A Busted Can of Biscuits

Anyone else feel like a hung over, busted can of biscuits?

blech

*raises hand*

Sweet Jesus.

I can recover from marathons better than a long weekend of drinking and stinking. Maybe InsideTracker’s Inner Age was right. Maybe I am a broken down old broad.  If you missed my last InsideTracker post, relive the glory (and PROGRESS!)  HERE. And if you’re up for some Cyber Monday deals, there’s a code good for some deep discounts on InsideTracker packages. Invest in YOU this Cyber Monday. And not on shit that you don’t really need and will use for 2 weeks tops, before it winds up at the bottom of your cupboard, quietly weeping. Don’t make a cheap quesadilla maker sad! Invest in YOU, Poodles!

I had a fantastic long weekend. Some would argue a lil’ too fantastic. I’m looking at you, Liver. It was filled with people I adore and plenty of holiday cheer. And by holiday, I mean the Thanksgiving Holiday. Not the Christmas one. It is still November. Even though it’s hanging on by a teeny tiny thread. Last night as I plopped my tired, bloated, hung over ass on my couch and scrolled through the Internets, all I saw was FULL ON CHRISTMAS. Lights! Trees! Santa! Gingerbread houses! Elaborate Christmas Extravaganzas! Kids in Christmas Jammies!

And here I was covered in dog hair in yoga pants.

Was it always like this?

I feel like I’m way behind the Christmas Eight Ball and the goddamn turkey isn’t even cold yet. I almost felt panicked. I started walking around the house searching for giant green and red Tupperware bins marked “Xmas Decorations!” Yes. With an exclamation point. Where are my freaking ornaments?! Stockings?!?! Do we need new ones?!?!? WHERE ARE THE FLICKERY CANDLES FOR THE WINDOWS?!?!? GET ME THE NUTCRACKERS! I NEED THEM NOW!  I was nearly frenzied for one hot second. I even went so far as to find a lint brush and throw on some Uggs and a puffer vest. I came this close to heading out the door to chop down my tree, take a selfie in front of it, then have Drunk Otis drag it back home for me. Imagine a puffy faced me, a tree, and a maniac chocolate lab wearing a goPro. Eat your heart out Currier and Ives. It’s not even that people have begun to decorate for Christmas- THEY’RE FINISHED. I’m talking wrapped presents under the tree and shit. I haven’t even wrapped up my Thanksgiving hangover.

What’s left?

What I hope is left is to actually ENJOY the spirit of the season. To do something meaningful with someone you adore. To donate your time to a cause dear to you. To spend time with people who add value to your life. And to tell them they do so.

To laugh. To listen. To savor.

To raise a glass to health, love and happiness.

And To SLOW THE FUCK DOWN BECAUSE YOU’RE ALL STRESSING ME OUT.

Then I came to my senses, put my keys down, pushed Drunk Otis out of the way, hopped back in my cozy chair and poured myself a glass of wine.

With a reindeer on the glass.

That’s gotta count. 🙂

Do your social media feeds stress you out this time of year? Are you done with Christmas already? What’s your favorite thing to do during the Holiday Season?

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My InsideTracker Ultimate ReTest. Progress!

Inside Tracker Logo

Remember that time I took InsideTracker’s Ultimate (Re)Test and never told you how I had progressed? Or, regressed as it were. Benjamin Button style. I never filled you in. That wasn’t nice of me. Oh. But I had a plan. So what do you think? Based on my initial experience, was I able to make diet and lifestyle changes based on InsideTracker’s personalized recommendations, turn back the greedy hands of time and perform my best?!?!

nervous

Source: Giphy

CLIFFHANGER!

Let’s review.

When last we chatted, I had taken InsideTracker’s Ultimate Test which examined my blood for biochemical and physiological markers of health. They analyzed the data extensively, and established my very own optimal ranges for each biomarker. So fancy! When markers weren’t “Optimal,” they provided me with science-driven nutritional and lifestyle interventions all geared towards improving performance, vitality and overall health.

Blood Don’t Lie, Poodles.

My Original Test was less than optimal. Girlfriend needed work. Which wasn’t shocking, considering that’s what prompted me to stage my own personal Health Intervention in the first place. Stress. Insomnia. Sluggishness. Horrible post-run recovery. And over all “Meh-ness.” I had also dealt with a very real cancer scare which thankfully had a positive outcome. I became laser focused on taking care of myself as a result. My InnerAge measurement, which examines chronological age versus specific key biomarkers was 60.3 years old. P.S. I’m 43. I was stunned.

