Be Your Own Best Health Advocate
With Ryan Sutter
Season 7, Episode 1 | August 22, 2023
A Lyme disease diagnosis and accompanying body-wide pain and debilitating fatigue led Ryan Sutter — firefighter, endurance athlete, and Bachelorette alum — to take action to find answers, treatment options, and a path toward wellness. In this episode, Sutter shares his health journey, as well as advice for pushing through challenge, fighting health obstacles, and advocating for your well-being.
Ryan Sutter is perhaps best known for his appearance on season one of ABC’s The Bachelorette, where he met his wife, Trista. He’s a firefighter and former pro football player. He also appeared on NBC’s American Ninja Warrior at the age of 42.
In 2020, Sutter was diagnosed with Lyme disease, which led him on a difficult journey toward healing and recovery. Along the way, he learned the importance of advocating for his health and offers the following advice for others needing to do the same:
- Consider all your options. Do your research to find the best practitioner or team of support and treatment choices for your unique situation. In Sutter’s case, this includes working with a general practitioner and functional-medicine doctor, and using bee venom therapy.
- Know that healing can take time. Although the hope is to go to the doctor once and leave with a quick and easy solution, that’s usually not the case — especially in the case of chronic conditions. Your well-being depends on your patient pursuit of getting to the root cause.
- Listen to your body. If something feels off, you’re the one who will know it. In his career as a firefighter, Sutter can cite multiple examples of people calling in saying, “I’m sorry I called, I don’t want to waste your time, but I just wasn’t feeling right.” His response? “Please don’t ever hesitate to call.” If you call or go in and it’s nothing, there’s no harm in that — but if something is wrong, you’ll be glad you caught it early.
- You can’t do it all at once. Find the habit changes you can incorporate into your lifestyle, even if it means adding things in gradually.
- Enlist support. Sutter’s biggest supporter is his wife, Trista, who’s helped advocate for his care. Loved ones can offer critical support and advocate for you, which can be especially helpful when you’re not feeling well.
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Transcript: Be Your Own Best Health Advocate
Season 7, Episode 1 | August 22, 2023
Welcome to Life Time Talks. The podcast that’s aimed at helping you achieve your health, fitness, and life goals. I’m Jamie Martin, Editor-in-Chief of Experience Life, Life Time’s whole life health and fitness magazine.
And I’m David Freeman, Director of Alpha, one of Life Time’s signature group training programs. We’re all in different places along our health and fitness journey but no matter what we’re working toward there are some essential things we can do to keep moving in the direction of a healthy, purpose-driven life.
In each episode, we break down various elements of healthy living including fitness and nutrition, mindset and community, and health issues. We’ll also share real, inspiring stories of transformation.
And we’ll be talking to experts from Life Time and beyond who will share their insights and knowledge so you have the tools and information you need to take charge of your next steps. Here we go.
Welcome to Life Time talks, everyone. I’m Jamie Martin.
And I’m David Freeman. Now, an advocate for health recovery while living with a chronic illness, Ryan Sutter. Our special guest has found a path that’s right for him and encourages others to find their right path, too. So, to give a little background about Ryan, it’s going to be Jamie here right now.
Here we go. Ryan Sutter is probably best known for his appearance on season one of ABC’s The Bachelorette where he met his wife, Trista. He is a firefighter and former pro football player, who also appeared on NBC’s American Ninja Warrior at the age of 42. After receiving a Lyme diagnosis in 2020, Ryan began the difficult journey of healing and recovery, and now Ryan supports a more balanced lifestyle, spending his days at the firehouse and enjoying time with his wife and two kids. Ryan, welcome to Life Time Talks. Thanks for being with us.
Thanks for having me.
I know we kind of previewed this and that you have been in fitness. You’ve been an athlete for much of your life. Can you just walk us a little bit through your kind of athletic journey and kind of what brought you to here.
Sure. I think I grew up on the front range of Colorado in just sort of a typical front range town. Fort Colins, Colorado. I did all the traditional sports as a kid, soccer, football, baseball. Ended up really loving football and that kind of became my main sport. Through high school I played all of the sports but then ended up going to University of Colorado to play football for the Buffalos. Red shirted my first year there and then played the next four years. Ended up getting drafted into the NFL by the Baltimore Ravens. So, I was eventually released by them and picked up by the Carolina Panthers where I played a season and got hurt. That sort of ended my, I guess, professional or organized sports career.
