Personal Health Intiative Training

Archive for June, 2011

Don’t Lose Yourself…

The past two weeks have been kind of hectic. I have not even thought about posting on my blog. Transition in any way can be a difficult process and we must be wary because it can easily get us off track. I realized that I was slipping with my nutrition. I have a new job which requires more of my time now so I have to ensure that I still get my regular workouts in. We have been very busy lately so I have to really keep better track of what and when I eat. At my previous job, eating on a regular schedule was no problem. We were not as busy and I always thought about eating. Now, I have to remind myself to eat. During all of the commotion and change, it is important to remember to take care of yourself and remember that this is your lifestyle….not a temporary state of being

Eating clean and exercising should be built into your life no matter what else is going on. If you forget this, you will fall back into your old ways, gain all your weight back and look back and wonder….what happened? Take care of YOU and don’t lose yourself.

“Be there for others, but never leave yourself behind.”  ~Dodinsky


The Butterfly Effect

I think we all remember when Oprah Winfrey revealed that she had thyroid disease and that it has caused her weight problems throughout the years. There are two types of thyroid issues…hyperthyroidism (excessive) and hypothyroidism (underactive).  Here is a more detailed explanation from

“The thyroid is the butterfly shaped gland that impacts metabolism in adults. It responds to and is regulated by feedback loops and plays a vital role in maintaining body temperature and homeostasis.”


      Hypothyroidism is a condition that occurs when T4 levels drop and the body begins a metabolic slow down. Hypothyroidism was first diagnosed in the late nineteenth century when physicians observed swelling of the hands, face, feet, and tissues around the eyes after surgically removing the thyroid gland from patients. The syndrome was called myxedema and corresponds with the absence of thyroid hormones.

The term myxedema is still used today and is often associated with a severe lack of thyroid hormone that often leads to coma. Other common terms used in discussing hypothyroidism are autoimmune disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Both of these ailments result in a less than fully functioning thyroid gland.

Hypothyroidism is usually progressive and irreversible, but today’s treatment schedules are very successful and allow for full, normal living. Combined with the symptoms listed below in the table, a rising TSH level is a good indicator of a hypothyroid condition.

There are some unique risk factors associated with hypothyroidism. There are indications that individuals with ovarian failure, sleep apnea, premature gray hair and left-handedness are more likely to suffer from hypothyroidism.

Subclinical hypothyroidism is a more recent term used to identify increasing TSH levels and declining T4 levels.

Blood tests for T4 levels can still be normal and early symptoms of hypothyroidism may be exhibited.

Research is finding that subclinical hypothyroidism is very common (affecting about 10 million Americans). Fortunately, subclinical hypothyroidism does not often progress to the full-blown disorder in most people. However, some evidence suggests that even modest abnormal thyroid hormone levels may do some damage.

Hypothyroidism Signs & Symptoms
Early Symptoms Late Symptoms
Weakness Slow speech
Fatigue Dry flaky skin
Cold intolerance Thickening of the skin
Constipation Puffy face, hands and feet
Weight gain (unintentional) Decreased taste and smell
Depression Thinning of eyebrows
Joint or muscle pain Hoarseness
Thin, brittle fingernails and hair Abnormal menstrual periods


      Hyperthyroidism, also known as thyrotoxicosis, is a clinical condition caused by excess quantities of thyroid hormone in the body. The condition may be caused by over production by the thyroid gland or the pituitary gland releasing excessive TSH.

The excess of hormones can cause heat intolerance, increased energy, difficulty sleeping, diarrhea and anxiety and other symptoms as listed in the table.

Graves’ disease is the most common condition associated with hyperthyroidism. Graves’ disease is a basic defect in the immune system that causes production of antibodies that stimulate and attack the thyroid gland. This attack on the thyroid causes growth of the gland and overproduction of thyroid hormone

Factitious hyperthyroidism is another hyperthyroid condition. It is associated with ingestion of excessive amounts of thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone preparations have been available for over a century and taking excess prescription or glandular mixtures can also cause hyperthyroid conditions.

