Sarah Piampiano: On Managing Hashimoto’s Like A Pro, Chasing Dreams, and Launching ‘The Habit Project’

August 10, 2016
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Since going pro after a career in finance, Sarah Piampiano‘s accumulated multiple 70.3-distance wins, an Ironman win and many other podium performances, as well as a 7th place finish at the 2015 Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. This year she’ll return to Kona. Last year she launched The Habit Project, an online community geared toward helping supporting positive habit changes. Along the way, Sarah has also struggled with Hashimoto’s disease, a thyroid disorder, and was diagnosed as a young girl. On this show we will learn how Sarah has overcome Hashimoto’s and still competes at the top level of long-course triathlon.

For more info on athletes with Hashimoto’s and taking thyroid medication read “Thyroid Madness – Everything You Need to Know” by Steve Magness, who also has Hashimoto’s.

On this show:

  • Sarah’s background from a career in finance to becoming a professional triathlete
  • How she got into triathlon, and the bad habits she had prior to becoming a triathlete
  • Hired coach Matt Dixon of Purplepatch Fitness, left job, moved across country to Los Angeles, began competing as a professional, and by April that year won Ironman New Orleans 70.3.
  • Hashimoto’s and Health Struggles
  • Struggles as recent as this year, 2016, coming off Kona and an Ironman win late last year.
  • Diagnosed with Hashimoto’s when young, this is a thyroid disorder in which your body recognizes your thyroid gland as a foreign body and attacks it.
  • Managed it through medication but things were starting to go bad into the triathlon days.
  • Broken leg in ’14 leading to investiage current thyroid status–what was going on and the link to the fracture and overall health
  • Diet changes that Sarah made early on
  • Still seeing low thyroid functioning and increasing med’s
  • Energy struggles
  • Tons of inflammation and swelling. “To the point that sometimes – if I ate something ‘off’ – I would retain upwards for 10-12 pounds of fluid as my body reacted negatively to whatever I had consumed,” she says.
  • Inflammation after an Ironman
  • Ice cream and swelling after Kona ’15
  • Tackling an elimination diet to heal from within and boost thyroid function; also to fully understand what foods were causing the swelling and inflammation.
  • Removal of grains, sugar, alcohol, legumes and dairy. Still allowed to eat protein, fruit, nuts and seeds, vegetables and potatoes.
  • How she managed elimination diets in season or offseason as a pro triathlete who needs fuel and can’t be too low carb
  • Using the time after a race when training volume and intensity are low/non-existent to eliminate the “bad stuff”
  • New diet was a huge turning point
  • But still, living a life of balance and avoiding some treats–even if some consequences
  • How she’s learned to manage her condition, diet, and thyroid health to still train and race as a pro avoiding setbacks
  • Lastly, Sarah shares about The Habit Project, and why she started it, its mission and more.

One Comment

  • I_am_Steve says:

    Hi Tawny, great podcast as usual. Since I got a blood test which showed my thyroid antibodies were 9x the normal amount, I've assumed I inherited Hashimoto's and have since gone out of my way to take care of myself. Raw broccoli and kale are foods that I've avoided since then (along with other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussles sprouts). The reason is that all cruciferous vegetables contain goitrogens which are substances that suppress thyroid hormone production and can exacerbate hypothyroidism. This was unfortunate for me since raw cauliflower florets and peanut butter was one my favorite snacks in the entire world. Luckily, cooking cruciferous vegetables is supposed to get rid of the offending substances and I've found that roasted cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts are pretty dang delicious 🙂


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