If You Do This…Stop It!

Self Talk

You have goals. You have a plan. You know what you need to do to reach your destination.

And then the inevitable happens. You mess up. You skip the gym, or eat a cookie…you just generally do something that does not get you closer to your goals.

Here is where it gets bad:

You beat yourself up. You let guilt settle in and you mentally berate yourself for “being weak”, ruining your progress or just generally sucking at life. You go through an internal process of judgement and hateful self-talk about how you aren’t good enough and will never reach your goals.

WHY!!!!!??? Why do we as women feel that we are deserving of this punishing behavior? Ask anyone who has ever had a goal if they were perfect in pursuit of that. 100% guarantee the answer is no. No one is perfect. And that is okay. Not only is it okay…it is preferred to make mistakes.

Because every time you make a mistake, you are learning.

For example, let’s just say that you know that Tuesdays are your long day at work. You are generally exhausted after a 10 hour day, and your tendency is to skip your workout and go home and crash on the couch. So instead of option 1 : Plan to workout because you HAVE TO. Go to work, get exhausted and decide to go home instead of the gym. Sit at home feeling like garbage because you messed up and let guilt cause you to feel hopeless. Eat what’s left of a carton of Ben and Jerry’s in the fridge because, why not? You already screwed up. Then spend the next few hours feeling like you will never succeed and you are lazy. -OR- Option 2, which is so much better: Plan your rest day for Tuesday. Or go to the gym early before work. Easy enough. After missing 1 or 2 days at the gym from being too tired to go, you recognize this pattern, and you implement a solution. Voila!

See my point. It isn’t about being perfect. It is about knowing yourself. And a mistake is really just an opportunity to learn something about yourself. Something like: I get tired when I work long days. NOT: I am lazy and I suck, and I skip the gym too often. There is a difference. But how cool is it that every day we are gathering more information about ourselves and our patterns. It’s like we are developing a little “owner’s manual” for ourselves, and each time we mess up we add a new chapter.

The one thing I insist you stop doing is talking to yourself like you are a failure. Negative self talk is damaging. It is hurtful, and it chips away at our self esteem. You may not even realize you do it, but pay attention to your thoughts. If you think things like “I always screw up”, “I will never get this right” or “I am fat and ugly and I hate how I look”, you need to stop. Seriously. You NEED to. It is not okay to do that, and you are being effected by it.

So how do you stop? First, you have to take note of the fact you are doing it. Pay attention, and hear what you tell yourself. If it is negative, note that. Secondly, try to reframe your thinking. If you think “I am fat”, change it to “I am working hard to change my physique, and I am proud of how far I have come”. Lastly, understand your “WHY”. So if you think you are “fat” ask yourself this: Why is that bad? How do you think things would be different if you were thinner? What differences do you hope to see in yourself and your life by losing weight? Why is it important to you to change your body?

It probably sounds cheesy in a way to sit and walk yourself through this, but it is amazing what things you can learn just by asking questions. We often just tell ourselves we are terrible, and then feel bad about it, but what good does that do? If anything it kills our self-efficacy and makes us feel like we really can’t reach our goals.

I am here to tell you that yes, you can reach your goals. No you aren’t weak. You aren’t a failure. You don’t need to “get it together”. You simply need to accept your struggles and mistakes as lessons, and use them to propel you forward toward your long-term goals.

I have gotten to a point where when I overeat, I actually get excited because I can look at the situation and ask myself “What emotions did I have that may have brought this on? Did I go too long without eating and now I am overeating because of that? Was my last meal not sufficient, or did I not eat enough protein to keep me full? Am I feeling like I have to eat every bite because I have been depriving myself too much, and now I want to eat it ‘while I can’?” Once I answer these questions, I use them to better prepare for my next day. And then I get better at preventing those kinds of things from happening at all.

Sure, I could sit and tell myself I am the worst person on earth for overeating, and that I should just have more willpower. But that never worked for me, and I doubt it will work for you either.

So next time you make a mistake, resist the urge to beat yourself up, and learn something about yourself instead. You are worth it!

