I'm not really looking for suggestions of how to feel better, but rather similar stories. I'd love to know who else is going through this, who has gone through it, the problems they had and how they healed and found balance. We are each different and what works for you will not necessarily work for me, but it feels nice to share and get this out.
My story is the same one you hear over and over. The first year, I felt fantastic and I looked great. I went from about 18% bodyfat to under 15% based on DXA scan (I'm a woman, I know that's low but I still had a regular period believe it or not). I felt stronger than ever. I started doing triathlons and Crossfit. I moved to Paleo slowly and gave up oats as my last grain to go, but being very active, I would not turn down the rice if I happened to eat certain cuisines when I would go out. I included fruit post-workout. I ate squashes and sweet potatoes. I did all the things that the Paleo gods recommend like drink KT, eat sauerkraut, take my fish oil or fermented CLO, make my own cleaning agents, throw out all the toiletries containing gluten, be careful about gluten when eating out, buy only top quality meat and veggies to cook with at home, soaked and dehydrated nuts, and so on. I never purposefully watched carbs (until later as you will read), but I did watch my nut intake. For the most part, I stayed primal including limited grass-fed, whole fat, sometimes raw dairy (the rest is the lowest temp legally allowed pasteurized and not homogenized). I did quit dairy for 3-4 weeks on several occasions to see how I felt and never felt any better or worse. I also quit drinking alcohol for 3 weeks to 2 months on several occasions. I quit coffee several times for up to a month. I was basically a very clean Paleo.
I ended up with a neck injury that I blamed on Crossfit for about a year after it happened. I spent months in treatment and the neck injury has mostly resolved. Even so, I continued to feel worse and not better. I gained about 10-15 lbs, so I tried the strictest level of the 21 DSD to take it off. No budge in weight. I tried working out more, less, eating more, less. I hired a FDN who put me on a very low carb diet which only made me feel much worse after about 2 weeks on the diet, and still no change in weight. I've been "diagnosed" stage 3 adrenal fatigue, my thyroid has stopped working correctly, I might have either an intestinal infection or a food allergy that I can not seem to identify (based on Secretory IGA test results....but not leaky gut). For two months, I have been only walking, riding my bike slowly, swimming short distances really slow and doing very light weight lifting (no Crossfit!), plus lots of sleep. I'm 37. I should feel young and healthy still, but I feel like 87 and on my way to death.
I went Paleo to resolve some digestive and blood sugar issues, which seemed to happen the first year...now I have this whole crop of new health problems and feel worse than I ever have before and I don't understand why! I still actually really like the Paleo concept and I feel like I have learned so much in my time of being Paleo. Going Paleo was a natural transition to me as I ate mostly pastured meats and organic vegetables from a CSA. I just want to find that place of balance that allows me to follow a Paleo lifestyle and feel like a healthy 37-year old woman who is growing old gracefully. One thing that I am trying now is to add more carbs. It seems like a lot of people are recovering from similar thyroid and AF issues by eating more carbs. It's hard to eat that much food! Esp. when I am trying to sleep 10 hours to recover from AF.
asked byKL_1 (1495)
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on November 14, 2013
at 04:14 AM
Have also felt worse for periods because of things like cooking methods and food quality. One possible alternative for your hypothyroid medication is iodine supplementation or eating a lot more fish (fish oil doesn't count)
on April 16, 2014
at 08:44 PM
One more follow-up, because I want to close the loop for anyone who might be experiencing something similar. It turns out, I have Lyme. That's what has been causing me pain, disrupting my thyroid and so on. So I guess if anything, I might have Paleo to thank because I might be in worse health without eating Paleo (I ate pretty darn healthy before, but I have learned some things and modified my diet because of Paleo). I've been concerned for years about the next time I have to take antibiotics and that looks like now, so I will be putting Paleo to the test when I try to kill off that good gut bacteria.
on February 07, 2014
at 09:37 PM
Well, here's the latest. I'm now on 2.5 grains of Nature Throid. I have had some improvements, but also still have symptoms. The doc had said if I get to 2.5 grains and am not feeling well, then it's not just thyroid. I saw him yesterday and he thinks given the nature of my pain (locations and the fact that exercise worsens the pain) that I have fibromyalgia. He's prescribed LDN to try. Not sure what I think about fibro, but will try whatever for pain.
