Every month, Innovative Editing will be featuring an “Author of the Month” who deserves to stand out for his or her writing skills and/or message. These authors can be self- or traditionally published in fiction or non-fiction. The only qualifiers for consideration are that I’ve read their work and they’re available for an interview.
For this inaugural month of March, I’m very proud to feature one of my former editing clients, Karen Imhof, who blew me away with her unique insights into the world of dieting.
March’s Author of the Month: Karen Imhof Featured Title: The Lost Weight Workshop Genre: Health, Fitness and Dieting Age Appropriate: All
In her own words, Karen Imhof is a simple, Southern woman with a big heart to see others grow confident in who God has created them to be. She’s been married to a wonderful man for the past 27 years and has four awesome kids. Her joy comes from the craziness of loving her family of six: loud dinners with lots of laughter, hyper dance sessions when her daughter’s had too much coffee, and making lasting memories during vacations to the mountains.
She lives in Lancaster County, where she works as an assistant professor of communications at a local community college. She also enjoys teaching communication skills in the church setting, where the practical is infused with the power of God’s Word.
Jeannette: Your book, The Lost Weight Workshop, is anything but the average dieting guide. What inspired you to tackle this topic in such a unique and holistic way?
Karen: This book is inspired by my own story as a young girl who didn’t see herself as thin or pretty as other girls. I attempted to fill this longing to be “enough” by fixating on attaining the “perfect body” by dieting. After years of failed dieting attempts and disillusionment toward my appearance, God changed all that. He took an insecure young woman and set her free to be at peace with food and with who he created her to be.
I wanted others to know that, what God had done for me, he can do for them too.
An important part of the weight-loss picture that’s important for readers to recognize is how we’re not simply physical beings: God also made us with spirits, souls and bodies. Yet, when we diet, we try to lose weight by manipulating our food choices and exercise routines, which only take physical changes into account.
If the struggle of being overweight was limited to changing our behaviors, the solution would be simple: Go on a diet. Lose the weight. And that’s the end of the story.
But the underlying issues of excess weight go beyond the physical. They include an emotional, mental and spiritual aspect too. So the goal of The Lost Weight Workshop is to give readers the tools they need to explore the entire picture of weight loss – not just an isolated piece of the puzzle.
Jeannette: I know I told you this more than once while I was editing your manuscript, but you really do have great insights. For example, I never thought of the standard dieting structure as “a belief system based on irrational thinking and behavior.” Yet when you break it down, it’s so true!
Why do you think most of us miss that fact?
Karen: We live in a world that’s obsessed with thinness and physical perfection. At one point, having six-pack abs was considered to be a desirable level of fitness; but now, nothing short of a 12-pack will do. I just know they’re going to find six more abs so we’ll be striving to chisel all 18.
Karen: When we find ourselves overweight in this physically obsessed society, we’re desperate to lose weight, and dieting is the tool we’ve been given to “fix” the problem. We accept the dieting process as normal: an acceptable and doable way to accomplish the goal of weight loss. We don’t give much thought to the benefits – or lack thereof – gained from the dieting system, especially in regards to the emotional aftermath of when the diet’s long gone and the weight’s returned.
Most of us consider ourselves to be rational, intelligent human beings who would never dream of investing our money, time, heart and soul for completely failed results. But that’s exactly what the typical diet provides – not just once, but time and time again.
Recognizing the truth about the flawed system of dieting is the first step to doing the dieting thing differently.
Jeannette: That's a good explanation. But let’s really put you on the spot now. If you had to sum up The Lost Weight Workshop in one to three sentences, how would you describe its main message?
Karen: The acronym REAP sums up its purpose:
R – Release past dieting failures. E – Enter into a peaceful relationship with food. A – Accept what God has to say on the matter. P – Possess the freedom to live a healthy life.
REAP – To reap a life full of hope and vision beyond some random number on the scale.
Jeannette: I like that: “some random number on the scale.” It really can be so arbitrary. I was just reading a weight-loss story where a woman was upset she was 125 pounds. 125 pounds! That was my college weight. So I can’t imagine being a mature woman and being upset at 125 pounds.
I don’t know. Maybe she was under five feet tall? The story didn’t really go into that kind of detail.
But before I start ranting about how much I hate BMI and other such things, let’s switch focus to the writing process. What part about it did you find the most challenging, and what aspect did you have the most fun with?