3 Ways To Kill Cravings


Cravings are like little monsters that force us off the rails of our intentions. They are the “devil on our shoulder” telling us to buy a cupcake when we know had planned to just run into the store for some eggs. They are the force that drives us to eat more than 1 or 2 chocolates and then sit there in a pile of wrappers wondering “What have I done?”.

We all know we feel better when we eat nutritious foods. Unfortunately a lot, if not most cravings are not for nutritious foods at all. In fact, they are typically foods we think we “shouldn’t have”. The problem with cravings is that they can either 1). Derail us completely or 2). Waste all of our mental energy and self-control trying to fight them.

So how do we stop? Eating is a very complex part of our lives, involving not only physical hunger, but also emotional/psychological components, energy levels, stress, hormones, our social lives.  You name it, it probably affects our food habits. I know personally I have been in the process of moving, and after a long day, all I want is some pizza and a cookie. It doesn’t seem like a “cause and effect” relationship that things in our lives dictate what we want to eat, but if you pay close attention, they do.

Here are 3 tools to help combat that nagging desire for a doughnut, and make progress instead:

  1. Be prepared! No I don’t mean you have to plan every meal and have it in a Tupperware. I actually do that because I love the food I make, but that’s another story all together. What I mean is, always have some back up food on hand. Good ideas would be: a bag of almonds, an apple, a protein bar, a packet of protein powder, a greek yogurt. Pretty much anything you can eat easily and keep on hand. I try to keep something with me, because heaven help me if I have to go buy a “snack” while I’m starving.
  2. Eat foods you actually like! Don’t try to be “healthy” by choking down cold tilapia and yams if you hate fish. Don’t waste time with foods you hate. Any meal you have should be something you enjoy and feel satisfied by. If you don’t, you need to mix it up. If you hate fish and know that is what you brought for lunch, you are more likely to jump at the chance to go to Wendy’s with your co-worker when she asks. So bring a delicious salad instead, with all of your favorite toppings and yes (gasp!) even some of your favorite full fat dressing. It’s still better than a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger, fries and a Frosty, right?
  3. Pause. It sounds odd, but if you decide you want something REALLY REALLY REALLY bad, and you have to have it, give yourself a little gap between this decision and actually eating the food. Say, I can have that cookie, but I am going to wait 5 minutes before I eat it. I find that in this gap of time, I often thing about things in the big picture of my goals and I realize that I would rather not eat that cookie and stay on track, versus eating it and then feeling guilty. I am in no way saying you should never eat a cookie, because sometimes you just need to eat a damn cookie. But if that is the case, enjoy and savor each bite. Don’t scarf it down in the break room in a guilty, self-hate fueled mini-binge. Allow yourself to eat it with no shame and enjoy it!

Eating is something we do every single day, so it is always a process. The more we can enjoy food and eat nourishing and satisfying foods, the better we feel and the more we feel free from the chains of guilt, self-hate and judgement and frustration. We will never be perfect. But we can find ways to be better, and learn how to avoid things that make us feel bad. Because we are doing the best we can, and we ALL deserve to be happy 🙂 Happy Monday!


What Is The Worst That Could Happen?


Over the past couple of years, I have been trying to focus on “being more positive”. I have tried to be optimistic and hopeful and avoid assuming the worst. Which is definitely better than always focusing on the glass being half empty.

I have found one exception, however, when I feel that it is actually better to be negative.

That is right, I think it is better to think negatively (sometimes).

Hear me out. When I get overwhelmed this is a pattern I often succumb to: Let’s use graduate school as an example. I would have a big test coming up. I would be studying frantically, feeling like I had so much to do. Then I would feel it. FEAR. Fear of failure. Which would lead to a cascade of thoughts. If I fail this test, I won’t pass this class. I will flunk out of school, end up with no income and student loan debt, leading to me living on the streets and ending out my days like Fantine from Les Miserables. Thank heavens this never occurred, and things turned out fine (As they almost always do. Actually always, since even an unwanted outcome can be handled and eventually you can move forward in some form. But I digress). But talk about distracting! Those thoughts did nothing to help me perform better. Nothing!

Instead of this maladaptive and melodramatic version of stress management, try this instead:

Ask yourself “What is the worst that could happen?”

Don’t stop there! Next, come up with actions that you could take if this terrible “prediction” did come to fruition.

