A day in the life of a hypothyroid fitness nut (and why I celebrate small victories)

A day in the life of a hypothyroid fitness nut

An Army Officer named Maria went from being a fit person to someone who heard cruel words like You need to lay off the donuts.

Written by Maria

In 2010 I was officially diagnosed with hypothyroidism. But before I got this diagnosis, I went through a frustrating road…

In 2008 after returning from a deployment, I was in the best shape of my life thanks to doing nothing but exercising while deployed…or so I thought. When I arrived home in November 2008, I started feeling odd. In the 20s and 30s degree weather I was having hot flashes, my heart was running like a wild horse and I started having what felt like chest pains. Suddenly I started developing insomnia and became very emotional about everything to the point that it took a toll on my personal relationships. I know my family felt like I was going through some post deployment depression or something. It was unreal yet I didn’t do anything to try to find out what was going on.

Then in April 2008, while on a trip to a civil war battlefield, I was short of breath after only walking. When I went home my mom noticed that my neck was swollen. I didn’t believe her but when I checked my neck, indeed it was swollen. To make a long story short, I went to the ER and they treated it as an allergy. However, when the “allergy” did not go away after 72 hours, I went to see my doctor who did some blood work and diagnosed me with Graves’ Disease. Graves’ Disease is an autoimmune condition that leads to overactivity of the thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism).

Immediately I went to see an endocrinologist who treated me with medication. Because of the size of my goiter (swollen thryroid), he recommended against radioactive iodine. After a year of unsuccessful treatment, we decided on surgery because it was affecting my performance at work. As someone in the military, physical fitness is essential and I was having a lot of issues with high blood pressure because of the disease. And again, to make a long story short, after my thryroid was removed, I became hypothyroid which is the complete opposite of hyperthyroidism in that the thryroid does not produce enough hormones. In my case without a thyroid I was not producing any hormones and with that came a whole different set of issues.

Within 30 days after having my surgery I gained 20 lbs. ballooning to 208 lbs. which was also 3 months before what was supposed to be the culmination of a dream of mine: running the ING NYC Marathon. Yeap, that never happened. My body went into full blown chaos and I felt horrible.

As a former college track and field athlete and then someone who really enjoyed fitness as a whole, thyroid disease came with a different set of realities and changes–the biggest one being that my body did not react nor behave the same way as it did when it had a normal thyroid function. I went from being fit to someone who heard cruel words like OMG, when did you become the fat one? or You need to lay off the donuts.

A day in the life of a hypothyroid fitness nut

But these days comments like that do not bother as much (although they still sting) because my main concern now is getting healthy and feeling like I do not have to struggle every single day. It has taken three years after my surgery to finally start getting my system back into a semblance of normalcy which at times can be very fleeting. Whenever I mention that a lot of my problems I have are because of hypothyroidism, I always get this reaction from people as if saying “Right. Hypothyroidism”. And what I want to say is “Shut the hell up! Yes, that is exactly what it is! I really want you to walk in my shoes for one day and see how it feels when I am having a bad day”. I know people with hypothyroidism who are doing great, but others like me? Not so much. And make no mistake, when it is bad I am a mess of painful joints, sluggishness, lack of motivation, and emotional mood swings. Here is how a day in my life goes:

rise and shine

5:00 AM: Wake up, let the doggie out and take my Synthroid medication. I take the medicine on an empty stomach and then wait one hour before I eat breakfast or drink coffee. Then I go back to bed. You may be wondering at this point why doesn’t she go for a run? I am going to tell you why: BECAUSE I HAVE NO FRIGGIN’ ENERGY! THAT’S WHY! One of the worse symptoms of hypothyroidism is chronic fatigue no matter how much you rest. This is how I feel most mornings {except I’m not that cute}:

hypothyroid dog

However, if I do have the energy I usually go for a run. But it is very rare for me to workout in the morning because I am dragging. Which was a big problem when I had to do Army physical training with my unit. My best runs and workouts are in the evening. At that point my body is ready to roll for some major workouts.

6:30 AM: Wake up, do my devotions and feed the dog. Take shower.

7:30 -12:30: Have breakfast. Go to work. Meal 2. Meal 3 (3 hours later). Go home and walk the dogs for 20-30 minutes. Go back to work.

