Pursuing Health with Julie Foucher
Julie Foucher
Julie Foucher is a four-time CrossFit Games athlete, family medicine resident, and member of the CrossFit Level 1 Seminar Staff. Her passion lies in combining what she has learned through CrossFit and medicine to inspire and empower others to live healthier, more fulfilling lives. In this show, she highlights influential and inspiring individuals who use lifestyle to support optimal health.
Kristi OConnell, formerly Kristi Eramo, has been passionate about fitness her entire life. A former collegiate swimmer and endurance athlete, she made her first appearance at a CrossFit Regionals competition in 2014, and by 2016 she placed first at the highly competitive Central East Regional. Following three CrossFit Games appearances as an individual between 2016 and 2018, Kristi placed 26th in the world in the 2019 CrossFit Open, qualifying for a spot at the 2019 CrossFit Games as an individual. Instead, she made the surprising choice to decline her invitation as part of an effort to be more present with her friends, family and her community at CrossFit Polaris. As fate would have it, an unexpected invitation to join Team Invictus X, had Kristi competing at the 2019 CrossFit Games after all, but this time as part of a team who prioritized FUN. The experience helped re-ignite Kristis passion for training, and also helped her to evolve her approach. These days, Kristi enjoys working out daily alongside her husband and her friend, Dan Bailey. Her training volume is much lower, and her focus is primarily on running her affiliate and making time to disconnect and be present with the ones she loves. I had the chance to catch up with Kristi and we chatted about the importance of connecting your training to your inner why, how her mindset and approach has shifted over the years, and what shes doing to make sure she continues to find joy in fitness.

When it comes to fitness and disease prevention, regular exercise is just one piece of the puzzle. Quality nutrition lays the foundation for better health, and yet its a component that is often overlooked by both fitness professionals and their clients. Nicole Aucoin is a Registered Dietician and the founder of Healthy Steps Nutrition, a consulting program run at hundreds of gyms and nutrition practices worldwide. In addition to empowering her own clients to make lifestyle changes through diet and exercise, she works to help gym owners share the importance of nutrition with their own members. Nicole is also the author of Nourish: Grow Your Nutrition Business From The Ground Up. Nicole is actively involved with CrossFit as a CrossFit Level 2 Trainer, co-owner of CrossFit HSN, member of the CrossFit Certification Board, regular contributor to the CrossFit Journal, and active supporter of the CrossFit Health movement. I had the chance to sit down with Nicole at the 2019 CrossFit Games. We chatted about the challenges of practicing dietetics in a clinical setting, why affiliate owners should prioritize consistent nutrition messaging as part of their program, and the methods Nicole uses with her own clients to facilitate accountability and long-term lifestyle changes.

Jeffrey Geller, MD, practices family medicine and integrative medicine and has been a pioneer in group medical visits. He is widely recognized as an innovator in the delivery of health care by creating and using an empowerment model for shared medical appointments. Dr. Geller began his work with groups in 1996 during his residency when he noticed that loneliness played a large role in his patients well-being. He has since completed research studies showing a relationship between loneliness and increased hospital visits, as well as identifying a link between loneliness, depression, and chronic illness. Dr. Geller has a particular passion for delivering care to underserved communities. By sharing his experiences and training others to deliver health care in a group setting, he hopes to provide efficient care in a financially sustainable way that eliminates barriers to health and provides services otherwise unavailable to many patients. I recently sat down with Dr. Geller to learn more about how loneliness plays a role in our health, how hes implemented group visits in his own practice, and the lessons hes learned along the way.

Five years ago, our family first gathered around the living room on Christmas, put on our favorite holiday movies, and took turns rowing until we reached a marathon 42,195 meters. Over the years, what started as a small way to stay active and spend time together during the holidays has grown into a worldwide fundraising event. Last year, we had teams from across the globe competing in support of a charity run by Danis family, Educar es Avanzar. This year, were choosing to raise money for Barbells for Boobs an incredible organization that works hard to improve the quality of life of those diagnosed with breast cancer. Breast cancer has hit our family in a big way over the past couple of years, with my Aunt Nancy currently in remission and Danis mom, Barbara, just recently diagnosed and beginning her treatment. We know personally how difficult it can be to navigate this process, and want to give back to an organization that is working hard to make it easier for so many. As a part of this initiative, I was excited to speak with Zionna Hanson, the founder of Barbells for Boobs. Zionnas life has also been greatly impacted by breast cancer: in 2009, her best friend was diagnosed at the age of 26. Zionna rallied the CrossFit community to support her friend, and from that small event, Barbells for Boobs was born. Over the past 10 years Zionna has guided Barbells for Boobs as it has grown into a global movement. What started as a nonprofit with a focus on funding mammograms has evolved into an organization dedicated to providing community and resources after diagnosis through fitness. Zionna and I caught up to chat about the challenges breast cancer patients face, what donors should look for in a nonprofit theyre choosing to support, and the importance of being open to opportunities for evolution, change and growth.

