Guest Post: Share Your Story
Author: Gina Heath, INHC
Six months after my son was born, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. I was told I had an underactive thyroid that was common after childbirth but was given no other explanation. I was put on the conventional Synthroid medication and kept hearing I would need to take it for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, I still experienced anxiety, cold extremities, dry hair and skin, and moodiness. My blood work always came back ‘normal’ and six years later, I was still experiencing the same symptoms. I started questioning why my thyroid was underactive and not performing at peak level.
The following year, shortly after I started to search for answers, I had a shift in my health for the worst. One evening out of nowhere, heart palpitations kicked in full force with lightheadedness and shortness of breath. Labs and tests gave me no answers. This progressed and new symptoms were brought on with chest pain, loss of appetite and anxiety. More labs were completed with everything looking ‘normal’, but the only remedy was to adjust my Synthroid medication again and again and yet again. I switched doctors repeatedly and then was put on Nature-Throid and eventually Armour Thyroid with no change. I still had no answers even though my body was screaming for change. This continued for six months and every day all I wanted to do was camp out in front of the hospital’s ER doors.
I then became more vigilant in labs and requested tests for complete thyroid panels. My quest for answers left me with even more questions. Why didn’t anyone test for any of the other hormone levels or antibodies besides just the TSH level? Why are my thyroid antibodies so high? Why was my own body attacking my thyroid? I asked myself this over and over again. I was then diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, also known as an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland. I began diving into EVERYTHING and ANYTHING about the thyroid. I spent countless hours doing research on the thyroid including what affects its production of hormones. I began attending seminars and summits where physicians from around the world spoke about the triggers of autoimmune disorders. I followed these physicians who were experts in this field in addition to health blogs from others experiencing the same symptoms. I was obsessed with finding answers.
During this time…
- I started journaling.
- I let go of stressful events in my life.
- I began to learn how to find balance.
- I learned about additional comprehensive testing to identify root causes.
- I started adding foods that support my body and thyroid.
- I let go of foods that didn’t support my thyroid and ultimately my body.
- I began to learn how to listen to my body.
- I continued eating organic, non-GMO, grass-fed, preservative/processed free real food.
- I started taking high quality, filler-free supplements.
Then my health slowly started to improve…
My labs consisting of a complete thyroid panel became closer and closer in range. My thyroid antibodies steadily decreased. My medication was eventually eliminated as all my thyroid hormone numbers were in normal ranges. But, more importantly, I felt better than I had in a long time. This was when I knew that I wanted to expand and share my knowledge with others, and when I decided to go back to school to become certified in Integrative Nutrition.
Looking back, I came to the realization that this did not just happen overnight or after giving birth. This was a progression over many years and most likely from childhood. Now, the progression is so clear to me. I can remember as a young girl being a picky eater. I didn’t like my food touching and had little to no appetite in the morning and especially on school days. I was long and lean like a string bean or, as my favorite uncle would call me, The Pink Panther.
Then I moved through my middle, high school and college years, where I pushed myself while putting unnecessary worry and stress on my mind and body. This was consistent through college where my diet was mostly carbs and included skipping breakfast. This way of eating eventually led me to start having symptoms of hypoglycemia that included lightheadedness, shakiness, and rapid heart rate. But, my diet continued the same.
Through my career and personal life, I continued to challenge myself as I always agreed to take on just one more project and a few more responsibilities professionally and personally. I didn’t stop to think that my plate was full or that I didn’t have time for myself. The drive, rushed energy, adrenaline, stress, lack of sleep and time for myself ultimately became a high for me each day. This way of living ended up burning me out and ultimately my thyroid as well.
I know now that to avoid or recover from burnout, the following imbalances in one’s life need to be addressed: mind/work, body/nutrition, relationship/family, spiritually/mindfulness, environment/experiences and physical activity/health. Each day these areas need to be nourished just like our body needs to be nourished. Our mind, body, and environment are all interconnected. When one of these areas fall out of balance, our body falls out of balance. When this imbalance continues, we fall to illness and disease.
I take these points in my life as a sign of what I was meant to do – help others. Through all of this, I’ve learned that balance is key and crucial for ultimate health.
Gina Heath, INHC, certified integrative nutrition health coach
Gina takes the approach of bio-individuality for each client as she guides and supports busy individuals with thyroid disorders, digestive issues, food sensitivities and stress towards transformation and balance. Her major life experience with healing led her to the path of becoming a Health Coach along with sharing her knowledge and compassion with others.
Gina received her training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and a minor in Spanish from The Pennsylvania State University. Gina offers individual health and nutrition coaching along with group programs and seminars covering a variety of health-related topics.
As a Health Coach, Gina is your personal advocate for living an energized and passionate life. She works with her clients to help them create happy, healthy lives in a way that is flexible, fun and free of denial and discipline. By working together, you can discover the food and lifestyle choices that best support you. Making gradual, lifelong changes enables you to reach your current and future health goals.