** I feel the need to mention that I eat 5-6 SMALL meals a day, you know… before anyone asks me why I’m pigging out if I want to lose weight.

workday over yet?

By the time 1:00 PM arrives I have lost whatever little energy I gained from breakfast and lunch. I’m sucking wind by then.

If I have a meeting pray that I have energy and that the mental fogginess that comes with this disease has not taken over because it does not matter how much I try to concentrate, part of my brain is not going to be at that meeting. This was very problematic when I was initially diagnosed with Graves’ Disease and then after my thyroid was removed. Mentally and emotionally I was so bad that I almost resigned my Army commission (of course it didn’t help that my boss at the time thought I was making this up and started every freaking conversation with the words “now, don’t get emotional about…”).

catching my second wind

Here is the funny part, around 3:00 P.M., I start catching a second wind and my energy is usually back after that…for the most part. This is why I do any major projects in the afternoon and why I workout during the evening. I am like the Energizer bunny in the afternoons and I love it because it is also when I take my dog for his long walks so I need to have the energy to do that.

I go for my runs around 6:30 PM and then head off to the gym. If I am doing another type of cardio in the gym, I am there no later than 7:00 PM. This is when most people are winding down for the day but this is when I am just getting started. I tell you one of the advantages of working out this late? The majority of the machines at the gym are empty at those hours. This is my time to bring it and leave all in the gym.

Now, workouts do not always go as planned especially if I am having joint pains. I am not talking about arthritis here. I am talking painful joints that hurt to move even sitting down. This is one of the worse symptoms for me YET it is the best symptom for me to know when my hormone levels are off. More than any other symptom I get from this disease, joint pain is my measure of how my system is doing.

so hungry

By the time I make it home from the gym, I am starving…like I could inhale my food. One of the tricks I have learned to avoid this and the overeating that usually can follow, is as soon as I leave the gym I start drinking a protein shake. This immediately helps me with that “feed me, feed me, feed me” frenzy mode my body goes into. By the time I prep my food and sit down to eat dinner, I am ready to eat slow and what I need– not what all I can possibly shove in my mouth in 5 seconds. Then after a shower and relaxing time either reading or watching tv, I am ready to sleep. I usually go to bed around 10:30 PM, this has always been my normal time to go to sleep even before my thyroid problems.

so tired

The weirdest thing for me is that about three nights a week I wake up around 3:00 AM and then can’t go back to sleep. Just wide awake. Usually this lasts about 30 minutes and then I start getting tired so I am back to bed… only to wake up at 5:00 AM and start the cycle again.

So yes, when I say that one of my many aches, pains or weight gain may be because of my hypothyroidism…IT PROBABLY IS. I am not making it up or making excuses. I love to workout and being fit but sometimes the body has another plan and it does not give me a choice. I have to stop and rest. Sometimes I am stubborn and push through. This never turns out good especially as it relates to joint pains. But in this fitness journey as a hypothyroid there are a three important things I have learned and have helped me.

1. Do your research when it comes to the right workouts. This is a lot of trial and error. Whatever fitness plan you start, make sure you tweak it for your situation and ensure it is right for you. Workouts like Crossfit and such do not work for me. I have to rely on workouts that are more gentle to my body. Believe it or not running without overdoing it has worked for me which is why I continue to do it– plus I love doing it. I personally need cardio to lose the weight. No way around it.

2. Diet. My diet is 95% gluten free and it has made a tremendous difference. I am not as sluggish and have more energy. Plus it has made it a bit easier for my body to start losing the weight. Get rid of processed foods, refined sugar, and ditch the soda! When it comes to cruciferous veggies and goitrogens, do not stay away from them completely. You can still enjoy them cooked to reduce the goitrogens and in limited amounts. I know this may be controversial for some. But again: this is what works for me.

3. Weight loss. It takes time and as you know, it is a yo-yo for the most part once you are hypothyroid. You seem to find the balance between your meds, exercise and diet, only to have your hormone levels go out of whack again. It is a fine science trying to lose weight with this disease but you must have patience.

