Good morning and happy Tuesday! Today's post is dear to my heart because I've been following Brooke's journey over on her blog, Brooke Not on a Diet. As you can see from the pictures below, Brooke totally turned her life around -- losing an incredible 178 lbs and becoming an "after" for the Weight Watchers campaign! Her weight loss journey is utterly amazing and you will not regret reading this Q&A.
Brooke: I truly appreciate you taking the time to share your story with FFAB readers. You are such an inspiration!
Has your weight always been an issue for you? Since what age?
Weight has always seemed to be something I have dealt with. I really cannot remember a time when I was “thin.” I was always a chunky kid and an even chunkier teen/adult.
When did you decide to make a change? Were you engaged at the time?
I decided to make the change after a really crappy relationship and realizing that I really needed to start loving myself if I was ever going to find “the one.” My mom invited me to a Weight Watchers meeting around that time and as they say, the rest is history. ;)
Has your decision to get healthy been on-again off-again, or did something just click?
I did do some fad diet stuff throughout my teen years and there was even a doctor recommended diet. But I never stuck with it for long because I was doing things to lose weight that I wouldn’t be able to do for the rest of my life. (Grapefruit diet, anyone?)
When I started Weight Watchers back in 2009, it just sort of clicked. Sure there have been times where I wasn’t fully on track (Wedding planning brought on a bit of stress eating and who can forget the honeymoon where I started everyday off with a Mudslide cocktail!), but I’ve never strayed so far that I’ve gained a lot of weight back. I’ve been doing this awhile, so I’m pretty good at reeling myself back in when I’m straying a bit too far. I always remind myself how much better I feel when I’m eating things that are better for me.
What was your starting weight?
My starting weight was 327.6lbs. Talk about a shocker when I stepped on the scale at my first Weight Watchers meeting! I knew that night that I would NEVER see that number again.
Did you measure body fat?
I didn’t measure body fat in the beginning, but it is something I pay attention to now.
Did you use a particular program to help you lose weight? What program? (Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, MyFitnessPal?)
In case you haven’t figured it out by now; I follow the Weight Watchers program. I follow the Simply Filling Plan they offer. I did the PointsPlus for most of my journey, but made the switch to Simply Filling last November. I absolutely love Weight Watchers and cannot sing enough praise for the program. I love that you can eat anything you want, but they teach you to choose more fulfilling foods. I go to meetings and just love the support and encouragement I get there weekly. My plan is to eventually work for them and then demand they put me in a commercial. ;)
Has anyone been doing this with you?
My mom started out with me, but jumped off the wagon a few months in. She joined again last year and is now down almost 50lbs! I love that I inspire people everyday with my journey, but I’m most proud when my mom tells me that I inspire her. It’s awesome!
When did you start to see the number on the scale go down?
It started going down right away and steadily went down for a while. Of course there have been many plateaus since then. Getting under 200lbs was the most difficult and I played around with that for over a year. The day I hit Onderland (199) I ran into the bedroom and jumped on the bed scaring the crap out of Mr. B who was snoring peacefully. Haha
What's been the best part about getting healthier/losing weight?
Sex. ;) Seriously though the way I feel now is the best part. I can do things like bike 100 miles in a month and run up stairs. I don’t get tired as easily and my body doesn’t ache daily. I found a love of cooking and exercising. I became confident and found the most amazing man to stand by my side during this journey. I also get to inspire people everyday by showing them that they don’t need a fad diet or surgery to become healthy. Being healthy is AWESOME!
What's been the hardest part?
The hardest part is always dealing with the scale. I know they say not to let the scale define you, but man sometimes you just let it. Of course I deal with it better now than I ever would have in the past and I always remind myself of how far I have come.
Another hard part is the loose skin I now have. It is so freaking annoying and frustrating! But again, I remind myself that it’s there because I worked my ass off. I also much rather have the loose skin than the extra 177lbs!
Have you reached your goal yet?
I have! I hit it in the beginning of May and it was one of the best days ever! If you want to read about it, I posted a lovely detailed story on my blog, including the part where I took off my bra! ;)
If you made these changes because of your upcoming wedding, what specifically was motivating? The wedding gown? Seeing all your family and friends? The pictures?
I started losing weight before I got married, but obviously getting married kept me on track with my efforts. The pictures really kept me motivated, no one wants to look back on their wedding day pictures and hate how they looked. And it worked too! I actually had to reorder a smaller dress a few months before my wedding!
What are some of your staple foods and favorite recipes?
