Fitness instructor and healthy lifestyle guru Katie Dunlop’s health and fitness empire is nothing to sneeze at. With nearly 500,000 followers on her Instagram account Love Sweat Fitness and an even larger following on her YouTube channel (and also a creator on Parade.com‘s!) it’s clear that Dunlop knows a thing or two about taking the best possible care of her body—and it certainly doesn’t hurt that she’s upbeat and encouraging.
Dunlop’s interest in clean eating and nutrition was born from a lifelong struggle with hypothyroidism, which is when they body can’t make enough thyroid hormone to keep the body running normally. Here, Dunlop, 33, shares her journey of knowing something was off with her body, how she got doctors to take her seriously, and the lifestyle shifts that have supported her health journey.
When did you first discover you had hypothyroidism, and what were the symptoms that tipped you off to something being wrong?
I was having severe headaches almost daily along with hair loss, chronic fatigue, and several other symptoms.
You initially took the medication prescribed to you by your doctor. When (and why) did you decide to start making lifestyle changes as well?
I had been on medication for about 12 years with no other guidance from my doctors. When I was about 23 years old I found myself overweight, struggling with depression, and experiencing a lot of my hypo symptoms again. I tried tons of extreme fad diets and pills for weight loss thinking they would fix my problems, but nothing helped. I finally realized torturing myself to somehow make myself feel better didn’t make any sense. I needed to truly start to focus on feeling good, and for me, that started with what I was putting into my body.
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The concept of making healthy lifestyle changes is a great one, but it’s so much easier said than done. Many of us start, only to lose steam within a few weeks. How did you start making changes that actually stuck?
I focused more on what I could add to my plate rather than what I had to get rid of. This was a totally new concept for me, but made all the difference in the world. Filling up my plate with the good stuff first just left less room for junk. I also committed to moving my body for 10 minutes a day. That was a manageable goal that I knew I could stick to, no excuses, and it allowed me to continuously feel like I was accomplishing something, which motivated me to do more.
Beyond easing your symptoms of hypothyroidism, what positive changes did you start to see as you lost weight, ate healthier, and started to exercise more?
I felt better! And I don’t just mean I had less headaches. I had more energy, my mood felt more balanced, and I felt empowered knowing I had control and could change things.
Related: Love Sweat