Found the fire service as a profession, which is in many ways a sport itself so that kind of satisfied a lot of that competitive side of me and provided an avenue of expression for…it provided a little purpose to my life, I guess. For so long football provided the reason to stay in shape and to train and to get strong and work on sort of the speed, strength, conditioning components of my life. Once that left, I needed something else to do, so I had moved to a mountain town west of Denver called Vale. Vale, Colorado. I had some friends there that were doing endurance sports, so I started getting into triathlons and pretty much jumped right into triathlons signing up to do an Iron Man. As part of that training, I did some shorter ones leading up to it. I only did a couple of Iron Mans and then got into the ______ 00:03:59 kind of stuff. The more offroad stuff was appealing to me.
I did some mountain bike races in Leadville. The Life Time Leadville Trail 100 was an annual event for me for many years. I think I’ve done that nine times now. I did the trial run one time. That was a horrible experience. It was so painful, but I got through it and will definitely never do that again, learned my lesson. Part of I guess my motto or creed in life is to just kind of push your limits in that. I certainly did that.
I have spent a lifetime pursuing athletics and sort of performance-oriented careers and sports. Then I started kind of getting older and tapering down a little bit, focusing a bit more on my career. Changed locations from Vale, Colorado to Denver working for the Denver Fire Department, which is where I am now, and going through their fire academy. I went into that fire academy at about 45 years old feeling probably better than I had ever in my life. I did the Leadville Trail 100 bike race that August prior to starting the academy in February and felt really good going into it and felt really, really bad coming out of it. So, that was an 18-week period where my health slid from at least the perception of feeling as good as I ever had in my life to as bad as I ever had in my life, which is a difficult thing for someone who is used to signing up for stuff like that 100-mile run without a real concern for weather or not I could finish it. I just felt like I could always accomplish things athletically really no matter how hard they were. I was stubborn and able to push myself through discomfort.
This was not like that though. It was a type of discomfort that I had never experienced. It was just really debilitating and hard to push through. That’s kind of where I ended up. It’s been about three years now since that sort of disrupted my life. I’ve been able to maintain my career and continue to thrive in the fire service, but I’ve definitely had to taper down what I do or at least pay more attention at the level of effort that I exude in sort of out of work types of events and choices and stuff like that.
So yeah, a lifetime of athletics of various kinds leading to a period in my life that really crushed me sort of health-wise.
Dive into that. Just being such a highly active individual for all of your life and in that is so many foundational elements that you now are being able to apply to everyday life. One word that stands out to me is poise and how an individual deals with adversity in the moment that they’re facing it. Being that this was something new, I believe I wrote down here at 45 years old is when you first experienced what you just were kind of walking us through. In that sense, when you look at the title of the topic, when it says Be Your Own Health Advocate, A Story of Recovery. Can you kind of walk us through what that means to you?
Yeah. I mean sort of going back to the first part of your question, speaking to how my lifestyle leading up to getting sick may have helped or continues to help me get through being sick. I think when you put yourself in challenging situations, I keep coming back to these Iron Mans or 100-mile bike rides. These sorts of things are so long and enduring that there’s always a point for me at least within those races where it’s not about physical capacity but it becomes a mental and emotional game. You’re having to convince yourself to keep going.
Your strength and conditioning part of it isn’t really even at play anymore. It’s convincing your mind and your body to continue to move. That certainly has come into play through this sort of illness. When you’re feeling bad, which I still do often really but you know there’s ways through it and you know that there are going to be good days and there are going to be bad days and you just sort of have to focus on the good and endure the bad and know that you’re going to be fine through both of them. I certainly got a lot of that perspective from athletics. You win some, you lose some. Even my NFL career. Since I can remember, I always wanted to be a football player and to get there and then have your career ended so abruptly once you finally felt like you had gotten there. It feels like you fell a little short. That hurts and it’s hard to pick yourself back up and find a new direction I life.
So all of that sort of stuff lead to, I think, me being able to understand myself better, to know maybe this doctor that I just went to isn’t…it just doesn’t feel right and to trust what your gut is telling you to go ask somebody else or look into a different remedy or treatment. I think it’s hard in today’s society because you want to trust the medical profession and you want to trust your doctors and in most cases you can. It’s just like the fire service. I think most of us are pretty good and care a lot about our jobs. There was a few of us that probably don’t. I think there are a few doctors that, not to say they don’t care, but maybe they just don’t know that much about Lyme Disease or immune disorders or what they learned is 15 years old and they haven’t stayed up to current sort of standards.
