My Story: From Hangry, Bloated Teacher To Satiated, Energetic Nutrition Coach!

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Thanks for tuning in to episode 2 of The Health Investment podcast! 

Today, I’m going to share my story: from high school English teacher to certified nutrition coach…and all of the frustrating health issues in between! 

Have you ever struggled to figure out what ACTUALLY works for simple weight loss and sustainable wellness? Are you in the middle of that (seemingly never-ending!) struggle right now? 

If so, you definitely don’t want to miss what I have to say today because I was in your exact same shoes for most of my adult life.

Finally, in my late 20s and early 30s, I started to figure out how to get healthy for good. I finally freed myself from the BS messages and methods I’d tried in my past!

But I’m getting ahead of myself here…let’s go back to age 22…

THE “POST-COLLEGE 15”

My interest in health and nutrition really piqued after college when I moved to New York City and started my first teaching job.

The city itself was awesome, I loved my job, I was making new friends…so many things were going well, except for one:

I started gaining weight and getting all-around puffy…and I couldn’t figure out why. Throughout college, I’d eaten (and drank!) pretty much anything I wanted, and I never gained the dreaded “freshman 15.”

But after college, I seemed to put on 15 pounds almost immediately even though I was arguably eating healthier and exercising more than I did in college! 

OTHER HEALTH ISSUES

Aside from the weight gain, I didn’t feel great in other ways:

  • Like I mentioned, I was “puffy.” I remember looking at photos and wondering when my face got so round! And honestly, I deleted most of them. I always needed the camera to be at juuuust the perfect angle; if it wasn’t, the photo was trash!
  • Another issue: my digestion sucked! I won’t get into great detail on this one because I’m sure you can figure out what I mean. Let’s just say I always knew where every bathroom was…at all times!
  • My digestive issues caused extra bloat around my midsection (and that’s probably where the puffiness in my face came from as well), so that was terrible.
  • I was breaking out more than I ever had before. Seriously. I was one of those “lucky” kids in high school who never had bad, so these breakouts in my early 20s were a weird (and obnoxious!) change.
  • I wasn’t sleeping well. Every night, it’d take me an hour or two to fall asleep (yes, you heard that right—an HOUR or TWO!). And, once I fell asleep, I couldn’t sleep straight through the night. I’d usually wake up around 2am, and it’d take me a good 30 minutes to an hour to fall back asleep.
  • Since I wasn’t sleeping well, I was fatigued most days. But even if I did sleep well (which only happened on rare occasions!) I’d always crash around 4pm. I mean, I’m talking a crash. Whenever 4 o’clock rolled around, I’d think, “Wow, I could lay my head on this table right here and sleep through the night!” 
  • Finally, no matter how often I ate, I was always hungry. And my constant hunger made me cranky…so I was often “hangry”! 

At 22 years old, I was supposed to be energized, confident, and in the prime of my life…but instead I was bloated, agitated, and confused.

And the worst part of it all was that I was really trying hard to be healthy. I wasn’t just neglecting my health by drinking soda and eating Taco Bell all the time.

I WAS TRYING IT ALL!

I was doing everything I thought I should be doing to lose those extra pounds, keep ‘em off, and feel great again.

I was counting calories so that I wouldn’t eat over 2000/day.

I was counting fat grams because I was certain that even so-called “healthy fats”—like salmon, extra virgin olive oil, and avocados—would make me fatter.

I actually remember scanning restaurant menus for low-fat items. When I’d see salmon, I’d think, “Ugh, I LOVE salmon and really want it…but it’s too fatty!”

I was packing a “healthy” lunch every day, which also helped me save money (news flash: living in NYC—one of the most expensive cities out there—on a teacher’s salary ain’t easy!)

Each day, I’d pack a peanut butter sandwich, pretzels, a low-fat yogurt, and an apple. But I used low-fat peanut butter because, again—I feared fat!

I was working out allllll the time. If I didn’t go on an hour-long run or spend an hour on the elliptical at the gym 6-7 times each week, I’d feel guilty. And fatter. Incessant exercise was really my only hope of losing weight, and I was sure that the more I exercised, the more weight I’d lose.

Because what was the other solution??

