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UPDATE September 2018 – While the info I share in today’s blog post (and all of my “Let’s Get Personal” blog posts) will be helpful to those who are starting out on their healing journeys, I felt it pertinent to post a quick update as to where I am now in my healing journey. It has been quite the adventure with all sorts of ups and downs, twists and turns. I got to a point where I no longer felt drawn to share so many intimate details so I stopped writing the Let’s Get Personal series in 2016. If you would like to get the most recent update on my health and healing journey, please read this post, 3 Reasons Why I No Longer Share About My Healing Journey Online. or watch the video below. You are always more than welcome to email me with any questions as well! Cheers! ~Jessica
You see, my views on weight loss and health have shifted extensively since 2012 and I no longer am a fan of promoting “weight loss strategies”. I am now a certified nutritional therapist and mind body nutrition coach and I work with clients on things like disordered eating, poor body image, chronic dieting, etc.
This passion for health coaching has stemmed out of my own history with an eating disorder and chronic yo-yo dieting, both of which really came to light soon after this “eat coconut oil to lose weight” period of my life. Even though the food and body issues were there for nearly my whole life, it took this last period of obsessive dieting to show me just how big these problems were and how much damage they had done to my mind, body, and soul.
It has taken me a lot of time and hard work to heal from the eating disorder and body shame that I had dealt with for nearly 3 decades of my life. As you can imagine, weight is a touchy subject for those I work with. It’s an area that has required me to acquire a higher level of wisdom and professional training around so that I can best support my clients in achieving better health.
The education I have received has really shifted my views on weight loss and everything that goes with it. Weight is a complicated and deeply personal thing and must be addressed on a deeper level than just “take this”, “eat that”, etc. Weight loss is far more than what we eat, it’s what we think, how we process emotions, what our environments are like, what our health status is, what our financial means are, what our community support is, how our relationships function, etc.
Ironically, going back to the coconut oil, I started developing an aversion to it a few years ago and I think it was partially due to the fact I was eating SO much of it for that period of time. Now the smell or taste of it plain is enough to make me feel a little queasy. I do still use it because I believe it’s one of the healthiest oils out there, but when I do it’s in small amounts like cooking and baking and much prefer the expeller pressed varieties so there is no taste or scent. I definitely can’t tolerate eating it by the spoonful anymore. 🙂
UPDATE December 2012: Since I published this post in October, I have received countless emails, comments, and messages about coconut oil and weight loss and how it is or is not working for them. I LOVE hearing from you, however, I do want to stress the importance of this. Please, please, please do not think that this post is telling you that if you consume a bunch of coconut oil, you will lose weight. There is no magic bullet for weight loss. We are all different. Each and every one of us is unique and what works for one person may not work for someone else. There are also A LOT of things that factor into weight loss — it’s not just as easy as eating coconut oil. The only reason I wrote this post is because I wanted to share my personal experience with all of you, since I was already documenting my healing journey. I can’t tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. I am not a medical doctor. If you are interested in weight loss, I’d recommend speaking with your doctor, a naturopath, or a nutritional therapist first, before making any changes to your diet. I only upped my intake of coconut oil after speaking with my medical doctor, my naturopath, AND my nutritional therapist, and have been operating under the care of all three ever since.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE, PUBLISHED OCT. 2012
I initially started this post to be a focus on how coconut oil can help improve thyroid function and aid in weight loss, but as I started writing, it turned into more of a Let’s Get Personal post. So, for the sake of not letting this post get too long, I am going to discuss my personal experience with how coconut oil has helped me, and then soon, I will share a more scientific post about how coconut oil helps the thyroid and weight loss.
NOTE: Due to the FDA and FTC laws on health claims, I need to make this very clear. None of the information in this post is to be construed as medical advice. I am not a doctor or certified medical practitioner of any sort. I am simply sharing the success that I have had with adding coconut oil to my diet. Every person is different and you should always consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, supplements, or exercise routine. For a full disclaimer, please read my Terms and Conditions. The following post is ALL my own, personal experience.
I’m a Nut for the Coconut
You all know that I have a major love affair with coconut oil. I have written about it many times and it is a staple in my kitchen. I use lots of it daily. If you want to read some of my past posts, check these out:
- Coconut Oil Health Benefits: Why is it so Wonderful?
- 52 Uses for Coconut Oil – The Simple, The Strange, and The Downright Odd!
- 122 Uses for Coconut Oil – Even More of the Simple, the Strange, and the Downright Odd
- Coconut Oil and Alzheimer’s – New and Exciting Research
- Coconut Oil for Healthy, Happy Pets – Why it’s Good and How to Use (it’s not just good for us, it’s good for our pet friends too!)
