My Story: From Athlete to Lupus and Ankylosing Spondylitis

You have a greater purpose than obsessing!
Tooshie: Defeating the Body Image Bandit

What if you and your tooshie could finally make peace? You have dieted, exercised, and poured it into jeans three sizes too small. Maybe you, like me, bought a pair of yellow plastic bloomers designed to hook up to your vacuum cleaner and suck the fat off your hiney.

Unfortunately, the Girl Scouts showed up during the procedure. Seeing you through the window, they were traumatized for life. You waddled to the door anyway and bought a year’s supply of chocolate mint cookies. (excerpt from chapter 1)

You have a higher calling than obsessing about your tooshie. What would happen if you could embrace your true calling to use your God-given gifts, talents and story to shine in this radically body-image obsessed culture.

Yes – I’m officially inviting you to move beyond body image and embrace the real reason why you were created.

However, that’s exactly what most women do.  In her years of private practice, Cherrie Herrin-Michehl discovered no matter what problems brought women in for counseling body image issues always emerged.

How can women develop healthy attitudes about food and their bodies in a culture where they are bombarded with 250,000 ads by the age of seventeen?  The media’s messages shout, “To be thin is to be beautiful, and beauty is almost everything.”  Is it any wonder more teenage girls fear getting fat than terrorism? 

Ninety percent of high school girls diet regularly.  This preoccupation with body image and food continues to haunt them throughout their lives.

Tooshie:  Defeating the Body Image Bandit is Cherrie Herrin-Michehl’s story.  She was devastated when a bicycle crash resulted in a concussion, stitches, bruises and scrapes on her face.  

She learned to re-think her battle with the Body Image Bandit – the Father of Lies.  Although an athlete since childhood, Cherrie developed two chronic auto-immune diseases, lupus and ankylosing spondylitis.

She went from swimming over a mile a day to being unable to walk for a month.  As she rolled off the couch and crawled down the hall to use the restroom, she grasped at an intimate level that our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14).

Tooshie:  Defeating the Body Image Bandit (the book Cherrie is currently writing) is an antidote for the cultural tsunami of toxic messages

It is a collage of humor, story, and Christian psychology which carries women from the dark tunnel of self-contempt of their bodies into the arms of a loving God who proclaims, “Man looks at outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (I Sam 16:7).

Cherrie explains how food and body image issues are as much about our hearts and our stories as they are about food and exercise.  When we work through the pain in our stories which resulted in unhealthy relationships with food, we can protect ourselves from the Body Image Bandit.

We can also use techniques she describes to fend off the lies and replace them with God’s truths. Then we can move forward using our talents, gifts, personalities, to embrace our true callings in serving God so we can become the people we were created to be.  (Visit Cherrie’s Christian spiritual journey blog at Rhapsody en Route: the passion, the grace, the mercy, and the vision as we press toward the cross:

Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC is a licensed mental health counselor. She loves to speak using humor, props, and stories of her own life and has spoken at numerous churches, on radio programs, and at a hospital. She trained under Christian author and psychologist, Dr. Dan Allender, and attended Multnomah Seminary. When she is not counseling, Cherrie enjoys sea kayaking in the glorious Pacific Northwest, among the seals and salmon.  She lives in the Seattle area with her husband and a spoiled golden retriever.

Contact Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC for a speaking engagement at


Although I am a licensed mental health counselor, I do not specialize in eating disorders.  If you are struggling with an eating disorder, I highly recommend you seek professional help from a counselor with significant experience and training in eating disorders. Some excellent resources are: National Eating Disorders Association The Center (eating disorders and depression counseling)

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Felicia says:

    Hi.. I was searching about as and found your blog. I wanted to respond because you said you have as and lupus. I was just curious if you wanted to talk I had questions. Well I was given the ankylosing spondylitis diagnosis as well based on my gene hla b 27 hip and thoracic spine pain. But I also have excruciating pain in other parts of my body as well including jaw, elbows, shoulders, and hands. I had a raised ana titer of 1:16 low positive nucleolar pattern ra factor of 15 and high wbc count. I read ana is always neg in ppl with spondylitis. Also my ra factor was borderline normal is under 15 i think. and I was curious about your story to share. My email is 🙂


    1. Felicia,
      I’m so glad you stopped by my blog. Sorry it’s taken me a while to respond. Sorry you were diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis. (Shouldn’t we get an award from being able to spell it?! 😉 I was told by some experts in the field that it’s very unusual to have both lupus and AS at the same time. Extremely rare. One of my rheumatologists is in charge of the research for the US and the UK, and he told me it’s highly unusual. I can tell you a bit about my own experience, but of course I can’t give any medical advice. (You probably already knew that though.) You might want to get on the Ankylosing Spondylitis Facebook loop if you can. It’s a private loop, but there are over 7,000 people from all over the world with AS on it. Sometimes it can get a little overwhelming though. I’ll email you soon. 🙂 Blessings, Cherries


  2. Julie Jo says:

    I think it was Joan Rivers (bless her soul) who said, “Go look in a mirror to realize that life is funny”!

    I have SLE & Reactive Arthritis-& my weight is secondary to managing my health. I make healthy choices to eat, what I mean is I’m not concerned who’s looking at my “tooshie” these days. I’m more concerned with getting to the docs for some cortisone shots. Quality of life is top on the list and that doesn’t mean squeezing into a size 6. It means doing things everyday that some people take for granted.

    Chronic illness has taught me well. 😀

    Nice to meet you btw- I’m Julie
    ps I shared your blog in several groups- 😉


    1. Julie,
      Thank you so much for stopping by. I’m sorry you have SLE and reactive arthritis. You’re right – chronic illness teaches us well! 😉 You have a great attitude, and I feel the same way. There is so much more to life than asking, “Do these jeans make my tooshie look fat?” 😀 You’re right about the fact that we struggle daily just to do things other people take for granted. That’s one reason why wrote the book, “Tooshie: Defeating the Body Image Bandit.” It’s only $.99 on Kindle and Nook for a short time (until September 10, 2014). Let me know if you’d like to guest blog sometime. Feel free to email me at I’m so sorry you have these chronic health issues. Thanks for sharing my blog in the groups, too. Have a great week! Cherrie


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