My StoryMy personal story is just one example of how we have mostly forgotten how to listen to our body and our needs. Our society is full of distorted images and illusions that we supposedly have to chase in order to be happy and satisfied. What we often overlook is that this not only comes at the cost of our health, but also the feeling of happiness and satisfaction.
Everybody has made experiences and is guided by beliefs and rules that have a massive influence on the way we deal with ourselves but also with other people. These imprints manifest themselves in the course of our life and sometimes it takes a dramatic situation to make us realize that we are on the wrong way.
For me, this situation came in spring 2019, when I was no longer willing to see another specialist or doctor. I desperately wanted to get a grip on my hypothyroidism and the associated symptoms.
I had been struggling for over 10 years at that point but instead of talking to me about the symptoms, one doctor after another simply gave me a higher dose of the usual therapy with thyroxine.
- feeling tired
- being cold
- continuous weight gain
- low energy
- muscular weakness
did not improve as a result, but rather increased or remained the same.
My ambition drove me to try one diet after another to lose weight again. I struggled to exercise even though I used to love it because I simply lacked energy. I was desperate because it was a continuous fight. As a consultant, I was on the road a lot and there were only rare moments that allowed for relaxation. I had no real energy, but my motivation pushed me further and further. Every motivation coach would have felt proud of me. And as I love my work, I never really had the feeling of stress. My body, however, had a different opinion.
Despite the professional success and beautiful private moments, I was not at all at peace with myself and those who are not at peace with themselves are not really happy. Even on the most beautiful journeys and in the most wonderful moments, my thoughts circled around things that did not allow for any enjoyment or real relaxation.
I felt driven because my professional life did not really fit with my private life either. In March 2019, after I had again met a not very caring doctor and had also gotten into a personal conflict, my body went on strike. I felt as if from one day to the next someone had taken all my energy. I could hardly get out of bed for three days and thought I had the flu, but the other symptoms did not appear. I used to laugh about burnout but that’s how I felt at that point in time – burned out and empty. In February I had been exercising every day, had gone ski-touring on the weekend, but now I couldn’t even think about sports. I was happy if I could still somehow manage my everyday life.
Since I had been reading about hormonal disorders for quite some time because of my thyroid, I remembered an article in which I had read something about adrenal fatigue. I remembered that back then I had already thought the symptoms sounded like a burnout.
So, I started researching and came across many articles. It seemed that a burnout is not necessarily a psychological problem, but more often physical in the form of adrenal fatigue. I read the book The Adrenal Reset Diet by Alan Christianson and started to live by it. This is rather a nutrition change program to support the recovery of your adrenal glands than a typical diet. I gave up coffee, alcohol, ate more carbohydrates and started to free my everyday life from stressors. A first measure was to give up my Apple Watch, which always showed me when I wasn’t moving enough or how many calories I had burned so far. I gave up my usual sports and did only yoga. I slept until I woke up on my own and that was usually after 8 hours.
My body slowly recovered. It took almost four weeks before I felt I was living a more or less normal life again, but this time gave me valuable insights. The many books and articles I read led me back to my hypothyroidism and I decided to taper the medication. Why should I continue taking something that did not help me at all? Since I had my values checked regularly and had come across several blogs and articles which mentioned the problem of a conversion disorder from T4 to T3 in hypothyroidism, I decided to take the evaluation of my laboratory values into my own hands.
In June it became obvious what I had already suspected when reading the articles. My free T3 was below the reference values although free T4 and the TSH value spoke for a good therapy. I entered the values into a calculator which shows whether the ratio of T4 to T3 speaks for a good conversion. The ratio was not good at all!
T3 is the metabolism activating hormone. TSH and T4 are only precursors of T3. Basically, you can say that if the body does not manage to convert T4 to T3, the whole metabolism and therefore the body is on energy saving mode. I was stunned. Why had no doctor ever checked the ratio with me? Why was I given more and more of something that my body obviously could not convert? I did further research to find an endocrinologist who was working on this topic and came across Dr. Berndt Rieger and his pages www.hormonie.org and www.berndt-rieger.de.
I had heard before that there is a therapy with products containing both T4 and T3, but every doctor I approached refused to prescribe me such a medication. There were many excuses which I do not want to elaborate further.
On his website, I came across the information that a substitution with NDT – Natural Desiccated Thyriod can help precisely with this conversion disorder. NDT is dried thyroid gland from pigs or cows and contains both T3 and T4. Since the thyroid gland of pigs is most similar to the human thyroid, most people use dried pig thyroid.