When you put things into tangible terms and really play out the worst, it often really isn’t unmanageable. Undesirable obviously, but manageable nonetheless. And something manageable never packs as much of a punch, in terms of fear, as an unmanageable version.

For example, I didn’t have to lose my mind over fear of failing that test, because even if I did, I could have talked to my professors, studied harder for the next test, brought my grade up and probably passed the class. And if I did fail the class, I might have done some remediation, which would have allowed me to graduate. And even if I couldn’t for the life of me complete the program, I would have found a different career. I could have still been happy and productive. I would have been okay. And if only I could have realized that, I could have put more energy into studying and less into pointless meltdowns about how I was DOOMED!!

So that’s what it comes down to: An action plan to diffuse your fears.

Not only does this take the ‘wind out of the sails of your fear’, but it also helps to bolster your sense of self efficacy. It helps you to realize that there is nothing you can’t do, can’t manage, can’t overcome. You can handle it. When you realize this, you start to trust yourself more.

And this leads to an even better outcome. You are able to take more risks. You can put yourself out there a little bit. You open up countless opportunities, and give yourself chances to experience things you may have never dreamed of before.

Because, what is the worst that could happen?!

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How I Learned to Let Go of Guilt

Work in Progress

We have all been there. We create an ambitious new fitness plan with a specific diet. We vow we will go to the gym 6 days this week. We decide we are going to wake up early and do cardio tomorrow morning. We aren’t going to eat ANY sugar.

And then we blow it.

We skip the gym, or eat a doughnut at work. We press snooze one too many times. And now we feel terrible about ourselves.

Here is the thing though…No amount of guilt will undo the error. You can berate yourself for days, and yet, you cannot go back in time and choose a different outcome. But you can make this error into a powerful lesson.

The one realization that helped me to move past the ever-lingering guilt phase, and propel myself forward into learning was this:

I have the rest of my life to figure this out.

Yep. That’s right! The rest of my life. Believe me when I say that I love goals and deadlines as much as the next person, but those are just deadlines we set to make sure we are working at bettering ourselves. And we don’t stop striving to be better, even when we do reach a goal.

So I look at it this way: Every situation and combination of events, moods, energy levels and choices available to me are all lessons. I have one body, and I am learning how to take better care of it each and every day. And sometimes I am learning by doing the wrong thing.
  • If I eat 4 slices of pizza, I feel like garbage. Lesson: eating 4 slices of pizza may not be the best way to care for myself.
  • If I skip the gym for 3 days I notice my energy levels are low and I feel “blah”. Lesson: going to the gym energizes me.
  • If I don’t eat between lunch and the time I get off of work at 5:30, I will eat a bunch of crap when I get home because I’m starving and I just want FOOD! Lesson: eating a snack mid-afternoon keeps me satisfied and helps me to make better choices later in the day.

Etc. Etc. Etc. Basically what this means is that I am constantly learning how to make better choices, not because ‘I have to’, but because I am learning how these choices really effect me and how I feel.

I don’t know when I began to see every goal I had as this life-or-death race against the clock. Yes, I take my goals very seriously, but what if i don’t reach my goal by the exact arbitrary date I chose? Does that mean the goal isn’t worth accomplishing?? Hell no. It means I keep pushing, and push forward in a productive way. Even if it takes longer than I planned.

At the end of the day, as long as we are learning and using this new-found information to do better in the future, we always win. We may not lose exactly 15 pounds by our vacation in 2 months, but we will take better care of ourselves over our lifetime. We will be at our healthiest and happiest when we do this out of love for ourselves, and show ourselves a little compassion when we mess up.

We are constantly growing, learning and changing. Every single day. So go out and accomplish your goals, but also realize that there is no “end date”. There is only more information that better helps us to progress.

You Should Cheat on Your Diet

Perfection quote

Anyone who has been on a diet can tell you it is psychologically challenging. Food choices are more than just “fuel” for most of us, and the ability to enjoy pizza on a Friday night out with friends, or have some popcorn at the movies has a definite effect on our enjoyment of that given activity.

On the other hand, the most appealing diets to most people are those that guarantee the FASTEST results. Faster results mean more restrictive eating.

