Um, wow. That about sums up my reaction to life thus far. Up until I reached a quarter century, literally at 25, life had been pretty smooth sailing. The biggest stressors I had faced were college papers, demands from parents and coaches, the occasional fight with a friend, a sports injury, the buildup to an Ironman....cake!
This post may be a long one because I have a lot of personal and professional things that I've kept to myself the last couple of years that I'm finally ready to speak about and release, welcoming a breath of new air, new beginnings, and a new found strength that only certain downfalls could've provided.
The first bump in my step isn't really news- the back injury that seemed to pop out of nowhere in 2012, thus leading me to pull away from any hope of being a professional triathlete, maybe ever competing in an Ironman distance again, and starting the real world job hunt that had only proved fruitless since my 2009 college graduation.
It came at a necessary time as I was also exhausted and craved change- maybe not so much change as came about- but change nonetheless.
Fast forward to moving to LA and no luck at finding a job that would sponsor a visa. There were amazing internship offers that I wasn't legally allowed to take as an intern can't be foreign unless the company sponsors an entire H-1B petition for them (no company in their right mind would do such a ludicrous thing).
So out of a casual bar conversation with a stranger bloomed the idea of moving to Cabo San Lucas- the thought of which had never entered my mind prior to that fateful February evening in Pebble Beach.
So in a span of two months I visited Cabo, signed employment with Snell to sell real estate, sold my car in LA, packed up my condo, flew to TX, packed bags there, and moved to Cabo.
Through all of this, beginning in November 2013, I was battling some perplexing, frustrating, and depressing health issues. I've only vaguely told people about this because until recently I still had no clue what was really going on.
All I knew was that since cutting back my training from a full time athlete to your average gym-goer, I had actually become more fatigued. Where was the sense in that?
If only it had been just fatigue, I started getting double vision, headaches, grave unexplained and random bloating, muscle cramps, and a complete apathy toward any and everything.
One could say I was depressed, but it was different. It would come in bouts, and even when my mood was great, when I was stoked and at my most optimistic, this cloud loomed over my physical and mental health.
Around April, when I was finally in Texas for a few weeks before the move to Cabo, I Googled my symptoms like mad, determined to narrow down what could possibly be preventing me from even 30minutes of activity a day, causing weight gain while eating healthy organic foods and in complete caloric control.
Enter hypothyroidism. I was convinced. This had to be it. Thyroid and a major hormonal imbalance whether related or not, where causing this turmoil.
Back track for a second- even in early 2013 when I went to Clermont for QT2 Pro training camp, I had a discussion with Jesse about my ridiculous fatigue and recovery issues at my young age. How I felt like I was 80 and training was ten fold harder.
Anyway, three days before scheduling an appointment with my family's endocrinologist, I started taking a supplement by Mega Food (I love this company btw because everything is FOOD based). I didn't want to take anything synthetic, especially on my own, and I didn't want supplements that had thyroid hormone etc because if I was wrong I'd be playing with fire.
Mega Food's Thyroid Strength has a large dose of iodine from kelp, 300mg of tyrosine, some holy basil, copper, magnesium, basic things that help to support your thyroid.
You may think I am crazy as heck and that's fantastic but I swear by the time I stepped into the doctors office a few days later, I almost wanted to apologize for not canceling the appointment because I felt 16 again.
I had energy to conquer the world, I slept amazing, the water retention disappeared about as magically as a bad bout of PMS, the headache gone...just out of this world amazing.
I told the doctor this, he ordered blood work, and a week later we discussed that I may be borderline hypothyroid. As such, I should continue on Mega Food's supplement, my multi, and check back at year's end. If I feel like stopping that supplement then I could go off it a few days or weeks and monitor the symptoms.
I lost roughly 10 lbs by July, and the sky was blue and sunny again!...And then it happened....In Cabo Mega Food anything can't be found, and the only multi is Alive (which is ok, but you'll later understand why this didn't work for me), and I had run out of my own. Everything returned to the nightmare of early that year, until late August when a trip to Mexico City reunited me with my pills haha that my mom had sent from the US with a friend for me to pick up there.
Again like a roller coaster, I was revving back up to normal. Thanks to the hurricane, once back in the US I wanted to monitor blood and all again and see if there was a way I could not be dependent on this supplement forever...I mean what if they discontinue it? What if I am in another country? etc. Also, I was sure something else was missing in this puzzle.
