Overcoming Body Dysmorphia And Yo-Yo Dieting With Rachel Brooks
Rachel Brooks is a lifestyle entrepreneur, writer, speaker, podcaster and author.
Meet Rachel Brooks
Check out the interview with Rachel Brooks below and learn more about her wellness journey!
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
Hi!! I’m Rachel Brooks, a Lifestyle Entrepreneur, Writer, Speaker, Host of The Confident Woman Podcast, and Author of Chasing Perfection: A Journey to Healing, Fitness, and Self-Love. I love lifting, eating, traveling, and empowering women to get fit from within, so they can live life as their best and most confident selves.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO HEALTH AND FITNESS? WHAT DID YOUR JOURNEY LOOK LIKE?
The start of my health and fitness journey was long and arduous, starting back in my teens well into adulthood. Although it was more of a struggle, it was later that I learned to embrace the process as a journey. For the better part of my younger years and adulthood, I struggled with self-image, body dysmorphia, eating disorders, yo-yo dieting.
When first starting on my fitness journey, I started with the most significant pain point – my body – it’s what I saw and hated the most. Each day, my reflection was a reminder of “failure,” and my lack of self-confidence.
- If only…
- I could lose X lbs; then I’d ___
- If I knew what to eat; I wouldn’t be so ___
- I looked like ___; then I’d be ___
I used my body as a measuring stick and associated my worth, love, and happiness based on how I looked and felt.
I started with the area I believed needed “fixing” first, my body, starting with exercise and diet.
Lacking the proper knowledge, education, and insight, I turned to fitness and beauty magazines as motivation and inspiration. Hoping if I did the right exercises and ate the right foods, I too would look like the beautiful cover models. Looking for a quick-fix to a lifelong struggle, I entered my first bikini fitness competition. I used diet and exercise as a way to punish, manipulate, and control my body, hoping to undo the years-long cycle, damage, self-abuse and neglect. I expected the dedication, and hard work would result in a having long, sought-after “perfect bikini body”—chasing perfection.
When the quest for the perfect body backfired, I was forced to take a huge step back. I asked myself questions such as, Who am I? What’s holding me back? Why did I believe these things? How did or didn’t they serve me? What myths was I allowing myself to believe?
Once uncovering the roots and facing these lies and beliefs, I reframed the questions into one that better served me. I went from “doing all the things” to doing “all the right things.” As a perfectionist, I overcomplicated most everything by doing more, performing more, pushing more – more, more, more.
Not having the insight I have now, I used this approach when first learning a new way of “eating” by way of Flexible Dieting – no foods off-limits. I began looking at food from a place of nourishment, not punishment, or judgment. I began creating a healthy and balanced relationship with food and applied the method to how I viewed, thought, and spoke to and about myself. My training program is also similar in regards to keeping it simple, and taking the less is more approach. No longer do I focus solely on aesthetics but instead on building strength, and confidence. I’ve learned to embrace and accept my body from a place of love and gratitude so I can live life as my best and most confident self.
HOW DO YOU ENCOURAGE OR EDUCATE OTHERS ABOUT LIVING A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE?
Many years ago, when first starting my fitness journey, it was scary, daunting, and extremely overwhelming. I didn’t know where or how to begin.
I felt overwhelmed by all the “noise” in the fitness industry. There were too many myths, do’s and don’t’s. Today, thanks to the internet, we have all the tools, information, and resources we need at our fingertips. When anyone first starts, on any journey, the unknown is scary, daunting, and overwhelming! We scramble to find the right pieces and, most times, make more of a mess than finding a solution to our pain. Knowing first hand what this felt like at the very beginning, I’ve turned my experiences into one of purpose. Today, I am passionate about inspiring, encouraging, and empowering women to become their best selves through the practice of creating a positive mindset, a healthy body, and a soul filled with self-love–a healthy and balanced lifestyle of mind, body, and soul.