So here is the scenario: a highly restrictive plan that deprives the dieter of most foods they enjoy, and also deprives them of some of the enjoyment of social situations. Doing this for one day is not unreasonable, or even a week. It can be done for months on end. But the questions is this: Can it be done forever?

I would argue that the answer is NO.

No one will choose to feel deprived day in and day out for the rest of their lives. If a diet is not sustainable, then what happens after you stop? Typically you go back to eating how you did before, and you go back to weighing whatever you did before…which is probably not the desired result considering you went on a diet in the first place for a reason.

Then there is an entirely different situation that can occur. You manage to diet forever….But you are never successful in reaching your goals. This occurs because during your “deprivation cycle” you see things as black and white. You are either 100% on your plan. Or 100% off. That is where the problem arises.

After days of strict deprivation, you finally succumb to the inner battle and eat something you “aren’t supposed to”. For example, you are checking out in line at the grocery store, and impulsively grab a Snickers bar. You eat it quickly before you can talk yourself out of it.

And that is where the real problem begins. You have made a mistake. You ate something “bad”.  Well, shit. I suppose I may as well just eat all that other “bad” stuff I have been wanting since I already screwed up for the day. So you go home and eat something from the cupboard you have been avoiding. You make a stop at Starbucks and order a frappe with whipped cream. You have some foods you really enjoy, but in portions that are twice as big as you would normally eat. You essentially try to “get it all out of the way” while you are off plan.

Fast forward to bedtime that night. You reflect on your choices for the day. You likely feel too full. And you feel very, very guilty. But you can fix it all. Tomorrow you will go back “on track” and be even more strict than ever! You won’t have even one thing off of plan. You will make things right.

But, after 3-4 days of deprivation, here you are again, repeating the whole process. And thus begins a cycle. Binge-restrict-binge-restrict.

So much guilt and so little progress. It is the most frustrating thing in the whole world, and it makes you feel like a failure.

But there is a way to avoid this. A way to start to repair your trust in yourself, and to rid yourself of all of the guilt you feel every time you “mess up”. The solution might surprise you.

Let yourself cheat. That’s right. It sounds crazy. But think about it.

Let’s just say I am craving a Snickers, like I mentioned above. In scenario #1 I don’t eat the Snickers. I can’t, it’s not on plan. I am on a diet, and I don’t eat stuff like that on my diet. So I hold off. I walk by them at the grocery store. I see a commercial for Snickers and think about how bad I want it. I don’t give in, and I don’t give in. And then after a long day at work, while feeling hungry and tired, I stop by the store on my way home to pick up some rice cakes. I go through the check out, and think to myself “I deserve this!”. I throw a Snickers down on the belt, along with a Twix, because I have wanted one of those as well. Oh and if I am going to have that stuff, I might as well get one package of Reese’s Pieces too. So I go home, and eat all 3 in one sitting. Yikes. Now I feel like garbage, and I am beating myself up. Why do I do this? Why can’t I control myself? I know this won’t get me to my goals. Now today was a waste.

Depressing. I have done option #1 way too many times, and it never really changes, despite how bad I have wanted it to.

Here is option #2.

I am craving a Snickers. I buy a Snickers bar that very moment. I go home, open the Snickers bar and take one big bite. I savor the flavors and enjoy that bite thoroughly. I enjoy it mindfully as opposed to eating it as fast as possible. I put the rest in a ziplock bag, and leave it for later. If I want more, I tell myself I can have more. I don’t feel like I need more that day, so I don’t. But then 2 days later I feel like it sounds pretty appealing. I have another bite. The following day, I get home after a long day and eat the last little bit. Each time I enjoy the bite. I don’t feel “out of control”. I don’t feel guilty. I feel content and satisfied. Snickers bars are amazing. But I don’t need a whole one in a 5 second window to enjoy it. The next week, I walk by the Snickers bars and I don’t really pay it any attention. (This is 100% true, I actually did this! I wouldn’t have even dreamed it would work haha)

If option #2 sounds far-fetched to you, I urge you to try it. Sample guilt free enjoyment of “forbidden foods” and see how your relationship with those foods changes. The idea that those foods are always there- always available, makes them seem less exciting and allows you a bit more freedom to walk away.

