lifestyle changes. We have recently tried to dramatically limit sugar, gluten and packaged foods and concentrate on whole, organic, unprocessed, fresh foods. We feel so much better for it and the change in the younger kids’ behaviour for the better has been fantastic. Here’s to a fantastic 2014 for you Nikki

  22. Lovely to hear Nikki. I think when we feel and see results that is when we are inclinded to continue with lifestyle changes. We have recently tried to dramatically limit sugar, gluten and packaged foods and concentrate on whole, organic, unprocessed, fresh foods. We feel so much better for it and the change in the younger kids’ behaviour for the better has been fantastic. Here’s to a fantastic 2014 for you Nikki

  23. I am so pleased you have found the right formula health wise for you Nikki ,you do look leaner and have lovely skin and I am glad that you are feeling better in yourself that’s what it’s all about I know too well about auto immune diseases and as you know I also had Hashimotos before having my thyroid removed and I was very sick at the time ,skinny tired and had stomach issues I know you will still have bad and good days but I hope that you have more good days than bad now!
    my own health journey is still a learning curve for 20 years I have has problems with my leg,neck and back and bad reflux as well as thyroid problems and now May have been diagnosed with a new thing called RSD it causes inflammation sin the body especially my leg and right hand and arm ,there is no cure but i make sure I eat well ,as raw and clean as I can and I have been making smoothies out of fruit and veggies at least twice a day with coconut water and fruits and herbs,meditation and tai chi and walking in the water are my exercise and I have cut most dairy as I am lactose intolerant and also have a metal allergy to my new knee,but i do have a nana nap same as you when I need it and have learnt to say no to things I can’t handle,hopefully the anti inflammatory auction from the fruits and veg will kick in soon.
    I think you look wonderful and well done Nikki for sticking to your plan x

  24. Hi Nikki, you should get tested for Helicobacter Pylori (it is basically a parasite and can be tested through a stool sample. Speak to your naturopath about it. A friends son had it for years and it was finally discovered after two hospital visits. It can be treated with antibiotics. Also you should get tested for Pyroluria (Beyond good health at Ashgrove can arrange that) Some homework for you know eh? Thanks for yet another interesting post.

  25. It’s so nice that you are feeling fabulous Nikki, after all that’s really what it’s all about. Who cares about the numbers as long as you feel great. I went to a gluten free diet after recommendation from my naturopath a few months ago and it is making a difference for me. I am still having a daily iron supplement and will get that tested again in a couple of months to see how it’s going. I am still struggling with energy levels at times but it is improving. I need to work some more gentle exercise into my routine now too. With two small children at home and a husband who leaves home by 4.30am most days to go run our business it’s difficult to find time to devote to myself. I do need to make it a priority for 2014 and hopefully by this time next year my health will have improved immensely.

    1. It’s so tricky when the kids are little Mindy. I hear you. You will get more time to yourself in time to come but if you can come up with a strategy that maybe involves weekends, that might help. Glad the GF is working for you too.

  26. What is it with under active thyroids? I was diagnosed about 5 years ago and live with 150mcg of Thyroxine daily, (took yonks to get the amount right), and battled with weight loss for four of those five years. Only had success with a combination of low carb and the 5:2 diet, have lost the weight (9kgs) and kept it off for coming up to 12 months. You can really only describe days as being ‘thyroidy’ to another sufferer can’t you? Good luck Nikki, you definitely sound as though you are on the right path for you.
    Cindy F

  27. Thank you Nikki for such a candid and positive account of how you tackled health and lifestyle challenges. Congratulations on finding a schedule that worked for you, for achieving your a major career goal of book production, and all while managing the ‘never to be underestimated’ challenge of work, home and family. A terrific inspiration and motivation for all of us to take the time to reflect, recalibrate and recommit to what is important in our lives. Best wishes for the New Year.

  28. Thank you Nikki for such a candid and positive account of how you tackled health and lifestyle challenges. Congratulations on finding a schedule that worked for you, for achieving your a major career goal of book production, and all while managing the ‘never to be underestimated’ challenge of work, home and family. A terrific inspiration and motivation for all of us to take the time to reflect, recalibrate and recommit to what is important in our lives. Best wishes for the New Year.

