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Trading the Quick-Fix for a Lifetime of Optimal Thyroid Health

Ginny Mahar of ThyroidRefresh shares tips for building successful & sustainable habits.
Trading the Quick-Fix for a Lifetime of Optimal Thyroid Health
Last updated:
5/13/2022
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We’ve all been there. A life event, illness, or even the number on the scale has issued a red alert. We find the plan or product that promises the biggest, fastest results, and we dive in like it’s our job. We make massive changes, promise ourselves we’re going to see it through, and then a week or two in, we fizzle. 

Why does this happen? And what does it mean when it comes to our long-term health?

The cost of convenience

In today’s society, we want results, and we want them now. We want the silver bullet to solve all our problems, and we want it delivered with 2-day shipping. Our attention spans are shorter than that of a goldfish, and eight out of 10 of us abandon our New Year’s resolutions by February. This cultural A.D.D. inevitably trickles down into our attitudes about health. 

We all want to be, feel, and look healthy, but when we don’t see the before-and-after results immediately, we quit. When we take this sprint vs. marathon approach to our wellbeing, we ultimately set ourselves up to fail. As thyroid patients, the consequences can include a lot of unnecessary symptoms, a reduced quality of life, and a deep-set belief that we are utterly stuck. 

Here’s the good news: While optimal health may be a lifelong pursuit, it doesn’t have to mean we live in a state of constant striving. It doesn’t have to be a test of superhuman willpower or discipline, and it doesn’t have to be a never-ending road of self-denial. All we really need to be is clever

While we humans may love instant gratification, convenience, and quick results, we are also some of the most highly adaptable creatures on the planet. So, rather than fighting against ourselves to reach our health goals, we can instead use our awareness and some basic habit-changing science, to make life-changing shifts towards optimal health. 

How do we make healthy changes successfully?

To make healthy changes that stick, it helps to understand the basic science behind successful habit change. To clarify, by successful, I mean sustainable. We can force ourselves to do anything for 30 days, but what helps us make those more meaningful long-term shifts? 

What we want is to turn healthy new habits into our new normal, meaning we do them for so long that eventually, we do them on autopilot without much thought or effort. As we come to know both the benefit and the cost of relapse, the temptation to waiver from our healthy choices eventually dissipates or at least gets de-fanged. Sounds good, right? So, how do we do it?

One of the biggest factors in ensuring our success is making small healthy changes, consistently, over time. In other words, baby steps are more sustainable than big ones. Also, a flexible attitude is required. As we figure out what works for us and what doesn’t, we need to allow ourselves to revise our approach to suit our personal circumstances. When we fail, we simply dust ourselves off, make adaptations as needed, and keep going. 

Failure is an important part of the equation. Most of us are going to stumble from time to time, return to our previous unhealthy habits, and then experience the consequences. The value of this is that it enables us to effectively integrate these lessons learned. Relapse is where we discover our triggers and figure out ways to outsmart them. Example: Not leaving the cookie jar on the counter to help you avoid eating the cookies. 

Most important to successful habit change is that we keep going. Twists, turns, and loop-de-loops are all part of the process. Knowing and accepting this helps us relax and enjoy the ride. Success takes on a new shape in our minds, softening from a rigid expectation of perfection to a commitment to simply never give up. 

Along the way, we learn to adopt realistic expectations for ourselves, as well as tricks that make it easier and more convenient to stick to our goals than not. The process is as simple and powerful as that, and the foundational truth is that it happens over time, not overnight. 

What ditching the quick-fix can mean for thyroid patients

Like making any healthy changes, adopting a thyroid-healthy lifestyle requires taking doable micro-steps, repeatedly until they become your new normal, and then building from there. It starts with awareness of any current habits and choices that aren’t serving you, and a desire/willingness to change them. Add a regular sprinkling of rewards, a dash of support, a few shakes of helpful and inspiring resources, and a big scoop of the proper mindset, and you’ve got a recipe for a better you. 

Our habits essentially define our lives, including our quality of life, happiness, and health. The ultimate reward for us thyroid patients is fewer symptoms, more energy, and a lifestyle that supports your ongoing health. This means you are more able to be the person you want to be and live the life you want to lead– that’s no small thing! 

5 tips for making successful, sustainable life changes

Be the tortoise, not the hare 

While some health issues may warrant macro-steps, micro-steps are much less likely to trigger your body’s fight or flight response. This distinction is why we can never seem to stick with those extreme, flash-in-the-pan programs. We may override our body’s innate response for a time, but very seldomly can we sustain it. Slow but steady wins the race!

Try habit stacking

An easy way to hack your habit change is by stacking one healthy habit on top of another, already-established habit. Some examples: Silently repeating a healing mantra while brushing your teeth. Taking your supplements when you eat lunch. Doing a quick meditation when you get in bed at night. 

Find your squad 

It’s incredible what we’re capable of when we have the support we need. Your support system includes your healthcare team as well as people who get what you’re going through and can help you through the bumpy parts of the healing journey.

Honor your needs

Our bodies are always giving us feedback about the inputs we give them. Did that double cheeseburger sit well? Did you feel exhausted for days after that kickboxing class? Do you feel drained after being around a certain person? Maybe your body is trying to tell you something. Our bodies speak to us, and if we listen to their whispers, we’re less likely to have to endure their screams. 

Harness your power

In other words, embrace the life-changing potential of your daily habits and choices. These are the things you do have control over. While thyroid issues may be something that happens to us, we always have the power to write our own stories. 

Trading the quick fix for a lifetime of optimal health is one of the best choices we can make as Thyroid Thrivers. It’s a mindset shift that doesn’t cost a dime but can provide us with the greatest wealth of all: our health. I hope that this recipe for successful habit change has given you the inspiration to take this small but mighty step, today.

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Ginny Mahar

Thyroid Health & Cooking Coach

Ginny Mahar has been blogging thyroid-friendly recipes and lifestyle tips since 2015, as Hypothyroid Chef. She also hosts the Thyroid-healthy Bites podcast featuring thyroid-specific food & lifestyle topics. She is a thyroid health and cooking coach who teaches Thyroid Thrivers how to cook, eat, and live for optimal health. Ginny has a 20+ year background as a Cordon Bleu-trained chef, food writer, and cooking instructor, but her life and career took a turn after a Hashimoto's diagnosis. Through her own health transformation, she became a passionate thyroid advocate, on a mission to empower and support others on their own healing journeys. Ginny lives in Western Montana with her husband, son, and two scruffy dogs.

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