Nicole Christensen started CrossFit Roots out of her one-car garage in 2008. Since that time, she and her husband Eric have grown Roots into a 10,000 square foot facility with an accomplished team of full-time coaches and staff. She got her coaching start as a swim coach in the Northern Virginia Swim League. 10 years later when she found CrossFit, she knew that it combined her passion for coaching with her belief in a lifelong pursuit of fitness and health. In 2009 she was hired to the CrossFit Seminar Staff, and for more than ten years Nicole has traveled around the world to teach and coach the CrossFit Level 1 and Level 2 Certificate Courses. Nicole has an extensive competitive background and competed in five CrossFit Games Regionals, placing in the top ten four times. She is a well-known resource for women interested in continuing CrossFit throughout their pregnancies, drawing on her own personal experiences of training and competing while pregnant alongside her experiences coaching Roots athletes through own their pregnancies. Nicole and I had the opportunity to chat at the 2019 CrossFit Games, and our conversation ran the gamut. In part a, we talk about her background, how her education as city planner influences the processes and systems that have helped grow CrossFit Roots into a thriving affiliate, and why she loves the community aspect of CrossFit. In part b, we do a deep dive on best practices for training while pregnant, to how she maintains her fire and love for CrossFit after 11 years in the business.

Nicole Christensen started CrossFit Roots out of her one-car garage in 2008. Since that time, she and her husband Eric have grown Roots into a 10,000 square foot facility with an accomplished team of full-time coaches and staff. She got her coaching start as a swim coach in the Northern Virginia Swim League. 10 years later when she found CrossFit, she knew that it combined her passion for coaching with her belief in a lifelong pursuit of fitness and health. In 2009 she was hired to the CrossFit Seminar Staff, and for more than ten years Nicole has traveled around the world to teach and coach the CrossFit Level 1 and Level 2 Certificate Courses. Nicole has an extensive competitive background and competed in five CrossFit Games Regionals, placing in the top ten four times. She is a well-known resource for women interested in continuing CrossFit throughout their pregnancies, drawing on her own personal experiences of training and competing while pregnant alongside her experiences coaching Roots athletes through own their pregnancies. Nicole and I had the opportunity to chat at the 2019 CrossFit Games, and our conversation ran the gamut, from how her education as city planner influences the processes and systems that have helped grow CrossFit Roots into a thriving affiliate, to best practices for training while pregnant, to how she maintains her fire and love for CrossFit after 11 years in the business.

When it comes to helping seniors and other unlikely exercisers become active and functionally fit for a lifetime of health, Dustin Jones and Michele Mootz are leading the charge. As a home health physical therapist, Dustin Jones works to keep older adults resilient and independent at home. He is also the founder of Geros Health and the Geros Health podcast, where he connects thousands of clinicians to share information and education about caring for older adults. Michele Mootz is a true CrossFit original, getting her start in Santa Cruz back in 2004. An experienced physical therapist, she fell in love with CrossFit methodologies and ultimately left her formal work as a physical therapist to become a full-time coach. Michelle has worked on the CrossFit Seminar Staff member for 10 years, currently serving as a Flowmaster. Most recently she has taken over the CrossFit Heath program at CrossFit HQ where she works with older adults as well as those struggling with obesity and chronic disease in an effort to help them regain their health and independence. Michele, Dustin and I met up at a recent CFMDL1 seminar to share a discussion on how we can bridge the gap from the hospital to the affiliate. In this episode, we discuss the considerations that go along with working with these special populations, how affiliate owners can get start their own senior and special populations programs, and how healthcare providers can get involved with their local affiliates.

In the blink of an eye, Kevin Ogars life dramatically changed while weightlifting during a fitness competition. An erratic bounce of a barbell clipped him in the back, injuring his spinal cord and leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. At just 28, Kevin went from being an active CrossFit coach and aspiring Games competitor to being paraplegic and learning how to navigate life from a wheelchair. In the aftermath of the accident, Kevin was surrounded by love and support from the CrossFit community, and his passion for CrossFit helped him navigate through some dark times as he focused on getting back in the gym and to the community he loves. In the years since the accident, Kevin has not only become a prolific adaptive athlete, he has also dedicated himself to helping others use CrossFit for fitness and recovery. He travels the world teaching CrossFit Level 1 seminars and Adaptive Training Academy courses, runs his own affiliate, CrossFit Watchtower, volunteers with Craig Hospital to run a therapeutic recreation program, and is on the board of directors for The Reveille Project, a non-profit that provides tools to aid veterans as they adapt back to civilian life. I had the opportunity to catch up with Kevin at the 2019 CrossFit Games, and we chatted about his recovery process, how he adjusts his mindset when hes having a down day, and his passion for helping others push beyond their limits to achieve more than they ever thought possible.