For years, I have read and been told, that coconut oil can help improve thyroid function and also help the body shed weight. I think that these two things go hand-in-hand, because typically if you have a low-functioning thyroid, you will also find it incredibly hard to lose weight. If you are hyperthyroid, you usually have the opposite problem (too much weight loss), so for the sake of this article, I will just be focusing on hypothyroid issues.
Coconut’s Role in My Healing Journey
As some of you know, this summer (on August 1st), I embarked on a healing journey. I finally got to a place in my life where I felt that I could handle taking on the health problems that I had been ignoring. I won’t go into a lot of detail about my healing journey in this post, so if you want to know more, I do encourage you to read my Let’s Get Personal Series. I will be talking about thyroid issues, hormone issues, adrenal issues, and blood sugar issues.
When I first started on this journey, the main dysfunction that I wanted to address was my low-functioning thyroid. Turns out, I actually have an autoimmune disease – Hashimoto’s – rather than just being hypothyroid. So, for me, we have to focus on the immune system first and foremost. I was diagnosed as hypothyroid about 6 years ago. I look back and wish I had taken the extra tests at that time. I am curious to know if I was autoimmune this whole time. For the most part, I have not had many of the symptoms of low thyroid function, up until about a year ago. Maybe it was because I was not as in tune with my body as I thought I was. Or, maybe it was because I was in tune with my body and I was just in denial. Whatever the reason, I had just resolved that I would take my T4 medication and that was that. But, I finally realized that I owed it to my present self, and my future self, to figure out what was going on with my body and do everything in my power to fix it.
Now that I am a couple months into the journey, I can look back and see that I did have many more symptoms of low-functioning thyroid and adrenal issues that I ever realized. Here are some of the symptoms that I have noticed over the last 6 years:
- Slow, steady weight gain, despite eating a real food diet and exercising regularly
- Inability to lose weight, even when I would try
- Hair loss
- Unstable moods and emotions
- Brain fog
Now, I have always eaten coconut oil. Really, I have eaten coconut oil for as long as I can remember It is one of my primary cooking oils and I use it daily. I never really took it medicinally, I just relied on whatever I was getting from my meals. In total, I was probably getting 2-4 tablespoons of coconut oil per day. With that amount, I was not experiencing increased thyroid function or weight loss.
Now, please note that I am not obsessed with being the “perfect size”, nor am I focused on being skinny. I just want to lose the excess weight (60+ pounds) that I have put on over the last 6-8 years and get back down to a size where I can once again feel healthy and comfortable in my skin. It is a well-known fact that excess weight is a burden on the body. It is hard not only on our bones, joints, and ligaments, it is also hard on our internal organs, cardiovascular system, blood sugar system, etc. So, my focus is not to be skinny. My focus is to be healthy. My goal weight is 160-170 pounds. That is where I feel healthy and it fits my 5’10” frame.
There. I said it. I just confessed to the world how much I weigh (you all can do the math).
I am now officially mortified.
Moving on …
So, over the last 6-8 years, I put on a total of 67 pounds. They just kind of crept on, and then one day I looked at the scale and said “WHOA!”. I reached my heaviest weight about a year and a half ago, and over the course of the last couple years, I have lost around 15 pounds. Not a lot, and it wasn’t easy. Losing weight has never been easy. Still, it was a long ways away from my goal weight range of 160-170, which, BTW, according to the CDC, if I weigh 170, I would still be considered “Overweight” by their BMI calculator. I honestly think the standard BMI calculators are a bunch of junk. They don’t take into consideration anything other than height and weight. There is no consideration for frame size (I am a big-framed person anyways — you know, “big boned”), muscle mass, etc. Hence the reason that I am not concerned with getting to what the CDC determines as a “normal” weight.
I attribute this weight gain to (a) my low-functioning thyroid, (b) my malfunctioning adrenals, (c) food allergies (gluten/grains, legumes, and dairy), (d) emotional eating, and (e) too much stress. All of which, I am working on fixing. It is frustrating to realize how much weight you put on, despite eating a relatively clean diet with lots of real food. I know there are many, many people out there who feel the exact same way.
Anyways, I have completely digressed from my initial point. Thank you for sticking with me … I tend to do that a lot.