Got thyroid blood tests. Thyroid antibodies were in range on both tests. Doc said I have Hashi's despite that because I shouldn't have any antibodies. I thought some antibodies were normal. Also I have noticed a trend. With every blood test, my free T3 and free T4 decreases. Each test would be done after an increase in meds, so the conclusion is that the meds are dropping my free T3 and T4. I don't think that's normal. Both were low to begin with and now lower. Chris Kresser's website says this means I have unresolved inflammation. Well, duh....I hurt all the time. How do I find the source of inflammation when the tests used (CRP for example) don't show any inflammation? I'm hoping LDN will solve this problem.
I do happen to have elevated levels of lead and mercury in my body, so I'm trying chelation to see if that helps. I'm meeting with a biological dentist Monday to discuss removal of a couple of mercury amalgams that I have.
I have noticed that the symptoms worsen in the second half of my cycle. I spoke with someone about recent hormone tests, but they aren't that bad (I'm a tiny bit estrogen dominant and she said Chasteberry should clear that up for me). So I don't think hormones are the main problem.
At this point I can't really continue blaming Paleo (maybe during my VLC period, but not now). If anything, I wonder if it's keeping me from feeling worse. I stay strict no gluten, soy or legumes, and no processed foods, but do eat some grains and high quality dairy. I still have no alcohol tolerance (which isn't really a bad thing), but otherwise food doesn't seem to bother me.
I'm at a loss for where the inflammation could be coming from. All I know is that it started with a neck injury almost 2 years ago and I haven't been the same since. I used to be able to bench and C&J my bodyweight and now I wonder why a short body weight workout (3 sets of 5 pushups, 10 situps and 15 squats) will put me in terrible pain for a week. I've been seeing a counselor and I think she thinks it's all in my head, but I've been meditating and doing calming things and "in my head" doesn't seem to be the case.
on January 16, 2014
at 07:02 PM
For me, I felt worse for a while on Paleo. But when I decided to focus on getting more electrolytes (eating salt and taking magnesium and, yes, calcium supplements (in low-dose, powdered form)) I found I felt myself having much more energy and a lot less brain fog or anxiety. I think it is possible to be low on electrolytes like calcium when on paleo, especially if avoiding cruciferous veggies. Not saying one needs to supplement 1,000 mg of calcium a day, but a small amount went a long way for me.
on January 15, 2014
at 10:15 PM
Another follow-up in case anyone cares. Saw a new doc after the old doc fought me on increasing my medication (Armour) in a timely matter, therefore leaving me still feeling like crap. Saw a new doc who strongly suspects I have Hashis, despite my negative blood tests. He's taking a more aggressive approach with medicating me. This guy is a DO and NMD. To the person who didn't like the other doc saying "just hypothyroid" - thank you for a push to seek more answers!
on November 14, 2013
at 03:48 AM
Definitely try a natural version of meds which has both T3 and T4. I'm in NZ so I don't know about Armour or Nature, but my life is so different now that I'm on whole thyroid extract. From what I hear, doctors in the US are much more open to other options, which is good. Once I switched over and up to the right dose I now have great energy levels, improved mood and have even managed to shift a bit of weight eventually.
The thing with hypothyroidism is that I don't think you'll ever be able to 'fix' it with Paleo, or anything really. You should be able to manage your symptoms a lot better, and maybe reduce your dosage, but I don't think it will just 'fix' it, and I think you know that, just clarifying for a commenter above.
