Before my diagnosis of hypothyroidism, I lost a lot of muscle mass due to thyrotoxic myopathy. I’m not exactly sure why excessive levels of thyroxine cause muscles to breakdown, I just know it does and if left untreated can result in severe respiratory distress and lots of other complications.
I’d become stupidly weak. I couldn’t even demo the most basic of moves on pole or aerial apparatus, my legs shook if I walked upstairs and I was exhausted all the time. My breathing had become quite laboured and all I wanted to do was sleep!!
When I was first diagnosed, I was put on bed rest until my heart rate slowed down and my thyroid function levels started returning to normal but after a few weeks I was allowed to exercise again.
For the first month I took things very steady. I focused on walking, stretching a very basic pole work. But I set myself goals and I know to fulfill them that I needed to work hard on rebuilding my muscle. Details on my first month of exercise can be read here.
During my time on bed rest I read Thinner, Leaner, Stronger by Mike Matthews. And had a bit of a love/hate relationship with it.
I felt like it spent a lot of time talkikg about how amazing the programme is, but took forever to actually detail the programme, and I struggled to keep reading in places. I also didn’t like the fact that there were lots of claims that this was the only way to get thinner, leaner and stronger. It certainly wasn’t how I used to train and I had a great Physique before becoming ill and was very strong. I also hated the fact that the book spent a lot of time explaining how fitness magazines are all owned by suppliment companies, have ulterior motives and can’t be trusted, but then after a few chapters, explained the writers involvement with the suppliment company Legion Athletics. That felt a little hypocritical.
Having said all that, the dietary advice and training plans are very good. I am a qualified PT and the concepts all made sense. So I decided I wanted to follow both the diet and weight training programmes included with the book.
The diet programme is easy to follow and explains really well how to work out both your overall calorie intake and macro amounts for various training phases. As my body fat percentage was 28% I decided to start with cutting. I followed it pretty easily. Admittedly I haven’t cut weight but that’s because, during the majority of the time I have been doing it, my thyroid had been underactive. But it’s helped me limit the weight gain which is great.
The weight training programme has been great to. I’ve really enjoyed it. It works on the principal of lifting heavy (my heavy isn’t really very heavy at all but it still works the same). The book gives options for a three day, four day or five day split. I chose five day split and have stuck to it as much as I can.
I have had to substitute some of the exercises, I train at home and we don’t have a cable pulley system to use, so I have had to stick to free weights. The book does include loads of alternatives, and also includes a dumbbell only version of the training programme. I had to recruit Sean (my partner) as a spotter, and during the last two weeks, he has joined in and started following the programme to. The book suggests to increase the weight in 5kg increments as soon as a set of 10 good reps can be performed of any exercise. I have increased the weight as frequently as it suggests but in smaller increments, I’m still pretty weak and for some exercises 5kg was higher than my start weight so adding 5kgs on seemed a little excessive.
I’ve actually really enjoyed weight training. It’s made a huge difference to my body composition, my body fat percentage has dropped by around 7.5%. There have been a couple of times when I’ve felt disheartened and sulky, and on a few occasions I haven’t wanted to keep going. Sean has actually been really good at keeping me on track. There have been times that he has had to lift me out of bed, reminded me of my goals and how far I’ve come, and convince me to keep going. I think the reason he has started doing weight training with me is to keep me going, and also show me that he struggles to. It’s been quite amusing having to improvise on Sean’s barbell back squats as we don’t have a squat rack, and I’m not strong enough to lift the weighted barbell up onto his shoulders the way he does me.
Anyways, by using the Thinner, Leaner, Stronger programmes and doing pole and metafit, I have reached my target of ten pushups on my toes extra early. Which impressed me and gave me a bit of extra motivation and I’ve set myself a new target of 25 push ups on my toes by the end of this year.
Fingers crossed I will continue to get stronger, and the weight I can lift will continue to increase. Weight training has been a really enjoyable element of my training and has definitely assisted in improving my strength for pole and aerial.