Jaclyn DiGregorio grew up in Springfield, PA, outside Philadelphia and graduated in May from Georgetown University in Washington, DC. She founded the health and wellness brand CUSP 365 in September 2016 and became a published author in April with the book The CUSP Method: Your Guide to Balanced Portions and a Healthy Life. Her “Cusp_It” Instagram account has nearly 4,000 followers, and she’s currently hard at work on the upcoming “Cusp It” mobile application. In addition to her impressive entrepreneurial efforts, Jaclyn is a dedicated runner who experienced severe leg pain for almost two years before trying HawkGrips. The transformative results after just two treatments shocked her.
How would you describe your running background?
I’ve been running my whole life. As a little kid, I ran track and played all kinds of sports at the earliest age I could. In high school, I played soccer and lacrosse. Then in college, I exercised a lot and ran my first half-marathon during freshman year. I decided to run a full marathon my junior year, and my calf injury happened while training for that race.
How did the injury occur and what were your symptoms?
About three weeks before the race, which was the Marine Corps Marathon in October 2015, I went for a run and felt a shooting pain on the outside of my right calf. I had no idea what it was, so I saw a sports medicine doctor and they weren’t exactly sure either. Of course, they recommended that I not run the marathon. But I had been training for months and was really looking forward to it. I felt I had come too far to not run, so instead I decided to just take it easy during the weeks leading up to the race.
I had already finished my longest training run at that point anyway and was basically starting the taper phase. So I did a lot of aqua jogging and things like that. Then I ran the marathon, which obviously made the injury worse. So the day after I was in a lot of pain and went right to the doctor. They put me in a boot but still didn’t know for certain what the injury was. They said it might be a stress fracture and I could get more X-rays and MRIs to provide better insight. But that was going to be quite expensive so I decided to just wear the boot and hope I started feeling better.
I wore it for a few weeks and did feel a little better because the boot took a lot of pressure off my leg. But once I was out of the boot, my leg really ached on days where I’d walk long distances. For example, I studied abroad the next semester and would wake up in the middle of night with severe pain after days that we had done a lot of touring. It would happen on days when I ran a lot too, so I had to shorten my runs or risk aggravating the condition. That pretty much remained the situation until this summer. So for almost two years, although I saw a lot of doctors, the pain never really went away.
What impact have HawkGrips made on your injury?
They helped me tremendously. I received two HawkGrips treatments in June, separated by about a week. After the first treatment I felt sore the next day, similar to the soreness a hard workout might cause, so I was a little concerned that the treatment could have actually made my injury worse. But by a couple days later I didn’t feel any pain, which totally shocked me. So I went for a run and still felt great. That was after only one treatment. Then I had the second treatment and apart from a little soreness the next day, I honestly haven’t felt any pain since. I’m now running again with no limitations, and haven’t even thought about having to modify my runs since the HawkGrips treatment because my leg hasn’t bothered me at all.
Do you have any races coming up?
This is really far off but I plan to run the Broad Street 10-mile race in Philadelphia next May. That’s probably the soonest one I’ll do and it would be my longest run since the marathon. It will be a big test to see how my leg feels, and whether I need to get more HawkGrips treatment if it starts acting up again. I currently run about three times a week since I don’t have any races on the immediate horizon. But as Broad Street gets closer, I won’t hesitate to start running every day again because I don’t feel pain in my calf anymore.
Can you talk a little about CUSP 365, the company you established?
Sure, I founded CUSP 365 in September 2016 when I first started writing my book. But I wasn’t totally sure about the direction of the company at that time. As the book progressed, it helped me recognize the way I wanted to go. So early this year is when I really started to focus and understand what my market was. Then I did a Kickstarter campaign in April that raised over $20,000, which was a big milestone for me. That money is going towards funding the mobile app.
My emphasis is mostly to help college females focus on their overall nutrition, fitness and wellness. I encourage a balanced lifestyle rather than extreme diet or exercise. That’s because when I was in college I found a troubling culture, not just at Georgetown but on many other campuses too. I interviewed hundreds of college students nationwide when I wrote my book and discovered a very common problem, where especially females swing from restrictive diets to binge eating, and from overly exercising to not exercising at all.
So it’s really a cycle of extremes. I started CUSP 365 to help this demographic achieve a more balanced lifestyle that’s healthy in an overall sense and doesn’t swing from one extreme to another. One of my main initiatives is creating the “CUSP It” app that will emphasize nutrition, fitness and wellness, with an overall message of balance.
What does CUSP stand for?
Concentrate, Understand, Supplement, Portion. Those are the four steps I created for approaching food choices. So to briefly explain it, “Concentrate” on whatever your body is in the mood for. Rather than say you’re going to eat a certain food just because it’s healthy, focus on what you actually want. The second step is to “Understand” what food groups make up this craving. So let’s say you’re in the mood for a grilled cheese. Its components include bread and cheese, which are a starch and a protein. The third step is to “Supplement” with missing food groups. So what are you missing in this meal? It needs fruit and vegetables, so maybe you’ll add lettuce and tomato to the grilled cheese, or maybe a side salad or serving of apples. Then step four is “Portion,” so focus on having an amount of food that makes you feel satisfied and no more. That’s basically the message I’ve created and the focus of my book. So you could say my company was founded on the ideals of the book.
In addition to noticing it among others, did you personally experience the cycle of unhealthy extremes that was the inspiration for your book?
Yes, I gained about 30 pounds when I went to college, while unsuccessfully trying to adhere to a number of different restrictive diets. I was working out at the time but inconsistently, again tending toward extremes. Maybe I’d do a really exhausting workout one day and then not exercise again for a couple weeks. So inconsistency was definitely one of my issues, but at the same time you can’t out-exercise a terrible diet, which I had. So even when I was exercising consistently during that time, I still had the heavier weight because of my eating habits.
When I finally figured out the problem and started focusing on balance, I lost the 30 pounds. I’ve never been happier, and all areas of my life have really turned around in the process. So my personal journey was a big inspiration. Then as I started to interview others and discover how common the extreme cycles were, I became further inspired.
Your CUSP acronym outlines a strategic approach to nutrition. What methods do you utilize to encourage a successful approach to exercise?
The exercise aspect will be emphasized to a greater degree in my app than it was in my book. I’m actually in the process of getting a personal trainer certification, so what I’m learning there is helping me focus better on the fitness aspects of my business. Particularly breaking the stigma surrounding females lifting weights, so I emphasize dumbbell exercises they can do at home.
I also want to promote workouts that are short enough in duration that they don’t become an all-or-nothing proposition. For example, let’s say somebody is trying to adhere to an exercise program that calls for an hour-long workout. Well if they have a busy day and don’t feel like there’s time to fit in an hour of exercise, they might just not work out at all. Something like 20 minutes is a more realistic goal, where you can easily shuffle things around during your day to fit in that workout. So again, I focus on the idea of balance. Making exercise more practical is one way I hope my workouts will be easier to follow than some other plans out there.
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