09 August 2009

Why do I train with weights?

I've always been a fairly active person. As a kid, a teenager and a young adult, I used to swim, walk and cycle a lot. I don't think I saw the inside of a gym until I was in my early thirties, but I immediately took to multi-gyms, pec machine, rowing machine etc. Throughout my thirties, I had spells of going to the gym and I walked and cycled a bit. I also did karate training in London for about 1 1/2 years when I was in my late thirties (I still regret that I gave this up as it's a fantastic sport!).
In my forties, I didn't do a lot: some hiking, some walking, some gym, but little swimming or cycling as there aren't enough places to safely pursue those sports in the West of Ireland.
When I was about 49 years old, I was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid gland and put on medication. An underactive thyroid slows down your metabolism and you start gaining weight. Well, I didn't know that at the time as most doctors tell you that as long as you take the medication, you won't be gaining weight or will be able to lose it again in no time.
For most people, however, this is not the case. So I kept on gaining weight, maybe 20 or 25kg in 3 or 4 years. I became very frustrated and unhappy about my appearance. I walked, I used the rowing machine in the gym, I swam once a week, all to no avail until I stumbled upon Mary Shomon on the internet in the autumn of last year. I was so impressed with what I read, that I ordered 2 of her books to find out more about thyroid disease and what I could do to feel better and maybe lose weight. Weight training is an integral part of the exercise you ought to to when you suffer from hypothyroidism in order to lose weight.
Learning from Mary Shomon has changed my life.
Not only did I start going to the gym again on a regular basis in January this year, I also started training with a personal trainer (see my post on my trainer Chach) once a week. In addition, I've changed my diet.
The progress has been slow, but that's what you have to expect when you suffer from hypothyroidism. But eventually, the weight started shifting. What you need to take into consideration as well is the fact that muscle weighs more than fat, so while you may actually lose fat when you start weight training, you may not notice this on the scales immediately.
So far, I've lost over 6kg (over 13 1/2 pounds) without starving myself and without giving up some of the good things I like. More about my diet in a later post.
6kg may not sound like a lot to a "normal" person, but to someone with an underactive thyroid, it's like a miracle.

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