In Search of Optimal Health- My InsideTracker Review.

Inside Tracker LogoWe are all “in search of…”

Something.

Be it happiness, calm, contentedness, peace, a killer career, a soul mate, fantastic highlights, good health or running the ever elusive BQ- Boston Marathon Qualifying time. No matter what unicorn we are chasing, I think we can all agree, we all want to be better, to enhance our lives and live them to the fullest. I am certainly no exception. Recently, after experiencing one of the most terrifying health scares of my life, I made a conscious decision to get a handle on ME. Diet. Exercise. Lifestyle. Training. The whole mind-body shebang. There came that tipping point. You know, the point where you become sick of your own  bullshit self?  Yeah. That was it. Months of stress, insomnia, fatigue and poor post-run recovery prompted me to stage my very own Health Intervention. I needed a serious health reboot.  So began my search for optimal health..

Enter InsideTracker.

InsideTracker is a personalized health analytics company which uses a platform their scientists developed, to track and analyze key biochemical and physiological markers found in your blood. Once determined, their platform provides personalized optimal ranges for each biomarker. In my case, there were 30+ biomarkers, ranging from ALT levels to ferritin levels to glucose levels to zinc. Simply put?

YOU: Schedule on-line appointment. Fast overnight. Head to the lab to have blood drawn.

THEY: Run clinical chemistries. Get numbers. Plug numbers into algorithms. Pull from their scientific database. Compile your read out.

And viola! InsideTracker sends you personalized optimal ranges along with diet and lifestyle recommendations to help you reach your potential. Those are just for YOU. It’s not voodoo. It’s based on real science.

Our goal is to empower individuals with the essential information they need to manage and optimize their own health. We believe that by providing a dynamic, personalized analytic platform at the intersection of biology, science and technology, then distilling the results into simple, natural and sustainable nutrition and lifestyle recommendations to follow, we can help people live longer, healthier lives. -InsideTracker

The Process

The process itself is quite simple. There are plenty of plans to choose from ranging from the Ultimate ($499) to which you can add an InnerAge analysis, to a DIY ($49) where you can upload your own blood results and InsideTracker will generate the analysis and nutrition, lifestyle, and exercise recommendations for the blood results you enter. They will also chart the change in them over time. If you have already purchased the Fitness ($149), Performance ($299), or Ultimate Plan, DIY is FREE which I think is great. The range in price points correlates to the amount of biomarkers being tested. Admittedly, they are steep.  I will say that their website and tracking your results is extremely user friendly. They did a great job providing scientific references as well as accurate descriptions of each biomarker in language that is quite easy to understand. I will state that I purchased an Ultimate package and was provided an Inner Age analysis and subsequent follow up test at no charge in exchange for my honest review. And honest it will be.

The Results

Here’s where it can be overwhelming. And I will caution you:  Do not try to interpret the results yourself should they be above or below the “normal” range. For the love of god, enlist the help of your medical professional. Be mindful that InsideTracker is not a medical service. It’s not diagnosing you. It’s primary goal is to provide you with food and lifestyle changes backed by science to optimize your physical condition. When you receive your results they are color coded- Red, Yellow or Green. Red (“At Risk”) is either much HIGHER or much LOWER than the normal ranges for a particular blood biomarker in question.  Yellow (“Needs Work”) is in the NORMAL range with ORANGE being near normal. And GREEN (“Optimized”) is the sweet spot- OPTIMAL! If you should have abnormal results, InsideTracker will email you a friendly- Get thee to your health care provider- email alerting you. I should know. I received one. What you then shouldn’t do is then hop on Google, plug in “off the chart cortisol levels” like somebody I know did, and diagnose yourself with Cushing’s Syndrome or any other of the conditions associated with high cortisol levels. It will cause an additional spike in your cortisol levels. Trust me on this one. Don’t do it. Leave any questions you have related to your results to your health care provider.