You know, in my case they were just wanting to address the symptoms of what was going on rather than try to figure out what was actually causing the symptoms of what was going on. To me, that just philosophically didn’t feel right. A lot of the credit for my continuing to investigate solutions to my health issues goes to my wife because she was adamant about continuing to explore options. She was the one that suggested eventually bee venom therapy, which I’ve been doing for a while now.
So, it is a difficult place to be where you have historically trusted people and industries and you feel like you don’t quite trust them as much as you used to. What happens is they just become one component of the solution. It’s not to say you stop going to your general practitioner or you stop going to the doctor and just go one way or the other. In my case, it has helped to have my general practitioner. It’s helped to have a functional medical doctor. It’s helped to have the bee venom therapy community. So all of those things come into play so you can bounce ideas off of a lot of different people and get potential remedies or solutions or treatments based on what people have actually gone through and what has actually worked for other people.
It took a while. I would much prefer to make an appointment, go into the doctor, have them give you a blood test and a magic potion and you’re better. That just isn’t the case, unfortunately. So, yeah, I guess to answer your question to all of this stuff the cumulative effects of my lifestyle for 45 years and my good fortune of marrying the woman that I did allowed me to feel comfortable exploring other options than the traditional options I was presented at first.
Let’s step back a little bit to kind of that point when you started feeling symptoms. I mean I know it took you a while to actually get the Lyme diagnosis and then you had the added component of mold exposure, correct?
So let’s talk a little bit about the symptoms that you started feeling and at what point you were prompted to go in and how you eventually ended up working with Dr. Jill Carnahan, who is a functional medicine doctor to get to that root cause.
It’s kind of hard to describe the symptoms, honestly. I struggle with it. The best way that I can describe it is I’ve run the New York Marathon twice, I think…no, three times. The first time was the worst time because I hadn’t did a lot of marathons, but the way that I try to relate it to people is if you were to do something like the New York marathon or something on that level of difficulty for you personally and you finish this 26 mile race and you cross the finish line and instead of them hanging a little participation medal on you they give you a shot of the flu. Then you wake up the next morning and you feel like you just ran a marathon and you have the flu. That is how it felt.
My body hurt. I was achy. I was feverish. I would have night sweats. Aside from gastrointestinal issues it was just like every worst illness you ever had plus you were just exhausted all the time. So, that was not normal for me. I knew we had a culminating event at the fire academy where it was sort of just your right of passage for graduating the academy. It was a team event, and it was a lot of work. I had been able to do those skillsets with relative ease for most of the academy. During that culminating event I thought I was going to pass out. I just did not feel like myself, and I knew something was wrong.
Like I said, you sort of endure it and you get through it. You have to complete this academy or else you have to do it over or you don’t get to keep your job. You push through that part of it but once I got through that…actually, initially I thought I’ve got to get through the academy and then I’ll have more time off to rest and recover. The rest and the recovering maybe helped a little bit but it didn’t help to the degree that I felt like it should have. So, we started looking into it initially. The only thing that really came back bad on my bloodwork was ______ 00:16:21 that was super high.
So, I went to a rheumatologist. This is where I was talking about earlier where he didn’t know what was wrong with me. I didn’t have lupus or rheumatoid arthritis or anything like that, so he just was going to give me medicine designed to treat the symptoms, and we were going to take some home and see if it worked and if that didn’t we were going to take something else and see if it worked. It was just going to be this trial and error process of pharmaceuticals and that didn’t sit well with me.
So, we started asking around and that’s when we started looking into the functional medicine side. Someone recommended Dr. Carnahan. I was fortunate enough to get an appointment with her and to get her on my side. She really helped. She gave me a whole new set of tests and they found all of the biotoxins and molds and all that sort of stuff and the Lyme component of it. She’s well-versed at helping you deal with mold. The mold thing, in fact I had to stop the bee venom therapy last week because my inflammatory markers were super high because of mold. It’s everywhere, so I have to be really good about continuing to try to stay out of it, but in my line of work it’s nearly impossible to stay completely out of it. So, I have to be good at detoxification and if I slip or get over-exposed then it still hangs me up.
I have at least some pathways to detoxify now that have proven to work, so I just continue to do those. It’s just sometimes it’s not an immediate fix. It takes a little while for your body to get all that stuff worked through. I still deal with it, but Dr. Carnahan was instrumental in getting me through those initial phases. Then to her credit, I also started to feel a little bit uncomfortable with the direction we were going with her, with just a plethora of supplements every day that I couldn’t keep track of it and it was really hard to do at work and the I didn’t necessarily feel like were providing the results I was expecting, told her that I wanted to do the bee venom stuff, and she was 100 percent supportive of that and has always been supportive of my decisions and helped me find solutions for different sorts of things.
