Dr. Kendra Pearsall's Weight Loss Story

I was once overweight with an out of control addiction to food—especially sugar. And now that I’ve made peace with food and I coach people on how to achieve a healthy weight. Although my personal struggle with my weight and compulsive overeating is not something I’m anxious to share with the whole world, I think it’s important to share with you that if I can overcome my obstacles to optimal weight and health, you can too. 

A bit about my background and upbringing--my father was a dentist and my mother was a homemaker. My dad was a chubby kid who hated being overweight, and when he was in college he went on a rice and vegetable diet and lost 35 pounds. He’s been quite thin ever since (5’8” and 135 pounds). Dad has always been paranoid about his weight; he exercises every day and eats plenty of toxic diet foods like artificial sweeteners and margarine in his quest to be “healthy and thin.”

Growing up, I remember my Dad was very disciplined. Every single morning he got out of bed to do floor exercises like sit-ups and push-ups and every noon he spent his lunch-hour jogging, even in the intense heat of the humid Michigan summers. Sometimes in the evening he would play a game of catch or go for a bike ride with my brother, Ryan, and I.

Although I look back and can admire my father for his commitment to his exercise regimen; I believe that it is easier for men to take time out for themselves than for women. Women tend to be martyrs. They often are the strength of the family, but this role of being the caretaker of everyone makes it doubly important for women to empower themselves by taking the time to nurture themselves. 

Dad had his share of eccentricities. For example, he was absolutely repulsed by fat people and whenever we would go out in public and he would point out the obese to Ryan and me and say, “Look at those fat people! Boy do they need to go on a diet!”

Perhaps they were a painful reminder of his overweight days.

It always saddened and embarrassed me to hear my dad make fun of other people. I knew all too well what it was like to be ridiculed for being different, as I was considered a nerd and a misfit in junior high and high school for being smart and for thinking outside the box.

Of course, anyone who dared to not follow the rigid social norms of high school was made fun of, and I was no exception. My years in junior high and high school (‘85-‘91) were marked by a great deal of anxiety and depression due to my low self-esteem and sensitivity to criticism; it broke my heart to see anyone else suffer from being ridiculed as I was on a daily basis. I would pray that one day I would be able to have the self-confidence to stick up for myself and all others who were suffering because of the cruelty of others.

The Beginning of My Struggle With Food Addiction

My parents had a very rocky marriage, and when I was in 7th grade, my parents separated. One of the things that bothered my dad was that my mom was "20 pounds overweight." That was his perception. The truth was that my mother was an active woman who was 5’4” and weighed 135 pounds -- well within her normal weight range.    

Dr. Pearsall's Weight Loss StoryAfter the divorce, though, she did become an emotional eater and a sugar addict. Eating healthy was very important to her, but with the pressures of working on her master’s degree, while teaching full-time and raising two children as a single mom, she turned to sweets as a reward for her hard work. My poor mom certainly did not have genetics in her favor. Most of her relatives are overweight or obese. The deck was stacked against her.

Mom tried to keep “junk food” out of the house, but when she occasionally brought home a pie or cake, it was such a novelty that mom, Ryan and I would dive into the dessert like a band of starving vultures and it would disappear within minutes. I also remember whenever I would visit someone that had junk food in their house, like my maternal grandmother, I couldn’t wait to get my sugar fix.

I’d give my grandma a cursory hug and then immediately head for her cupboard that stashed M&M’s, chocolate chip cookies, and candy bars. To a junk food junkie like me, it was better than a goldmine! I would eat until I was sick. Mom would rebuke me to stop, but I would sneak more food when everyone was asleep.   

Life In The Dorm

My adolescent metabolism could handle the occasional junk food binges, so it wasn’t until I went to college that I developed a weight problem. Living in the dorms, I had access to a cafeteria open from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week with unlimited food! Unlimited desserts! Unlimited soft-serve ice-cream sundaes! Yippee!

To my dismay, by the end of the first year, I had unwillingly joined a group called the “Freshmen 15” (freshmen who gain 15 pounds the first year of college due to the cafeteria food and alcohol).

