Wednesday, December 31, 2014

It's in the blood.

First, Happy New Year! 2014 was not the year I had hoped it would be when it came to races and health, but nonetheless it has been a good year, especially outside of Triathlon. Hopefully 2015 will blow all expectations out of the water!

So, back to a more serious tone for a blog post. I've vaguely written about my battle the past few weeks with recovering, feeling wiped out, and taking my trip to Provision and having blood work done. While I'm still in the midst of it (not back to training until Jan. 5th at earliest) and by no means an expert on anything medically related, I'd like to share a few takeaways of what I "think" I've learned.

Let's Iron out the details of this bad pun
Going into the blood test, I had a suspicion (from too much googling) that I had low iron. A lot of the symptoms (and causes) lined up with my situation. So when I first saw my results and both my iron levels and my hemoglobin were on the high side of normal, I was a bit confused. After some explanation and then later some much further reading, I came to learn a new word. Ferritin. (Actually Serum Ferritin) and while my iron levels were high (free floating iron) my ferritin (stored iron) was low, creating a sort of anemia, particularly in exercise.

Fortunately, the solution is pretty simple. Start taking iron to get the levels normal, then change the diet to keep them there. (Nobody wants to take iron long term, the side effects suck, as I'm now acutely aware.)

The next thing on the list was my Happy Vitamin.

Sunny D...amirite?

Who would have thought that a fairly introverted video game playing nerd who does most of his rides on the trainer, swims in the pool and runs before dawn would have low vitamin D.

I'll be straight up honest with you, I didn't know crap about vitamin D. I thought it came in milk and helped your bones be strong. (hey, I was right)

It also plays a role in a TON of bodily functions, including your mood and some believe your athletic performance. While concrete evidence that it raises performance doesn't exist (that I'm aware of) a deficiency in it will almost certainly hamper performance one way or another.

Then there was/is my diet.

I (did) eat basically the same thing for breakfast and throughout the day, then cook something (a little) different for dinner. I learned that in my late teens when I was bodybuilding (There are only so many combinations of "can of tuna, grilled chicken, protein shake, cottage cheese.") and, honestly, it was extremely simple. Something I didn't have to think about at all. Grab and go. And I was pretty sure most of it was healthy...oats, eggs, Greek yogurt, fruit, granola, nuts, etc. After coming back from my doctors visit (where he reminded me a little variety might go a long way) I actually counted some of what I was taking in every day. The one that surprised me the most...

"equinsu ocha
No, I'm not going on a holy crusade against the white devil. (You speak Wachootoo?) I'm just saying, I didn't realize I was eating over a hundred grams a day. (Yes, not carbohydrates in general, sugar.) I know the cavemen out there just fainted, so I'll give you a moment.

So I guess it's no wonder my insulin levels were WAY too high. Sure, a lot of that was sugar from fruits (apples and banana's) but man, that's a lot of sugar. I also sweeten basically everything I drink besides water with splenda, which depending on which war you're fighting is either strictly worse or only moderately better than just sugar itself. So...yeah.

All these things are fortunately caught early(ish) the most important one (to me) being my insulin... while it's not a "problem" now, a few more years of doing the same thing had a strong possibility of leading down the road that ends with insulin resistance and eventually diabeetus, which I would prefer to avoid if at all possible.

So to my point... I think it would benefit most of us (if only from a curiosity standpoint) to have a blood test, just to see what's up in there.

Mine was ran through, an online company that actually does the testing (then emails you the results) who, after buying what you want tested (I had the package of hormones and blood work, which ran $300. Skipping the hormones will be less but T levels were something I needed checked) will send you a requisition and then it's a matter of making an appointment at your local Labcorp (where you get drug tested if you've ever had to for a job interview) who does the actual "poking."  A week (or less) later you'll have tons of info to look at, and while I would highly suggest having someone who knows what they are talking about to consult with, you could get by with doing your own research on the internet.

So, again, Happy New Years! Be Safe tonight (and in general) and have fun!

Thanks so much for reading, I appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

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