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  • Jackie Haffner

Tears in the Dressing Room

Today I want to share my account of my 5 weeks at Luminaries Retreat in St Croix Falls, WI, beginning January 2nd, 2017.

I’ve been chubby or overweight most of my life. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve searched for clothes that made me feel pretty, feminine or otherwise good about myself. Now, I know who I am in Christ, but the outside of me never really seemed to line up with what I knew on the inside of me…almost every time I had need of that special outfit for a party, or as a wedding guest, or even as a bride for my own wedding on July 4th 2012…

I’d end up in tears in the dressing room.

I’ve always had a challenging time finding the right outfit. It was always too tight here, too loose and sloppy there. Too long, too short, or showed too much of my arms - unless I wore a shrug. Which in most cases, I would run from the shrug option at all costs! They either made me look frumpy, or it was summer, and I’d get too hot in it. Shopping became an all-out trek to find something - often taking hours or even days. The amount of defeat I would feel was often overwhelming.

I cried many tears in the dressing rooms.

Most of the time, I’d leave there red and puffy faced to find solace in the one thing that kept me bound. Food. I’d find the nearest drive thru and grab something to eat, followed by a large Dr. Pepper, or a Peppermint Mocha. For a time, I’d feel better. Until the next shopping trip. Coupled with trying to be thrifty and not spend what I thought was too much on myself, shopping was torture. Until at least when I did get married, my wonderful husband was amazing at showing me love in a Christ-like way, but this “poverty spirit” had hung over my life long enough. Bless his heart for convincing me that if I found a dress that fit me well and made me feel just as beautiful on the inside as he saw me on the outside, by golly it was worth it. I was worth it.

Jackie in August of 2016

Last fall, though, I had had enough. I had gained 30 pounds since we got married. I was miserable. I never wanted to be that girl who let herself go after marriage, but here I was. After some digging around online, God lead me to Luminaries Retreat. I was so excited to find a Biblically-based health and wellness place! I’ve seen God do amazing things in my life in the past and I knew this was another way He was going to work in me to become a healthy person for His glory. I also knew I needed to be there for at least 4 weeks to really see some chains broken in my life. 30 years of unhealthy eating wasn’t going to be solved in a weekend retreat. I needed to be away from my surroundings and truly have time to focus on God and me. Not me in a selfish way, but me in a healthy way. Going to St Croix Falls removed me from all the responsibilities of life as I knew it, and allowed me to understand and address many things in my life and body that were at the root of my eating habits. As well as some underlying health issues that had gone undetected. Thankfully those health issues are not life threatening, however it certainly could’ve gotten to that point if I didn’t do something about it now.

Jackie and Amy in a weight lifting class January 2017

Anyway, I knew the basics: eat right and exercise. But what is that, really? What do I eat if I cut out simple carbs like bread, pasta, and sugar? The shopping trips and cooking demos with Amy helped me learn exactly what I get to eat and still feel satisfied. The different speakers helped me understand what is going on inside my body when I eat well, and when I don’t.

The gym experiences helped me get over my pride about being there. My thought was, “What are the fit people thinking about sloppy, old, knee-brace wearing me?” I was judging them! And the Bible tells me that with the measure I judge others that same judgment will come back to me. Stop comparing myself! I am fearfully and wonderfully made!

Getting some cardio warm-up before strength training

God truly did orchestrate my time there, with all that I learned, the people I connected with, and the lady that came on the retreat during the same time as well. I stayed in the adorable Peacock Loft and got to try many new experiences like fat-tire biking and fermented/cultured drinks and foods which contain probiotics.

Amy knows her stuff, as do all the people who are a part of this endeavor. They are all passionate about living out their healthy life style and just as passionate at helping anyone who comes to Luminaries succeed. This small community really rallied around me, so much so that I didn’t want to leave!

However, the time came to go home. I was armed with everything I needed to know. Not to mention being held up in prayer by this community, as well as Amy and her family! I even had an opportunity to share some of story at a Luminaries group retreat right before I went home.

Jackie sharing her story at a February Luminaries Retreat

Now 6 weeks into being home, I’ve been on track with what I learned for the most part. I haven’t been perfect, but I don’t get down on myself either. My husband and I have kept to the eating plan, fairly well, and opted for mall walking and home workouts for now. We plan to do a gym membership later this year after we move out of snowy Washington state to sunny Arizona.

Anyways, Since I started Luminaries, I’m down 28 pounds! I dropped one pant size during my time at Luminaries.

Today I tried on jeans: Tears in the dressing room, but this time out of joy!

Jackie has 28 pounds lost in 3 short months! Pic from April 2017

Now, as of April, I’m down 2 more pant sizes! I’m wearing Junior jeans for the first time since junior high school and I’ll be 40 soon and I’m on my way to my healthy weight and it feels so good!

My life has improved, my husband’s, my mom’s, and a good friend of mine. All from what I learned from Amy and Luminaries. I am so grateful to God for allowing me to go, learn, and identify what I needed to do to be healthy for the long-term. I’ve seen enough health issues in my family due to poor diet. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and say “if only I had made changes sooner”. Does it mean I will never have a health issue? No, maybe not, but at least I won’t be riddled with the regret that I didn’t try. If that diagnosis does come, my body will be able to fight and recover better.

If any of this resonates with you, I encourage you to get ahold of Amy or one of her staff. What are you waiting for? You’re worth it. Don’t let another year of your life pass you by. You will not regret taking this time for yourself. Trust me when I say, you will receive the info you need, the encouragement to want to make the necessary changes even after you get home.

What do you say?

Are you ready for (happy) tears in a dressing room?

Current picture of Jackie and her husband Brian, who has also implemented healthy lifestyle choices that Jackie learned at Luminaries Retreat!

Jackie is married to Brian and they currently reside in Washington state. Jackie enjoys reading, listening to music, and most recently using resistance training and weights in her exercise routine. Jackie shared her story at a recent Luminaries Retreat and plans to come back someday when its not too cold and try kayaking on the beautiful St Croix river!

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