~By Jenny

Hiroko is a great woman for us to profile this time of year. Her life is an example of making goals and accomplishing them in the midst of great trials.

While Hiroko was raised by parents who were well-meaning, she felt throughout her childhood that she just didn’t measure up. This feeling affected every area of her life, but it especially impacted her relationship with food. Food was used as a means of control in her childhood home, as reward and punishment. During her childhood she was also haunted by depression which followed her throughout life, especially after the births of each of her 4 children. At her lowest point Hiroko weighed 218 pounds and was a size 24. It wasn’t just the weight that meant rock-bottom to her, that was just an outward sign of all that was afflicting her.

For years she felt that the depression was her fault, feeling that if she exercised more, prayed more, ate less, or read her scriptures more that her depression would go away. After the birth of her second child, during a bout of post-partum psychosis, Hiroko took an overdose of medication. Her cry for help was answered when she went to counseling and was prescribed medication to help her with her depression. She realized that the Lord had given her a different means of getting help. She realized that for her, counseling and medication didn’t mean she was bad or weak, but they were blessings from a loving Heavenly Father who wanted her to be happy again. Her priesthood leader, or bishop, has been a source of great comfort and counsel as well. Hiroko still struggles with seasonal and post-partum depression, but now she has knowledge and tools that help.

After trying many ways and means to loose weight Hiroko found something that worked for her. I’ll let her tell you about it:

I prayed for guidance, explaining to the Lord that he made my body and knew it better than I did, that I couldn’t do the weight loss on my own. I asked my husband for a blessing as part of my start to losing weight. Two months later, the local gym offered a weight loss contest similar to a popular TV show. I was blessed to be on the right team, blessed with the right trainer that used gospel principles, at times, in training. He taught fat-loss, not weight-loss, nutrition, wise choices, how to control my food, how to change my behaviors and the whole picture, not just weight loss.

Oddly, I found myself starting to deal with other emotional issues after losing the weight. Issues I drowned out with food. I thought my issues were all food related, but it became apparent that there was a layer underneath all the fat I used as an emotional shield. That has been a road in and of itself as I have learned that food isn’t a means of escape (although, every now and again, I find myself there again). I faced the issues hidden between all the chocolate cakes, gallons of ice cream and whole pizzas. I still keep in mind the gospel principles that coincide with weight training and exercise as I work out. It keeps my focus in both aspects.

Now Hiroko is working to help others meet their goals for weight loss. She is making progress towards becoming a personal trainer and nutritionist. Being a wife and mother to her four children comes first though. Because of what she has been through she teaches her children that food is energy, to be used in moderation. She also teaches that they should be grateful for their body, no matter what shape it is. She says, “I have been blessed with key LDS women in my life. Women who have been a beacon to me throughout the course of going through all that I have. Most of them don’t even know how much of an influence for good and strength they have been to me. It has been a very long road to finding me, finding myself, finding the Lord. Truthfully, it’s a road I’m still on, but I’m trying my best to find the end of it.”
This is Hiroko’s advice for people seeking to lose weight:

Different things work for different people. Don’t beat yourself up. There’s always tomorrow. Keep a food journal. The most important thing is writing down the emotion and the event with everything you eat. If it’s a regular meal, or if you just had it out with your teen and went for the Oreo’s. Tapping into why we eat is key to changing the behavior and the pattern. Do this for at least 2 weeks before starting any program. It’s easier to change when we know what to change. Everyone’s pace is different. Go at your pace, what you know you are inwardly capable of (because you are more capable than you think you are!).

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For more Portraits of Mormon Women, please click here.