My Hashimotos health story update | Styling You | Nikki Parkinson

My Hashimotos health story – an update – November 2017

Nikki Parkinson Health, Life 26 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 read the archive of these posts. I first wrote about my Hashimotos health story back in 2013, when I had a major mental shift in the way I approached my health.

I ditched the scales and changed my “why” when it came to exercising and eating healthily. Hashimotos is a thyroid auto-immune condition and it makes it super difficult to keep your weight in a healthy range, let alone lose weight.

You can read my other health update posts from the past four years, here, here, here, here, here, and (2017) here. If you’re digging into those archive, you’ll see me talking about all manner of things I’ve tried at any given time. Some I’m still doing, some I ditched and things I wasn’t well enough to do back in 2013, I’m now doing. It’s, as they say, a journey. 

During the time of sharing my journey, I’ve had hundreds of requests for details of my Brisbane-based thyroid-specialist GP. He’s a bloody legend and I’d not be where I am today without the partnership we have in my health. If you’d like his details, please email admin@stylingyou.com.au.

My Hashimotos health story update | Styling You | Nikki Parkinson

I’m going to upfront with you. If you’ve come to this post looking for a “secret” or some magic trick that’s been responsible for me feeling the best I’ve felt, health-wise, in a long time, then you’ll be sadly disappointed. 

There is no one thing that I’ve done or changed about my life this year that has helped me have more energy than I’ve known in a very long time. It’s a combination of things – some I’ve been doing for a long time; some I’ve added into the mix this year. 

What I can tell you is that the combination of things (which I’ll run through below) I’m doing, or have done, has worked for me to have my healthiest year since pre-glandular fever days in my early 20s. 

The photo above? On the left, that’s me, post-Christmas holidays and first day back at work early January this year. On the right, that’s me last month. I’m happy within myself in both photos. I just see a much stronger, healthier person in the second photo.

I don’t track my weight or measurements because it can be incredibly de-motivating for a Hashis sufferer. Those stupid numbers can wildly fluctuate from day to day or even in the same day. So, I don’t have any mind-blowing kilogram loss to share with you – or even a centimetre loss. I was a size 16 (probably borderline 18) and now I’m a size 14, which hasn’t changed since I last wrote a health update in April. Obviously, because retail clothing size is so crazily inconsistent, I can now fit everything from a size 10 to 14, depending on the shape of the garment and the brand.

Weight loss is not what this post is about. It’s not what I AM about. I just want to feel the healthiest I can feel. I want to feel strong. I want to wake up (most) days with energy and without the “thyroidy” fog that can take over your mind and body. I’ve lived so many years with that fog that it’s still a surprise not to wake up with it.

10 things that have helped me feel healthier this year

(Some of these have been covered in previous posts. If they’re listed again below, it’s because I’m still doing them!)

1. Meeting with my GP every three months.  This 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. Sadly, the scientific research is correct: drinking alcohol inhibits weight loss. And it’s a shocker for anyone with an auto-immune condition. BAH HUMBUG. I can say that I’m mostly good with this. I’ll admit, post-European holiday, it was difficult to break the cycle again and I know this is the worst time of year to try and keep off the booze – well for me anyway. Lime and sodas in a fancy glass are my mid-week tipple of choice. 

3. Eating three meals a day – no snacks. 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! 

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.

5. Juice Plus JBT program. I started the Juice Plus capsule program 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. 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. It is an extra expense but it’s one that we’ve all found has been justified. Email me if you’d like to know more.

Harlow hot Pilates and yoga

6. I’ve increased the amount I exercise. Signing up for this year’s Sydney Coastrek was one of the best things I could have done. I don’t like to be unprepared for anything so it meant that I did get out there and move my butt so I could actually get through the 30km on the day. As part of that training, I added in one HIIT (high intensity interval training session) at Body Smart, which I still do. Each week, I also do one Reformer Pilates session at Body Smart, an infrared yoga class at Harlow Yoga (infrared saunas are great for auto-immune conditions – it’s a different kind of heat from Bikram) and now I run three sessions a week (see #7 below).

