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I am so excited to share this interview with you today. I got the privilege to interview Brooke Simonson, a Certified Nutrition Coach and ask allll the questions about how she helps people lose weight and keep it off.
Grab your favorite drink, slip on your slippers, and keep reading for some serious inspiration to lose weight and keep it off.
Brooke, tell us about your background
I’ll try to keep this as brief as possible since the path to where I am today is a windy one! I was born and raised in Arizona by a teacher mom and business-owner dad, so those were two career paths I was really familiar with. Deciding to pursue the “teacher track,” I majored in Education and, after college, embarked on a 12-year career teaching English!
After college—and throughout my 20’s—a lot of *stuff* happened to me, physically. I’d never gained the “Freshman 15,” but I did gain about 15 pounds after college. I also felt bloated, tired, hungry (more like hangry!), and just overall gross a lot of the time. Like most people, I tried eeeeeverything under the sun to look & feel better—working out a ton, counting calories, juice “cleansing,” etc.—but NOTHING I did allowed me to lose weight, keep it off long-term, or have the high energy and confidence I craved. Feeling defeated, I chalked up my symptoms to genetics + aging and settled for my subpar status quo.
It wasn’t until I met my now husband in my late 20’s that I had a major “AHA moment.” On a cross-country flight, my TV was broken. (The worst!) Having nothing else to do, I read a book Thomas had brought along: Fitness Confidential. The book’s author—celebrity trainer Vinnie Tortorich—recommends following an “NSNG” (“No Sugar, No Grains”) eating pattern for weight loss and optimal health. Since I’d tried everything else, Vinnie’s approach intrigued me. I decided to give it a go! Much to my surprise, after just a couple months, I’d dropped those pesky pounds for good, the bloat around my midsection had completely disappeared, and I wasn’t perpetually tired or hungry anymore.
BUT—I didn’t want to live life without sugar and grains (aka chocolate chip cookies and pizza)!
I became determined to figure out a way to keep the weight off and feel amazing without restricting anything. In my quest to learn eeeeeverything I possibly could about nutrition and weight loss/maintenance, I spiraled down a rabbit hole of podcasts, scholarly articles, and books…
…and after yeeeears of research, I had that AHA moment! I finally figured out how to look & feel my BEST without cutting out wine, nachos, or ice cream!!
Eventually, I enrolled in the Institute of Transformational Nutrition to become a Certified Nutrition Coach because I wanted to help as many people as possible ditch yo-yo dieting and experience my same success. Originally, I planned to do nutrition coaching in addition to teaching, but as my passion for health grew, my desire to teach high school English waned.
When my husband and I moved across the country, that fresh start was the impetus I needed to leave my teaching career and try my hand at the other profession I’d watched growing up: owning a business! The Health Investment was born in the summer of 2019; since then, I’ve helped dozens of clients lose weight (and keep it off long-term!) without “detoxing,” dieting, or counting every calorie.
Ultimately, my goal through everything I do is to get the word out that it’s not helpful to focus on things you can’t control, like genetics + aging. There’s SO much you can control to look & feel better now than you did 10 years ago—and you don’t have to go to any extremes! It’s absolutely possible to show up as your trimmest, healthiest, most energized, most confident self while enjoying ALL foods…and life!!
Why did you choose "The Health Investment" for your business name?
It’s funny because I still really like the name, but I really chose it on a whim. When I started making a bunch of new discoveries about what actually works when it comes to weight loss, nutrition, and overall health, I initially created a blog called “Biohacking With Brooke” to share my findings with the world. The problem was that the term “biohacking” kind of threw people off, so I wanted to name my blog something more relatable.
I remember brainstorming 30+ new ideas in a Google doc one day while teaching a summer school class. (Don’t worry—I still had my eye on the kiddos!) Once I narrowed the list down to my favorites, I sent a Google form survey to my closest friends asking which name they liked best…and "The Health Investment" won!
What topics do you cover in your podcast? And where can we listen in?
In my nutrition coaching practice, I primarily help people with weight loss through sustainable habit change and mindset shifts, but I cover a broader scope of topics on my podcast. A lot of episodes relate to the things I help clients with—like nutrition, stress management, sleep, etc.—but I also interview founders of health-promoting companies, professional organizers, physical therapists, and meal prep/planning + budgeting experts…like yourself! Ultimately, I try to cover a wide range of topics that intrigue and educate my audience.
I’m also very picky about who I have on the show! Now that I’ve released almost 100 episodes, I get a lot of people reaching out to be guests, but I vet the heck out of ‘em! I don’t want anyone spouting unscientific, crazy recommendations on The Health Investment Podcast. There’s enough B.S. floating around out there on Google and social media; I want my episodes to be a safe haven and escape from the madness!