The unlimited exposure to cafeteria junk food also gave birth to a binge eating disorder. Sometimes I would eat so much I would try to stick my finger down my throat to make myself throw up, but I never could figure out how to do that (thank goodness).

Starving Student In Europe

The summer after my sophomore year, when I was 19, I traveled to England on a work permit. I was the epitome of the word ingénue -- a naïve young woman. London, England is one of the most expensive cities in the world. I was so worried about running out of money before I found a job that I ate very little and walked many miles a day to interview for job positions.

After working for two months as a $5/hr. cashier at The Reject Shop, I quit my job to go backpacking around Europe with a college acquaintance, Cindy. She was even more frugal than I was, and she convinced me that our goal would be to travel across Europe on as little money as possible. She declared that we would not eat at any restaurants, go to any attractions, or take any public transportation, and we would try to sleep on trains to save money on lodging whenever possible. We ate a diet of bread, cheese, and peanut butter.  

I quickly became sleep deprived, malnourished, and highly irritable because of my low blood sugars. The final straw of my ascetic, miserable travels with Cindy was in Florence, Italy. I was doubled over with the most severe hunger pains in my life. I told Cindy that I urgently needed some food, and I dragged my weary body into a bakery to buy a loaf of white Italian bread and a jar of peanut butter, almost faint from hunger. As soon as I paid, I ferociously ripped into the bread and began to eat as fast as I could. “Hey wait!” Cindy whined, “Save some for me!”

I was so desperate for the gnawing stomachache to go away, I kept eating. Cindy repeated her whining, and I turned on her like a rabid dog and snarled, “Get your own bread! I’m STARVING and I can’t stand to listen to you another minute!” My low blood sugars and sleep deprivation had turned me into a monster like Mr. Hyde.

After that Cindy decided to stop being my traveling companion and left the next morning to journey alone to Switzerland. Although I was sad and very afraid to be alone, I really was not enjoying our miserly lifestyle. One day I gasped when I looked at myself in the mirror at a mere 105 pounds (I am almost 5’7” tall). Most of my life I never felt thin enough; now for the first time I was quite concerned about the skeleton standing before me. My cheeks were sunken, my stomach was concave … I had become rail thin just to save money? It was all so stupid.

The purpose of traveling to Europe was to enjoy experiencing another culture. I had never been more miserable in my life and was anxious to go home. I had missed the point entirely. My poor nutrition had deeply affected my mind, body and soul. Now I know what it is like to go to the extremes that movie stars and models go to, just to be thin.

Never again.  

Cooking On My Own For The First Time

When I returned to college for my junior year, I moved into an apartment and had to cook my own food for the first time. I didn’t know how to cook at all and the thought of touching raw meat turned me off so all my meals were vegetarian. I ate a lot of easy meals like cereal and pasta, and on that diet my weight climbed to 140 pretty quickly. 

I tried using cookbooks. The first one my mom gave me was Dr. Dean Ornish’s vegetarian cookbook Eat More Weigh Less. The recipes were horrible. In the beginning I would offer my Ornish creations to my roommates to sample but after awhile no one dared to even try a bite. I became infamous for my horrible cooking due to that cookbook. Then my mom gave me a vegan book by John Robbin’s, Diet For A New America, which detailed the horrors of animal factory farms and their inhumane conditions.

I was a bleeding-heart liberal at the time, and, of course, I tried to be a vegan out of protest of the animal factory farms. I asked a vegan acquaintance for vegan cookbook recommendations, and he recommended John McDougall’s The McDougall Program: 12 Days to Dynamic Health, which advocated a very low-fat vegan diet. Dr. McDougall’s wife came up with the recipes, and they were so bad I couldn’t even get stray animals to eat the food. Boy did I miss the dorm cafeteria.

My Two College Obsessions: Getting Straight A’s and Being Thin

I was obsessed with two things during my college years, getting straight A’s and trying to be thin. I still have food journals from my college days. Every day had a similar theme where I vowed to be “good” and then would sabotage myself in some way and blow the whole diet. It was difficult living with three other roommates, because they all bought a lot of tempting junk food like brownies, cheesecake, and ice cream, and I could not control my urges to eat their food.

