In this blog post, I’m going to be interviewing my old friend and the beautiful free spirit: Erika Koch-Weser! Erika and I recently connected again after we discovered each other’s Instagram feeds. Her feed is beautiful, artsy, and inspiring, and her strong sense of spirituality has definitely intrigued me! Today we’re going to be talking all about how to curate a beautiful Instagram feed along with women’s health, our views on Western Medicine, and natural birth control methods!
Let’s get to know Erika!
Q: Hey Erika! So, let’s get started by introducing yourself. Who are you, where do you live, where do you go to school, what are your studying?
Erika: Hi! I’m Erika Koch-Weser. Currently I’m a psychology student at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. I’ll have finished my time here come May, and then I plan on getting my master’s degree in social work so I can work towards getting my license for clinical social work.
Q: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Erika: Ten years? Oh gosh—by that point I hope to have grown a couple of human beings with someone I love very much. I see myself having opened up a practice by that point. I want to be working with adolescents as I know the “teenage years” to be particularly difficult. My social worker was a wonderful woman and inspired me so much. I hope to be able to “bless” other people with the knowledge and warmth that she gave to me. Fingers crossed!
Q: What would you say are your favorite hobbies/activities to do in your free time?
Erika: I would be honest and say the first thing that comes to mind– pole-sport, but I know the mention of this triggers some people. Pole dancing is a sport people! Accept that it is here to stay! It is so much fun and great exercise. I would highly recommend taking some classes and giving it a try. I’ve also played violin since I was two years old, so that’s something I’ll brush up on when I have time to kill.
Q: So, we went to highschool together for a year or two and then I know you moved out at 18 and lived in Maine! Can you talk a little bit about that experience. How did moving out at a young age impact your development?
Erika: I could talk A LOT about that experience, but I’ll try to keep it concise. I think moving out at 18 was the best decision I’ve ever made. It really brought me a perspective that I’m not even sure I’d have now had I not taken the plunge. I was forced to grow up AND FAST! Living in Maine was quite the adventure and one of the best experiences of my life. It is truly one of the most beautiful states in my opinion.
Q: I’m obsessed with your confidence and individuality. I can tell just through your posts that you do you and you’re not afraid to be yourself. Any advice on that? It’s such an amazing quality to have!
Erika: To be honest, I think I was born like this! People always ask me, “Erika! Aren’t you scared of what people will think about that picture/video? How do you have the balls to post something like that!?” and I’ll just kind of blank stare and blink at them like, “Why not?” I think that as cliché as it is, it’s important to remember that we only have a little bit of time on this earth, and worrying about what other people will think about you, if GOD FORBID you post a taboo picture, is not a good use of that time.
Let’s Talk Instagram & Photos!
Q: I am obsessed with your Instagram feed! Can you talk a little bit about how you decided to start your Instagram account and where you get your inspiration for your photos and concepts?
Erika: I started my account when I was pretty young. I was that girl who didn’t really understand how social media worked and didn’t know the proper etiquette. I’d always post like 1,000 pictures of my cat or things like: “LOOK AT THIS BLUEBERRY MUFFIN I’M EATING”, and then I remember my sister telling me to ease-up on the posts. When I got older, I started to post my art and photography on Instagram—and I guess people liked it!
As for how I get inspired, I kind of have a squirrel-brain in that ideas just randomly come to me in sudden bursts. I’ll turn into a total spaz and start viciously writing ideas down in my phone, regardless of where I am or who I’m talking to. It’s pretty obnoxious. The ideas aren’t always good either—my shoots can be pretty ridiculous. People don’t realize how silly shooting can be. They just see the pictures and think “Oh wow this is cool”, but they know nothing about all the prep and what weirdness went on behind the scenes. I’ll call up my other photographer friends sometimes just yelling things like “GO GRAB 3 BUNCHES OF BANANAS & SOME GLUE & THEN MEET ME AT THE FOREST PRESERVE”. Things get weird. But hey—we always get at least one decent shot. However, there is often a lot of lying in the dirt involved…or in the cold half-naked. Frequently water is thrown on me or I’m subjected to weird props. Artists are crazy—you have to be to do this stuff. So I never get offended when people think I’m nuts.
Q: How do you decide what to share on social media? Is anything off-limits for you to talk about online?
Erika: I guess my philosophy is that I just post whatever I want. I’m not going to censor myself to comfort people’s ignorance and prudish ways. Nothing is really off-limits, unless it is in some way hurting someone else. If an employer ever turns me away because of a photo they found online of me covered in paint in a bathtub, so be it. I didn’t want to work for you anyway! The one thing that I always tell everyone is that people are always really sure they know me from my social media until they meet me in person. Ninety-nine percent of the time, when people meet me they say something along the lines of, “Wow. You’re not what I expected at all. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I thought you thought you were better than everyone else, but…you’re actually just…really f*$%ing weird. I dig it.”
Q: I admire the way you view women’s health and support natural birth control methods over synthetic hormones. Can you talk a little bit about what brought you to be so passionate about women’s health and your experience with birth control in the past?