My first set of results prompted three key health goals:

  1. Optimize key biomarkers 
  2. Reduce my InnerAge
  3. Improve my performance and run a Boston Marathon qualifying time

    Oh. And win the lottery while I’m at it. Lofty goals.

    The Ultimate ReTest.

    Since receiving my original results, I implemented almost all of the nutritional and lifestyle recommendations into my daily life. I also took sleep seriously. As in, it became my job. Many of my high biomarkers were influenced by stress and lack of sleep. Based on my first set of results, there were 2 main areas that needed serious work. I decided to focus on these two. Baby steps, Poodles. Baby steps.

    • Cortisol. When you hear “cortisol,” think stress. Your body releases this hormone in response to stress- both physical and emotional. My body was releasing it quite a bit. 
    • InnerAge. Oh, InnerAge. Why have you forsaken me?  I’m practically AARP card worthy. InnerAge is determined by 5 particular biomarkers integral to the aging process. Mine were awful. 

      Goals vs. Reality:  The Verdict.

      Cortisol. I achieved almost a 25% reduction in cortisol levels! I’m still no where near optimal, but my levels definitely improved. I’m just north of normal.  I have made sleep a priority. I have implemented a No Screen policy before bed. I have incorporated meditation and yoga into my life. I am exercising. I have let the small things go. Why sweat them in the first place?  I am managing my stress. And I do believe it’s working.

      Cortisol Over Time

      InnerAge. Well smack my ass and call me Sally O’Malley! I’m in my 50s! While I know I have a ways to go, I am gaining control. Progress! Remember, I am 43. I was 60.3. I’m at 53.1. I can’t wait to see where I am currently.  I’m coming for you Optimal! With a decrease in cortisol levels, a subsequent decrease in fasting glucose levels and an increase in Vitamin D levels, I’m not surprised I’ve gotten “younger.” Isn’t 50 the new 30? #wishfulthinking

      InnerAgeRetest

      Running Performance. After I received these results, I began an intensive marathon training program, Hansons Marathon Method. It was grueling. I was concerned about recovering and adapting to the high mileage for the 18 weeks of training. See why I’m tardy?  I have never run more intensely in my life. I am also acutely aware that ramping up training without adequate nutrition is goal suicide. This was training on a whole other level for me. I really took InsideTracker’s nutrition recommendations to heart. I ate cleaner and smarter. I drank more water. I slept soundly. I have never felt stronger in my life. As a result?

      • I am down 10lbs
      • I successfully completed training injury free
      • I recovered from weekly mileage in the 50s-60s brilliantly
      • I ran the fastest marathon of my life
      • And I qualified for Boston!

      Knowledge is power. And minor improvements can yield great rewards. Marginal gains. That’s how I am looking at InsideTracker’s results. Small incremental improvements add up to significant improvement when you add them all together. I plan on continuing to add small improvements with InsideTracker as a guide. I am overdue for my next test. I can’t wait to see where I am heading.  Sadly, I did not win the lottery. Although I do feel like I’ve won the Health Lottery. And that’s priceless.

      IMG_0388

      The Marathon of a Lifetime.

      Interested in InsideTracker?  Feel free to use code:  BFRRUNCOLBYRUN to receive InsideTracker’s deepest discount of the year!  This will be valid until Tuesday December 1. Happy Black Friday, Poodles!
      Note: I purchased an Ultimate Test  at a discount and InsideTracker provided me with an InnerAge measurement at no additional cost. As always, all opinions and views expressed are my own. My. Own. But you knew that already. 🙂

       

       

      The Ultimate Retest

      Well slap on a tourniquet and find me a vein!  It’s Retest Time!  And I’m freaking out.Dying

      • Remember that time I found out I was really 60.3 years old according to InsideTracker’s InnerAge measurement, which looks at your chronoclogical age vs. key biomarkers then tells you how old you really are? In my case, I was 17-point-freaking-3 years OLDER than I actually am. Yes. Hello, AARP Card.
      • Remember that time I was feeling completely “off” and decided to be proactive about my health and took InsideTracker’s Ultimate Test, examining a whole slew of biomarkers that could possibly be contributing to my overall “Meh-ness”?
      • Remember that time I had a horrible cancer scare, and decided to GET IT TOGETHER, and be the healthiest, best Colby I could be? Let’s face it. I dodged a bullet. I would be crazy not to.