The Big Reveal

Enough about all that. Now let’s get to the good stuff, shall we? Let’s talk about ME! Me!!!!!!Welp. I wish it was all roses and sunshine but guess what? It wasn’t. And that’s the truth. The Bottom Line? There is work to be done. How much work came as a bit of a shock to me. Here I was thinking that as a pescetarian marathon runner and cyclist with an optimal BMI and low body fat content, I was the picture of health. Umm. Yeah. No. Not from this particular biological snap shot. Here’s the rough summary: Of the 30 or so biomarkers tested, 6 were “At Risk”, and 5 “Need Work”, the rest including Liver Enzymes were “Optimal.” CHEERS! {Clink!}  Based on how little I had been sleeping, as well as the perceived amount of life stress I had been under, I had assumed that my cortisol levels (an indicator of stress) as well as my hsCRP (an indicator of inflammation) would be high. How high I simply had NO IDEA. Ready? Fasten your seatbelt.

Cortisol hsCRP

The take home message here? GET SOME DAMN SLEEP, COLBY. I have to say. I was flabbergasted. Flabber. Gasted. There it is. All in black and white (and sadly, red) in an easy to read, incredibly informative, user friendly screen shot. Those two weren’t the only ones off of the charts either. There were 6 in total. Pieces. I am approaching this one biomarker at a time. Piece by piece. Along with the harrowing results, came food and lifestyle recommendations. I should add that once you register for InsideTracker, you fill out an online list of food preferences. They even put together a “Food Basket” for you based on your results, containing items that will help you to optimize the biomarkers that need work. I don’t eat meat. But I do eat fish, eggs and dairy. So that’s why under my ferritin (iron) recommendations you won’t see EAT A STEAK, HONEY. There are foods to eat more of, as well as foods to eat less of. (Yeah I’m looking at you, Eggs.) I was happy to see that while my iron group was not Optimal, it wasn’t in the Red either. It needs a slight tweaking. That was my biggest fear being a non-meat eater- not enough Iron. Here’s what InsideTracker recommended for me, taking my selected dietary preferences into account.Iron Rich FoodsSee how easy the recommendations are to read? Great layout. Excellent content. Such a wealth of valuable nutritional information- and all personalized. Overwhelming as the results were (and why it’s taken me a few weeks for me to mentally process them), is as easy as they were to read and understand. I might need some work, but it’s all quite doable. Breathe, Colby.

The Biggest Reveal came with the InnerAge Analysis. And yes, I will share it with you. Even though I just started sweating profusely. InnerAge Analysis takes a look at a particular subset of biomarkers which have been identified to have the greatest impact on the aging process. You can ad it on to your test. You can imagine, if those particular biomarkers are ones of yours needing work, you might be in for the shock of your life. I will remind you, Dear Reader, that my given name is Nicole and I just turned 43 years old.  FORTY STINKING THREE. I’m yelling it so you understand why, upon clicking the InnerAge Results tab, I let out a plaintive wail then promptly blacked out. When I came to, this was staring me in the face. InnerAgeSNL One Shocked Princess
Stop the ride.
I gotta get off.
And pick up my goddamn AARP card.

There are no words. 60.3 years old at 43. That is absolutely horrifying to me. Christ. If I knew I was going to be eligible for Social Security at 43, I might have planted my saggy ass on the couch and binged on fried clam strips (No bellies, please) and onion rings while watching Bravo TV all day. Talk about a wake up call. A lot of what is driving this number is related to the amount of sleep I had NOT been getting. Sleep is imperative. And stress ages you. For real. When you discover you are having an adverse physiological response to stress, you need to change what you are doing. And you need to do it YESTERDAY. Because at age 43 (Oh. Pardon me, age 60.3), how I am handling it clearly ain’t working for me.

My InsideTracker Results explained quite a bit to me. A lot of pieces of the Colby Puzzle fell into place. No wonder I felt so “Off.” My running. My recovery. My overall sluggishness. All Off. There was an actual physiological reason as to why. Can you go to your doctor and have clinical blood chemistries run? You sure can. But I would recommend uploading them to InsideTracker at the very least. I am very pleased with InsideTracker- the process, the analysis, the recommendations. They make sense. Since obtaining my results, I have made MANY changes to my diet and lifestyle which I will describe in a future post. This one was a doozy. I am anxious to see how my next set of results compares to the first. And you can bet I’ll be writing about it. We’ll call it Colby’s InsideTracker Series: The Quest for Youth. 60.3. Gah. Where is Ponce de Leon when you need him?

