Christine Abrego - VESPA

Christine Abrego

Age: 36

Profession: Analyst

Married; Newborn, 3 dogs


Early in my marathon running. That’s me on the left….the chunky monkey.

Home: San Mateo, CA

My journey began with a seizure during a work out. That was over 6 years ago at a Gold’s Gym during a spin class. I was working out every day and had a huge bottle of gatorade to keep me hydrated. I felt pukey, cold and dizzy. I got off my bike and headed to the ladies room; at which point I experienced a sensation that would be later described as a seizure.

I saw my first doctor who told me that all of that working out (i was only working out 1H, not marathon training yet) was causing the low blood sugar. They told me to eat more sugar/carbs and I would feel better.

The sugar intake worked, so it seemed. Then I moved to norther california where the running conditions outside were much better than LA. So, marathon training began.

I joined San Jose Fit to start my first official marathon training group. (my first marathon I did on my own with NO training. 5.30 finish time) I figured they were pros and would have the best advice for someone who wants to rake in the high milage. Day one training session was about hydration and carbs. Carbs are your best friend they said; eat bagels, pasta, whole grains. So I did.

The following training season was the most terrible experience I’ve had. I was in bed for hours shortly after long runs feeling extremely drained and dizzy. I had diarrhea constantly and ate over 2500 a day because I couldn’t get satiated. After staying in bed for a few days at a time (going to work and going to sleep was a daily occurrence) I saw my doctor who started a battery of tests; first of which was CBC (came back normal), mineral/vitamin tests (all normal), diabetes tests (diagnosed pre diabetic), brain scan (thought i had a brain tumor, came back negative), then finally a psychiatrist because the doctor felt is this stress was all in my head.

In the end, I was left with a diagnosis of “pre diabetes” and crazy. I began seeing my psychiatrist and was put on valium and ambien to help me sleep. I also kept a stash of candy in my purse in case my sugar dropped.

running sub4

Cruising to a VESPA powered sub-4 hour marathon

I continued working out and marathon training. And eating ‘healthy carbs’. The seizures continued, the diarrhea got worse. I didn’t have a solid stool in years; it was water at this point.

I was in and out of medical tents at races, seizuring mid run and severely dehydrated. And also in an out of emergency rooms after long runs because I would pass out or feel like I couldn’t wake up. They ended up running EKG’s and tested for rhabdomyolysis. Negative.

Then, serendipitously, a friend staying with me saw how bad off I was. He was also an athlete and suggested I talk with Peter Defty of VESPA. He mentioned that it was surely my crap diet that was making me sick. I contacted Peter for running and diet advice (I was over 145lbs at this point!) at which point he said “wow, you eat a lot of carbs, time to detox!” And then, just like that, the journey was finally at end point and a new one of self-discovery was beginning. I quit gluten and became immediately better. Within weeks, I dropped 15lbs, and my energy sky rocketed. I went back to my doctor and said “Oh, maybe you have celiac disease. Lets get a formal diagnosis..”

I went to a gastro specialist where they began to tell me that gluten had nothing to do with celiac disease (yeah, right!). They said they didn’t know the cause of celiac disease, just like they didn’t know why people get Crohn’s. They told me to eat gluten again and come back in a few weeks for a colonoscopy. I couldn’t bring myself to eat gluten. After a few weeks of feeling awesome, I was terrified of another seizure. So I opted not to get a colonoscopy and instead contacted Stanford Medical’s Celiac committee to see if they had any other way to diagnoses without the consumption of gluten. I was kindly told ‘no’ and to not contact them again unless I have a formal diagnosis from the gastro.

Christine Xfit pregnant

Crossfit at 6 mo.

In the end, I was, and have never been formally diagnosed. My previous doctor who followed my through this journey noted in her medical records ‘unknown condition’ as she can’t formally diagnose without a test. I stopped seeing that doctor who, frankly told me, couldn’t help me. She suggested a naturopathic doctor as the western solution would be steroids and pain killers both of which she knew I wouldn’t want to take. I found a fantastic homeopathic doctor who helps me focus on healing my gut and retraining my body not to attack other foods. Given the damage I’ve done, this is a long process. However, every day I feel better and stronger. I ran my first marathon post diagnoses under 4H. I train by feel, pushing when my body feels strong enough to push, and fuel via OFM. Instead of GU’s, sandwiches and candy in my fuel pack, you’ll find salt pills and VESPA. That’s all I need, not matter the type of training. I haven’t raced since my sub 4 marathon as  I want to focus on getting strong. (bone density was a challenge)  However, I’m confident I could run sub 4 as now that pace is literally a walk in the park because my body can now tap into using “fat as fuel”.

After a few years of gut healing I began strength training which naturally led to Crossfit workouts. Almost a year ago my partner and I decided to go off birth control and see what happened. Because of my condition we actually thought it would take time, but, to our surprise, I got pregnant almost immediately and this past July gave birth to a healthy baby boy. I trained at or local Crossfit Gym through my pregnancy. Prior to getting pregnant with our first child I weighed 120lbs, under 20% body fat and ran 20 milers on any given day as they feel so easy.


Vacationing in Cabo, March 2013

I am more confident in my body’s ability to heal and to get stronger. But the path to getting there is a tricky one; often pushing boundaries and often my body revolting. (rejecting certain foods or fatigue). Basically, I have a severe auto immune condition; my journey is probably a lot worse than most. The tests and supplements to get better naturally will vary depending on a person’s unique chemistry. As such, I’m hesitant to share what tests and supplements Dr. Wong has me on as it’s catered to my specific biology. And that’s the point; VESPA & OFM allow you to tailor it to your individualized needs and situation so you can achieve your health and athletic goals.