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A Thyroid Type's Transformation at the Gym
by Dario Nardi, Ph.D.


Satisfaction at the gym, sports or other physical activity isnít just for adrenal types. Thyroid types have advantages as well as challenges. For many years I was disappointed with my time in the gym. I didnít know the most effective general techniques much less what I needed as a thyroid type. Even when I learned better techniques, being a thyroid type still brings particular challenges:

  • Poor endurance
  • Low muscle mass, and muscles weaker than other types with similar mass
  • Hyper-sensitivity to physical pain
  • Easily bored with physical activity


On the treadmill, I tired and bored quickly. With weights, my whole body would react against anything causing pain. Protein powders were difficult Ė allergies, discomfort and an erratic schedule. Even after finding a good protein powder and smart techniques, I still lacked the strength others had. I definitely could never just pick up someone! As a thyroid type with recessive adrenal function, all of these challenges came as no surprise.

Starting 2 years ago all this changed. I earnestly began working out, trying and considering what works best for me. The first surprise came from a physical exam. I looked slim but had 23 percent body fat (high average!) Many thyroid types look slim but where others have more muscle, we may have flab. I had to lose weight as part of my new program! In time, I discovered I had to compensate for what I thought my strengths were:

  • Naturally slim (but itís important to build muscle while shedding fat)
  • Impressive bursts of speed (but I need to slow down and pace myself with breathing)
  • Interest in strategizing my routine (but the greatest stress relief comes when losing myself in the physical activity)
  • Aware of whatís a safe limit (but learn to experience pain as positive and natural)


Supporting recessive glands has also been key. For me, how to deal with low adrenal function? First, adrenal glandulars are helpful long-term investments. The adrenals consist of two tissues: the medulla and the cortex. The medulla releases adrenaline for fight or flight while the cortex releases cortisol for stress relief. As a thyroid type I may release excessive adrenaline and insufficient cortisol. I decided on small amounts of adrenal medulla glandular and larger amounts of adrenal cortex. DHEA and pregnenolone are also adrenal hormones available off the shelf, but as a 30-something adult I felt I wasnít ready for more than a little of these. I also explored nutrients that boost energy and muscle growth without stimulating the nervous system. Coffee makes thyroid types jittery Ė itís a no-no. In contrast, hemodilators increase blood flow to muscles for improved muscle growth. B-vitamins provide energy and help the body detoxify. And certain herbs and amino acids like taurine are useful for building muscle, increasing energy, and so on. Like all ďmedicinesĒ I considered these as tools to help make the transition to my goals, not as long-term solutions. Finally, I couldnít build muscle without protein! A rice protein powder didnít give me adverse reactions.

These days, I work out 2 to 3 times a week during my peak energy time (late mornings). Once or twice a week I attend a ďboot campĒ Ė a 1-hour workout experience with other people led by a knowledgeable trainer who keeps us moving with a variety of total body exercises. Itís as intense as 2 to 3 hours on my own and demands high fitness to finish a session. Thereís sufficient variety and some personal care without the high cost of a trainer. Many of the basic exercises learned in school like push-ups, jumping jacks and sit-ups remain the staple of my workouts, but with variations. Taking slightly longer breaks than others between exercises so I donít burn out is important. So is focused deep breathing. The occassional extra few seconds of down time is all I need to let my body catch up with workout demands. Most of the instructors and other regulars are adrenal types so it can be a challenge!

In 9 months, Iíve gone from 1 pull-up to 30, from 23 percent body to 11 percent, from 10 sit-ups to 200, and drastically improved endurance on the treadmill. Most importantly, I discovered that tremendous potential is possible from what seems like a confirming genetic inheritance. And when the body changes, the mind changes.

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