Gathering Health with Kristin Retterath

Mother. Hunter. Health-Coach.

Outside of Grand Forks, North Dakota, Kristin Retterath grew up in one of the coldest places in the nation.

The cold never bothered her; she was too focused becoming a collegiate athlete. "I was an athlete all through my younger years, playing volleyball, really any sport...I ended up going to college to play volleyball." After years of playing volleyball, she soon had to choose another sport. From years of wear and tear on her body, she ended up tearing both of her ACL's in her first year at college but continued playing. "At that point, I didn't know all the issues I would later come to find out with food and what my body didn't like." Kristin consulted her surgeon for help after she started having trouble walking and experiencing debilitating pain in her joints. Her surgeon said, "You know Kristin, I'll help you play if you want, but you're not going to be walking by the time you are forty if you keep abusing your legs like this." She was in a tough spot: forced to decide between continuing playing a sport she trained her whole life for or leave it behind to stay healthy. "At the end of the day I didn't want to be in a wheelchair when I was forty, I wanted to be able to run, play with my kids, teach them how to play sports, and do all those types of things." She decided it was time to move on.

Her love of volleyball was rooted deep, but the thoughts of motherhood went deeper.

While earning a master's degree in education, she met her husband Brady. He introduced her to something that she never realized would be a focal aspect of her lifestyle. "He was a hunter, and I quickly learned that if I wanted to spend time with him, I needed to hunt or be fine staying behind." Being naturally competitive, Kristin took to the sport with ease. She became a shooter, a bowhunter, and a game processor. She didn't grow up hunting or even processing, but she was never afraid of a challenge.

Since Kristin stopped playing volleyball, her joints weren't hurting as much, but her pains quickly manifested in different areas of her body after she had her first child. "I started having massive stomach aches and cramping, my body was covered in hives and rashes. I didn't know what was going on." With her body getting through something as big as childbirth, her immune system had reached a breaking point and her body's reactions showed themselves to the fullest extent. After months of what she named flair-ups, Kristin was determined to find the reason why she felt all these symptoms. With hunting and a family to care for, she could not afford to be feeling as awful as she did.

After much testing, Kristin discovered she has severe food allergies. She is allergic to gluten, corn, and dairy. Allergies that not only cause rashes but cause overall inflammation in bones and joints. After so many years of struggle, she has found the true culprit: her food.

"The quality of meat plays a huge role in how I feel, how my digestive system feels." Once Kristin realized the scope of what she could and couldn't eat, she was left with a hunter's diet. "The way my joints were feeling by swapping out my meat was crazy. I didn't realize changing the quality of my food would have such an impact on my flair ups: like getting a big rash, stomach aches, and cramping." After facing hardship throughout her life because of her illnesses, and finally solving it, she wanted to help others who faced similar issues. With a master's degree in education, and a goal to help others change their lives, she became a certified health coach. On top of that, she created her own brand to inspire and coach others, called Gathering Health.

"The quality of meat plays a huge role in how I feel, how my digestive system feels."

When creating three meals daily, Kristin says the key is simplicity and replication. "It doesn't have to be fancy and it doesn't have to be hard. If you want to be healthy, then pick something that is sustainable."

Kristin gives specific recommendations to each client, but her foundations are built on eating lean meats like elk and deer, fruits and vegetables, and good carbohydrates. One client followed her recipes, listened to every instruction, and lost 35 pounds. Reflecting on how far he came, her client said something quite profound, "Kristin, I didn't realize how bad I felt till I felt better."

Words like his and many others give her confirmation of the success of her coaching. "People just don't know how good they could feel because they are so used to feeling crappy, tired, or drinking copious amounts of caffeine to get through the day."

Her foundations are built on eating lean meats like elk and deer, fruits and vegetables, and good carbohydrates.

With serious health conditions and allergies, processing and preparing most of her food is a necessity. Although her husband taught her how to hunt, she has taken over the processing for their family. Her husband Brady remarked, "this wouldn't get done if you didn't do it." For Kristin, processing has more than just one benefit. "There isn't much cost savings if you don't process it yourself. You buy the equipment once; you are not paying every year for it to be done by someone else." She continued, "When you are doing something time consuming, quality equipment is crucial. We have a LEM grinder, vacuum sealer, and dehydrator... now we are looking to get a new stuffer. Quality equipment that makes processing go faster, easier, and enjoyable. We are so thankful for LEM."