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Living without a thyroid

exercise is very important for weight mgmt.
exercise is very important for weight mgmt.

Two years ago my life changed, I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer.  I had gone through a total thyroidectomy (removal of the entire thyroid and lymph nodes) when my surgeon found it.  I feel very blessed to have found it so early - it was caught in a very early stage 1 - and at a young age - I was 37, but living without a thyroid can be challenging.

For those of you who don't understand how important your thyroid is, it basically drives your metabolism.  If you have a normal thyroid, your weight is easily maintained.  But if it's underactive or overactive you'll struggle with your weight.  I was diagnosed 5 years ago with an underactive thyroid, Hypothyroidism.  It didn't matter that I ran 3x a week and had a personal trainer kicking my butt 2x a week, I couldn't lose 5 lbs!  5 lbs!!  I was preparing to get married and just wanted to look good for my day.  What a relief it was to finally be diagnosed, now I knew I wasn't crazy, something was going on with my body.  So I was put on thyroid medication to regulate things, kept up my active lifestyle and my weight settled.  But fast forward 3 years and here comes the Thyroid Cancer.

Living without a thyroid is so much different than having an underactive thyroid.  Typically the average person has a recommendation of aerobic activity 3 days a week with another day or so of strength training, but for those of us without a thyroid - this isn't enough!  Aerobic exercise strengthens the heart and makes it more efficient.  It improves mood and helps you burn calories and fat.  Exercise increases muscle mass, which in the long run will raise metabolism.  It is essential for weight control.  But you can't do it with exercise alone.

An optimal diet is crucial to those without a thyroid.  Healthy nutrition is essential for controlling weight, preventing degenerative diseases, maintaining a positive mood and extending longevity.  Our diets need to be well balanced - low in fat, high in protein, high in complex carbohydrates and low in simple sugars.  It should also contain plenty of vitamins and antioxidants - selenium, zinc, vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamins B1, B6, B12 and zinc.  Don't forget to also include vitamin D for bone and muscle strength and essential fatty acids for weight and mood benefits.

Important points to remember with any thyroid imbalance:

* exercise is an important component to the mind-body program.  It will keep you both physically and mentally healthy.

* the best diet is low in refined sugar and animal fat and rich in complex carbs and protein.

* make sure you are getting enough antioxidants and vitamins to preserve a healthy body and brain.

I feel very fortunate to call myself a Thyroid Cancer survivor.  I'll continue to lead a healthy and active lifestyle for the rest of my life.  If you suspect yourself of having a thyroid imbalance or want to learn more about Hypo/Hyperthyroidism or Thyroid Cancer visit The Thyroid Foundation of America at


  • Sue 5 years ago

    Awesome article for Thyroid Awareness! For folks who don't have knowledge of how vital this important organ is to the body, it will be a real eye opener. It is not something that should be neglected.

  • Angela 5 years ago

    I'm sorry to hear of your struggles without a thyroid. During neck surgery doctors found my thyroid wrapped around my esophagus & voice box. Along with that had grown 130% of it's normal size. They had to dig it out before continuing the neck surgery. I was 42 at the time but have not had any weight issues. Infact the exact opposite. My weight has been easier to maintain than anytime in my life. Each person's experience is different...I hope yours gets better, angela

  • Hannah 5 years ago

    Great article thanks! I have also had a total thyroidectomy due to cancer, & struggled with weight for years. I have now steadied my weight & become a personal trainer, but still struggle to find more information about weight & fitness without a thyroid. I am training for triathlons & hope to do a marathon, but feel like I need more info on higher intensity training without a thyroid. Does anyone know anywhere I could get more info?

  • Dee Ann 5 years ago

    Hannah, I'm writing a health a d fitness book centered around various thyroid stories.
    I would love to include you if you don't mind? Please let me know
    if I can, I don't have any other cancer stories..

  • Patty 5 years ago

    I just a total thyroid removal and I am scared to death. I do not know anything about this and I feel like I am going to gain a bunch of weight, have no energy, be brainless and not have a normal life again except no thyroid. Can anyone please tell me what to really expect when they want me to take synthroid? Any responses would be more than appreciated. Thank you

  • David 3 years ago

    I'm 35, had a total Thyroid removal in Sept of 2011 due to Cancer. Since I have gained 50pds which put me at 350pds and seem to have a gain of 1/2pd a week give or take more give than take i guess. I have complained to Dr. he says my blood work is ok and will not change my dosage. At this rate im gonna be 500pds before next year. I don't know what im going to do!!!!

  • Nancy 1 year ago

    All my life I was thin the out of no where my weight went up,regular thyroid testing showed nothing the a lump in my neck the size of a pecan popped up I was told it was Cancer I had my thyroid and six lymph nodes removed ,it's been nine years and the weight struggle is awful . I eat once a day and am Vegetarian no one has any answered my Dr' s just smile and say oh you're fine just exercise more, I can't exercise 24/7 because nothing had helped so I just struggle on. More needs to be done for those of us who've had cancer and who are suppressed. I'm grateful for my surgery and my life just not the extra pounds

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