I recently tried out a ketogenic diet, to see what it was like and whether it would help me lose some more weight plus help with becoming fat adapted. I stopped because I was frustrated with not being able to properly get into ketosis, plus I was hungry and limited in food options as a really active person. I don't know if that was the cause of it, but I have put a bit of weight on, even though I was eating at a deficit and I'm beginning to wonder if it was the VLC that did it. Just something for you to bear in mind...
on November 12, 2013
at 05:09 PM
Update: The medication (Synthroid) has made me worse. Not only do I feel worse, it has driven my Free T3 down. I see the doc on Friday and I have some ideas to bounce off her regarding other meds and supplements.
on October 24, 2013
at 10:32 PM
Seeing that this might be fairly common in the Paleo community (thanks to all for your insight), I have to wonder if any of the Paleo cheerleaders with podcasts and/or blogs are suffering in silence with the same issues...or are they eating things that they aren't sharing with the public (like grains and other carb dense foods). I was listening to one podcast today that said a person can get all the nutrients they need from a nutrient-dense, whole-food Paleo diet and I felt rather frustrated because I was one of those people that lived a much stricter than most Paleo diet, being sure to include things like liver, sardines, cod-liver oil, etc. into my diet on a very regular basis yet I still ended up with some pretty big vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
On another note - @Keeks333 I've been taking the thyroid meds for almost 3 weeks and feeling no benefits yet, but have experienced a few negative side effects such as some bloating and acid reflux (the reflux could be from eating less than optimal food on vacation last week also - that is when it started). Bloating seems to have resolved itself after a few days, but I wasn't too happy that it happened right around the beginning of a bathing suit vacation!
on October 07, 2013
at 08:46 PM
What's so funny about this is that all you see posted by the Paleo bloggers are desserts and treats, like the latest rage of Paleo cake pops
on October 07, 2013
at 03:41 PM
@KL 1 You sound so similar to me. I got way worse when I went full Paleo last year, but I know now it was because I was overtraining and not eating enough to support my activity level. I lost my period, had awful digestion issues, insomnia, brain fog, etc. I was super constipated all the time, I was actually getting colonics frequently because it was so bad. I saw tons of doctors who congratulated me on my diet and exercise routine and told me I looked great and sent me on my way, although I felt so awful.
In January, I went back to SAD and stopped working out. I gained 35lbs very quickly (I wasnt weighing myself at the time, I had no clue I had gained that much til I finally weighed myself in June) and got my period back but also had bad water retention, bloating, anxiety, severe fatigue, muscle pain and headaches. I saw an Endocrinologist in June who ran tests which were normal but put me on Synthroid anyways because my symptoms were all hypothyroid. He also suggested I go back to Paleo. Within days of changing my diet, I felt so much better and dropped 10lbs of the water retention. The Synthroid didnt make a difference so he took me off it after 6 weeks.
That was about 3 months ago, now I've lost 20 more lbs and feel a lot better. If I could do it over, I would have stayed Paleo all along but slowly increased my calories and carbs each week, so that my body didnt become so shocked when I started eating more. I was essentially eating around 1400 cals/day when my TDEE was about 3000 for about 2 years. I am still experiencing some low energy levels and random bloating but I feel worlds better than I did a year ago strict paleo and 6 months ago sedentary on SAD.
Now I am losing the last of the weight slowly (the right way) on about 2000 cals/day. The only cardio I do is a few long walks a week and I weight train 3x/week. The biggest things that have helped me is chilling out on the cardio, getting lots of good sleep and eating more carbs -- white rice, sweet and white potatoes. No more constipation since upping my calories. I saw a doctor recently who says because of my symptoms and testing positive for Epstein Barr, he could diagnose me with Fibromyalgia. But I honestly think my hormones are messed up from undereating/overworking and then essentially overeating and being sedentary. I am hoping that getting consistent calories and proper rest and recovery for awhile, things will get back to normal!
Go Kaleo is an awesome site and there are lots of stories on Eat More 2 Weigh Less about women who are in the same boat. Layne Nortons you tube videos about damaged metabolism and reverse dieting are also really interesting. Also, this:
Keep us posted on how you doing-- I'm curious to know if your thyroid meds make you feel better at all.
on October 07, 2013
at 02:39 PM
Women more so than men do not do well with big restrictions in calories. Our bodies need a bit more fat on them to be healthy and fertile, and if your body thinks you are starving (high stress, lots of exercise, not enough food can all contribute to this) then your body will down regulate everything and try to hold on to fat. So you can eat LESS than you need, and find yourself holding on to more and more body fat. There is also a lot of stuff about the thyroid and very low carb diets going around all the paleo websites. You can google for more details. Now there is controversy, because low CALORIE diets can mess with your thyroid or mimic thyroid problems, so people are arguing that it is not the low carb at all and that it's just that people aren't eating enough. But anecdotally, there are many people reporting health improvements by eating a few more starchy vegetables. Since that is completely paleo, why not try it?
on October 07, 2013
at 01:43 PM
Update post doctor appt. - Doc says I have plain old hypothyroid and I'm now on medication for it. She does not think I have Hashi's.
