Dr. Danielle Mitchell, who recently opened the Chattanooga Sports Institute, sums up her medical practice and her lifestyle with one question: This is your life. Are you who you want to be?

Mitchell-who is double-board certified in family practiceand nonoperative sports medicine-has changed her own life in recent years, losing almost 100 pounds and going from morbidly obese to an Iron Man competitor.

And she wants to use her experiences to help her patients.


“One of the changing points for me was when I saw in my own medical chart the diagnosis of morbid obesity,” she said. “It hit me in a very peculiarway. I decided I needed to make a change.”

She’s built her new practice from scratch, and she’s trained to take care of people of all ages.

Her business encompasses general practice, sports medicine and urgent care, and she’s currently taking new patients.With the urgent care option, patients can be seen quickly, she said.

She’s also serving as a business incubator and is aiming to help other private practitioners grow their businesses, she said.

There’s already another practitioner-Jerry Manning, laser specialist-at the Chattanooga Sports Institute.

AndMitchell wants to grow her business to focus on integrative medicine, which takes into account the whole person and includes all lifestyle aspects.

So she wants to bring in independent practitionersin areas such as massage or acupuncture to work in the facility.

The idea is to have the otherpractitioners be independent but have each private practice complement the others, she said.

Mitchell’s metamorphosis
She has struggled with weight her entire life.

“I can remember in third grade being conscious of my issues with weight,” she said.

She stayed active throughout medical school and ran a couple of marathons, but the weight wasn’t coming off, she said.

But when she saw the classification of morbidly obese on her own medical chart, she decided to change her life. So she joined Weight Watchers.

“It wasn’t an earth-shattering moment,” she said. “It was a very slow change that happened.”

She lost about 30 pounds in the first few months. By that time, she had made connections with people who were into cycling and triathlons.

Mitchellstarted with shorter events-she did a half-distance Iron Man competition. A year and a half later, she was down almost 100 pounds, she said.

This September, Chattanooga will host one of 11 races in the Ironman U.S. Series.Mitchell will compete in it, and it will be her sixth Iron Man competition.

To prepare, she’s doing a structured program of running, cycling, swimming and strength training, she said.

The practice
Mitchell said she wants to use her experience to relate to her patients and help them learn about nutrition and healthy living, she said.

“My philosophy is that everybody has an inner athlete,” she said. “If they don’t think they do, they haven’t had it tapped yet.”

And she doesn’t have the focus on weight loss, she said. Weight loss is a side effect of living a healthy lifestyle, she said.

When a patient comes into her practice, they will see inspirational memorabilia. The word “believe” is written on the wall. And an old pair ofMitchell’s size 22 pants also hangs on the wall.

“Why do I put my pants on the wall? Because I’m never going back,” she said.

If patients don’t know her story, they usually start asking questions once they see her office and old pants, and that sometimeshelps her connect with them, she said.


For information about the Eating Meeting or other questions, call 423-875-1005.

More information can also be found here.

For Mitchell, the turning point to a healthy lifestyle started with Weight Watchers. Now, one of her passions is nutrition.

“You’ve got to understand not only the basics of nutrition but a little bit more,” she said.

So she’s created what she calls the Eating Meeting, which is where attendees can learn the fundamentals of nutrition and exercise.

The current Eating Meeting session is full, but anyone interested in attending should call the clinic because other sessions will be starting every four weeks, she said.

Creating her business hasn’t been an easy process, she said. But it’s something she’s proud of accomplishing.

And she wants to help others by using her education, personal experience and passion.

“You’ve got to have somebody that’s passionate about it and who is going to be there and support you,” she said.