Today’s episode is a deep dive into the life of Kara Lazauskas, a health and conditioning coach with a unique background rich in both athletics and adversity. Beginning at age three when she had her lung removed, continuing through NCAA level basketball and a number of serious ACL injuries, to a low point where Kara suffered from depression and a severe eating disorder. We talk about the struggle, growth and learning that came from finding health, balance, and purpose after hitting rock bottom, and how she is now able to help others through her coaching and research. We also chat about her time as a competitor on NBC’s Titan Games series, her work at Cal State Fullerton studying muscle fiber typing and protein signaling under Dr. Andy Galpin, her competitive MMA fighting experience, and more.
Born and raised in New Jersey, Kara Kilian Lazauskas grew up in a household where athletics and academics were the top priority. At the age of 3 she had her lung removed due to a tumor covering 75% of the left lung. She contests her love for human anatomy and physiology was born from that moment. With her body’s adaption and continuous push both mentally and physically, she was able to gain a scholarship to play at the NCAA level in basketball. However, 4 ACL reconstructions later in her right knee and no real basketball career left in sight, she was left wondering why me? That’s where her purpose began. The search for answers carried her into graduate school under Dr. Andy Galpin and Dr. Irene Tobias studying Muscle Fiber Typing and Protein Signaling at California State University-Fullerton. Now, as a coach, mentor, and masters of muscle physiology her years of criticism and experiences comes to serve her purpose, serving others. Kara was a competitor on NBC’s Titan Games, has competed in MMA, and now dedicates her time to researching and coaching.
3 – 31 Intro to Kara, including having a lung removed when she was three years old, pursuing sports and fitness at a young age and finding success in weightlifting and basketball. We delve into her knee injuries and the subsequent issues (including severely disordered eating) that resulted from her attempt to cope with losing the ability to play the sport she loved
31 – 36 How the trauma gave her the emotional intelligence to succeed and help others; how hitting rock bottom helped her address the issue rather than ignore it
36 – 45 Advice for how people can address, support, or help someone in their life who is exhibiting symptoms of an eating disorder
45 – 56 A discussion of her mental and physical recovery
56 – 1:13 How Kara got into coaching and her lab work with Dr. Andy Galpin, earning a master’s degree in muscle physiology, studying muscle fiber typing and protein signaling in athletes; why more of this type of research has to include women (turns out there are interesting differences between men and women in areas like nutrient timing windows and performance)
1:13 – 1:15 Kara talks about her remote and online coaching as well as one-on-one training, working with a range of athletes
1:15 – 1:28 I ask Kara how she got into competitive MMA fighting, and what that experience was like; why she continues to put herself in uncomfortable situations in order to learn and grow
1:28 – We talk about Kara’s experience with the NBC reality series The Titan Games
Follow Kara on Instagram at @kilerk0, and find out about her coaching and research at karakilian.com
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