I don't understand why I would BECOME hypothyroid on Paleo. I thought people came to Paleo to resolve thyroid issues! And before fixating on activity and low body fat - this change has occured within the last 5 months (over a year after my injury so I wasn't nearly as active and certainly not a low on the bodyfat scale. By 5 months ago, I had gained fat, esp. around my abdomen, and had been doing mostly weight lifting with some light cycling or swimming, at most 5 days a week, but often less due to sleep issues or having a cold that lasted 3 weeks).
on September 29, 2013
at 10:32 PM
The blogger GoKaleo has some interesting thoughts on adrenal fatigue. She thinks, and I tend to agree with her, that in many instances adrenal fatigue just masks the fact that people aren't eating enough. http://gokaleo.com/2013/01/25/adrenal-fatigue-as-a-cover-for-starvation/
The fact that your body fat was or is 15% is a big red flag. That's at the very bottom end of what's healthy. Plus all the over-exercising does bad things to cortisol levels.
Is it possible that you have an eating disorder masking as an obsession with health and exercise?
on September 29, 2013
at 04:45 PM
Good questions - I think when I was doing all that training, WAY too little. I don't count, I just eat til I am not hungry. I have learned that exercise really suppresses my appetite and at the time, I was doing some kind of exercise 5-6 days a week, sometimes twice a day (because I believed Crossfit Endurance by thinking I could swim sprints in the AM and do Crossfit in the PM. Duh me!) I still don't measure calories or carbs (I need to look at a list of Paleo carbs to mentally realize what I get in a day), but I did recently participate in the American Gut Project and had to track what I ate for a week. It looked like about 2,000 cals a day was normal for me (remember, now I'm not very active - just easy walks or bike rides, etc).
Just had blood work a week ago, also had some blood work in April and a full panel in November of last year. The stuff a year ago looked decent except low free testosterone, Vit D and DHEA. Thyroid looked a little slow, but normal. Tested negative for Hashi's. At the time, I was feeling like I had a hormonal problem. Doc put me on DHEA which I took for 6 months and felt nothing. Blood tests in April revealed little change in Vit D and DHEA and improvements in thyroid. I started taking more Vit D, stopped the DHEA...got more sun because it was now summer here. Latest test shows some improvement in Vit D, but it is still lower than it should be (it was rock bottom low before). TSH has skyrocketed. DHEA has tanked. Was not retested for thyroid antibodies, so I don't know if I have Hashi's. I wouldn't think so. Blood cortisol looked ok (tested at 7:30am) - this is contrary to the saliva cortisol test I took a few months ago. Still low free-T. Other hormones look ok...I think estrogen may be a little high - again this is contrary to the saliva test I took months ago. I happen to see the doc on Friday to see what she thinks. She's a women's health specialist, but I'm thinking I may get referred to an Endo.
When I went Paleo, I really cut out taking any medications (took a little cocktail for acid reflux, for sleep, for allergies and for anxiety). Now I would honestly accept any pharmeceutical that would make me feel better. I would rather heal, but I've felt like dog crap for so long.
on September 29, 2013
at 04:13 PM
How many calories do you try and get in everyday? I too have gone from 0-15 grams of carbs a day to over 150 grams in an attempt to find my optimal human diet. I feel pretty good but I am considering the possibility that i am over training. I am a 26 year old 6 ft and a guy and jumped on my scale yesterday to see i am back down to my prepaleo weight of 156 lbs. I personally have lots of muscle definition with good strength but as of late i just don't feel 100% in the energy department. When is the last time you had a blood panel taken?