I never put any thought into my health until I got to college. Throughout college, I had routinely gone to the gym without any real goal in mind, I just knew it was healthy to get some physical activity. I would go to my college gym, spend some time on the elliptical, lift some weights, hop on the machines, all without any real knowledge or plan for what I was doing. After I graduated and started working full time, one of my colleagues introduced me to BeachBody’s P90X and Insanity programs. Having some structure to my workouts appealed to me, so I started following the programs. All this time I was eating a Standard American Diet, not really paying attention to what I was putting in my body.
It wasn’t until graduating college and marrying my wife did I start to shift my exercise. My wife liked running and started running a few local road races. I always hated running, but she inspired me. In time I came across a thing called Spartan Race, a race that involved running but also incorporated obstacles like climbing over walls, carrying heavy items, doing monkey bars, etc. To get ready for the race I decided I would incorporate more running into my BeachBody workouts but also get serious about my nutrition. Naturally I turned to the nutrition advice in programs like P90X and Insanity. I started eating more “healthy” foods like brown rice, quinoa, whole grains, and more vegetables, all of which were pretty much missing from my diet. Using this combination of diet and exercise I successfully completed my first Spartan Race in November of 2015….and I was hooked. By the end of the year I had committed to completing what is called the Spartan Trifecta in 2016. This involved completing a Spartan Sprint, Super, and Beast (these are just different distance races with a Sprint being the shortest and a Beast being the longest).
Having a type “A” personality, I immediately dove deep into how I could perform better for these races. I knew I could not only do more physically but also nutritionally to prepare myself. Eventually I came across Ben Greenfield’s podcast and heard Mark Sisson talking about his latest book Primal Endurance. After hearing the podcast, and knowing I had to complete a 14+ mile obstacle course race on a ski mountain, I bought the book. I quickly read through the book and I began to commit to both the dietary and training suggestions in the book. I went Paleo/Primal cold turkey and started to increase my endurance using mostly aerobic workouts.
The training and diet payed off, by the time I got to my 14+ mile obstacle course race, my endurance and fat burning capacity was off the charts. However, towards the end of my 2016 race season I started to not feel well. I was not sleeping well, not recovering from my workouts, I had very little sex drive, and I was not the most pleasant person to be around. When I could see these things starting to affect my family life I decided I would try to do something about it. I went to my primary care doctor and told him my symptoms. The only test he ordered was a blood testosterone test. When the results came back he said “I was fine”.
I knew however something was not right. One day I was listening to the Endurance Planet podcast and I heard Chris Kelly talking about his company Nourish Balance Thrive. During the podcast he described the type of athletes they work with and much to my surprise, he was describing exactly what I was experiencing. I reached out to him and described my symptoms to his teammates. They ordered a number of tests that included an extensive blood panel, stool tests, hormone tests, and more. After getting the results back I found that there were a number of issues, including thyroid problems, low testosterone, and a couple of imbalances in my gut. After working for about a year to resolve these issues I decided I wanted to help other athletes who might be struggling with the same problems. I found while going through my health journey, many of the solutions were actually lifestyle changes. They were not things that a doctor might help you with but instead a health coach, so I enrolled in the Primal Health Institute. My goal as a health coach is to help others just like me, athletes or not, discover what true health is.