Robin Brooks – Losing 140lbs & Learning to Love Running

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When we met Robin Brooks and her husband Michael at Front Runner for the first time, we thought they had been avid runners their entire life. While fitting them for shoes, we found out that running was the last thing on their mind just a few years ago. Thank you Robin for allowing us to share your unique journey of learning to love to run. We know you will inspire so many!


Describe yourself prior to your weight loss journey.
Prior to weight loss I did not have nearly as much energy to do the “extra” things in life, like run behind my daughter as she learned to ride her bike or coach soccer. Now I look so forward to those things and not being winded doing them! It’s amazing how much “extra time” you get in your day by being fit. I am much less fatigued, even though I do much more physical activity. And it’s FUN!

Robin & Michael with their daughter in 2014,

Robin & Michael with their daughter in 2014.

What was the light bulb moment that pushed you to change your life?
Two years ago, during open enrollment, my life insurance was denied due to my BMI. I work for a life insurance company and one of my coworkers had to call me and tell me, even though my biometrics looked good, my BMI was just too high to ensure me for another year. It stung, but I knew then that I needed to take control. My husband was on board too.

How did you lose the weight? How long did it take? How much did you lose?
We visited a nutritionist and began a high protein, very low carb diet. We began run/walk intervals daily, increasing our speed and distance daily. It began as slowly as a 25 minute mile. You HAVE to begin somewhere. I have lost 140 lbs and he has lost 90 over the course of two years. We also began strength training and gained muscle, which helps so much to prevent injury, especially now that we train much harder to be competitive.

Did you try other approaches to obtaining a healthier lifestyle prior to achieving it?
Yes, over the years I’ve been guilty of yoyo dieting and trying these fad cleanses. They never worked long term for me. The best advice I can give to anyone who wants to achieve long term success in weightloss and fitness is consistency in clean eating and being active. One of the best things I have learned and has stuck with me is food is not the enemy. It is not bad! It is fuel. If you take a meal or even a day and you know you have gone over what should be your caloric intake for your goals, it is not the end of the world. Just don’t LIVE there.

What kept you motivated?
I like to set goals. My husband and I both are very competitive. We register for races and try to pr, and try to outdo each other as well. Now that we have made more friends in the running community we have friendly competition with our fellow runners. It really is a great family to be a part of. We have found so much support there.

Robin finishing the half marathon at the 2017 Chattanooga Marathon.

What has been your biggest struggle? Greatest success?
One of the biggest struggles is just staying the course on your average day. Life gets busy. You have to MAKE time to train, to meal prep, to set goals. Once you hit your stride though it gets easier. Everybody knows now not to bother me on thirteen mile Thursday mornings. I would say my greatest success is setting a healthy example for my 7 year old daughter. I am incredibly proud of the healthy choices she makes everyday.

What can you do now that you could not do before?
I used to HATE to ride a bicycle, now I am training to be a triathlete!

How has weight loss affected your relationships?
It has allowed me to be more outgoing. I feel like I let weight define me. Almost, in my own mind like I was not worthy of a friendship with someone who was fit. Now I look to more seasoned athletes for advice and have made some of the greatest friends who I know I would have been too intimidated to talk to when I was heavier.

What shocked you the most about your fitness journey?
I visited a psychologist to discuss the link between eating and emotion. I was shocked to realize how much emotional eating I truly did once I began tracking my eating habits. I now keep a food journal and especially during high stress times I lean on it to make sure Im not eating out of emotion. Running has helped to become that outlet for me also. If I’m having a particularly rough day, a run really clears my head. I can’t tell you how many runs I’ve taken, especially in the beginning, with tears streaming down my face. It’s a good time to be in your own head. I’ve worked out many problems on the road. I’ve not had a run yet that I regret.

Robin’s husband Michael finishing the half marathon at the Chattanooga Marathon.

Did you hear about/meet anyone along your journey that highly contributed to your success?
I have met so many amazing encouraging people. When we knew we needed “serious” running shoes we came into Front Runner. Immediately we felt welcome and were treated like we’d been coming there all our lives. We made fast friends with all the staff. Chattanooga Track Club has been amazing to us and made us wonder aloud why we hadn’t joined years earlier. The MOST influential has been my husband, Michael. He truly is my partner in every sense of the word. We have encouraged each other so much. He makes me a better person AND athlete.

What is your best piece of advice for those just starting to exercise?
Consistency. Do not be discouraged because you are just starting out. A 20 min mile is STILL a mile! We started there too! Huffing and puffing, we stayed consistent and got better.

Prior to becoming an avid runner, how did you perceive runners?
I thought runners were nuts! Running was boring to me, too hard, just not something I wanted to do. Then somewhere between getting better and setting goals I fell IN LOVE with running. It takes me away from my troubles a mile at a time. There’s not a lot you can control in this life, I like to lay it out on the road now. It’s cathartic.

How do you think people need to change their views about weight loss?
There is no “quick fix”. This will be a lifetime of change for me. This is who I am now. More active, cleaner eating, and it’s good. I feel good, I have more confidence, I would not trade it. And I still eat my occasional doughnut. 🙂

Michael and Robin are exploring triathlons. Michael is signed up to do the Half-Ironman 70.3 in Chattanooga this May.

What’s in store for the future?
I would like to PR in the Battlefield Half Marathon November 11th, which means I would need a time less than 1:52. Then in March I plan to race home to place in the Chattanooga Marathon, and in May I’m captain of a relay team for the Ironman 70.3 with 2 previous Ironman athletes. I laugh and say I’m “specializing” because my discipline is the run. I hope I can make my team proud. I am so proud of my husband, he is entered as an individual and I cannot wait to cheer him on to his finish.

Anything else you would like to add about your fitness journey?
It is never too late to take control of your health. I was not born an athlete. I was someone who woke up one day and decided to take control of my health and fell in love with the process. It has given me confidence I didn’t know I had and given me a new lease on life that I wouldn’t trade.

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