Growing up in Wixom, Michigan, Stephanie Duda grew up without a focus on food or body weight. However, when she started getting involved in sports, especially competitive swimming, she began to get body-focused.
She explains, “I started comparing my body to girls around me and I would compare my body to those on TV shows like MTV and different movies. I felt like I needed to have a better body. So I researched how to lose weight and began studying nutrients and calories. Then I found I could control the number of calories going into my body and the calories I burned by running and lifting weights. This began a daily ritual of counting calories in my head. I knew the amount of calories in everything, and if I didn’t, I would look it up and keep a running total on paper or in my head.”
Stephanie quit sports her senior year and decided to run and lift weights on her own. It was all about a “fitness” focus and perfecting her body. “I was always thinking about food and noticed that I even thought about food in church. I thought this was what God wanted.”
This spiraled into major anger and fear if she did not get to work out or get certain “low calorie, high nutrient” foods. Stephanie’s family and friends noticed her obsession and disapproved. They noticed how thin she was getting and felt she did not look healthy. She says, “I did not care what they thought. I thought that this was what I needed to do to maintain a certain body type. This was my way of being righteous.”
But with all the exercise, Stephanie got a stress fracture in her right foot. “I could no longer workout, which was devastating. I feel that this was God’s way of getting my attention and possibly preparing me for what was to come next.”
At just 16-years of age, Stephanie’s brother committed suicide. “I was in deep pain and had nothing real to turn to that would comfort me. I could no longer keep up my daily workouts and controlling diet. I ran to food for comfort and began gaining weight. I began wondering about the after-life and was desperate for answers to life. I wanted God in my life and I wanted to do the right thing, but I didn’t know what pleased God. I knew very few people who were doing the will of God and living right all the time.
“My mom was given a book of scriptures and comforting words for mourning parents. I read it and found a verse in Romans about not having sin. I was convicted and reached out to many people about if I was doing the right things in life. Everyone said I was fine. I ended up breaking up with my boyfriend Ed because I felt God was telling me he was an idol for me. We got back together once we decided to be pure before marriage, and God allowed me to marry Ed.”
Shortly after marriage, Stephanie still did not feel satisfied. “I still had a gaping hole in my heart. I cried out to God for a week in October of 2013. I found Weigh Down through a Google search. I searched for ‘Christian Weight Loss Blogs’ because I felt desperately out of control with my eating and I wanted to have self-control. As a newlywed, I wanted to put God first in my marriage.”
God led Stephanie to a woman’s blog who testified about losing all her weight and gaining a closer relationship with God through Weigh Down. Stephanie knew that her former controlling methods were not successful, because they did not give her the heart satisfaction she was truly looking for. Weigh Down taught learning the boundaries of hunger and fullness through connecting to a loving and personal God.
“I began with the Weigh Down Basics Class and loved it! I realized man-made rules were only making me angry, and God’s ways were amazing and fruitful. I progressed to the History of the One True God class and the Weigh Down Advanced class. Each class provided more heart information that helped me look inward to change myself to be more Christ-like. My life changed as I learned how to please my husband at home and bosses at work. I was happier and appreciating God’s creation for the first time in my life.”
“Through putting into practice the principles of Weigh Down, the Bible made sense and lined up with how to be a Christian and have all the fruits of the Spirit. I felt peace with God and was not anxious about the little things in her life. I started to pray and talk to God all the time and wait on Him for all my needs and desires.”
Stephanie learned to eat regular foods, within the boundaries of hunger and fullness, instead of running to food with any emotion. Stephanie lost 30 pounds and felt energized and joyful! She continue to take Weigh Down classes and listen to Weigh Down All Access because these help her stay focused on her true food – doing the will of the Father. “I feel so full of love for God now, instead of love for food and I want to love God with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength for the rest of my life!”