BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) — Jess Gold has been active her entire life.
A gymnast until she was 17, Gold was physically fit and nearing completion of law school when, at 26, her life changed.
"It started in my pinky," Gold recalled, rubbing the spot. "It was sore and red and I didn't know what it was. Then my feet got sore. Then all of the sudden, I woke up in the morning and I couldn't move at all.
"I just could not move at all."
Gold ignored those initial symptoms, but finally overcame self-admitted stubbornness and visited a doctor.
"I was a gymnast for so long I thought it was just wear and tear arthritis," she said. "I thought these were just sports injuries coming to the surface, but the day I couldn't move I knew it was something else."
The "something else" turned out to be rheumatoid arthritis, which doctors initially treated with a cortisone shot and something else Gold said made her "feel like Superwoman for a month."
She was then placed on the highest possible dose of methotrexate — also used to treat cancer — as well as a bi-monthly 3-hour IV drip.
The $17,000 annual medical bills soon became too much, however, and Gold began receiving a trial medication, which she said did "horrible, brutal" things to her body and caused a 30-pound weight gain.
"For someone who was a CrossFit competitor and a whitewater kayaker, being overweight for one of the first times in my life was more than I could take," Gold said.
What she did next resulted in a total life change.
"I quit the drug; I quit everything," she said. "My goal was to get those 30 pounds off as quickly as I could so I drank a gallon of water a day and ate really cleanly — proteins and green stuff — and my symptoms went away about a month later with just me doing that.
It wasn't immediate, however, that Gold realized the disappearance of her symptoms was linked to the change in her diet.
"After about a month and a half, I had lost the weight and I would have a cheat day and eat some pizza or whatever I was craving," she said. "I would feel really bad the next day or for a couple of days until I regained my regimen.
"I discovered that cheating equals pain."
Gold, who had already left behind her law career after spending seven months working in international commercial arbitration in Turkey, then began moving to what would become her new career.
Intrigued by the effect her diet change had on her health, she began online research, started attending conferences and reaching out to experts while considering becoming a registered dietician.
Because she says information provided by dietitians is what the government hands down, she decided it wasn't the direction she wanted to travel.
"It's backward," she said. "You have to figure out for yourself what's right for you and not necessarily listen to all the information that's out there."
Her research then led her down a "foundational, functional holistic route" and to the Nutritional Therapy Association.
"It aims at healing a body from the root cause," she explained of the diet-based approach. "A doctor will see that you have high cholesterol and will give you a pill to rearrange you numbers, but this is working from the inside out, starting with digestion and nutrient density and giving the body what it needs to heal itself."
Gold completed her training as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and began seeing clients in Georgia and Texas before moving to Oak Hill, where she works with clients at Pinnacle Chiropractic.
In her position, Gold assists clients in tailoring their diets to help with illnesses and problems ranging from menopausal symptoms to gastrointestinal disorders, acid reflux disease, diabetes and autoimmune conditions.
"I have had a lot of success with fibromyalgia clients and have had diabetic clients get off insulin and get their blood sugar regulated," she said. "And fat loss.
Anytime you eat the right diet, the fat will fall off."
The first step, she said, is getting her clients off of dairy and gluten, which she said results in improvement in just a few weeks.
"I slowly put things in and take things out," she said. "I take processed foods out and start adding whole food, real foods, vegetable animal source proteins and fats like coconut oil."
Although she says the diet brings great results, Gold says it can sometimes be difficult to find the right foods locally.
"I'm also starting a local chapter of the West Price Foundation, whose main purpose is to revive access to this type of food."
Gold says she looks forward to growing her practice in Oak Hill and hopes that although the nutritional therapy approach is different, potential clients come in with an open mind.
"If you're trying and it's not working, there's a reason it's not working," she said. "If you're feeling like you're try the same thing over and over and it doesn't work, try this."
She also offers a bit of advice.
"Eat real food," she said. "If it didn't live and die, don't eat it. If it didn't see sunshine, rain and dirt or eat something that saw sunshine, rain and dirt, then it's not real food."
Pinnacle Chiropractic is located at 325 Jones Ave. in Oak Hill. To make an appointment with Gold, contact 304-465-4325.
Information from: The Register-Herald, http://www.register-herald.com