I heard about the Whole30 diet from my mom. I had done a week-long clean eating diet back in August, before my hypothyroidism diagnosis, in order to determine if my symptoms (irritability, weight gain, bloating, hair loss, brittle nails, ridiculous fatigue, difficulty concentrating, etc, etc) had to do with gluten. The diet was hell for the first three days as a went through carb withdrawal. There was even one point where I went over to Mark’s after he had ordered a pizza and all I could think about was eating the entire crust of the pizza dipped in the MSG-laden garlic sauce. After I got through the ridiculous cravings (without acting out my fantasies), I felt a lot better and didn’t even want carbs anymore. I was able to leave bread on my plate, on the table, and off my sandwiches, which is a HUGE deal, considering I was a bread/carb-oholic before that. I was also put on thyroid hormones, but the symptoms stayed, and eventually I slipped back into old habits as pre-lims approached and I had zero time to go to the store. In December, I was put on more thyroid hormones and started to feel better, but it didn’t last long.
At the beginning of the spring 2013 semester, I quickly fell back into my old symptoms and feelings. It took at least a half an hour to get out of bed in the morning and no matter how much sleep I got, I was always exhausted. I continued to gain weight and feel bloated, which made me feel worse. I rarely gave myself more than thirty minutes to get ready in the morning before I had to be out the door, meaning that I frequently went without breakfast, given that I had to wait an hour after taking my hormones. I was so busy that I often had to skip lunch as well, meaning that my blood sugar would dip really low and I would scarf down candy or carbohydrate-dense foods later. My memory was so bad, I frequently forgot to pay bills or meet deadlines, which is completely out of character for me. I felt awful. All the time. And I was not fun to be around. It only got worse with the more stress that was put on me throughout the semester.
I had my cortisol levels tested a couple of times in August 2012, and they were high both times. I had been asking my endocrinologist to let me do the 4x-a- day test to see if my levels were out of whack all day, but he saw no need and completely dismissed any role my cortisol might be playing in how I felt (have I mentioned endocrinologists are the WORST doctors?!). But all of the symptoms continued, despite taking my thyroid hormones, and matched up exactly with high cortisol symptoms (not to mention my blood tests reflected high levels). The symptoms increased ridiculous amounts when I was under a lot of stress, to the point where I would get so tired I couldn’t function. I considered finding yet another endocrinologist (this would be #3), but it was going to take at least 3 months, and they might not even listen to me either. I knew I couldn’t continue feeling so awful for that long. The Internet gurus suggest yoga/pilates, meditation, change in diet (reduce caffeine, no processed food, etc) and general stress reduction to help lower cortisol. Additionally, to my dismay, they suggest not doing cardio-intense exercise, such as running, especially not for more than 30 minutes at a time. I’m registered for a half-marathon in October which I need to begin training for at the end of June, so I knew I needed to make adjustments in other areas to compensate.
So I decided to try Whole 30. Everything has suffered for me lately, and the promises of what this diet could do for me were more tempting than knowing it would be difficult. I want more energy. I want to be able to wake up in the morning. I want to feel better and less bloated all the time. I don’t even enjoy shopping (one of my favorite things, if you know me) anymore because I feel like I look so awful in everything. I want to be a stronger runner. I can barely run 3 miles right now without muscle aches and pains, bone pain, and pure exhaustion. I want to feel better. Period. So let’s see if I can start to achieve that in 30 days! It’s not going to be easy, but I know I can do it.