Holy Eye Opener.

It’s time for a change, Nicole.

No kidding.  Thanks for opening my eyes, InsideTracker

Interested in InsideTracker? Message me on Faceboook or Twitter (@RunColbyRun) for a super secret exclusive code the folks at http://www.InsideTracker.com gave me to share! Aren’t we special? Old. And special. πŸ™‚

Advertisements

42 thoughts on “In Search of Optimal Health- My InsideTracker Review.

      • Shawn Stevenson’s written a lot of good stuff about sleep.
        I take a daily tumeric & ginger tea to help with systemic inflammation. Good luck!

      • Thanks for the recommendations Van! I’ve begun to use tumeric more often as well. I’m also happy to report that I’ve been making sleep a priority. The change in energy has been palpable. πŸ™‚

  1. LOL! Fear not, by 44 you become used to it and realize you’re actually quite sexy for your age simply because your bmi is normal. Mid-forties ROCK! Woohoo!

    • Seriously. I was STUNNED. Stay tuned. I am so curious. It really explains a lot about how I was feeling and why I wasn’t recovering or even running well. I’ve made a LOT of changes and in a month’s time, I can really sense a change. Even if it’s only perceived, not actual, I’LL TAKE IT!!! πŸ™‚

    • Stay tuned for follow ups Jamie! I’m really curious to see how my diet and lifestyle modifications impact the raw data. (I’m a research scientist. I love this shit. πŸ˜‰ ) I’ve been taking them to heart. I’ve also broken it down into pieces looking at hitting two biomarkers with one stone (or handful of chia seeds as it were!). Good luck if you decide to take the deep dive!!!! I’d love to hear about your experience!!! Mine is a work in progress!!!

  2. Interesting stuff. Too bad it’s so expensive. My Doc ran a bunch of tests at my last physical, so maybe I could use the $49 DIY version and enter the info he got from those tests.
    I can’t wait to find out how you do.
    Andy

    • It is steep- but there are an assortment of options including the DIY version. If you look on the InsideTracker website they also offer % off on multiple tests. That might help too. I can’t wait to find out how I do either! I’d better be at LEAST 50 by then. Christ. I’ll post next week what I’ve been doing now that the shock has worn off. Hope all is well Andy!!! πŸ™‚

  3. Everything is centred around getting enough sleep. Stupid sleep. I say stupid only because sleep used to be my BFF and then abandoned me for someone younger, but lets not talk about that. On a side note, you look really good for 60.3 years.

    • I heart you Angie. πŸ™‚ It is Stupid Sleep. And as someone who previously Slept Like the Dead, having insomnia was so damn disruptive to me. I’d have to say that for a 6 month period of time my sleep was a complete disaster. I blogged about it a bit too. That had a lot to do with a very real cancer scare. Yeah. Not happening. Once that nightmare happily ended, Sleep returned. It’s been getting better and better. A lot because I’ve made it a priority. I’ve started a nightly routine. I bought a new bed and kick ass sheets. I’m doing yoga and meditation regularly. It’s exhausting, isn’t it?

      Not bad for 60.3 right? πŸ˜‰

  4. Oh, Dolly. First, I’m kinda pissed that we have been paying full-price for movies and coffee and Dunkin, since you obvi are eligible for a discount. Second, like the true friend that I am, I am nice enough to be in even worse shape than you, so take comfort in the fact that you are still a spring chicken compared to whatever my Inside Tracker age is. If I dared to take the test, I have no doubt I would be 138 years old, since I have the same stress and sleep issues as you, but with a worse diet. Sigh. We’ll get through this and I agree that sleep is where to start. I’m trying. And I know you are, too. You looked fab at the spa last week. Not a day over 59. πŸ˜‰

    • Evil. You are Evil. 59….GAH.

