8 changes I've made to improve my Hashimotos | Nikki Parkinson | Styling You

My Hashimotos health story – an update

Nikki Parkinson Health 72 Comments

Editor’s note: This post is not meant as medical advice – please see your health care professional/s and work together on a plan that works for you. If you’re new to the blog then you can catch up on my health story hereherehereherehere and here. If you’d like details of my Brisbane-based thyroid-specialist GP, please email admin@stylingyou.com.au.

Losing weight – or preventing weight gain – has been one of the biggest struggles I’ve had while living with Hashimotos for the past 19 or so years.

Yes, the brain fog, numbing tiredness and hair loss haven’t been a barrel of laughs either but it’s the weight thing that has been a constant battle.

I’m not here to tell you that I’ve won that battle but I’m here to share with you where I’m at with it.

I’ve lost weight. That I know. If you’re looking for a kilogram or centimetre loss report, I don’t have one for you. 

I long ago ditched the scales. If you live with an auto-immune condition then it can be a depressing, de-motivating thing to base your achievement on the number on the scales. I can put on 3kg in 24 hours for no rhyme or reason. Who wants that D- report card flashing back at them when they know they’ve eaten well and exercised during that period? Certainly not me.

I’ve previously tracked my centimetres but simply forgot to do so this time. I say “this time” because this isn’t my first attempt to lose weight, flying in the face of my dodgy thyroid and mucked-up hormonal system. 

What I do know is that I’ve gone done one size in my jeans and two sizes in my activewear tights. I’m feeling incredibly strong. And I’ve got more energy (despite an intensely busy first quarter in my business).

So what have I changed in my lifestyle to achieve this result? There has been no quick fix or magic potion but the combination of the eight things that I’ve done below has brought about the change I’ve engineered to date.

8 changes I've made to improve my Hashimotos | Nikki Parkinson | Styling You
UNIQLO AIRism top | Active Truth smart pocket tights

8 changes I’ve made to improve my Hashimotos

1. Meeting with my GP every three months.  This is not so much of a change but something that has been crucial over the past three years to get me to this point of wellness. Every three months I have an extensive blood test. My thyroid levels are tracking well (I’m on regular medication – compounded Natural Desiccated Thyroid extract that includes T3, T4) but my protein and iron levels are not always where they should be. The regular blood tests keep me on track with the correct supplements needed to support these deficiencies and my thyroid function. Importantly, my GP wants me to feel the best I can feel. If you don’t get that level of understanding from your health practitioner, I urge you to get a second opinion. As women, we put up with too many vague symptoms in our daily life. We shouldn’t have to. If you’re not feeling great every day, find someone who will support you to change that.

2. Ditching alcohol during the week. It’s no secret that I love a wine/Champagne or three. Or an espresso martini. I’m an absolute shocker over the pre-Christmas and New Year/holiday season. Every night feels like a Champagne moment. BECAUSE. After our summer beach break in January, I put a stop to the every night situation. It had become a temporary, very bad habit. Within three weeks, I actually craved the lime and soda I’d been fancy-ing up every night to break the wine urges. Sadly, the scientific research is correct: drinking alcohol inhibits weight loss. BAH HUMBUG.

3. Eating three meals a day – no snacks. I’d embraced the 5:2 way of eating for a couple of years and just felt I needed to change things up. I was bored. I felt deprived – hangry – on those “2” days. I discovered the concept of just eating “three meals a day” from Susan Thompson. I haven’t done Susan’s course but her ideas made sense to me. And I got the green light from my GP. I’ve long ditched the gluten (a red-light food for anyone with an auto-immune condition) and we eat predominantly non-processed, whole foods. That hasn’t changed. My sticking to three, small (low carb, protein-filled) meals of days has suited my lifestyle and I’ve not been hungry – or hangry! 

Protein Bread Company | lunch | Styling You
Lunch example: Protein Bread (enter stylingyou at checkout to save 10%) toasted and topped with grilled eggplant; shredded chicken, greens and yoghurt dressing

4. Healthy week-night dinners are a no-brainer. We’ve been ordering the WW Fresh boxes from Aussie Farmers Direct since last September. Not only do I not have to think about the “what’s for dinner?” question, menu plan and buy ingredients, I know what we serve up every night is healthy. We eat a greater variety of meals, way more vegetables, save money on our weekly grocery shop and most meals are on the table in 30 minutes. I sub out any gluten products with gluten-free and, if we have more people over for dinner, I buy more of the protein.

