My Journey

My journey. We all have one. So many things add up to where we find ourselves today. My journey is one of grace. It has also been one of tears, illness, and heartache. It's been one of joy, gratitude, and discovery. But mostly, above all, grace.

I've been overweight most of my life. At times, just a little overweight. At other times, a lot overweight. I've also felt ill most of my adult life. Joint pain, asthma, IBS, abdominal cramping, headaches, migraines, sinus infections, pelvic pain, name it. For the last ten years or so, it's been one thing after another, and often all at the same time. The only diagnosis I ever received was endometriosis, in addition to irritable bowel syndrome. I finally had a hysterectomy in 2009, just four months after the birth of my third child. It removed the most extreme pain, and certainly the pains associated with my monthly cycle, but I was shocked to realize that once the endometriosis problem was removed, I still had pain inside. I began to realize that certain foods exacerbated the pain worse than others, the most notable being dairy, corn, and wheat.

At this point, you would think I would modify the way I ate. Nope. I stubbornly refused to change my diet and continued to consume pizza and ice cream (and anything else I wanted, in unhealthy quantities). I would simply medicate myself in the hopes of downplaying the symptoms. I practically owned stock in the company that manufactured LactAid tablets...not to mention Pepto Bismol, Tums, Kirkland Ibuprofen, and Tylenol. And regarding my aches and pains in other areas of the body, such as joint pain and headaches, well - I just figured that I had won the lottery of ALL my family's bad genes. Everything they all struggled with, combined in one lucky person! Honestly, I figured there was nothing I could do about it and would most likely die a miserable death at the age of 35. (Okay I am being a bit melodramatic here, but you get the idea.) I had basically lost hope that I would ever feel GOOD. Or even just okay. That I would be able to go a day where my energy didn't fizzle out by 2 p.m. because I felt lousy.

By the fall of 2011, I was at the heaviest non-pregnant weight I'd ever been. I was tired and miserable and my knees hurt so badly that I wondered if I would be in a wheelchair within a few years. I began to pray. In the beginning, my prayers went something like this (even with tears sometimes!):

"Dear Lord, I need your help. I'm desperate. I realize I am overweight and the way I eat is out of control. But honestly - I need you to give me the desire to change, because right now...I don't want to give up the foods I love. Life is hard and I find a lot of comfort in them! But I am beginning to realize that I should be finding my comfort in you...not in those foods. Can you help me?"

The book Made to Crave, by Lisa Terkhuerst, was a real influence during this time. Strangely enough, I hadn't even read it yet, but several friends had been impacted by it and their stories were inspiring to me. I realized that I had been using food as my go-to for comfort, reward, relaxation - you name it. My son has special needs and that can contribute to some very stressful days; food was how I numbed the pain of the hard days. It was also how I celebrated the good days. It was, in fact, the focus of my days. And it was literally making me sick.

As I began to pray about this, I also asked a friend to pray for me on this issue. It was a last-ditch cry for help. God was my only hope because I felt hopeless and helpless to change. So it began with a prayer of desperation.

It didn't take long for God to change my heart. I realized that I was speaking about food in the same way that an addict would speak about their vice of choice. I had a hard time imagining living without sugar and carbs - my two favorite food groups at the time. Once I recognized that I was addicted to the food,  I felt rebellious because I don't want to be addicted to anything. I don't want to say that "I can't live without ____________" ...fill in the blank.

If there is one thing I can't live without, I want that one thing to be my God and my Savior, Jesus Christ. Nothing else.

And so it began. One day, as I was reading my Bible, God pointed me to several Scriptures about the value of self-control. I realized that I had always (conveniently) skipped over those before, self-control not ever having been a forte of mine. I read about my body being the temple of his Holy Spirit, and I remembered how particular he was about how he wanted his temple to look and be taken care of back in the Old Testament. He also reminded me not to get overwhelmed by the big picture and not to worry about tomorrow (or the next day) but just to focus on TODAY. One step at a time. I made the decision to cut sugar and starchy carbs (like pastas, breads, any baked goods) out of my diet indefinitely until I felt like I had kicked the addiction (and hopefully lost some weight in the process). Over the next couple of weeks, God helped me along and I discovered that I could, in fact, survive without eating those things.

However, after making such a drastic change in my diet for a few weeks, I only lost one pound. Not to mention, I was in pain all the time. (Mind you, I just thought that's how I had to live the rest of my life.) That's when I heard about an "elimination diet". I received an invitation to join the Break Free Club, where they claimed that by removing the most common major allergens from your diet for 28 days, you could let your body rest...determine what foods you were sensitive to...break free from sugar and food cravings....lost weight...AND be healed from several things I was struggling with. WHAT?? Really?

