Ep 98 – Fittest Teen to Thriving Post Liver Transplant: Sydney Sullivan

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It just got really bad.  I honestly don’t really remember that much, but looking back, it’s like ‘man I was sick’… and I can’t say it [competing at the 2016 CrossFit Games] was the healthiest thing to do, but it… CrossFit is what got me through this disease and this transplant, and I couldn’t live without it.  So, I just did what I could, of course lighter weights because I weighed 115 pounds.  So, lighter weight, I did what I could, and it was definitely hard.   There was a lot of crying, a lot of emotions just because I was so used to lifting these weights and going this fast but I couldn’t do that anymore.  So that’s when I realized somethings wrong.  It’s progressing fast.  And it’s a slow disease, but in that last year, it was fast. – Sydney Sullivan

At the 2015 CrossFit Games, Sydney Sullivan dominated the competition, winning 1st place in 5 out of 6 events in the Girls 14-15 Division, and was crowned the Fittest Teen on Earth.  She was also struggling with a serious chronic disease: Type 2 juvenile autoimmune hepatitis.

Diagnosed at age 12, Sydney managed her condition through a combination of healthy diet, CrossFit, and medical care.  However, as the  2016 CrossFit Games drew closer, Sydney began losing weight and feeling fatigued as the symptoms of her illness worsened.  That year, she would finish a highly respectable 6th place, but Sydney could feel her health declining.

Caught in a catch-22 situation, her health markers were still far “too healthy” to be considered for a traditional deceased-donor liver transplant.  At the suggestion of her doctor, her family began the process of finding a donor and a facility for a live-donor transplant.  Ultimately, her brother, Tommy, was able to give 60% of his liver to Sydney, and together the two embarked on a slow path to recovery.  Today, they work together at his affiliate, Koda Crossfit Tulsa where Sydney is a coach.

I caught up with Sydney at the 2018 CrossFit Games to hear how she managed a chronic illness while being among the world’s fittest and the lessons she learned through her experience that she hopes to share with others.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Sydney’s childhood before her Type 2 juvenile autoimmune hepatitis diagnosis
  • How she got into CrossFit
  • The diagnostic process and how Sydney learned she was sick
  • How Sydney changed her lifestyle following her diagnosis
  • Her the difference between her 2015 and 2016 CrossFit Games experiences
  • Sydney’s realization that she was getting sicker and in need of a transplant
  • The decision to use a live donor, and the process to find a medical team to support that
  • The surgical process for the liver transplant
  • Sydney’s recovery process
  • Her future competitive aspirations
  • Sydney’s current medication regimen and how that impacts her training
  • The precautions she takes in her day-to-day life to protect her health
  • The lessons Sydney has learned through her experience and the knowledge she hopes to impart to others
  • Her current approach to nutrition
  • Three things Sydney does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on her health
  • One thing she struggles to implement that could have a big impact on her health
  • What a healthy life looks like to Sydney

You can follow Sydney on Instagram.

Links:

Related episodes:

Ep 46 – Living and training with Type 1 Diabetes with Brendan Snyder

Ep 53 – Amelia Boone on achievement and growing through obstacles

Ep 55 – Lindy Barber on Overcoming a Life-Changing Injury and Finding Her Flow on Team CrossFit Mayhem

Ep 64 – Haley Adams: A CrossFit Games Teen with Talent

Ep 79 – Sam Briggs on Going Back to Basics and Training for Longevity

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

This episode is brought to you by Thrive Market. By cutting out the middle man, Thrive Market delivers your favorite healthy food and lifestyle products to your doorstep at 25-50% lower cost than you would spend in the grocery store. Visit http://www.thrivemarket.com/ph to receive an exclusive offer from Thrive Market for being a listener of Pursuing Health: 25% off your first order + a free 30 day trial!

This episode is also brought to you by Butcher Box. Butcher Box delivers 100% grass-fed and finished beef, free-range organic chicken, and heritage-breed pork directly to your doorstep, on your schedule. You can order curated or custom boxes of meat, and they always come with recipe ideas for you to explore. Visit butcherbox.com/Julie to receive an exclusive offer for being a listener of Pursuing Health: $20 off your order + a free order of bacon!

Disclaimer: This podcast is meant to share the experiences of various individuals. It does not provide medical advice, and it is not a substitute for advice from your physician or health care professional.

