Search & Replace S03E08: Kristen Matthews

Kristen Matthews, a Pilates instructor and wellness advocate, shares her personal journey of dealing with health issues and ultimately being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease. She made significant changes to her diet and lifestyle, focusing on nutrition and gut health. Kristen’s experiences led her to create an online program called Reframe and Renew, aimed at helping women entering perimenopause who face similar challenges. Learn the importance of individualized health approaches and how to be proactive in your own well-being on Search and Replace. 

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[00:00:00] Announcer: Support for the following podcast is provided by the user experience specialists at Johns and Taylor. More information follows this episode. 

[00:00:09] Joe Taylor Jr.: What if you know you feel sick, but six doctors can’t agree on what’s really making you ill? I’m Joe Taylor Jr. This is Search and Replace. 

Kristen Matthews felt a little bit lost after college, but found comfort in what would become a very well-known mind-body exercise discipline. 

[00:00:32] Kristen Matthews: I grew up outside of New York in Connecticut, and everyone worked in New York City and I graduated college and was totally lost. Went to Wyoming for three years still was lost. When I moved home, it was after 911, I was even more lost. But I had to really do some searching.

I was temping in the city, I was in offices and I just was like, this is not for me. And I had done a little Pilates while I lived in Wyoming and I just, I went and spoke with some people, took some lessons, and I very quickly was like, this is something for me. I jumped in kind of, I always say, with, like, both my eyes closed, but it’s 20 years later and this is still what I’m doing. It was the main thing that got me into the health and wellness journey. 

[00:01:12] Joe Taylor Jr.: And as Kristen moved forward on that journey, she started to realize that her body wasn’t always as cooperative as a professional Pilates instructor would like their body to be. 

[00:01:23] Kristen Matthews: As my main source of income. I teach, and along the way I’ve done all these other things. But I’ve been teaching for so long and I love it and it’s kind of just like part of who I am.

It was probably my late thirties. I was really tired to a point where I would have to – luckily I lived close to where I was teaching – I would have to go home and take little naps in between clients and that’s not normal. I mean, I’m like, yes, people get tired. I understand. We get older, things change. But I was like, I don’t just like sit with that stuff, right? So I was like, this is not right. 

I think it’s, you know, we have to be our own advocates for sure. But no one was taking the proper blood work. So I kept on going to different doctors.

The low energy was actually low ferritin, which is your iron storage. Then I went to a really bad acid reflux and I would get these really bad rashes. Then I went to an allergist and nothing was coming back. 

You know, they say before you get diagnosed with Hashimoto’s or thyroid, so you end up going to like six or seven doctors, and I think I went to about six. Nothing’s changing.

Got iron infusions for the farren, and then I finally, I went to an endocrinologist. And so he was like, I’m gonna take some blood work, but I think you just have chronic fatigue. And he found, he’s the one who said, you have Hashimoto’s. 

[00:02:34] Joe Taylor Jr.: Hashimoto’s disease, sometimes referred to as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. It’s what happens when your body’s immune system makes a big mistake and starts attacking your thyroid with antibodies. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, it almost always gets misdiagnosed at first. That’s because its symptoms resemble so many other ailments and it often shows up alongside other significant health conditions as it did for Kristen.

[00:03:02] Kristen Matthews: So really what was going on, there’s a lot of things I did. I had like what they say, leaky gut, intestinal permeability. My body wasn’t absorbing the stuff that I was eating. And the reason I was getting these rashes was because stuff was, like, seeping into my bloodstream, and so it was when I ate, I had to think about it. 

You know, immediately I cut out gluten and it made a big change. I’ve done a lot of gut work. It’s manageable for me. I haven’t been on put on meds yet. There are pluses and minuses, assuming you’re okay. But I don’t, it’s hard having low energy when you get all the sleep and you eat the right foods and you do all the things and you’re still like, I still get a little tired walking up the stairs, you know?

Like, there is a point where it’s like you get to a tipping point. Like, I have done really well on my journey. My mom and my sister both have it and they’re both on meds and I’ve gotten this far without it. 

Thing about this is I’ve, mine probably started around when I started perimenopause. There’s also a lot of overlap with like thyroid and perimenopause cuz of the hormone changing.

A lot of people get it either, you know, puberty can happen with younger women. Pregnancy, menopause. So it’s hormone shifts is often when it can happen. 

[00:04:13] Joe Taylor Jr.: Because every person’s body is a little bit different. Kristen’s condition required her to discover more about the things that could cause problems for her body.

[00:04:22] Kristen Matthews: So, I started diving a little bit more into the nutrition aspect. And it was just very natural progression because you think, like, okay, what can I do to help myself? And it becomes very nutrition and lifestyle. And I decided to dip my toes in with a nutrition course thinking maybe someday I’ll do my master’s. But it was a pretty intense course. And then I finished that program and it was like my base, my foundation, and I’ve just taken more trainings to help me dive a little deeper. 

It’s all about the art and the science because we’re all individual. And I think that’s really missed sometimes and, like, you need to do this diet and you know, this is a diet for everyone.

I was like, oh, there’s a lot of information that is, it’s like if you look for it, it’s there, but like no one knows. I didn’t know that the average age of perimenopause is 47. I didn’t know the average age of menopause is 51. I didn’t know. So I was like, all right, this is a fun project for me. 

And so I started doing some research and then I’m, like, I need to start adding a little more resistance training. And then I was talking to a friend of mine, she’s like, you should use all of your knowledge and put a program together. And that’s where my online program came from. 

[00:05:31] Joe Taylor Jr.: That’s an online program called Reframe and Renew. Kristen built it to help women entering perimenopause who often encounter some of the same unexpected changes in their wellness that she did. It’s the output of Kristen’s journey to grow beyond her Pilates practice and to share her hard-won insight. 

[00:05:49] Kristen Matthews: My journey’s the way I’ve ended up focusing on things is I’ve gone through it and then I’m like, okay, well now I’m like, I wanna help people understand what is going on because I had no one explaining it to me.

And we all are gonna have very different experiences. So I just want everyone, like, if they’re listening to my story, it’s like, Hey, yours might be better than mine. You might experience nothing, you might experience more. But, so that’s just one. Know that we’re all gonna experience this totally different.

You gotta start somewhere and don’t feel like you have to do it all. But if you’re not feeling great, you know, you do have to make some changes. You can’t just assume you’re just gonna go to bed and wake up and feel better. Like we know life doesn’t work that way. I think there’s no magic pill.

[00:06:30] Joe Taylor Jr.: That’s Kristen Matthews, a wellness advocate and nutritional therapy practitioner from Santa Monica, California. 

Also on our show notes, Kristen noted that it took her a few tries to assemble a medical care team that really understood her condition. Dr. Mary Claire Haver experienced what it’s like on the other side of the examination table. We’ve got a link to a profile on Dr. Haver, and we’ve got links to resources from the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic that you can reference if any of the symptoms Kristen described feel familiar to you. That’s all on our website at 

[00:07:05] Announcer: This has been a Podcast Taxi radio production. 

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Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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