Healing, Changes, and Where to Go From Here

A few weeks ago I went through what I call one of my "depression spells."  I hit a dark low place and by the grace and honesty of my husband's accountability in my life, we were able to work through it and pull me out of it in a few days. 

It feels like I can't continue blogging until I share this with you because I wouldn't be the person I am today without it.  It almost feels fake to continue blogging without you knowing the whole story.  And it is really hard for me to explain it all but I fear I may never blog again if I don't share it.  So because *I think* at this point I would like to continue to blog, I need to clear the air a bit. 

I have always struggled with my self esteem.  It seems to be that one thorn in my side that I have always dealt with and will continue to struggle with it for the rest of my life.  I definitely have grown and learned to deal with it but sometimes when I am not paying attention it creeps back into my life. 

When I say self esteem, more specifically I am talking about my body image.  My weight.  How I look in the mirror.  It's really vain and ugly that I have this issue and I am quite embarrassed to admit it.  I have considered talking about it before but I just don't seem to have the right words or encouragement.  So I stay on the surface about it and post healthy or low calorie recipes instead. 

I grew up as a "chubby" kid.  I would never say I was fat but I definitely was never skinny.  As I went into adulthood I grew into it a little.  I would say I have been fairly healthy since high school.  I have always been active and enjoyed playing sports or working out.  My problem was more lack of self control when it came to food. 

My last semester of college I was finishing school, student teaching, running the 5th and 6th grade ministry at my church, and dating Brent.  It was the busiest and most stressful season of my life and so I stopped working out.  I got more lenient in what I ate and often my time with Brent was late at night after the day's activities, usually surrounded by food.

I gained about twenty pounds and for the first time became truly overweight.  It was a really short period of time, only about six months, but it had a big impact on my life.  Once I graduated I was able to start working out again and take better care of myself leading me to a 45 pound weight loss.  Not only did I lose the weight I gained but I also lost about 25 pounds more.  I learned a lot that year about my addiction with food and started the beginning of this healing process.  I finished my weight loss in May of 2009 and by July we were engaged and in October of that same year we were married.  Over the last few years I have gained about 15 pounds since then. 

For the most part my clothes still fit and I have been able to lose 5 pounds here and there and then put them back on.  I have stayed pretty steady in my size but I can tell the difference that I have crept over a 10 pound weight gain. 

I tell you all these gritty details not because they are important.  I really don't have a lot to complain about.  I am still in better shape than I have been for the majority of my life and I feel lucky that I was able to do something about my weight when I was at my worst.  But the thing about weight loss is though I make look different on the outside I am still the insecure chubby girl on the inside.  My self esteem issues never went away.

Those small details and 5 or 10 pounds I mention have become an obsession.  At times it has taken over my life in a way that I am not proud of and it has been something that I struggle with that I let take away my joy.  And it wasn't until a few weeks ago that I decided I didn't want it to rule my life anymore. 

I am not sure of the point of this post.  I have sat down to write it multiple times.  And I cry each time.  But I think it is going to be part of my healing.  That it is time to step out and say, I don't have it all together.  I blog about taking care of the home, loving my husband, and making time for relationships but there are some days where I could care less about any of these things.  Because I allowed that number on the scale determine my worth and how I was going to go about spending my day.  And that is a problem.

So I am making some changes in my life.  The first change is that I am taking some time off from being online.  For the most part, I am taking a break from updating Facebook and Twitter.  I unsubscribed to blogs and women I followed on Instagram who shared about fitness and losing weight because it was feeding into my obsession.  I realized that though I felt purpose in being connected online I also was constantly looking at other women and comparing myself to them.  There is nothing wrong with what those women are doing but they no longer were an encouragement to me, but instead, competition. 

I am still trying to lose weight but I no longer weigh myself everyday.  Instead I have limited it to once a week.  I am still watching what I eat but not in an obsessive way.  I am making healthy meals but not being so rigid in counting calories.  And it is amazing how in these few changes how much happier I am.  I am no longer letting my body determine my happiness.  I know I still have a long road ahead but being able to identify what was triggering my unhealthy thoughts has allowed me to break free of the bondage it had on my life. 

The best part in all of this is that when I am not thinking about my weight all day (and spending very minimal time online) I am able to live out my life the way I want to.  I am able to be the heart of my home again--something I feel like I have lost a little.  And it brings me so much joy and purpose to embrace and be a homemaker.  I lost sight of myself when I started focusing more on being a blogger that wrote about homemaking than actually being a homemaker.  The problem was it didn't leave much time left in my day to actually take care of my home. 