  29. Interesting read, I always think you look good Nikki. Last January I took my tired old body into a gym, its a gym just for ladies, and it has served me well. I discovered yoga/stretch class there, I was so nervous at first but now its my fav thing. I discovered I like this class the most, I do cardio also, because I should aha, circuit I am so much a fan of. Later in the year I decided I wanted to lose a few kilos so I have been following a high protein/low carb diet, it has worked well, and now I am slowly bringing some carbs back. I like the balance I have achieved, I have cut alcohol down, but still included, as I do love a glass of wine/champers. Balance, habits and just trying new things are part of why I feel braver, fitter, and healthier than last year, bring on 2014!!!

      1. Thanks Nikki, just reread my post, and realised yes, I am in a better place than last year. However my energy levels are really down at the moment, I was sick before xmas, and its taking me a while to feel better. So your post was a good reminder to listen to my body, especially if this feeling continues, thank you.

  30. I know I’ve posted on your FB page, but I’ve just read the details here. You’re looking stunning and I’m glad you’ve found things that work for you. That’s really the trick isn’t it? While I’ve made a start on my healthy living plan, I need to go harder. I’m off to investigate Changing Habits and have talked with my husband this morning about doing the 5:2 way of eating. He’s agreed so we’re going to get started when we get home. We also need to get off the grog! Straight after new years 😀

  31. I’m upping up the ante in 2014 because, while I’ve lost some inches…my aim at first was to be healthy and keep moving. And I achieved that goal. The inches were a bonus. Then only the other night after I had taken a photo for my datenight that I realised…damn…this was the best my body had ever been and best I’ve ever felt! So my next goal is to tone up. Where food is concerned, I’ve been watching my portions. My problem was dairy. Something I do love but have had issues with. So I’ve curbed that by sort of eliminating it unless it’s something I really love then I take my tablets with it. Congrats on taking control of your health Nikki. We only have one body and I think it’s a great thing when we realise it’s up to us to take charge and put our health first.

  32. In the middle of a CFS crash, so reading through a range of current protocols to see what I can modify (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – A Treatment Guide, 2nd Edition). it’s a bit depressing reading through the first half (multi-system disorder, where the hell do I start, and the brain fog doesn’t help. Will be referring my GP to this!), have skipped the drug protocols and now up to the supplements, which have, in the past, made the biggest difference for me. Just time to re-tune. It is so encouraging to see how well you’re going. And being able to take a nap or rest is critical to managing. So chuffed for you!

    1. I had CFS in my early 20s Erika … only went away when I was pregnant with my eldest son (now 18) … my Hashimotos came on after my second pregnancy about 16 years ago. Good luck with your management plan. It’s a long road.

  33. Wow Nikki you look fantastic! You’re absolutely glowing. I’m glad you have found something that works for you. Healthy living is definitely more about how you feel than look (and I find how you feel about yourself most definitely changes how others see you). I gain weight from excercise too. I’ve had to learn to take it with a grain of salt.

  34. I saw a photo you posted the other day and thought you look so well!
    Congratulations on feeling good!
    I have been doing gym sessions too, though have been sore lately, plus home with my parents, so I have not gone as much as I should have. Will resume soon.
    Love this post!

  35. Hmm… you and I have very similar health issues! Holding weight really is demoralising… Before the end of year craziness (moving house, trip overseas, end of school year) I was doing the ‘fast’ diet too and found it really did work. I have also done the HGC protocol and found it to be fabulous – however, my hormones keep kicking my butt and the weight I lost has almost all come back. For me, I have to exercise to lose weight. My very dodgy ankle and a thyroid and adrenal meltdown have meant I just can’t do much intense exercise. However, after nearly 2 years of allowing my body to rest and my thyroid and adrenal glands to get back on track (thank you natropathics) I am feeling as if I am ready to exercise again. I am a bit excited about that!

    Thank you for sharing. This is fabulous and inspiring. Mwah, B

    1. Hey B … I hear you. I’ve felt more frustrated than demoralised though. Do be careful when starting exercising again that you don’t go too hard – it can set you back again. I learned the hard way. Yoga has been amazing combined with walking and my at-home strengthening exercises. It’s toned me but not caused me to fall over ill. Take care of yourself xx

  36. Nikki you are such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing. I am currently packing up my house (and life) to move from Perth to Darwin with my husband and 2 kids. Feeling fat, unfit and forty (+) after over indulging for too may months, I am determined to make 2014 my year to be the best I can be. I bought the 5:2 book a couple of months ago, but haven’t even opened it yet. I am going to stop the excuses and start living healthier from today. I don’t want to keep putting it off and giving myself reasons why I shouldn’t watch what is going into my mouth. Thank you

    1. Eeek … how awful is packing. I keep stopping to come and answer comments on the blog … any excuse! Good luck with the move, open the book and see if it resonates with you. Don’t be too hard on yourself either … moving is big!

