I knew there had to be a better way
but it took me nearly 2 decades to discover what that was...
and it started with gaining a better understanding of; myself, my story, my family history, my personal history, my cycle, and so much more.
Dr. Kierstin here...
That’s when I started my period.
(sorry, not sorry fellas, half the world menstruates at one point in their life)
Like anyone going through puberty, my body began to change. My weight started to increase, curves kicked in, acne showed up, mood started swinging, and cramps were 10/10 (10 being the ouchiest). My mother struggled with acne as a young girl leaving her with permanent scarring, so when I started developing the same skin issues she took action right away and got me into the dermatologist (bless her). She also recognized my PMS struggles and got me into the gynecologist. My options included birth control and pain killers for my PMS, I denied both and just relied on good ol' heating packs for the cramps and more chocolate for the mood swings. As for the acne, with my dermatologist we experimented with various topical solutions, antibiotic treatments, face washes, toners, I tried off-brand pro-active, and all sorts of things. I vividly remember him telling me that I would never have completely clear skin. We found some topicals to be helpful and so I stuck with those but noticed my skin was thinning and becoming more sensitive with over use. There had to be a better way.
And then there was the pesky weight gain. It's hard being a teenager; peer pressure to look a certain way, comparison to bodies that you think if you tried hard enough you could look like, harassment from boys, mean-girls, the list goes on and my struggle with my body image only got worse.
I began to learn more about nutrition and found myself yoyo-ing with various fad diets I'd see in magazines and began going through phases of not eating, for instance before heading to the beach with friends, and then binge-eating, for instance making a whole batch of cookie dough to hide in the freezer and eat when no one was watching. I even joined wrestling in High school to help me lose weight, which is when I started learning about sports nutrition and counting calories. My mom would also clip out articles about how the chocolate I was eating was contributing to my acne and my weight gain, not what you want to hear when that's your coping mechanism.
My mom would eventually hear about Dietetics as I was beginning to look into college and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. It sounded like the right fit, I was interested in nutrition for obvious reasons and I felt like if I could figure out the secret to losing weight then I could help others do the same! So off I went to pursue an undergrad degree in Dietetics/pre-med, where I gained even more weight, reaching my heaviest at nearly 50 lbs over the weight I had identified with and idealized. Despite now having all the formulas and macro ratios someone trying to lose weight could dream of, I still couldn't do it. I ran 5ks, 10k, half marathons, full marathons, and triathlons, ate the 60-20-20 macro ratio I was taught in school, with only about a 10lb loss. WTF. There had to be a better way.
I searched for further education as I was nearing graduation and stumbled upon Naturopathic Medicine which had the philosophy of treat the root-cause. My intuition told me this was what I was meant to be doing, even though it was my first time hearing about this form of Medicine. And so off I went to Naturopathic Medical school where I would begin to learn about the many, many factors that impact our health (including what impacts our weight, acne, menstrual cycles, and mental health).
You see, looking back at my history after gaining this new understanding of health, I realized that I was never taught by any of my healthcare providers as a teen the impact that our mental and emotional wellbeing, diet, and lifestyle choices have on our hormones (aka my skin, weight gain, mood swings, etc).
...and my journey to medicine began around 11 years old.
Let’s talk about ACEs and the microbiome really quick.
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
There are 3 main types of ACEs;
Mother treated violently
These factors can increase risk of;
Unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, lack of physical activity, alcoholism, drug use, missed work and physical and mental health risks of severe obesity, diabetes, depression, cancer, heart disease, stroke, COPD, suicide attempts, and more.
There are many factors that impact our microbiome including; diet, stress, whether or not we were breastfed and vaginally delivered, exercise, brain health, environment, and more.
Diet; we need a wide array of healthy foods for a healthy and versatile microbiome, the health of our microbiome impacts what were able to digestion and absorb, system inflammation levels, as well as the messages our GI system sends to our brain impacting our mental health.
Now that you have that background let’s pivot back to the history.
Microbiome: I would binge-eat sweets, thought fruit snacks were healthy at the time, consumed a lot of carbohydrates including a lot of fruit (a lot), and had high stress. Upon getting to college, my stress eating and binge-eating sweets, pizza, and other comforting carbohydrates would be at an all-time high along with the added stressors of school, working 2 jobs, and holding leadership positions.
ACEs: My parents divorced when I was 5 years old, making for a very confusing time for much of my upbringing despite my mother’s best efforts. My father struggled with alcohol use at the time. My mom did her best to raise my brother and I while she was working multiple jobs and experiencing PMS herself. All this to say that there were some stressful and emotional times growing up due to these and other factors. (Side note: I am happy and proud to say my dad has been sober for nearly 7 years now, something I tear up just thinking about as I can only imagine the strength it took for him to get to that point. )
I reviewed my history compassionately, as I believe we are all doing our best with the level of awareness we are currently at. But taking my mental and emotional history as well as my diet history, family medical history, and my own menstrual cycle into account I now understand why I continued to struggle with my weight, stress, mood swings, cramps, and fluctuating skin issues.
I began to reconnect the dots of me.
Because, it truly was all connected. Through this reconnection and better understanding of the roots of my ailments I am better able to;
- self-regulate my nervous system
-eat more intuitively and also show compassion to myself when I find myself stress eating
- move my body more intuitively and not fight against my cycle and hormone fluctuations
- connect more deeply with others, my parents, my friends, and the world around me
All of which has helped me to reduce my cramping, my stress and overwhelm, my negative self-image, my false beliefs and finally feel more comfortable in my own body.
This is why I am so passionate about the health of the body as a whole. I now know through my own healing how deeply connected it all really is.
My mission is to help you become reconnected to your mind, body and the world around you, too.
Ready to get started?
KIERSTIN DEWITT, ND, RAc
Education and Training;
Licensed Naturopathic Physician (VT)
Registered Acupuncturist (MI)
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine
Master of Science in Acupuncture
National University of Health Sciences
Bachelor of Science in Dietetics
Central Michigan University
American Association of Naturopathic Physicians
Michigan Association of Naturopathic Physicians
Psychiatric Association of Naturopathic Physicians
The Naturopathic Medicine Institute
Michigan Society of Acupuncture
Dr. DeWitt was born and raised in Port Huron, Mi. She graduated from Central Michigan University with a B.S. in Dietetics and a minor in Entrepreneurship in 2013. Upon nearing graduation, she began to search for further education in nutrition, leading her to find out about Naturopathic Medicine which resonated with her philosophy in root-cause wellness. She went on to Naturopathic Medical school at National University of Health Sciences (NUHS) in 2014. During her time in school, she participated on a medical brigade in Nicaragua as apart of Natural Doctors International (NDI), it was on this trip that she was introduced to the treatment capacity of Acupuncture, after which she decided to dual-degree and begin the Master of Acupuncture program at NUHS. In addition to NDI medical brigades, she spent two weeks with NUHS’ first study abroad program in Zauzhaung, China where she was able to shadow specialty doctors and practice Traditional Chinese Medical techniques at an integrative hospital for Chinese and Western Medicine. After completing her year-long clinical internships at the NUHS Whole Health Center as well as rotations with the Salvation Army of Chicago, she graduated from both degrees in 2018. She returned to Michigan in 2019 after much restorative travel, hiking, and camping. Dr. DeWitt currently holds her Acupuncture registration from Michigan and is an NCCAOM diplomate. She is currently a licensed Naturopathic Physician in the State of Vermont. Please note that Michigan does not yet license Naturopathic Doctors, and that any work Dr. DeWitt does virtually with clients is educational, and geared towards empowering her clients in health and wellbeing rather than diagnosing and treating.