So with that being said, I do not know how this will all translate here on the blog.  I want to continue blogging and have plenty of ideas and photos that have already been taken to share.  But if it is a little quite around here for awhile, please know that I am still working through this healing process.  I am so thankful for this community and it makes me really sad to not be as connected to it.  This community has allowed me to better embrace the woman I want to be.  But I feel like right now I need to step away and...just be that woman. 


  1. Wow...just wow. Ashley, thank you so much for being this honest and real on your blog!

    I was an obese kid and my weight's gone up and down all my life. I've also suffered from depression and survived a suicide attempt. And it all comes down to lack of self-esteem.

    You're so right that the things we see on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. seem designed to fuel our (sometimes unhealthy) obsessions. I often need to step away for a while and refocus on myself.

    I'm sorry you're going through a tough time right now, but good for you for recognizing that you need a break.

    I've been following you for a while, and I love your entertaining, decorating, travel, etc. tips. But I gotta say, I like this honest Ashley even more. *hugs* :)

  2. Oh Ashley, I'm so sorry you are going through this rough patch right now. I enjoy reading your blog and do like the "honesty", it shows that we are all human and not everyone on their shiny pretty blog is perfect.

    I did not suffer with weight issues but growing up and even today I have had bouts of low self esteem. Back then it was the financial issues of living "lower class" and having to go to school with kids that wore Lacoste everyday (even in elementary school!), now it is about aging (I just turned 40). I met my husband when I was 28 and he was 23.... does he still think I'm attractive?? Ugh, I have to let that go and be the best that I can be. Life is too short.

    I know that stepping away from the computer definitely helps me in the homemaking department! Maybe blogging once a week is a schedule that would work out for you, and take time for yourself. I hope that you are feeling better soon and see that you are truly a beautiful talented woman!!

  3. Thank You for writing this post and being so honest, Ashley. I've been dealing with body image lately, but I guess from a different perspective perhaps. Growing up, I was a bean pole, and I got made fun of all the time by both adults and kids. Little things like my Granny telling me I needed to eat more, etc, etc. Then I hit late teens and everyone told me how much they wished they were "skinny" like me. I have grown to absolutely hate the word skinny.
    But now, I have finally started to gain weight, and I want to be happy with my body, because it's finally what "I've" always wanted, but if I had to stand naked beside a model, I would look about 50 lbs heavier.
    Even though I tell myself everyday that I don't need to compare myself to my pre-pubescent body, I can't even enjoy food anymore. There's this nagging thought in the back of my mind that the food is just going to make me fatter, or more unhealthy. I don't want to live the rest of my life not being able to enjoy the most basic of human pleasures: taste. Life is way to short.

    So I'm still working on it, and I actually threw away my scales. I'm not comparing myself to a number anymore.
    I love healthy food, but I plan on enjoying strawberry pie this strawberry season, instead of not even making a pie like I did last year.

    So, I guess I said all this to say that it's not so much the path that takes you to a place of low self esteem that matters as much as the path you take to loving yourself.

    You are inspiring on so many levels, to so many of us who read your blog. There's nothing wrong with backing away from all the hoorah of the blogging community. In fact, personally, I have found that I compare myself way to much to other people every time I take steps to become more active.

    Love you!!!

  4. It is so hard for me to grasp the idea of you having such low self esteem about yourself because when I look at you, I see beauty. Like true beauty. I definitely do not see a chubby girl. In fact, as I type this comment, the picture on the sidebar right next to it is an instagram picture of you, and all I can think is, 'Dang. I wish my legs looked that good. Then I'd wear cute lacy shorts, too!' :o)

    I recently saw a video that I think you'd like. It's by Dove - comparing how women see themselves to how others see them. It's only three minutes - you need to watch the whole thing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpaOjMXyJGk

    I'm truly sorry you struggle with this. I'll be your Ashley Urke cheering squad if you want me to! :o)

  5. Oh honey, none of us has got it together, believe me. For me is the green monster when seeing beautiful homes, or following OOTD and seeing women buying all this jewelry/makeup, etc. I unsubscribed to several blogs because I got so angry when I saw post about I-ordered-this-oh-so-fantastic-couch-6-months-ago-but-I-am-changing-it-yet-again posts. Not good for me trying to rebuild our life and home from nothing :(

    Also, I was a size 5 most of my life and was still considered the chubby one at home thanks to my hiny and my sisters all being size 0-2. I came to the USA and on my first trip back (a surprise) my Mom open the door and proclaimed: OMG what happened to you? you got fat! (I've gained 20 lbs).

