Registered dietitian, Confluence Health
Jess Tyrrell struggled with obesity during her teens and 20s before making a choice 14 years ago to live a healthier lifestyle. She lost 130 pounds over six years and, in the process, found her true passion.
“Through my own weight loss journey, I discovered what lit my soul on fire and I decided to make it my mission in life to help others live a healthy lifestyle,” she said.
She enrolled at Wenatchee Valley College in 2011 before transferring to Central Washington University in 2014 to complete her bachelor’s degree in food science and nutrition. She went on — commuting to CWU all the while — to earn a master’s degree in 2019.
She joined Confluence Health in 2017, where she is the wellness and outpatient dietitian, helping patients with weight management and eating disorders. She also serves as the dietitian for the employees, which includes helping create wellness meals served at the cafeteria and bistro, running the weight loss support group and teaching nutrition classes.
While in graduate school, she helped teach nutrition lab undergraduate classes, and helped run the Peer Nutrition Education Program, overseeing 12 student counselors. She hopes to teach again someday at the university level. In the meantime — until the pandemic arrived — she was teaching bike classes at Worx of Wenatchee Valley and guest speaking at the high school and other community events.
Q: What accomplishments are you most proud of?
A: I am most proud of the life I have created for myself and I feel lucky every day that I am living out my dreams.
I grew up in a family full of substance abuse and poverty. I was not taught that education was important and almost did not graduate high school. I am honest about the fact that I attempted college several times before I found my true passion.
In 2011, on my fourth attempt in college, I started pursuing a transfer degree at Wenatchee Valley College where I had hopes of eventually getting a nutrition degree and work as a dietitian. I went on to complete the rest of my education at Central Washington University, earning a bachelor’s degree in 2016 and a master’s degree in 2019.
My current position is the Wellness and Outpatient Dietitian at Confluence Health. I was hired in 2017 and have always felt that I am lucky because I get to do what I love every day in the community that I love.
Q: Who or what inspires you to be successful?
A: What inspires me most to be successful has become multi-faceted over time. Growing up in poverty and being told I would never succeed set the tone for me, pushing me to break free from this pattern and to share the message with every child and teenager that success is always possible.
I love to lead by example and show them that we do not have to follow this pattern in life that we were born into. We get to be whoever we want if we are willing to work hard.
My original inspiration to become a dietitian was my own personal weight loss journey. In the past 14 years I have kept off the weight and just completed my third and final excess skin removal surgery. This allows me to connect to my patients and peers because I have truly walked a mile in their shoes.
I have learned to be vulnerable and transparent about my journey by sharing the successes and struggles because this motivates and inspires others along their journey, which in turn continues to inspire my own journey.
I know that if I can have all the tools in my own toolkit and still encounter occasional setbacks and struggles, patients and peers need my support and guidance to find what is most effective for them. There is nothing more incredible and rewarding than watching the people have a “lightbulb” moment where they realize that living a healthy life is not as strict as the world makes it seem. Moments like these continue to inspire me to learn more and grow so that I can help more people on their journey to better health.
My own journey has taught me to be strong and resilient and it is always a good reminder to never stop chasing the things I want most in life.