I have a new client who had her thyroid removed four years ago. Her major goal is to lose body fat (she is 112kg at the moment). How will having no thyroid affect her goal, and are there any training precautions I need to know? Thank you.
Thank you for your question. Let us first discuss a little of what the thyroid does. The thyroid organ excretes T3 and T4 hormones after being stimulated by the pituitary gland’s secretion of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) are hormones that are responsible for your body’s metabolism, which is why a person without a thyroid may have some weight concerns. Although your client has only had her thyroid taken out four years ago, my guess is she has suffered from hypothyroidism for quite some time before electing to have it removed. She probably had it removed because it was ravaged by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or autoimmune thyroid disease. Most people diagnosed with hypothyroidism will have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a disease where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland.
When training someone who has had their thyroid removed, the best advice I can give is to maintain close intervention with the client’s healthcare provider. The thyroid is a very complex organ that excretes many different hormones, each playing its own role in the body. Today, scientists have created drugs that mimic each of these hormones. The doctor must give your client the right amount of each hormone each day. The problem is that the body will fluctuate from day to day in its needs for each hormone. The thyroid is a regulatory organ that secretes hormones in response to input it gets mainly from the pituitary gland. The doctor will prescribe hormone replacement with the client’s needs in mind. It is a very tricky task and takes time to perfect the dosages. Expect your client to go from agitated and hyper to lethargic and listless until the dosage is correct.
It is important to keep your client on a consistent regimen of food, exercise and rest, in that order. These are three of the biggest factors on thyroid excretions. Have your client keep a very detailed log of activities, food and rest. When she is ready to progress in either of these categories, she should inform her physician as she may want to tweak her medication dosages. Once again, it is not an exact science, but it will help keep the client from the highs and lows that accompany unstable hormone levels. Your role as a trainer is to gain consistency in her life. Teach her how to eat right and emphasis the importance of exercise, even if it is just a little bit each day. The key is consistent and life long lifestyle changes.
In answering this question, I would also like to bring up some ways to avoid hypothyroidism in the first place. The most important factor in thyroid disorder is diet. You must avoid what I call “white death” at all costs. Americans consume far too much white sugar, white flour and white refined salt. It is a bit complicated to get into the ways these foods affect the thyroid, but let us at least say that the spike in blood sugar starts a cascading influx of hormone regulation and thyroid stress. My suggestion is to cut out as much “white death” as possible, limit soy intake and supplement your diet with pure, organic, extra virgin coconut oil each day.
You mentioned your client was really overweight at 112kg. Does she contribute her weight problem to her thyroid? Was she heavy before she had her thyroid removed four years ago? The reason I ask is that many overweight people blame reasons beyond their control for their weight gain. Don’t except these excuses. Try to empathize with her, but at some time in the near future, she has to own her life the way it is now. Your job is to empower her to make changes for a lifetime.
- Mercola, Joseph. Total Health Program, www.mercola.com
- Shomon, Mary. Living Well With Hypothyroidism: What Your Doctor Doesn't Tell You. . . That You Need to Know (New York Harper Collins, 2002)