PictureAt the lab and no tears!
Getting blood work done isn't exactly my idea of a good time.  Unless you're a vampire, no one really just likes the site of blood. But sometimes a few vials of blood can provide you with a wealth of knowledge you didn't have before.

That's exactly what happened when I decided to give Inside Tracker a try.

Disclaimer: I received a membership to Inside Tracker thanks to Bibrave's BibRavePro ambassadorship. You can learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro & check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews. As always, all opinions, typos, and silly pictures are my own.

Inside Tracker is a company based out of Boston that uses your own blood to tell you what habits or focus foods you need to add to your lifestyle/diet to live a healthier life and perform better. They look at several different bio-markers and tell you if you're in the optimal zone for each one or not. If you are not, they give you in-depth tips and a long list of foods to add to your diet to improve those areas. 

Spoiler Alert! I had several areas that were not in my optimal zone! 

The process sounds simple right? Here's a quick overview of the process:
  • I set up an account on Inside Tracker's website. 
  • I found a local lab
  • I set up an appointment online to visit the lab and have my blood work done. 
  • I fasted for 12 hours and went to the lab. 
  • They took my blood. 
  • I didn't cry once!  
  • I waited 2 or 3 days and got my results back. 
  • Then I freaked out...

Side Note - If you try this out, you should probably skip the freak out step. 

I ignored the email that notified me that my results were ready for a full day. I didn't want to open it. 
Turns out, the email doesn't actually have your results in it, but tells you to log into your account to see your full results. Imagine that...

I was hesitant for a few reasons. Do you remember my whiny baby post? Yeah, that. I've been struggling with running since September and failing to use nutrition to control my PCOS. So I was nervous to see just how bad things were. No one likes bad news, right? But bad news or not, I needed to know. I needed to get informed so I could take steps to get better, to get healthier. 

It's important to point out that Inside Tracker is not meant to treat or cure diseases or medical conditions. But it just so happens that the top prescribed treatment for PCOS is diet and exercise so I found it to be a helpful tool. 

This tool is something that I've wanted for a long time. I've tried to find a nutritionist before but felt that due to my hormonal endocrine disorder they would never be able to tailor a meal plan that would really fit my needs. What do I need to eat? I remember thinking "I just wish somebody would tell me exactly what I should eat." 

Then finally, I logged in.
I was surprised and not surprised at the same time.
I saw some results that I expected and a couple that totally floored me. 

I had no idea...

Let's take a quick look at the different bio-markers they test.
The ones in Green are the ones that were in my optimal range. The ones in Orange were borderline either getting close to too high or too low. The ones in red, well, those need the most work. 

Iron, Liver, ALT (Liver enzyme), Magnesium, Creatine Kinase (Muscle Health), Folate, Potassium,
Sodium, Zinc, White Blood Cells

LDL, Triglycerides, Ferritin (Iron Storage), Glucose, hsCRP (Inflammation Indicator), Total Cholesterol, HDL, Calcium

Testosterone, Vitamin D, Cortisol, Vitamin B12

My Results

Any of the markers listed above in orange or red will need work to get in my optimal zone.

I wasn't shocked to see my HDL, LDL, and Testosterone were in need of work. Those are typical results of women with PCOS. But I was shocked to see that my Testosterone had gone up 5 points since my last labs were completed!
I spent 6 months on a medication that was supposed to help reduce my testosterone and it made running almost impossible for me. Since getting these results back, I've scheduled an appointment with my doctor to talk about what's going on and my treatment options. 

The other result that I was shocked to see was that my Vitamin D level was low. Umm, hello! I'm a Ginger and that is our one and only super power! We are super proficient when it comes to Vitamin D and in fact, we need less of it than others! 

In reality, this test was done in early March and I attribute my low VitD level to it being the winter months with less sunlight available.  So if I re-test this summer, I suspect this wouldn't be an issue. 

What Now?