      Yeah. I remember it. I remember it all. The stress. The insomnia. The results.  If you don’t remember, please, read my original review, In Search of Optimal Health. My InsideTracker Review HERE. It was eye-opening.

       InsideTracker is a personalized health analytics company who’s platform tracks and analyzes key biochemical and physiological markers in your blood. And let me tell you: Blood Don’t Lie. Once your blood is analyzed, their platform analyzes your results with jazzy algorithms and a massive scientific database to determine your optimal range. You wind up with personalized optimal zones for each marker. When markers are not optimal? They provide you with science-driven nutritional and lifestyle interventions all geared towards improving performance, vitality and overall health. Totally empowering.

      Since receiving the results from my original Ultimate Test, I have implemented many of the nutritional and lifestyle recommendations into my daily life. I honestly have. Which is why I am chomping at the bit here. There were 3 particular biomarkers that needed serious work:

      1. Vitamin D. Bone Health and Energy. My level was in the weeds.
      2. hsCRP. The high sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hsCRP) test measures CRP,  a marker of inflammation throughout the body. I don’t even want to discuss how high mine was. I would venture to say that it was high because I hadn’t slept soundly and continuously in MONTHS. Insomnia is NOT a friend. Relive my angst, HERE.
      3. Cortisol. When you hear “cortisol,” think stress. Your body releases this hormone in response to stress- physical, emotional. Mine was obscenely high. Health concerns + Insomnia = STRESS. No surprise that my cortisol levels were crazy high. A cancer scare will do that to you.

      Then there was InnerAge. {Sigh.}

      InnerAgeI wish I could tell you that my real name ISN’T Nicole. And that it was sent to that poor, old, broad by mistake. Alas, it is I. What was driving this? Several things. My OBNOXIOUS hsCRP levels, my non-existent vitamin D levels and glucose levels that, while not officially “high” were higher than normal (for me). Thanks, High Cortisol Level. You’re a peach. My liver values were, shock of all shocks, optimal. Cheers!

      Ouch.

      I had my blood drawn yesterday. I’m already obsessing over the results. Patience, Grasshopper. I will say this:

      • I have been sleeping 7-8 hours a night. 
      • I am less achy. 
      • I am running tons of miles lately, and am recovering really well. KNOCK ON WOOD, PEOPLE.
      • I have lost 5 pounds. Bonus!
      • I feel leaner. 
      • I have clearer skin. 
      • I feel much brighter. 

      And now, the wait. Cross you paws. And call me Benjamin Button. 

      To definitely be continued…

      How many hours of sleep do you get per night? Do you take any supplements? How old do you feel

      The Joy of Almonds. Five Fun Facts!

      Almonds

      Well stuff my cheek pouches and call me Nutty! I am on a super almond kick lately. Like. Super. Now that I’m Little Miss Hansons Method and am ramping up marathon training, I find that they are the perfect snack to stash away in my purse, gym bag, car, desk, mailbox- wherever- for whenever a Serious Snack Attack strikes. Which for me lately, is practically every hour. I don’t have to tell you about Tina and nuts. Ever since that time she turned into Sherman Klump before running the Philadelphia Marathon, I’ve sort of forbid her to eat any nuts near me. Which means ALL THE NUTS for Colby. Now that’s a friend. 🙂  The happy folks over at nuts.com inspired us to write a piece on almonds. I couldn’t wait to chomp right down on it..

      I guess they figured we were health nuts.
      *pause*
      {She’ll be here all night! Tip your server!}

      I slay me.

      Here are 5 Fun Facts About My Favorite Powerful Little Nut, The Almond!

