“It was Good Friday of Holy Week in Paris with veneration of the Crown of Thorns in Notre Dame and a trip to the Eiffel Tower. The long walk up to the top was taking me some time as I was 80+lbs overweight and struggling with pain in my legs and feet. As I leaned to one side to let others pass, a younger European woman looked at me with disgust and exclaimed, ‘Fat, lazy American.’ I often ignored these comments, thinking that it was their problem and not mine. When I realized my weight was my problem, this became one of the many encounters that brought me closer to my journey to a ‘whole health,’ which included losing 80+lbs and gaining freedom.
My name is Brittney Doiron. I am from Vinton, Louisiana, and I currently reside in Lafayette, LA. I have been a wife, mother, and homeschooler most of my life. I taught religious education, have been a Eucharistic minister, lecturer, full-time volunteer, and substitute teacher at my children’s high school.”
Eventually, everything changed.
God showed up and delivered a message of truth to Brittney about herself. He reminded her that she is a beloved daughter of God.
I met Brittney while working at Magnificat Travel. Brittney shared her story of being heartbroken over a recent divorce and an empty nester, to rediscovering her identity as a daughter of God before anything else.
As a person in recovery, I have learned to value experience as our greatest attribute.
After developing a friendship, I decided to interview Brittney about her transformation in body, mind, and spirit. In this interview, we hope to invite you to consider your own journey of truth and freedom.
How long did you struggle with being overweight?
I struggled with being overweight for 19 years.
It started with my first pregnancy where I never lost the weight. Before my pregnancy, I could eat what I wanted, and when I wanted, and it really didn’t affect me.
What made you decide to lose weight?
I decided to lose weight because I realized that I had badly neglected my health and well being, and it was important to my family that I take care of myself and be healthy. I also realized that it gives glory to God and shows my gratitude to Him to take good care of the life He gave me.
My kids were gone, and I decided it was time for a change. It was harder to live with extra weight. It was harder to travel, play sports, and do the things I enjoyed.
I was tired of being overweight and how it limited my life.
I could not enjoy the opportunities in front of me because I was making a decision not to take care of myself.
How did God speak to you through the process?
The grace of God was in the discernment and the process from the beginning. I joined a Facebook community led by a devout Catholic woman, Wendy Cukierski, who had lost a lot of weight and shared her experience. She provided a prayerful community of encouragement and support. We prayed for each other. Everything I gave up, every treat I went without, and every failure was a prayerful cross, fast, and sacrifice. The grace abounded in my spiritual life and my physical well being.
Fasting and abstinence led me to greater freedom and healing in my life. It set me free from self-imprisonment. Jesus said, “The truth shall set you free!” I experienced an abundance of freedom when facing the truth that I was overweight, but more so that I could do something about it.
I asked myself, “How free do I want to be?” This could be giving up TV, social media, sugar, gossip, etc.
Jesus said, “Only some demons can be cast out through prayer and fasting.” Sugar and laziness were my demons. The Church teaches that there are certain times to fast and pray. There is wisdom in this teaching that I learned through experience.
“Prayer and fasting is the strongest force on the face of this earth” -St. Padre Pio
How has your image about yourself changed?
My perception of myself changed.
I realized that as a daughter of God, the way I did or did not take care of myself affected others.
I learned that fasting and praying are essential to a healthy spiritual life and a healthy body.
My image of myself is healthier and less focused on me.
I am better able to fast and make healthy sacrifices for love of God and the benefit of souls.
How has your life changed now as a result?
My life has changed due to losing weight because people seem to take me and my faith a little more seriously. People seemed to look past me, and now they want to look at me as if to see what I might have now that they need. I hope they see Jesus.
I have more energy and less pain in my joints. I want to get out more. I exercise more. I like being outdoors and can handle the heat better.
I can better serve the Lord in this healthier place.
What would be your top 3 suggestions for anyone who would like encouragement to lose weight?
My advice for losing weight would be:
#1 PRAY! Pray about needing to be healthier. Pray to God about how He would like to lead you into a healthier place.
#2 Find a healthy program and support group. Take your time starting your program by easing in with small things that you can conquer one at a time. That way, when you begin your program, you will have already had many small successes and some discipline to take on the bigger job. I used this free group with Wendy Cukierski: The Healthy Catholic
#3 Failure is an invitation to learn and to be stronger. Do not let setbacks or plateaus discourage you. Offer these times up in prayer for your intentions or the intentions of others. Be gentle with yourself as you would be with someone else who is struggling.