Winning has Changed: Refereeing Post-Athleticism Health

“Alright, everyone sit down,” the conversation was getting heated and I’m used to being more of a coach lately then a referee. Brodie’s mom brought her in to see me, but I didn’t expect a hockey brawl. Brodie came in with a closed mind and lots of negativity. She was frustrated and that happens to a lot of former athletes when their bodies seem to turn against them post-athleticism.

Brodie was an amazing athlete. She was the 300-meter hurdle state champion in 2011 and at the time weighing about 118 lbs. She played field hockey all four years of college, always weighing around 130 lbs. That’s why her family was worried about her when she came home for Christmas the year after graduation weighing in at 170 lbs. on her 5’4” frame.

It wasn’t the only symptom that something was off. She told me more as her anger became exasperation. She woke up in the morning with swollen fingers and swollen feet. Her belly would feel bloated and uncomfortable. She could no longer wear her rings and had to buy all new clothes. She was getting sick after eating just about anything. “I hated seeing myself naked. I was miserable,” says Brodie. “I was working out 5 days a week. I was eating all the right foods. I was doing everything right… Or at least I thought I was.”

As a former athlete, I do hear this a lot. I see this trend some in my practice but see it all over the country as reported by athletes. The life of an athlete is different. They eat and drink whatever they want. It is all about bulking up so the more food and more calories the better- sometimes no matter where they come from. Unfortunately, post-athletes keep living the way they were when they were competing and expect the same results.

This leads to the post-athlete weight gain and inevitable health problems. Unfortunately, when we are pushing our bodies we aren’t thinking about our health and if we try to do the things we think are healthy, we might end up with the same results. This can lead to depression. When you’re used to functioning at a high level and you can’t anymore it’s devastating.

Why Does a Post- Athleticism Health Decline Happen?

How does this happen? We are damaging ourselves and our guts with the 3 T’s: Trauma, Toxins and Thoughts. In college and post-college life we are stressing our bodies. Eating foods that are convenient and will get us to our next hill to conquer instead of fueling a healthy body. The things we drink impact us including sports drinks, energy drinks and too much celebratory alcohol. Hey, if you succeed you have to celebrate, right? Late nights studying are bad too. Hunched over books we are messing up the curvature of our spines. Then we go onto those first post-graduate jobs we want to crush, and the stress doesn’t go down.

Brodie, on right, working to get healthy back.

Brodie, on right, working to get healthy back.

The stress that goes along with all of this messes up our guts, hormones, thyroid and overall health. We have the “perfect storm of what the hell” that causes us to get sicker by the day.

Eating clean and working out doesn’t always pan out. Even when we try to make changes after letting ourselves go, sometimes the changes are also holding us back. Many of us can be allergic to healthy foods which is worsened when our bodies are out of balance. When your body is out of balance it is even harder for your body to handle those allergies on top of the inflammation you are already feeling.

It All Comes Down To Testing

That’s why when Brodie was doing everything she could, she wasn’t seeing the results she expected. That led to the anger, frustration and depression, which furthered her health problems. After Brodie calmed down and we ran some tests which uncovered that her hormones and food intolerances were out of whack, we set her on her own individualized protocol that took into account her allergies, stress, and her personal obstacles. Brodie had multiple allergies that were causing her inflammation, but she had no idea. With the testing, her hormonal imbalances (mainly estrogen dominance) and stress were taken into consideration, addressed and as a result, she was able to normalize her body.

When Brodie first came in she was depressed because she loved who she was before and never thought she would get back there. Now 2.5 months later, Brodie is down to 145 lbs. and says she is no longer feeling swollen and bloated. Her skin has cleared up. She says she is more relaxed confident and happier. I see a competitor who set out to achieve health and is winning.

Brodie, on right, is feeling much healthier and happier now. Winning is health!

Brodie, on right, is feeling much healthier and happier now. Winning is health!

As former athletes we need to use the same mentality we used to be excellent at our sports to be excellent at being healthy. That means having a great coach, game plan, support team and getting tested to know what will actually work. Winning has changed, now the end goal is health.

Written by: Dr. Jacque Moser