Erika: When I was younger, after experiencing severe, negative effects from 4 different BC pill brands, I finally caved and went on Yasmin. The progestin drospirenone in Yasmin (one of many forms of synthetic progesterone) increases your risk of fatal blood clots substantially (compared to other pills) but promises the user weight loss, “healthy” hair & skin. It did all those things for me– however it also changed me as a person & altered my brain’s chemistry until I didn’t even act like myself anymore and was depressed, anxious, angry & honestly downright out of my mind at times. Now I use the Fertility Awareness Method of birth control and Daysy which IS NOT the same as the unreliable Rhythm Method. The two are not to be confused. It is important to not fall prey to the misassociations between the two methods and all the misinformation out there about F.A.M. Fertility Awareness Method is an awesome tool & there is such a wonderful community surrounding it! I am a member of a lot of F.A.M Facebook groups & they’re super informative and tons of fun. There are a lot of things that the pharmaceutical companies & medical professionals will not tell you/don’t want you to know about the dangers of hormonal birth control. Hormonal Birth Control is a BILLION dollar industry. With more of the recent research coming out about the strong links between hormonal birth control methods & depression (as well as MANY other proven, harmful side effects including life threatening pulmonary embolisms), methods like F.A.M. & tools like Daysy offer up a whole new world to those women who are comfortable with harnessing more personal control over their fertility. And hey—I’m still not pregnant.
Q: I know you use the Daysy as your method of birth control currently; I know a lot of people are skeptical about ovulation tracking methods of birth control. Can you talk about how it works?
Erika: Daysy changed my life. I could talk about it for hours!!! All I have to do is pop Daysy in my mouth every morning when I wake up!!! Daysy is a fertility computer. It takes your basal body temperature with a super advanced temperature sensor (1/100 of a degree precision) & then it compares your data to its “bio-mathematical forecasting software”. “Using this information Daysy can also track the luteinizing hormone (LH) that is responsible for ovulation”. Daysy utilizes an algorithm with “a proven track record of over 28 years” (info from: https://www.usa.daysy.me/technology/how-daysy-works/%E2%80%9C) & learns your personal cycle over time using incredible new technologies. Daysy gives you a green light when you’re not fertile, a yellow when it’s unsure, a red light when you are fertile, & a flashing red when you’re ovulating! It is a certified method of birth control with a 99.3% success rate placing it at a proven .7 on the Pearl Index. Daysy is just as effective as many hormonal methods, when used appropriately & correctly. I personally use Daysy in conjunction with another favorite method on red days for maximum effectiveness! Together that’s a Pearl Index of .1–equally effective as the pill! The device also has an app called DaysyView! You can sync all of your information to the app for a better view of your cycle.
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Q: How did you first get into using holistic medicine?
Erika: My beautiful mama has been studying/practicing homeopathy and naturopathy for my entire life. So her hippie-ways rubbed off on me.
Q: How do you view the Western Medical system and Big Pharma?
Erika: I DON’T go to the doctor. I don’t trust ‘em. (I always feel the need to yell—“I’M VACCINATED” after I say that to anyone). No–but in all seriousness, I think there is a time and place for Western Medicine. It just isn’t all the time…every day…after every sneeze or sniffle!!!!!! Drugs are overused and the pharmaceutical companies are LIVING for your money. I respect all opinions, but if you don’t believe the previous sentence then you’ve got some research to do! There are some great websites that allow you to search your beloved doctors to see which companies are paying them off to sell you certain drugs, creams, services etc… It’s a real eye-opener. All-in-all, I think Western Medicine is amazing, but only for certain things. If I can safely treat myself, I will always choose that route.
Q: What are some of your favorite home remedies that you like to use to combat/prevent sickness?
Erika: I swear by shots comprised of of ½ ACV, ½ water, Manuka honey and a couple drops of oregano oil. Even just using that twice a day will improve a cold substantially in my experience.
Q: What are your favorite things to do to embrace your spirituality?
Erika: One of my favorite ways to center myself is to play my singing bowl. It is a form of energy medicine. I’ll use it before I meditate or whenever I start to feel anxious. It’s amazing.
Nutrition & Diet
Q: What kind of diet do you follow, why did you decide to eat that way and how did it impact your overall health?
Erika: My diet cannot really be fit into a box. For a while I tried to be vegan, and I still aspire to cut out unnecessary animal products, but for a variety of reasons, it didn’t work out for me. I limit my meat intake substantially for environmental reasons, and I’ve never really been big into meat anyways. However, try to take away my fish and I’ll scream. I primarily eat fruits and veggies. I limit my soy intake (controversial—don’t fight me. I respect ya damn tofu). I avoid dairy at ALL COSTS (fight me—I don’t respect ya milk). I grow all my own veggies in the summer, and then in the winter I try to only buy things that were grown in sustainable ways. I could go on and on about this, but I’ll just say that my diet is always changing, and I’m always open to new information. Just don’t try to tell my coconut oil is bad for me because I’ll throw a handful at you…and then I’ll pick it up off the floor because I’m not wasteful.
Q: What are your tips for staying healthy while being away at college?
Erika: Walk to class! Eat your greens! Wash your hands (not with antibacterial soap though…& hand sanitizer should be avoided—google it)! Drink water! Honestly I wish I had more advice, but I should stop before I sound like a total hypocrite because I’ve been consistenly sick for 2 months.
Q: How do you view going out in college and what are your views on alcohol, drugs, etc.?
Erika: For my first two years of college, I almost never went out, and people gave me a lot of sh!t for it. Then suddenly, everyone wanted to know how I had straight A’s…and why I was so healthy. To be fair, I’ve been going out a lot more this year, but I limit myself to about 2-3 drinks. I’m in a psychology of alcohol/alcoholism class, and I’m here to tell you that once you exceed a certain number of drinks, you actually start to feel worse emotionally/socially/physically and not better. More alcohol does not equal a better experience.
Hope you enjoyed getting to know Erika! You can find her instagram feed here.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Daysy, checkout their website AND get $10 off by using Erika’s link: https://gr3f.co/c/15574/gVHvy