      I wish I couldn’t agree with you, but, you’re right. I bet if your InsideTracker InnerAge is 138. No doubt. If I’m 60.3, you have to minimally be doubly old. I’ve never met ANYONE with your level of stress + shit sleep. Your diet isn’t THAT bad T-Bone. You did order a garden salad and tabbouleh at the spa. *faints* We both washed it down with gallons of wine so yeah, there’s that. I wonder what the “oldest” InnerAge was?? Or did it just say DECEASED? Hmmmm. I’m on it…

      • You’re right – I DID order a salad. And tabbouleh!! WHO AM I? And the wine is good for clearing arteries – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I don’t eat all your new age anti-inflammatory spices, though, because I think I’m allergic to them. It’s the stress and sleep, man. Working on it. At least the sleep. Stress will take a little more time.

    • Evil Beagle has begun sleeping LIKE A DAMN DOG, on a tempurpedic dog bed. (Ok. Like a damn spoiled dog. But a dog nonetheless.) And thank you for wishing Benjamin Button Disease on me. I’d totally take it. πŸ˜‰

    • I am with you Wendy- about not reading too much into the numbers. I am a Research Scientist and biomarkers are pretty much my life. I am taking it as a Health Snap Shot. After having a very real cancer scare and finding that my sleep disappeared, my running recovery sucked, and my stress was through the roof, I decided to see what was going on. Because I really felt “Off.” And while there were a host of things that were off- cortisol and hsCRP especially- it did make me look at My Whole Health picture. I also began making sleep a priority as well as yoga and clean(er) eating. I am super curious to see the follow up test. That’s really it in my book. This is simply a baseline. Where it goes remains to be seen! I do have to say, sleep is doing me good! πŸ™‚

  5. My good friend just started working for Inside Tracker, its a very interesting concept and service they provide. I know she uses it for her Ironman training and has seen a big difference in performance by making tweaks based on her results! I think it’s a great baseline to see where you are at and where you can improve. Good luck and please get more sleep!! πŸ™‚

    • VERY COOL! I am really interested to see how the nutritional and lifestyle changes I’m making impact my performance. I’m totally looking forward to my next test. So far, I can say I feel MUCH better. Who knew sleep was that important??? Duh. Colby. πŸ˜‰

    • That was shocking to me. I figured high, but not THAT HIGH. It explains quite a bit of what’s been going on with me, some of which I haven’t mentioned. Can’t put all your junk out there right? πŸ˜‰ I’ve been doing yoga Michelle- which I am loving. And working on the whole life-work-stress component. I’m feeling calmer already….

      • I do yoga once a week but honestly don’t like it. Since turning 40 (I’m 42 now) I’ve gained 10 lbs and it’s really starting to get me down. Question is, how the heck do we lower cortisol? I don’t have much caffeine at all, but know my lack of sleep is an issue.

      • I have learned to love yoga. I always feel better when I am doing it- grounded and open. I am finding that with regular practice (3 times a week for me) it’s having a very positive impact on my running. Goodbye Tight Hips!

        I’m NO DOCTOR, but eliminating caffeine, exercising regularly (increases serotonin and dopamine= less anxiety and depression= happy stress reduction!), keeping blood sugar levels steady (eating multiple meals throughout the day= less spikes and dips in insulin levels) and SLEEP (good old, meaningful, deep sleep) can lower cortisol levels. Foods high in magnesium levels like flaxseed, almonds and bran cereal can also help lower cortisol levels. Walnuts too which are high in omega-3s are also thought to lower cortisol levels. Me? I’m limiting caffeine, doing yoga, running to relieve stress, meditating, and incorporating these foods into my diet. I’m my own guinea pig. I’ll let you know how it goes!!!! πŸ™‚

      • Please do!!! I started a little “restart” of sorts if you will, this week in hopes for some positive changes. Seeing a few pics of me from my last half marathon were a true wake up call that I need to drop these dreaded 10 lbs. Best wishes, and please keep me posted.

  6. Pingback: I Need to Relax. And Kurt Loder is 70.Β  | It's A Marathon AND A Sprint

  7. Pingback: The Ultimate Retest | It's A Marathon AND A Sprint

  8. Pingback: My InsideTracker Ultimate ReTest: Progress! | It's A Marathon AND A Sprint

  9. Pingback: Dr. Everything’ll Be Alright – It's A Marathon AND A Sprint

  10. Pingback: Every Day Can’t Be A Damn Holiday. – It's A Marathon AND A Sprint

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s