And that's when I heard that small voice inside that had to be God. He said, "Courtney, you just want to lose a few pounds. But I want to heal you from the inside out." For the first time I felt it: hope. Hope that maybe things didn't have to stay this way. Hope that perhaps there was healing for someone like me, who struggled from all of these seemingly unrelated maladies.

So, I took the leap. I joined the Break Free Club. I figured I could do anything, no matter how hard, for only 28 days. For the first two weeks, it was the hardest thing I had ever done. I woke up every morning and prayed that God would give me self-control as well as energy for the cooking and shopping that had to be done. It consumed my energy and my thoughts. I experienced withdrawal symptoms for the whole first week. But every day, God's grace enabled me to make it happen. Using the recipes the Break Free Club provided, I was cooking from scratch in a whole new way. And the extra pounds on my body just started to melt away.

But here's the really cool part: I started feeling better. I stopped taking almost all of my medications. My joint pain went away. After I got over the withdrawal symptoms in the first week or so, the headaches went away. The acne went away. The brain fog and food cravings went away. And slowly but surely, the abdominal pains subsided.

I was healing.

I just stopped and reflected and almost started to cry after writing those words. Healing. That's powerful stuff. 

After 28 days, I had no desire to go back. I also had no desire to try and re-introduce any of those foods back into my body. Through the Break Free Club I learned that we have different levels of reactions to foods. In a blood test, some foods may show as allergens, but our body can still have an intolerance or sensitivity to them. I already knew I had sensitivities to several of the foods I had cut out, and my body was thanking me for cutting them out. I didn't want to mess with a good thing and add them back in. In the meantime, I was educating myself on the whole and organic foods movement, and became convinced that there were chemicals and additives in the food I was eating that were making me sick. My body was living proof of the power of food. I've decided that food is like a superhero that can choose to use its power for good or evil - to heal or to destroy. 

And since my body is not just mine, but also God's house...I want his house to be the healthiest it can possibly be. I want to take care of it with reverence, out of respect for Him. He deserves the very best. 

Now, I'm making my own way in this whole new life I've found. I still cook without gluten, wheat, yeast, dairy, eggs, soy, shellfish, fish, sugar, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors/flavors. (Regarding sugar - I still occasionally bake with sugar for a birthday or special event - but I have learned that it is like a drug to me, so I have to be very careful and vigilant to not allow it into my diet regularly. I get addicted to it again very easily.) Oh, and I've lost forty-plus pounds. And I'm never going back.

God's grace has brought me here. I never could have done this without Him.

I'm whole and free.


  1. I'm so grateful for you, Courtney, and so excited to not only continue to hear your journey as the Lord unfolds it, but also to be on my own. Thanks for sharing, love! - dawnette

  2. Very cool to read this. How long did it take to drop 40lbs? That's amazing. I'm similar to you, in the fact that I also have a carb/sugar addiction but truly feel better when I have NONE OF IT in my system. I have been wanting to start more of a "Paleo" style way of eating/living, but I just haven't prepared myself correctly. I am hoping to do some food prep today to get myself on track! Thanks for even more motivation!

  3. Dawnette - thank you and you're in my prayers! xo

    Summer - I dropped 40 lbs. in about four months. Crazy, right? But I am not worried about "how fast" I lost it, because I know I'm healthier now than I've ever been in my life! Cooking more "Paleo" is a lot of work, and can feel really inconvenient sometimes - but it is SO worth it!

  4. This is so powerful, Courtney! I am inspired!


  5. You have much to be proud of! It's takes real courage to change everything in the face of our food culture. Good for you! And here's to feeling better and feeling well for the first time in ages.....

    1. Thank you, Tessa! Sometimes when the going gets tough, I need to come back to this post and remind myself of how things used to further inspires me to keep it up. :-)

  6. Totally read through your entire blog! Ha! Amazing story. Beautifully written. So glad you are finding answers. And definitely going to try some of these recipes. Journeying with you!

    1. Thank you Kristy! It's great to "meet" you! It's so nice to have people to journey with. Thanks for reading and commenting. Let me know if you try any of the recipes. :-)

  7. Courtney, where have you gone? I just found this blog and you are so inspiring, but seem to have stopped blogging?

    1. Hi Jen,
      Sorry I'm late to the party! I have sadly neglected this little blog for a while now. Thanks for your encouragement to keep at it! I may just get back to it.


Thank you SO much for your comment! Have a fabulous day! :-)