  37. Thank you so much for sharing your formula with us Nikki! I have been eagerly awaiting this post. I have gained quite a lot of weight over 2013 (my fault) and 2014 is to be my turning point. I have an appointment with a Dietician on 7 Jan and am committed to finding the right formula to get me healthy again. I have decided that going gluten free has become a clear need for me. What you have shared is SO very useful to me – in many, many ways. I also have immune issues – an underactive thyroid (brought on from pregnancies) and am on Oroxin, and an Immunoglobulin A deficiency. Like you, I too have some struggles with psoriasis though that is pretty ok at the moment. I also find that vomit inducing exercise does not help me but rather walking and yoga is more my thing. Can’t thank you enough for sharing what you have. I am going to investigate everything! Cheers to a happy, healthy 2014 🙂 x

    1. Getting great advice from a health professional is so worth it Min and do some research about how your autoimmune condition affects it too. Your dietician should understand that and tailor to suit. Walking and yoga plus some strengthening exercises have been a great combo for me. Hope you find what works for you!

  38. Hey Nikki, this is a great discussion. Thanks for sharing your personal regime. It sounds like you have come up with a really good mix of activities and diet. I am a physio working with over 55s and can tell you that while most people fixate on diet as improving their health, exercise is the most critical general factor in maintaining health as we age. Specifically resisted exercise. I am impressed at the Gwinganna 5 essentials. We use resistance training for all of our clients who are aged up to mid 90s.
    Thanks for sharing such a positive message x

  39. I really needed to read this, my health took a battering in 2013. I think the main thing I take from this is to actually be kind to myself and just do what you can. Here’s to a fresh new year.

  40. Ha, back on the 5:2 thing today! Christmas and December have been constant on so many levels. Never feeling hungry and eating often anyway has been one of them. So, why put off til Thursday what you can start today. My other “thing” for the school holidays is to get 10000 steps on the pedometer more often than not. Hope all goes well with your move, I know it will!

    1. Mary, I did a fast day on Friday post-Christmas and it felt so good. Will be tricky this week with kitchen packed up and moving (eating out a lot!) but normal programming next week. That’s what I love about it … so easy to jump back on board.

  41. Thanks for this great information Nicki, I have recently been diagnosed with an under active thyroid but my dr is unsure of the cause yet. She thinks it is an autoimmune issue, no doubt hashimotos, but I’ve been told I just need to wait and see. I’m on thyroxine, but don’t really feel much better. My blood tests say my thyroids stabilised, so the whole situation is very frustrating. I also have been seeing a naturopath and am on lots of vitamins which help, but my head is constantly in a muddle and I feel down about everything. I relate with what you say about exercise as well, as if I try and push myself I’m a dizzy mess. I have noted down what you you’re doing and am excited to give it a try, let’s hope it helps.
    I really enjoy reading your blog, thanks for all the great tips and your obvious hard work.

    1. Oh Ezara, I feel for you … my levels have always been ok (once I started medication) but I’ve never felt completely ok either. I feel better for all of the above but I can still have days where life just sucks it all out of me and you know that we don’t have any extra life to be sucked. Good luck – maybe get a referral to an endocrinologist for the Hashimoto’s diagnosis.

  42. You’re so right – as individuals, we need to find what works best for us because quite often than not, what works for one, won’t work for the other. I find I lose more weight if I just concentrate mainly on my diet, rather than diet and exercise and I find I lose more if I concentrate on diet for the first couple of weeks and then introduce 2 or 3 thirty minute treadmill sessions a week – it just seems to work much better for my body, strange but then we are all different!

    2014 is bringing with it a major lifestyle overhaul for me – I’m determined that it’s the year I regain ME and in order to do that, I have to shed over HALF of me – I know I CAN do it, just like I know it’s going to be bloody hard TO do it!

    Good on you for finding what works for you Nikki and listening to your body and what it needs, I think if we all did that, the world would be a generally healthier place.

    Good luck with your move and new adventure in Brissie! x

    1. I would say that diet is key for me too … then exercise more for mental support. Doing the HCG first above was about that for me as you’re not really encouraged to do exercise while doing it … then I introduced it at a level that I know works for me.

