Until recently, I never gave a second thought about my weight. I went through life eating what I liked and I never had any problems relating to my health. "Just wait," the older and wiser around me cautioned, "Once you're over 40, your metabolism slows way down."
Well, 40 came and went and with it, my stellar metabolism, just like they said. I stepped up the yoga and the hiking and kicked off my days with green smoothies. But the weight clung to my body like modeling clay. At the doctor's office for my yearly physical, I stepped onto the physician scale and witnessed the bottom weight slide all the way to the 150 pound mark. There must be some mistake, I thought, 100 pounds has always been my starting point. But I swear I saw the 100 pound mark blow me a kiss goodbye as the top weight slid into the new home zone of the 150s.
My body looked different as a 150+ gal. Clothes were tighter fitting. Even my fingers and toes (which I stared at in yoga) seemed to have plumped up. Middle age had hijacked my once slender body. But I quietly accepted the new normal of my weight and got caught up the the swirl of a busy life with kids.
Then one day, I started feeling as if I were in a fog. I felt off center. Fatigue set in. Concerned, I had blood work done and lo and behold, yellow flags were waving in the wind around my thyroid numbers. So off I went to an endocrinologist who confirmed that I had Hashimoto's, an autoimmune disease. My antibodies were skyrocketing.
While I didn't have all of the classic symptoms of thyroid disease and my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone, the golden marker) numbers were normal, my antibody numbers were high and hence, the diagnosis of Hashimoto's disease.
I'm on a low dose of Synthroid now and feeling better every day. I feel fortunate because this drug can take a while to work but I feel more like my old self already. The fog has lifted, my energy is returning and most unbelievably, the weight is coming off. My fingers are less puffy. I'm not sure if the weight loss is due to normalizing thyroid levels alone or to the more active lifestyle I'm leading because I'm feeling better. Probably both. I now rotate the greens in my green smoothies because I've since learned that the raw spinach I'd been consuming is a goitrogenic food.
Not all doctors will treat patients whose TSH numbers are within the normal range, so if you have symptoms, get tested and find a doctor who will be open to a treatment plan.
When I look at my peer group of women in their forties, I see a lot of overweight women, many of whom are hopelessly fighting the battle of bulge when the culprit very well could be their thyroid. My metabolism did slow down once I hit 40, as the saying goes, but nobody told me why and there are various reasons ranging from thyroid issues to perimenopause to other health concerns. However, thyroid disease can hit at any age and the symptoms vary greatly, so my advice to all women is to get your thyroid levels checked.
Akemi Bourgeois is a Yahoo! Shine Parenting Guru and mom to twin boys. They live in the Bay Area. She writes at Chalk and Cheese Chronicles and is the former editor of the blog, Mad About Multiples. She is an editor at Technorati Women. Follow her on Twitter: svtwinmom.