How Do You Get Graves’ Disease?
Graves’ Disease is a type of autoimmune disease in which the immune system over stimulates the thyroid gland, causing hyperthyroidism. Over-activity of the thyroid gland is also sometimes called “diffuse toxic goiter.”The thyroid gland helps set the rate of metabolism (the rate at which the body uses energy), and when it is over-stimulated, it produces more thyroid hormones than the body needs. High levels of thyroid hormones can cause difficult side effects.This is an extremely rare disease that tends to affect women over the age of 20. The incidence is about 5 in 10,000 people.

This is a condition that bodybuilders can fall into when taking thyroid hormones.

Hyperthyroidism Signs & Symptoms
Weight loss Weakness
Protruding eyes Sleeping difficulty
Increased appetite Clammy skin
Nervousness Skin blushing or flushing
Restlessness Bounding pulse
Heat intolerance Nausea and vomiting
Increased sweating Lack of menstruation
Fatigue Itching – overall
Frequent bowel movements Heartbeat sensations
Menstrual irregularities Hand tremor
Goiter (visibly enlarged thyroid) may be present Diarrhea
High Blood Pressure Hair loss

If there is a concern that you might have a underactive or overactive thyroid, you should get tested by your doctor…do no self diagnose. These conditions are not a life sentence to be overweight. With medication and a change in diet, you can be just as healthy and fit as the next person. Did you know that Jilliam Michaels was diagnosed with hypothyroidism when she was 30 years old? She attributes the onset to her unhealthy eating habits and certain hormonal medications she was taking. Ladies, anytime we put hormones in our bodies that are not natural, we can expect some type of side effect. It might not appear quickly but after years, it make take its toll. This includes birth control pills or any alteration to our menstrual cycle…our bodies were meant to shed each month…just something for you to keep in mind. Hormones are as equally important in weight loss as are diet changes and exercise. I highly recommend the Jillian Michaels book “Master Your Metabolism.” She really breaks it down and all of the information is reasearch based and scientifically proven.

Certain foods can help or hurt your thyroid levels. Check out this information below. With a little change and persistence you can live a normal and healthy life! 

Foods that May Speed Up a Slow Thyroid

1. Sea Weed

Naturally rich in iodine as well as trace minerals, sea weed has long been considered a food that supports thyroid function.   Indeed, native peoples subsisting on their traditional diets often went to very great lengths to obtain sea vegetables in effort to avoid goiter.   Iodine is critical to thyroid health and function.   Without adequate dietary iodine, your body is unable to manufacture the thyroid hormones.   Of course, excess intake of iodine-rich foods is also implicated in thyroid disease.   Remember: moderation is the key, not excess.   (Want to up your sea vegetable intake?   Try my coconut milk kanten with wild plums or my cucumber and daikon radish salad with hijiki.)

2. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil also supports proper thyroid function as it slightly stimulates thyroid hormone production and the metabolism.   In this way, wise incorporation of coconut oil into the diet is thought to support thyroid health and help sufferers of hypothyroidism to lose weight.   Coconut oil may also help to reduce cholesterol in hypothyroid patients as thyroid suppression in and of itself raises blood cholesterol levels.   Coconut oil is largely comprised of saturated fat and saturated fat promotes thyroid function.

3. Shellfish

Shellfish, like sea vegetables, are naturally rich in iodine – the nutrient that is critically important to thyroid function as iodine molecules are used in the production of thyroid hormones.

Foods that May Slow Down a Speedy Thyroid

1. Fermented Soy Foods

Soy is very goitrogenic. A strong suppressor of thyroid hormones, some research indicates that soy may even be more effective in thyroid suppression than anti-thyroid drugs.   Don’t forget that soy is a potent food, and that while sufferers of hyperthyroidism might welcome soy’s thyroid-suppressing effects, take care to eat soy in its fermented state in foods like tempeh and miso as soy also contains antinutrients like phytic acid which impair the body’s overall ability to absorb many nutrients.

