To celebrate her 60th birthday, Lori Balue hiked the Grand Canyon rim to rim. That’s 24 miles of grueling down, then up.

A few months later, she followed that with a half marathon.

And while her knees may be a little sore after, she’s grateful she’s able to live an active, big life.

In her 30s, Lori never could have imagined she would feel well enough to do any of this. Back then, she struggled with debilitating knee pain and what felt like an ever-increasing collection of diagnoses: pre-diabetes (insulin resistance), asthma, allergies, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), infertility, brain fog, depression, and anxiety.

Along with all that, she had been on numerous weight-loss diets since her teens.

Despite taking multiple medications, a slew of symptoms cast a shadow on every part of life. Any exercise brought on asthma.

“Back then, I had no energy. I just was sleepy and tired all the time,” she recalls.

An Anti-Inflammatory Diet

When Lori was diagnosed with PCOS, her research tuned up a link between the condition and insulin resistance. When she asked her doctor about it, he brushed it off. That led her to investigate further on her own.

“I hit the books, and decided, I was going to figure this out for myself,” she says.

She began focusing on eating as not just a path to weight loss, but also to better health.

When Lori was in her teens, her mother had steered her toward the low-carbohydrate Atkins diet popular in the 80s. And for many years, that kept her weight down. She noted that as a clue to her metabolic mystery.

Later, responsible for book inventory at a natural foods store, she dove into everything she could on nutrition.

She read “Wheat Belly” by William Davis, which highlights the inflammatory nature of modern wheat and gluten. As she cut wheat from her diet, she saw improvement pretty quickly.

“It was really interesting to feel better when I took wheat out of my diet,” she says. “That was something that was real powerful for me.”

Over time, her diet transitioned to more of a paleo, whole-foods mix that minimized processed foods.

Keto for Inflammation, Weight Loss

By the time Lori attended a biohacking conference, she had lost about 50 pounds. That’s where she collected another piece of her health puzzle.

One of the presenters – speaking about the ketogenic diet – talked about fruit as a source of sugar and suggested some may not metabolize it well. A keto diet is characterized by very low carbohydrate levels in exchange for higher levels of healthy fats.

Intrigued, Lori immediately made changes to her eating, and in time, felt increasingly better.

“That very day, I just kind of segued into the keto diet and never looked back,” she says. “I dropped 20 pounds. My brain turned back on. I got so much more energy. I got excitement. I felt passion. And I’m like, ‘Oh my God, this is the best thing ever to make me feel like I’m living again.’”

Taking on a Half Marathon

That pivotal diet change, along with reducing stress, transformed her health.

Years of cloudy thinking, pain, and fatigue were lifting.

She noticed her vision became clearer as she removed all sugar, including fruit.

Her knees no longer hurt.

She dropped the pre-diabetes diagnosis.

Her debilitating asthma and allergies have subsided, except for a small reaction in allergy season – freeing her from medication and inhalers.

The depression and anxiety lifted.

As she gained her energy back, and could breathe more easily, Lori became more active. She had never been a runner, with such severe knee pain. But she loves national parks.

When a friend invited her to join a half marathon in Zion National Park, the draw of the park swayed her to start running.

“I just wanted to be there and be outside,” she says. “My goal was to get outside more often, be outside in sunlight, and getting into half marathons was a way for me to do that.”

Years ago, Lori had won a lottery spot to hike to Phantom Ranch in the Grand Canyon. That event, however, left her with excruciating knee pain.

With decreasing pain, she has gradually upped her activity. She returned to Phantom Ranch in recent years, with no pain.

The Role of Stress

As she engineered her health turnaround, Lori noticed an unexpected blocker. Stress seemed to be holding back her progress and weight loss.

“That was an interesting thing for me, the stress and just getting in tune with me and my body and what it needed before I could dig into more weight loss,” she says. “You know, a lot of people want that quick weight loss, but it’s not always going to be quick. You have to figure out where you are in life and what your body specifically needs. And so stress is a big one.”

To reduce stress, Lori focused on getting out in nature, moving her body, self-care, and sufficient sleep.

A Nutrition Career

With newfound energy, Lori set more goals for herself. A longtime student of nutrition, she began official training with Chris Kresser’s functional medicine health program and earned her coaching certification.

From there, she took a more diagnostic turn by becoming a functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner. As such, she can run lab testing for clients.

Now, she helps women in menopause use functional labs, lifestyle and health adventures to lose weight, stop pain and create an active lifestyle to age beautifully and adventurously. She’s an Adapt Certified Functional Health Coach and a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Practitioner.

To maintain her own health, she remains on a keto diet while focusing on movement and self-care. Lori stresses that keto has become a way of eating, rather than dieting.

“I don’t look at a keto diet as a diet,” she says. “I look at it as a lifestyle change because that’s where the magic happens.”

That magic has colored her world and allowed her to take on the rim-to-rim route with resiliency.

“The pain is completely gone. I’m stronger,” she reflects. “Every time I go down, I’m not even as wobbly as I used to be. When I come back up, I just feel totally in tune with my body.”

“I just love going back to the Grand Canyon and seeing how my health has changed over the years,” she adds.

Lori’s Tips for Aging Adventurously

  • Follow an ancestral diet – A lower carb or ketogenic diet supports the body’s insulin response, potentially reducing inflammation and leading to numerous health benefits.
  • Reduce stress – Spend time in nature and focus on self-care and sleeping well. Early morning sunlight helps balance your circadian rhythms.
  • Staying active – Keep your body moving. However, she says high-intensity exercise may raise cortisol levels too much.
  • Turn to testing – While nutrition and exercise are pivotal, lab testing can uncover gut dysbiosis, nutritional deficiencies or other areas of focus. Supplements may help, but Lori stresses that you can’t “out supplement yourself out of disease.”

You can find Lori at and on social media as @loribalue.

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