The Do's & Don'ts of Working Out with Thyroid Issues
Chiropractor and movement expert Dr. Emily Kiberd helps women struggling with thyroid issues to lose weight, beat fatigue, and feel strong and confident in their bodies. She's here to explain what you can do to work out smarter, not harder, with a thyroid condition!
Listen as Dr. Kiberd shares her own experience with thyroid issues that led her to reprogram her workouts, as well as the most common exercise mistakes that could be holding you back if you have Hashimoto's or another thyroid condition.
Dr. Kiberd also explains why it can be harder to maintain muscle mass with low thyroid function, plus she reveals her top recommendations on how to incorporate strength training into your routine so you can build lean muscle.
Find out exactly how to exercise with a thyroid condition so you can lose weight and get your energy back!
Freebies From Today’s Episode
Mentioned in this episode:
ATHE_Transcript_Ep 436_Dr. Emily Kiberd
JJ Virgin: [00:00:00] Hey, this is JJ Virgin. Welcome. And thanks so much for joining me. This is ask the health expert here. I put the power of health in your hands and give you access to the top. People in health and wellness. In each episode, I share safe ways to get healthy, lose weight, heal your gut detox and lots more.
So if you want to get healthy and get off the dieting for life merry-go-round, I'll give you strategies that will help you look and feel better fast.
Hey, it's JJ here. And today we are going to be talking about the secret weapon to lose weight and beat fatigue with Hashimoto's. Hmm, intriguing. What could that be? Well, here's the thing. If you've been struggling, working through your thyroid issues and trying to work out and [00:01:00] noticing that it just makes you feel worse, not.
This episode is for you. I have the perfect guest to walk you through exactly what you should be doing. If you've got Hashimoto's and more importantly, what you should not be doing. And it's probably something you're actually doing right now, because it will make you worse. Not better. I've got Dr. Emily Kiberd and she is a chiropractor movement expert in Manhattan.
She's the creator of thyroid strong and the founder of the urban wellness. And she also has the podcast muscle medicine, and she also has her own personal story with this, which is how it became one of the areas that she focuses on, I was super excited to find it because I knew this was something that we need to talk about.
And we haven't talked about yet because you know, exercise can be therapeutic or it can be destructive. It's a drug. And when you know how to use it correctly, it can change everything. So that's what I've got in store for you today. Plus I've got great show notes [00:02:00] and great information from her that you can download and keep with you.
And you can get that at jjvirgin.com/thyroidstrong. Now, before I dive in, I just want to do a shout out to Diane DC. 2016. She says, love this podcast. Five stars. JJ is so fun, informative, and has great guests on her show. Yep. Diane, today is, today is no exception. Thank you JJ, for an educational interesting podcasts.
There's so much conflicting information everywhere. So I rely on you as a cutting edge yet sensible source of information. I'm definitely a JJ Groupie. I super appreciate that. Shout out to Diane. Love to shout you out too, as well. And before we do the dive into today's topic, I've got one more thing to shout out.
Dr. Emily Kiberd, welcome to the show. I've never taped a show where the [00:03:00] person I'm interviewing may go into labor at any moment. It's super exciting to have
Dr. Emily Kiberd: you any moment. I'm so.
JJ Virgin: Yeah, well, we will cross our fingers and luckily this is not like a two day podcast, so we should be good. And I appreciate you squeezing this in literally before the shift.
Dr. Emily Kiberd: Yes. Three week countdown.
JJ Virgin: Yes, boy. Just those last three weeks go slowly as you know. All right. Let's dive into this cause I have never. Heard anyone do justice to this topic. So I've been kind of hounding you about coming on the show to talk about it. Since I heard it heard you talk about it. I think it's so cool in that your whole specialty now is really focusing on how to help people with thyroid disease exercise correctly.
So how did that happen? I mean, you're a chiropractor, right. So how did you, like all of a sudden decide, Hey, I, I've got to deal with exercise and thyroid [00:04:00] where'd that come from? Yeah.
Dr. Emily Kiberd: I mean, I've always been an athlete. I've always worked out and like
JJ Virgin: any good story, and by the way, I just gotta do your shout out.
I did not look like you when I was pregnant. You were that person who's like in perfect shape and someone. Stuck up, stuck a belly on you. I was like, what happened here? Yeah.
Dr. Emily Kiberd: The common comment I get is you are all baby.
So. I have always been super active and I had my first baby, this will be my second, about four years ago. And there's so many things that new moms get told after they give birth. Exhaustion is normal holding on to that extra stubborn baby weight is normal. Your hair falling out, totally normal, feeling a little blue, like moms feel that way.