Coincidentally, I happened to read Jordan Blanco's post about some health issues and her doctor, in Colorado, Dr. Silver at Boulder Peak Health. She seemed like an excellent option- a doctor that lives in the heart of crazy endurance athletes like myself, is an athlete herself, and speaks of hormonal and women's health so passionately.
Immediately I scheduled a phone consultation, we ordered blood work, and this is what we found....
Everything looked normal and actually very healthy. Creatine looked a bit elevated, could just be dehydration....but there was ONE "aha!" to my symptoms: MTHFR.
I have a genetic mutation C677T that hinders my usage and production of folic acid.
Very few multi vitamins on the market use FOLATE- the bioactive form- and instead use synthetic folic acid, which if you have my issue you can't use and it only in a sense clogs you.
Folic acid is also used to fortify a lot of foods- luckily many are gluten products like pasta and cereals that I don't eat.
Regardless, through my years as an endurance athlete I had run these reserves of folate pretty low, and since a couple years ago I had stopped taking a certain multi vitamin that contained the FOLATE that I didn't know I needed and had switched to multi's like Alive that have folic acid.
If you do your research you'll see that your body's ability to use folate directly impacts your thyroid, your hormones, your ability to make new cells, seratonin, dopamine, everythingggg!!
So why had Mega Food's thyroid supplement worked really well for me? Because it fed me the tyrosine and other thyroid supporters that my body wasn't churning on its own.
Since then, taking METHYLFOLATE, and/or a vitamin like Garden of Life's Kind Organics Women's Daily which has folate (from lemon), I feel like a NORMAL 27 year old!!
These ups and downs have resulted in my inconstant training, in reality exercise. They've caused me to value health and the ability to have even the most basic active lifestyle, and more importantly that Ironman did not cause this, that I didn't overtrain, that I'm not a hypochondriac, that I wasn't depressed, and that I can and will still workout avidly and compete in sports- especially the one I love most.
Through this all, through the moves, the job challenges, the hurricane that left me literally feeling homeless and unemployed, and sad about what had happened to such a beautiful place, I learned that as quickly as the body recovers, so does the soul...so do groups of people, and cities like Cabo.
And out of the storm, if you keep your mind and your heart in the good that you want out of life and what you hope to contribute, life will exceed your expectations and give you tremendous fortitude and opportunity to live out your potential and help others do the same.
I came back to Cabo in early December, with only plans of staying a few days at a friend's house- unsure what conditions it was really in, just wanting to tie some lose ends, not overstay my tourist-visa-welcome in the US, and clear my head a bit after two months of another round of door knocking for US jobs that led to nothing.
The progress was outstanding! Sure roughly 60% of hotels are still shut until late spring/summer, there are some "issues" in the lower income areas of San Lucas and San Jose, and only things pertinent to tourism are being dealt with full force, but if you really witnessed or understood what this place went through with Odile, the fact that it felt 99% normal in its everyday functions, leads to nothing but respect and admiration for the community.
At that point, I had a gut feeling (I always say there's one thing you can trust over everything else and that's your gut!) to try and stay in Cabo. So I put it up to fate. I said, if there's a place for me here, then I will be able to commit myself to the sports development that I had begun to get deeply involved in with TriCabo, it will be nearly effortless to find a place to live, and my family will be receptive to the choice.
One phone call to Paco of TriCabo expressing my desire to commit to them 100% at least until summer and see where it goes, and he was on board and thrilled at my decision. One email to these condos that a new friend had shown me, and they responded with ONE unit left for lease through June available Jan1.
Coincidently, one of our TriCabo coworkers that had been administering TriCaboKidz had begun to slowly step out of that role and so it was perfect timing that I came in to shadow her and take the reins to grow our Triathlon School for kids, promote our races, our camps, and help develop sport in Cabo.
I feel elated, healthy, free, and honored to be giving back doing what I love more than anything else.
Working with the kids is refreshing, inspiring, challenging, and am also coaching some local adults, and hoping to change a little bit of the culture in this part of Mexico to be more in tune with an active and healthy lifestyle.
As well, I have my own lofty triathlon goals for this season that I can't wat to announce in the next post...now with the fabulous assurance that my health is on track!:)
My hope is that I can welcome any of you to Cabo in the near future and showcase the progress we have made with the community's involvement in sport, and host you in a wonderful training or racing experience.
Cheers from sunny Cabo!