In our culture, food is abundant. Don’t feel like you have a specific time frame to eat every bite you can, and then its back to deprivation. You can always have anything you want, but most of the time you feel better if you choose the nutritious items. And if you can make that choice feel like a reward and not a punishment, it’s a whole lot easier to sustain.


Working Out Shouldn’t Be a Chore: 5 tips to Loving Your Workout


Generally speaking, people complain about “having to go workout” so often that it seems like obligation and dread are an integral part of the ‘exercise package’. It is as though going to workout is lumped in along with nagging chores like doing dishes, laundry, or going grocery shopping. For many people, it is even more dreadful than those chores. And it happens less frequently.

I hear people say things like:

“I don’t have time to workout” or “I just can’t get motivated”.

We all have time for a lot of things that never get done…we just don’t want to do them, so we push them aside. It is fine to have priorities, and to put working out after some of your other more pressing endeavors. BUT, I would argue that your long-term health and function are probably more important that most things. So assuming we can make time, (and we can!) that leaves the motivation component unresolved….

I used to think working out was terrible. It was this thing I did every week or two, usually because I felt like I should, and the whole time it felt like a barrier that I had to overcome before I could go on to the “better part of my day”. I would go on the elliptical for 30 minutes, watching the clock count down, minute by minute. It sucked. It is no surprise that during that period in my life, I skipped the gym more often than not, I didn’t feel motivated, and I made basically zero progress.

Fast forward to today. Technically, today I have a “rest day” planned, meaning I don’t need to workout. But, believe it or not, that annoys the crap out of me. I have spent the last 2 hours thinking of what I could fit in today for a workout, just because I actually want to go. Weird right?!

The best part of wanting to go workout is that you never have to find motivation,  because you are already motivated.

You don’t feel deprived for having to go workout, but instead you feel energized. Ultimately, exercise no longer feels like a punishment, but instead it feels like a reward.

So the question is, how do you go from hating exercise to loving your workouts?

Here are 5 tips to becoming more friendly with exercise:

  1. Have a schedule: There is no better way to get on track than to map out a course to follow. If you have a plan in place, skipping a day isn’t meaningless. It effects your whole plan for the coming days. I have a workout split I follow, and although there is some flexibility, I know what days I am lifting, what days I am not etc. The people I know who just sort of “wing it” end up skipping all the time, because without a plan, what does it matter?! This is especially important as you are starting out, because it provides a structure and helps you build a routine. I don’t waste any time arguing with myself about whether I will or won’t go. I know the days I am going- I am going. And I know the days I have a rest day, I can go home and lay and the couch, guilt free.
  2. Do what you like: We all hear a million opinions: Girls should ALL lift weights and never do cardio. Lifting weights makes women bulky. Running is the only way to relieve stress. Running is bad for your knees. Blah. Blah. Blah. I will ask you one question: What do you like to do? If you love hiking, hike. If you love weights, lift. If you love running, run. If you love all 3, do all 3. The only thing not to do is to let other people force you to do something you hate because “it is the only thing that will work”. Everything “works” depending on your goals, your consistency and your intensity. If you don’t know what you like, try things until you do. Most gyms offer free classes for people interested in trying them out. Go lift weights with a friend. Dabble until you feel like something catches your interest, then learn how to be better at that. If you truly enjoy it, the personal challenge will push you forward throughout your lifetime.
  3. Find others who also enjoy that mode of exercise: Once you know what you love, find people who also love that. And voila! You have friendships based on common interests. It is so rewarding to be able to get healthy and have a great time with a friend. We often don’t have “time” to spend with friends and to workout…UNLESS we do both at once 😉
  4. Track your progress: My theory is that beginners quit exercising because they have no way to gauge progress. I once took 3 weeks off from the gym and I came back feeling weak, tired and generally shitty. I was so motivated to “get back” to where I was before I took my break, it motivated me like no other. I look forward to going to the gym to see if I can do more weight with deadlifts tonight, or get a personal record etc. It is a constantly challenging competition with myself. If you have no idea what is “good” or “bad” for you, it just feels like you are going through the motions. So pick a way to measure your progress. It can simply be how long it takes to run a certain distance, how many pounds you lifted for bench press, or even how many rest breaks you had to take. Once you know that you are getting better, it really pulls you in. As they say “Once you see results, it becomes an addiction.”
  5. Make it about self care: I have come to see my time at the gym similarly to going to a spa or going on a fun night out. Stick with me for a second and try to stifle the eye rolling until I can elaborate. As most of you know, I am a weight lifter through and through (not that weight lifting is better than other exercise, it is just my thing) and I love to find fun clothes I can wear to the gym. I don’t really buy fancy clothes for my job, or daily life, because I just don’t. But I can barely close my gym clothes drawer(s). I download new music about one time per week. I get fun new protein powder flavors every month or two. Basically, I get new things that revolve around my workouts, but these things are fun and bring me happiness. And I enjoy them because I use them to workout. So if you look forward to Friday night to wear your new heels, you can look forward to the gym to wear your new Nike’s. The icing on the cake is that you almost inevitably feel better after a workout, physically and psychologically. It is scientifically proven!

