Actress, holistic health coach, Wellcoach, NASM personal trainer, blogger, marathon runner and running coach, worksite wellness coach and program coordinator ... and as of November 2014, an avid InsideTracker user. Learn how the multi-talented Laura Ingalls used her personalized InsideTracker data and recommendations to make long-lasting quantitative and qualitative improvements in her health.
Question: Laura, tell us a little about your history with health and fitness and how you became a wellness professional
Laura: Of course! I went to Syracuse where I pursued a BFA in acting. Because of the heightened body image consciousness in college and in the acting world, there was a lot of pressure to lose weight. However, there was a general lack of awareness of nutrition, health, and what the symptoms of your body were really telling you. Most people thought that if you were overweight or didn’t fit a specific body type that there was something wrong with you. A lot of dieting failures were attributed to lack of will-power. Because of this pressure to be skinny, I tried a lot of fad diets including Slim Fast, Herbalife, vegetarianism, and The Atkins diet. Like many others, I experienced a frustrating cycle where I temporarily lost weight and then gained it back.
In my early 20’s, I was extremely lucky in that just as I was reaching the breaking point of my latest fad diet (Weight Watchers) I started working with my first Wellcoach who helped me look deeper into nutrition science. It was inspiring! What was truly amazing was the more I learned, the more I was asked by friends to help them with nutritional coaching. This eventually led me to obtain my holistic health coaching certification from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (along with several other coaching certifications).
After my rigorous studies, it is now my philosophy that different bodies react to nutrition in different ways. Nutrition is not one size fits all! Hence, why I came up with my blog “F*** Skinny!”. I currently apply my nutrition knowledge coaching as a worksite wellness coach where my goal is to work with employees of certain companies to maintain holistic health and prevent illness.
Question: Given your intricate knowledge of nutrition- what made you want to take the plunge into InsideTracker?
Laura: I started training for the Boston Marathon starting in November of 2013. I was eating well but gained 14 pounds and felt very sick. My body temperature was very low (95.5- 96.2 F) and I felt like I was burning out. I’d even been experiencing a softening of the bones in my wrist! I ran my April 2014 marathon with a time an hour longer than my previous time. In reflecting on my symptoms, I suspected that I had out-of-sync Vitamin B-12 and Vitamin D levels. I started taking Vitamin B-12 which helped a little bit. I also supplemented with Vitamin D (about 20,000 IU tablets/day for a month) which did help with my wrists, but it was still, largely, a “nutrition guessing game.”
Frustrated with my declining wellness and athletic performance, in November 2014 I vited my doctor and provided her with a very detailed portrait of my medical history. She ordered me an expensive blood test on a few biomarkers. When we got the results, she looked at the data and said “everything was normal”. But I knew something was not normal: I just didn’t feel right. I heard about InsideTracker at an Executive Athletes presentation in October of 2014 and it fight right in line with my philosophies of “nutrition is not one size fits all” and preventative care I practice in my wellness job. I loved the concept- and I decided to check it out to help me solve my own health struggles.
Question: Which Biomarkers did you see out of optimal zones in your first DIY Test?
Laura: I used InsideTracker’s DIY test- the plan where I could upload my blood test data from my doctor- in November of 2014. Unlike data from my doctor, my result were evaluated in the context of my demographic factors such as age, sex, and weight, as well as lifestyle factors such as the fact that I was an athlete.
When these new data points were factored in, I got a very different perspective than from my Doctor’s panel. While my Total Testosterone (TT) was optimal, my Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin (SHBG) was too low. InsideTracker stated that I might experience irregular periods as a result- which was definitely true for me. My lipid panel was out of whack too- my total cholesterol and triglycerides were too high. My high glucose resulted in me having an InnerAge of 43.7 years- 9 years older than my actual age. On top of this, InsideTracker revealed that had low levels of iron- explaining my constant fatigue.
Unlike my doctor’s blood test, InsideTracker data said “everything is NOT fine” AND gave specific quantities, ranges, and associated symptoms with these non-optimal zones. InsideTracker also gave me specific nutritional and lifestyle recommendations I could use to make improvements in my health- and I started using them immediately to take ownership of my health.
Question: What did you think of InsideTracker’s Recommendation Engine?