2. Raw Cruciferous Vegetables

Raw cruciferous vegetables also suppress thyroid function.   Cruciferous vegetables like kohlrabi, cabbage, cauliflour, rapini, turnips and brussels sprouts contain goitrogens that interfere with iodine uptake and, in that way, also interfere with production of thyroid hormones.   (Want to get more raw cruciferous veggies into your diet?   Try my Simple Slaw with Flaxseed Oil & Honey.)

3. Millet

Millet, like cruciferous vegetables, contains goitrogens and interferes with iodine uptake. Cooking millet, as well as goitrogen-rich cruciferous vegetables, may mitigate its antithyroid effects to some degree.

Foods that Aren’t Doing Anyone’s Thyroid a Favor

1. Gluten-containing Grains

Recent research into autoimmune diseases and autoimmune thyroid disease in particular indicates that there’s a strong connection between celiac disease and thyroid disease.     Indeed, study published in Digestive Diseases & Science indicates that sufferers of autoimmune thyroid disease have roughly a 400% greater chance of also suffering from celiac disease than control groups.   Moreover, some research indicates that after 3-6 months on a gluten-free diet, those pesky anti-thyroid antibodies virtually disappear.   That’s a powerful case to remove wheat, barley and other gluten-containing grains from your diet if you suffer from any form of autoimmune thyroid disease.

2. Unfermented Soy

Unfermented soy foods – particularly those rich in concentrated isoflavones and genistien – contribute to autoimmune thyroid disease.   Reasearch into soy formula and its effects on babies indicates that babies fed soy formula are more likely to develope autoimmune thyroid disease and large concentrations of unfermented soy may adversely thyroid function in adults.   If you eat soy, keep to small amounts and always choose fermented forms.   (Learn more about the nastiness of too much soy consumption in my post about the Soy and Illinois Prisoner Case.)

3. Coffee

Coffee is simultaneously stimulating and goitrogenic which spell trouble for both hypo- and hyperthyroid sufferers.   As a   strong stimulant, it can wreak havoc on those suffering from hyperthyroidism as that added stimulation is the very last thing they need.   Moreover, for those suffering from hyperthyroidism, coffee also interferes with iodine uptake and thus may inhibit the formation of thyroid hormones.   Bad news for everyone.

A Note on Balance and Moderation

As with everything, if you suffer from thyroid disease or suspect you do, consult first with a physician and have that physician run the full panel of thyroid tests.   If your thyroid disease is found to be severe, work with an endocrinologist and a complementary physician of naturopathy or integrative medicine.   Remember, just because you suffer from hypothyroidism that’s not adequate cause to overeat iodine-rich foods; likewise, if you suffer from hyperthyroidism, that’s not adequate cause to overeat soy-rich foods as overeating any food can actually worsen the issue.

Lastly, take solace in the natural, wholesome beauty of well-composed dishes.   Consider how miso (goitrogenic) is paired with seaweed and dashi (iodine-rich).   Or take a look at the way fresh seafood (iodine rich) is paired with pickled daikon (goitrogenic).   Once you’ve achieved euthyroid status, eat complementary foods.

More foods for Hypothyroid Condition since it is the most common…

Hypothyroid Diet – Nutrition
A diet for hypothyroidism should include whole foods rich in iodine, niacin, riboflavin, zinc, as well as vitamins B6, C, and E. These nutrients naturally support proper thyroid functions as well as overall good health and vitality.

