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A Personal Testament to Weight Management

Free Press Article

January 3, 2014 – April L. Schulte-Barclay, DAOM, LAc

Now that Christmas is over and 2013 is winding to a close, we look ahead to the New Year. This time of year personal goals often include losing a certain amount of weight and hitting the gym more often.

What if those goals could be transformed into feeling healthy emotionally, physically, and mentally, and that by doing so the results included achieving your healthiest weight?

Not only is that possible, it is the only way to reach a truly healthy weight. That is why I decided to share a very personal story about my own health to explain the development of a very unique weight management program at Healing Horizons.

Before I was a Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, I was a professional dancer. I would dance in 13 shows a week. I got paid to live my dream as a dancer and performer, and at the end of my work day people would clap and cheer. However, behind the applause and fancy costumes lurked an obsession with achieving the perfect dancer’s body. During the first day of rehearsals, all dancers (male and female) were weighed and a five pound weight range was designated for each of us to stay within or we would be fined. I remember my designated weight range was two pounds below and two pounds higher than what the number read on the scale. Knowing we would be weighed weekly, I immediately interpreted my weight was three pounds too heavy and started working toward losing the weight. It wasn’t hard.

At the end of each of the 13 shows I would perform a week, I could literally ring my costumes out with sweat. I began watching my calories (REALLY WATCHING). As the months of the contract went by, my weight would inch lower and lower, and instead of being fined for going below my weight range, my weight range was moved lower to suit. I remember being in a car with my fellow cast mates and stopping at a restaurant for dinner. Instead of going inside to eat, I stayed in the car with another female dancer who told me she and some other dancers were afraid I was developing an eating disorder. My reply was that I hadn’t stopped eating and I wasn’t throwing up in a toilet, so I was fine. I didn’t consider my over-exercising (I would hit the gym before the first show of the day), my restricted eating, and my dependence on ibuprofen to get through the pain as a problem.

She was right; I did have a problem and I literally had no idea. It became a problem for years to come as I spiraled into bulimia, liver problems, and I went into an early menopause thanks to hormonal imbalances (yes ladies, I DO know what it is like to experience hot flushes, insomnia, heart palpitations, hair loss and anxiety).

Enter Chinese medicine school. I wanted to pursue a career in Chinese medicine because it had the qualities I was looking for in becoming a health care practitioner. It is more natural, considers all aspects of health as interconnected, and can address the “root and/or the branch” of most health conditions. While the decision to go to Chinese medicine school did not come easily (prior to dancing professionally I had graduated with a pre-med degree and strongly considered going into more conventional medicine), that decision would save my life and change my life.

Through my schooling, I learned things like musculoskeletal problems can be related to emotional imbalances and how the environment could contribute to things like arthritis and digestive problems. With the help of one of my amazing mentors who practiced Chinese medicine and acupuncture, I was able to get my liver enzymes back down into normal range, improve my digestive and mental/emotional health, and start menstruating again. However, I still had not kicked my bulimia addiction.

It was not until after I graduated, and I was faced with starting my own practice, that my transformation into a healthier person would be more complete. I was motivated to help other people achieve health and I knew I could not do that while I still had an eating disorder. Beyond Chinese medicine and acupuncture, I also sought help from psychologists, body workers, naturopaths, chiropractors, and nutritionists to round out my care. Each practitioner was helpful in his or her own right as I learned my eating disorders were addictions and were based on imbalances in my life that were created before I started dancing professionally.

I was able to connect the dots and create a plan back to health as I realized my emotional and physical health depended on one another to be well. Through my deep interest in understanding the human condition, I did get better by addressing each layer of my being. What I wish had been available to me at the time was my team of practitioners, literally working together to help me connect the dots in a more efficient and less expensive way. That resource is available to you now through Healing Horizons Integrated Health Services.

It was with my very own healing experience that I got to first witness the power of using the best of multiple modalities, from conventional to complementary medicine, to experience true health. It has been in practice that I have witnessed time and time again the exceptional synergistic power of practitioners working together, face to face and directly with each individual patient, to create a plan to accumulating wellness. My team and I have spent 10 years as professional health care providers developing what we call the Healing Horizons Wellness Accumulation Program. From that program, we developed the Healthy Weight Management Program.

One of the greatest testaments I have heard from our patients comes from a woman who completed our Healthy Weight Management Program. After reporting the pain in her knees was gone, she was experiencing more energy, and she was feeling happier, she said, “I’ve realized it is not about the weight and it never was.”

I thought to myself, “Success!!!”

If you have the determination to achieve you healthiest self to live the life you want to live, please call Healing Horizons and speak with me. Happy New Year!

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