      I know you can do it! It is hard. So hard but finding a solution that works for you and that isn’t a quick fix will ensure you keep on track … well that’s what my aim for 2014 is too x

  43. I’ve just been diagnosed with hashimoto’s. Thanks for the tips and it will help me working out my own health plan. You are looking great.

  44. Just looked up Hashimoto’s – so interesting. I was, perhaps wrongly, diagnosed with CFS 6 years ago, seemed it was severe burn-out instead but anxiety went into overdrive! My whole metabolism changed too – put on 20 kilos in 2 years that I can’t seem to shift, and other symptoms of CFS. I think what you’re doing is marvellous and has inspired me to look at what I do (or do not do) for myself regarding diet/lifestyle changes. Thanks for a positive insight into your life 🙂

    1. What I didn’t put above because I’ve written about it before was that before Hashimotos, I had CFS and before CFS I had a severe bout of glandular fever that I didn’t respect and take time off work to recover from. All my immune system issues can be traced back to that time. Do visit a GP for a thyroid function test – if it comes back underactive then it’s worth asking the Hashimotos question – something probably only an endocrinologist will be able to diagnose. Then it’s time to look at how your lifestyle can support you in the best way possible. Good luck!

      1. Thanks for the advice Nikki – I’ll get a thyroid function test and ask about Hashi’s. 14 years before I went “down” I had bronchial pneumonia and was never the same in energy after that – it’s amazing how just one bout of sickness can cause dysfunction within the body.

  45. Just popping those two books on my wish list! As much as I love my baking I do still keep an eye on sugar content but more importantly what type of sugar and try to keep all “fake” foods away from the house and fam. I’ve also realised over the past years that I need a good bout of sweat and exercise to keep not only my body but more importantly my mind in shape!! We don’t even own a set of scales..silly things really!! It’s definitely all about what works for you and what you enjoy doing….xx

    1. I love baking for the rest of the family and me for special occasions – I think moderation is good and whole/not fake foods is good. Glad you’re with me on the scales bit!!!

  46. Hi Nicki,I also have hashi’s going on 14 years and struggle with my weight and energy levels.I too am resistant to thyroxine ,and have been on the same regime as you for the last two years slowly feeling better . I have to say what an inspiration you are to me as I struggle to find swimmers and clothes to fit , and find myself feeling down at times ,but your blog always makes me feel so much better about myself, because of your positive outlook and to find someone else who understands what its like to live with underactive thyroid symptoms.I love all your pics and advice ,your blog is my favourite !

    1. You need to look at getting hold of NDT or Natural Dessicated Thyroid. Trouble with thyroxine isn’t rare and the long term use can really wreck your body over time. The issue is that it’s synthesised in a lab. NDT contains much more that your body utilises. If you can’t find a doctor who can prescribe NDT (there are plenty in Australia currently) then look at ordering ThyroGold online (Dr Lowe’s creation) and take that. It is perfectly possible to live a healthy full on life without having ‘thyroidy’ days when you have Hashi’s. Bon chance!

        1. Mine and many others. I was on thyroxine for years, overweight, never felt ‘right’. Had those thyroidy days where I was full of symptoms. Was gluten free, exercising, doing everything right…. got a blood test and it showed that my actual uptake of thyroxine was very small. Doctors generally only test TSH results. At best this test is a ‘vague indicator’ of what’s wrong. Hashimoto’s is the most common of ALL thyroid issues, linked perhaps to immune system, too much estrogen, or something else… no-one quite knows yet.

          I found a doctor in Sydney who could provide me with NDT and I thought I had nothing to lose by trying it. Within 6 weeks on it, I successfully ran the City to Surf and then the Sydney half… I lost weight, I didn’t have symptoms and I felt alive for the first time in years.

          All of this has inspired me to take a degree in naturopathic meds and my focus is on thyroid health. Long term use of thyroxine doesn’t suit many many folks. It’s recently been linked to breast and more recently, lung cancer in prolonged use.

          Thyroxine is simply missing the T1 and T2 and T3 aspects that NDT has within it.

          My own personal story is that I lost well over 42kg and now live a totally normal life with NDT. It’s not for everyone, but for someone who still has symptoms, what have you got to lose by trying?

          Good luck Nikki. Good health. x

          1. Thanks so much Belle, your comment prompted me to research today and find a GP who can help me in Brisbane – have found one and have an appointment for Feb 20 (earliest available – taking as a sign that they are good!).

