How I Hokey Pokey

Feet in teal sandals pic

In my other life, I swam competitively or ran 6 miles most days.

Then, due to lupus and ankylosing spondylitis, I couldn’t breathe or walk for periods of time. Dressing myself seemed like running a marathon. So did using the restroom. I told God, at age 28, “Please take me if this is a preview of my future.”

One month I spent on the couch. I rolled off the floor and crawled down the hall to use the restroom. Every last thread of energy I used to complete the tasks involved in using the bathroom.

My future dreams included a triathlon. Not using every ounce of stamina to relieve myself.

Physicians and naturopaths tried many different approaches to treat the inflammation that ravaged my body, mind and soul.

I changed my diet as well.

After years of battling the beasts, sometimes I saw glimmers of hope. But often the darkness enveloped my life story.

Yes, I learned volumes from this journey. I’m a prayer warrior, and I learned to stop and breathe in the beauty of jasmine fragrance. I also divorced my drivenness. This go, go, go mentality of many Americans creates chaos of the soul. The drive shoots cortisol throughout our bodies, and stress pumps through our veins. And of course, that was me.

But nowadays – thanks to an injectable medication called Humira – I have part of my life back. I can sleep through the nights without waking all night long in pain. I can walk. I can dress myself. And I can breathe without having a frozen iced venti cup of water on my chest. (This works better than an ice pack, for some reason.)


Nowadays, every other Tuesday I inject myself. That’s my hokey pokey. As in, I poke myself with a needle that offers me two more weeks of a semi-normal life. (Sometimes I’m still exhausted, feeling as though I’ve been drugged. But that’s another story, and this happens on the sunny days. A part of lupus.)

And yes, I am quite aware of the side effects of this TNF blocker medication. I’m willing to take the risks. Because deep down, I’m an athlete. I love the wind caressing my hair on my pink kayak. (Below: pic with Werner kayak paddle.)

That. Is. Life. I feel the gratitude engulf my soul as I paddle among the seals and salmon.

And this is a piece of my heart that you may learn from:

Don’t share about your friend who died of lupus. Please don’t dance that song in front of anyone fighting any disease.


Oh, and also don’t share an approach you know will fix it. Because chances are – I’ve tried it. If you absolutely must share, please ask graciously first. To offer false hope is like piercing me with a broken piece of my life story.

Parking in a handicapped space when you don’t need to? I’m going to TP your house.

Why am I sharing this story?

So ribbons of gratitude weave their way through your own body image story.  Can you breathe today? Jump in gratitude. Can you walk? Rejoice.

Dance like a diva or dude to the music of gratitude.~




Do you have a hokey pokey body image story? Please share.

(*happy feet picture at the top shows my toes separated due to injections of cortisone from years ago. But who cares, right? 😉

The full story is in my book, Tooshie: Defeating the Body Image Bandit

Body Image Stories: My Body Image Story, Part 3

            I never did reach the “magic number” of 105.  But this is probably a good thing because even when I weigh 134 pounds, I have a body fat percentage of 17%.  That is quite low.  In fact, the models in Europe are now required to maintain a body fat percentage of 17% or more.

At different times, depending on my life circumstances, I have varied in body fat percentage.  Like almost all American women, I have felt better about my body when I am at a body fat percentage less than 24% (23-24% is considered the high end of healthy).  I wish I could tell you that this was not the case, but I have been strongly influenced by the tsunami of advertisements that have come across my eyes since the day I was born.  The good thing is that since I love to exercise so much, I have always been pretty fit, even when I have been my heaviest.

I can honestly say that I do not want to be ultra thin.  I don’t think that is beautiful, but see it as a sickness.  And yes, most of the top models, many actresses, and some popular singers are ultra-thin.  (I don’t want to give examples because I don’t want to slander.)  I have always preferred a more fit look, with a degree of muscle tone as opposed to the skinny, bony look.  We have to remember that if a person does not keep her weight at 80% of the ideal, she is anorexic (unless she has a medical condition which causes her low body weight).  But anorexic women almost always deny they are anorexic.  That is the nature of this eating disorder.

Like most of you, my body has varied in body fat percentage depending on many factors.  I am glad to realize that if I weighed 105, I would be anorexic and I have no desire whatsoever to be anorexic.  At various times in my life I have achieved a low body fat percentage, but due to my curvy figure, this brings me a lot of attention that I dislike.  I sincerely believe that I carry about ten to twenty extra pounds to protect myself from this unwanted attention.  But okay, I will also admit that I really enjoy food!  (Friends and family are seeking a 12-step program for my chocolate addiction at this very minute!)

After struggling for years with SLE lupus and ankylosing spondylitis, I have developed a great appreciation for my body.  I remember a whole month when I could not walk at all due to arthritis.  The whole month I spent on the couch.  To use the restroom, I had to roll off the couch and crawl on my knees.  I had steroid injections in my feet and went on methotrexate (a low dose of chemotherapy) so I could walk.  At one point, I moved to Phoenix due to my arthritis.  My heart cried many tears because I had been athletic since I was about seven.  For a while I could hardly use the bathroom myself.  I was 28 years old, didn’t drink much or use drugs, and always treated my body well.  At one point I was nutrition major and ate much better than most people.  So developing two chronic illnesses sent me into emotional shock.

Nowadays I feel extremely blessed that I can move well and walk.  I can’t ski or hike or backpack much anymore, but I am so grateful that the Lord has given me the ability to swim, kayak, and take part in many other fun activities.  My latest passion is water aerobics.  If you thought it was for old ladies and sick people, think again.  Princeton researchers discovered that competent swimmers can burn 420-700 calories an hour doing water aerobic (25% more than land aerobics).  But the real deal is that water aerobics is so fun, I start to get giddy every time I think about it.  And that is what it’s really about, isn’t it?  Not so much the end result as the joy in the journey.

Water Aerobics Class

As the sun sets on my forties, I still struggle with body image bandit but often win the battles.  As far as “getting there,” I realize that will not happen until I go to heaven and live with Jesus because we live in a fallen world.  Part of this fallenness, in America, means that we are saturated with images that scream “To be thin is to be beautiful, and beauty is everything.”  In the meantime, I invite you to join me in the war against the body image bandit, who is the father of lies and tries to get us to believe that we are ugly.  We can do many things to fight the bandit, and I will offer helpful suggestions along the way.  The first is to make a commitment to stop looking at beauty, fashion, and celebrity magazines which poison our minds with people that are so thin, they are actually sick.

I thank God that he has created us all in his image, and that we are all beautiful, unique works of art.  Let’s celebrate this and embrace the bodies the Lord has given us, and thank him for what our bodies can do.

“Man looks at outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.”

I Samuel 16:7

© Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC and Fannies:  Reflections on Cookie Dough, Life, and Your Derriere and Fannies:  Reclaiming the Plunder of the Body Image Bandit, 2007 – 2047. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC and Fannies:  Reflections on Cookie Dough, Life, and Your Derriere with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.