A year ago I won an Ultimate Package from InsideTracker, by entering a contest, and I just got around to utilizing it. Why? A year ago I had surgery and was under close medical care by my doctor, so I figured it would be best to wait. I wanted to see where I truly was compared to where I had been, which was burnt out, exhausted with a cortisol level that was sky high. I already knew that. So I waited.
With patience, some wandering, and time I found myself back to training this summer. Lower volume, new short course goals. More adventure involved in skiing and SUPing, and I felt the burnout begin to lift as my cortisol levels slowly began to come back to normal. These days I am feeling good again. Just the normal fatigue from life, so I figured it was time to cash in on the Inside Tracker package.
I am also an RN, specifically a pediatric emergency nurse. While my background is in illness, injury, and trauma I have a strong penchant for health and wellness and for understanding. Your baby comes in with an elevated WBC count and I need to understand why. You are exhausted all the time, I need to understand why. Your cortisol is high, I need to understand why. I have a love for understanding that WHY. I also need to know links between things. I like to research what impact nutrition has on certain areas of health. I have been gathering evidence for years on what the long term effects of endurance training (I am talking Ironman specific) has on immune systems. I love research and not the kind you find on WebMD. Peer reviewed academic journals, studies and the kind of research that classifies you as a nerd. So there is a lot that I understand and know how to properly research when it comes to things like this. I don’t look at an article from bloggers and state “Oh coconut oil is the way to go.” I want to see the actual research behind that opinion. I am not a fan of people saying “I feel tired I must be low in vitamin D, or I must need more protein”. Find out. Don’t guess. This is your body and this is your health.
My aim with this InsideTracker package is to answer a few questions, and I ensured I have the ability to be absolutely honest. If I don’t think it’s worth it, I want to be able to say that. If I think it’s worth it, I want to be able to say that. While I didn’t pay for this experience, I want the ability to be 100% honest in what I think of it.
These are the questions I am aiming to answer today, in three months, in 6 months and in one year.
- The Ultimate package is $499, is it worth the price?
- What can Inside Tracker do that my own MD can’t do?
Scheduling the blood draw was easy, you go online and select a date. You don’t even need to call someone. In New York State the phlebotomist comes to your house instead of you going to a lab, which made it super convenient. InsideTracker contracts with companies who do this, so the phlebotomist who came was not an “Inside Tracker” employee. He was excellent, he actually stayed a while and chatted with my husband and I about health! He was great!
I did have to fast for 12 hours before the test, which was fine. If that’s tough for you schedule your draw early in the morning. I have zero issues with having blood drawn and I have great veins. He had no issue getting the blood. I regularly draw blood as well and I always laugh when people say “Oh my GOD! How MUCH blood are you taking?” They drew 30 ml tops. It looks like a lot because of the shape of the tubes. Trust me, 30 ml of blood isn’t going to impact your day.
My blood was drawn on Monday, and my results were to me by Thursday. I expected that to take a lot longer.
Over the next few posts I will share all of those results with you (there are like 30), but here are my most critical areas. When your blood work is ready you log into your Inside Tracker account, and the results are displayed as below, but for every test they did.
Vitamin D. Normal range is 40-100 ng/ml, and I am sitting at 25ng/ml. In the photo below I circled the science part, you click on that and a whole bunch of PubMed research is listed, with links to studies and peer-reviewed journal articles (my favorite). You also see on the left the range and where I am at. Click on the picture to see it.
This was classified as a critical level, and InsideTracker not only highlighted that, their system sends you an automated email encouraging you to speak to your MD immediately about critical levels. I liked that. Yes it’s automated but I see nothing wrong with that. Had it not been an automated system, and had I not had the background I have, I might have brushed it off.
I have struggled with Vitamin D levels in the past and to be honest….. once I had it up over 40 I got complacent. In fact, I was so focused on my cortisol levels that Vitamin D fell off my radar, and none of my subsequent blood tests looked for it. That’s my fault, but I did let it slip. As I look back over the past year I can correlate this low level to how I have felt. It makes absolute sense.
When people see low values or feel a certain way they tend to think: well I will just load up on a certain vitamin or I must need more ______. As I said before, don’t guess. Find out. Be exact. You are exact with your heart rate zones and exact with your training, why not be exact with what your body needs? Because I have been low before I know what to do. For me it’s a combination of Vitamin D supplements, and eating foods that support the rebuilding of those levels. Trust me…. I get plenty of sun!
I liked that the result came with so many suggestions and especially links to the research. It helps to answer the question “How much should I take” and “What should I take”. In this day and age of information overload, we can stand in front of a display of vitamins and wonder. I have a doctor recommended vitamin brand and a doctor recommended dose, and my doctor has this result.
