Posted by on Oct 14, 2014


The 2007 Austin Marathon was my 7th marathon finish, all 26.2 miles.

Paula's 2014 Half Marathon Finish


That same year, Merlin and I married. Lucky #7!  Merlin had been training with Jenni for a few years prior, and he’ll write his story.

I was a runner, and gym workouts didn’t appeal to me. I met Jenni through Merlin, and she was interested in running. So we started off the New Year of 2009 as running partners. Waldo the gym dog always joined us on our runs on the Barton Creek Greenbelt and other trails.


For me, off-road running was the perfect activity for body, mind and soul: You depend on stabilizer muscles, gripping rocks. You engage your brain, calculating where to step next. And the feeling you get from being outside in nature feeds the spirit.



Jenni and I even competed in a few races together, and also experimented with barefoot running (see her blog “the Barefoot Journal” )

Then my life changed. A bone density scan revealed “slight osteopenia.” To stave off osteoporosis, I became a paying customer of Jenni’s. To rebuild bone health, she designed a program of weight-bearing exercises. Now, 5 years later, I’m still outrunning osteoporosis!

My life changed again. After about 6 months on this new routine, I was pretty happy with my new toned body. But I asked Jenni why I didn’t have 6-pack abs! She suggested I see a gastroenterologist, it may be inflammation.


I followed her advice, and I’ll be forever grateful. A simple blood test was positive for celiac disease. CD is an autoimmune response to gluten proteins in wheat, barley and rye. ( ) I was told the “gold standard” test for CD was an endoscopy, where a biopsy of the villi lining the wall of the small intestines is examined for damage. When gluten is in the gut, the immune system in a person with CD attacks the villi, damaging it so much as to cause all sorts of problems. One of those problems is nutritional deficiencies like lack of calcium for strong bones leading to osteoporosis!

With CD there is no such thing as moderation. One has to abstain from gluten forever. This came as a relief to me. I knew what I had to do. It wasn’t difficult. After 2 years off gluten, I had a second endoscopy which showed my villi were regenerating!


Almost 5 years gluten free, and I don’t miss it. I’m grateful to know what was causing my problems, and I have Jenni to thank for the guidance.

My next life change? I’m working on my 6-pack abs!