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. What has happened along the way is an injury or three. My physio assures me this is normal for a 50-year-old woman getting seriously into exercise for the first time in her life. Going to Body Smart has allowed me to train through those injuries because the exercise physiologists are trained to help modify their programs to suit. More about that and their open day tomorrow (November 4) HERE.

Body Smart Reformer Pilates

7. I started running. I cannot even believe I just typed those words. 2016 Nikki would never have written those words. The thing is, after all that walking training, I needed a bit more. I also wanted a time-efficient way of ticking off my cardio every week. When I read Gillian’s post on Champagne Cartel following the completion of the Gold Coast half-marathon, I had goosebumps and maybe a little something in my eye. At the time, I was lying in bed in our villa in Croatia and I was contemplating going for a walk/run. I’d already signed up to do 5km in the Bridge To Brisbane event in August so I knew I had to make a start. And start I did. That day on the Island of Vis, I probably ran a total of 30 seconds before walking the next 4km.

Back home, I signed up for the Operation Move learn-to-run program but because it wasn’t starting until mid-August, I knew I couldn’t wait before starting my own running training. So I downloaded the Couch to 5km app and gave it a crack. When the Operation Move program started, I switched to that. Best. Move. Ever. This weekend is the end of the 12-week program. I’ll run 30 minutes without stopping. Yes 30 minutes, not 30 seconds! Each week has been a challenge but the support of the trainers and the group has seen me step up and complete each session. I’ve only missed one session and that was on account of having a keratin treatment in my hair and not being able to get sweaty for 48 hours. Laugh away. I did. 

I don’t have any goals around running a half-marathon (never say never) but I know I want to better my 5km efforts and maybe work towards a 10km run. Baby (running) steps. I have had my podiatrist and physio on speed dial for most of the 12 weeks as my body screams WTAF at me most mornings. I can’t say I love running but I can say, I love the feeling that comes afterwards.

Operation Move Learn to Run program

8. I schedule my exercise in. So if all of the above has got you feeling like you need a little lie down, I don’t blame you. It’s a packed exercise week, that’s for sure. Remember, I didn’t start off doing everything I’ve listed. I’ve gradually built up to this point. Depending on work and family commitments, I’ll mostly have one rest day each week. I sit down each Sunday and map out my training plan for the week and make sure classes are booked. With the exception of the odd Sunday afternoon run by the river, I do most of my training early morning, with my alarm going off between 5-5.30am. This was a killer in winter but now the motivation to get up is easy. By 7am it’s too bloody hot to be doing anything outdoors.

9. 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). I train at Body Smart with my husband. Our youngest son either walks/runs with my husband or I. 

Bridge to Brisbane 2017

10. I’ve had a stronger mental shift in my whole approach to living. My husband cannot believe the change in me. I was the one who would give anything just to stay in bed. I’ve gone from craving that on a daily/weekly basis to craving training if I have to skip a session for some reason. I still have thyroidy days, when a combination of the training and my work and social schedule catch up with me. If I feel that, I stop and I do crawl back under the doona. The best part is there are fewer of those days than before.

As someone who cannot remember what it feels like to feel 100% healthy – I was 23 when a bad bout of glandular fever set me on a health train I not wish upon anyone – I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to create the perfect storm that has given me my healthiest 12 months since 1991.

So tell me, how is your health right now? Have you made any changes of late that have helped you? Got any specific questions for me about any of the above?

