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I. Am. Healthy. I. Am. Strong.

Posted on August 13, 2012

I am Healthy. I am Strong.

Glory and thanks be to God for healing me, giving me strength to place one foot in front of the other. He placed special people in my life that never gave up on me, there are people that prayed for me even when I didn’t know it.

It’s been a very long time since my last post. This is going to be very different than any other blog post. It’s not about pictures, it’s a very personal story. I am going to be very open, honest and I pray that my testimony in some way helps someone.

Very few people know I was sick with bulimia an eating disorder, from my teen years well into adulthood. Some probably suspected it, some asked me and of course I denied it. I’ve also dealt with depression since my teens, & at times (even recently) major depression. The eating disorder took many years to be healed from with the binging & purging. However, even after that healing I continued to restrict my food intake. There was a constant battle in my mind that I was fat, and thoughts that being thin would make it all okay. I was still sick, even tho the bingeing and purging had stopped. I had dealt with those ‘fat’ thoughts for so long (18 years) that they consumed me.

My brother being killed on June 10th 2010 took me down into major depression that lasted almost 2 years. Having been on anti-depressants in the past, I hated them, I refused to take them again. My body finally started breaking down from years of being malnourished and from the depression. For those that have never experienced major depression, it isn’t just about feeling sad or sorry for yourself. It’s hard to function through the simplest tasks, and your entire body is in pain. I had non-stop headaches and migraines.  I took Advil so much that it began making me sick, it tore up the lining in my stomach. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, and was tired all the time. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I shut out my family and my friends. I just stayed in bed, only getting up to do the minimal amount of house work required, do a photo shoot or to sit at my computer. I thought photography made me happy and it did help me….to a point, but it was short lived.  God is who I needed to look too, I needed to stop searching for happiness through gratification of others’ opinions in my work. I am a virtuous woman through Christ alone, my identity is in HIM! My husband and kids were wife-less and mom-less. Getting myself together to make appearances in public – at the kids’ school, the kids’ sport functions, at church, with friends..it completely exhausted me. Then I grew very sick, not knowing at the time it was my gallbladder. I reached the point I couldn’t take the pain anymore, from everything. I wanted, I needed to get better, to get out of the dark black hole. See, this is where God was carrying me and I knew He had been for a long time.  I was ready to walk beside Him. The doctors took several months to figure out my stomach problem. Before they could figure it out, I was desperate to find a way to help my stomach feel better, so I did a 2 week body detox. This started a healthy diet. No sugar, gluten, dairy, no simple white carbs,  no caffeine,  low sodium, adding lots of water, veggies, fruit, good lean proteins etc. I decided in April that I needed to make more changes. I wanted to continue with the healthy eating. I began having 5 meals a day and added exercise. I wanted to be healthy & strong, I felt very different in my heart.  I was beginning my journey down the road to complete healing from the eating disorder & from depression. I was taking the steps needed to allow God to do a work in me and much, much more.

I did end up having my gallbladder taken out on July 3rd, but it took until June for them to decide it was the culprit. Through the different tests they did to find out what was wrong with me, they found a pre-cancerous polyp in my colon. Proof that if I had not had the colonoscopy, it was highly likely I could have developed colon cancer later in life. I’m only 35 years young.

Back to April. I started a fitness boot camp, it was a great kick start for me. I grew used to getting up early to do my workouts. I couldn’t sleep at night, so getting up at 4:30am to work out was a HUGE challenge in itself. After 4 weeks of boot camp I joined a gym. I began lifting weights and started running outside. It took a good 5 weeks for my body to realize “Oh, okay. I get it.”  That first 5 weeks was hard. I kept thinking, “good grief why am I not seeing any differences”, I was working so hard -what a test it was to keep pushing!  My body was adjusting to actually having food in it. I weighed 142 in April on my first day of boot camp. I weigh approximately 136 lbs now. Big deal right? ONLY 6 pounds?! BUT, I lost inches of fat and gained muscle. I went down 4 sizes in my clothes. I have had my body fat professionally measured, it’s at 15%. I’m healthy & strong, inside & out! I have only weighed 2 times since I started, I don’t own a scale at home. For the first time in my life I don’t care what the number on the scale says. I used to think I should weigh a certain number and believe me, 136 isn’t even close. I can eat without feeling that I’m going to get fat. There are times that I think “oh that’s bad, I shouldn’t have eaten that”. That’s something I still struggle with, but I’m working on it.  I finally believe the entire metabolism concept of : “you’re body is a furnace, you have to put good fuel in it on a continuos basis to keep the fire going!” I make a conscious effort to eat plenty of good protein, good carbs, fresh veggies & fruits, & good fats too! I no longer desire to be “skinny”, those thoughts no longer consume me.

Friends, it feels extraordinary to feel good. I’ve NEVER felt this good. I’ve never been this healthy.

My husband has started exercising with me now! That in itself is an entire testimony. Sometimes our boys go with us when we exercise, it’s brought us closer as a family. When your husband who’s never worried about eating healthy before, and your kids all start making healthy food choices on their own, it’s awesome. The boys see their Dad excercising and eating healthy. It’s incredible to see through their eyes the changes going on. God has more than healed me from depression and an eating disorder. He is restoring our family and my relationship with my husband and my boys. You know that saying “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”. It is all too true. I’m stepping out, one foot in front of the other. I’m walking hand in hand with HIM.

