Hello! I'm Emily Pope and I'm the owner and executive chef at Red Apron Kitchen LLC. I’m guessing you’re here because you’ve made a decision about eating healthy and losing weight and you are considering buying meal prep to help you with this. I am no stranger to trying to lose weight! I feel like I've been trying to lose weight my entire life! I grew up watching my mom try to lose weight her whole adult life. I thought that's just what women did. My first memorable attempt at weight loss was at age 16. I got tired of feeling like the fat girl all of the time so I decided the summer before my junior year of high school I was going to ride my bike for exercise. I rode my bike 5 plus miles every single day that summer while simultaneously trying to starve myself. Once school started back up that year, I brought one piece of fruit every day for lunch and that’s all I would allow myself to eat until dinner that night. It worked…I lost weight, but it wasn’t healthy at all. Once I graduated high school, I became less active and more stressed out with adult responsibility and I began to pack on the pounds super fast! I got up to a whopping 230 lbs after being out of high school for 4 years and it was then that I decided to join a gym. I got a membership at the “Miss Workout Studio” in Beaumont, TX because I was only comfortable working out around other women at that point. Shortly after I began working out, I discovered nutritional supplements and they were a game changer! I became especially fond of (addicted to) appetite suppressants containing ephedra. Not only did these little magic pills give me the energy I needed to power through my 2 hour 5 am workouts but they also killed my appetite. Jackpot! In no time I was down to 155 lbs and I felt amazing! I stayed on ephedra supplements for the bigger part of 4 years. I was highly addicted to ephedra and I had also become overly obsessed with exercise. I was in the best shape of my life and had even considered making a career change to become a fitness trainer. Then much to my dismay, in 2004, the FDA banned the sales of all supplements containing ephedra and my world came crashing down. I still found ways to order it online from Canada, Mexico, etc. for a while. My concern at that time was OBVIOUSLY not my health, it was ONLY my appearance and I was desperate to not get fat again. Once the ephedra marketplace completely dried up, inevitably I began to gain weight again. I could no longer spend the time in the gym because I didn’t have the energy from the ephedra and my appetite was out of control because I didn’t have my pills. I yo-yo dieted for years. I had luck several times with weight watchers, b-12 shots and Adipex prescriptions, and other random programs but it was slowly becoming obvious to me that I had a toxic relationship with food. By 2010, I had gotten up to 240 lbs; my highest weight ever.
Over the years, I was also working my way up the corporate ladder in Human Resources and I was the HR Director at a hospital. During my time at this job, I befriended the Director of Bariatrics and all of his staff. I decided to have the lap-band surgery in May of 2010. It was a dream come true because it would force me to eat small portions but it quickly also became a nightmare every single day. I lost 80 lbs in one year and again, I was in great shape! I was back in the gym lifting heavy again and once again, I was obsessed with how I looked. But here’s the nightmare part…the lap-band caused me to vomit on a daily basis. I never knew where or when it would happen. I can remember driving down the road at times and reaching for a cup or bag to vomit in while I was driving! I couldn’t eat MANY things I previously ate because they would get “stuck” and the only way to get them “unstuck” was to vomit. It was not a glamorous life at all, it felt like my dirty little secret but it kept me thin so I dealt with it. In 2013, I got pregnant with my daughter and my bariatric surgeon urged me to have the fluid removed from my lap-band so I could eat and get the nutrients I needed to grow a healthy baby. Even being pregnant, I was so hesitant and afraid of weight gain, but I agreed. I ate ALL the food I wanted during my pregnancy and it tasted SO GOOD! Once my daughter was born, I immediately went back to have my lap-band refilled so I could lose the weight again but I soon learned that things had gone terribly wrong. My lap-band had slipped out of place and could not be refilled. It was also causing other medical problems and my doctor said it had to come out. It took 3 long years to jump through hoops with my insurance provider to get the surgery approved to remove my lap-band. Finally in November of 2016, the insurance not only approved the removal of the lap-band but they also approved conversion to the gastric sleeve (VSG) in the same surgery. By then, I was once again tipping the scales at 230 lbs. I was ecstatic because once again, I would be able to lose weight and stay thin, right??? Wrong! Once I was converted to the gastric sleeve, I was only able to lose 30 more lbs. 3 months post-op, my weight loss stopped for good. I was dead stuck at 200 lbs and the scale wouldn’t budge. What I learned after some research is that you basically get one shot at resetting your "metabolic set point" with weight loss surgery and I wasn't going to be able to depend on this tool like I had before. I was going to have to put in some hard work. Here I was, not only one but TWO weight loss surgeries under my belt and I’m still not able to get to my goal weight, like what is WRONG with me??? I remember having days after that where I blamed the FDA for banning ephedra, the one thing that ever helped me stay thin. I finally just gave up.
Then, in October of 2017, my HR career world was turned completely upside down and I lost my job as HR Director at my favorite hospital following an acquisition. I did find another HR Director job at a construction company several months later so while it wasn’t ideal for me, it was paying the bills. During my time at this job, I was also meal prepping at home for myself. While I was bringing my meal prep for lunch, I got the attention of coworkers and even the company owner…they wanted my meal prep too! This is when I started to brainstorm about starting a meal prep business and the idea for Red Apron Kitchen was born. In my spare time over the next few months, I taught myself how to build a website and researched things a small business would need to start up. I set up an LLC and registered my business with the state and created my company logo all while still working at this construction company. Most of the people close to me thought I was crazy and questioned whether or not I was considering the risk associated with leaving a 15 year HR career to cook meals for people (I admit, that does sound crazy now, actually!) Then one day in February of 2018, I decided I’d had enough and it was time. I walked out of the job without giving notice and I launched my website and here we are now!
As I sit writing this today, I can say that I have much more power over food than it has ever had over me. I still have days where I struggle with staying on track with my nutrition. But with a fridge full of healthy meal prep at home, I fail myself a lot less often now.
I want my customers to know that while I do enjoy having a profitable business, it really is about so much more than that for me. It’s a path that allows me to continue to overcome MY unhealthy relationship with food and my unhealthy addiction to being thin no matter what the cost. I stay completely immersed in everything related to nutrition and fitness because it allows me to stay focused on what I need to do to live a healthy life. If you think that you’re the only one that struggles, think again! I have been trying to not be the fat girl my entire life. Relying on meal prep has definitely been the most sustainable way for me to work toward achieving my ever-changing goals. YOU CAN DO THIS!
EMILY POPE / OWNER & HEAD CHEF