How To Stay Fit and Have A Healthy Thyroid
Was your goal to lose weight this year but nothing seems to be working? Today, I’m going to be talking about fitness and the thyroid. But first, a little groundwork on the thyroid, adrenals, stress and exercise.
Can you answer yes to any of these questions?
- Are you having trouble losing weight?
- Does your metabolism seem slow?
- Have you gained weight without an explanation?
- Working out daily and still can’t seem to lose the pounds?
There is probably a pretty good chance that at some point in your life you’ve experienced one or maybe all four of these problems. The common denominator of them all is a little, but very important part of your wonderful, God-made-body that is called your thyroid.
Your thyroid plays a big role in your health and wellness! The thyroid (located near Adam’s apple) is a closely connected with adrenal glands (located just above your kidneys). These glands affect your hormones, metabolism, and of course weight. And when we exercise on overstressed adrenals, health problems occur.
Think of the thyroid and adrenals as a gas pedal and battery in a car. The thyroid is the gas pedal and the adrenals glands are the battery. You need both to drive a car and you need both to have a balanced, healthy body!
“Fight or flight.”
These two words are crucial to understanding how to workout smarter and more effectively. Exercising is fantastic but when the body is overstressed at a biochemical level, our fight or flight sympathetic nervous system kicks in.
Years ago, fight and flight mean literally not getting eaten by a tiger (flight) and fighting for your life. Today, ‘fight’ and ‘flight’ take on different meanings.
- We have chronic stress that builds up over time and stays with us (i.e. emotional issues from childhood).
- We have nutritional stress (instead of real food, we have the Standard American Diet).
- And the one we’re going to talk about today, physical & biomechanical stress (exercise).
All these different kinds of stress affect many areas of our body, including the ever-important thyroid. Because the thyroid and adrenals work very closely together, when they are off, everything is off.
Working out is fantastic, but if you have any of the above-mentioned symptoms…
Here are 4 ways to stay fit and take care of your adrenals and, at the same time, heal any thyroid symptoms you may be having.
#1. Work out smarter, not harder.
One of the best things you can do to help repair an overstressed thyroid system is to workout smarter, not harder. A friend of mine explains it this way: “Work in, not work out.”
By working in (i.e. gentle, easy walks) instead of intense workouts (long runs, CrossFit) the body has time to heal and repair. The goal of working out smarter is to have low-impact stress on the body.
Running (as one example) is great, but if your body is in the fight or flight mode stage, running will only exasperate the stress and keep the weight on. By switching your workout routine to gentle exercise, the body will begin to recover and your jeans will begin to fit again. If you are a Type A person, then switching to gentle forms of exercise is probably going to be a difficult change to make! But having a healthy thyroid and adrenals is so worth it.
#2. Less is more.
When the body is stressed, remember it needs extra special kindness. So while a run might be seem like a brilliant idea, if you are dealing with any of the previously mentioned stresses (nutrition, emotional, physical, biomechanical), then running is not the best option. Bummer, I know! Instead, switch out that run for a yoga class, a gentle walk with a friend, swimming or even deep water running. These kinds of exercises still allow you to get your sweat on but without sacrificing your thyroid health, which is crucial to repairing your adrenal wellness.
#3. Boost your metabolism by changing your workout routine.
If you don’t believe you are in the ‘flight’ or ‘fight’ mode, then this section is for you.
Your metabolism is conditioned to do the same workout after workout. If you’ve done the same workout for the last 20 years, then it’s time to switch it up! Some healthy routines are great, but it is good to mix up your fitness routines so your body doesn’t become stuck on a plateau. By changing and varying your workouts, you’ll not only gain strength, but you’ll find your areas of weakness so you can be in the best physical strength of your life!
Don’t know where to begin? Here are some sample workout ideas to try!
A) Strength workout.
- 5 pushups on your knees. Be sure you don’t drop your head. A good rule of thumb is to look a few inches in front.
- 5 lunges (keep front knee directly over ankle, not toes)
- Followed by 5 tricep dips, 5 air squats, and 5 jumping jacks.
- Repeat 5 times.
If you have been strength training for sometime, then switch it up. Always do 12 bicep curls? Go for supersets (no rest) of bicep curls.
For example, with a set of weights (anywhere from 5lbs to 20lbs) do 10 bicep curls followed by 10 hammer curls followed by 10 in and outs (palms up, holding weights, arms are at tabletop level, move weights to the left and right at same time for 10). Take a short rest of 30 seconds and repeat up to 3 times.
If you run the same route, the same pace, the same distance, then not only will you be more prone to injury but also under/over developed muscles. To be a stronger and versatile runner, vary your runs. Add in some longer distances, hill climbs, hill repeats, tempo and speed running workouts. These different kinds of running interval training will kick-start your metabolism and give you a strong, healthy body at the same time!
C) Group exercise classes.
If you belong to a gym, then take advantage of the classes they have to offer! Not only is working out with other people fun (and you’ll make new friends!), but you’ll also learn new exercises and be challenged positively to take your fitness to a whole new level.
Doing the same workout day in and day out, eventually puts your body in a metabolism rut. Fitness is being able to do many different things, not just one thing.
You don’t have to do everything at once, but make it a goal to be well-rounded in your fitness.
D) Les Mills.
One of the reasons I love Les Mills programs so much is that the format changes every three months so your muscles never get complacent. I personally love Les Mills’ BodyPump (weight/strength training) and CXWORX (core) programs. In a 1 hour BodyPump class you’ll perform around 700 reps. It works all areas of the body from squats to biceps, to triceps to back and shoulder and to abs to lunges. This weight training class will keep your heart rate up and make the sweat flow!
Another personal favorite of mine is the TRX training system. If you have space in your home, then this would be a great fitness investment. Some gyms have TRX classes or have the TRX system available for all to use. This seemingly simple piece of equipment will challenge all abilities. Try plank with knee tucks and you’ll see what I’m talking about. 🙂
#4. Know when to back off.
If you are constantly living life in the fast lane and exercising on top of chronic stress, then it is only a matter of time until the adrenals will shut down. Learning when to back off from stress-inducing workouts is going to be crucial in healing the thyroid.
- Maybe instead of pounding the pavement you go get a massage.
- Or perhaps schedule an acupuncture appointment.
Both of these holistic methods can be vital in regaining your health and wellness again. And of course, giving your body the right nutrition from real food sources is going to have huge, positive dividends on your overall health!
The good news is that in most cases, people with adrenal and thyroid symptoms will respond nicely to a natural treatment protocol, especially if you follow these 4 steps. You can have the energy to be healthy again!
How about you? Do you have adrenal/thyroid health issues? What is your strategy to heal them?