God is so good.

I am still healing from the loss of my brother. My husband and I have been dealing with major financial problems over the past 30 months. Things aren’t all peachy keen and perfect, I’m not trying to paint that perfect picture hoax. But I’m back, I’m not rolling over and hiding my face anymore, allowing Satan to win. God is my strong tower – my deliverer, my husband is my best friend and my boys inspire me in countless ways.

I am more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ!

Sweet words from a friend on my testimony: “Praise God for healing and results where spiritual is so big it takes on physical”.

A capable, intelligent and virtuous woman – who is he who can find her?

She girds herself with strength [spiritual, mental, and physical fitness for her God-given tasks] and makes her arms strong and firm.  -PROVERBS 31:10, 17

1 Timothy 4:8 says physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises reward in both this life and the next NLT

A calm undisturbed mind and heart are the life and the health of the body. – Proverbs 14:30

7 comments on “I. Am. Healthy. I. Am. Strong.

  1. Stephanie on said:

    Read “The Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyer. I know people can be wishy washy about her but she knows what she is talking about in this book! I’ve been reading it for a couple weeks now.

  2. Stephanie on said:

    I LOVE YOU ANDREA! I deal with depression & have been “labeled” by the medical community with a diagnosis that I don’t believe is me. I’ve struggled with depression for 15 yrs. It can’t define who you are. You are in Christ not in the world. God made you to be His special creation. The only one in the history of existence. I’m glad they found out it was your gallbladder. I had the same problems too. You are BEAUTIFUL just like you are! I’m glad your ok now with how God made you! I’m ECSTATIC God has helped you change permanently! I’ve been worried about you & praying for you for a long time. Because I seriously LOVE you…. Coming from me you have to know that means a LOT!

  3. mary whiteman on said:

    My Sweet sister,
    I love to hear stories of people who have found intimacy with Christ. Let Him into the places no one has ever gone and allowed Him to heal and rebuild those broken places. And then to see them turn around and comfort others with the comfort in which they were comforted with. Beautiful story Andrea. I will be by your side every morning cheering you on!

  4. Kimberly Baird-Stephenson on said:

    Hey Girl, I had wondered what had happened to you, I got chills & tears as I ready your blog post. Praising The Lord with you for what he has done in your life and I know he will use your testimony to touch others. Will keep you in my thoughts and prayers, Even though we have never met you are very close to my heart as I have watched you tap into your God Given Talent with that camera. I admire and respect you immensley…..Hugs, Kim from TN/NC

  5. Andrea, I hope you know how much your testimony can, has, & will help others. I have battled depression since I was a teen. It got progressively worse, especially at times I should have been at my happiest. I have been on & off antidepressants for 6 1/2 years with only periodic relief. They kept switching me to different doses & medicines with little to no change. What made it worse was/is the battle within me feeling I was to weak & faithless to just trust & believe God for my healing. About a month ago I got the results of another blood test (among several, to figure out what was going on) that I’m positive for cyp2d6, which means my liver doesn’t metabolize certain drugs well. The main drugs on that list ANTIDEPRESSANTS! So they prescribed me a larger dose of a stimulant drug that is very addictive. I did not feel comfortable taking it at all. So I said, “That’s it, I’m done,”. I weaned off all the meds & now I’m leaning on God, excersizing & trying to eat right & fill in all my nutritional needs. Taking it day by day. I want to be a mom to my kids & a wife to my husband to the fullest. Thank you so much for sharing! The enemy always tries to make us think that we are the only one’s & nobody would understand but the devil is a liar & there is power & strength in numbers!

  6. Rachel Hudson on said:

    Thanks for sharing your story. Thanks for your vulnerability and testimony of what God is doing in your life. It’s amazing how if we find our identity in Him how it changes everything. Excited to see the all that the Lord has for your life. Keep telling your story, your victory is someone else’s breakthrough. Praying many blessings for you and your family!!!

  7. Shawna Everett on said:

    Andrea, thats an amazing story, and you are such a beautiful girl. Thanks for sharing, I know that takes ALOT of courage, to put that out there in the public sphere. But I think part of true healing is letting go of the shame. Letting go of the shame means allowing people to know the real you, depressed, bulimic, courageous, spiritual, healed or not healed. This bulimia, it does not define you. You are not it. You are a beautiful woman battling it. You are doing amazing things with the help of god. It’s amazing. I wish I had the perseverance to exercise the way I need to and to eat a little more healthy. (I do pretty well…but that darn chocolate!)
    I know about the shame and the hiding of the real me all too well. For years I dealt with severe, disabling and chronic panic attacks which slowly developed into agoraphobia. It is a battle I still fight, but not on a daily basis like before. God has taken me on such a long and amazing journey. Getting to know myself better, to reveal to people the true me..hidden under layers of disguises. (all to hide my weaknesses; ie; anxiety) But a good friend once told me that I was not the anxiety. It was only one very small part of this huge part that was “me”. So I guess that’s what I’m rambling on about. I felt such a connection when I read your post. the thing is, the more we reveal…the more and more people who start stepping forward revealing as well things that they battle too. (depression, sexual abuse, anxiety etc etc…) the list goes on, because EVERYONE has SOMETHING. That is my mantra now. I find it to be so true. No one is exempt from some issue. (health-wise or mental-health wise. ) Well, I guess I’ll stop here. Thanks again for sharing.
    Shawna Everett

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