And you know, I'd listened and. 18 months later, postpartum. I still had all those symptoms and I was like, something is not right. I feel like [00:05:00] a shadow of myself. And if you look at pictures of me, I look inflamed. I have that like morning puff in the face. Like my skin was dry and red and every time I ate, I looked like I was
bloated again. And every time I would work out and it was, you know, I mainly strength, train. I don't have cardio days, which I know your listeners know. Well every time I would work out, I would literally be so fatigued after I couldn't get out of bed for a couple days. And that stress of not being able to be there for my new baby, for my family, it was really.
Evident, you know, if we can't get a bed for two days and can't take care
JJ Virgin: of your baby, that is not the time you want to have low energy.
Dr. Emily Kiberd: Yeah, exactly. So I went the traditional route and saw traditional medical doctors. I saw some functional medicine doctors and just really struggled in getting [00:06:00] like clear, root cause of what was going on.
And I saw one of our dear friends, Dr. Gabrielle Lyon. And she was like, your thyroid antibodies are off the charts. You are on your way to an autoimmune disease. You have all the signs and symptoms
JJ Virgin: of Hashimoto's. Man, thank God you went to Gabrielle and somebody tested your thyroid antibodies, you know? Phew.
Dr. Emily Kiberd: Yeah. It's crazy to go through six doctors and. Only have one test done, which was
JJ Virgin: my TSH. Okay. I just have to throw one at you. That's really crazy when I had my first baby and I was feeling like weird and funky and a little depressed, and my face was breaking out after the baby. And I went to the doctor and they wanted to put me on antidepressants and and Accutane and I was actually pregnant.
So it's amazing what will be missed. Luckily, I didn't do any of that, so. All right. So they were just testing your TSH. Thankfully you went to our buddy Gabrielle, she found [00:07:00] it. Yep. Then what happened. Yeah.
Dr. Emily Kiberd: And you know, it was all these underlying root causes. Parasites heavy metals, mold, toxicity, food intolerance, and uh clean that up.
But I felt probably like 50 to 60% better, but every time I would go and work out, I would feel exhausted. I would feel like I got hit by a bus for three days in terms of muscle aches and joint pains. And some of my older workout routines were yoga. You know, the boutique New York, 50 minute hit it hard, strength training class, and it just zapped my energy.
And so having been in practice for 12 years and helping women get out of pain and get strong. So they're more resilient at life. I was like, I gotta do this better. I have to do the smarter, you know, the mindset of like uh work hard play hard that typical new Yorker go, go, go. I really had to shift that mindset and [00:08:00] re-program my workouts.
And so that's what I played with in myself and then started to do with the women who had Hashimoto's coming through my.
JJ Virgin: So it's amazing that, you know, you could take something that was kind of rotten and now realize that it's not just you, you starting to see it with other people and now create something that I had never heard anyone else really addressing.
That's why, yeah. When you start to say it, I'm like, oh, wow, this is so critical because no one really talks about it. Yeah.
Dr. Emily Kiberd: So one of the things that I often see. Women with Hashimoto's coming in and struggling with is the typical recommendations that they're told to do in terms of exercise are cardio.
So walk 20 minutes, yoga, Pilates bar, maybe swimming, something low impact. And so in the research, what [00:09:00] we know is low thyroid leads to low muscle mass. So it's harder for women with Hashimoto's to maintain
JJ Virgin: their muscle mass. They're not going to help them do it.
Dr. Emily Kiberd: Right. And so like the yoga, the stretching, all that stuff is not going to help.
Increase the muscle mass, let alone just maintain. And we know that muscle is really important for longevity and
JJ Virgin: for wrong for bone health. And for like just being able to go through life, get the groceries out of the car, although we don't have to get the grocery side of the car anymore. We just have to, but you know, all the activities of daily life, if you don't have muscle mass, and if you're not using it, you're losing it.
You know? Someone DM'd me on Facebook and had severe osteoporosis and said, oh, she's not doing any exercise. I'm like, no, no, no. He's like, well, that's not going to help your osteoporosis. So, so what is that? Then the big mistake that, that women are struggling with, if they have [00:10:00] Hashimoto's and they're exercising is that they're just doing too, too light of a workout to make any difference.
Dr. Emily Kiberd: Yeah too much. The most common thing I see is too much cardio, right? Because oftentimes women with Hashimoto's are struggling with weight gain and you know, the first thing I think we're often told in society is like, go for a run, burn the calories, and really Are doing chronic cardio or sometimes working out too hard.
So I had one patient work out cardio do cardio elliptical, 45 minutes followed by 45 minutes of strength training five days a week.