Karen: Since this was my first book, and words don’t necessarily flow easily for me, I had to work through a lot of doubts and fears when it came to writing and putting myself and my work out there for everyone to see. Whenever insecurities would come up, my prayer team would receive an SOS email asking for prayer. I also had a dear friend who was my biggest cheerleader, and we took many walks together where she talked me off the ledge of uncertainty and fear.
In a weird way, the part of this crazy book experience I enjoyed the most was conquering that fear, especially as I saw the words begin to fill the pages and the message begin to take shape. There were many days during the summer that I sat outside on my back patio, typing away on my computer and adjusting the umbrella as the sun made its way across the sky, just basking in the accomplishment of putting my thoughts down on paper.
I wouldn’t worry or judge whether my words were eloquent or precisely accurate; I would revel in the moment of my writing accomplishments… and the fact that the message that had been tucked away inside my heart was taking shape and being shared in the concrete, tangible channel of the written word.
There is something empowering, fun and terrifying in the process of making mere words become a printed legacy.
Jeannette: I feel like I’m on repeat saying how much I appreciate your words and your work, but I really do love the way you phrased that last bit: “mere words become a printed legacy.” That’s so poetic. And accurate. Once our words are down on paper – and especially once they’re published – that’s it. They’re part of our history.
In your case, what a printed legacy to have!
I know you went the self-publishing route, so how have you gone about promoting your words? In my opinion, self-publishing has a lot of benefits, but it also means you’re completely on your own in the marketing department.
So how have you handled that challenge?
Karen: The marketing aspect is not my strong suit, and I think I had some unrealistic expectations of how The Lost Weight Workshop would “go forth out into the world.” Basically, I thought as I shared my glorious little book on social media, all my Facebook friends would share it with all their friends and, of course, all their friends would share it with all their friends...
But in reality, for most of us, that’s not the case.
That’s why I’m working on growing my skills and confidence with marketing. The real challenge is finding the time to learn the ins and outs of it while working full-time.
The Lost Weight Workshop e-course is set to launch later in 2017, and my plan is to be more realistically prepared for marketing by researching the resources that are abundantly available. And let’s be honest: I’m still hanging onto the glimmer of hope that the idealistic dream of going viral is still possible.
Jeannette: Ah, yes. Facebook. It’s such a fickle platform. Everybody “likes” your writing and publishing accomplishments. And then that’s it. The best way to really get people to buy is through speaking engagements and in-person book presentations, but then those take time, research and significant guts to put into motion.
It’s a constant learning process. Rather like the rest of life, I suppose. But I genuinely do believe it’s worthwhile in the end.
And speaking of the end – wasn’t that such a clever segue? – is there anything else you want to add, either to dieters or writers hoping to follow in your publishing footsteps?
Karen: Don’t give up on your hope or desire to write a book. All those times you’ve written your thoughts down on scrap pieces of papers or scribbled your ideas on napkins? Don’t dismiss what they can add up to. All those little bits could just possibly turn into your first book.
And you don’t have to call yourself a writer to write a book. I still find it challenging to call myself one since I know it’s not my primary gift. But I am an author. I did write and publish a book, and I hope to write at least one more. So I guess I’m a writer.
Don’t let awe of the “author” title hold you back from tackling your given assignment. Just write.
Jeannette: That’s what I tell my writing students all the time. Just write! It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you throw your insecurities and expectations to the wind, and focus instead on the story – fiction or non-fiction – you’ve been holding onto.
The Lost Weight Workshop is active proof of that. I really did love it, and I recommend it whenever I get the chance.
In fact, if you’re open to the idea, I’d love to bring a stack of your books to the CHAP homeschool convention in June to feature on my vendor’s table. That’s how much I back it and you!
In the meantime though, where can people find The Lost Weight Workshop and follow you online?
Karen: The Lost Weight Workshop is available on Amazon.com. To connect with me, you can go to the Lost Weight Workshop Facebook page, and be sure to click “Like.” I’ll be posting more about the e-course as the launch date gets closer, and I don’t want you to miss it! I’m super excited about being able to teach and share the message of the Lost Weight Workshop with you in the comfort of your own home.
You can also always shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeannette: Karen, thanks again so much for sharing all of this with Innovative Editing. Here’s wishing you the absolute best with the book, the e-course and that new work you mentioned writing in the future!