WW Freshbox at Aussie Farmers Direct

WW Freshbox at Aussie Farmers Direct

5. Juice Plus JBT program. I started the Juice Plus capsule program (I’m not selling it but if you email me I can put you in touch with my distributor) and my family has also seen the benefits in extra energy from this program. We also don’t crave sweet stuff – we crave more of the good stuff. I’m friends with my distributor and I saw her talking up the benefits (and living them!) for about 12 months before I bit the bullet and signed up. Mr SY and my youngest has also been taking these whole food capsules – and we’ve been making daily protein smoothies, adding in fruit, chia seeds, greens and whatever takes our fancy. For me, the smoothies substitute out either breakfast or lunch. That convenience is key for me.

JBT smoothie
Juice Plus JBT smoothie

6. I’ve increased the amount I exercise. Late last year I started walking more in preparation for this year’s Sydney Coastrek but I ramped that up even more at the start of this year, adding in one HIIT (high intensity interval training session) at Body Smart and one longer walk each week. This is on top of the one Pilates reformer session (also at Body Smart), one yoga class and two 5km walks I was already doing. Increasing my weekly exercise routine was not something I approached lightly. With any auto-immune condition, exercising too much can set you back health-wise. I’ve found this out the hard way in the past and this time around I was determined to make it happen with baby steps, gradually building up to the training I’m doing now. This has ensured that I’ve not fallen (flu-like) sick along the way.

Body Smart Exercise Physiology training
Body Smart Exercise Physiology training

7. I got the whole family on board. We don’t do separate meals in our house. What I eat, everyone eats. My husband and youngest son are also on JBT with me (my son’s supply is free). Now that my team training for Coastrek is done, I’m training weekly at Body Smart with my husband and, on a Sunday, we all do an 8-10km walk together. The youngest wasn’t too keen at the start but he now goes along with it. Mr SY has joined me on the week-day alcohol ban. Having my family on the same page has made a huge difference to making this a sustainable approach to healthy living.

Family walks Brisbane City

8. I’ve had a stronger mental shift in my whole approach to living. I’ve gone from craving sleep-ins and avoiding any exercise to planning activities that involve exercise. I not only pack activewear for when I’m travelling, I USE it. I’ve signed up for the Mother’s Day Classic and Bridge to Brisbane events … as a fun thing to do. I’m in love with FEELING strong and fit. WHO AM I?

Who I am is a nearly 50-year-old who believes this short life is for living. I don’t plan changing any of the above any time soon. My health journey in recent years has all been about making small changes and being supported to feel the best I can EVERY day. 

So tell me, how is your health right now? Have you made any changes of late that have helped you?

  • Monica

    Hey Nikki – having just turned 50 myself I thought it was a good reason to reevaluate my eating, exercise and sleeping patterns. I suffered from adrenal fatigue 18 months and it has taken quite a while to get back on track. At times I thought I was fine only to come crushing big time. Thanks to my naturopath and reading Jessica Sepel Living a Healthy Life, I have a stack more energy and sleeping like a baby! I try to stick to a non processed food, gluten free diet, walk each day and do light weights, turn off eletronic mod cons at 8:30 pm and have a positive mantra each day. 50 is going to be fab xx

    • I’m so glad that you’ve found that formula that works for you, Monica! Cheers to 50! x

  • Nola Maddison

    Hi Nikki – thanks for your awesome blog post. I work full time and have a 2 year old so exercise and healthy eating can be hard!! 🙁 I’ve decided I can’t do it all and have arranged for a WW freshbox. Hopefully this will get me in the right direction into losing weight and regaining my confidence and fitting back into my clothes. Thanks for sharing your journey. You look fantastic! 🙂 xxx

  • Congrats on the weightloss and learning how to live your best life with your illness. I have Endometriosis, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction and it’s always a challenge finding the right balance of everything. Keep fighting the good fight!

  • I had two thyroid nodules for several years and was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s some time ago. Before that I was on thyroxine off and on but once they decided I had Hashimoto’s they stopped that, as my body would try to over-correct. I’ve found that losing weight, eating healthily and cutting out the alcohol and as much gluten as possible helped a lot. Funnily enough, a few scans ago my nodules had disappeared and my thyroid levels are within the normal range. I’d love to try the JC program as I don’t eat a lot and get a lot of vitamin deficiencies.

  • sammy mahler

    Thanks Nikki this is just what I needed.I too am struggling with Hashimotos and have been in a real “lull” with regards to energy and motivation. After reading your post it has lifted me to work on myself and get my mojo back! Well done keep it up x

  • Tracy S.