Zoë Harcombe, Ph.D., is a researcher, author, blogger, and speaker in the fields of nutrition and health. Her particular area of expertise is public health dietary guidelines, especially dietary fat, nutrition and obesity. She has a BA in Economics and an MA in Mathematics from Cambridge University, and she earned her PhD in Public Health Nutrition from the University of the West of Scotland. Zoë is well known for her thorough examination of nutrition research studies and journal articles, and she advocates for the public to be educated in evidence-based dietary advice. After many years as a vegetarian, Zoë herself now follows a low carb, high fat diet and believes that eating real food, including animal protein, is the key to long term health. I had the opportunity to sit down with Zoë at the 2019 CrossFit Health Conference where she was presenting on the corruption plaguing current nutrition advice. We covered a wide range of topics including what prompted her to leave a successful human resources career to pursue her Ph.D. in public health nutrition, and how, as she completed her thesis, she learned that much of current public health dietary advice is not evidence-based. We also talked about what she believes research shows to be the best diet, why there is so much misinformation regarding nutrition out there, and what listeners can do to influence change in the current dietary guidelines.

Ian Wee, the Fittest Man in Singapore, is one of 236 athletes who qualified for the 2019 CrossFit Games by earning a National Champion title in the CrossFit Open. This feat is all the more impressive when you consider that hes also in the process of completing medical school, so his time spent training has been quite a bit less than many of his competitors. A student at the National University of Singapore Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Ian has been participating in CrossFit off and on since 2013. Over the past six years, hes taken time away from the sport to focus on medical training and research (hes published over 50 papers), and to compete as a National Olympic Weightlifter for Team Singapore, where he's set national records in the snatch and total. With the announcement of the changes to the 2019 Games selection process, Ian re-committed himself to regular CrossFit training and found ways to squeeze in extra sessions while keeping up with his studies. His efforts paid off when he finished the Open in first place for his country, securing a berth to his rookie CrossFit Games. I had the pleasure of chatting with Ian the 2019 CrossFit Games, and it was fun to compare notes on what its like to be a medical student while training as an elite athlete. We talked about his experience representing his country at the Games, how he balances school with training, and what plans he has in store for the future.

Christy Phillips Adkins is an 8-time CrossFit Games athlete, competing as an individual seven times between 2009 and 2016, and once on team CrossFit Balance in 2017. Over the course of her career, she overcame both physical and psychological challenges, including narrowly missing the cutoff for the 2015 Games, and recovering from a torn biceps tendon in time to qualify in 2016. After retiring from competition to focus on starting a family, she quickly became pregnant with her now 15-month-old son, Bo, and has embraced what it means to train for longevity and health as a post-partum athlete. Lindy Barber is a former collegiate soccer player who began competing in CrossFit in 2012 after rehabbing a fractured vertebra in her back. She has competed at the CrossFit Games twice as an individual, and has had three podium finishes as a member of Team CrossFit Mayhem Freedom. In Lindys final season, she found herself losing some of her excitement for training as her back injury flared up and she knew that her body was asking for a break. She knew it was time to shift gears with her training to protect her long-term health and to preserve her joy for the sport. The 2019 season marks the first year that Lindy has not been training for the CrossFit Games, and it has been a huge transition for her to figure out what life looks like when not training 6-7 hours per day. I had the chance to sit down with Lindy and Christy during the 2019 CrossFit Games in Madison, WI for a live podcast recording at the Reebok tent. We shared stories about the life and fitness transitions all three of us have undergone over the last few years, and what it looks like to shift from training as a competitive athlete to training for health and longevity.

Dominic DAgostino, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine and a senior research scientist at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition. With a diverse background in neuroscience, pharmacology, nutrition and physiology, Dom brings a unique perspective to the ketogenic diet. He believes it can be applied not just in treating medical conditions but also in contributing to overall health and optimizing human performance. The findings from his research on nutritional ketosis have been utilized by Navy SEALs and NASA, and he recently has been at the forefront of research involving the use of nutritional ketosis as a tool to treat cancer. I had the opportunity to sit down with Dom at the 2019 CrossFit Health Conference in Madison, where he presented on the emerging applications of ketosis. We talked about the basics of the ketogenic diet, how it can fit into the everyday persons lifestyle, and the exciting research hes conducting to learn more about using metabolic therapies in the treatment of cancer.

