Amy Smith-Hightower – RESILIENT A.F.: Stories of Resilience


An Oreo & Dr. Pepper diet changed my understanding of resilience.

The year was 2017, and I was a devoted Hobby Lobby employee. I was overworked, underpaid, and living on a diet that consisted of my favorite things: Oreos and Dr. Pepper.

Like many Americans, my husband and I lived paycheck to paycheck, surviving off increasingly absurd credit card balances when he was laid off. The only solution I could think of was to work more and spend less. And… like many Americans, my health began to plummet at the age of 36. Imagine, I was 36 years old, and the doctors were telling me my blood pressure was dangerously high, my fluctuating weight was out of control, my blood sugar was pre-diabetic, and the insurance copay was $500 a month (this was just medications let alone the cost of medical bills). 

Afraid, broke, and feeling hopeless, the only thing I could do was to deep-dive into ways I could get my health under control because although Oreos and Dr. Pepper were cheap and delicious, these choices were costing me my health. My first attempt at learning how to fuel my body regeneratively was a flop – a lifetime of poor eating habits had left me struggling to figure out what others made look so easy! Unable to hire a dietician or health coach, I began a journey that I couldn’t begin to imagine the outcome of.

I tried many of the popular diets. One’s that were severely restrictive, others required a lot more cooking than I had time for, and others were just downright unhealthy despite the pounds being shed. All of this until I discovered the single lifestyle change that would alter my life and the lives of tens of thousands of Americans.

I began documenting my simple lifestyle changes on Facebook, including all the times I failed and had to start again from scratch. I was determined to develop the most straightforward ways to achieve better health. I made more mistakes than I can remember, and I had so many small incremental successes. What came next was unimaginable.

I had inadvertently started a community for people just like me. People who were struggling to stay alive. People who were not the greatest in the kitchen but wanted to try simple new recipes. People who didn’t have the time or longevity to make all the same mistakes I had.

This was exactly what I needed and what tens of thousands of others needed as well. We encouraged each other; we shared wins and losses, shared personal endeavors, and grew together as a community. This community created accountability for myself that I would have never gotten from anywhere else. I had a sense of purpose and was determined to develop a safe place for us all to land.

It didn’t stop at sharing recipes, healthier alternatives to what we were used to, and virtual high fives. Once my weight and the rest of my health were under control, I discovered that our struggles with food stemmed from places much deeper than our pantries. We were all real people with real emotions; to remain healthy and healing, we needed more. I decided to do more for my mental wellness and to share this as well. Prayer, journaling, fitness (okay, walks), hydration, clean(er) household products, and healthier people in our circles are all aspects of our journey’s that we share.

Ultimately, I am not the fanciest cook. I’m not techy when it comes to social media. I am not highly educated in how our bodies work. I’m not trying to impress anyone. I wholeheartedly want as many people as possible to be able to rescue themselves with the simplest, most effective methods that require little to no understanding of biology or at an extra cost. I genuinely believe that being healthier should not be out of anyone’s reach.

What started as a way to share who I am and to hold myself accountable has turned into a Facebook community of over 190 thousand people and a business with hundreds of (very uncomfortable in the beginning) videos and meal plans that when I first started creating my them for my community, I wrote them out on note cards using a pack I picked up from the Dollar Tree. Tons of recipes, tips, tricks, shopping ideas, money-saving secrets, mistakes (and recoveries), tried and accurate Amazon shopping lists, blogs, community recipe shares, links to products that work, general information, and community discussions. 

Even as I have gone through some recent health scares, it is this community that keeps me focused on something greater than myself.

It would be overly simplified to say I have permanently given up Oreos and Dr. Pepper and replaced them with simple but incredibly delicious meals. I have given up familiar foods and snacks that, at the time, served a purpose. I have also learned that the purpose of food is to fuel our bodies and to do this with the dedication we deserve to ensure optimal long-term health. I have given up the old Amy and created space for the new and improved Amy. I have maintained a healthy weight for many years, but this is not the only purpose of my changes. My blood pressure is normal, my blood sugar is normal, and I no longer require medications to keep me alive. Albeit long-term stress and a poor diet have certainly contributed to some more recent health hiccups, but I feel like a different person.

In turn, I have discovered an entire community of people who want to live their best lives so we can show others it can be done with support, love, and acceptance. We want to leave the world a little brighter. And we want to do this with grace and resilience because we all deserve to live the healthiest versions of ourselves – simply. 

This story of resilience belongs to all of us.

Are you ready to share your story of RESILIENCE? You can do that HERE.