As you get more confident and comfortable, you will be able to delve deeper into the competitive side and make your own personal progress a long-term goal that will last you years and years. Starting out is the hardest part, but if you can make a plan and find something that matters to you, you are already halfway there.

If you have any questions/comments please email me at info@brooketran.com. I would love to hear from you 🙂 And if you like these posts, don’t forget to get on my mailing list by signing up!

***Note: There are ALWAYS going to be days you don’t feel like going. ALWAYS. Sometimes you need a break, and if that is the case, it is not in any way bad to take a day off, or even a week. The point is not to feel guilty. That is the opposite of the point. The take home is that exercise should be something you can look forward to as a general rule :)***


If You Do This One Thing You Will Be Successful


Achieve greatly

I don’t know when I realized it exactly. I had a mental list of things I wanted in life. I wanted to be a physical therapist. I wanted to be as healthy and fit as possible. I wanted to inspire others, and share my journey. But along side this list of “things I wanted”, were “reasons I couldn’t have these things”. For example, physical therapy school was highly competitive, and it takes 7 years to complete a degree. Um, that sounds hard! Plus, if it is that competitive, I probably won’t get accepted. Or… I want to get into shape. But, I don’t know what to do, or how to do it. And, I have so far to go.

You get the idea. For every desire I had, there was an equal if not bigger list of fears and excuses why I couldn’t have those things. I was waiting for someone to tell me:

“You can do it! You DO have the skills and abilities, and if you try, there is 100% certainty you will succeed.”

Well, I am lucky that I have a damn supportive family and group of friends who basically did tell me that. But the real question here is: Why did I need someone else to give me permission to reach for my dreams? What authority does someone else have over my ability to accomplish something, or to take a risk and give it my very best effort?

Luckily I had enough support and cheerleaders to push me toward attempting the things that scared me so much, and lo and behold, I was able to do things I never imagined possible. I got into PT school, and I got my degree. I competed in 2 NPC physique competitions and placed in the top 3 each time. I started a blog and get to share my thoughts with others. Before it starts to sound like I am just listing things I have accomplished, I will get to the point.

No one ever feels 100% “ready” to try something new and hard. No one ever knows they will be successful.

The only way to find out if you can do something is to decide to try.

Opening ourselves up to possible failure, judgement and disappointment is one of the hardest things we can do. But ultimately, the possibility of failure pales in comparison to the idea of certain defeat in the form of ‘playing it safe’ and avoiding anything new. We can spend our whole lives repeating the same day over and over to avoid the perceived dangers of taking a risk. But at the end of the day, if we don’t take the risks, we don’t ever get to reap the rewards or accomplish our dreams.

I will be the first to admit that I have NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING. I started this blog with zero experience in blogging, zero confidence that anyone would even want to read what I have to write, and no one giving me permission to start. I literally just realized that I had the desire to do it, and I started.

I think we all romanticize our vision of how we will become successful and realize our dreams. We like to envision things happening to us, with no real risk or fear involved. We like to imagine ourselves fast-forwarding through the awkward and uncertain phase, and jumping right into the expert phase, complete with instant respect from all of those around us.

The reality of the situation is this: You will likely be told numerous times that you “shouldn’t waste your time”, you “should just do <insert safe activity> instead”, or that you are “silly to think that will work”. If everyone who has ever been successful listened to the naysayers, they would have failed. But guess what?! They didn’t listen, and those people were wrong.