AND I was weighing myself all of the time to monitor my progress. Sometimes I’d lose 5 pounds and think, “FINALLY! It’s happening!” But then the next week I’d gain it back…

My results never lasted. This crazy roller coaster of trying to figure out what would ACTUALLY work lasted for years—pretty much all of my 20s.

I STILL REMEMBER IT ALL LIKE IT WAS YESTERDAY…

It’s crazy to me that I’m talking about a time in my life that happened 10 years ago, but I can still remember the pain and confusion I was feeling like it was yesterday. 

I remember this one day when I was—err let’s say I was 26—I got off the subway in the West Village was about to walk home, which would be about 20 minutes. But coming up the subway stairs, I felt so hungry that I that I thought I was going to faint. And I was nauseated. You know that feeling? When you’re SO hungry that you’re nauseous and feel like you could puke? It was a terrible feeling. BUT I had just eaten lunch two hours prior. I remember thinking, “HOW can I possibly be hungry so soon?” I thought that I was just born hungrier and needing more snacks than everyone else.

Since I didn’t feel like I could make it home the 20-minute walk without sustenance (and this was pre-Uber!), I popped into a deli and grabbed a “healthy” snack: a bag of fat-free pretzels.

From that day on, I started carrying an “emergency apple” with me everywhere I went. I kind of made a joke of it with family and friends, but really the apple served a purpose: I never wanted to feel those nauseating hunger pangs ever again!

I (BEGRUDGINGLY) ACCEPTED MY REALITY

And I also came to terms with my weight and health. I decided that I was getting older, so my metabolism was probably just slowing down. And I also accepted the fact that I was “big boned” (I’m 5’11” and have a wider frame). Since I was “big boned,” I probably couldn’t be a trimmer version of myself.

Those excuses answered the 15-pounds-overweight piece of my health, but I was still at a loss when it came to my digestion, skin, erratic sleep, and constant hunger. But oh well! I resigned to keep doing all of the “healthy” things I was doing and just accept my health for what it was. After all, it could always be worse, right??

BUT THEN, I FOUND NEW HOPE…

Fast forward a couple of years: I met Thomas, my now husband.

Now, Thomas didn’t have all of the answers for me in terms of weight loss and overall health, but he did have allllll of the podcasts!

Side note: I just asked him, “Thomas, can I mention you in this episode?” He wondered what I’d say about him. I said I wanted to mention his love of podcasts. His response: “Podcasts! I was the pioneer, man!” 

So when I say he had alllll of the podcasts downloaded to his phone, I’m not kidding you. He’s THE podcast guy!!

Anyway, Thomas introduced me to podcasts—his first true love! Specifically, he intro’d me to Vinnie Tortorich’s Fitness Confidential Podcast.

(Vinnie still does his Fitness Confidential Podcast, and he does multiple episodes each week—which I am now realizing is impressive! You should check it out!)

In his past, Vinnie was a celebrity fitness trainer, so I figured he must know a thing or two about nutrition and health.

But then I got skeptical: Vinnie preaches “no sugars, no grains,” which he abbreviates NSNG.

Instead of loading up on refined sugars and grains (like I was doing since they are usually low-fat, fat-free, and low-calorie), he promotes a diet of healthy fats, protein, and vegetables.

I was fine with the protein and veggies part…but fat?! Add more FAT to my diet?? I had spent 6 years avoiding fat like the plague, so this idea threw a real wrench into my thinking…

BUT, since nothing I was trying was ACTUALLY working, I had nothing to lose! 

Instead of taking a peanut butter sandwich, low-fat yogurt, pretzels, and an apple for lunch, I took hard boiled eggs, carrots, avocado slices, and leftover ground beef from dinner.

For dinner, I ate the salmon I’d always feared! And I slathered my side of veggies in butter!!

I was sure I was going to bulk up immediately, but, to my surprise, the opposite happened.

AND SOON, THINGS STARTED LOOKING UP!

Almost effortlessly, I lost the 15 pounds I’d gained after college.

And I saw an improvement in other aspects of my health, as well:

  • I slept better.
  • My skin cleared up.
  • My digestion improved.
  • I didn’t hit a point of numbing fatigue at 4pm each day.
  • I could actually make it 5-6 hours between meals free from those nauseating hunger pangs I’d once experienced!