All of this that I have gone through is why I now celebrate small victories: the morning I wake up full of energy, the days my hair does not fall when I brush it, when I lost 1 lbs. instead of 5, when I was able to have a completely happy day without an emotional mess. These are things most people take for granted but I bet you, if you ask a hypothyroid they do not. When you have a bad day, it is like living with a debilitating disease. What am I talking about? It is a debilitating disease at times and it takes a toll on everyone around them. It is no joke and it annoys me when people make jokes about hypothyroids or snide remarks about the disease. So the next time someone tells you “I am hypothyroid” do not dismiss them and be thankful you are not walking a mile in those shoes. Believe me when I tell you — you do not want to.


A bit about Maria

Hello everyone! My name is Maria. In my daily life I am an Army Officer and momma to the most handsome Wheaten terrier.

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I appreciate every share! Thank you.

About Dana Trentini

Dana Trentini founded Hypothyroid Mom October 2012 in memory of the unborn baby she lost to hypothyroidism. This is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for consulting your physician regarding medical advice pertaining to your health. Hypothyroid Mom includes affiliate links including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.


  1. I was diagnosed at age 35 as hypothyroid; not autoimmune thankfully. I am thinking mine is more genetic, since my mother has the same problem, but with different symptoms. I had weight gain of 25 lbs., constant fatigue (dragging through my day), feeling cold all the time, constipation, depression, short menstrual cycles (less than 24 days), and a hoarse voice. Armour Thyroid was the drug to help me, though I did need it prior authorized due to the cost. Since I have been having new symptoms this winter, I am getting a new thyroid panel done and getting my medication adjusted by the endocrinologist. Winter seems to be the hardest part of the year for me to manage my symptoms. I like to do Tae Bo when I am feeling good, but when I feel like garbage, I can care less about exercise at all. I am on a gluten-free diet myself for it. Am also lacto-ovo vegetarian. I suffer with these symptoms, too, and I know it is not fun to have no energy and be tired all the time.

  2. You have my condolences Maria. I was so fit, I mean I was toned everywhere and then suddenly out of no where I started to have strange symptoms. I started to get aura migraines, my hair started falling out, I was getting insanely dry skin, my periods went haywire and then my breasts started leaking white milky fluid. No I was not pregnant, I never had been and I did not have cancer or cysts. I was so tired. I would calorie count and workout 2 hours a day, suddenly my ankles started hurting when I walked and I was getting out of breath and then my hips began aching all the time. I, no shit gained 30 pounds in less then 3 months. It was so scary. Here I am 5 years later and I still am really struggling with this weight. Even better I got pregnant and have 15 residual pounds for a total of 45. I am not a mammoth or rolly but I definitely have weight on me no matter “how well proportioned” I am. It sucks my confidence right out, I wont do a lot of things because I am uncomfortable with myself and I am tired af. I feel terrible for my little one. This is an awful curse, a humbling experience that sucka the life from you and I really detest it. I wonder if somehow I lost my weight if I would suddenly feel good again, would I feel like old me? Would I have zest for life again? I dont know. Even more awesome you can’t take diet pills with this condition.
    I understand your pain.

  3. Connie Terpack says

    Look into adding extra magnesium to your daily diet. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism about 30 years ago. I wish I had started Mg back then. Getting the right type and figuring out how much you need are the two biggest problems.

  4. Hi Maria,
    Great story and thank you for sharing! So many have gone through the same or similar stories! I myself have previously had Hashimotos and and been on a similar path and feel great with no symptoms! I truly believe that it is critical to know that you are taking truly pure vitamins, reducing stress, cutting out certain foods. Thanks again for sharing and thank you for your service.

  5. Thanks for this article! I also had my thyroid out around 2009 (at age 19) due to a giant goiter and had a very similar battle since. Its taken me ten years to appreciate the small victories – I remember doing an 8 week challenge at the gym a few years back where my trainer implied I must’ve been cheating on my diet somewhere because id been in the gym everyday and only lost 2kg to other peoples 10kg+. So disheartening – but it has taught me I only need to compete against myself and everyday i’m getting out of bed and getting active (when I can) and fueling the body well is a good day

