“Sharing our experience was so important to us because we were probably the biggest skeptics about getting COVID. We were saying there’s no way because we’re healthy and we felt like a lot of the media was inflated. It was a complete curveball.” – Ryan & Renee
Ryan is a former college athlete, now working in technology sales, and Renee is a biohacker, Certified Nutritional Consultant, and has a successful podcast with her sister titled The Biohacker Babes. They have been happily married for 10 years and currently live in Las Vegas.
They reached out to our team to share their experiences battling COVID-19 in the hopes that their unique backgrounds and symptom journeys might help others.
“We felt uneasy at first about sharing our experience due to the stigma associated with having COVID, but we eventually put our personal reservations aside in the hope that we could help others.”
One Couple, Two Unique Health Backgrounds
Renee and Ryan have been together since meeting at the University of Tampa in 2004, but their health and wellness journeys couldn’t be more distinct and uniquely them.
“In my 20s I got really sick….with adrenal dysfunction, chronic fatigue, mercury toxicity and a long battle with the Epstein-Barr virus. No single practitioner could help me. I had no choice but to educate myself about all of these health issues I was dealing with… that’s what made me a biohacker. I love biohacking because it can be as simple as walking in the grass or it can mean tracking your data with something like an Oura Ring.”
“Most of my life I’ve had a strong immune system, maybe from eating a lot of dirt as a kid… who knows? As Renee and I started dating I was still eating processed food like Subway and clearly had a ton to learn. As a college athlete I didn’t even realize how much nutrition could impact my physical and mental performance.”
Renee, Ryan, & Oura
Though they have different health backgrounds, one item that brings them together in their health journeys is Oura.
Renee shares, “I’ve been biohacking for about 10 years and my Dad has been a Biological Dentist since the 80s, so I grew up in a health conscious family. If I can wear something on my finger that gives me HRV, sleep, and activity insights all in one device – that’s a no brainer. My whole family bought Oura Ring on the same day.”
But Ryan needed a little more of a push — in the form of a little family fun.
“I was in the main family text chat called “The Circle of Trust” but I actually wasn’t included in their secret text group. It was called “The Oura Ring All Stars” and they’d be sharing data back and forth about how much deep sleep they got or how something interesting had improved their metrics. That’s when I knew I had to get a ring!”
After Ryan set up his Oura Ring, they figured they had just another helpful tool to optimize their training, health, and wellbeing, but Oura’s role in their health would soon become more central, as the world would soon be struck with a pandemic not even a biohacker could have prepared for.
Is This COVID?
“The first day, I wouldn’t say I was symptomatic, I just felt off. I woke up in the morning and my Readiness was 68 even though I had slept 10 hours . . .”
Renee was the first to start experiencing symptoms and changes in her Oura stats.
“We were doing a staycation in a hotel. I didn’t feel rested and my Readiness score was below normal. I thought to myself ‘That’s weird.’ But at first, I just thought I maybe didn’t sleep well. So we tried to get through the day, but by 1 pm I had to nap and slept for another 3 hours. By that night I realized I had a fever but Oura actually picked up that something was off with my body temperature about 24 hours before I did. That night my HRV dropped and my respiration rate shot up to 21 bpm. Just to see that spike made me start to really question what was going on.”
This was the moment that shifted Renee’s mindset. She and Ryan had been more skeptical about COVID-19’s impact and felt that the time and effort they spent on prioritizing their health would ensure they would stay safe and healthy. However, they quickly were brought back to the reality that COVID doesn’t care how healthy you are.
“It wasn’t until the third day when my mom told me to go get tested for COVID that I thought that’s what it might be. I was thinking it was probably just a cold, so I was still seeing virtual clients, recording podcasts, and trying to push through this. Once COVID was on our radar, awaiting test results, we quarantined at our house until we had more answers…Thankfully we quarantined ourselves because it didn’t matter how fast I got tested, it still took 4 days to get my test results. ”
“I started to develop symptoms a few days after Renee, but neither of us really knew or even suspected it was COVID out of the gate.” A sharp drop in Ryan’s Readiness score, paired with Renee’s symptoms, had them both on high alert.
Even though Ryan tended to have a stronger immune system than Renee, COVID came as a surprise and hit him hard.