Now that I know which areas I need to work on, I can visit another part of the Inside Tracker Portal and start looking at focus foods that I should incorporate to my diet. It's called the Food Basket. It has over 7,500 unique foods to suggest to you and even gives you your suggested caloric needs for each day based on the information you provided. Mine is around 2160 a day based on my activity level. And yes, Dark Chocolate is on the list! 

I filled out a simple food questionnaire to let them know if I had any dietary preferences or restrictions. For example, when I'm creating a food basket I can tell it that I don't like fish, or that I'm a vegetarian/vegan, or that I want to eat a Paleo diet and it will tailor the suggested foods to meet those needs. 
It also suggested that I add a few vitamins to help out. 

Let's take one of my bio-markers and look at their suggestions to help me improve it.


My calcium was too high. 
It gave me a quick list of foods I could add including: peaches, pears, cauliflower, mushrooms, kiwi, lima beans, lentils, squash, black beans, tuna and cod. 
It gave me a list of foods to eat less of: Whole milk, Cheddar cheese, pancakes, and ice cream. 
The tip it gave me was to eliminate any supplements I'm taking that include calcium. 

Bonus - One tip it gave me to help my cortisol level was to each dark chocolate! (70% cacao or higher) I've never heard of a diet tip that included eating chocolate! 

Is It Working?

It's probably too early to re-test and see if my levels have improved so I'm basing this answer off of my recent training runs. But I have been adding focus foods into my diet for a couples weeks now. 

My energy has been slowly getting better but the biggest results that I can tell so far is that my running is getting stronger. I just made a few simple tweaks to my diet and I've already seen a big improvement and had stronger runs lately.

I recently ran my longest run of this training season, 17 miles, and it was good! It was one of my best long runs I've had in months. I've had a few good 10k runs with my group as well. Even some of my volunteer coaches and the Hubbo have said they can tell I'm running better lately. 

Also - usually Sundays are a rest/recovery day but the last two Sundays I've found myself wanting to get out and do a fun activity. We went for a bike ride and we went on a hike. Before, I would just prefer to rest all day and work on my Netflix marathon skills. I like that my energy is increasing and helping my motivation to creep back in for fun activities. 

If you want to check out Inside Tracker for yourself you can visit their website and look at the different packages they offer. I was given the Ultimate package. 
They start at $49 and range to $499. Two of their packages are available worldwide. 

If you want to see what my fellow BibRavePro Tom thought about Inside Tracker from a male's perspective, check out his blog here!

Question! What is your favorite super food? 



03/25/2015 6:37pm

Yup, this totally freaks me out. Yup, yup, yup. I mean, it sounds super awesome but after a lifetime of being overweight, I fear the results will tell me something terrible and I will have to end up eating grass in a field like a cow forever to make up for it. Having said that, this sounds like something every athlete should be doing. Heck, this is something all people should consider doing.

RunGingerRun - Sarah
03/27/2015 6:43pm

LOL Frank! I said to SKIP the freak out stage. But really I'm so glad I know where I stand. In the future, I'll retest to see how its been helping my levels. I agree, everyone should consider it!

Joanne Pritchard
07/18/2015 10:14am

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is necessary for the production of red blood cells and also has an effect on neurological functioning and DNA. I got this very important information from http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=as_li_qf_sp_sr_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&index=aps&keywords=B00NI674O8&linkCode=as2&tag=wwwinnova047a-20&linkId=LXIU3G526G5YBCDK

Tim smith
04/01/2015 9:56pm

thanks for this information and will do it. Know body never said about this. I'm too overweight only run when it's warm outside so I need motivation thanks again for information

RunGingerRun - Sarah
04/03/2015 8:38am

Happy to help! I hope you find it as informative as I did! Good luck!

06/01/2015 8:20am

I hate getting blood work done, I mean I wish not to have these moment. Every time I do that I feel very bad, it feels like I'm going to go off into a faint and I feel gaggy. That's disgusting feeling, though I understand why I'm doing that


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