Fatigue and Belly Fat, Continued


After my last post, Q&A: Fatigue and That Pesky Belly Fat, I received a message from the member who originally wrote in with the question. I know there are a lot of people out there just like her, a middle-aged woman struggling with her weight and her thyroid, so I thought I’d post our correspondence for you all. She answered some of my questions from the post, and gave us more details about her situation.

Dear Neely,

Thank you so much for taking the time to respond so thoroughly. If you think it’s appropriate, you are welcome to post this for others.

I was so encouraged when I started the Paleo plan because I lost 10 pounds right away. I know that things have been complicated for me. I have always been super healthy and have kept my top weight at 135. Unfortunately, not eating breakfast, Baby Ruth bars and Funyons for lunch, and taco bell and hot dogs for dinner never seemed to affect me. (I’ve never been a fan of bread or potatoes… but I love sweets) However, about 2 years ago everything messed up in short order. I hit menopause. My thyroid was messed up. I gained 25 pounds in 5 months. High cholesterol. And the last time I went to the doctor… my blood sugar was high. Now I weigh 160 when I am stable (pretty much haven’t budged for 2 years). When my thyroid is off… I get up to 170. My healthy and comfortable weight is 135… but I’d be totally happy at 140.

To respond to some of your questions: I don’t drink alcohol or caffeine. When I am strictly Paleo I only eat what is on the menu. If I feel hungry I’ll have nuts or fruit… and sometimes dry cranberries if I need something sweet. I absolutely avoid all sugar and processed food except some bacon and sausage. I stay away from dairy… even if I have a little, I end up with zits!

When I read your post the other day, I bought some sweet potatoes. I simply microwaved it and sliced about a one inch piece and sprinkled some cinnamon and about one teaspoon of chopped pecans (yum!). I had it with my lunch (Pork cilantro tacos and salsa salad) and with my afternoon snack (Orange and almond butter). I drink a lot of water. AND, this morning I walked from the parking garage to my office instead of taking the shuttle… it’s about a mile. I did not hit the wall as hard as I usually do.

One thing that I will try is to split my breakfast. I usually feel pretty stable in the morning. Eggs, meat, a few nuts and a piece of fruit hold me pretty well and I don’t feel a crash… but I’ll spit it up and see if that keeps me stable into the afternoon. I’m generally not too hungry because the protein and fat keep me satisfied… but I don’t think its enough to keep my blood sugar stable.

In the past, I have done weight watchers successfully… but if I had a few points left… Midnight Milkyway here I come. I also did the F Plan which is high fiber low protein. I’m saying this because I do think I set myself up for needing more carbs… for me, now it’s making sure that I’m choosing good carbs.

Honestly, I’ve fallen off the wagon for a couple of days because I’m so frustrated. But, I know I feel sick when I eat sweets and hungry if I don’t eat protein and fat. I’m just tired of being so good and not losing an ounce and feeling super tired. I’ll recommit and add the sweet potatoes (which I really like) and eat as much as I usually do but split up the menu so that I’m eating every two hours. And, I’ll walk to work… weather permitting.

I’ll keep you posted! I hope it helps!

And my response to her…


Thanks for writing back and answering my questions. I know what it feels like to be frustrated with being so “good” and not losing any weight – I totally understand why you’d give up for a few days. I think that changing things up a bit with new foods and different carb/protein/fat proportions will help keep you interested. And great work on walking to work! It takes a lot of grit to make yourself exercise when you’re so tired.

I have a lot of faith that you will get to your goal weight, and that you’ll have a lot of energy once again. It might just take some time. Remember that stress can cause fatigue and weight gain, so try not to be too hard on yourself if your diet isn’t “perfect”, if you don’t exercise as much as society tells you to, and if you don’t weigh exactly what you want to weigh right at this moment. Experimenting with your diet can be fun, and it helps you understand yourself and how food affects you better. If the carbs in the morning don’t work the way you want them to, try changing something else up, like the amount of protein you eat.  If all that fails, I’d really start looking into food sensitivities testing.

As far as your carbs go, I highly suggest that you eat your sweet potatoes and other hefty Paleo carb sources as soon as you wake up in the morning (along with your protein and fat, of course).  Since you’re bonking in the afternoon, it makes me think that your breakfast is not sufficient, even though you say it keeps you satisfied.  If you’re exhausted in the afternoon, something is not right. The way you feed yourself when you wake up determines the rest of the day (and sometimes for days after that).  Eat the heavy carbs in the morning and then again maybe at mid morning or lunch.  It’s a good idea to eat heavy carbs in the first half of the day, anyway, because you have all day to use them up, as opposed to eating them at night when you’re just going to store them (potentially as fat).

The only other suggestion I have is that you go to a good naturopathic doctor in your area who can test all of your thyroid markers to see if the meds you’re on are actually appropriate. Most docs only test your TSH, but there are a lot of other physiological markers that a naturopath will test and then have you take supplements and pharmaceuticals for to correct. I’m not huge on pharmaceuticals, but sometimes when there’s profound tissue damage after so many years of abuse, your thyroid and other glands just can’t produce the hormones they need to produce. Plus, there are foods that can actually be more supportive of the thyroid, and you should look into those, too.

I wish you luck, patience and success, and I hope to hear from you for an update!