Back in the middle of August, I was
whining confessing to Lydia how frustrated I was that I was eating such a clean diet (no grains, no dairy, no legumes, no sugar), better managing my stress, and exercising (walking and yoga – nothing too strenuous to burden my adrenals), yet I wasn’t losing any weight. She told me two things:
1. You don’t lose weight to get healthy, you get healthy to lose weight.
2. Try upping your coconut oil.
Point number 1 really hit home for me. We live in a world where we are constantly told that we need to lose weight to be healthy. That, if we just lose weight, we’ll never have to worry about heart disease, diabetes, etc. Because of this, our society is obsessed with weight loss and we live in a world where we are judged by how we look. Losing weight is not a cure-all. Yes, it can help alleviate the excess burden on your body, but it’s about time that we start focusing on why we are overweight and address those issues before we do anything else. More times than none, there are going to be underlying issues that are simply preventing our bodies from dropping extra baggage.
Point number 2 was a total “Duh!” moment for me. Of course! I should up my coconut oil. I have always known that it’s good in aiding weight loss and helping thyroid health, so why wasn’t I already doing that?
Starting that day, I upped my daily intake of coconut oil to 9-12 tablespoons per day. Yes. You read that correctly. Since I use a lot of coconut oil in cooking, I average about 3 tablespoons that way. The other 6-9 tablespoons, I get by adding it to my tea. I try to drink 2-3 mugs of herbal tea per day and I add about 3 tablespoons of coconut oil into each mug. I am so used to it by now that I actually crave it. For me, it’s almost a treat! I have a cup with breakfast and lunch, and then often another mug at dinner.
And then ….
The weight started coming off. I began to steadily lose about 1 pound per week (sometimes a little more or less, depending on my activity and stress levels that week). And I am thrilled with that. A pound a week is a good, safe rate to lose weight. To date, I have lost 17 additional pounds. Combine that with my previous 15 pound weight loss and we’re at a whopping 32 pounds gone! I am officially halfway to where I want to be! And, there has been nothing difficult or frustrating. I don’t even think about it. I just eat as cleanly as possible, enjoy my tea and coconut oil, and let my body do what it needs to do. It took me 6+ years to get to this point, so it certainly isn’t going to change overnight! 🙂
I also feel like I have a little more energy throughout the day, and my energy levels are staying stable, whereas before, they were kind of up and down. A lot of that has to do with my determination to keep my blood sugar levels stable, but getting plenty of fat is key to making that happen.
Now, please don’t misinterpret this as me saying if you eat a whole bunch of coconut oil, you’ll lose weight. In my case, I think there are a number of reasons that I am finally being able to drop the excess weight, when in the past, I was not. I think all of the lifestyle changes that I have made over the last few months are all feeding off of one another to help with weight loss (upping my coconut oil intake may have been the one final thing that my body needed):
1. We eliminated allergens: grains, dairy, legumes, and sugar.
2. We started supplementing with high-quality products for specific areas that I was deficient.
3. I started focusing on getting more rest – in bed by 9:30pm most nights.
4. I got my blood sugar regulated so I no longer have spikes and dips.
5. I am working on the emotional aspects of illness and healing and that process is helping re-define my relationship with food.
(when I say “we”, I mean me and my nutritional therapist Lydia)
I am so excited about all of this. I think that we really underestimate the amount of fat that our bodies need. After decades of being fed the low-fat nonsense, I think we forget that fat is an important part of our diet. I have a feeling that even when I was eating what I considered a lot of fat, I perhaps wasn’t really eating enough. I am looking forward to seeing where this journey takes me. Remember, fat does not make you fat! If you’re still afraid of saturated fat, please read this post.
Whew! That was a long post. But, that is how coconut oil has helped me and I wanted to share. Have you had success incorporating coconut oil into your diet? Have you experienced improved thyroid function and/or weight loss? I would love to hear your story! Leave a comment below.
Update January 2013: I have lost a total of 40 pounds over the last 6 months. While I do have about 20 more pounds to go, I am quite pleased with my progress and regularly give myself a pat on the back! 🙂
P.S. Coconut oil is not just good for they thyroid, it’s good for a host of things. For lots of health-related information on coconut oil, I have found this book from the founders of Tropical Traditions to be very informative. Because the FDA and FTC doesn’t like us talking about the health benefits of coconut oil, I recommend this book to everyone, so that you can learn more about coconut oil’s health benefits. It was just updated for 2012 and contains a ton of new information.
Health Journey Update – 8/18/15
Here are a few videos of my current progress. To see even more up-to-date info on my personal health journey, check out my YouTube channel here.
Support Your Stress Response, Adrenals, Thyroid, and Whole Body Through Herbs
When it comes to supporting overall wellness, herbs are a great tool to have in your toolkit, especially those who may be dealing with chronic illness of some type. Since 2009, when I started this site, I have met thousands upon thousands of people through my work and by far, the #1 health complaints are:
- adrenal fatigue (or adrenal dysfunction of some sort) (click here to read all of my adrenal health articles)
- thyroid disorders (hypo-, hyper-, or autoimmune) (click here to read all of my thyroid health articles)
Because of this, I wanted to add in a section into this post about the benefit of using herbs with chronic illness. Adaptogens are by far one of the most used herbs when it comes to working with people who have low energy, fatigue, and overall imbalance in the endocrine system (thyroid, adrenals, and blood sugar).