Josh Bridges is a 6-time CrossFit Games competitor who has been doing CrossFit since 2005. In addition to three first place finishes at the highly competitive California Regional, his top finishes at the CrossFit Games include second in 2011 and fourth in 2014. A former collegiate wrestler and U.S. Navy Seal, Josh has used the lessons hes learned along the way to cultivate his impressive work ethic and mental toughness. He is known and loved for his fiery presence on the competition floor, and for his mantra, "Pay the Man." I had the opportunity to sit down with Josh in front of a live audience at the 2019 Reebok CrossFit Games. We chatted about the tools hes using to speed his recovery from a recent knee surgery, his background as a Navy SEAL, what it means to Pay the Man, and his plans for returning to competition.

As the founder of a program that has revolutionized fitness, Greg Glassman is no stranger to controversy. Known to many as simply Coach, he grew up in southern California participating in gymnastics and complemented his training with modalities including weightlifting and cycling. When he later became a trainer, he was kicked out of several globo gyms for employing his unique style of constantly varied, high intensity functional movement before he finally opened the first CrossFit gym in Santa Cruz, CA in 1995. Shortly thereafter, CrossFit.com was created and Greg would post Workouts of the Day, or WODs for athletes from all over the world to complete. Beginning in 2003, CrossFit affiliates began to open and CrossFit experienced exponential growth -- today there are over 15,000 affiliates worldwide. During this period, we witnessed the rise of the CrossFit Games, the ultimate proving grounds for fitness which crowns the Fittest Man and Woman on Earth each year. Most recently, weve witnessed a significant shift in the qualification process for the Games and major changes at CrossFit HQ. Weve also witnessed incredible stories of transformation in the affiliates, with participants losing weight, gaining confidence, and ridding themselves of chronic disease. With the inception of CrossFit Health, CrossFit has turned it's focus towards fighting ever-increasing disease rates and medical costs while also networking CrossFit physicians and educating affiliate owners, coaches, and the general public in an effort to combat corrupted medical science and a tsunami of chronic disease. For his third visit to the podcast, Greg and I sat down just before the 2019 CrossFit Health conference and CrossFit Games in Madison, WI. We discussed the evolution of CrossFit and CrossFit Health, the implications of scientific misconduct in the medical field, and what he sees for the future of CrossFit.

Marcus Filly is a 6-time CrossFit Games athlete, a former medical school student, and the catalyst behind the functional bodybuilding movement. As the owner of Revival Strength, he is passionate about providing training programs to help his clients build strength and endurance without breaking down their bodies. However, Marcus wasn’t always so sure about his path. Following his collegiate athletic career, Marcus entered medical school to pursue what he thought was his intended purpose. Instead, he found that while he appreciated the knowledge and the discipline of his medical training, a voice inside kept telling him he was on the wrong track. After a lot of soul searching, Marcus decided to follow his heart and begin a career in fitness. In doing so, he found a new way to educate and empower people with the tools they need to begin their own pursuit of health and happiness. Marcus and I had a great conversation about the many parallels in our lives, from medical training to the demands of being a competitive athlete. In this episode, we discuss the importance of finding your true purpose, the distinction between functional bodybuilding and other styles of training, and why lifestyle stressors are a huge consideration when it comes to earning intensity in a workout.

Dr. Wayne Jonas is a practicing family physician, an expert in integrative health, and a widely published scientific investigator. In addition to his medical practice, he has served as President, CEO, and Executive Director for Samueli Integrative Health Programs, Director of the Office of Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, and Director of the Medical Research Fellowship at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. Dr. Jonas is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Medical Corps of the United States Army and a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians. Drawing on his experience from leading hundreds of research studies, Dr. Jonas authored the book How Healing Works, in which he explains the biology of healing and the science behind the discovery that 80 percent of healing occurs outside of our conventional medical care. His goal is to change the way doctors and patients approach healthcare—away from a disease treatment model to an integrative system that incorporates the best of evidence-based conventional, complementary and self-care approaches. Dr. Jonas’s advice can help us facilitate our own innate ability to heal after both minor and major medical incidents, change how we consume healthcare, and enable us to be more in control of our own health. I first read Dr. Jonas’s book during my own residency in family medicine, and his message really resonated with the way I aspire to practice in my career. I was excited to chat with him recently about the concept of integrative health and how research supports that taking care of the whole person-- mind, body, and spirit-- is imperative for long-term healing.

