Lifting Weights and Each Others’ Spirits While Living with Narcolepsy and Cataplexy

Alanna lifting weights in Sydney, Australia and Julie  running in Los Angeles, USA

Alanna lifting weights in Sydney, Australia and Julie running in Los Angeles, USA

One of the best parts of the Griffith Park Trial Marathon took place about 10 days BEFORE the race.

Arriving home from work one night around 8:00 p.m., I was totally drained and wanted to call it a night, but I had to go running. Ugh. I’d run over 270 miles in four months, and only had a few short training runs leading up to the marathon. Yet, not one bone in my body wanted to go run 3 miles that evening.

So, I vented on Facebook about feeling unmotivated and shared how I trick myself into running  by leaving the house “walking”. After FB venting, I got my butt out the door for my walk –> run.

16910758_10154522797699217_1266116668_oOnce back home afterward, I received the most incredible FB message from a fellow person with narcolepsy, Alanna in Sydney, Australia. Alanna wrote (and gave me permission to share):

Hi Julie,

I just wanted to share this little tidbit that shows how far your reach extends in this world… I started a new health regime this year, trying to find a way to keep myself healthy and build habits that actually work with my life and narcolepsy. I have a healthy eating plan and go to a performance gym called DC Health Performance, in Crows Nest, Sydney, twice a week where I do sessions supported by a trainer, and I’m trying to do at least something active every single day.

It took until week 5 for narcolepsy to get in the way, and I had a big cataplexy attack in the gym. The trainers were brilliant. They weren’t panicky or awkward, just asked questions and were relaxed and helped me plan out a different program with less weight, shorter sets, and more breaks.

As I lay on the weight bench, my arms floppy and legs not working, my trainer chatted to me about how to find the right balance for our bodies and how individual it can be. Then he said, “like this woman I was reading about, this chick runs, right? And she just keeps going! Even with narcolepsy!”

16930912_10154522797654217_1768164813_oI realized he was talking about you.

He goes on, “She knows her body so well and so she can run marathons because she knows what’s going on with herself”.

So not only are you a model of how to find a healthy life that suits you and listen to your body, you also inspired someone when they searched for information about my condition. These trainers have quietly demonstrated their commitment by reading up on what I have, and your story obviously captured this guy’s imagination.

So, thank you, and congratulations on being such a wonderful influence on the world.

xx, Alanna

Reading this left me in tears (in a good way). I can’t believe how interconnected our world is these days – that I could have a positive impact upon Alanna’s experience and also on her trainer’s perceptions of narcolepsy is so surreal. When I take on athletic challenges and write these blog posts, I have no idea how far they’ll reach and impact others.

16930639_10154522797574217_1908064100_oFurthermore, I was SO inspired to learn about Alanna’s journey to build healthy habits and take on strength training while living with narcolepsy with cataplexy. How badass is that?! And the fact that she found such a wonderful support system at this gym is so heart-warming. What incredible trainers!

Alanna is another amazing superhero overcoming adversity with narcolepsy daily and I’m so proud to call her my friend.

In closing, thank you to everyone who has shared such generous messages of support and gifts to support the scholarship program these past four months. I don’t take one kind word for granted. You give me strength to continue forward every day and I’m forever grateful.

Read more about my Griffith Park Trail Marathon adventure.


  1. Lexi Young on March 16, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Hi! I’m Lexi, a senior in high school in Atlanta. I’m doing a project on narcolepsy, and for our project, we’re supposed to interview someone with narcolepsy. I’ve read a lot of your blog posts, and read your article in Medium titled “10 Shocking Things about Narcolepsy that the Media Doesn’t Mention.” I’m amazed by the work you’ve done with Project Sleep and I wanted to know if I can ask you a few questions via email. Thanks for your time and I hope to hear from you soon.

    Lexi Y.

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