I have always been someone that is fueled by the energy around me. I am a firm believer that we are who we surround ourselves with, and that certain people have the potential to bring out the best (and worst) qualities within you. Life is a constant learning process of finding out who came into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
I wanted to start a “SPOTLIGHT” category on my blog, where you can come when you need motivation, inspiration, or a positive boost from someone that has brought great light into my life. There are so many incredible success stories out there, so many victories and personal feats that I think that we could all learn from. There will always be people around you who will tell you that you can’t, or won’t, or shouldn’t. This blog post is all about the people who will tell you that YOU CAN.
TYH SPOTLIGHT #1:
IFBB FIGURE PRO BROOKE ERICKSON
It was really a no-brainer for me when I was trying to decide who to feature as my first Spotlight. Brooke has served as such an inspiration to me in SO many aspects of my life, especially lately. Brooke is a warrior, she exudes so much strength and positivity that you can’t help but be inspired by her.
I chose to share Brooke’s story for many reasons. First and foremost, I chose to share Brooke’s story because she is proof that anyone can live their dreams and reach their goals if they put their minds to it. Brooke was not born a figure competitor, she was not raised an athlete with a perfect body. Brooke has taken weight to both extremes throughout her life, through suffering from an eating disorder and also struggling with being overweight. In the midst of all the struggle and chaos, Brooke has molded and created herself into something that she can be proud of.
I also chose Brooke because she is relatable to anyone and everyone. She is a loving mother of three beautiful girls, a happily married wife to her biggest supporter and love of her life, a wonderful daughter, friend, and coach. I chose Brooke because fitness is only the beginning when it comes to her achievements. She doesn’t live her life solely to get on stage and win praise from the fitness industry. Fitness is only one of the many components to her life.
TakeYourHeart & Meet Brooke:
“We all have a story. My story is one of poor body image and weight struggle. I can’t tell you the amount of hours I spent worrying over a number- it was as if the number on the scale was a representation of everything I was dealing with internally. And then one day I was done with it. I was done with being afraid. I was done with the worry. I was done with the scale. I was done with comparing myself. I was done with feeling like I wasn’t good enough. I was done with the self-doubt, frustration, and the feeling of being paralyzed by something that brought no value or happiness to my life.
Regardless if you are overweight, underweight, or afraid of the reflection in the mirror… be done with it.”
“The world ain’t sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it’s not about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.” ~Rocky Balboa
“Stepping into the gym at a size 16- I was terrified.
Overcoming an eating disorder- I was scared as hell.
Gaining weight to grow muscle- I was freaking out daily.
Stepping on stage for the first time- I was shaking.
I don’t have any regrets and it was all worth it!”
“My husband is most definitely the reason I am where I am today. He is my training partner, my suit designer, and posing coach… he does my color and helps me cook my food for every contest prep. I get a lot of credit, but only because he doesn’t feel the need to put himself in the spotlight. We have our little family and our crazy schedules, but together we have overcome so many obstacles and we make it work. I am thankful for him everyday, but today I am sharing my gratitude with you.”
“I am a mother to three very active little girls. I am the first one up and the last to go to bed. During the week I make 19 trips to and from schools. In between living in my car, I am on my computer designing training programs and maintaining the house for my family of 6 (I’m including the dog). Every weekend our entire family heads to the soccer field to cheer the oldest of my trio on and if we are lucky we squeeze in open gymnastics for all three. There are weeks when I feel like all of my time is dedicated to being a chauffeur, stylist, maid, referee, cook, and counselor. My job is 24/7 and it’s never handed over to someone else. There is only one time during the day that I clock out~ And even though I wouldn’t trade it for anything…When I lift weights I am actually lifting more off my shoulders than I am off the ground.”
“Part of being a role model for my girls is not just to teach them the difference between fit and skinny- it’s also about teaching them self-respect. It’s easy to lose sight of that- especially in the fitness industry. I want to teach them that you can motivate and inspire those around you without having to sacrifice your integrity or your values…it’s easy to join the crowd- it takes courage to stand alone. They will be the change I want to see in the world”
“My dad was the guy that told me bedtime stories that he would make up and somehow the princess always looked like me. He was the guy that stood on the sideline for every softball game and cheered me on like it was the championship. He was the guy that would always come to my rescue and even when I didn’t ask, he somehow always knew when I needed him. My dad was gentle and kind. He was honest and loyal. He believed in me no matter what and when I failed he always convinced me to get back up. My dad truly was one of my best friends.
