I first met Ash in 2017 after her main squeeze came in overall champ at an OCB event. My husband, Jeff and I gave away FREE fitness shoots to of all the top athletes from the show. We did a great shoot with Isaak & Ash who drove in to Pittsburgh from Ohio.
After meeting these two, we thought so much of them and really enjoyed seeing how much they loved the sport & each other.
Later, Ash contacted me to talk about getting some mentorship with switching to a Vegan diet to help with a recent diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Disease.
Ash, thank you so much for being open and honest about your struggles with your health & for being the motivation that others will undoubtedly need to make a positive change for a better life! And hey, if YET ANOTHER bodybuilder can go vegan – I’m excited for the animals & the planet too.
Your main challenge in seeking out nutritional advice was the discovery that you had been afflicted with Hashimotos disease. How long did this take you to discover?
I had been suffering from intense migraines for a year and a half before I decided to seek help. I had visited the eye doctor and got prescribed glasses and still didn’t experience relief from the migraines. As a last ditch effort I went to my OBGYN to get my hormones checked. It was then in my doctor visit she palpated my thyroid and said it was enlarged. From this point it took 2 more months before I could get into the Endocrinologist she referred me to. Within moments of him reviewing my blood work he diagnosed me with Hashimotos.
Can you tell us a bit, in your own words, what Hashimotos is to you?
Hashimotos to me changed my life for the better. It made me over analyze everything I used or put in my body. Just the slightest amount of the wrong thing throws my body into such a funk because what is happening when I am not fueling my body correctly, my thyroid produces too much hormones and in turn my body views my thyroid as a foreign object and attacks itself.
With a laundry list of sensitivities under that umbrella, how did you find what foods negatively impact you personally?
I clearly KNEW I wasn’t feeling good so when I switched to a plant based diet I started feeling a way I haven’t felt in two years , which was feeling good. Having energy and no symptoms of a migrane. I am a bodybuilder and on Saturday evenings I always provided myself a cheat meal, it was upon this I discovered gluten was my worst enemy. Avoiding animal products/dairy is a choice and have discovered that those items don’t effect me as negatively as gluten does.
Did you try anything natural/holistic on your own first?
I had and still use essential oils and herbs for the migraines prior to my diagnosis. Meditation/reiki/color therapy and yoga has also helped along this journey. Strengthening my mental health as well as my physical health has changed the game .
How long have you been suffering with the symptoms of this disease?
I recall my symptoms appeared during my first show prep in 2015.
How did this impact your training? Are there any supplements that you are no longer using because of their negative impact on your body?
I overused pre-workout because I always felt fatigued and in turn I have discovered that too much caffeine also gives me the same side effects of gluten.
Are there any medications that were recommended to you? If you can share with us which ones, did you agree to take them or are you trying a natural approach?
They prescribed synthroid and I declined that and have opted to take Naturethroid. It is a natural thyroid medication that is derived from pig thyroids. On top of this I also take a vegetarian supplement called Thyroid Support.
How did you originally come across the information noting that a plant based diet might help you out most?
I read an article in a magazine one day about a woman who was diagnosed with Thyroid cancer. She decided to switch to a plant based diet and within a year she reversed the effects on her body and was placed in remission. My thoughts were my story is not as intense but why couldn’t this work for me? I figured it wouldn’t hurt my body any to try!
What is the biggest hurdle you feel you face in your day to day life with this issue?
Eating the right things to avoid feeling fatigued.
What does shopping for groceries look like to you or how do you think it differs from a “regular” persons grocery shop? –
It starts in the produce section and the organic area. The only products I pick up in the aisles are almond milk, tea, certain vegan/gluten free cereals and breads. Other than that I avoid the rest of the grocery store. I believe other people do the exact opposite of my method. Only shop in the aisles and avoid the produce section.
What are your pet peeves when dining out?
That plant based diets are not popular in my area so I have to stick to the “sides” section and opt for a salad.
How has your family reacted to your huge nutritional lifestyle change?
They have been so supportive and have encouraged the change. They have noticed the difference.
What is the one food you desperately miss, or do you miss any foods at all?
Sometimes when cravings hit I miss ice cream and donuts but there is a gluten free bakery in my town and they make dairy free ice cream now so I’ve found things to implement.
If you could give 3 pieces of solid advice to those suffering with Hashimotos, what would they be?
Change your diet!
Once you start “feeling” better, get your mind right . Strengthen your mental health.
Get a good sweaty workout in daily
Please share with us any of your favourite foods or recipes!
Black bean burgers with sweet potato fries
Zucchini noodles and home made marinara
Look at this girl that you have helped me blossom into! thank you from the bottom of my heart for providing the stepping stones and all the tools to transition into this lifestyle change.