    Thanks so much for sharing your journey Nikki. This resonates with so many of us and also have loved sharing this with more of my customers so thank you. Keep smashing those goals. xo

  • Sherri Smith

    Hi Nikki and everyone commenting here, it’s great to read the feedback and ideas for health 🙂 I’ve just started a journey with Happy Hormones – just google the website for more info. It’s a supportive group and is helping thousands of women in their health journey. Not only does it look at hormone health but thyroid and liver and gut function to name a couple of areas. I highly recommend checking it out ! I’ve been following the amazing progress women are making and have jumped on board to give it a go ! Cheers ! And well done Nikki for never giving up on your health journey !

  • Lesley Hughes

    The quote “Life wasn’t meant to be easy, but my dear the ride can be fantastic” applies for girls like us. My husband was diagnosed as Coeliac and l am now on the gluten free. My gut knew all along I should be doing this. The big thing is ALCOHOL. I am doing mineral water and a twist of citrus. I am strong but never thought it would be so easy. I love a wine but not my gut. I am off to Italy next week so will do a little pasta but not the wine. I am sure I will find some wonderful alternatives. Yes we must be responsible for our own health and educating ourselves along the way. We are ultimately the only one responsible. Good luck.

    • YAY for Italy … I actually loved eating all the non-pasta/pizza options when there last. So fresh and tasty. And yes ultimately we are the only ones responsible!

    • Blythe

      We’re just back from Italy, and I enjoyed the beautiful soups and salads. Delicious – have fun!

    • Lesley Hughes

      Thanks to the link to Susan Thompson. Very interesting. Goodbye pasta!

  • Anne Brook

    Hi Nikki – in regards to the WW Fresh Boxes, do you find they are sufficient for your family? We are also a family of 3 (2 adults and a 13 yr old son) and have previously discounted the fresh boxes as they came only in 2 or 4 person variation. Which size box do you find suits your family?
    I’d love to have 3 healthy meals a week not to have to worry about

    • Donna Lovelock

      I’ve been using the WW Freshboxes for almost a year now. I find that they feed our family of 4 (2 adults and 2 hungry teenage boys!) easily. However I’m aware that my boys are growing and their needs are increasing. Luckily Aussie Farmers direct now offer an extra protein pack that you can in along with the Freshbox. Nothing like extra protein to make those meals go further. I suggest you have a look at the Aussie Farmers website and give it a go.

    • We are two adults and one nearly 12YO and get the box for 4 because my husband takes the fourth portion as leftovers to work so it works out well. Like Donna below, I’ll order the extra protein pack if I know we have more coming to dinner (my adult come over some times).

  • Vicki M

    You look fit, healthy and strong, Nikki! So glad you are feeling as good as you look! x

  • Robyn Sherrie

    Having just read all the comments below it’s heartening to hear how the SY community are being inspired and motivated by your regular health updates Nikki. As an ai disorder (Hashimotos and Lupus) sufferer myself I appreciate the importance of being vigilant about my health and it’s wonderful to hear about the changes you’ve made and positive results you’re achieving. Thanks for this great post!

    • Robyn, this community is awesome on so many levels and this is just one of them. If I can inspire even one lady to not put up with not feeling well, I’ve done my job. Hope you’re feeling the best you can too x

  • Kelly

    Good on ya Nikki. It can be such a struggle, with many hits and misses along the way, when living with an autoimmune disease. Having a great support network is key – health practitioners, supplements, diet and exercise, all working in harmony with each other. I am 50 years old and have Lupus SLE and Sjrogen’s Syndrome but have yet to find an understanding and caring professional to help me medically. I can not for the life of me find anyone willing to give me vitamin injections, which I have had in the past, which seemed to help. If you don’t mind, could you please suggest some Doctors/GP’s or Health Professionals which may assist in my wellbeing journey? I live in the Moreton Bay region, south-east Queensland, could your Doctor recommend someone up my way? Thanks again and I’m glad you are in a good space and may you continue to flourish.

    • Hi Kelly, pop me an email admin@stylingyou.com.au and we’ll share our GP – it might be worth the drive if you can come into Brisbane. Also Google “thyroid specialist GP” … that’s how I found mine.

  • Jane Sullivan

    I’ve pretty much ditched sugar and coffee (I allow myself one if out shopping!) I hardly drink anymore and am careful about always having twice as much veggies to meat on my plate. Sadly, I haven’t started any exercise program yet, but have lost over 4kgs in the past 4 weeks. I’m pretty happy to be wearing clothes I had pegged for the op shop just 3 months ago.