Dr. Pearsall In CollegeIn addition to my eating disorder, I still had a problem with anxiety and depression. I became obsessed with having straight A’s on every assignment and for every class. I was also phobic of being romantic with men. Any time a guy showed interest in me, I felt nauseous and usually did something to sabotage his romantic overtures. By the time I was 22 and finally graduated from college with a BA in psychology (after changing my major 15 times), I still had never had a boyfriend in my life.

My excuse for not dating was that I was too fat and too sexually inexperienced, and that there was probably something wrong with any guy who liked me anyway. I didn’t like myself very much, and my weight was an excuse to avoid my fear of intimacy.

After I graduated from college, I decided to devote an entire summer to studying for the Graduate Record Exam so I could get into a good PhD clinical psychology program. I don’t think very many people are so neurotic about their GRE test scores that they would do nothing but study for this test, but I was so full of fear and had such low self-esteem, I needed something to distract me from all my emotional pain.

I moved back to Mt. Pleasant to live with my mom and brother. I was terribly depressed and bored and could not focus on studying. Going from college where I had lots of friends and activities, to sequestering myself in my parent’s house, I felt lonely and isolated. I was unable to focus on studying, because I had a great deal of anxiety about my present and future. Every hour, I found myself in the kitchen foraging for something to eat to take my mind off my anxiety. All I could think about was if I didn’t score at least in the 90th percentile of this exam and get into a top graduate program, my life would be over.

I was eating a lot of low-fat, high-carb foods, the exact opposite of what my metabolism requires. I was also eating a great deal of wheat, which I was allergic to but did not know it at the time. The wheat made me very drowsy, which only fueled my anxiety about not being able to focus on my studying (it was like trying to study while drunk). I was also addicted to sugar and craved it constantly.

Meanwhile, I wasn’t sleeping very well. I was binging a few times a week. I wasn’t getting any sun (hence, nor any vitamin D) or taking any vitamins. My nutrition was terrible, and I wasn’t exercising, because I didn’t feel I had the time. My life was a mess. I was now officially overweight at 155 pounds; weighing more than I ever had in my life, I felt like a big fat loser.

Dr. Pearsall OverweightMy Foray Into Naturopathic Medicine

In the midst of applying for psychology graduate programs I learned about a new profession I had never heard of before: Naturopathic Medicine. I had considered medicine when I was an undergrad, but I didn’t want to be a pharmaceutical drug pusher like the rest of the medical profession. Naturopathic Medicine, though, was completely different.

Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) are primary care physicians trained in both conventional drugs and surgery and in natural therapeutics. The philosophy of the profession is derived in part from a Hippocratic teaching more than 2,000 years old: Vis mediatrix naturae -- “nature is the healer of all diseases.”

Naturopathic physicians diagnose disease and treat patients by using natural modalities such as counseling, energy psychology, clinical nutrition, herbal medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, physical manipulation, and hydrotherapy, among others. They choose treatment based on the individual patient, not based on the generality of symptoms.

The six principles that guide the therapeutic methods and modalities of naturopathic medicine include:

1. First Do No Harm -- primum non nocere
Naturopathic medicine uses therapies that are non-toxic and effective.

2. The Healing Power of Nature -- vis medicatrix naturae
The human body possesses the inherent ability to heal itself. The physician’s role is to facilitate this process with safe, natural therapies.

3. Discover and Treat the Cause, Not Just the Effect -- tolle causam
Naturopathic physicians uncover and treat the true cause of the health problem, not suppress the symptoms with a drug.

4. Treat the Whole Person -- tolle totum
This includes treating the whole person on a mind, body and spirit level. It also means the totality of a person’s lifestyle, and all of their symptoms, must be considered as a whole to understand the complete picture and approach to healing.

5. The Physician is a Teacher -- docere
The physician’s major role is to educate, empower, and motivate patients to make changes to increase their health.

6. Prevention is the Best "Cure"

Prevention of disease is best accomplished through education and a lifestyle that supports health.

I read these words over and over trembling with excitement. “This is it!” I remarked. “This is the career I’ve always wanted but didn’t know existed. Forget psychology, I’m going to be a Naturopathic Doctor.”

