Early Life

Hi! My name is Emily Flanders, but most people call me Emi. My life has mostly been what you would expect from a 23-year-old girl from Texas. I grew up in a middle-class, single-income household. My father was the breadwinner for most of my childhood. My mom cleaned houses and made candles or hairbows to make a little extra money until she eventually became a teacher. My mom cooked most of our meals and we went on walks or bike rides together frequently.

Around the time I entered middle school, I started gaining weight. I led a relatively normal lifestyle: I was on the swim team, participated in band, went to church, ate the same foods my peers ate (sandwiches, chips, school cafeteria food, my mom’s cooking, etc). I always enjoyed a variety of foods (my sister and I would even fight over the broccoli at the dinner table), but I gradually became heavier.

Light in the Darkness

My parents divorced when I was fourteen. I was angry and unsure of myself. I had a lot of negative emotions but locked them away as best as I could. I eventually fell into depression, stopped eating regularly, and didn’t take good care of myself. It was around this time that God found me. I had always believed in God and was saved at a young age, but it was still mostly my family’s faith, rather than my own. It was my depression that led me back to God. I remember feeling lost, alone, and hopeless. My heart just hurt, but I ignored it for more than a year. I didn’t want to feel those things! Yet somehow, God brought me healing. I surrendered to Him, allowed Him into my life, and recommitted to following Jesus Christ.

It took a long time (years), but God healed my heart. I still have scars, and occasionally I still feel like the wounds have reopened, but eventually I became healthier emotionally. God was always faithful to me, I just had to learn to trust Him.

Deteriorating Health

While I was becoming healthier emotionally, my physical condition worsened. I moved out at 18, worked constantly while attending college, and had that famous college kid diet: ramen and red bull. It was so much easier (and cheaper) to drive thru at Taco Bell, get a bean burrito off the dollar menu, and scarf it down on the way to work than to take the time to prepare a meal for myself. I put on pounds like crazy, no matter how active I was.

I had a myriad of other symptoms, too. I struggled with intense cravings, an irregular menstrual cycle, and severe menstrual cramps. I had trouble working out because my wrists, knees, and ankles would ache anytime I tried. And trust me, I tried. Nothing ever seemed to make an impact. When I managed to make any progress, my weight loss plateaued and eventually began to revert. It felt hopeless.

By the time I got married in 2019, I was 225 pounds.

It was around this time that things changed for me. My husband, JT, seemed like my opposite in many ways. There I was, 5’3”, overweight, just trying to keep it together. He was 6’4”, skinny, covered in lean muscle, athletic, friendly, and popular (I could go on and on, but I’ll stop for your sanity). I found myself wondering “why would he want to marry me?” But he didn’t see me that way. He loved me and he believed in me. And thank God he did. He supported me, allowed me to take a breather. I didn’t stop working, but I was able to cut back a lot and get my life in order.

Struggling to Conceive

When we were ready to try for a baby, things didn’t work out so well. My cycle was still all over the place – as in, several months without a period, then bleeding for a month straight – I wasn’t on the college kid diet anymore, but I still didn’t know what to eat to help my body get where it needed to be. After about 6 months of trying (and failing) to get pregnant, my sister-in-law suggested I go see a gynecologist.

I was terrified of going to see a doctor about my problems. I had tried to bring it up with my regular care physician several years earlier when my period first started going nuts. I suggested to her that I might have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which is a condition that affects the female reproductive system and is significantly influenced by the metabolic health and insulin sensitivity of the woman. My physician only shrugged it off, told me it was because I was overweight, and instructed me to count my calorie intake (I tried it more than once, but that method was never effective for me).

Thankfully, my sister-in-law referred me to a gynecology practice she had personally been to (and loved, which is unusual for anyone to say about any type of doctor). When I described my symptoms, I was given an ultrasound and it was confirmed. Just as I had suspected those years ago, I had PCOS. A “textbook case”, they told me.

Redirection and Healing

I started doing research on PCOS immediately, which led to research about diet, which led to food. It completely changed my perspective on how I needed to handle my body. It was never just “calories in = calories out.” I researched our food and healthcare systems. Perhaps I should have realized a long time ago. It wasn’t like I actually thought Doritos were healthy, but maybe I should have at least considered the truth. It’s all a business. It isn’t about the health of Americans, it’s about what makes money.

Around the same time, my mom was going down the same rabbit holes. We both concluded the same thing: the healthiest things for us to eat are foods in their most natural state, foods that God created for us to eat. We started a garden, raised Cornish cross chickens, butchered them, and ate them. We exercised together and found what worked for our bodies.

I lost 30 pounds at the beginning of 2021 and was pregnant by July. My son, Cassian, was born in March 2022. I gained weight after that, but now I’m back on track and ready to go. But now, I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned. I may not be what you were expecting. When you watch work out or health food videos, the people presenting them usually look about the same: lean, muscular, “ideal” body type. I’m not there yet, but one day I will be.

This is for everyone who needs a little help. I’m not going to sell you some diet or work out plan that will make everything magically better. Every person’s body is different, and you have to find what works for you, but maybe I can share something that will help you become a better, healthier version of yourself.

So, what are you waiting for? Come along for the ride!

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Comments (5)

  1. Reply

    I’m so enjoying reading through your new blog, Emi. And I’m excited to see that you are sharing your recipes along with your weight-loss journey, as I happen to already know you are an amazing cook. Those low carb egg wraps look mouth-wateringly delicious!

  2. Dad

    Reply

    I’m so proud of you and your little family! I love you so much and know you’ll continue this journey! JT is the best husband and father you could ever want and I’m so glad God brought y’all together! Thank you for adding me to this wonderful blog!💜

  3. Melissa

    Reply

    🥺 I’m absolutely so proud of you from where you were when i first became your friend to where you are now as an adult! I’ll definitely be following your journey and this blog, because different situations here but same idea, mindset, and focus! It absolutely is huge about what makes money rather than what’s best for people. We’ve seen massive effects and have been working on homesteading for a few years. This year we made the big diet changes for our health and plan to dig in deeper seeing the quality changes from switching!

    • Emily Flanders

      Reply

      I’m so glad! I’ve definitely seen a huge shift towards natural living in our society as a whole. I believe it is the best thing for our physical health (and have found in my own early homesteading that it is good for spiritual health also – there’s something so peaceful about gardening, I find myself thanking God for every small victory)! I’m grateful for you, Melissa. God bless you and your family.

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