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Chelsea Sodaro’s Biggest Victory Isn’t Kona—It’s Her Well-Being

By December 14, 2023No Comments
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Episode #800



We love to celebrate professional athletes as superheroes. But even world champions are human.

Just 18 months after giving birth, in 2022 Chelsea Sodaro became the first American woman in 25 years to win the Ironman World Championship and the first Kona-crowned rookie since Chrissie Wellington’s victory in 2007. It was a new-mom-Cinderella story that travelled beyond the endurance press to the mainstream, positioning her as a powerful and inspiring voice for female athletes and young moms all across the world.

But just as she reached the highest echelon of success, Chelsea began to face a challenge far more difficult than Kona. The periodic bouts with mental health that had visited her in the past came roaring back in the form of an acute anxiety disorder that made it difficult for her to leave the house, left her bereft, unable to train, and prone to suicidal ideation.

Refusing to accept debilitation, Chelsea sought help for a problem her champion mindset alone simply couldn’t solve. Today Chelsea shares her story with laudable openness and vulnerability.

“You can’t always exercise or meditate your way out of a mental health crisis.”


In this conversation we discuss the tools Chelsea relies upon to confront and manage her mental health struggles, why she decided to reach out for help, and why sharing her experience publicly has been and continues to be integral to her recovery.

In addition, we discuss Chelsea’s journey to triathlon, the current state of gender equity in the sport, and how we can better support female athletes and make sport more accessible to all.

Chelsea also shares the mindset that has propelled her success and why she actively makes decisions based on love, joy, and possibility rather than fear.

The visually inclined can watch this one on YouTube. As always, the audio version streams wild and free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Note: Today we discuss mental health issues some might find confronting. If you are struggling, please raise your hand and reach out for help. You can call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP and if you are experiencing suicidal ideation, know you’re not alone. I encourage you to call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1(800) 273-TALK.

Photo credits: Shoutout to Canyon, Santara Studios, and James Mitchell Photography for images of Chelsea.

I have so much respect for Chelsea’s strength, courage, and vulnerability.

Chelsea’s story is powerful. I’m proud to help amplify it. And our shared hope is that it helps those in need and serves to further normalize the discourse around mental health.

Peace + Plants,

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Thank The Team: I do not do this alone. Send your love to Jason Camiolo for audio engineering, production, show notes and interstitial music; with additional audio engineering by Cale Curtis and additional music by Moby; Blake Curtis & Dan Drake for video, & editing; graphics by Jessica Miranda & Daniel Solis; portraits by Davy Greenberg, Grayson Wilder & Gizelle Peters; video clips for social media are created by AJ Akpodiete; copywriting by Georgia Whaley; and theme music by Tyler Piatt, Trapper Piatt & Hari Mathis.

Photo Credits: Also special shoutout to Canyon, Santara Studios, and James Mitchell Photography for images of Chelsea.

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