Other industrially manufactured products are mostly synthetic. NDT is sometimes also sold as a dietary supplement, which makes it non-prescription, and this was a benefit in my case. I was determined and did not want to wait several months for an appointment with a doctor who would prescribe such a product. I ordered a product recommended by Dr. Berndt in the UK. The amount I took corresponded to my significantly reduced dose of thyroxine and I started taking three tablets spread over the day on August 20, 2019. What happened then still feels like a miracle to me now. As I write this article and remember my condition exactly one year ago, tears fill my eyes.
The changes since August 2019 are so profound that I feel reborn. Everything has changed!
This picture shows me with my maximum weight about one month before the burn-out.
Although, I did workouts every day and followed such intensive training as ski touring, nothing happened with my weight despite a diet. I kept my body under constant stress.
Despite smiling, I just felt awful at that time.
Follow your mission. This is your life and not someone else’s. This is a learning process and to me this process never stops. Keep learning, keep loving and keep following your dreams.
Going up to me means continuing to follow your passion. Do what you love and love what you do. Surround yourself with people who support you and who are not holding you back.
You would think that changes in our body can’t happen that fast but within the first few days, I already felt like someone had flipped a switch or released a brake. I felt awake, full of energy, warm and I wanted to move. This change alone made me confident but the next few months showed how severe the limitations of this hormonal disorder can be.
Already after one month, my female cycle changed from irregular 34 to 40 days to absolutely regular 25 to 27 days. I felt 10 years younger.
I really enjoyed doing everything. Exercise became a beloved part of my life again, I felt energy, strength, and I could really feel my muscles working. But the most noticeable change was my eating habits. While I had previously been on a permanent diet, I automatically followed the signals of my body now. I continued to eat fruit and lots of vegetables because I had always done so except during the phase of my ketogenic diet. Apart from that, I ate what I wanted but only when I felt hungry. It was almost as if my body was telling me what food it needed now.
The variety certainly increased, and I started eating foods I haven’t eaten much before such as oats and liver. Both foods contain quite a lot of iron and I usually have too little of it. There were days when I only needed a little food, but I felt great and energetic. On other days I ate significantly more, way more than I ate during my diets. But I clearly felt my hunger as well as my satiety and therefore I ate only up to the point of pleasant fullness. There was no ravenous hunger, no cravings and although I ate more in total, I slowly but continuously lost weight. All of this made me wonder, whether the hormonal balance in our body is a prerequisite in order to interpret it’s signals correctly. I had tried intuitive eating years before, but at that time my attempt to not control my eating led to more weight quite quickly and I fell right back into my diet mentality. Although I thought I was eating intuitively, I kept counting calories, avoided carbohydrates, and only allowed myself to indulge in certain foods when I did a lot of exercise.
Today, I am convinced that it was not only my head that wasn’t ready for intuitive eating but also my body was unable to send the right signals.
I have my values checked every 8 to 10 weeks and not only the thyroid values have greatly improved over the last 8 months. In the meantime, I am so well adjusted that I have even reduced the NDT by one tablet and of course, I hope to be able to do without it in the future. This would mean that my hypothyroidism would be cured. Strangely enough, I have always been told that replacement therapy with thyroxine must be maintained for a lifetime and I wonder why.
My health and my body continue to change, and I am curious to see how things will develop in the future.
The changes caused by taking NDT are already visible on this photo, but I was still caught in my diet mentality. I was still counting calories and working against my body instead of listening to it.
Hormones are involved in so many processes within our body that hardly anyone without endocrinological education can understand the complexity behind them. Unfortunately, this does not necessarily contribute to promoting knowledge about hormonal disorders and awareness of their influence on our body, within our society. Many people would probably stop drinking water from plastic bottles relatively quickly and avoid other products (certain cosmetics, too much sugar, soy, etc.) as well because there are many substances that can affect our sensitive hormonal system. However, this is only a side note at this point.
My personal experience has shown me quite impressively what happens to our body when hormones are out of balance. I would like to see more people who read this blog searching for the causes of their symptoms instead of continuing to treat them with medication that sometimes does not help. By this, I do not mean the arbitrary treatment of partly serious illnesses, but rather a stronger questioning.
Sometimes this simply means to get several opinions and not to accept every therapy recommended by doctors if there is no improvement of your conditions. Wouldn’t it be much nicer and easier if we could listen to our body instead of fighting it or torturing it with measures that make us sick rather than healthy?
I believe that our body has self-healing powers that we can activate and strengthen with a healthy lifestyle. Our nutrition and consumer behavior are only one part of this equation. Mindfulness, self-reflection, and a healthy body awareness play an equally important role. Eat Only When Hungry not only stands for intuitive eating but also a changed consciousness and attitude to listen to yourself, your body, and your own needs. Listen to your body & soul.
I’m also happy to hear your story.
Only after I decided to consciously eat intuitively in November 2019, my body has really adapted, and I am slowly but continuously losing weight. I have much more energy, enjoy all the things I do and every moment of my life.