      1. Peaches and almonds are cousins.  Shocker, right?!?!? Who knew! The nut that we eat (in my case, by the fist full) is the hard-shelled fruit of the almond tree. Think of it like a stone fruit. Cherry, plum, peach….ALMOND. Mind. Blown.
        Behold! Young almonds. Photo: Wikipedia

        Behold! Young almonds. Photo: Wikipedia

         Mature Almond. Photo: Wikipedia

        Behold! Mature Almond. Photo: Wikipedia

      2. Almonds are some of the lowest-calorie nuts around. YAHOO!  Almonds pack 160 calories, 9 grams of mono-unsaturated, heart-healthy fats, 6 grams of protein and 3.5 grams of fiber per 1 ounce serving. And, they’re LOADED with the antioxidant vitamin E.  That’s E for EXCELLENT. Go Almonds! They’re about neck and neck with pistachios and cashews in the calorie department. Eat ’em in moderation folks. They’re easy to binge on. RHOBH Brandy
      3. Almonds were used as a Fertility Charm.  In ancient Rome, newlyweds were showered with ‘em. LIGHTBULB. So THAT’S why at every single Italian baby shower or bridal shower I’ve ever gone to, there are little tulle pouches of almonds- Jordan Almonds specifically!!
        5 Jazzy Almonds. Photo: Pinterest.

        5 Jazzy Almonds. Photo: Pinterest.

        Total ah-ha! moment here! Traditionally, five Jordan Almonds are wrapped in tulle and tied with a ribbon.  And usually, at least in my Italian circles, there are usually 5 in a bag.  According to my very shallow internet reseach, the 5 almonds represent happiness, health, wealth, fertility and long life. They’re given in an odd number to represent the indivisibility of the marriage bond. Why fertility? Because those little guys are egg shaped. Awww. I once chipped my tooth biting into a Jordan Almond at a bridal shower. But. I still love them.

      4. Almonds are considered BRAINFOOD. Smarty pants! I’m guessing they’re considered healthy brain food because they are rich in healthy fats (omega-3 fatty acids), vitamin B6 and in the anti-oxidant, vitamin E. The 3 of which are thought to improve brain health.  Raw almonds are loaded with omega-3s. Eat up. And before you know it, you’ll be doing the New York Times crossword with a pen. (One of us does already. Hint: It’s Tina, not me.)

        Photo: Nuts.com

        Photo: Nuts.com

      5. Almonds are delicious. Duh. Especially in granola. And super especially if you make your own. Which is a snap. Just ask the Barefoot Contessa. I really dig this recipe- Cherry, Almond, Coconut, Oats, Honey…..DELISH. Use tart cherries and you’ll be rocking the whole Super Food Thing. Don’t like apricots?  Ditch ‘em. It’s your Almond Granola. You do you. That’s the beauty of homemade. Yum.
      Photo: Food Network

      Photo: Food Network

      Homemade Granola. Courtesy of the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten.

      Ingredients

      • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
      • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
      • 2 cups sliced almonds
      • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
      • 1/2 cup good honey
      • 1 1/2 cups small diced dried apricots
      • 1 cup small diced dried figs
      • 1 cup dried (tart) cherries
      • 1 cup dried cranberries
      • 1 cup roasted, unsalted cashews

       Directions

      • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
      • Toss the oats, coconut, and almonds together in a large bowl. Whisk together the oil and honey in a small bowl. Pour the liquids over the oat mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until all the oats and nuts are coated. Pour onto a 13 by 18 by 1-inch sheet pan. Bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even, golden brown, about 45 minutes.
      •  Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. Add the apricots, figs, cherries, cranberries, and cashews. Store the cooled granola in an airtight container.
      •  (Inspired by Sarah Chase’s Open House Cookbook.)

      What’s your favorite nut? How often do you snack while marathon training? Do you do the crossword puzzle with a pen?

      I Need to Relax. And Kurt Loder is 70. 

      I’m still reeling from discovering the following:

      Kurt Loder is 70.Kurt Loder is 70

      My InsideTracker InnerAge is 60.3.InnerAge

      I look 35 according to that silly “How Old?” app.  Bless it’s tiny little electronic heart. 

      GOOD. GRIEF. In case you missed it, read why at 43, I am really 60.3 years old but look like I am in my 30s. Read my eye-opening InsideTracker review and Big Reveal here. You’ll see why I am in a tizzy. It’s a doozy. Ugh. I’ve got a stomach ache just thinking about it. If that app told me I looked 75, I’m sure you would have heard the sound of computers crashing and a howling wail coming from me one million miles away. It wouldn’t have been pretty. 

      Serenity Now! The Norwich Inn and Spa.