    • You’re doing so well Jane! Exercise is about 20%; diet 80% so if you get that sorted you’re so on the right path. x

  • You’re such an inspiration… I am determined to find my mojo soon, it’s taking a lot longer than I thought it would. I’m trying to make 2017 be my ‘no more excuses’ year! Congrats on taking the power back – and here’s to feeling strong! x

  • Deborah Strachan

    Hello Nikki, thanks for another interesting blog, which in part I was thinking I was reading my own past 30years+ as a Hashimotos sufferer and how difficult it makes day to day life. I too have recently joined (re-joined) WW for the 3rd time or hang on is it 4 hahaha! in the never ending quest to at best eat n feel healthier with the bonus weight loss. Also a concerted effort to go the reduced alcohol 🙁 way, 5 of 7 days substiting with soda water with lime or lemon and although it’s early days the difference I feel already is quite amazing.
    Your plan is obviously working for you, your looking fantastic so continued good luck to you and ‘thank you’ again for SY.

    • Oh Deborah … it is a struggle. Glad to hear you’re making some changes that are working for you. The alcohol thing is hard but the habit can be broken. x

  • Kerrie Carucci

    Incredible Nikki! Love your work! You are looking amazing!

  • Rebecca Doncon

    I found these fantastic all natural supplements from Plexus Worldwide (the health & wellness company) I feel so good now, my body is balanced from the inside out! #gamechanger

  • cilosophy.blogspot.com

    I have just joined a healthy eating program with a fellow by the name of Jordan Lark. I used to think I ate well but now I am actually eating well (alllll the vegetables and no alcohol during the week) I realise how wrong I was.

    • There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to healthy eating that’s for sure. Different aims, different gains/losses. Good luck with it x

  • Cheekie

    Yes strength is where it’s at, esp with nearing 50 and menopause.
    You look fabulous.
    I am volunteering for Coastrek in May then doing it next year (after I read of your adventure)
    PT once a week, 5-10 km walks 3-4 times a week and I’m looking to going back to a class like pilates or yoga, I read about a ropes yoga class which sounded cool !
    Love your advice

    • Cheekie

      Stay well and strong
      CC xx

      • Thanks Cheekie! And go you … that’s awesome what you’re doing. I haven’t tried the ropes yoga but think I’d like it. x

  • Judi Heffernan

    I’ve been noticing lately just how great you’re looking and have realised that it’s your glow and vitality! Well done Nikki, you’re an inspiration.

  • Mags

    Well done Nikki and thank you for sharing your health story with us. This time last year I decided to start making healthier food choices and get some regular exercise. One year on, I’ve lost a dress size but most importantly I improved my health and fitness and will continue to now lead this lifestyle. I’m very proud of myself for sticking with it and staying motivated. Good luck to all other ladies attempting the same, you can do it! 🙂

    • That’s awesome Mags … small steps over a long time make a changed lifestyle. x

  • Erika

    I have both fibro and ME/CFS, so definitely get the “it’s an answer even if there’s no cure”, although the fibro is a relatively new diagnosis for me. Eating organic as much as possible and reducing the chemical load around you helps. One of the best things to do is the self-management course that most state societies run. It’s based on Dr Bruce Campbell’s book Managing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia: A Seven-Part Plan.

    And, hooray, the pain means there’s a whole new challenge to dressing (thank the gods for leggings and tunics) 🙂

  • Tanya

    Congratulations Nikki, you really are looking fabulous! I also have an auto-immune disease so am facing the same challenge with weight gain – I will try to incorporate some of your guidelines for myself but no wine during the week will be difficult haha

  • Dana Paxton

    Well done Nikki! I’ve noticed a real vibrance in your photos – your eyes look clearer. As my naturopath says, whiter eyes is a sign that your health is improving. You’re clearly on the right path. As someone who also has autoimmune, I know the daily ups and downs. Thank you for sharing your story. All the best for your continued good health and happiness.

    • Thanks so much Dana … yes the eyes do not lie. And yes, there are ups and downs every day/week/month. It’s not fun xx

  • Kathryn

    Hi Nikki, Kathryn here, I always use my fathers photo on Anzac Day and it hasn’t been updated yet! You look amazing, I have noticed your weight loss, especially your legs. And you are glowing. I enjoy reading your health updates too. I am making changes, lost 5kgs and many cms. My main issue is my tummy, which may or may not be a wine belly, so less wine has been a big one. Menopause makes the metabolism slow down too. I am doing Weight Watchers, which I know is not for everyone but I like the whole tracking thing. My GP is awesome, he thinks outside the square and is always helpful. My partner has lost weight too, he is eating the same as me, only bigger portions. Perfect weather to get outside and walk isn’t it! x

    • Sounds like you’re doing great things for you Kathryn! Weight Watchers is a great thing – I’m actually a lifetimer (from a very long time ago). I didn’t work for me while I didn’t have my thyroid stuff under control. I do love the WW fresh boxes though. You might find them helpful too. x

  • Mara Pritchard

    Congratulations not just on the weight loss, which is noticeable and does look terrific by the way, but on the whole get fitter / feel better / live the best life you can shift. It isn’t always easy but life is short and how we embrace our days is entirely down to us. Well done you!