So, that’s what I mean is you need to have people who you trust who you can go to when you do get test results back that you maybe weren’t expecting or a particular situation pops up and you need someone to help you through it. It’s good to have people like Dr. Carnahan or Brook Ian is the bee venom therapy woman, and she helps me through a lot of stuff, and my general practitioner as well. So, it was a lot.
What didn’t help the situation was this was also right when COVID happened, so of course everyone got COVID. There’s the long COVID component of life now that a lot of doctors feel like I’m also dealing with. So, I think I just went through a period of life that was too much for my immune system to take. Our immune systems are fantastic and they’re really good and what I’m focusing on now is rebuilding mine to the point where it can hold some of this stuff back, but at the time I think it just had bent so far it finally broke and once it breaks…I’m sure you guys know this from other guests. But like everything it’s been holding back the flood gates just open and it’s like Epstein-Barr was coming out and COVID’s coming out and Lyme was coming out and all of these toxicity type things. And any infection you’ve had in your life, chickenpox and all this sort of stuff, is there.
I think that’s why you have that feeling of that sort of marathon on the flu feeling. All of a sudden, your body’s flooded with poisons, and it’s too much for your liver and your kidneys and your immune system. You’ve got to just kind of start back over, which is tough to do if you’re an adult with a family and a profession. You can’t just quit and go on vacation.
When you think about that, I want to go back to you being so in tune to your body and understanding, obviously, what normal, if you will, or what optimal feels like. What I want to kind of have you speak to, to kind of encourage our listeners, usually if you’re feeling something that’s off, sometimes we just blow it off and be like all right, I’ll be good in two or three days, whatever it may be. So obviously you felt something was different, which triggered you to go seek help. This is something I want to kind of encourage our listeners. Obviously, you can give your take on it as far as when do you actually go get help and don’t push it off just because you might think it’s a little thing. Your experience is a little bit different, but I think just speaking from that experience holds so much value. So what’s your thoughts there?
Yeah. It’s hard to say because it is so subjective. I think some people probably air on the side of going in a little early and maybe there’s some hypochondria there that happens. I think I sort of tended to be where you just feel like it’s going to go away on its own and you just never go in until your wife or somebody forces you to. I think the answer is in between.
We at the fire service respond to people all the time who say I’m so sorry I called. I don’t want to waste your time. I just wasn’t feeling right. Our response every single time is we’re glad you called. We’re happy to help. This is what we do. Please don’t ever hesitate to call, and I think if you’re going to air on one side or the other is if you feel like something’s wrong just weigh the consequences. If you call and it’s nothing, you just have a common cold or whatever and the doctor’s like no big deal. You’ve got a common cold. Just take some vitamin C, get some rest, drink plenty of water, and see if it goes away in a week. No big deal, but if you decide to push through it and it turns out to be something worse like maybe you’re having some sort of stroke or mild heart attack. It could be anything. Or in today’s world, I mean we’re exposed to so many things. Autoimmune stuff is all over the place, cancer is all over the place. So, all of these things are easier to overcome the earlier you address them.
So, if you just weigh the cost / benefit, it costs nothing really…the people that you’re going in to meet with or calling 911 for or whatever, that is our job. That’s the doctor’s job. You’re not inconveniencing anyone by going in and advocating for yourself. Whereas on the other hand, if you wait too long you could be potentially inconveniencing yourself, your family, your kids. You could take it as big as you want. In my mind, it’s just so much more responsible to just go get it checked out. I think most people know if you’ve got a nosebleed, try fixing your nose bleed yourself first. But if it’s still there in an hour call someone. I think it’s the same way with a cold or a sore throat. If you’ve got a sore throat, maybe drink some honey tea and get a good night’s sleep and see if it goes away in a day or two, but if it doesn’t then what’s the harm in going in and getting it looked at if you feel like that might be best.
We’re pretty remarkable creatures. I think human beings kind of know. This is a story that’s a little bit…I’m going to tell it to you guys anyway. It’s a little bit off…it’s about my wife. So when we had our first son, Max, we had just gone to the doctor. The doctor had said you’re 36 weeks, 35 weeks into this pregnancy. I think it was 30 weeks into the pregnancy. You’re going to start feeling kind of sick. You’re going to start feeling not so good. That’s totally normal. So, we go home and within a couple days my wife starts feeling kind of sick and not so good and is like I don’t feel so good. I think maybe I need to go see the doctor. I’m like the doctor said this is how you’re going to feel. She was adamant, no, this just doesn’t feel right.