Iodine(Is a major component of thyroid hormone balance and is antimicrobial)

  • Cow’s milk
  • Eggs
  • Salmon
  • Seaweed
  • Strawberries
  • Tuna
  • Yogurt

High Polyphenols (Acts as an anti-fungal)

  • Apples
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli (Goitrogenic Food – Limit consumption
    to 1 or 2 servings a week)
  • Cabbage (Goitrogenic Food – Limit consumption to 1 or 2 servings a week)
  • Cantaloupe
  • Celery
  • Cherries
  • Cranberries
  • Eggplant
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Grapes
  • Green tea
  • Legumes
  • Onion
  • Parsley
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

Niacin (Is required for normal manufacture of thyroid hormone)

  • Brown rice
  • Chicken
  • Lamb
  • Pomegranates
  • Tuna
  • Turkey

Riboflavin (Vitamin b2) (Is essential for normal manufacture of thyroid hormone)

  • Avocados
  • Clams
  • Duck
  • Fresh pork
  • Lamb
  • Milk
  • Mushrooms
  • Yogurt
Selenium(Helps to convert T-4 to T-3)

  • Brazil nuts
  • Cod
  • Crimini mushrooms
  • Eggs
  • Garlic
  • Halibut
  • Salmon
  • Shrimp
  • Snapper
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Tuna
  • Turkey

Vitamin B6 (Is required for normal manufacture of thyroid hormone)

  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Barley
  • Bok Choy
  • Brown rice
  • Chicken
  • Chickpeas
  • Fresh pork
  • Mangoes
  • Potatoes
  • Salmon
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tuna
  • Turkey

Vitamin C (Boosts thyroid gland function)

  • Cabbage, red (Goitrogenic Food – Limit consumption to 1 or 2 servings a week)
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Oranges
  • Peppers, bell, red
  • Pineapples
  • Potatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Tangerines and other mandarins

Vitamin E (Works with zinc and vitamin A to produce thyroid hormone)

  • Almonds
  • Avocados
  • Brazil nuts
  • Broccoli (Goitrogenic Food – Limit consumption to 1 or 2 servings a week)
  • Mangoes
  • Peanuts
  • Sunflower seeds

Zinc (Boosts thyroid function)

  • Barley
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Crab
  • Lamb
  • Oysters
  • Turkey
  • Wheat

Become your own nutritionist.

You don’t need to hire a nutritionist to create your personal meal plans in your weight loss journey. Though we don’t have the technical expertise that a doctor has, we can do enough research to make our weight loss successful. Here are a list of some websites and books that you can use to learn more about how to eat properly for health and for weight loss.

  • is a free online resource for those who want to live a healthy lifestyle. At no cost whatsoever, you can use Calorie Count to look up Nutrition Facts food labels to find nutrition data for more than 220,000 foods. Members use Calorie Count as an online diet program, a nutrition coach, and a workout partner. Your personalized account provides a food journal, exercise log, a weight tracker, nutrition data, and diet analysis, all customized to your personal goals. By seeing your calorie requirements, daily calorie count, nutrition analysis, and weight loss progress, you can get the weight loss results or maintain the fit and healthy body you already have. In addition to the helpful diet and exercise tools, there is also an online community of 2.5 million members awaiting your unique story on the path to better health.
  • Get your free online diet journal and start tracking your foods, exercises, weight loss, and goals. Join over 5.1 Million FitDay members using our site to take control of their diet and lose weight.
  • Eating Clean is not a fad; it’s a way of life. When you Eat Clean your body will react by losing weight if you need to lose, maintaining a healthy weight if that’s where you are, and even gaining weight if you are too skinny. But regardless of whether you want to lose, maintain or gain, you will feel better than you ever have before. This site provides recipes and an online community that helps you stick to your goals.
  • This site tells you exactly what is in your food. You may be surprised at the ingredients.
  • Eat Clean Diet Recharged Book by Tosca Reno:

Provides sample meal plans and guidelines for the types of foods that you should be eating. There are also clean versions of your favorite not so healthy meals included.


  • Master Your Metabolism: Jillian Michaels knows her stuff. In this book, you will learn about how important hormones are and how we trash them everyday by eating unhealthy.