Laura: I was astounded by the variety of easy-to-apply, science-based information InsideTracker provided in its comprehensive food basket. I got “little reminders” of familiar foods I used to eat a lot. As a result, I started adding mushrooms to my stir fry again to get my Vitamin D, and to up my anti-oxidant intake to help bring down my white blood cell count (indicating inflammation) I went back to my old “dessert” of frozen blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries after dinner. So yummy! I also chose to reincorporate powerful nutrition foods, such as fava beans and simple brown rice, all because they showed up in my recommendation engine. I modified my diet to add these easy-to-find, tasty nutritional powerhouses. And the best part was: each of these recommendations was fueled by my personal biomarker data and peer-reviewed research studies, so I felt confident in my food choices rather than like I was playing a “health guessing game.”
Question: Are there any other key features you enjoyed with InsideTracker?
Laura: To improve my un-optimal iron levels, I checked out the iron blog by Emily Wei to refine my strategy. She provided really comprehensive information on how to separate foods such as oatmeal and coffee to truly maximize iron absorption (you can see my “maximize your iron” stir fry mix below!).
But far and away, what I have most enjoyed as a “bonus feature” is InsideTracker’s social media platform to discuss nutritional and fitness strategies with other users. After talking to Erin Sharoni I learned about adding teff-an Ethiopian, whole grain flour packed with fiber, protein, and minerals such as magnesium and calcium. I pretty much use teff flour now for everything I can- ranging from breakfast muffins to homemade flat bread!
Question: In your next test what Improvements did you see?
Laura: I took an InsideTracker Ultimate test, the most comprehensive assessment of 30 biomarkers, and an InnerAge test on December 15th. After getting confirmation about my non-optimal zones I immediately started using InsideTracker’s food recommendations. My results also led me to pursue more information about nutrition for Hypothyroid Disease to further refine my diet. As a result I experienced a huge decline in my levels of triglycerides and 20 point drop in total cholesterol and a modest decrease in glucose. I also optimized my free testosterone and SHBG right into the center of my optimal zone. And best of all- my InnerAge dipped from 43.7 to 32.8. My actual age is 34.8 so it’s good to be below that now!
In addition to quantified improvements in my biomarkers, I noticed other dramatic physical changes. My circulation improved and I no longer had strange tingling sensations throughout my body. My Renaud’s disease symptoms completely disappeared. My average body temperature increased by almost 2 degrees and I experienced my very first normal menstrual cycle in about 10 years. Overall, in just one month, I was able to make dramatic changes in my health using my InsideTracker data as opposed to just looking at my waistline or relying on a simple blood test from my doctor.
Question: Did you share your InsideTracker Experience with your Primary Care Physician?
Laura: I decided to share my InsideTracker data and progress with my regular doctor. Friends I’ve shared my experience with asked if I was worried if she was going to be annoyed that I “went behind her back” and tried to prove her wrong or make her feel that she was a bad doctor that couldn’t solve my problems. However, my doctor is both very supportive about my InsideTracker experience and thought it was wonderful how I could get access to such comprehensive data and use actionable recommendations to see quick results. And remember that doctors- especially primary care physicians- are very, very busy people. If you can proactively provide them with data they will appreciate you taking ownership of your health. My doctor and I are a team, even if I’m sometimes the one coming to her with the answers!
Question: What Does Your Future with InsideTracker Look Like?
Laura: I will definitely be using InsideTracker in the future. While I made progress in my December Ultimate Test, I still have work to do on my CRP, Iron panel, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B12. I also want to make sure that I am still maintain testosterone and HDL and LDL cholesterol in their optimal zones. I am interested to see results later this month and using InsideTracker consistently to maintain my health in the long-term.
Question: How would you Briefly Sum up Your InsideTracker Experience?
Laura: Basically, I got a $700 bill from blood work and screenings from my doctor and ZERO answers vs a $499 test from Inside Tracker and a TON of answers. I think it’s pretty obvious that InsideTracker is a product fueled by some of the brightest scientists around who make a product that is also accessible and comprehensive.
All views represented in this article are those of Laura Ingalls and not of InsideTracker. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and check out her blog “fskinny”.
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