So, my stubborn self was like, are you sure? It’s 9 o’clock at night. Do you want to sleep it off, whatever. She’s like, no, this just doesn’t feel right. So, we go to the emergency room. They run a couple of tests, liver enzymes and things like that. Emergency C-section. My wife is preeclampsia HELLP syndrome, would maybe not have made it through the night had we not gone into the doctor. So, she had to trust herself even though I was sitting there trying to convince her it was probably going to be okay. That’s hard to do. She’s like I trust you but this just doesn’t feel right. Who knows what would have happened if we would have not gone into the hospital.
So, I just think if you’re just starting to feel that in your gut and in your heart that you need to go address something then address it.
That’s really getting to the idea like we really, as individuals, we know our bodies better than anyone else, and if something isn’t feeling right there’s no harm in getting checked out or listening to that intuition, as you said, that gut instinct, which often has a lot to tell us if we’re willing to kind of check in with that. So let’s keep going here. I want to just talk a little bit about…so you started on this road to recovery. You’re trying new supplements. You’re doing different things. How long did it take you to start kind of feeling like I’m actually on the road to recovery, and I can start to kind of reintegrate parts of my healthy lifestyle back in? Did you stop certain things for a while? Like your exercise regimen I’m assuming had to shift for a period of time.
Yeah. Like I said, it’s still ongoing. There are period of my life where I’m like I’m finally through this and then something comes up and like I said, I’ll have these giant inflammatory markers and I have to readdress things. The biggest keys for me were sleep. Obviously, in my line of work sleep deprivation is a big deal, but I just paid really close attention to making sure I was getting as much sleep as I could when I could, so sleep was huge.
I cut out processed foods. I cut out simple sugars and carbohydrates. I cut out gluten. I started eating a lot more fruits and vegetables, clean meats. Just dietary lifestyle changes. Not anything I would call a diet. I wasn’t on a Keto diet. I wasn’t on a Mediterranean diet or an anti-inflammatory diet. I was just on a healthy…I just ate healthy foods.
My exercise had to adjust from pedal to the metal every day of my life to maybe some days I could go for a two- or three-hour bike ride and maybe somedays I had to go for a 20-minute walk with the dog. I just had to sort of gauge that. I still do. You just kind of have to pay attention to recovery. When you’re in your 20s or even 30s, recovery for me was not that big of a deal, thank goodness the athletic world is paying more attention to it now. It was always just about go as hard as you can all the time and that’s how you get bigger and faster and stronger. It turns out that’s not necessarily the case. As you get older, it becomes more and more important to pay attention to recovery.
We got an infrared sauna, which I’ll use three times a week at least. That has been awesome. I added breath work. I tried journaling for a while. I wasn’t able to make that stick. That’s another thing that people need to be aware of is you’ll get a lot of suggestions. They may work. Journaling I feel like did actually help me feel better initially but the it became a source of stress in my life. Oh, shoot, I haven’t done my journal. I need to do that. You can’t do it all. So find the things you can do that you can incorporate into your life. Maybe not all of it at once, add little things here and there that you can do, especially the simple things like diet and breath work and relaxation and sleep.
I just think of my body now as…I don’t want to say a machine. Makes it sound like robotic or whatever, but it just needs to be taken care of. You need to make sure you’re putting the right source of fuels into it. That you’re putting the right kinds of vitamins and minerals that are allowing it to sort of do its job because it really wants to work for you. It’s like the oil and the oil filter in your car. You’ve got to change that every so often. You’ve got to keep your immune system clean and running well or it doesn’t work like it’s supposed to. I just started paying a lot more attention to that stuff.
Like I said, I went down one path where it was a bazillion supplements and herbal things. I never got into the antibiotic stuff. I’ve tried to steer clear of that based on other people’s experiences who I’ve talked to. Not to say that isn’t an option for some people that has worked, but for me it wasn’t something I wanted to do. Even when the supplement stuff started feeling like it was too much or that it was not effective anymore then I made adjustments there and now I just take a minimum amount of supplements that I can time on a daily basis that work into my schedule.
