Brooke’s 149-Pound Weight Loss: ‘I Couldn’t Hate Myself to Healthy — I Needed to Love Myself’


Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo Health series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.

Brooke Birmingham is 30, 5’8”, and currently weighs 178 pounds. Six years ago, she weighed nearly double her weight, at 327 pounds. This is the story of her weight-loss journey.

The Turning Point

I recognized that my weight was an issue when I was a teenager. I had tried some different diets throughout high school, but in truth, I never gave them my full effort. Then I hit my 20s, and I ended up in a not-so-great relationship that led me to gain 40 pounds in just a few months. Shortly after that relationship ended, I realized that I couldn’t continue living that way. I wanted to be able to enjoy my life…not sit on the sidelines.

The Changes

I began my journey in February 2009, when my mom invited me to a Weight Watchers meeting. I really didn’t know how to be healthy and the program helped me to figure that out. I started with small changes like trying new, healthy foods and making meals at home. I was happy to discover that I enjoyed being in the kitchen and cooking!

When it came to exercise, though, I had no idea where to begin. Being as heavy as I was, there wasn’t much I felt like I could do. So I began with walking. From there, I built up to using workout DVDs at home (and built up a huge collection!). Between the walking and the DVDs, I never had to get a gym membership — and still haven’t gotten one to this day!

I maintained motivation along the way by setting small, non-scale goals for myself. For example, I’d set goals like, “Try a new fruit or vegetable,” or “Track my meals at least three days this week.” Those helped with creating healthy habits that, in turn, would positively affect the number on the scale.

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The After

With every pound I lost, I gained a pound of confidence. I learned early on in the journey that I couldn’t hate myself to healthy — I needed to love myself to realize that I was worth all the things I was doing to lose the weight. So when I hit my goal weight, I didn’t feel too different mentally because I worked on the inside part along the way. However, knowing that I followed through with something I put my mind to felt unbelievably empowering.


Brooke before and after her weight loss. (Photos courtesy of Brooke Birmingham)

The Maintenance

Maintenance is all about continuing to do what helped me lose the weight. I already got the training I needed to make this a healthy lifestyle — and that’s what will carry me throughout my life.

My diet today is vastly different than when I first started losing weight. When I began my journey, I ate lots of quick and easy processed foods. Now, I’m mostly vegetarian (though I still enjoy seafood and cheese) and 90 percent of my meals don’t include processed things. Don’t get me wrong, I still like the occasional diet pop or candy bar! They just aren’t part of my everyday life anymore.

When it comes to indulgences, though, I believe in planning. I really enjoy beer, but it isn’t something I can drink every day and maintain my weight, so I plan to have it a few times a week. When I do that, I feel more in control and empowered to continue making healthy choices. But if I do slip up and make a poor eating choice — as we all do from time to time — I don’t beat myself up. I make a commitment to do better at the next snack or meal.

Related: A ‘Biggest Loser’ Winner on the Vicious Cycle of Weight Gain and Loss — and Finally Gaining Control

As for exercise, you can still find me getting sweaty with a workout DVD or outside on a walk. I’m a firm believer that when it comes to working out, you need to do what you love or you’ll never stick with it. Consistency is key.

The Struggles

Over the last year, I slipped back into some old habits — like eating out more often — and gained 25 pounds. I wasn’t feeling my best and I knew that I needed to regain control so I went back to my tried-and-true habits that helped me to lose: tracking my food and focusing on eating more meals at home. Sure enough, those paid off.


Love yourself. Once you do that, you begin to realize you deserve a lot of great things in life, including fueling your body with good foods and exercise.

Follow Brooke on her blog at Brooke: Not on a Diet.

Weight-Loss Win is authored by Andie Mitchell, who underwent a transformative 135-pound weight loss of her own. Have a success story to share? We want to hear it. Tell us at

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