After moving across the country for college, Brandee found her weight steadily creeping up. She lost weight a few times but always gained it back. After having two children and battling rheumatoid arthritis, she knew she wasn’t living her best life. Change felt overwhelming until her husband inspired her to join a gym, just so she could “feel better.”
Brandee lost 100 pounds all while living her normal busy life as a married, full time working Mom! She is now sharing her journey and teaching others how to become the best version of themselves!
Turning Point: Wanting to feel better
Heaviest Weight: 278
Current Weight: 174
Weight Loss: 104 pounds!
Biggest Change: Meal prep and planning
What led you to being overweight?
I was riddled with insecurity all through high school. It seemed like I had it all because I was a cheerleader and even nominated for prom queen, but I didn’t feel any real connection or belonging. I looked for validation in all the wrong places.
I spent the next 20 years people pleasing and emotional eating because I was so worried what others thought of me. I felt angry a lot of the time, but I didn’t want to rock the boat or make anyone else uncomfortable. I dimmed my light so others would like me and it didn’t work. There were still people that didn’t like me and I let their opinions determine my worth.
What prompted you to make a change? Why did you start?
While we were preparing for my daughter’s 1st birthday party, my husband had to buy the largest size shirt he had ever purchased. It was a wake up call for him, and he decided to join a gym. I wasn’t ready and was honestly a little irritated about it.
After a month or so of him going to the gym at 4am, he told me that he was feeling better and that he wanted me to feel better too. I knew deep down that I wanted to feel better. I realized it was time to start something for myself without relying on a workout buddy or weekly meeting to hold me accountable. I needed to take ownership of my journey.
Why were you successful THIS TIME? What was different from your previous attempts to lose weight?
The difference this time is that I loved myself throughout the journey. I knew I had to take things slow, through the busy (and illnesses) that life threw at me. I had to change slow. I had to allow myself the grace to be imperfect. I had to approach everything with kindness and grace.
I didn’t set out to lose 100 pounds. I didn’t have a deadline. I was just determined to feel better and to learn how to become a healthy person. I wanted to develop a healthy relationship with food and exercise. I wanted to figure out how to lose weight in a way I could live it forever!
What program did you follow to lose weight?
I’ve been in several weight loss groups over the years. I’ve counted calories, counted points and been a PNP Tribe member, but this time around I didn’t really follow a specific program. I just knew that I wanted to have a healthy relationship with food and exercise.
I started out by walking twice a week. Then I started logging my food and assessing my progress without being hung up on the numbers. I also discovered that it’s much easier for me to eat intentionally when I plan my food in advance. I find writing my food down before I eat is a lot less daunting then trying to remember what I ate for the day.
Next I started experimenting with meal prep. I focused on eating foods I loved rather than focusing on the lowest calorie option.
I really just figured out what worked for me a little at a time through my busy life. Eventually I made meal prep and planning part of my normal routine and even created my own planning and assessment sheets.
How did you stay committed and focused after the initial honeymoon stage?
Visualization. I imagined myself as a healthy, active person 6 months and 6 years in the future. Because I wasn’t doing anything too extreme or crazy, it felt doable to visualize what I would be doing down the road.
How do you avoid emotional eating and/or binge eating?
I have worked hard to create healthy coping mechanisms but I also purposely re-direct my brain when I am experiencing negative emotions.
So much of emotional eating comes from our thoughts so I work on negative thoughts.
My go-to coping mechanisms now are walking, journaling or talking to a trusted friend.
What were the key lifestyle changes that you HAD to make in order to be successful?
Weight loss is so much about trial and error.
It’s an openness to forgive yourself, it’s taking ownership, it’s being willing to try new foods, new recipes, new exercise. It’s being open for growth and learning and sometimes that means getting uncomfortable when you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
I had to commit to prioritizing myself. It was new territory to move into a growth mindset but it was by far the best decision I made.
What tools or apps do you use to manage your weight?
I created my own daily weight loss planner after trying dozens of other ones and figuring out what I did and didn’t like. I designed this planner when I decided to spend the last 60 days of 2018 being ALL IN on my processes and fine-tuning them.
At the end of those 60 days, the process wasn’t just something I did, it was someone I had BECOME. I was so tuned into the daily actions that it had become part of my identity. Nothing can shake me now!
What are your most important kitchen tools?
A great speaker for prepping music, a clean kitchen to start and a good set of knives! I have several of my most used kitchen tools for when I’m cooking – 2 sets of measuring spoons and 2 sets of measuring cups, multiple cutting boards, a big set of bowls and several pairs of kitchen shears.
What do you do for exercise?
Walking is my main form of exercise. I started out walking 30 minutes twice a week and slowly increased the frequency and duration of the walks. Walking twice a week and hitting 10,000 steps per day is now my minimum baseline.
I also became a runner, and I have committed to completing a half marathon in 2020. I will sometimes do strength training or take a class at my gym, but I only do things I enjoy that make me feel good. I want to enjoy exercise and not dread it.
Walking has become a form of self care because it allows me the mental space to process my thoughts and feelings and have time just for myself.
What is the biggest difference in your life since the weight loss?
I know I’m in control of how I respond to the world. I’m in charge of my emotions and my own actions, regardless of what is going on around me. This makes me more content, more present and more aware of how I show up.
In addition, I have a ton more energy and am much more intentional with how I spend my time and what I spend my energy on.
What do you still struggle with?
I am the same as everyone else when it comes to not wanting to do the things. I have to intentionally follow thru on all my actions every day like making a plan, drinking my water, and working out.
I still have days where I’m feeling unmotivated and want to just skip it but I’ve trained myself to follow thru on the action because it leads to the results I’m after. It isn’t fluffy and fun but the results are worth it so I have learned to be consistent.
What mantra/quote/scripture do you rely on when things are difficult?
“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness!” – Brene Brown
“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
How can people connect with you online?
I also have a membership called The Hive where I teach you how to save time, save money, and lose weight through meal prep.
Have your own success story published!