Early in childhood I started gaining weight. My parents were very health conscious according to popular wisdom at the time and made sure I got plenty of whole grains, margarine and low fat powdered milk. I joined my mother on her Weight Watchers plan but somehow I continued to gain weight and it seemed to be more of an issue of behavior. They incentivized me to exercise and cut my portion sizes. I felt greedy and slovenly, complained of aches and pains and became moody and withdrawn. I continued to gain weight as a teenager and my hormones became a controlling force over my life. For a week or so a month I felt level, almost good but for the remainder I felt angry and nearly suicidal. By the time I graduated high school I was heavier than ever and had several programs under my belt: Weight Watchers, low-fat, hospital-supported juvenile weight program, religion-based support groups, exercise routines and I had dabbled in anorexia and bulimia.
After school, I began a physically demanding job and paired it with the Atkins diet and diet pills. I managed to lose enough weight to enter the military and maintained it with lots of exercise. My moods were diagnosed as PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder) and I was prescribed Prozac, but when I left the Army I began to regain my weight immediately. During my first pregnancy I gained over 100 pounds. After all, I was eating for two, right? After my daughter was born I lost nothing and settled into dysthymic depression, also known as Persistent Depressive Disorder. In other words, I was the human version of Eeyore. I slept 13 hours a day and ached all over. I felt like I had tried everything and nothing worked and that nothing ever would. At the age of 21, I was exhausted and considered severely morbidly obese. I knew I’d never be able to keep up with my soon-to-be toddler and I couldn’t even face the thought of living my life feeling the way I did every day.
So I underwent Roux-N-Y gastric bypass. There were complications from the surgery, and I vomited multiple times daily and was unable to eat many foods such as nuts and breads, which made me violently ill or caused extreme pain due to the surgery. But I was losing weight. Over the next two years I lost 80 pounds. That was only half of what I needed to lose. I was still miserable and angry and switched to another cocktail of antidepressants based on the psychiatrist’s recommendation. I began a very restrictive diet and exercised using free weights and aerobics daily.
When I was pregnant with my second child I was considered high risk and worked very hard to eat as healthy as possible. However, my son was a very difficult baby. As he turned into a very difficult toddler and it became clear that he had special needs, I began to research tirelessly. All signs continually pointed to the importance of food as medicine.
The more information I learned, the more I was excited to share with anyone who was interested. My father’s long-standing and unresolved digestive issues were a huge piece of the puzzle. I shared with him that I believed his issues were caused by gluten, a substance no one had really heard of before. He found that he was extremely intolerant.
I myself began to eliminate gluten and sugar. Although I was eating better, I began passing out frequently and was very dizzy and tired. I was hospitalized for severe anemia and had to receive four units of blood in a transfusion. Over time it became clear that the surgery I had hoped would give me a longer and higher quality of life had come with a long list of permanent side effects (as is common in bariatric surgeries) and I STILL was not considered a healthy weight. I was hypoglycemic and calcium deficient. My thyroid was not functioning well and my adrenal glands were exhausted. These debilitating issues led me to seek out the help of alternative practitioners and continue researching and experimenting with which foods were causing my inflammation.
In the end, every symptom I faced was due to internal inflammation caused by food sensitivities and nutrient deficiencies. Objectively experimenting with the fuel that my body prefers has led me to better health and mental well being than I have ever experienced. It has allowed my body to settle at a healthy weight without effort.
Have I always taken the “right” path? No, not at all. But who is to say that our experiences, especially the poor, detrimental choices are not valuable? In retrospect, if I had been given perfect genetics and had not been forced to climb outside the box for answers, I would have missed so much beauty, clarity and contrast. I would never have discovered my passion for health. There is peace in looking back over my meandering, rocky and sometimes painful path, while appreciating the growth, change and beauty it has brought to my life.
As a Nutrition Therapy Practitioner I support and educate on an individual and very personalized level, offering guidance on what foods to eat, how to find and prepare them and most importantly how to properly digest them for maximum nutritional benefit. I use Neurolingual testing as a tool to identify food intolerances and supplement choices. I believe strongly that this approach demystifies the confusion surrounding food and dieting.
I‘ve created a new four week course offered by Peoples Rx called Keep It Off Weight Loss – designed to keep you off the dieting roller coaster forever with an approach that is sustainable and tailored to you, and can be used in tandem with prescription medications and a variety of medical conditions. NEW DATE: Our next session begins Wednesday, March 29 at 7 pm and will continue weekly through April 12. For more information and to sign up, please call Peoples Wellness Clinic at (512) 219-8600.
Anna Wilson, Nutrition Therapy Practitioner
After improving her own health while raising a special needs child, Nutrition Therapy Practitioner Anna Wilson found a passion for assisting people on their path to wellness. Anna is especially interested in supporting individuals who have undergone bariatric surgery, those struggling with mental illness or mood disorders, and busy families looking to fuel their bodies and brains. She strongly believes that anyone can achieve wellness with the right support and knowledge.