    • Thanks Mara, yes that mental shift has been with me for a few years now. Coincided with ditching the sales. Honestly the best thing I’ve ever done.

  • Bree Dixon

    I have been eating mostly Paleo the last two years which has seen a drop in a couple of dress sizes, and about 16 kg in weight. I walk the dogs every day from 2 -7 km. I go to Tai Chi once a week and walk in the poo for an hourl at least once a week. I too am on NDT and I think that has helped. I see my GP every 2-3 months along with the clinics I attend at the Alfred Hospital for my other rare diseases. My weight has stalled so I am looking at doing Keto for about 4 weeks to kickstart it back again. I am going overseas in August this year and want to remove at least another 5 kg.

    • Wow Bree, you’ve done so well! Great combination of exercise and food. Hope you get to your goal x

      • Bree Dixon

        Thank you Niki , I think you look great and you have also achieved a lot xx

  • merilyn

    well done nikki!
    you look and sound amazing!
    I do everything to help myself, but there is still something they can’t put their finger on,
    which is causing inflammation! I am a dog with a bone too and it is very frustrating!
    i’m feeling ok now!
    love uniqulo tees!
    look after yourself and have a good day lovely!
    much love m:)X

    • Be that dog with a bone M … it’s the only way. Hope you get an answer soon. x

  • Jenni from styling curvy

    You are looking freakin amazing! I’ve noticed not just how trim you are but vibrant. We are on a similar path, my meds do all sorts of shit things to my body and 2 months ago I said ‘enough’. I now see a trainer one on one twice a week, ride my bike (I bought a bike!) once a week and walk twice a week. I’ve also got to watch ‘overdoing’ it but so far I’m doing well. Feeling stronger is a powerful feeling.

    • That’s just awesome Jen … that strong feeling is the best! Thank you x

  • What a journey you have been on, with great results. Congratulations on sticking to the plan and bringing the family along with you x

    • Yes, the husband is loving it. The almost-12-year-old under sufferance but reluctantly enjoying now, I think!

  • Congratulations Nikki. Love your approach! x

  • Suzie

    You must be one of the busiest bloggers around and your energy is certainly contagious to everyone who follows you around the various social media channels. Inspirational Nikki, you glow!

    • Thanks Suzie … some days it’s still a fake it, till I make up situation but I’ve lived with that so long now, it just is what it is.

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    Thank you for sharing Nikki,you are looking amazing and I’m glad you feel great too Xx

  • Bonnie

    Good for you Nikki !!! I also discovered similar routines leading into the big 50. I have two amazing girlfriends, one convinced me to try HIIT training which I now do twice a week, and the other girlfriend and I walk 9km every Sunday morning. We use an app called Map my Walk which is a fun way to keep a running tally of how many kms you’ve clocked up. Adding some charity walks during the year is a great way to practice gratitude for being healthy and raise money for those suffering. The Sunday morning routine is great because it makes you re-assess your Saturday night activities (!) knowing that you are committed to an early start the next morning. I’ve also added in a weekly yoga class . All of the above has made me stronger, more focused and energised. My nutrition isn’t too bad but could be more organised, so I’m going to look into the suggestions you have described in your post. Thanks !!

    • Oh Bonnie, that is just awesome. Your training is made all the easier with your girlfriends’ support. And agree re the charity walks. Coastrek was awesome and I’m signed up for smaller ones now but will do a longer one again next year.

  • Lauren Roney

    Well done lovely, it’s not about the numbers but about how you feel and seriously you are glowing with happiness xxx

    • The numbers are never on my side Lauren but I want that feeling and the glow! thanks x

  • kp

    A great read Nikki, thanks for sharing, making a shift has been in the back of my mind for a while now, it’s time to pop it front and centre, k

    • It’s hard for me to keep it there but that’s where it has to be! Good luck.

      • Carol

        Well done Nikki, youre an inspiration to all.
        I do pilates 2x week and walk 3 km 2x week as its very hilly where i am. Its all i can manage with 3 autoimmunes and severe osteoporosis. I dont drink alcohol at all, eat all fresh foods, gluten free diet, and do things to stay as mentally alert as I can. Unfortunately my GP is bound by practice rules and doesnt see autoimmunes as needing to be monitored so im in the market for another at present despite the fact i like her lots. Managed practice and they do as they are directed. Well fone for all your achievenents.