It’s been a little over 2 months since I lost my dad and there is not an hour that goes by that I don’t think of him. He is my fallen hero…I am lucky that I get to call him my dad and my daughters are blessed that they got to know him as their papa.”
In July of 2011, I drove my kids 8 hours to stay with Grandma, 12 hours later got on a plane and flew all the way to Newark, NJ… all for the chance to win my pro card in the IFBB. My husband and I went to the Team Universe National show not knowing a single person. I didn’t have a sponsorship… I didn’t have a team or a well known trainer, but I had a dream and that was enough for me to take the chance. I will never forget that moment when I heard my name introduced as an IFBB pro- I can still see the smile on my husbands face…it truly was a surreal moment!
Whatever it is you are training for- whether it’s for a competition or just for everyday life- don’t ever sell yourself short. Even if you feel the odds are stacked against you- be the underdog that proves everyone wrong! Train hard!!
“If someone would have told me ten years ago that my journey…my struggle with the scale and poor body image, would one day inspire others- I would have never believed it. This is very surreal and I am humbled ♥”
“I know that overcoming poor body image, an eating disorder, or even the mental struggle of eating to grow can seem like a mountain that is impossible to climb. I am proof that it’s not. Having faith is believing in something you can not see…
I don’t have all the answers and I can only speak from experience. My journey hasn’t been easy and there have been plenty of emotional melt downs a long the way, but regardless of what I was going through or how tempting it was to give up- I never allowed my fear to be greater than my faith. This is a picture of me after my first show… it was a moment of triumph as I said goodbye to the old me and opened my heart to the person I knew I could be.
Always remember- sometimes we have to step into the things we fear the most… to find joy on the other side.”
“When you decide to make a life change you are going to encounter obstacles. You will find yourself feeling awesome one day and disappointed the next. There will be people that will support you and then there will be those that will seem like they want you to fail. You will be hungry and tired- excited and scared. You will be sore from pushing your body beyond exhaustion, but you will do it because you know that’s what it takes. You will look in the mirror daily- more often than you would like; and some days you will love your reflection and then there will be days you will think progress does not exist. When you decide to make a life change- you are choosing to make a commitment that regardless of the realities you know you will face… you will never give up. And when the time is right- just when you least expect it… you will find out how pretty darn strong you never knew you always were.”
“Looking back on the past 10-15 years, I have extremely vivid memories of my struggle with body image. I can remember the days of feeling my stomach at least 100x’s to make sure it was still flat or pretending I was sick so no one would question why I hadn’t eaten all day. I will never forget seeing tears in my fathers eyes as he begged me to love and respect myself more. Then of course there are the memories of walking into the gym for the first time at 180lbs; I walked in, spent 5 minutes on the treadmill and had to stop because my thighs rubbed together so bad that I started to get a painful rash. The images of seeing my stretch marks (that covered my size 16 backside) in the mirror for the first time will be forever imprinted in my mind. As humbling and embarrassing all of these memories are- they served a purpose.Without them, I would not be who I am today. Although they were hard lessons and painful falls- my greatest memory is the day I chose to pick myself up and rise above. Your struggles do not define you. Your strength to overcome is what defines who you really are.”
“We are not like a lot of other women that train. We are warriors. We are the first to wake up and the last to go to bed. Sick days do not exist. We make breakfast and type emails at the same time…We train anyway. We sleep when we can and we are lucky if it’s five hours in a row…We train anyway. We pack a suitcase to leave the house and without fail we will forget our own things… We train anyway. We pray for the daycare to still be open when we get off work or we make the late night switch, even if that means less sleep…We train anyway. We are cheerleaders. We are chefs. We are Tahoe driving soccer moms and our schedule is something only we can keep up with… We train anyway.”
I truly believe that I could spend hours upon hours working on this post and still have quotes, stories, and pictures to share. Brooke spends so much of her life lifting others up that it makes it pretty hard to NOT find her inspiring. She is humble, beautiful, courageous, and strong. Brooke is someone that I can whole-heartedly say I strive to be like.
This world would be a better place with more Brookes in it.
THANK YOU Brooke–thank you for showing strength in your vulnerability, for allowing so many people to catch a glimpse into your life with your honesty and transparency. Thank you for serving as a wonderful role model for your own daughters and for all of the young women who look up to you more than you could ever know.
THANK YOU for being the change that you wish to see in the world. ❤
for more information about Brooke, or to inquire about professional fitness consulting, visit: