Research, Training

A Scientific Approach to 2019

Twenty-Nine and Feeling Fine

That’s been my motto since my birthday a few weeks ago. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to translate it to the New Year but somehow,  “Twenty-Nineteen and Feeling Fine(teen?)” doesn’t seem to flow quite as well.

In any case, despite this new catchphrase, I’ve actually been feeling less than fine these past few months. I’ve felt tired and worn down more often than not and seem to be having a much harder time getting back into the swing of training than I usually do this time of year.

After several weeks, I got sick of accepting this was just a normal “off-season funk” (patience is a virtue I lack) and decided to take a more scientific look at things.

Post birthday-blood test!

So, for a birthday present to myself, I went and got my blood tested with InsideTracker. The process is pretty simple: You order a test online and are provided a lab form to take to any Quest Labs. I scheduled an appointment before work the next day, showed up, got 3 vials of blood taken, and that was it!

About a week later, I received my results, which (spoiler alert!) revealed some possible explanations as to why I’ve been feeling so run down lately.  Key markers for my muscle and bone health (i.e. creatine kinase, vitamin D) were outside the optimal range, as were several of my liver enzymes and iron group biomarkers. The liver thing may sound a little odd, but it is actually pretty normal for athletes to have elevated liver enzymes due to the constant cycle of muscle breakdown. Beyond that, I’d also been on a bit of booze-bender between holiday parties and my birthday celebration so wasn’t shocked to see my markers for liver health looking less than perfect.

screenshot 2019-01-03 17.30.06

Here are some things I like about InsideTracker: you receive a more relevant range for your biomarkers (optimal, needs work, at risk) instead of just a generic “in or out of range” like you get from the lab directly. More importantly, they immediately offer actionable suggestions to optimize areas that are in need of improvement based on your lifestyle goals (i.e. overall health, endurance, injury prevention, energy), and back up each suggestion with the research and science behind it. They’ll also recommend personalized nutrition tips or food groups to focus on based on your results, all within a pretty sleek user interface that’s easy to navigate (of course, as  a millennial, that’s what I really are about).

I chose “overall health” as my lifestyle goal, since that’s kind of where I’m at these days post-Ironman training. Below are some of my action items to support this goal. You can set up your preferences in InsideTracker to send reminders everyday, week, etc. to complete these daily actions. I have mine set up for a daily text message.

Here’s what I’ll be working on:

  1. Drink less alcohol. You all can probably appreciate how hard this will be for me given the title of my blog. I really love good beer! And bourbon. Oh and most red wines (even the really cheap ones). But apparently it’s time to give the liver a little break. I’m attempting to do a #soberJanuary –inspired by my friend Liz Lowe – and will see where things go from there.
  2. Take a vitamin D supplement. Because I live in the northeast, get absolutely no sun throughout the year, and also don’t eat dairy….this one kind of feels like a no-brainer that I should have started sooner. I picked up some D3 gummies a few days ago.
  3. Take a probiotic supplement daily. This may be cheating because I sort of already do this. I started a few months ago when I was having some bad GI issues and it seemed to help (and no, I don’t even care if it’s just the placebo effect at work). I’m the kind of nerd that writes things on my to-do list just to cross them off a moment later so… let’s leave it on!
  4. Eat more fish.The hubs and I usually eat chicken or meat-free during the week…because we are boring creatures of habit. In 2019, we are going to spice things up and have fatty fish at least 2 days a week. This should help my Vitamin D levels but also hopefully improve inflammation markers and cholesterol as well (thanks Omega-3s!).
screenshot 2019-01-05 19.30.56
InsideTracker’s User Dashboard where you can control daily reminders.

I’m on Day 6 of #SoberJanuary and, other than having a horrible cold, am doing pretty well. I have yet to get on my bike but have attended some lovely yoga classes and have taken my supplements, along with cold medicine, daily. #winning

I’ll get my blood tested again in April to see if I’m making progress. In the meantime, I plan on just listening to my body, following my action steps, and taking it one day at a time. Leaving my race calendar wide-open in the spring and early summer has given me the wonderful freedom and flexibility to that. Yay!

I also, for those interested, have some goals (I don’t use the term resolution – too rigid) outside of health/fitness.  In 2019, I’m going to read and write more, and I’m defining “more” as at least once per day. In order to achieve this, I need to free up time from somewhere else…That means less (defined as <1 hour day) social media and Netflix. There are better ways to unwind and reward myself.

If anyone else wants to join in on these goals, let me know! I’m #blessed (only using that half-sarcastically) to count on the support of my IRACELIKEAGIRL teammates for a second year, and of course, my truest supporters, Evan and Evie.

Happy 2019 (and feeling fine-teen) all!





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