Dr. Marc Harrison: Hi, I'm Dr. Marc Harrison, CEO of Intermountain Healthcare. I'm here today with Skye Moench, a world-class professional athlete who Intermountain sponsors as part of our LiVe Well program. Thanks for joining us today. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and maybe what sport you're world-class in?
Skye Moench: Yeah, thanks for having me. Like you said, my name is Skye Moench. I'm a professional triathlete, and I live in Salt Lake City. I race for the Intermountain LiVe Well triathlon team. I travel the world as well. I've trained and raced in Australia and Europe the last couple of years. So that's kind of what I do.
Dr. Marc Harrison: So you had another life before you became a professional triathlete, right?
Skye Moench: Yes, a very different life. I worked in the big four accounting world. I was a tax accountant and a CPA [certified public accountant]. I'm still a CPA. I keep that license current. I spent many, many hours at my desk doing business tax work and I would just kind of squeeze in my runs before I had to commit to my desk all day. I was not a professional athlete growing up or anything or even a really big athlete of any kind. I just really love the endurance sport world and the endorphins of going for a long run or a good bike ride up the canyon.
Dr. Marc Harrison: What tipped you over the edge to commit to this huge adventure?
Skye Moench: Yeah, huge adventure is right? It's been a massive effort to get where I am now. I think what tipped me over the edge was I always felt like I had this potential specifically in triathlon that wasn't tapped into yet. And so after about four years of working full time at Ernst and Young, that's where I worked, I just had this burning desire inside of me to reach out and go for this really hard challenge of pursuing professional triathlon.
I really had no idea what that was going to entail exactly, but I just knew I wouldn't be able to keep working the volume I was working and I would have to get a coach. So those were the first two things I took care of, and I've just been figuring out the rest along the way.
Dr. Marc Harrison: Wow. So if I'm remembering correctly, last year at the Ironman Europe Championships, you were the seventh pro-woman, is that right?
Skye Moench: Oh yeah. Last year I was seventh place.
Dr. Marc Harrison: And this year?
Skye Moench: This year I was first place.
Dr. Marc Harrison: So the Intermountain tri kit first to cross the line.
Skye Moench: Yes. Yes. It was definitely the tri kit helped for sure.
Dr. Marc Harrison: So you're the European champion? Ironman champion?
Skye Moench: Yes.
Dr. Marc Harrison: Wow. So are you going to Kona [Hawaii]?
Skye Moench: I'm going to Kona, yeah. The win at Frankfort was what secured my spot at Kona. So I'll be racing at the Ironman World Championship on October 12th.
Dr. Marc Harrison: We're really proud to have you represent us. Talk a little bit about why Intermountain's LiVe Well mission is resonant for you?
Skye Moench: Yeah. Well I love the mission of the LiVe Well program. I'm a huge believer in living well. Honestly my prior life, like we talked about, I really, really leaned on living well outside of sitting at my desk, because sitting all day can be ... well, it's just not great for your health. I really had to focus on how I could improve my quality of life and whether that was my physical health or my mental health. I learned a lot about how to eat better because I knew that largely affected how I would feel sitting at my desk all day. Even down to which exercise was best to get me through those long hours.
I think it's super important for people to focus on their health because there's so much you can control and it's hard. Even as a professional athlete, I've really had to take inventory of what I'm eating on a daily basis. It's taken a lot of education on my part.
Dr. Marc Harrison: I bet you get to eat a lot.
Skye Moench: I do get to eat a lot, but I really have to eat well because that directly affects my performance. I've had to change my palette. It's not easy. It's not always easy to live well. Even as a professional athlete, it takes a lot of effort. Obviously I have the exercise part down, but it's not all just exercise.
Dr. Marc Harrison: For all the folks who are listening, who are regular people, who are maybe thinking about becoming active, what advice would you give them? Because it sounds like you've always been athletic, but you really kind of doubled down at one point. What would you say to somebody who maybe they're worried about their weight or maybe the doctor told them that boy, if they don't get it together they're heading towards diabetes? How would you help them get started taking better care of themselves?