    2. Oh thanks so much Karen – that means a lot. It’s taken me a long time to accept what comes with it all – mine is about 16 years now. I do have my down times too but ditching the scales definitely helped me – I want to FEEL good. Good luck x

  47. Great motivation Nikki, I am about yo start a full time job with a lot of responsibilities. I know from previous experience how draining it can be, so I now need to clean up my act and get my energy back. For me one of the most draining things is Alcohol, it is amazing how much better i feel when I restrict mysel to only drinking two nights on the weekend. I really like your coment to throw out the scales and concentrate on feeling better. Thanks for the pep talk 🙂

    1. It’s amazing how when you take more on work or family wise that you need to take more on health wise. Good luck with your full-time switch – and yes, mostly with alcohol I’m the same.

  48. I have been a regular exerciser for years, but some health issues (still no real answers apart from lactose intolerance!), buying and selling a house and irregular work travel overseas, meant I physically moved away from the group of ladies I had trained with for over 5 years. I have just started at a new gym and am looking forward to getting back to running, training and meeting some new training buddies next year.

    I have been reading a bit about 5:2, and bought a couple of books, but had been concerned it would lead me back to some old food obsession issues. So I love reading the comments here about it having the opposite effect. No excuses now!

    1. I too was worried about the food obsession thing with 5:2 but I find I don’t even count the calories too much. I know roughly what works for me on the fasting days and stick to that – late breakfast of black coffee, half a ruby grapefruit and a boiled egg; then early dinner of 100g protein and green veges. Easy to prepare and I just get on with it. Good luck in getting back to the gym and running in 2014!

  49. Hi Nikki. Thank you for sharing your story – it’s the right words at the right time for me. My husband had to move interstate for work in January (Brisbane to Sydney) 2013, at first coming home only every 6 weeks and now coming home every 2 – 3 weeks. My daughter started high school (grade 8), my son struggled a lot without his dad home every night and I started working – 2 jobs, one of which is incredibly demanding. My days of getting up early, running and attending yoga classes ceased. By October I was exhausted, feeling unfit, unhealthy and unmotivated, so I bought a Vitamix and started making daily green smoothies. This has helped me quite a lot physically (my skin is bright and I have more energy) and mentally (I know I am putting good things into my body). But I’m still feeling unfit and carrying too much weight. Your post is perfect inspiration – I have been toying with completing the HCG program to reboot – now I’ll do it. Changing Habits is a great book as is Michael Moseley’s 5:2 Diet. I will also restart my yoga (it truly is an exercise you can get better at as you get older) and learn to exercise in small bites if I can’t find the big chunks of time. We’re off to my husbands home in Mosman this week, so lots of walks to Balmoral will be a great kickstart to my new year. Congratulations Nikki on your health achievements.

    1. I’m exhausted just reading this Debra. Congrats to you to make some changes and additions already … I think baby steps adding things in one at a time is more likely to be sustained. The 5:2 is what’s going to keep me on track in the long term.

  50. This is great Nikki, thank you for sharing! I’ve been doing the 5:2 diet and blogging about my experiences with it this year – it’s completely changed my life, not just because of weight but because for the first time ever I feel completely free from all the mental junk associated with food and my body. Very happy to keep this with me into 2014! Here’s to a year of great health 🙂

  51. Thank You Nikki… for sorting out all the tips and tricks but more importantly for me how these solutions potentially work with auto immune disease. As a single Mum starting a new business the stress levels have been through the roof!. I was already ignoring the signs and making it worse by eating too many carbs and gluten, which doesn’t work for me – I am intolerant and also don’t react well to any alcohol either 🙁

    My system became even more stressed this year when we moved house – to find the owner knew it had been severely flooded yet re-tenanted it to pay the mortgage until he found a buyer. Everything we owned became contaminated and had to be thrown out or remediated at great expense. The stress increased as my business was put on hold, we had protracted negotiations to get out of the lease, finding more money to move again so quickly. The exposure (even for a matter of months) resulted in my daughter & I becoming infected with chronic mycotoxin mould & bacteria. Even 6 months after moving out, my already weakened immune system is still challenged and most days I struggled to move. I didn’t appreciate that mould could be so debilitating particularly because it wasn’t visible – breeding under carpets, behind walls and cabinetry.

    So, this post is inspiring and has reminded that even little steps will help improve things – that I need to take back control of my health – make it a priority. 2014 WILL be my year. All of the above sites bookmarked and ready to go to get me on my way!