    I have since gained some more, lost a few, got married and even though I would love to loose some weight (Hubs has lost about 45lbs) I also know he loves me no matter what, so does my kids, I learned to love all of me. Because of this I want to get healthier but my weight is not going to determined who I am. (I saw the Dove video and it is really good). I sure hope you can see what we all see in you: A beautiful woman.

    I hope all these messages show you we are all cheering you on, and supporting you. Take all the time, but don't dissapear cause I would miss you soooooo much :)

  6. Wow, you have some wonderful followers who have said it all much better than I could and they are all right. You are a beautiful person, inside and out, I can tell this by the things you do for others. Everyone struggles with some issue I think so I guess you just have to accept that and go on, trying to not let it rule your life. But I really enjoy your blog and the way you are living your life is inspiring to me. You are one of the few blogs I dont schedule for automatic cleanup if I miss a day from the computer, I always read yours first. So dont forget about us for too long. :)

  7. Ashley, you are beautiful. Thank you for sharing something you are wrestling with and being genuine. I respect you for taking a time out and pulling away from social media. I've had to do that more myself lately. As women we already feel all these inadequacies in ourselves (As a wife, mother, our weight, decorating skills, etc..) and thanks to social media we can compare ourselves to people who excel in the areas we feel most inferior. Sometimes we just need a break to refocus.

    My thorn is not my weight, it is control. Wanting everything to be perfect and trying to manipulate people and situations to match my expectations. I am hardest on myself. I'm learning to find my value aside from the things I do and allow myself to be 'good enough' instead of perfect. To know I am loved just for who I am. Right now.

    You are so much more than your weight and how you look. Say no to the lies! Much love to you!

  8. I don't know you, but I've recently read this book and started on this plan that SO many of my Facebook friends are using to drop weight like crazy, in a HEALTHY way. And the best part is, there is SO much online support... Facebook support groups, etc. It's written from a Christian perspective, and is just all-around amazing, super-healthy way to not only lose weight, but deal with the self-esteem issues, hormone issues, etc. Lots of my friends have lost 40 pounds in two months, so easily!! I'm not selling anything here, but just wanted to pass this along since it has helped so many and I recommend it with all my heart. My review of the book/plan is here... http://www.thebluehouseblog.com/2013/03/trim-healthy-mama-book-review-and.html

  9. I could have written this myself, and while I feel glad I'm not alone, I am so sad that you are/were also hurting. I hope you continue to write like this, and share your struggles and your healing, and I hope that it helps you. I have loved this blog because I'm a lot like you--young, newly married, trying to make my home beautiful and my life simple, caring for my husband, expressing gratitude, and trying to glorify God--and now I appreciate you and this blog even more. In fact, I want to thank you for writing this. So whichever direction you want to go with this blog, I will support you as a reader!

  10. Ashley,

    Everyone suffers from self esteem issues in one way or another. I am 6' tall and I am not skinny. I'll never be as thin as I want and I will never be perfect. After I had my 3rd child I made a deal with myself that I wasn't going to wory about what image I thought I should have. I threw away my scales. I said "Screw this, I have had enough". I have never looked back. I stopped doing things that didn't make me happy. I stopped being someone who gave a crap about what other people thought. I try very hard to only worry about what my family thinks and, more importantly, what I think. You are beautiful and worthy. Strive only for perfection from within and stop beating yourself up when you mess up. Everyone messes up because we have ALL fallen short in the glory of God. You are amazing, your husband thinks so, so does God and so do I.

    Since I threw away my scales and said "screw it", I have lost 65 pounds. Internal love....love is truly all you need. Please dont think I am trying to be preachy...God knows that is not my goal. Just know that YOU are loved, not the Domestic Fashionishta that is part of you but YOU!

  11. Wow, I'm speechless. This was so beautifully written and as usual, so honest. Thanks for your courage Ashley, this is such an important topic. I recently wrote a post about comparisions (don't compare your insides to someone's outsides) after I read Liz Cowan's post. And I can't believe how many heartwarming comments I got on my post. I'm so much happier now that I've stepped back from the blogging world.
    Leslie (aka Gwen Moss)

  12. This was so encouraging to me because it is what I'm going through right now. Other than a few years in puberty I was always petite, but in college I gained ten pounds, which made me very self-conscious even though I was still only a size five at that point. In the last three years I have put on twenty-five more pounds. A lot of it happened when I quit working and being as active. It's so easy to sit at home reading and eat half a bag of chips. Food is a huge weakness for me. The donuts always call to me in the grocery store. Since January I've been dieting and only lost about seven pounds. Pretty much everyone in my family is smaller than me and that makes it worse.