Gosh, where do I even begin? Lol. On my grocery list there is always light vanilla yogurt (which I always top with fruit for a snack), unsweetened vanilla almond milk, PB2 (powdered peanut butter), bananas, eggs, oatmeal (regular & Better Oats Oat Fit Maple & Brown Sugar), Hendrickson’s salad dressing, and frozen fruit. Oh and you can’t forget the occasional pint of Ben & Jerry’s. ;)
Mine and Mr. B’s favorite recipe at the moment is Philly Cheese’steak’ Filling. It is crazy delicious! We also love us some roasted green beans!
Do you workout a lot? How often?
I’m not crazy about my workouts, but love doing DVD challenges! I just finished Turbo Fire and have done couple of Jillian Michael’s DVDs. Jillian is by far my favorite! I would say that I workout anywhere from 3-5 days a week depending on my mood and motivation!
Do you workout at home or do you belong to a gym?
I have lost all of my 177lbs without ever owning a gym membership! I have only worked out in a gym once during this whole journey. This means all of my weight has been lost by working out at home, outdoors, and with the occasional Zumba class.
I have quite the variety of workout DVDs and have done several challenges. My favorites by far are my Jillian Michaels DVDs; I have such a girl crush on that woman! I also love biking when the weather allows it!
What are your favorite exercises? Do you lift weights?
My favorite workout DVDs are the 30 Day Shred and Ripped in 30 by Jillian. I don’t do a lot of weight lifting because I don’t have access to a lot of weights, but it is incorporated with each of the DVDs I mentioned.
If so, do you have a favorite body part you like to work? (Such as quads or delts?)
I really don’t have a certain body part I like to work. My favorite part to flex though is my biceps. I flex in the mirror at least once a day. It is totally surreal to me that I have actual muscle! I also tell my husband constantly that I’m stronger than him, which I’m not, but he plays along. ;)
Where do you find your motivation? Other blogs? Magazines? Which ones?
I read a lot of different blogs and get great motivation and inspiration from them! I love Fit & Free with Emily, Kelly @ Curvy Fit Girl, Mel @ The Daily Mel, Rachael @ The Domestic Geek, and a million others. I absolutely love blogs! :)
As for magazines I love Health, Fitness, Shape, and Weight Watchers. Oh Cooking Light has some pretty great recipes too!
Are your family and friends aware of these changes in your life? Are they supportive?
My family and friends are both aware of my changes. I’m not quiet about it at all. I love hitting a new milestone (scale or non-scale) and quickly texting everyone about it. ;) They have always been supportive in anything I’ve chosen to do and my journey is no different. It’s awesome to have them cheering me along!
What does your husband think of these changes?
I didn’t meet Mr. B until I had already lost over 100lbs, so he didn’t know the old Brooke. He has really only knows ‘healthy’ Brooke. So, he has always been supportive and is a great cheerleader. He is my recipe guinea pig and even sometimes pushes me out of bed in the morning to exercise. I couldn’t ask for a better support really. This is why he’s my soul mate because he loves me for whom I am and supports me in everything I do. Cannot sing enough praise for my Mr. B! I’m one lucky gal. :)
Finally, do you have any advice for other women who are trying to be healthier and/or lose weight?
My most important piece of advice is: You Are Worth It!! So many women don’t feel like they deserve to be healthy and shouldn’t put themselves first. But, you must remember that in order to be there for others, you need to be here. If you’re unhealthy, the chances of you being around for a long time are slim. Take care of you and your health (physical and mental) first, and then tackle others.
Other advice is to look for some support, whether it come from family or a group like Weight Watchers. There’s also awesome support online! I have found a great community of healthy lifestyle bloggers who are super supportive and then my readers are also awesome. All I have to do is send out a tweet that I’m struggling with something and I can get a slew of tweets back offering support. There are Facebook groups, online message boards, and so much more. You can find support anywhere these days!
Also, be sure to take it one step at a time. When I started my journey I focused mainly on my eating, then slowly incorporated exercise. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself with too much, because you’re more likely to give it up. Small changes add up to big results.
Oh and don’t forget to set some goals! Reward yourself for hitting those goals too! I try not to focus solely on scale related goal either. My goals consist of drinking 100oz of water daily, moving my body at least 30 minutes daily, and trying a new recipe weekly. This journey is much more than the scale and we all need to remember that sometimes. :)
Thank you so much for letting me tell my story on Fit For a Bride! I hope you all get something from it! If you want more inspiration from me, you can find me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook! Oh and of course my blog! Hope to see you around!
Thank you so much, Brooke!
I'm so inspired by your hard work and drive. You look AMAZING!!!!!
I vote Weight Watchersput you in a commerical ASAP! :-) You totally deserve it!
Do you know someone who has lost over 150 lbs?
Have you ever tried Weight Watchers?
Wedding photo credit: Creative Wedding Package