JJ Virgin: How would she even be doing that with her?
Dr. Emily Kiberd: I know she was, she was holed up in bed probably the rest of the day, but that's what her trainer was getting her to do. And the sad part was the trainer was telling her as she was gaining weight that she had. I
JJ Virgin: know, and I was like going, oh, I bet the next [00:11:00] part was, you bet, you just need to eat less.
And let's just repeat. It's just, you know, what makes me crazy here is it's so clear in the science that if you cut calories chronically, not if you do a little intermittent fast, but if you cut calories chronically that you also lower your metabolism, cause your metabolism goes uh oh, less food, slow it down.
And then if you try the opposite of all this, cause I'm just going back to that silly bank account model of weight loss that luckily everybody listening knows better about, but you know, you just still see it out. There is exercising more. I mean, that's, that's the, the reverse of caloric restriction that just makes the same thing happen in that if you're doing loads of cardio, it just makes you.
Hungrier and it was it and it can burn up muscle. It was interesting. Way back when I was in grad school, I read a study about women who did who were like, you know, training for marathons and ran for an hour. Plus every day could not maintain their weight if they stopped. Like if they even stopped for a couple days.
And I was like, [00:12:00] why would that be? And now it's like, now you sort of get it. Why it would be. All right. So it's definitely not more is not better. So what do you do then?
Dr. Emily Kiberd: So I have women work out smarter, not harder through strength training. And one of the other things that we see with women who are struggling with Hashimoto's is they have a not only lower muscle mass, but slower tendon turnover, which means it takes longer to recover.
And, you know, that's what the research is in. Clinically, I see that women have this hypermobility so laxity in their joints. So if you looked at a woman from the side, her knees would kind of travel back behind her heels. If she was in a plank or top of a push-ups, her elbows would hyperextend. If she stood and just bend forward with her knees straight, she could Palm the floor.
So these are some of the signs of hypermobility. And so. [00:13:00] Not a lot of people talk about this. This is more just like what I've seen in clinic for the last 12 years. And so yoga, Pilates bar, stretching is only going to exacerbate that hypermobility, that tissue
JJ Virgin: laxity. And don't you find Emily, the people who are more flexible want to do it's like that makes them feel great.
So they'll do more of it. Not realizing that stretching hyper mobile joints. Not what you want to do, right? Yeah.
Dr. Emily Kiberd: They'll feel great for probably an hour, but then typically they won't feel great for the next three days. So they'll go to, like, I really feel like tightness and like I got hit by a bus and usually it means like those muscles don't need to be stretched more.
They need to get stabilized. So I have women strength train, and especially for the woman with Hashimoto's. It is heavier than she probably thinks. So there are no there's no
JJ Virgin: pink, no little pink [00:14:00] dumbbells. I call those paperweights.
Dr. Emily Kiberd: Exactly. Usually it's lower rep. So I think a kind of traditional trainer model is three sets of 10.
I usually don't have any woman do more than five reps and then long rest breaks so that we're not. Flaring up like a Hashi flare up. I'm not burning a woman out, but helping her get strong stable help her
build her muscle mass. And I'm not saying bulky, right. Because
JJ Virgin: yeah, I was just going to throw that out to you because you know, I can already hear the question and I love this because it actually goes back to when I was in grad school, working on my thesis and I had to help people get strong quickly.
It was short reps was the biggest for muscle stimulus. So, but I, I am just kind of imagining some of the questions, but yeah, but I'm going to get bigger. Can you bust that myth? My friend.
Dr. Emily Kiberd: [00:15:00] Yeah. You're I mean, especially when you're struggling with Hashimoto's, you're not going to get, you're not going to get bigger just from like a hormone perspective.
Due to the fact that it's just harder to mean muscle maintain muscle mass. I mean that heavier weight, low reps, long rest periods. I typically have women work up to two to three times a week. That's working up to that and it's not 45 minutes. It's not an hour and a half in the gym. It's sort of working up to 20, 30 minutes because really who has an hour in the gym anymore?
I haven't done that in decades. So. Yeah. And part of it's a mindset shift. You know, some people will look at a weight and think that's going to injure me. And the most important piece is have your form dialed in your breathing. And that is taught like when do we learn that we don't learn that in high school?
We don't learn it in college. Really? Only if we like work out with a trainer so that. What I help women do. And you have to take [00:16:00] into account the hypermobility when you are working on
JJ Virgin: your form. This sounds like I'm listening to this going you're right. Like you look at back in high school and college and go, man, we needed to learn how to do budgeting, how to cook, how to exercise correctly.
