You Can Get Fit!

Who I Was, And Who I Will Never Be Again

Posted on: April 26, 2011

At the risk of sounding like a weight-loss infomercial…

This was me in 1989:

very large Brooke in high school

Now, there were a bunch of ups and downs that got me here, but this was me, working with a client in early 2010:

thin Brooke with client

This was a story I documented in a guest post on Susan’s blog last year, but why not share it again here?

Growing up, I thought I was destined to be large forever. Almost all of my friends were thin. What I didn’t realize at that age was that they played more outside, while I stayed indoors and watched TV. Food was a reward for me. Even entering double-digit age, I had “baby fat” that I was going to “grow out of” at some point. I had a few close friends, but was largely unpopular at school (except for a few years, when I learned to overcome my shyness).

I was still large in junior high, high school… finally, not too long before my 16th birthday, something clicked. I don’t remember what my trigger was, but I knew I wanted to make a change. My grandmother was constantly being put on weight loss plans for her health, so we became weight loss buddies together. This worked great. Unfortunately in 1990, a 1000-1200 calorie/day diet was deemed “normal”, which set me up for disordered eating later.

At my highest weight, I was pushing 240 pounds (at 5’7″.) At my lowest, I was 120. I struggled to maintain that weight, but really wanted to, because I felt I “should”. I was hungry all the time. When I moved away to college, I had ups and downs with weight in a 15-pound range, which barely showed, but I really beat myself up over any gain. I didn’t spend much time in my apartment, because my eating habits had gotten so disordered and strange that I didn’t want my roommates to know.

And then, my last year of college, I got a place to myself. If you’ve ever been a victim of disordered eating, you know how relieving this is–you don’t have to hide from anyone, anymore. I could eat my 1/2 bagel breakfast, go for a few miles’ run, eat my two apples throughout the day, and come home and eat a baked potato with fat free cheese at 10pm. (Sometimes with black beans–I needed nutrition, after all.)

My body rebelled and put on weight after this in grad school, when I started truly eating again… and I couldn’t take it off. (Screwed up metabolism, anyone?) Again, I thought I was destined to be a large person–either that, or starve to death in order to be thin.

During one of my heavier times, I met my husband (we’ve been together over 12 years!) and he loved me for who I was then, not for being ~50 pounds overweight.

But since then, I started working out smarter. More strength training. More Pilates. Not wimpy weights, either–I work out hard. Building lots of lean tissue. I started actually getting a real metabolism, for the first time in my life!

And when I did so, only about 30 pounds overweight, I decided to start working as a fitness instructor and share my enthusiasm with others who share my struggle. It is such a joyful line of work, especially given my background.

I’ve continued to streamline my body over the years, and I’m at the point where I can eat the occasional treat without it affecting my weight! (I never thought I’d say that. Nor did I think I’d consider fruits or vegetables as treats!)

Just over a year ago, I suffered a setback, and I’m powering through and hoping for the best: I had surgery on my hip to fix an on-the-job injury, and needed a second surgery a few months ago to take care of things that weren’t entirely resolved. Unfortunately no one knows if my hip will make a full recovery. But, all we can do is make the best with what we have, and I have plans even if things don’t work out 100% for my body. I hope I can return to my “groupies” at the gym, one of these days…

So–there’s my story! (Thanks for reading all my blabbing.) I must say, I feel a trazillion more times comfortable in my body than I did as a kid. How has your self-perception of your body changed over the years?

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13 Responses to "Who I Was, And Who I Will Never Be Again"

Very inspiring… and even better that you are now sharing your love of movement and health with others. I don’t have a weight loss story, but I decided to get into the field after helping a friend fit into a dress she’d been trying to get into for a long time. It was very rewarding to see her happy and staving off type 2 diabetes!

Hi, Beth!

Thanks for stopping by. I love being able to share my story with everyone! You never know which of the trainers, or gym/studio employees, have “been there”.

I’m sure your friend loved your expertise! From what I read, you’re quite the Pilates instructor! 🙂 (and wonderful video model, too! heh) May you have years more wonderful success stories in your future! 🙂

Hi Brooke. Thanks for your story. I’m so impressed that you were able to turn your unhealthy body image around and build such strength, both physical and emotional.

I had very skinny (tall!) friends when I was a kid, so I always thought I was chubby. (Looking back with the perspective of time, I certainly wasn’t.) But believing it was true, I ate whatever I wanted to and as much as I wanted to, which of course meant I put on weight. My wake up call came when I officially crossed that line from “overweight” to “obese”. I’ve since lost 25 pounds and plan to lose about 20 more.

So for my kids, I praise every active thing they do and every demonstration of strength and fitness. I point out how much fun they have when they’re moving. And I try very hard to let food just be food – eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full, limit non-nutritious food (i.e., sweets and fatty snacks). My son has certainly taken that to heart, and, in fact, could stand to eat a lot more. But we’ll see what happens when my daughter reaches adolescence. If she can keep that positive body image in the face of all of the teenage girl dreck, I’ll know I succeeded!

Tamitha! Great to see you.

I so appreciate that you’re encouraging healthy habits in your kids. Of course, I don’t have kids of my own, so I can’t even imagine how tough it is to fight their peers’ influence. But you’re guiding them in the right direction. Right on! 🙂

And good for you in the weight loss, too (which also sets a great example for the kids)! I’m sure all of our choreography helps with that, eh? 😉

Hi Brooke. I found your blog and really enjoy reading your posts. Sounds like you and I both enjoy motivating others. I hope your hip heals, and that you are able to do the activities you love. I put a link to your blog on my blog, since I think your interests are similar to mine. Be well!

Hi Mary!

Thanks for finding me! I’m quickly peeking at your blog (btw, link doesn’t work in your header–I found you through google) and I’ll read a bit more once I’m done cooking my chickpea curry! 🙂

To me, motivating others is what makes this blue planet go ’round, and makes things a little more exciting for me. Sounds like it’s the same for you!

Thanks for the link! (I so need to update mine…)

Hi Brooke!

Thanks so much for stopping by my site!

What an inspiring post! My self-perception has definitely changed over the years. In high school and college was not comfortable in my own skin. I believe it was an idea of unrealistic standards and trying to live up to what I “thought” I should be that sets us up to fail.

It has been a journey of self acceptance and finding my own healthy. Because it’s “my healthy.” I think it’s a constant journey. Self love is the hardest kind 🙂

Hi, Kristin!

Thank *you* for taking the time to read and comment here, as well! 🙂 I agree that accepting oneself is one of the hardest things to do in life, yet it’s one of the most important things to do in order to be accepted by the rest of society. After all, it’s the more confident people who go places in life! (So, we need to either accept ourselves and become confident, or fake it really well until we get there! 😉

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[…] You see, I was an obese child… like, nearly 100 pounds. I started putting on weight around age 8 (activity wasn’t encouraged in my life) and I just kept on going. I wrote about my childhood obesity, weight loss, and disordered eating on my now-dead other blog her… […]

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