    It's so difficult to see smaller women working out and getting results and feel so judged for how I look. Even though my husband loves the way I look and loves me, all I want is to feel beautiful again. It's so easy to let it become an obsession. Really, thanks for your honesty in posting this. And as a lot of other people have said on here, you are so pretty and you have great legs, I'm always jealous of them!

  13. I love the way you've completely opened yourself up here Ashley. It's never easy to admit when we're struggling with such an intimate battle within ourselves and I really applaud your bravery. I'm on a journey with weight loss myself and all I know is that everyone's struggle is different and it's important to know what's right for us. If doing what's right for you means less time here, just know we'll all still be here, reading whenever you'r ready! I hope that you can find yourself looking in the mirror and seeing the beautiful, kind-hearted and wonderful woman you are (granted I've only met you once in person but I KNOW this is true). <3

  14. It's so brave to be honest and open about something that you would really like to keep hidden. We all have those things in our lives that just bring us down and make us doubt our worth. It's even more difficult as we live in a world that often puts its best face forward on all levels of social media. The other day was a struggle start to finish and in the back of my mind I kept thinking "how do all these other bloggers do it? They have 5 kids that they homeschool and they are posting pictures of the bookcases they just built from scratch! Where do they find the time or energy?!?" Not everyone needs to be churning their own butter or weaving their own baskets to be worthwhile. Tons of folks find inspiration and beauty in your blog every day because of who you are and because of your personal voice that you bring to this blog. I sincerely hope you continue to blog, but above all I think it's a good sign that you know yourself well enough to take a step back and focus on real life first. Sending many prayers your way!

  15. I've shifted my focus from losing weight to being athletic. I love setting goals for myself and trying to obtain them.

    That being said I have unsubscribed to people on IG that seemed to be motivating but then ended up making me feel bad about myself so I totally get what you are saying!

  16. Your honesty is refreshing and fantastic. And your story is SO similar to mine. Thank you for being awesome enough to share your heart with us. That's what we crave as women... Authenticity. I so appreciate and love your courage to be real and your courage to back away from social media / blogging if it's not what you want to be doing right now. Thanks for your inspiring realness. :-)

  17. I know someone who's going through that same thing as you, but instead of being lovely as you are, she is hurting people around her with bitterness. Dear Ashley, you're so darling! Thanks for sharing this with all of us. Love, Vanessa - p

  18. I was always very thin and people never had a problem telling me you are so skinny (and that bothered me) and would anyone say WOW you are really fat! I was widowed in my very early thirties and left with our eleven year old adopted son and really was scared. I remarried and gained a new stepdaughter and got pregnant and was thrilled because I could not get pregnant with my first husband. I am shocked that you have a problem with your body image because you are not afraid to picture yourself and I hate pictures of myself and I was a corporate model when I was younger “so this is my hang-up”. Today my biological daughter has a 3 year old boy and is waiting for her second child a “baby girl” in two weeks and she and I were both thin pregnant with a tummy :) I just think it is in your genes and we can’t do anything about it except to stay at a healthy weight and love yourself and body. When change of life hit me I put on a few pounds and went from an “AA” cup to a "B" LOL! You are a very pretty young lady and life has a way of working things out for all of us, have faith and keep that big smile on your face. God BLESS!

  19. I have always been a huge fan of yours, Ashley. You were the first blog I ever read when I entered the blogging world and I was so fascinated by your charm and honesty. I love everything you write about. It is so easy to relate. You actually inspire me in so many ways! I appreciate your candor and how you stay true to yourself. As many have said, I think we all have our inner struggles as women. You want to present yourself as all-together and perfect in every way as the homemaker. So much of what we read online is superficial and it makes us believe that the world is so perfect for many of the bloggers. Yes, we all want to be perfect in our homes, partnerships, etc., but truth is we do the best we can do and we need to be happy with that. I love your blog and you as a person. You do what you feel is best for you. I am sure we will all be around to support your decisions. You have such a likable personality and it is always such a spark in my day to visit your blog. I always look forward to your posts. I miss you dearly.....but understand. God bless you, sweet Ashley. Big hugs to you.....

  20. Thank you for your beautiful transparency! You are an amazing woman and I agree with all the amazing comments above. Hugs and love to you!


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