Like, I don't really remember most of the stuff I learned, but those things were the things we needed to learn and like how to behave well in a relationship, you know, the critical things. But someone listening, I'm thinking, well, how would they know if they were hyper mobile? And how do they know if they're doing the exercise, right.
If they don't have a trainer, how do they do this? Yeah.
Dr. Emily Kiberd: So some of the signs, the hypermobility would be like the knees hyperextending, the elbows being able to bend forward Palm the floor, and then how to do it is You can do it online. I have a online program called thyroid strong and it's a video
JJ Virgin: exercise.
And if you were watching yourself in the mirror, cause I love that. Cause I, you know, I remember reading. Okay. Why don't people exercise? Number one, they don't have time. Well, [00:17:00] awesome. Because this does not take a lot of time and that's really a key factor. It's really. Quality over quantity, but the second reason is they feel like they're too out of shape to go to the gym.
And so this is awesome too. Now, can someone use your video and do this in a mirror and be able to tell if their form is, is right on?
Dr. Emily Kiberd: Yeah, absolutely. So there's some principles. In the program that I talk about, and this is a principals through any strength training, but just not a lot of people talk about it and trainers don't often train it because it's not sexy.
So one of the principles is Breathing into the belly. Right? So oftentimes as women we're taught to suck up and in, and if you do that, when you pull a weight, you will, for sure. Injure something, probably your back,
JJ Virgin: so breathing. So what does that do? What does breathing into your belly do? Yeah,
Dr. Emily Kiberd: so breathing down and wide helps create what's called intra abdominal pressure is just [00:18:00] stabilization pressure.
Through your core. And then when you breathe out to pick up a weight, you create a little brace. And so this helps strengthen the core helps strengthen the spine. It's what we do as babies. Like you never see a baby suck their belly up in. they always
JJ Virgin: kind of have this little Buddha belly. Only a woman in a tight dress and you know what it's the best visual I can think for that is you see guys lifting heavy weights at the gym, wearing those big weight belts.
It's this like your own internal, how you create your own internal weight belt.
Dr. Emily Kiberd: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. And then one of the other principles is we call it getting stacked. So if you ever see someone pick up a weight and they kind of arch their back and flare their ribs, they're no longer using that strength in their core.
Now they're using too much of their back muscles. So we want the ribs right over our pelvis. We want. Our ears [00:19:00] in line with our shoulders in line with our hips. So everything is like stacked over one another, and this helps learn how to build tension, which is important when you lift a weight and for myself, if the form is off or the breath is off, like if I take a breath in and I expand just into my ribs, I don't pick up the weight.
I just reset. And then I start again, I think there's this thought of like bang, bang, bang out the reps and just get through it. And how quickly can I get through it to move on. But I would rather have each move each rep be the most perfect form unless of them.
JJ Virgin: All right. So let's like give people some practical things.
I know. Like a lot of this is visual, so I know you've got videos, so that's fantastic. And you're also going to be giving everyone three things not to do in your workout if you have Hashi's and what to do instead. So you'll be able to get that everybody at [00:20:00] JJvirgin.com/thyroidstrong, but what are three let's give people something that, that they can just like walk away with, to go, okay, I've got, if someone's got.
Hashimoto's they're going to get started your three top takeaways.
Dr. Emily Kiberd: Yeah. So lose a chronic cardio.
JJ Virgin: Yay. The crowd goes wild and really by chronic cardio, it's that elliptical bike, StairMaster jogging, all that kind of stuff. The I used to Emily, I used to belong to this gym and you'd walk down this hallway.
And on one side of the hallway, it was glass on either side, you walked down one side was the weight room. One side was the. And what was crazy is I went to that gym for probably four years during the four years. And it seemed like there were, the people either did the cardio room or the weight room, but the divides did not cross.
Right. And I kept looking over at the cardio room and for four years, I thought don't those people realize, [00:21:00] like, do they not ever look into the weight room and realize that the people in the weight room, people looking younger and better, and this was the average age in this gym. It was out in Palm desert.
California was probably. Maybe even a little older, but what was crazy is the people in the weight room kept looking better and younger, the people in that cardio room were looking worse. You know, they were looking flabbier, they were looking more Haggard and I'm like going aren't they looking in the other side and going head scratching over there, you know?
Dr. Emily Kiberd: Dump the chronic part it's yeah. Like, especially at a time when you need muscle in your life. The
JJ Virgin: worst possible time to do it. I mean, the minute you're hitting 30 plus you've just lost your margin for error anyway, and then, you know, put thyroid problems on top of it and boom. So, all right.
