Jackie’s Story

I wasn’t always so health minded.


I was taken to my first diet doctor at age 11. I yo-yo dieted most of my life with a top weight of 280 pounds at age 25. Had there been a ‘Biggest Loser’ show in 1987, I certainly would have applied! In 1990, I had gastric bypass surgery. In 1995, my gall bladder “needed” to be removed! I’ve lost over 100 pounds more than 3 times in my life…twice since gastric bypass!!!  And then it happened….

2007 was a turning point in my life.

On April 20th, my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer! 10 weeks later, on July 5th, she  lost her battle at the age of 62 years old. This forced me to reevaluate my own life and get on the path to health and wellness. After my mother’s death, I was in shock!!! I was devastated and scared. I reached out for help and found Sparkpeople.com. They gave me a lifeline of support. But no amount of support could keep me from thinking I would soon be on the same path as my mother.

Celebrating My Mom's 60th Birthday!

Following CONVENTIONAL WISDOM, ​I logged into the website daily for meal plans, exercise routines and amazing group support. I logged and tracked all my food diligently for months and months. I began walking every day and even started running for the first time in my life at age 46!

​I immediately removed some foods from my diet and have not touched them since: soda (regular and diet), any products with high fructose corn syrup or trans-fats, all fast food, and most packaged or prepared foods. I read labels and thought I was making the wisest and most informed decisions for my health.

​The weight was coming off quickly and I thought that meant I was healthy.
In July of 2008, one year after my mother’s death, I was at my lowest adult weight: 118 pounds and 11% body fat. I loved being so thin!!! I loved the new attention but looking back I know I wasn’t healthy. I had so little body fat that it hurt to sit down.



In 2009, I returned to school to study nutrition. I decided to attended Bauman College to pursue a career in Holistic Nutrition instead of the traditional registered dietician route. I wanted to learn all I could about health, nutrition and wellness. I wanted to help, teach and support those dealing with ill health or life threatening disease that were not helped by conventional means. I wanted to give people more choices than my mother had.
At the same time, I began running organized races monthly moving to the half marathon distance within 6 months. The extreme weight loss coupled with heavy exercise finally took a toll – I ran myself into a case of adrenal fatigue by March of 2010.

My Adrenal Stress Index (ASI) test in April 2010 revealed not only adrenal fatigue but also gluten intolerance along with signs of leaky gut and low progesterone. Other tests revealed low estrogen as well. Somehow, I was nearing 150 pounds again and feeling horrible: my sleep was off and I was having terrible uncontrollable carb cravings.


What I have since learned is that my rapid weight loss and excessive exercising was damaging my metabolism. To make matters worse, I spent more than a year eating a vegetarian diet which had caused further depletion of my hormones. I was already post menopausal by age 46!

I made some MORE dietary changes. I gave up all gluten-containing products but replaced them with gluten free junk food and continued to eat a huge amount of carbs. I continued to gain weight even though I was still running including full marathons in October 2010 and March 2011.

In January 2011, I decided to try a 30 day vegan cleanse which I extended to 90 days and through my March marathon. Initially, I lost a few pounds but ultimately ran that marathon at 160 pounds. After a short recovery period, I was back at it…but this time I joined a boot camp which I faithfully attended 5 days a week, 2 classes a day. Some days I even rode my bike the 8.5 miles each way to the class.


​By August 2011, I was about to turn 50 and had not lost a single pound. I was physically and mentally depleted and debilitated, so I went back to my nutritionist. My ASI test results showed that my adrenals where not healing and I was now insulin resistant!

​My grandfather was a type II diabetic and I did not want to go down that road. Although most of the sugar I consumed came from whole foods (mostly dates) sources, it was still more sugar then my body could handle.

By September 2011, I was ready to make the necessary changes to really achieve optimal health and reach my ideal body composition. This is when I adopted a Paleo/Primal lifestyle. I quickly dropped back down below 150 pounds and was feeling the benefits of the new paleo lifestyle. I had even started doing CrossFit.


All was going well until I broke my ankle in May 2012. This was another turning point. I was now not able to run, walk, strength train or even do yoga. I had a cast for 6 weeks; then needed to take another 6 weeks off to heal completely. I also had the stress of a lawsuit being filed against my family, we were in arbitration for over 18 months. While I did not lose weight during that time or since; through eating a whole food Paleo/Primal template, I did not gain weight either. Well at least, I don’t think I have. In August 2012, I threw away my scale but I’ll save that story for another time.


At the same time as the lawsuit, I was presented with the opportunity to invest in a new business idea and invest in my future. This is where the Eating for Wellness Retreat was born. Along with long time friend Kate Eakman, I formulated a way to help those who have been struggling with lifelong food issues address them in a healing environment.


My grandparents had been long time visitors and then part time resident/owners in Desert Hot Springs until they could no longer drive. My grandfather always told me how the healing mineral water kept him young and strong. Sadly, in 2003 we sold our family vacation place and waved goodbye to this quiet, tranquil and healing community. Since then I’ve lost both my grandparents but I remember what they taught me about living a simple life. When I walked into this house; I knew it was the one. Every house I looked at after this one could not compare. I made an offer on the house on October 20, 2012. On November 29, 2012 I had the keys and the Eating for Wellness Retreat became a reality.

I have been 100% gluten free since 2010. I am mostly grain and dairy free but since following a gut healing protocol, I am able to tolerate some soaked grains and raw dairy. I have seen changes in not only my level of fatigue but also my overall well-being and attitude. My sleep is much improved, my seasonal allergies are gone and I no longer crave carbohydrates to the point of distraction. I finally feel freedom from years of struggling with food, weight and self-esteem issues. While I would love to comfortably fit into those size 4 jeans from five years ago, I am going to continue the slow and steady work it takes to heal my adrenals and become insulin sensitive again. I don’t know what the number on the scale will be but I know it will reflect a healthy metabolism that will carry me happily into old age. That is the most important measure of my health.

While I have had to scale back my physical activities, I am still an avid “back-of-the-pack” runner, adventurous hiker, dedicated Ragnar relay leader, and Crossfit Enthusiast. I have completed three full marathons, over 20 half-marathons, 5 relays and numerous triathlons. I find pleasure exploring the trails surrounding the Eating for Wellness Retreat, spending time with my beautiful nieces Madison and Chloe, and teaching people the pleasures of real food.

I would love to hear your story!!! Please post here or send me an email; if you have a transformation story to tell. If you would like to book your own transformation retreat, please contact me via email or call 213-822-2634.


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