My journey began when I was 16 years old. I had chronic bumps on my arms and leg and battled with a sluggishness that never went away — a feeling that only worsened when I came down with mono. That entire year, I was constantly exhausted, and had to miss out on things a healthy teenager would attend without a second thought, like homecoming. I thought I might be suffering from depression, but doctors diagnosed me with hypothyroidism and said a dose of Synthroid each morning would relieve all my symptoms…
Fast forward to college, when I was constantly dealing with sinus infections and sore throats. The health center would prescribe me Z-pack after Z-pack — a quick fix for the congestion, puffiness and brain fog. Wherever I went, I had a steady supply of meds — Lactase, Pepto and Ex-Lax — to ease the bloating, constipation and post-meal nausea I experienced daily.
I graduated with honors in Biomedical Engineering from Syracuse University and I thought I was living the American Dream when I landed a swanky desk job at a prestigious investment bank in New York City. However, the 14-hour days felt like anything but that. I often experienced vertigo when staring at my computer and starting getting daily migraines for which I took Excedrin. I’d also pop a Zyrtec with my Synthroid before my cereal and soy milk each morning to clear my stuffy, runny nose. And even with all of that, I still felt awful. I went to some of the best endocrinologists in New York and was told over and over that my levels looked fine, I had no nodules, and the symptoms I was feeling were “normal” for those with hypothyroidism.
But I just kept thinking, How could this be normal? I continued seeking out the best medical professionals and, finally, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Hypothyoriditis, which is the autoimmune form of hypothyroidism. My own immune system was destroying my thyroid cells. This “attack and destroy” can cause wild symptom swings from hypothyroid to hyperthyroid, and back. If this continued, it would lead to a lifelong dependence on thyroid hormone medication.
I’d had enough. I thought to myself, I studied biomedical engineering. Why can’t I figure this out? Turns out, I could…but in an unexpected place.
On a particularly stressful day at the office, I slipped out on my lunch break to a yoga studio I had always passed. For some reason, I felt called to check it out. I was used to taking intense (and very draining) spinning and bootcamp classes every day to try and numb my pain, so I thought this would be a nice break. Little did I know, it’d be so much more. As I moved my body mindfully while moving through asana (postures), that mental fog I’d always felt magically lifted. I became introspective. I’d stand in Tree Pose and think, Why am I always nauseous and dizzy after I eat something? Why do I experience sharp stomach pains after certain meals and have to unbutton my pants at my desk? I’d move into Downward Dog and think, Why are my migraines worse on certain days? Why do I feel puffy and foggy on some days, while other days light and graceful in yoga class?
Each time I returned to my yoga mat, I not only felt clear-headed, but also safe, comforted and loved — feelings I had been lacking in my life — and I realized that this practice allowed me to connect with myself in a way that I hadn’t been able to elsewhere.
One of my teachers at the studio, Donnalynn Civello, was especially inspirational; her classes really spoke to me and I found her instruction technique to be nurturing. The combination of yoga and Donnalynn’s cooking and nutritional classes that I joined as well, helped me really think about my condition. I began seeing patterns between my symptoms and food choices: I would often get headaches after eating prepared, microwaveable meals, or bagels and pizza that were given out as treats at the office. Paralyzing stomach pains flared up if I ate anything with dairy, gluten or soy. At home, I implemented what I learned in the cooking classes and began experimenting with blending soups and smoothies. I started spiraling vegetables and creating creamy sauces with nuts and seeds, instead of eating starchy pasta. Immediately after I started making dietary changes, I knew I was on a path to healing, because I felt entirely different… I felt well. I’ve noticed the biggest improvements and decreased discomfort when I focus on eating organic, real foods such as green leafy vegetables, grass-fed, sustainable sources of protein, and foods in healthy fats such as avocados and pumpkin seeds. Each day is still different, but I feel in control. I feel like myself.
When I think about it, I still can’t believe my healing started because I took a chance on a yoga class nearly seven years ago. I never would have guessed that this class would have inspired me to become my own inner healer, and later to become a teacher to empower others to find this intuitive wisdom as well. The truth is, we have to start with a first step, which often is outside our comfort zone, and a commitment to feel radiant and healthy through the mindful choices we must make.
The journey to self-healing is not easy. In order to truly heal, I believe we must engage in deep introspection on the emotional and energetics behind why our immune systems were weakened in the first place, or why we held on to the stagnation in our glandular systems. Whoa. This can be scary! But it doesn’t have to be – in fact, in can be exciting and fun! I welcome you to join me at Thyroid.Yoga and learn more about my unique approach to supporting the health of your thyroid – and how you can finally step out of survival mode and into the beautiful life you were meant to live!
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Note: PLEASE consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.