I started doing the bee venom thing. That probably had the most profound effect when I started doing that and started kind of ramping up with the bees. For whatever reason, that really just seemed to work. It was more than just the bee venom. I think the bees themselves and having them in the house. It’s weird to say you’re caring for these creatures and then you’re also asking them to sacrifice their life for your health. It’s a weird dichotomy. They just, in so many ways, made me feel and continue to make me feel better.
The bee venom therapy itself requires a lot of blood tests and a few additional dietary restrictions because they’re trying to avoid things that cause histamine reactions. Like for me, turmeric or spicey type of stuff that I used to really like, I don’t eat while I’m doing bee venom stuff because it causes a histamine reaction, and you want to avoid that kind of stuff. So, it’s a lot of trial and error. It’s a lot of detoxification, rest, good food that I think would be healthy for people that even weren’t dealing with specific health issues. It’s just healthier in general and maybe it’s a good way to be prophylactic but this type of stuff. If you incorporate some of these habits into your life prior to feeling sick maybe you can stave it off and never have to deal with it.
That’s really the sweet spot with us at Life Time. We’re really trying to empower people to make healthy lifestyle habits and nutritional strategy.
Yeah. That’s a topic that we brought up a few times on our podcast around self-care. You kind of spoke to breath work and being mindful with your sleep and the infrared sauna. A piece that’s a lot with yourself but we also know having a support system goes a long way, too. You mentioned your wife a few times throughout this podcast. Obviously, she’s been a strong support system, so can you kind of speak to the value of having that support system and why that matters?
Yeah. I think perhaps more than anything else your support system matters and that’s why…I’ve been contacted by a lot of people since I sort of…went public sort of sounds funny to say but since people sort of became aware of what I was dealing with. A lot of people have reached out and they don’t have a lot of support system. They’re kind of on their own or the ones that kind of touch my heart the most are single parents who are raising kids and have jobs they have to go to and they still feel like crap. They have to try to get through all this sort of stuff. For me, I was really fortunate to have a wife like I do and someone who was willing to make phone calls and talk to people while I just didn’t have the energy to do it.
So, she was and is critical to this whole process. She continues to keep an eye on things. After this sort of last round of blood tests that wasn’t as good, she began to sort of recircle the wagons and started to try to figure out what could be causing this sort of stuff and what changes we might be able to make and that sort of stuff. So, yeah, to answer your question, David, I think it’s perhaps the most critical component. I’m sure there are people that can advocate for themselves and they can summon the strength to do everything they need to do despite their condition, but in my case it sure did help to have that. Honestly, my kids, too. They know what’s going on. You can’t hide things from your kids. So, I’ve always been upfront with them. They see, why is Dad going to bed at 7 o’clock at night? Or still sleeping or taking three naps. That kind of stuff they pick up on that.
So, to have them recognize it and be supportive and conscious of what they’re asking…my kids are 14 and 15, so they know that kind of stuff and they can make conscious decisions to not be overbearing or to actually help with Trista in taking care of me and making sure that I’m not being…you know, like taking the trash our or mowing the lawn or things like that, that they’ll step up and do if I’m not able to do it or whatever. So, those types of things go a long ways not just in limiting the amount of physical exertion that you have to summon but also in just the emotional component there knowing that you have somebody that has your back is just comforting.
You mentioned your kids there, and I just wonder if you want to speak to a little bit about what this has taught all of you. I mean obviously they’re stepping up in different ways but has it changed how you talk about taking care of your health at all with your kids? What kind of lessons have you learned as a family as a result of what you’ve been through and are going through?
Yeah. I do my best not to let it impact their lives as much as I can. I obviously have a little bit of a special…I have special nutritional needs but I’m not going to make my kids stop eating cereal or we’re not going to have no more breakfast for dinner nights. You know, I usually make dinner at our house and so I still make them pancakes and French toast and things that they like. I just make something else for myself. We all come together as a family, and they don’t have to live my lifestyle because of what I’m going through. That said, I think kids pay attention to what you’re doing not what you’re saying, especially at my kids’ age. They do not want to listen to what I have to say, but they do pick up on what you are doing. It doesn’t happen overnight but I’ll start to see things like my son, for example, he’s gotten really into strength and conditioning because it’s something I do every single day. His nutrition could be better. My daughter does a pretty good job. So, she’ll make her lunches for the next day and she will have sliced cucumbers and carrots, and she’ll have things like that, that she loves. Not to say that they don’t want to go out for ice cream after dinner and things like that, too, that kids love that I loved for 45 years and would still love to be able to do, honestly.