You can do anything you want to do, if you want it bad enough. The key is to:

1. decide you want something, and

2. start doing everything you can to get it. That is it.

You wont wake up one day and just be the person you want to be. You have to work at it, gain the knowledge, experience and characteristics that make you that person. Most of that actually comes from trying, and failing, then learning to better, stronger and more successful in your subsequent attempts.

I will let you in on a secret though. You don’t have to wait to “become that person” before you can start acting like that person. Does the person you want to be lay in bed all day and watch re-runs of the Golden Girls? (No offense to the Golden Girls, I love that show 😉 ) Or does the person you want to be get up early and start making things happen? You won’t accomplish great things by acting like someone who doesn’t accomplish great things. You accomplish great things by making the choices that a successful person makes, day after day, until you become that person entirely.

The most amazing things can happen when you allow yourself to be vulnerable. Show up authentically in your own life, and let people see the real you; Your personality, your desires, your flaws. Be fearless in pursuing what it is that you truly want.

Because even though sometimes it feels like the things we want are impossible…nothing can stop you if you decide to pursue your dreams, and you don’t stop working at it until you reach them.

I still have a lot of things I want to accomplish, and most of them scare the hell out of me. In truth though, I don’t want it any other way.


Read This If You “Start Over” on Your Diet Every Monday


With the beginning of the new year, so many people are re-evaluating their fitness goals. They are starting “cleanses”, strict new diets and planning out impossibly demanding gym schedules. They are making mental goals of what they want to accomplish, and how they want to look. Which is all super fun and exciting…until you have been doing your new “routine” for a few days.

What seemed so promising and the start of something better now feels like a huge burden and source of stress and anxiety. The diet gets old. The gym gets exhausting. AND…people give up. The weekend comes around, and it’s time to enjoy all of those delicious “forbidden” foods, lay on the couch and catch up on Netflix. Friday and Saturday fly by, and by Sunday, its time to feel sad and depressed by the poor choices that were made “off” of the intended plan.

But hey, a whole new week is starting, and the opportunity to “get it right” is right around the corner. Enter: Monday morning. Thus begins the cycle: Monday-Thursday deprive yourself to assuage the guilt of the weekend, Friday-Sunday give in to temptation. This can go on for quite some time. Years even. And usually the results of this aren’t impressive.

2 times in my life, I have completely broken free from this cycle, and I have adhered to a consistent plan.

When I say consistent, what I mean is more strict. Basically, it was an expansion of the Monday through Thursday deprivation cycle, and it was purely driven by fear and self-criticism. I committed to competing in physique events, and knowing that I would have to go onstage was fuel enough to deprive myself for the duration of the preparation period (about 12 weeks). As one might expect, I got great results. I lost weight. I even had abs!!

BUT….after the shows were over, the fear and motivation I had from the pending stage time was wiped away. And along with it, so was my resolve to adhere to my diet plan. I would love to say that I returned to my previous baseline of eating afterward. Though not ideal, I would have preferred that to what actually happened.

What actually happened is I binged.

I lost control. It was like all of that self-discipline and deprivation had drained every last drop of my self-control, and I found myself powerless to the urge to eat copious amounts of candy, ice cream and cake etc. I did things that I never dreamed I would do. I ate food when I was alone so no one would see me eat it. I ate until I felt sick. And the worst part was, I felt so so guilty. I hated myself for not being ‘stronger’. For letting all of my hard work just waste away. I saw the scale creeping up, but despite my disgust with what I was doing, I just couldn’t stop. This happened after my first competition, but I vowed, next time I will know what to expect. And next time will be different. It was different alright!! It was worse!!

Fast forward about 2 months, and 15 pounds heavier.

Am I super excited that I am back where I started (actually a few pounds heavier)? Not really. But, I am regaining control of my eating. I no longer feel compelled to eat something. I no longer feel like I had better eat every last bite of something, because “who knows when I can have it again??”

I feel like I can accept myself right now, how I look today, and I can make decisions based on my health and how my body feels when I make certain choices. I don’t want to eat a king sized bag of candy because I know I will feel sick if I do. I don’t feel like I need to eat a whole bag of popcorn, because I actually enjoy it if I just have a couple handfuls.