Skye Moench: Yeah, that's a great question. And honestly, it's one I've tried to help others with even within my family. To be honest, my family's not necessarily the most active and healthy. I have family members who've struggled with diabetes due to weight or maybe unhealthy choices.
What I would say is take small steps. You're not going to just change overnight. You're not just going to suddenly love maybe eating salads every day. Just take small steps to improve your diet and take small steps to improve your activity level as well.
I think sometimes people feel pressure like, "Oh, I've got to get to the gym for an hour every day," or, "Oh, I need to start running." There's no one size fits all. It's about finding what works for you and what you love. I love running, but I know a lot of people don't. But there's so many other good ways for you to be active and to get that movement in to help your health.
Dr. Marc Harrison: Another question; we see people who are struggling with behavioral health issues every day and it's actually an epidemic in the United States. Do you feel like exercise in moderation is helpful in terms of people stabilizing their moods and maybe in nonpharmacologic ways helping them with depression or anxiety, for instance?
Skye Moench: Yeah, 100 percent. I've never dealt with a full on depression or anxiety diagnosis, but I've certainly had times in my life where maybe I was more stressed out or had anxiety about next steps in my life and I leaned so heavily on going for a run. There's just something about it. And I know, even for me, the first couple of miles of a run can still hurt a bit and not be enjoyable and you kind of have to settle in, but I always felt so much better after, if not physically, definitely mentally.
Again, it doesn't have to be a run. It could be a yoga class or something. But I think there's just something about moving your body and having gratitude for being able to move your body and get out and do something. It's just so good for mental health.
Dr. Marc Harrison: Triathlon is an individual sport but I know you're a very valuable member of a team. Can you talk about what does the team do for you and what are those relationships like and are they important?
Skye Moench: Yeah, and I assume you're referring to the LiVe Well team?
Dr. Marc Harrison: Yes.
Skye Moench: Yes. The team offers a lot for all kinds of different people. I obviously race professionally and for me I do a lot of my training alone, but I take so much inspiration from all the beginners, our first-timers who are a part of this group. Some people will say, oh, it's so inspiring what I do, but I am so inspired by the people who have the courage to start a new sport when they're 45 years old or-
Dr. Marc Harrison: That old?
Skye Moench: Exactly. Or older. There's no limit. For me, I think the team, yeah, it keeps me inspired and it makes me want to be a good example for others because… You referred to other people as regular people, but I'm just a regular person. I didn't run in college. I've just chosen to do this and really pursue it. I think anything's possible for anyone and that the LiVe Well team certainly supports that.
Dr. Marc Harrison: Great. I've got one final question for you. I remember when I first started doing triathlons, I got all confused in the transition area and I wore my bike helmet backwards for the entire bike leg.
Skye Moench: Good thing you didn't crash.
Dr. Marc Harrison: Good thing I didn't crash. Do you have any funny stories about ... I'm sure you've never done anything silly, right?
Skye Moench: Well, I'm trying to think there. I've done silly little things. I've never worn my helmet backwards or forgotten-
Dr. Marc Harrison: Zip up your wetsuit the wrong way or whatever.
Skye Moench: Yeah, or left my wetsuit on for the bike or something. I've heard of that happening.
Even as recent as Frankfurt, this race I just did, my coach was watching and he said, "I don't know what you did at the swim start, but you totally veered to the left. You were in last place at the first buoy."
Dr. Marc Harrison: Wow.
Skye Moench: No one's exempt from that sort of thing.
Dr. Marc Harrison: Yeah, I think that's sort of the beauty of sport. No matter how good a day you've had, there's always something to work on.
Skye Moench: Oh, always, every single race. Whether you win or don't win, there's always something that you could have improved on or maybe done better or something that you can go work on moving forward.
Dr. Marc Harrison: First of all, thank you for being a mentor to our beginners. Thanks for being an Intermountain triathlete.
Skye Moench: Yes, thank you.
Dr. Marc Harrison: Good luck in Kona. Can't wait to watch.
Skye Moench: Yes, thank you. I'm excited to be there.