“I haven’t had the flu in at least 20 years – friends and family are shocked at how rarely I get sick but I started to get killer headaches a few days after Renee started to feel sick. At first, I thought I was just dehydrated. Right before bed, Renee took my temperature with a thermometer and saw I had a fever of 101.2. That night, I woke up soaked in sweat and my respiratory rate shot up.”
“By the 4th day, my symptoms started improving so I thought I was already getting better. Based on my past experience of getting through any illnesses quickly, I assumed I was out of the woods… I wasn’t even close. Apparently with COVID you can have a false recovery window where you think you’re improving but then you can relapse into worse and more serious symptoms.”
“Around day 5, I once again woke up soaked in sweat, with a fever of 102. I began having a heavy dry cough and my lungs started to feel restricted…it felt claustrophobic.”
Oura, Sleep, & Their Road to Recovery
Though they were both hit with the COVID-19 virus during the same trip, Renee and Ryan’s symptom journeys, and therefore their Oura stats, differed greatly. They both knew how important sleep was in supporting their immune system, but it wasn’t so easy to come by.
Renee’s recovery can be summed up by one word said three times: sleep, sleep, sleep. Whether she wanted to or not, her body demanded rest.
“What was different for me from Ryan is my sleep time and Oura stats increased. I usually sleep 9 hours a night but I was sleeping 11-12 hours. My HRV actually improved because I went into full recovery mode – I cut out all caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and exercise.”
But, for Ryan, it was a different journey.
“I slept on the couch most nights because I was thinking sitting up slightly would help my breathing and therefore I could sleep better. My total sleep time shot up but I was getting no deep sleep. Deep sleep ranged from 10 to 40 minutes (when my normal time is 1.5 hours). It was worrying me because I knew how important deep sleep was for my immune system. Without optimal sleep how was my immune system going to fight this? It felt like I was going to war with only a butter knife.”
Now, having safely recovered from the virus, the lens through which they look at health as an investment in yourself has been reinforced.
Renee shares, “Whether it’s COVID or another illness, taking care of yourself proactively as much as it requires more money or effort now, gives your body what it needs so you’re not reactive later in life.”
Having Oura wrapped around their finger during their journeys helped them stay in the know at all times, monitor the physical impact of their symptoms, and left them with key insights that they shared with us to help anyone who wants to start investing in themselves.
Tips From Renee & Ryan
- Be Balanced: “Use the Oura Ring as a tool to find balance in your life while still listening to your body. I love to socialize with cocktails, go out with friends, and also have a hobby of playing poker which can lead to some late nights and adrenaline rushes. All of these things can throw your sleep out of wack, but you can find ways to recover and optimize sleep while still living the life you love.”
- Try breathwork. “Start doing breathing exercises. Keeping oxygen moving helped me get higher quality sleep when I needed it most.”
- If it works, keep doing it. “I was joking that she was a witch doctor, but Renee rubbed peppermint oil on my forehead during COVID and it helped eliminate my headache. You never know what works till you try!”
- Look for habits to improve. “My AHA moment with Oura was learning how toxic alcohol is… even one or two drinks… I get almost no REM sleep, my deep sleep is cut in half, I have spikes in wakefulness throughout the night, my body temperature is elevated, my RHR is elevated. It’s motivated me to drink less or drink earlier in the day.”
- Know your cycle. “Using the Oura Ring to track my cycle has been priceless. I wish every woman would learn how to track their cycle at a young age and with Oura it’s so easy. I follow my body temperature throughout the month and know which day I will start my cycle and which day I will most likely ovulate. Tracking my cycle also played a big part in helping me realize I was sick.”
- “Get an Oura Ring. Optimize your sleep. I don’t care what you’re eating and what your exercise routine is if you aren’t sleeping. We know during sleep you get a boost in hormonal function and immune function, plus during sleep the glymphatic system gets to work to detox the brain. In whatever way people need to biohack their sleep, do it. I believe Oura is the fastest way to hack it and I almost always recommend my clients get an Oura Ring.”
Learn about Renee and Ryan’s love for Oura and their battles with COVID-19 in these episodes of the Biohacker Babes podcast:
What’s Your Oura Story?
Everyone’s story is unique. Share yours with the Oura Community, or just give the Oura Team an update of where you are in your health journey!