The University of Kansas Health System Integrative Health helped open her eyes so she could take control of her health.
Fox, a writer, editor and yoga teacher, said she’d suffered with daily headaches, skin problems and poor sleep since she was very young. She’d sought solutions through conventional medicine, chiropractic, self-directed elimination diets and many exercise regimens, including step counting and intensive P90X workouts.
While a few approaches offered some help, nothing ever really solved the problem.
“I was working with a personal trainer and was failing to get results,” Fox says. “In fact, the opposite was happening.”
The trainer had no explanation for the poor results and suggested Fox see a nutritionist, another avenue Fox had tried without success. The trainer convinced her to give it one more chance.
Fox met with a dietitian in Integrative Health at The University of Kansas Health System. She said she was surprised that the questioning in her initial appointment was so thorough.
“She asked questions all the way back to my birth, things that I really hadn’t given much thought to,” Fox says.
Fox says it was a nice surprise to have someone listen to her, especially after she’d spent so much time and money trying to figure out why she wasn’t feeling good.
Her dietitican recommended nutrient, food sensitivity and thyroid testing. Fox says the results left her in disbelief.
“My results showed a lot of allergies and significant nutrient deficiencies. All the good things I was trying to do on my own didn’t have much impact because my body wasn’t functioning,” she says. “I was prediabetic, (my) gums were receding and my thyroid was a mess.”
She says those results were difficult to hear because she’d made so much effort to stay healthy. She says she couldn’t think how she’d be able to turn it around.
What works for you may or may not work for someone else. There is no one-sized approach. This is something you do for you. – Jennifer Barnett Fox
“I had to eliminate grains, dairy, gluten and excess carbs for six months,” Fox says. “My diet was essentially meat, fat, nuts and vegetables. There wasn’t much variety and it was impossible to eat out or have meals with friends.”
She says she was cranky over those first few weeks. She wondered if this approach would be the latest one that wouldn’t work out.
“I got so tired of eating the same kinds of things,” she said. “I was pretty miserable.”
Not only was the repetitive diet discouraging, so were her initial results. Fox said she stuck with it out of curiosity, a motivation to get well and because of her dietitian's support.
“She believed my health could improve,” Fox says. “On the days I doubted, I could remind myself that she believed. Some days, that was all that kept me on track.”
Significant improvements did come, though Fox says it was nearly a year before the bigger ones arrived. She says she even saw improvements in areas she’d never considered to be a problem.
“When people asked what I did, I said I changed my diet. Not many people believe you when you say that,” she says.
Fox says she’s now sleeping better, rarely has headaches and the recession in her gums has reversed. She said her thyroid has normalized, her body temperature is lower and she has better tolerance for working out in the heat.
She said her experience with Integrative Health taught her that she’s responsible for her health on a daily – even hourly – basis. Every personal decision plays a part, whether it’s choosing to eat certain foods or opting to drink more water.
“I am the master of my health in many ways and I don’t think people really want to believe that or to take responsibility to that extreme,” she says. “Yes, you can take a pill, but there are side effects and it may or may not work. What you put in your body fuels it in so many ways.”
Fox says she thinks the decision to work with Integrative Health was one of the most important things she’s ever done for herself and she’s thankful for it. She says anyone considering integrative health needs to realize that every person is unique.
“What works for you may or may not work for someone else,” she says. “There is no one-sized approach. This is something you do for you.”