The fact that I was able to look and feel 100x better in just a few months by eating MORE and exercising LESS really threw me.

I’d spent years getting it all wrong, it seemed…so what ELSE had I gotten wrong?

I DID A DEEP DIVE INTO EVERYTHING HEALTH/NUTRITION

At that point, I had learned how to find and download my own podcasts without Thomas’ help (I’m a quick study!), so I listened to hundreds of episodes on different topics.

Experts were telling me things like:

  • “All calories aren’t created equal.”
  • And, “When it comes to weight loss, nutrition matters more than exercise.”

I had this awakening. Now, I name all of the messages and methods I’d tried that didn’t ACTUALLY work as total BS. 

I wanted to share everything I was learning with friends and family who shared different commonalities with my own health struggle, but, to my surprise, not everyone wanted to talk about health and wellness over happy hour drinks. (Weird, right??)

I STARTED A BLOG

So I started my first blog, which was called, “Biohacking with Brooke.” (Dave Asprey was one of the experts I listened to, so I borrowed the word “biohacking” from him!)

My blog became my passion project. Every Saturday, I’d write a new post in which I’d share one of my new findings with the world!

And every free moment I had, I was diving deeper into health and nutrition research. I discovered PubMed.com, which is now my BFF. If you’re not familiar, you can find thousands of free articles on PubMed to discover cutting-edge research on all sorts of things: sleep, stress, diets, diseases. It’s all on there!

And I continued to absorb as much info as I could through podcasts, other people’s blog posts, newspaper articles—I was a real sponge!

By day, I was still teaching English, but suddenly commas and The Great Gatsby weren’t as exciting to me anymore. Wellness and nutrition info was what I craved!

I ENROLLED IN THE INSTITUTE OF TRANSFORMATIONAL NUTRITION

Soon, all of the FREE resources out there didn’t meet my needs anymore. I wanted to dig deeper, so I enrolled in the Institute of Transformational Nutrition.

Through this program, I knew I’d become a Certified Transformational Nutrition Coach, but I still didn’t know what that’d mean for my future. I was desperate to share my knowledge with anyone who would listen, so the prospect of coaching clients one-on-one (like I do now!) really appealed to me. But I was still stuck in my teaching role.

While working through all of the modules of the program (which took me about 9 months! It was no joke!!), I decided it’d be a good idea to create a more serious website, blog, and brand. (Caring family members had also told me that “Biohacking with Brooke” was a terrible name. Honesty is the best policy, right?)

THEHEALTHINVESTMENT.COM WAS BORN, AND I HAD TO MAKE A CHOICE…

That’s when The Health Investment was born!

Once I had finished my coursework and become an official certified nutrition coach, Thomas and I hit a turning point: we made the decision to move back West to be closer to family. 

Leaving New York City meant leaving the “high school English teacher” persona I’d grown so attached to. Sure, I could get a new teaching job in the Bay Area, but I could also make a CRAZY move and do something completely different.

Since you’re listening to this podcast right now, you know the choice I made! I decided to break away from teaching and build a career as a coach! 

Now, I work with clients one-on-one, I host wellness events for companies, I write blog posts on thehealthinvestment.com, I post daily health inspiration on Instagram (@thehealthinvestment)…and I produce this podcast!

Clearly, there’s not time in this ONE episode to share with you alllll of the things I learned from research articles, podcasts, and coursework through the Institute of Transformational Nutrition.

I CAN’T WAIT TO SHARE EVERYTHING I’VE LEARNED WITH YOU ON THIS PODCAST!

I’m sure you’re dying to know EVERYTHING I’ve learned so that you, too, can get healthy for good—without all of the BS that’s been holding you back!

Well…great news! That’s my whole goal for this podcast: to cut through the crap. Week after week, I’m ONLY going to share tips and practice that ACTUALLY work for simple weight loss and sustainable wellness. 

As I mentioned, I’ve been dying to scream my knowledge from rooftops: now I’ll have the chance to do that (sort of—I’m not on a rooftop right now; just in my little ol’ apartment).

I hope you’ll join me each episode! And I’m especially excited about the next episode, which is the first in a series of PRACTICAL tips for eating healthy at restaurants, while traveling throughout the holiday season, and more!

Thanks for being here with me today. I’ll catch ya next time on episode 3!


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