      In light of those harrowing results and in celebration of Tina’s First Boston Marathon, Tina and I decided to check our tired stressed out asses into The Norwich Inn and Spa last Sunday with rejuvenation in mind. Or minimally with sitting STILL in mind.  And when I say “checked  in” I mean a full on 12 hours of padding around in white fluffy robes. Complete with yoga, steam room, sauna, Jacuzzi, and a delicious-wine-soaked lunch. Oh and we got treatments too. Two anti-goddamn-aging facials. One for each of us. (No. I didn’t do a double sesh. I’m not Magda for Pete’s Sake.) And two glorious body wraps which were other-worldly. Ahhhhh. What a day! I felt like we emerged younger, and visibly firmer.  There is nothing. I repeat NOTHING like spending the day with your best friend. It is a glorious treat. One that will occur far more regularly if I have anything to do with it. I know I won’t have to twist Tina’s arm. Like at all. She was booking the next Spa Day while we were still paying for the first. A total day of relaxation at a gorgeous spa with my BFF! Bonus X 1000.

        This was the first time Tina and I did yoga together. And honestly? I could hear her eyes rolling. My girl is NOT a yogi. I’m not either. But at least I happen to enjoy it. T-Bone? Ummm. I’m not so sure. I’m working on her. We couldn’t make eye contact for fear of being called into the Spa Director’s Office and being de-robed. THAT’S IT. HAND IN YOUR ROBES , YOU GIGGLING, CHILDISH, INFLEXIBLE COWS.  Thankfully, we were allowed to keep our robes for 11 more hours. Crisis averted. 

      I have been doing yoga a LOT lately. For me that translates to three times a week which is three times more than I ever have in my entire life. I am loving it.  I leave and feel more calm, centered, grounded and open. Un-Stuck, if you will. I feel like my stride is also less stuck. It’s lengthened. What I am really hoping is that the sense of calm I feel in class trickles into my everyday life. Shutting off the “noise” even for that one hour is helping me learn how to shut out the stress that creeps into the daily grind. It’s also helping me wind down. And lo and behold, sleep is returning. If I want that god forsaken #InnerAge to decrease, I need to work a bit on stress and sleep. So my insides match the outside. There’s more work to be done, but I need to approach it piece by piece. Baby steps, Colby. 

      Or my head will explode…

      we won’t have faces to anti-age…

      and we’ll never go to the spa again. 

      Do you practice yoga? Are you a Rubber Band or The Tin Man? How do you tune out the daily noise? Day at the Spa or Girls Night Out? GO! 

      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. 🙂

      Sleepus Interruptus.

      Here’s how last night went:Sleepy Time

      2:01 am: Evil Beagle, the tricolored furnace, has wedged herself between me and My Other Half. I’m on the leg side. She is rigid, paws digging into my collar bones. We are eye to eye. She is snoring as if she is a morbidly obese drunk man with sleep apnea. She weighs 23 lbs. I shove her. She rolls over, entangled in my duvet. She’s a Beagle-rito. I have zero covers. I am freezing.

      3:17 am: Evil Beagle and her deviated septum are by our feet. My Other Half is in the throes of a bad dream. In it, he is Manny Pacquiao. And this is a Title Fight. He is punching me and talking in tongues. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I swear at him loudly. Punch back. He mutters he loves me, and blows an air kiss. He rolls over, still sleeping soundly. I have zero covers. I am freezing.

      4:32 am:  The Good Dog is up. He is ticky-tacking all over the hard wood floor. I debate clipping his nails at that very moment. I don’t know where the clipper is. He sighs loudly. Life is so tough. He flops back down onto his million dollar tempur-pedic dog bed, and begins to give his undercarriage a bit of a wash. I am in hell. Only I can’t be, because I am freezing.

      5:53 am. “Wake-up” to some sort of critter running fartleks. WHAT THE HELL? Is it on the roof? Is in the wall? Did baby critters just hatch? I’m freaking out. The Good Dog growls, runs down the hall way. It’s outside. I’m on the front lawn in my jammies wrapped in a leopard blanket looking at a squirrel about to pull a Flying Wallenda onto the feeder. Is there a hidden camera somewhere? AM I BEING PUNKED?!  Good Dog barks wildly then proceeds to pee on the tree which houses the feeder. You know, for good measure. It does the trick. Squirrel aborts mission. Peace has been restored.