Aside from diet and exercise, we have to overcome the lies, beliefs, and excuses that hold us back from living our best life. All transformation starts within. Our body is a reflection of our inner work—mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
Everyone’s fitness journey is unique to their own. How it looks for you may look entirely different than the next person. That’s the beauty of it all— getting lost and finding yourself along the way. I genuinely believe that once we know who we are and what our purpose is, life opens up and becomes free.
WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S IMPORTANT TO EDUCATE OTHERS ABOUT LIVING A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE?
Having a healthy and balanced lifestyle is what I’m all about! As a recovering perfectionist, living in extremes, and having a fixed mindset will only get you so far. If you want or expect different results, you have to change your way of thinking. I believe it’s important to educate and encourage women to let go of perfection and lean into balance and moderation. Having insight into self-awareness is crucial.
Without knowing where you are coming from, you won’t have a clearly defined path of where you are going. Shifting our perspectives and mindset from fixed to a growth mindset is key! We start with how and what we think, believe, say, and do; we’re then able to master all areas of our life–personally and professionally.
WHAT SUGGESTIONS DO YOU HAVE FOR THOSE LOOKING TO START LIVING A HEALTHIER LIFE?
Have a clear vision and a strong reason why you want to start living a healthier life. We all know, motivation and willpower will only take us so far.
If you are new or just starting (again), be resourceful and ask for help. You are not meant to do life alone. Strive for progress, not perfection. Going hard – 100 percent of the time – is not only exhausting but also not healthy nor sustainable. However, hitting your mark, 80 percent of the time is, leaving 20 percent for learning, adapting, living.
Give yourself plenty of time. Keep in mind; you didn’t get to where you are overnight, so don’t expect the overnight results. Progress is never linear. There will be days when you will gain weight, fall off track, relapse to your own ways (thinking, habits, behaviors); it’s all part of the journey. When you find yourself in these situations, don’t abuse or punish yourself but ask yourself, positive and encouraging questions, such as what lesson(s) do I need to learn, what can I gain from this situation, what can I do (now) that can better serve me, what (belief) am I hold onto, who/what do I need to let go of? You will mess up, but there’s no need to punish, quit, or bash yourself. We’re all humans doing the best we can with where we’re at. Give yourself a lot of grace!
Consistency compounded over time yields results.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY OF EATING AND WORKOUTS LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
I’ve adapted flexible dieting as a way of eating and life. How you do one thing is how you do everything. I love what I eat and eat what I love so, whether I’m competing, traveling, or working towards new fitness goals, my diet fits me and my lifestyle. I make sure to get in plenty of protein such as meats, egg whites, and fish, moderate fats such as oils, cheese, butters, and meats and plenty of carbs such as, greens, veggies, potatoes, rice, oats, and “fun foods” such as: pizza, pasta, bread, cereal, (all) baked goods, snacks, and wine.
When it comes to meals and food choices, I’m not a “planner.” I love spacing my meals out and eat when I’m hungry and stopping when I’m full and satiated.
A typical day of eating includes all the foods I enjoy – balanced meals of protein, fat, carbs
- Breakfast: Egg whites, cheese, breakfast sausage, oatmeal with berries
- Lunch: Chicken, rice, vegetables
- Dinner: Chicken, pork or beef, vegetables, potato
*Do not be afraid to season and/or flavor your foods. If you don’t eat what you enjoy, you won’t enjoy what you eat.
The key to consistency is finding something you enjoy and sticking to it.
I strength train 4-5x per week using a lower/upper split program designed to fit my current goals and work around physical limitations.
All workouts consist of compound lifts (overhead press, bench press, row, squat, deadlift, hip thrusts) and accessory lifts. Each workout typically includes 5-8 exercises and takes 45-75 minutes to complete depending on how I’m feeling too.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE?
Everyone’s health and fitness journey is as unique as they are. There is no “One-Size-Fits-All” approach to diet or exercise. It’s okay to try out as many “ways” as you need until you find what works for best for you! Mastering your mindsets is key to mastering your life.
Let go of limiting beliefs and redefine who you are. You have the power to create your own story.