Comments 26

  1. Hi Nikki. A belated comment on your fabulous post. Thanks for sharing. I could comment on so much. I agree and echo your desire to be the best version of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. Looking after oneself is a big part of that. So pleased you have a GP who is proactive, holistic and who truly partners with you on your health management. Thanks for all the useful links. I must try the meal boxes with Aussie Farmers. I’m interested in hearing more about the juice plus program if you can share please. Huge congratulations on stepping up to running. Respect! Keep on moving and writing about it ‍♀️

  2. Fantastic to read this update. I first read about your health journey about a year ago…just as I was completely fed up with feeling so unwell and had been referred to a specialist in Melbourne (3 hours away). Thankfully my GP listened to me when I said I was feeling terrible. I was at a low point then and afraid to hope things could be better and your journey gave me hope. Long story short, I too am now feeling my best in years thanks to a great GP and specialist that I check in with regularly. A game changer for me has been taking high dose Vitamin D – my immune system is actually functioning and my mood is so much better. I have energy for my family and I’m kicking goals at work. I’ve been slack on the exercise and alcohol over winter – but your post (and this lovely weather) is inspiring me to put down the Red and get back out there. Thanks for sharing – your story truly gave me hope back then and even now encourages me to believe I can feel even better and stronger.

  3. Thank you Nikki for your open honest account of your health issues.
    I too have an underachiever thyroid and for over 20 years struggled with weight loss. I am a size 16 .
    I think having this horrid problem leads to other issues especially for me as I drink way too much and am seeing a counselor to help me through this journey. I have started swimming, as you said slowly slowly, and plan to work up to Yoga and Pilates.
    It has been great to read other accounts and victories. Thank you Thank you Thank you⭐️

  4. Inspiring Post! So you honestly think JP makes a difference? Or are you selling it? I also take daily as does my familu JP but I feel your post is more about Mental Change, exercise and change in diet. Do you honestly think JP makes that much of an impact?

  5. I really needed to read this at this very moment – thank you!!!!! I’ve suffered with Hashimotos for so long but went my medication as I felt it wasn’t helping and having a family have fought through the fog and fatigue to put them first. I needed this right now – I need to make changes!

  6. How wonderful to read this post. I have watched and read much of what you have been doing since 2011 and this transformation, as you say, is amazing. Your vim and vigour shine!! Loved seeing your IG about your run. Go girl. Life is going well for you as YOU make it happen. D xx

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  7. Thanks so much for the update Nikki. I was finally diagnosed with Hashi’s about 2 1/2 years ago after a couple of mis-diagnoses. Once I started treatment I felt a surge of improvement, but that eventually plateaued and then I felt as if I was going backwards. Other health issues (related to auto immune and Hashis) have cropped up in the last year and the medications to treat those have sent me backwards a good few steps. I did make the change to Gluten free eating and that had a big positive impact on my gut health and inflammation issues. I’ve decided to step away from other Drs/specialists and start from scratch with the Thyroid treatment via my integrative GP. I know there is no one size fits all plan with Hashi’s, but I appreciate you sharing what’s made a big positive impact for you and I’m willing to give it a try. I’ll email you re meds and smoothies (I’m having a daily smoothie but I’m pretty sure it’s too many carbs – almond milk, chia, Greek yogurt, blueberries &/or banana).

  8. Good work Nikki, glad to gear the sensible running advice, start short, run walk and build gradually to give your body time to make the training gains. And if you’re worried about motivation, sign up for a 10k and download a 12-16 week training plan- that’ll get you out of bed!!

  9. I’m turning 50 next month and I’m lucky to be a relatively healthy person with no significant problems. Though lately, I’ve been feeling very tired & after reading your post I’m calling my GP to have some tests. You are right to keep on top of things. Thanks for your inspiration & now I’m off to the gym

  10. Happy Friday, such a lovely positive read. Exercise is a huge save, I’ve had Graves since 2016, radiation therapy sorted this, now unfortunately have Graves Opthamology, slowly being being treated. My good news is have an Endo I trust, sorted my Thyroxine dosage, feel relatively normal! Probably have another 6 – 12 mths of the eye issues, before it burns itself out. Reward at the end will be a holiday to some of these lovely places you’ve been checking out, keep up the good work girl!