After going back to college for another six months to get my pre-med prerequisites, I attended Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in March 1997.   

For the next four and a half years I learned how to diagnose the true cause of illness by starting with the patient’s lifestyle. I learned that all disease can be cured or dramatically improved by using the healing power of nature to assist the body’s own vital force.

It’s fascinating that natural medicine was the dominant form of medicine since the beginning of time, and it was only since the 1940s -- with the invention of antibiotics -- that medicine was usurped by the drug companies. The American Medical Association (AMA) began a campaign against naturopaths and homeopaths, making them out to be quacks and passing legislation to eliminate licensure for the naturopathic and homeopathic physicians and funding for the schools.

I saw patients in our school clinic, who were told they would have to live with their disease conditions for the rest of their lives, experience seemingly miraculous recoveries with very simple lifestyle changes and/or natural treatments.  

Food Allergies

It was also in naturopathic medical school that I tried every diet known to man. We were told to do this so that we could understand how different diets affect the body and to understand what if would be like for a patient to have to change their diet. I went from being a vegan to trying the Atkins diet for the first time -- one hell of a switch!

I also discovered during the allergy rotation diet I was on that I had a wheat allergy. The day I introduced wheat back into my diet, I fell asleep on my desk in the middle of writing a sentence, and I felt groggy for hours afterward. It happened every time I ate wheat. So now I had discovered why it had been so difficult for me to concentrate in school my whole life. My wheat-based diet was drugging me on a daily basis. Once I cut out the wheat, I noticed another welcome improvement: I magically lost seven pounds without trying.

Going High Protein and Fat

The final piece of my weight battle was learning about metabolic typing from Dr. Joseph Mercola, a natural health physician with a well-known natural health Web site, Mercola.com.

I discovered I was a protein type. Protein types thrive on higher amounts of fat and protein, both of which I had eaten very little of on my low-fat, vegetarian diet (no wonder why I was always hungry). I taught myself how to cook meat for the first time and ate a protein type diet with very little grains and dairy, and no wheat. At first it was difficult to overcome my lifelong conditioning that fat and animal protein were bad, but soon it began to feel like second-nature.

EFT—The Miracle Therapy

I also learned about Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). This is a simple technique where you tap on acupuncture points while tuning into your emotional upset, which helps clear the short circuiting of the body’s energy system. I had a great deal of emotional baggage to clear with EFT.


At the same time, I began reading books on spiritual concepts that helped me make sense of the world and my purpose in being here on Earth. To binge at a buffet no longer fit into my concept of who I was as a spiritual being.

As I focused on making all these lifestyle changes, I no longer obsessed about my weight. After five months, I got on the scale and to my surprise my weight had dropped to 124. This is the weight my body now naturally hovers at -- without any struggle or effort, and while eating as much as I want to.

It took 22 years, but I’m finally at peace with food and at peace with my body. This is a huge victory for someone who spent years hating her body and living for the future hope that everything would be perfect if only I was thin.

Not only that, but I haven’t binged since 2002, and my food cravings for wheat and sugar, along with my tendency to overeat, are all gone. I’m no longer a prisoner to food.

So, if you can relate to any part of my story on the weight loss roller coaster, take heart. My life’s mission is to share everything I’ve learned about using lifestyle changes and natural medicine to achieve your ideal weight. Believe me, if I can do it, you can too. My journey to my ideal weight inspired me to specialize my medical practice in natural weight loss so I could assist others to do the same.

An Ideal Weight is Your Natural Birthright

I believe that every overweight person can attain a normal weight by going back to nature, by living life the way Mother Nature intended. This program is designed to help you return to this natural lifestyle. In addition to lifestyle changes, we are going to address all of the factors listed in the table below. These are some of the factors that I have found contribute to obesity. Until all of the factors that may be contributing to your weight problem are addressed, you can try a hundred diets and exercise programs and you probably won’t lose weight.