    As for GF bread on of the best I found taste wise (but many not be as healthy as your wholefood option) is by available at Coles & Woolworths

    1. Oh gosh Amanda what a nightmare – every aspect of your life compromising your health. I hadn’t even thought about the mould resulting from flooding like that. I hope you can see through pain and stress you’ve been through to claim back your health!

      1. Thanks Nikki… I definitely feel like 2014 is about turning a huge corner… If I succeed I will keep you posted! Maybe even in a SEXY LBD?.. but then again… wishful thinking! …. I might be past that

    1. Oops I should have that in the post shouldn’t I? It’s about a 30 minute round trip to the beach and back. Doing longer with my husband home and no time constraint … So not much but enough to make a difference.

  52. What a year it’s been for you Nikki. I so admire what you achieve in your everyday – family commitments, blogging, business trips ,book writing. Clearly your health routine is working for you – to have achieved all that and look so radiant in your end of year pic is an inspiration. My health for 2013 has been changing for the better. In May I had an “I want to die right now”‘tummy bug and it took me weeks to regain my appetite. So I decided to turn something awful into something positive and started a weightloss journey that has resulted in my having to replace my entire wardrobe – I know, what a dreadful thing! 🙂 May your good health and blessings continue in 2014.

  53. What an interesting and inspiring story Nikki. Thank you for sharing it and congratulations for looking after yourself and for taking steps to improve your health. You look so well and fabulous and I had no idea of what you have been contending with.
    I am fortunate not to have had any illness in my life but the physical and mental toll of three babies in five years and over three years of breastfeeding (cumulatively) with little respite was very demanding – I was basically pregnant or breastfeeding for 5 years straight.
    After I weaned #3 I committed to getting myself fitter and stronger. I’ve been seeing a Personal Trainer since February, going once or twice a week, and slowly, very slowly I have lost three kilos and gained some muscle tone. I have been surprised at how long it has taken but accept that things change after each baby and I am getting older too. My next goal is to learn to run. The 5km Mother’s Day Classic (or equivalent) is my goal. Best of luck with your health goals in 2014! xxx

  54. Well done Nikki and thanks for sharing such a personal story. The Fast Diet has been the most liberating thing I’ve ever done …I refuse to call it a diet because it’s so easy and painless and I will do it for life. I wasn’t overweight according to the BMI recommendations but was steadily gaining weight and nothing would shift it. I found Weight Watchers depressing, relentless, it made me obsess about food and I lost almost nothing! I’ve lost 8 kgs with The Fast diet but more importantly I feel so much better and my blood tests validate it. I no longer worry about what I am allowed to eat on non fast days and that stubborn middle aged belly fat is gone! Good on you for shrinking, not for how lovely you look but how wonderful you feel. We women are all so busy…anything that allows us to be our best is worth it. Happy new year!

  55. Hi Nicky. Congratulations. Your looking fantastic.
    I have injured my back about 5 years ago now. Undergoing a fusion and other treatments that were supposed to help me. Im on 15 – 20 tablets daily.
    Over this time I have put on weight. I don’t eat much through out the day. 2014 there wil be changes, hopefully good ones.

  56. I sympathise with the restrictions of the commute. I have a long commute too & find it really interferes with exercise goals & plans. I’m glad the new lifestyle is working for you & you’re feeling much better 🙂

  57. Well done Nikki. You look fabulous. I really need to get active. I would really like to go for a walk or a bike ride at 3-4 times a week. I should get active and get moving. Sorry I will rephrase that. I will get active and get moving.x

  58. Great post Nikki. I’ve lost 20kg since the start of 2012. I did it very slow and steady and feel great. Able to cope with so much more physically and mentally now. I walk every morning (up a steep hill) for 30mins to the point where I’m breathing heavy, but its not uncomfortable. I do weights a few days a week for upper body strength and stretches. I eat smaller, healthier portions and I don’t have junk food in the house. Also getting lots of sleep. I’m GF too and have been for years. I’ve dropped from size 16 to size 10 and maintained my weight for a year now. Added bonus – when clothes are on sale there are a lot of size 10s and clothes shopping is a pleasure now. It was all about finding what suited me, my body and my lifestyle and sticking to it. Also a big fan of Michael Mosleys documentaries on SBS (I used his High Intensity Intermittent Training idea initially to get my weight loss happening). Plan for 2014 is to keep doing what I’m doing.

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