  6. Thank you for posting! Diagnosed with hypothyroid about 10 years ago, on Syhnthroid. Ups and downs, physically and emotionally have been the norm, now menopausal this year at 58, all combined I am quite a mess. Ballooned up to 230lb now down to 202lb (keto diet for 6 months) and holding over the last 7 months unable to get the weight loss going again and thinking about doing another round of keto. Was a very athletic and active person but now have to honor my body and not push. I want to do circuit exercise class at my gym for the emotional feel goods but the trade off is the body pain that takes weeks to subside. Have opted for hatha yoga and some light weights or resistance training- that is the limit at present. Working with my doctor and naturopath, we are trying to get the antibody count down. I was at 13000 and normal is below 50, now down to 8500 by sticking with an anti-inflammatory diet and taking natural antivirals and antibacterials + ashwaganda. It is slow but I remain hopeful.

  7. Seeing this could not have come at a better time. I had my thyroid removed three years ago due to Hashimoto’s and nodules that started to affect my breathing and swallowing. Plus I have that nice “double whammy” going too since the disease threw me into early menopause. Recently, I started working out again (I at one time was an accomplished athlete) and was incredibly discouraged that seven weeks in of four-a-day workouts and a 1200 calorie a day meal plan I was actually gaining weight! This post reminded me that even though my Hashimoto’s is gone, I still struggle with hypothyroidism and that my meds (cytomel and levothyrixine) may need to be changed up because of my new routine. Thank you thank you thank you for the reminder when I needed it the most.

  8. After having my thyroid removed because of cancer I have been suffering with knee, tendon and feet pains that make doing anything impossible and this has been on going now for 2 yrs …..not one Endo cares do to anything about these pains because my lab numbers are in range. I disagree I never been crippled in my 48 yrs of life until I had this thyroidectomy….would have been better off with cancer.

  9. Thanks for sharing! I have struggled with hypothyroidism since I was 21. I went from being a tremendous athlete…6 ft, 180lbs. Capable of 5:42 mile run and 4.6 40 dash. I was an elite soccer player and swimmer. I initially got sick, 2 months bedridden. Dropped to 150 lbs. After that I ballooned to 200lbs.
    I am now 37 and starting to get a grasp of this horrible illness. I have suffered from checkin sensations, major muscle weakness, bone and joint pain. When I wake up it felt like i was hit by a truck and could no lay in bed for more than 6 hours. At my worst, I could not comfortably sit on a hard chair for more than 1 minute.

    I ballooned to 220lbs. I am now down to 201 lbs. I havent been this think in 10 years. My energy level is much improved and joint/muscle pain is tolerable. I am even able to excercise again.

    In last three weeks, I’ve dropped 15lbs. I gave up all wheat and milk products. Also processed foods. I also have been adamant taking my armour on an empty stomach, 1 hr before drinking coffee or eating. The biggest change has been gluten and milk. I felt immediately better three days after giving up those items. I feel like a new person. I am not even kidding, I literally thought there were days I was dying. I cant express how poorly one can feel even when their levels are “normal” my advice…give up gluten and possibly milk. It has changed my life and health

  10. Thank you so much for sharing. I have been struggling for 2yrs and 4 mos dealing with hypothyroidism. Before my thyroid crapped out I was 122lbs. I am 180lbs right now and just beside myself… I have a history of fitness training, yoga instructor and former PE teacher. I changed careers(went back to school) and now am a surgical RN. I am so depressed about how I look. I am tired, my joints ache on and off, my mood drops, plus I am in peri-menopause. The doc says i am experiencing the Double Whammy. yeah, right :\ I have no more ideas as to what to try, to drop the weight. I cook at home don’t do processed food at all, no sodas, etc. My biggest problem this year has been pure exhaustion. The doc says my thyroid levels are where they should be but I still can’t seem to lose the weight. It is so frustrating.
    I refuse to give up tho. Instead of impact exercise, I have started back at doing gentle vinyasa yoga, walking, isometric exercises, light weights and learning to embrace ways to de-stress and mostly, learning to love myself in the skin I am in. I too, have gotten the “fat comments”, it is so harsh to hear and remind myself that many of general public have no idea what the thyroid gland is or how it functions in our bodies.
    Thank you again for sharing. You are not alone, and it is comforting to know that I am not alone in this battle either.