These are only a few resources….more to come!

Hit A Plateau?

The definition of plateau:

“A period of time when your weight loss stops. A weight loss plateau can last weeks to months and is usually a sign that something needs to change. Weight loss plateaus tend to be the rule instead of the exception when it comes to the journey to permanent weight loss.”-

We all have heard about the dreaded plateau. In my weight loss journey there were times when my weight was stagnant but it never lasted for more than 2 weeks. I guess I was lucky or maybe it was because I kept a very close watch on it. I weighed myself every week and if the numbers stopped moving, I got busy changing my plan. If you are “stuck” that means you have to change. Change your workout, change the foods you eat, or anything else that might be getting in the way. It really works! Some nutritionists recommend zig-zagging your calories. That means you eat a different number of calories each day. I found a great website that allows you to put in your weight, height, and the number of days you workout, and it calculates the number of calories you can eat each day. It’s awesome and you can use the higher calorie days as your “cheat meal” days. This site uses the Mifflin-St. Jeor method of calculating your calorie needs.

Mifflin – St Jeor Formula

The Calorie Needs Calculator currently uses the formula proposed by MD Mifflin and ST St Jeor1.

Why This Formula?
As recent as 2005, the ADA (American Dietetic Association) published a comparison of various equations2. The Mifflin-St Jeor was found to be the most accurate.

10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) + 5

10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) – 161.

Here are what my calculations look like for maintaining my current weight.  (For a 135 lb female, 5’6,  that works out intensely for 5 days a week.) You can adjust yours for weight loss ( (You probably will be surprised at how many calories you can actually eat…remember, if you don’t eat enough, your body goes into starvation mode and you will not lose any weight!)

2093 Calories/day
Fat Loss
1674 Calories/day
Extreme Fat Loss
1256 Calories/day
7 day calorie cycle (zig-zag)
  Ex Fat Loss Fat Loss Maintain
Monday 1256 1675 2094
Tuesday 1080 1340 1675
Wednesday 1508 2010 2512
Thursday 1256 1675 2094
Friday 1131 1508 1884
Saturday 1382 1842 2303
Sunday 1256 1675 2094
*Calorie cycling provides same amount of calories per week, but ‘tricks’ your body by constantly changing daily calories. This helps to prevent or break plateaus. Guideline only.

What’s wrong with dreaming?

Too many people in this world are “realists.” They expect the worst, give the worst, and never push beyond where they think they can go. Why do we do this to ourselves? I think that when God or the higher spirit, whatever you want to call it, made us, there were no limits placed on what we could do as human beings. We have done that to ourselves. Society tells us all of these negative things and everyone is just getting by. Why don’t you think about challenging yourself and go for your dream?

Rephel and I were taking a walk yesterday through the neighborhood and there was this one house that was for sale. It was a $500,000 house and the one that you dream about when you are a little girl. As an adult, your mind tells you, “you will never have that house…you are 30 years old and have no money saved…how can you ever get that?” If you keep listening to that voice, that is just where you will end up for the rest of your life. Never dreaming or hoping for anything greater. When I was at the gym this morning I was skimming through Essence magazine. (I can’t stand steady state cardio on the elliptical or stairclimber but I do it because it is a necessary evil, so sometimes I will have a magazine to look at…even if it is the same page the whole time!) A trainer was discussing goals and she said that we need to shoot past the realistic. If we just stick with the “realistic” goals we often sell ourselves short and have a “just in case I don’t make it” attitude. If we set our goals high above where we thought we could ever be it makes us work much harder. Go figure! When you are exercising, train like an athlete. Develop a professional mind-set, create a plan and stick to it! Are you not sick and tired of being stuck in your rut and never getting to where you want to be? Stop acting like that and get out there are do the work! You can do it but only if you have a plan, train like an athlete, and stick with it. You deserve it don’t you?

“Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.”-Gail Devers

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