The next area that was of concern for me was my Iron Group. Within the Iron group, 5 values were looked at: ferritin, hemoglobin, iron, total iron-binding capacity (TIBC), and transferrin saturation (TS). If you are not aware of what those are and what they mean, an explanation is provided with the results. Here is what mine looked like (some of it got cut off because I couldn’t capture the size of it). You can see the tabs for each of the different tests. Ferritin has a yellow dot next to it because it’s low, the rest have green dots, which mean they are good.
Normal levels of ferritin, according to this site are 60-232ng/ml (I have seen different ranges, but not too far off). I am sitting at 13ng/ml. Click on the picture to see it.
Cripes! I haven’t looked at my Iron levels in a while… again because a year ago they were within normal limits (WNL). But looking back, it makes sense to me that this would be low.Over the next few posts, I will dive into the rest of the results and what they mean, as well as my action plan for them.
I am in good health. I am in much better health that I was from 2013-2015 when my cortisol levels (and other levels, I will get to that down the road) were sky high. Yes, I could do an Ironman but I wasn’t healthy. At the same time, I also wasn’t sick. I think that many of us fall into this gray area of medicine, one that’s gaining attention. This gray area is where the tables may turn between health and illness.
Having a low vitamin D level, or having low ferritin is not a giant health concern. Unless you don’t take care of it. Let’s say that I was now going to begin training for an Ironman. In one year these levels would be worse, but I would likely fall victim to illness and injury beforehand. I can get ready for an Ironman with these levels…. but the difference is I know about them, and I can take steps to correct them. Knowledge is power.
In my opinion, there is a very fine line between health, wellness and tipping the scale into UN-healthy. It won’t result in a terminal illness….. but it’s enough of a tip of the scale where something doesn’t feel quite right. Over time, that can turn into something much much bigger.
Most doctors are tuned into illness, not wellness by virtue of their patient base. I happen to have a very astute doctor that I have a great relationship with. I will bring her these results next month as well as the action plan I have devised… through research and experience…. to confirm I am on the right track.
InsideTracker does a lot more than spit out the results that come with recommendations and research. Within their software package, they have some tools to help you set goals for correcting issues like mine, methods to do it and tracking systems to help keep you on track. I like that.
I like that the people who make up the Inside Tracker Team are well rounded. From MD’s to Ph.D.’s, to MPH’s these people are educated and are experts at what they do. Trust me I looked them all up! Telemedicine is a booming field right now, and this team seems to have it down.
I like the way that this is put into your hands with suggestions and recommendations, and with the resources to go deep if you want to. They don’t endorse certain products, which I like too.
As I navigate Inside Tracker, I keep coming back to my original questions:
- The Ultimate package is $499, is it worth the price?
- What can Inside Tracker do that my own MD can’t do?
Is it worth the price? We as athletes drop $1500 on race wheels, $800 on Ironman entry fees and all the things sport comes with. All that stuff doesn’t do you any good if you don’t have a healthy body to use it with. In my opinion, your best investment is always your health. Prior to having this done, I would have scoffed at the price. I am considering rolling it into my annual budget, but I would not pay more than this.
What can InsideTracker do that my own MD can’t do? I will answer this over the next few months, but my initial reaction is… a lot. While my MD is very keen on me and on athletes, she deals with illness more often than not. She always trusts the research I bring to her. Some of these tests were not even on my radar but now I realize how much they can help me. Would my doctor come up with the same recommendations along with the research? I am not sure. Inside Tracker is an automated system, but that’s ok. The research and recommendations are all there for me to go through. I once had an OB/GYN tell me to eat string cheese to increase my calcium intake. Our MD’s are well versed in illness, not always in nutrition (with exceptions).
At this point, I would recommend the Ultimate Package (or any package) from InsideTracker. It’s empowering to have this knowledge and these resources. As I mentioned, we as athletes fall into a weird category with our PMD’s. We are healthy people. We are not sick. A low level here and there is not that big a deal to them, they have bigger issues and sicker patients to deal with.
Stay tuned for more results, and the action plan. Right now I am taking immediate action to correct some of my levels with nutrition and supplements. I have an appointment to share these results with my MD. I have another test scheduled for the January / February timeline to see where I am at. I am taking careful notes on how I feel as I want to correlate all of this together with eventual performance. I am eager to see if I can improve upon what I have now, and not only feel better but as I return to the sport that I love, see the results I work so hard for.
I can’t emphasize enough the following points:
- If we don’t have health, how can we have performance?
- I have never seen ANYONE train themselves out of injury or illness.
- We drop much more money than the cost of this package on equipment. But all that “stuff” is useless if we aren’t healthy enough to use it
Therefore my initial preliminary conclusion is….. yes…. this is worth it. If you are interested in trying out the program send me an email at maryeggers “at” gmail “dot” com for a discount code. I don’t work for them, I am not sponsored by Insidetracker…. but I am happy to spread the word!