While the benefits of adaptogenic herbs extend far beyond just supporting that one system, this tends to be one of the main reasons people turn to adaptogenic herbs in the first place. That said there are a lot of other herbs out there that offer amazing support for the body, especially those dealing with chronic illness which is why I wanted to share this section today.
If you are dealing with any type of chronic illness, I’m sorry to break it to you, but caffeine may not be your best friend. 🙁 While you can find lots of info online in both the pro- and the anti-coffee camps, the fact of the matter comes down to the fact that are a lot of people dealing with chronic illness, especially thyroid and adrenal problems, that simply cannot tolerate coffee and caffeine.
While those with sluggish adrenal glands tend to feel run down and in need of a regular pick-me-up (like coffee and other caffeinated beverages), in the long run, caffeine can do more harm than good while you are healing. I go into the “whys” around caffeine and your adrenals in this detailed post here. In addition to the caffeine, there are other constituents, molds, and mycotoxins that can show up in coffee that some people find they react to and can further exacerbate the toxic load on the body.
When I was diagnosed with autoimmune disease and adrenal fatigue, one of the first things that had to go was coffee. In addition to dealing with these issues, we suspected that I was having some detox pathway sluggishness so we wanted to also focus on supporting the liver and lymph systems. Most people who are dealing with chronic illness are also going to have issues with detoxification of the body, which is why herbs can play such an important role.
To be honest, I never drank coffee because of the caffeine. I drank coffee for the taste and aroma, as well as the emotional experience I felt to my morning cup of joe. For me, it was a ritual that I looked forward to every day (and sometimes multiple times a day). Whether I was brewing it at home or going to my local coffee shops, the experience was one that I clung to tightly.
But, when I was faced with new health struggles, I knew I had to do whatever I could to support my body and give it the tools it needed to heal. Giving up coffee and caffeine was one step in this direction.
And it sucked.
I turned to the coffee substitutes on the market in a desperate attempt to recreate the ritual I had grown so fond of, but nothing ever tasted the way I wanted it to. Nothing ever gave me that same experience that my cup of “real” coffee did. I knew there had to be something better, but I simply could not find it on my health food store’s shelves.
Necessity is the mother of invention so that is why I created my own coffee substitutes. They were made with organic, sustainably harvested herbs with zero grains, zero gluten, and zero caffeine. Just herbs.
Herbs that not only tasted delicious but supported my body’s function, like liver detox, bile production, digestion, etc. All of the herbs used in my “coffee” blends have been used for thousands of years to support the body’s normal functions and help everything work a little better — something we all need in today’s toxic world! (psst, dandelion is one of the herbs!)
When it came to creating these blends, if I could get something to not only tasted amazing (and helped me recreate my dearly loved ritual), but also did amazingly supportive things for my body, then it’s a no brainer!
I sold these pre-made blends on Etsy for awhile and the demand was more than I could keep up with. People literally LOVED these blends and were stunned at how much like coffee they actually tasted. Customers who had been dealing with a variety of chronic illnesses had given up coffee to heal their bodies, but like me were deeply missing their morning cup of joe ritual.
After careful consideration and work with some highly experienced advisors, I decided to stop selling the pre-made blends and instead share my proprietary recipes in the form of an eBook. That way I could arm people with the knowledge and recipes they needed to make their own caffeine-free, gluten-free, grain-free blends in the comfort of their own home.
That is why I created the best-selling DIY Herbal Coffees eBook: A Complete Guide To Making Delicious Herbal Coffees to Support Healing & Stress Relief.
Now in its second edition, this ebook features:
- All of my proprietary herbal blend recipes to you can craft a homemade herbal cup of “coffee” at home.
- A ton of researched information about coffee’s impact on the health of those dealing with issues like adrenal fatigue, blood sugar dysregulation, autoimmune disease, thyroid disease, and any other chronic illness.
- Information about all of the herbs used, why I selected them, how to source them, how to prepare and store you “coffees”, and much more.
- Access to your own personal coffee shop where I show you how to recreate your favorite coffee shop drinks and pastries with wholesome, nourishing real food ingredients. No junk here. Only real food.
This book truly is a comprehensive guide to supporting your health, reducing your stress, and bringing a little something special back into your healing journey. You can learn more and download your own copy of this revolutionary wellness guide here, or simply click on the image below.