Neither Feeroozeh Saghafi nor Erin Vandendriessche started CrossFit with the intention of becoming competitors, but over the last several years, both women have slowly worked their way from beginners to up-and-coming Games athletes. Erin Vandendriessche is a former Baldwin Wallace University gymnast and two-time Central Regional athlete, making an appearance on the CTown CrossFit team in 2017, and an individual appearance in 2018. With the changes to the 2019 Games season, Erin made the surprising decision to opt out of the Open, and instead focused on competing at Sanctionals, most notably the Italian Showdown where she topped the podium and earned her ticket to the 2019 CrossFit Games. A former nurse and current nutrition coach, Erin trains out of her husband’s affiliate, Root 18 CrossFit in Medina, OH. Fee Saghafi is a former high school volleyball athlete who started CrossFit as a way to manage her weight and provide direction in the gym while she was in college. After two appearances at the Central Regional (on team CrossFit Mentality in 2017 and as an individual in 2018) she decided to dial in her training and her mindset and commit to her goal of becoming a Games competitor. She finished 24th in the 2019 Open, securing her rookie berth to the CrossFit Games. Fee attended John Carroll University where she earned a degree in Exercise Science and most recently graduated with her Master's in Business Administration. Fee coaches and trains alongside Scott Panchik at CrossFit Mentality in Mentor, OH. Through the years of competing alongside each other in local events, Fee and Erin have grown to become friends in addition to fellow competitors. While they earned their rookie spot at the Games through different avenues, both women have found that embracing a champion mindset has been an integral part of making the leap to becoming one of the best in the world. I caught up with Fee and Erin at CrossFit Mentality to chat about their evolution as athletes, and what tips, habits, and practices they used to qualify for their first CrossFit Games.

Dr. Maude Dull has been active throughout her life, but from middle school through medical training she struggled to maintain a healthy weight, peaking at 240 lbs. As a young doctor specializing in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics and working in fast-paced intensive care settings, she used martial arts and then CrossFit to provide an outlet for her stressful work schedule but found her weight wouldn’t budge. Wanting to reach her full potential as an athlete, she enlisted the help of a nutrition coach from Precision Nutrition who focused on changing her habits, and a performance coach who helped her shift her mindset. Maude was finally able to bring her weight to a healthy level, and along the way she learned valuable lessons about the importance of balance in all aspects of life. These days, Maude has pivoted away from adrenaline-seeking work and workouts, and instead enjoys moderation with a challenging job in a Step-Down Unit and workouts scaled to help her remain healthy long-term. I had the pleasure of meeting Maude at a recent CFMDL1 seminar, and was excited to catch up with her at San Francisco CrossFit to share her story of how she changed her habits to overcome obesity, why she made the shift from training for the Open to training for longevity, and what prompted her to join the CrossFit Health movement.

2009 CrossFit Games champion Tanya Wagner has competed in the sport as an individual, on a team, and most recently at the 2019 Rogue Invitational, as a Legend. Over the last ten years, she’s managed to strike a balance between competing, running her affiliate, commentating for the CrossFit Games, and raising her two children. Inspired by the original “CrossFit Girls,” Tanya was a competitor at the second annual CrossFit Games in 2008, where she would narrowly miss a first place victory to Caity Henniger, who has since helped to grow Rogue Fitness into what it is today alongside her husband, Bill. Tanya would come back in 2009 to stand atop the podium and inspire future generations of CrossFit Games athletes. I sat down with Tanya at the 2019 Rogue Invitational to learn more about what it’s like to be one of the original CrossFit champions, and to hear how her approach to training has evolved throughout the many changes in her life.

Dr. Valter Longo is a professor of Gerontology and Biological Sciences, and the Director of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California, and the Senior Group Leader of the IFOM Cancer Institute in Milan. His studies focus on the fundamental mechanisms of aging in simple organisms and mice, and how they can be translated to humans. After nearly 25 years of research alongside pioneering scientists, Dr. Longo has applied his extensive knowledge on aging, genetics, nutrition and disease to develop The Longevity Diet. He believes that by following a low-protein pescatarian eating plan combined with periods of a fasting-mimicking diet, one can improve their cellular rejuvenation, increase their resistance to diabetes and other metabolic disorders, and extend their healthy lifespan. I recently caught up with Dr. Longo to learn more about his Five Pillars of Longevity, and how his research has led him to believe that the key to increasing your “youth-span” lies in making long-term, sustainable changes to your nutrition.