Does this mean I am “fixed”? Um…no. In fact, this is probably something I will struggle with for a long time. I think as a culture, we love to see fast results and extreme ‘before and after’ photos. It isn’t exactly the most sexy thing to say “my weight is the same as it was a month ago, and that is ok”. But I know that if I want to get to a healthy place with my eating, I have to do something sustainable. Eating an exact number of calories, with an exact eating schedule, and a huge amount of guilt for any divergence from this, doesn’t really fit my lifestyle (at least not the lifestyle I enjoy having). Instead, I have to relearn how to eat appropriate amounts of nourishing foods, with a little bit of treats moderately spread throughout my week. And to love myself enough to know that if I make a mistake I am not a bad person.

I know for myself, and so many others I have talked to, we tend to believe if we can’t control our eating, it is a flaw within us. We need to try harder! I think that the opposite is true:

If you can’t control your eating, it probably means you are trying TOO HARD.

I want to be clear, and state that in no way do I think competing is bad. In fact, I know many competitors who do multiple shows per year, and don’t have the same struggles I have. But I do think that the post-show rebound is something that is not talked about enough. I even know a few ladies who continue to compete just to lose the weight they gain from the “post-show rebound” from the show before. If you do decide to compete, just know what your goals are, and have a plan for after the show.

It isn’t easy to be vulnerable, and to say “Yeah, I am struggling”. But it is worth it 100% to me if this resonates with even one person, and it helps them to realize that they are not alone.

I will be following this post with upcoming posts about how I am finding balance in my life, so if you are interested, make sure to sign up to receive emails on my website! And if you feel like you can relate with this post, I would love to hear from you! info@brooketran.com

What We Are Truly Capable Of

Oct 11

A big accomplishment doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it doesn’t happen in days, or usually even in months (for example, the picture above is almost a one year difference). A big accomplishment takes time and perseverance. The problem with our biggest goals and dreams, is that we don’t actually know if they are attainable, and in the time it takes for us to get to the “end result”, we often begin to doubt our ability to get there. It is not at all uncommon to give up during these times of doubt.

It takes faith to get there; faith in yourself, faith in your abilities. But ultimately we really have no way to be sure we can do it until it is done.

When I look back on the things I am most proud of in my life (so far), I realize that the way I got those things done was to, as Nike would say, “just do it”. I didn’t stop to question whether I should try, I just tried. And worked as hard as I could. But even with every ounce of my own effort, that wouldn’t have been enough. I also relied heavily on the support of my friends and family, the people who believed in me…sometimes more than I believed in myself. And I guess maybe the fact that they believed in me made me believe that they might be right. Maybe I could really do these things.

They say hindsight is 20/20. Those individuals who do great things are often asked “How did you do it?”. But I think it is important to remember that those people, at one time, didn’t know if they could do it either. Those who are at the top were once just another random face in the crowd with no accomplishments under their belts. They didn’t KNOW they could do it either. But they tried, and guess what? They succeeded.

It seems to be that a lot of us want great things, but we are too afraid to ask for them. Maybe we don’t feel worthy. Maybe we are afraid to fail. Ultimately, we all deserve to accomplish our goals and live our dreams. But we have to have the courage to take that leap.

We have to have faith in our own capabilities.


Oven Chicken Fajitas


A quick and easy way to make chicken!! Plus it’s delicious!


  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp Truvia no-calorie sweetener
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch


  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 3 bell peppers, multi-colored, sliced
  • 1.5 pounds chicken, sliced thin
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients for seasoning in a bowl, set aside.
  2. Cut onions and peppers into slices, about 1/2 inch or smaller. Place them in a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish, adding chicken.
  3. Sprinkle seasoning over vegetables, drizzle oil over vegetables, then toss over contents, using your hands, until well mixed.
  4. Cook for 40-45 minutes (until chicken is cooked through).
  5. Squeeze lime juice on top, and add cilantro.


Macros: (for 8 ounce serving, approx. 5 ounces chicken, 3 ounces veggies)

  • 240 calories
  • 29 grams protein
  • 11 grams carbs
  • 8 grams fat
Adapted from www.budgetbytes.com