Chronic cardio is out what's next
Dr. Emily Kiberd: start to strength, train, and I'm not talking like bicep, curls, tricep dips. I did have a patient come to me once and tell me that she did [00:22:00] 10 bicep curls. And it flared up their Hashimoto's and I'm thinking, why don't we do moves that make you better at life? And those moves are typically compound movements, full body movements.
So squat, a hinge, a lunge push pull. These moves that work the whole body to build tension, not just muscle isolation. I think that's kind of like an older school
JJ Virgin: body building. Cause we aren't, this is not, we're not going into a bodybuilding competition. Yeah, that's by the way, that's important for everybody.
Cause I always had people say, I'm afraid I'm going to get big I go ddo you know how hard. Like women have to work out in the gym in order to get big. It's like, this is not just happened. Okay.
Dr. Emily Kiberd: Yeah. And then the last one would be to take the rest break that you need. Right. I think there's so much one exercise to the next exercise, to the next exercise [00:23:00] and.
Really just taking the rest that you need in between the sets. Some of the people that I know that work out really hard, don't. They work out like 15 minutes and they take long rest breaks and they don't do tons of reps. And their muscle mass is really good. And they've really quality
JJ Virgin: tissue.
Yes. Recovery. That's fantastic. Okay. Let's tell everyone what you've got for them. And again, it's JJvirgin.com/thyroidstrong. You are giving everybody a super gift. Talk us through.
Dr. Emily Kiberd: So it's a three mistakes that you're probably doing in your workout and three things to do instead it's super easy downloadable PDF and it cuts through.
Kind of what we've been told and then really tells what we really should be doing to take care of our body. If we have
JJ Virgin: Hashimoto's excellent. This is such a key important part of it, because the last thing we want somebody to do is, you know, they've been working on the [00:24:00] diet part of it. And then all of a sudden they're undoing it with the exercise part of it.
And I like to say that exercise. Can be therapeutic or it can be destructive. It's like a drug. So this is how to use it correctly. And I just love love that you are doing this because again, so sorely needed. And I was like, I haven't heard anyone talk about it. So thank you so much for doing it, Emily. I super appreciate it.
Thanks so much, JJ. After the break, I'm going to take this, give you my top action step and a challenge from today so that you can put this into immediate action. So stay with me.
Welcome back. All right. Now, what I want to do is give you some basics to take away from this interview today, and also a little bit of a challenge. All right, here we go. So first off, make sure you download the show notes so that you get Emily's handout, and you can do that again at jjvirgin.com/thyroidstrong.
Now, [00:25:00] number one thing, and my challenge to you. Is to listen, truly listen to what your body is telling you. If you go and you work out and you feel worse, not better. Head-scratcher, let's start to look back at what you were doing. Okay. Because ultimately you can be told this is the best exercise ever for you, whatever it is, or the best.
Right. And if it doesn't work for you, it doesn't work. So we've always got to come from this place of being our own personal health detective. And I love that because this is a whole part of this program is like, okay, let's first assess. And do you have hypermobile joints don't stretch your hypermobile joints.
That is such a key takeaway that I do not hear people talking about. So that is the first one do not stretch hypermobile joints and you're going to want to, because boy, it's one of those things. If I'm super flexible, then I'm going to do things to help me stay super flexible. You actually want to strengthen the, the hyper mobile [00:26:00] and stretch the inflexible.
So it's the opposite of probably what most of us tend to do. The next thing is we're going to trash the treadmill. So if you've been doing loads of cardio, we're going to get rid of that and move into the third thing, which is strength, training or resistance training. But for thyroid issues done in a very different way, which is doing short
exercises. So you're doing somewhere in the, you know, up to five repetitions with longer breaks. And again, you'll get all of this in Emily's handout that you get at jjvirgin.com/thyroidstrong. But the big thing I want to emphasize here is that you're listening to your body because what Emily mentioned in there is that it's fairly quickly after the workout.
You'll go. Wow. I felt, I, I feel really exhausted. Right, or everything's starting to hurt that is your body yelling. You go on. This is not working for me. So let's add. Alrighty, cool. [00:27:00] Just want to do a reminder to make sure that you go over there and hit the subscribe button. And while you're over there, I would love it.
If you leave a review, this is how we know what is working and what's not, by the way to. Make sure you leave a review, we've got a whole team over here producing this podcast. It takes a village, my friends to do this. I'm sitting here in my studio and I'm with multiple laptops and mic's and all my stuff.
And then we have our team that has to really do the magic. So if there's something that you see, you'd like to know more about. Guests you'd love to have, or any kind of an issue. Let me know so that we can do something about it. We love those reviews. Keep them coming. They tell us if we're on track and I will see you next time.