      5:59 am. I’m up. And have been. I pour myself a gallon of coffee and pad off into the shower, bleary eyed.

      Amount of sleep:  Next to nil.

      This has been the story of my life lately.  And guess what? It’s catching up with me. I am a haggard zombie. Even my skin looks tired. I have zero energy and my runs have been feeling it too. They’re “Meh” at best with dead tired legs.  If my legs had eyes, there would be two X’s in place of eyeballs. They’re tuckered.  I have had a negligible amount of sleep for MONTHS. First, it was because of stress, which I am happy to report ended with a big ol’ bouquet of good news. (Relive the joy, here.) And now? Other than last night’s MMA fight circus? It still isn’t back to normal. It’s not for lack of trying either.

      I have tried to get my sleep back on track with some minor success. I popped melatonin, drank chamomile tea, cut back on caffeine, and took warm Epsom salt baths with lavender before bed time, all in a bid for Sweet Dreams. Despite the best of intentions, The Sand Man Lost.  Never being one to have sleep issues, I had naively assumed this disruption was transient. When stress went away, sleep would snuggle back in.  Oh no, Poodle.  That hasn’t been the story. Christ. I even bought a new mattress which is RIDICULOUSLY comfortable. I just need to get Princess Evil Beagle her own jazzy bed so she keeps her ass off of ours.

      I’m just off.  I’m hoping the change of season- longer days, natural sunlight and temps above freezing- all help. I’m also going to take a good hard look at my sleep, diet, training, health- the whole shebang. Something isn’t right. From sleep on down. I feel like I never recovered well from the Ultra I ran SIX DAMN MONTHS AGO. That’s just pathetic. I’m just kind of broken. And I need a fix. STAT.

      Do you feel like a Sleepy Slug lately? How many hours of sleep do you get per night? Has your bunk mate ever punched you in their sleep? Sheesh.  

      And then I exhaled.

      FlakeYesterday I received a long awaited phone call. It came in the early, bitter cold morning. It stopped me dead in my tracks. I had been waiting for this phone call for 3 long months. And here it was. I began to shake uncontrollably. My Doctor. My Results. I held my breath. I paused and planted my feet firmly on the earth. Grounded.

      Nicole. You’re all clear.

      I sobbed. And sobbed. And felt the weight of a thousand worlds lift off of my shoulders. Years of stress. Months of worry. Gone. Just like that. In one split second. Such lightness, I felt. The Relief. My God! It overwhelmed me.  I thanked My Doctor for being My Champion. For not being complacent. For following up. For caring.

      I do not have cervical cancer.
      And I owe that to him.

      I rarely get super personal here. So much so, that you probably didn’t know my real name. (It’s Nicole, by the way.) I run. I ride. I swear like a pirate. I am often silly. I am sometimes serious. All of that, you already know.  I had mentioned that I had had some surprise! surgery, but that was really it. I left it at that. In fact, I wasn’t sure I would ever mention it.  But here I am. Eternally grateful for an outcome I hadn’t counted on, but blissfully accept.

      Here is what happened. It was an ellipsis on a very long life sentence. Everything snowballed the day after I ran my 50K. Horrible pap results. A procedure- a colposcopy. Even more horrible pathology results. Have a very surreal discussion about cervical cancer.  Cancer is right there, waiting patiently. Surgery- an aggressive cervical excision and cauterization.  And?  Horrible margins. Avalanche. Heal. Run a Spartan Sprint at Fenway Park. Worry. Run the Philadelphia Half Marathon. Worry more. Begin to accept the fact that I am quite possibly going to have a hysterectomy. I will have never have had children. Cry. Run more. Stress. Decide cancer is screwing with the wrong broad. Get angry. Run harder. And yesterday?  Relief. Utter relief.

      My point in sharing all of this with you?

      Go for you annual gynecological exam. Insist on a pap smear and HPV test. If it comes back abnormal?

      GO FOR A FOLLOW UP.
      GO FOR A FOLLOW UP.
      GO FOR A FOLLOW UP.

      If you are a man reading, insist that the women in your life do so. Cervical cancer is curable…if you catch it.  I am proof.

      I slept like a log last night. For the first time in a long, long while. I finally felt like Nicole.

      And I exhaled.

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