So, they pick up on these things, and I don’t try to rush those types of lessons with my kids. Like I said, it’s much more effective and there’s a much more long-term result when you just try to lead by example and they pick up on that. I’m hoping at some point they’ll realize I don’t want to go through that stuff that Dad went through so I’m going to eat a little bit less sugar, and I’m going to be a little more conscious of recovery and maybe not be hammering it all the time and just take care of my body a little bit at a younger age so that at an older age it’s a little more sustainable.
Makes sense. I love that not rushing it and trying to force something on them. More just kind of lead. David, you talk about that a lot. We both do. We both have two kids as well.
Ryan, what I wanted to throw out there is because when we were talking about support systems you said a lot of other individuals have reached out to you. Does being a veteran reality start that has the platform that you have and being in the public eye, how has the experience been since you’ve openly shared your health journey?
It’s been good and bad. I think, initially, it was great. There was a ton of response, a lot of options as far as directions to go, a lot of suggestions, that sort of thing. So there’s basically two sort of heads to this snake if you will. There’s this one where people are coming to you and asking me for some kind of advice or help or recommendation or just asking a question of what maybe I do or simply just need some encouragement. I welcome all of that. I do my best to answer people that write me on Instagram. I probably miss some people but I really try to get back to as many people as I can to just if nothing else provide some level of hope, which is sort of what I’ve focused on what I feel like my role can be because I can’t diagnose and I can’t prescribe but I can hopefully be an example of someone who’s getting through this and still living a life that I love and still thriving in most areas and then just dealing with this stuff on the side.
Then there’s this other component of it where people want to diagnose you. They are constantly saying I think you have this or I think you have that. My mom had similar symptoms and she has this. I’m like I don’t need eight million different things running through my head about what I might potentially be going through. Who knows, they might be right but it’s more harmful to just be like I should investigate this or that or am I dying or is this all of this sort of stuff. So that part of it is really hard to deal with is the kind of people that are…they’re not doing it maliciously, obviously. They’re doing it to be helpful to say look into this. I’m pretty confident in knowing what I’m dealing with now. I’ve had enough tests and I’ve had enough things that I kind of know I’m dealing with underlying infections and continual exposure to mold. I have to just address those things. I’m happy to do that. I’m happy to share that experience. The difficult part is this other side where you don’t want to know all of the potential ailments that exist in the world that you might have. So that’s the hard part.
I definitely like opportunities like this to come on and talk to you guys and anybody that’s listening to this and just say, hey, if you’re going through anything like this just keep going through it and eventually you’re going to find your solution. I mean I said this in the magazine. I would have never imagined that I would but intentionally stinging myself with bees every other day for the past year. Who would? That sounds crazy but I am and it’s working. So, you just got to be open minded and persistent and resilient and know that there’s a way through this that our bodies are pretty amazing. They want to work well. They want to do things right and there’s a way to get back on track, and I haven’t figured it all out. So, I’m taking my own advice and continuing to pursue things and investigate things.
As new studies come out or new options come out, I look into them and I ask questions and I see if maybe that might be something that might work for me, too. So, it’s a process. This is not an overnight black and white situation. This is probably a lifetime process and the goal is just to get a little better, a little smarter, a little more resilient every single day until you begin to be able to recognize these things and address them as they come up and have a normal life. That is possible. It just isn’t easy. That’s my only intent. That’s a philosophy I’m happy to tell anybody that asks me. So that part of social media and going sort of public with this stuff has been great for me. It helps me sort of feel like there’s a reason for all of this and maybe I can help some people through it. I can deal without the other side of it, but I think that’s just life.
One thing you’re alluding to and it’s kind of come out as a theme as we’ve been recording episodes for this season of the podcast is this idea of health span. We want to have a long lifespan but we want to be healthy as we’re doing it. So what are all the things, no matter what our health status is that we can be doing to support our health for the long term. I think that’s a really amazing theme. One thing that you said in the article and your cover story for Experience Life is that you’re kind of at the beginning of the second half of your life and starting to think about kind of what’s next for you. As you think about that, where are you at and what are you looking forward to?
So I think the first half of your life you’re sort of taking from life. That’s when you’re being educated. That’s when you’re sort of out there trying to make a living. You’re establishing yourself, you’re finding yourself. You’re doing all of these sorts of things that are more inheriting things of you’re going after thing and you’re bringing them into your life. The second half of your life, or at least in my case, I feel like the second half of your life should really be more giving back to your life or the people in it or the world and that sort of stuff. For example, you’re having relationships and then you’re having kids and you’re all these sorts of things. You’re getting into this second half where now your life becomes about other people. So, you’re focused on your kids. You’re focused on what you can do through your profession. Like in my case to be out here at training and help younger people learn this craft and the things I took from other people. I’m trying to re-impart. So you’re helping to, I guess, pollinate, if you will, the rest of the world with things that you’ve learned from your first half of your life.