Factors That Should Be Addressed In A Weight Loss Program

Poor nutrition

Wrong diet for metabolic type


Food allergies

Hormone Deficiencies

Emotional issues

Insulin sensitivity

Vitamin deficiencies



Blood sugar imbalances



Social pressure

Room Temperature



Lack of effective weight programs



Lack of exercise

Neurotransmitter imbalances


Artificial foods


Disease or disability

Lack of life purpose/goals

No spiritual foundation

Sabotage from others

Thinks like a fat person

There was a time in my life when I was overweight. If I had gone to one of those popular weight loss programs like Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig, they would have told me to buy the processed food that they sell and watch my servings (or my point totals). I may have lost a few pounds on the program, but would I have kept it off? Not likely. The five-year results from these and all weight loss programs are quite dismal, as the great majority of people who participate in them are still overweight five years later.

They are not comprehensive enough to treat the complex causes for being overweight. For example, I had many causes for my weight gain that needed to be addressed:

  1. Anxiety, emotional eating
  2. Binging
  3. Wrong diet for my biochemistry
  4. Sugar and wheat addiction
  5. Wheat allergy
  6. Vitamin deficiency
  7. Hypoglycemia
  8. Low self-esteem, self-hatred
  9. No spiritual foundation
  10. No concrete goals or life purpose
  11. Excuse of being “fat” to keep men away
  12. Neurotransmitter deficiencies

Now I ask you, how is a staff member at LA Weight Loss going to help someone with all these complex issues going on when they have no professional training, no credentials, and are compensated according to how many LA candy bars they sell?

In all the years of seeing weight loss clients, I’ve never seen a case that didn’t have at least 10 different issues contributing to the weight problem. Most people have many more.

The ENLITA Healthy Lifestyle Optimal Weight Program provides you with winning strategies and techniques that will address the complex issues that impede you from being at your natural ideal weight. You see, being at a normal weight is your natural birthright. It is how you were designed. We would all be slim if we didn’t get in our own way by creating an artificial lifestyle that causes disease. All we have to do is return to nature.

You’ve heard the phrase: It’s not nice to mess with Mother Nature.

It’s true!

But I’ve studied all of the popular weight loss programs and diets, and it doesn’t seem like any of them get it. Many of these programs promote the wrong information such as “Eating fat will make you fat” so they tell you to eat a low-fat diet to lose weight. This is complete nonsense.

My training as a natural health physician and my experience working with weight loss clients has taught me that there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to your diet. Weight Watchers counselors would be appalled at how much fat I eat. Yet despite all the fat I eat, I maintain a slender physique and never go hungry. Their statistics show that only 50% of their clients are slimmer five years after the program and only by an average 11 pounds (which means that they remain overweight).

But I don’t want you to take my word for the efficacy of the program. The only way for you to know the “truth” is for you to try this program and see it work for you.  

Perhaps you’ve read a few diet books and tried a program or two, and nothing has worked. Perhaps you’re skeptical and afraid to "fail" one more time. The only way to fail is to stop trying. Unlike other programs you may have tried, this one is quite different. In naturopathic medicine we treat the cause. If you have a long history of sabotaging your own weight loss efforts, then we will work on techniques to resolve that once and for all.

I had a patient named Susan who did not follow through with her verbal commitment to exercise. When we did some energy psychology work on why she sabotaged herself, we discovered that she felt in order for her to feel self-worth she had to be everything for everybody else and didn’t deserve to take time out for herself. Until we addressed this piece of the puzzle, there would be no way that she could succeed on any weight loss program.

After 20 minutes, we cleared the issue and now she exercises faithfully and she loves it!. She has since reached her ideal weight and has not gained back a single pound five years later.

It really can be that easy once you get to the root of the cause.

Trust that a natural lifestyle, natural food, clean air, pure water, exercise, and the proper amount of sleep are what keep you healthy -- and when you stray from nature, that is when health problems like obesity arise. Have trust in Mother Nature, and you WILL realize the ideal weight, the healthy mind and body – the vibrant enlightened being -- that you are meant to be.   

About the Author:
Dr. Kendra Pearsall, N.M.D. is a Naturopathic Medical Doctor specializing in natural weight loss and food addiction. She created Enlita.com to help millions of people achieve optimal health, natural weight loss and life success with her free weekly e-newsletter (sign up at the top of this page.)