 


Ep 97 – Challenging Conventional Cancer Care with Dr. Thomas Seyfried

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“I think the biggest thing is that you’ve got to convince people that this is a metabolic disease, it’s a mitochondrial metabolic disease. Ok, so that changes the whole ground– the whole playing field of how are you gonna treat the disease. Because if it’s a metabolic disease, why are you irradiating? Because I gotta stop the tumor growth. Oh, but if I can stop it by taking away the fuels then I don’t need to do that. Now, of course… Ok, so you’re re-labeling what the disease is. And by re-labeling and providing the evidence that this is different than what we thought, and that the gene mutations are really red herrings- they’re epi-phenomena, they’re very little related to what’s going on- well, that’s a difficult pill to swallow. – Dr. Thomas Seyfried

Thomas Seyfried, PhD is a biochemical geneticist, scientist, and professor at Boston College.  For more than 25 years he has taught and conducted research in the fields of neurochemistry, neurogenetics, and cancer.  Through his extensive research, Thomas has found evidence that supports the hypothesis that cancer is a metabolic disease as opposed to the mainstream belief that it is genetic in origin.  He believes that this fundamental misunderstanding has led to failed treatment and prevention strategies.  In his groundbreaking text, Cancer as a Metabolic Disease, Thomas explains the mechanism behind cancer development and metastasis, and he shares the scientific and clinical studies that support this unconventional theory.

I had the opportunity to chat with Dr. Seyfried at the 2018 CrossFit Health Conference in Madison, WI.  In one of the most controversial episodes of Pursing Health yet, we discussed his research findings that point to metabolic therapies, including the ketogenic diet, as being an effective way to prevent, manage, and treat cancer.

In this episode we discuss:

  • How Tom met Greg Glassman and became involved with CrossFit Health
  • What led Tom to become a scientist, and how he got into his field of research
  • His realization that the fundamental understanding of the origins of cancer may be wrong
  • Why he believes the gene therapy approach of treating cancer is wrong
  • How Tom is challenging others’ views on which cancer therapies are most effective
  • His belief that eliminating glucose and glutamine are a more effective cancer therapy
  • The types of cancer that are most metabolically responsive
  • The concept of press-pulse therapy to treat tumors
  • Tom’s excitement over the various mechanisms that can be employed to not only treat tumors but chronic diseases as well
  • The challenge of creating a clinical trial that compares metabolic therapy to traditional cancer therapy
  • How Tom believes patients can work with their doctors to drive change
  • An overview of where the field of metabolic research is, and where it’s headed
  • Three things Tom does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on his health
  • One thing he struggles to implement that could have a big impact on his health
  • What a healthy life looks like to Tom

Links:

Related episodes:

Ep 07 – Dr. Mark Hyman on Functional Medicine, the future, and community

Ep 78 – Lifestyle and Brain Health with Dr. David Perlmutter

Ep 80 – Greg Glassman on Networking CrossFit Physicians and Fighting Chronic Disease

Ep 93 – Debunking Nutrition Myths with Gary Taubes

Ep 96 – A Hospital Affiliate: Kirby Medical Center and CrossFit KMC

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

This episode is brought to you by Thrive Market. By cutting out the middle man, Thrive Market delivers your favorite healthy food and lifestyle products to your doorstep at 25-50% lower cost than you would spend in the grocery store. Visit http://www.thrivemarket.com/ph to receive an exclusive offer from Thrive Market for being a listener of Pursuing Health: 25% off your first order + a free 30 day trial!

This episode is also brought to you by Butcher Box. Butcher Box delivers 100% grass-fed and finished beef, free-range organic chicken, and heritage-breed pork directly to your doorstep, on your schedule. You can order curated or custom boxes of meat, and they always come with recipe ideas for you to explore. Visit butcherbox.com/Julie to receive an exclusive offer for being a listener of Pursuing Health: $20 off your order + a free order of bacon!

Disclaimer: This podcast is meant to share the experiences of various individuals. It does not provide medical advice, and it is not a substitute for advice from your physician or health care professional.


