My Sport Isn’t All I’m Crushing – Intro
I spoke about beginning a new mini-series on the blog in my October goals and I am really pleased to be able to share it with you. Over the next month or so, I am going to be addressing athletes dealing with a significant challenge beyond just competing in their sport. The series is titled My Sport Isn’t All I’m Crushing. Most of us have needed to deal with an injury here or there but what I am talking about is something that stops someone in their tracks for an indefinite amount of time and often affects them for the rest of our lives.
I have lined up a pretty incredible series of athletes to chat with you and we are discussing everything from serious accidents to cancer to the downright strange. To start it off, I wanted to begin with the thing that inspired this series.
Now, bear with me. I can honestly say that I have not dealt with even a fraction of what the incredible athletes who will follow me are going to be able to speak to, but almost weekly, I get another message from someone in the world who is frantically searching for answers for hyperthyroidism and high-performance athletics. There is nothing worse than realizing that this body that you have trained and know so well is rebelling against you and forcing you to halt all of your activities for an indefinite amount of time.
Sadly, for everyone involved, I appear to be one of the only people speaking up about this and so I get hundreds of emails from people who are dealing with hyperthyroidism and trying to figure out their next steps. My heart breaks to hear that so many people are needing to stop doing something they love and although I cannot do much, I can give the information that I have and the proof that it is possible to move past it.
Firstly, what is hyperthyroidism?
In a nutshell: Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) is a condition in which your thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone thyroxine. Hyperthyroidism can accelerate your body’s metabolism significantly, causing sudden weight loss, a rapid or irregular heartbeat, sweating, and nervousness or irritability.
What effect does it have on your sport?
Basically, it is physiologically like doing high-intensity cardio all the time so adding exercise to that is downright dangerous. Often the treatment involves complete rest and some medications to help calm down the thyroid. Blood work is conducted regularly to check levels and adjustments to medications are made as needed.
When I was suffering from it, I had a particular kind of hyperthyroidism called Graves disease. I often found that when I was dealing with it that I would have a hard time getting sleep which was vital to my recovery. I had an impossible time eating enough because I was metabolizing things so quickly I was going to the bathroom upwards to 10 times a day. Also, it didn’t matter if I was sitting, standing or moving, I would be hit with occasional moments of heart palpitations. I needed to stop all activity until I had it under control.
If you want to read more, you can check out one of my past posts on it here. I am in remission from Graves today but I monitor it every number of months to ensure that my levels are healthy.
One of the most requested pieces of my journey from my readers has been around working with my naturopath and questions about my treatment with her. I want to be very clear that this is not a replacement for medical advice. I worked closely with both my doctor and my naturopath as I went through my treatment. One of the key things that I always stress when I have a reader write to me on this is that although I am more than happy to share my journey, I need to ensure they are talking to professionals. I figured for this post, that instead of going too far into my own experiences with recovering from it, it would be best to bring Tina in to weigh in on some of the biggest questions that I receive.
I see Dr. Tina Rogers from FLOW Health and Wellness. She is a naturopathic doctor and a certified sports nutritionist. One of my favourite things about her is that she is a high performing athlete herself so she is completely understanding of the frustrations and struggles that come with being off of training for a period of time.
What do you do when you receive a patient with hyperthyroidism?
When I see someone with hyperthyroidism I will go over their medical history, current treatment, current lab values and who is providing them current care. I then take a full intake and try to find the root cause of the hyperthyroidism as there are many reasons why someone may develop hyperthyroidism and develop a treatment plan.
What nutritional changes do you recommend to hyperthyroid patients?
Some nutritional changes I recommend to patients are to decrease foods that are associated with overall inflammation, eliminate food allergies, increase foods high in antioxidants and decrease refined food.
Are there any supplements that you recommend?
Best advice for an athlete with hyperthyroidism?
Athletes with hyperthyroidism should ensure that they are getting adequate rest, eating nutrient-dense foods and most importantly listening to the body and contact a health care provider if not feeling well.
When I first saw Tina, she did a full profile on me to understand what my history was and what my course of treatment would look like. She asked me what foods or things would be extremely hard for me to remove from my daily diet (helllooooo coffee!) and worked with me to come up with a diet plan that worked.
So if you are an athlete suffering from hyperthyroidism, know that although it is rough at the moment, there are so many treatment options available to you. If you have any more questions, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am excited to bring you incredible stories of athletes who are crushing so much more than their sport in the coming weeks. If you, or someone you know, should be featured, drop me a line.
See you on monday for the next piece of the USARA edition!
More in this series:
Ryan Correy – Stage 4 Cancer
Edwin Vane – Broken Hip
Robyn Baldwin – Multiple Sclerosis
Krysten Bishop – Long QT Syndrome
Rhonda-Marie Avery – Vision Loss