    • I just wanted to say I was experiencing the same things-the double whammy part of life! I see a hormone doctor who did a huge panel of blood tests and she handles my Hashimoto (hypothyroid) now as well. With all of our extra hormones, having your thyroid stop working properly just throws the body into more turmoil. I had no estrogen or progesterone and now that we are evening those out as well, I am feeling better. I am sleeping better. I have very few hot flashes-which my normal doctor attributed only to the thyroid. I take Synthroid in the morning and I have been fine with it. it’s hard when people can’t see your illness, and thyroid affects people so diversely-but I wanted you to know you might think of getting your hormone levels checked by someone who is not just a main stream doctor. I take progesterone which I had never even heard of! It was a game changer for me! I also wear an estrogen patch and it seems to help even out my mood. The double life whammy has hope! I feel pretty good most days and now when I feel off/super tired-I look at my diet to see what habits have crept back in. I did gain about 20 pounds before I was diagnosed Hashi, but I have taken off about 10 with diet and the right hormones and Synthroid for my thyroid. I feel like if I ate really clean I could probably take off the rest-but I’m more forgiving of myself now, so I don’t feel bad that it hasn’t come off yet:) Good luck to you!

  11. Thank you so much. Reading your article, I realize it is me. Feeling like struggling with myself each hour not to go back to bed. I also feel more energy on being on gluten and dairy free diet.

  12. Thank you for this article. Most women in my family suffer from this to different degrees. I can talk with them about it and they understand, none of us deal with it the same way. I wait to eat, like you do, after taking medication, but my sister doesn’t. She tells her doctor this and they make the necessary adjustment in her meds. Although our picture of our day is definately different (my energy is from 6am – 1 or 2 pm. I want my day to be over by then. Unfortunately after cleaning house, cooking, and homeschooling 3 kids, I am now working part time in the afternoons. I can’t imagine having an office job where thinking and brainstorming is required. Sometimes in the evening I will get a brain boost and can’t go to sleep and I am up at night working on lesson plans or reading or watching tv. I understand and can totally relate to the joint pain and exhaustion that is beyond explaining to someone who doesn’t suffer with it. I do my best everyday. Some days I am Wonder Woman conquering laundry, deep cleaning, creative ideas and encouraging others, and some days I am just happy I got out of bed and showered. God bless you and restore you.

  13. Shelley T says

    I completely hear you about hypothyroidism… I have been diagnosed and was given synthroid to take. After being on it for a few months I was feeling horrible! So I switched to armor thyroid and it has really helped me feel better. Not gaining anymore weight, even tho I am losing it very quickly either. But I have found doing evening walks and weight training with dumbbells and other weight machines. I stretch a lot between the weights and I am sweating or really hurting myself. But man what a difference it has made for me. The time I go to the gym is usually around 2-230pm but once I go back to work I need to consider going in the evenings.

  14. sabrina weiher says

    i had my thyroid taken out when i was 26 thyroid cancer. i have been fighting this. i have taken Synthroid (name brand only) i still felt sluggish no energy. my endocrinologist never would change any thing besides my dose. same no different. i keep telling her i still feel crappy. so i went to another doc. that put me on armour. and cytemel. i am starting to feel better. i know i still have a long road. i still not good one finding the happy med on my eating but i have been able to maintain 185lbs. i have gotten down to 155 but then back up. it is a never ending yo yo.

  15. Felicia Persaud says

    I so welcome this blog. Just found out I gave hypothyroidism after months of testing and feeling like I was going to die from terrible throat pain and complete fatigue that kept me on my couch. Im now doing all the research and coming to grips with this!

  16. Tasha Dotts says

    I feel and understand 100% of everything you said in this article! From freshman year of high school to sophomore year of college, I lost almost 70 lbs. then going into junior year, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had to have my thyroid removed. I gained 30 lbs back since then (almost 6 years later) and it’s not because of my eating or diet habits. It was so nice to read someone having the same struggles as me. I teared up quite a bit, just knowing I wasn’t alone.

    I just started the Beachbody program21day fix 2 weeks ago. I love it, but I’ve been discouraged this week because when I lost 4 pounds last week, I gained 2 right back this week even though I’ve been doing the workouts and eating correctly.

    Moral of the story, I wanted to say thank you for sharing. And know you’re not alone 🙂

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