So, that’s my goal. I don’t know exactly what that is going to look like. I’m still in that transition but that’s the focus now is to try to be like I’ve had a pretty good first half of my life. I want to be able to help other people enjoy their lives now. There’s certainly joy that comes from that, too. It’s not like you’re a martyr by any means, but you’re still enjoying your life it’s just the focus becomes less on you and more on others or the environment or different sorts of outward focus areas.
Ryan, I want to see if there’s ay final thoughts, suggestions that you want to leave our listeners with before we get into this mic drop moment I got for you.
It’s David’s signature moment.
No. I think you guys have managed to get me to talk more than I have probably talked in a really long time, so I think I’ve probably said about all that I’m capable of saying. So let’s get on with this.
Mic drop. Okay. I wrote it down. You said just keep going. I know the words itself is self-explanatory but if you were to break that down in depth for our listeners to digest, what exactly does just keep going mean?
It’s just one step at a time. There’s a balance between enjoying the moment and also realizing that there’s a future. You’ve got to sort of kind of understand that the moment is important and you want to live in that moment but if the moment isn’t great or even if the moment is great you know there’s going to be a change coming, so you kind of just have to know that when you’re going through bad times just keep going because it’s going to change for the better. Honestly, when you’re going through good times also keep going but be appreciative of the good times because more than likely there’s going to be a setback here or there and you’re going to have to overcome. So, it’s a balance of knowing that you can get through things and also appreciating the good times. So, you’re loving your life when it’s good and you’re able to focus on the next good time as you work through the bad times.
I mean go to any of your guys’ races, like I said earlier it becomes…there is a point in all of these long races where it’s literally all I am thinking is just keep going because there’s a finish line. I know it’s there and if I stop I’m never going to get there. It’s just one step at a time, one step becomes two steps, becomes three steps, and the next thing you know the finish line’s there. You can see your family and you cross it. The only time I’ve ever cried after a race was that Leadville 100 run, and that was the epitome of just keep going. I did the first half of that race in 10 hours and I did the second half of that race in 17 hours. It was indescribably more difficult the second half. That’s all I did. It just becomes everything else goes out of your mind other than just convincing yourself to keep going. I got there. I got to the finish line, and it was awesome.
So, that’s it. I mean you can take it in the physical sense of this is so hard. I’ve got to shut everything else down and just focus on keeping going, but I think the biggest message that I can provide is enjoy the good times and know the bad times aren’t forever.
We love that. Ryan, we so appreciate you taking the time to come on the podcast to share your story here but also to share it in Experience Life Magazine in our July / August 2023 issue. Really excited for more people to read that but also then to tune in here and hear more from you. So thank you, again. I know for our listeners who want to follow you they can find you on Instagram @RyanSutter. Anywhere else that they can follow you or is that the main platform?
That’s really the only one I use. I like pictures and so that’s the one that I use.
Awesome. Thank you, again.
Thanks, Jamie. Thanks, David.
Thanks for joining us for this episode. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on our conversation today and how you approach this aspect of healthy living in your own life. What works for you? Where do you run into challenges? Where do you need help?
And if you have topics for future episodes you can share those with us, too. Email us at LTTalk@LifeTime.life or reach out to us on Instagram @LifeTime.life, @JamieMartinEL, and @Freese30. Use the hash tag, #LifeTimeTalks. You can also learn more about the podcast at ExperienceLife.LifeTime.life/podcasts.
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Thanks for listening. We’ll talk to you next time on Life Time Talks.
Life Time Talks is a production of Life Time Healthy Way of Life. It is produced by Molly Kopischke and Sarah Ellingsworth with audio engineering by Peter Perkins. Video production and editing by Kevin Dixon. Sound and video consulting by Coy Larson, and support from George Norman and the rest of the team at Life Time Motion.
A big thank you to everyone who helps create each episode and provides feedback.
The information in this podcast is intended to provide broad understanding and knowledge of healthcare topics. This information is for educational purposes only and should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of advice from your physician or healthcare provider. We recommend you consult your physician or healthcare professional before beginning or altering your personal exercise, diet or supplementation program.