Ep 96 – A Hospital Affiliate: Kirby Medical Center and CrossFit KMC

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“I really think there is an opportunity for the CrossFit affiliates to work with the hospitals, and to say, ‘We have a big piece of this puzzle that we can help with.  We have the programming, we have the coaches, we have the culture.’ And, my hope is that those gyms can partner with the doctors and they can partner with some of the other larger employers and also with the hospitals that can handle the biometric testing, and just put together that same plan that we’ve already done.  And I think it’s not gonna be just one solution and it’s not gonna be just one player that’s gonna make the difference, but I think collectively we all can make a big difference.” – Steve Tenhouse, Kirby Medical Center CEO & owner of CrossFit KMC

As part of an innovative partnership, Kirby Medical Center and CrossFit KMC are working as a team to promote wellness for their employees, their patients, and their local Monticello, Illinois community.  Together they are setting an example for how health care can focus on disease prevention rather than just disease treatment.

Kirby Medical Center is a 16-bed acute care hospital and physician group that consistently scores in the top 5% of rural hospitals nationwide for patient satisfaction and employee engagement.  They offer a wide variety of wellness services, including food and nutrition services, a wellness trail, and a range of exercise classes through CrossFit KMC.

CrossFit KMC is one of the first CrossFit affiliates to open on a medical center campus.  Open to both employees and the community, they play an instrumental role in helping Kirby Medical Center achieve its vision of making their community a healthier place to live.

At the 2018 CrossFit Health Conference, I had the opportunity to sit down with Steve Tenhouse, Kirby Medical Center CEO and affiliate owner of CrossFit KMC, and Josh Newton, the Director of Health and Wellness at Kirby Medical Center and Head Coach of CrossFit KMC.  I was excited to learn more about how their partnership began, the lessons they have learned along the way as they’ve built a successful employee wellness program, and how other affiliate owners can partner with local healthcare organizations to promote the shift from sick care to health care.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How Steve & Josh got into CrossFit
  • Background information about KMC and the community they serve
  • How changing KMC’s vision statement to include a focus on preventative healthcare changed the hospital campus and outlook
  • The process of opening an affiliate on a hospital campus
  • The impact of the affiliate on employees and the hospital system as a whole
  • The trickle-down effect of doctors sharing their passion for exercise with their patients
  • The framework for KMC’s employee wellness program, and how it has changed over time
  • The nutritional message KMC dieticians are sharing with participants
  • How the affiliate works financially within the healthcare system
  • Their vision for turning their hospital into a place where people can go to become healthier
  • The data and outcomes they are tracking
  • Interest from other health care systems
  • Steve’s personal experience with using CrossFit to help recover from heart surgery, and the importance of prehab
  • What Steve & Josh think it will take to make the change from sick-care to healthcare
  • Their advice for affiliate owners in approaching partnerships with healthcare organizations
  • Three things Steve & Josh do on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on their health
  • One thing they struggle to implement that could have a big impact on their health
  • What a healthy life looks like to Steve and Josh

You can follow Kirby Medical Center on Facebook and Twitter.  CrossFit KMC can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Links:

Related episodes:

Ep 07 – Dr. Mark Hyman on Functional Medicine, the future, and community

Ep 16 – Pete Katz and his physician on using CrossFit and Paleo to overcome chronic disease

Ep 22 – Brigid Titgemeier on Functional Nutrition

Ep 66 – Cleveland Clinic CEO Dr. Toby Cosgrove on Lifestyle, Healthcare, and Persistence

Ep 69 – From “Obese to Beast” with John Glaude

Ep 80 – Greg Glassman on Networking CrossFit Physicians and Fighting Chronic Disease

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

This episode is brought to you by Thrive Market. By cutting out the middle man, Thrive Market delivers your favorite healthy food and lifestyle products to your doorstep at 25-50% lower cost than you would spend in the grocery store. Visit http://www.thrivemarket.com/ph to receive an exclusive offer from Thrive Market for being a listener of Pursuing Health: 25% off your first order + a free 30 day trial!

This episode is also brought to you by Butcher Box. Butcher Box delivers 100% grass-fed and finished beef, free-range organic chicken, and heritage-breed pork directly to your doorstep, on your schedule. You can order curated or custom boxes of meat, and they always come with recipe ideas for you to explore. Visit butcherbox.com/Julie to receive an exclusive offer for being a listener of Pursuing Health: $20 off your order + a free order of bacon!

Disclaimer: This podcast is meant to share the experiences of various individuals. It does not provide medical advice, and it is not a substitute for advice from your physician or health care professional.