  11. Hi Nikki
    Great to read your post. I also have an auto immune disease called ulcerative colitis. Meds have made that ok but the side effects of the disease see me with fatigue and incredibly sore joints. Finally saw a naturopath and I have the biological age of a 75 year old and I am only 50!! It takes a lot to do exercise in the morning and I am tired now, (normally doze off on the train to work) but reading your story is motivational. I notice you make smoothies not juice. Any reason for that? I am off gluten, dairy and sugar and hope that with food and supplements I can feel my chronological age again. Keep up the good work. You look fantastic but as you say it is more about how you feel.

  12. Hi Nikki,
    I have followed your journey for a few years now, and have enjoyed your catch up article. You are such an inspiration to us all. Congratulations on keeping to your plan..as I have said many times, you are amazing and look the picture of good health.
    I have Cardio Myopathy..several operations and a de-fibrillator/pacemaker later, I am still being fine tuned and my prognosis is so so; however by following your journey I have the motivation and will to start with the small steps to lead a healthy and positive life. I think I am succeeding. Love and blessings
    Nola x

  13. I saw you on insta last pm.. I am 59 . And have gained a huge amount of weight with menopause a serious back injury and a full time uni students sedentary lifestyle. You are similar size etc to me. I have decided AGAIN to start . What meals do you order? Thanks for keeping it real. Makes us all feel we have hope. X

  14. Nikki. Your post couldn’t have come at a better time. I have an appt with my endocrinologist and a new GP to look at the NDT meds. I’ve been hardly able to get out of bed the last 8 weeks. My current GP wants me to see a Psychiatrist told him maybe he should stay at my house for a week and he can go see the Psych. You are an inspiration and today is going to be the start of a new way of doing things at 53. I’ve already order my meals starting next week and am actually looking forward to eating properly. Thankyou so much for posting this today of all days as it’s given my hope. Love you work and your style.

  15. Nikki you do look amazing (those arm muscles ) but I know from personal experience that the greatest benefit is how exercise makes one feel mentally and emotionally. We have stepped up our walking this year despite my nasty scoliosis. I have been supported in that by Rowan (of course) but also by a great myotherapist. We also use the Clever Guts guidelines, although not rigidly, and that has helped too. As you say baby steps but one must take those first steps. I’m off for a walk now

  16. Hi Nikki – amazing efforts are paying off. You look (and sound) so strong and positive. I have just given up the grog for good and have my first PT session at the gym this morning. Stopping drinking has been incredible! It’s lessened my anxiety and given me space to be more positive. Thanks for sharing your energy with us 🙂

  17. Thank you for sharing Nikki, it resonated with me so much! I have PCOS and am 15 months Post Op from gastric sleeve, 6 months from major shoulder surgery and ready to take on the world now I tried JP and loved it however still felt something was missing. A nursing friend sent me a sample of Thrive and OMG I feel amazing 3 months in 2 tablets, a shake and a slow release multi vitamin patch and I set for the day!!! We all certainly need something extra these days thank you for sharing your journey I love following it happy Friday

  18. You look amazing Nikki and your hard work and diet have paid off and it shows,you glow!
    My thyroid meds have been out of whack for a very long time I have just found out as I had hashimotos and a multi nodular goitre that was threatening to cut off my breathing I had to have a complete thyroidectomy when I wa 35.This has caused no end of problems some little and some big,I have to take a calcium supplement and since my lovely GP passed away last year I’ve been on the hunt for a new one,I can finally say I’ve found an awesome one who cares about my thyroid levels and the rest of me as well.It is slow going but I’m hoping my next blood test shows an improvement.Well done Nikki for being the best version of you Xx

  19. In the past two weeks I’ve suddenly found I’m finally capable of increasing how much I walk each day. And it might make me a bit tired, but it’s not the all consuming fatigue from the past year. It’s just “hey I walked a lot” tired. It’s such a strange transition, but it’s so good to have energy again.

  20. Hi Nikki, you look great, and so healthy. Not that you didn’t look great before. There’s no better feeling than ‘motivated, healthy and energised’ is there? For me, eating a lot of vegetables always makes me feel good. About to make myself an omelette with fresh asparagus for brekkie, loving it’s in season and so cheap atm! Happy Friday! x

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