Sidenote: Click here to listen in (just click on "Podcast") - my episode is number 85! Brooke and I had a lot of fun talking all things meal planning, meal prepping, and budgeting.
How did you get started helping people lose weight?
Originally, I was more generalized and called myself a “health coach,” but at some point I realized that everyone who hired me listed “weight loss” as one of their top goals.
In chatting with clients about everything they’d tried in the past—Weight Watchers, Noom, keto, calorie counting, eating clean, doing a ton of cardio, fat-burning supplements and teas, etc. etc. etc.—I felt there was such a need to niche down and focus specifically on helping people lose weight without diets or extremes, while enjoying ALL foods…and life! So that’s what I do!!
What’s the biggest mistake you see people making when trying to lose weight and keep it off?
There are A LOT, but I’d say the biggest one is focusing too much on how to lose weight initially and not enough on how to maintain your new weight long-term. The real question to ask—the one that counts!—isn’t, “How can I lose weight?” it’s, “How can I lose weight and keep it off long-term in a way that won’t compromise my physical + mental wellbeing and will allow me to live life to the fullest?” I know that’s a mouthful, but every piece of that question is very important.
Anyone can lose weight by cutting out an entire macronutrient (like carbs) or eating ZERO processed food because, in those situations, you’re putting yourself in a (sometimes severe!) calorie deficit. *Extreme* approaches are often what people focus on for weight loss—and they often do lose weight. But extreme approaches aren’t easy to sustain.
That’s why most people end up losing and regaining the same 20 pounds, year after year after year. That yo-yo weight loss pattern not only messes with your metabolism, but it can also be detrimental to your mental health and/or negatively impact your relationship with food. Also, following a strict diet or exercise regimen isn’t necessarily fun, which means you’re not able to live your BEST life throughout the process!
That’s why every piece of that question I posed—“How can I lose weight and keep it off long-term in a way that won’t compromise my physical + mental wellbeing and will allow me to live life to the fullest?”—is super important.
There are so many diet "myths" out there, can you debunk some of the most common ones you hear?
Yes, I'd love nothing more!!
The first myth is that exercise is a great way to lose weight.
Now, before someone jumps into the comments accusing me of being an exercise hater, hear me out: I’m not saying that exercise is bad. Exercise is amazing for your mental, heart, and overall health. What I’m saying is that it shouldn’t be your go-to for weight loss. That’s a mistake a lot of people make. When weight loss is your goal, NUTRITION is where you should be putting your focus, first and foremost. You should still move your body and exercise a bunch, but the trite phrase “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet” is absolutely true!
The second myth that I see all the time is that weight loss requires some type of restriction, pain, or misery.
There are sooooo many negative words associated with the term “weight loss journey,” but it doesn’t have to be awful! It’s 100% possible to lose weight—and keep it off long-term!—without restricting your favorite foods, working out to the point of insane soreness, and skipping social gatherings like date nights and happy hours.
The final myth I’ll bust is that you have to *count* something—like calories or macros—to lose weight.
Calorie- and macro-counting apps have great marketers because I see them spreading this idea everywhere, but it’s just not true. Yes, you do have to be in a moderate calorie deficit to lose weight. And yes, having a general understanding of how each of the three macronutrients affects your hunger and satiety is helpful. But those truths don’t require that you count every calorie or macro (unless you want to)! I teach my clients a “template” style of eating that allows you to break up with the apps and lose weight! Win-win!! The best part is that the template can work whether you’re prepping meals for yourself at home, ordering takeout, eating at a restaurant, or going on vacation!
I know you're not a proponent of strict diet rules, but there have to be some rules when trying to lose weight...right?
I love this question. You’re right, I am not a fan of strict diet rules because they usually don’t take into account a person’s unique likes, dislikes, time constraints, and culture. That’s why most people aren’t successful on diets: The ins and outs of their *real life* make it impossible for them to stick to the strict rules long-term!
That’s why I like to say diets fail people, not the other way around. Instead of thinking about weight loss in terms of “dieting” and “rules,” I educate my clients about weight loss principles that actually work.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all eating pattern that works for everyone, but there are some one-size-fits-all principles that anyone who wants to lose weight should be aware of and follow. And they’re really quite simple! Unfortunately, these principles get overshadowed by fads, pills, and trends, so a lot of what I do is guide people to take the most bang-for-your-buck actions rather than continuing to waste time, money, and energy on stuff that just doesn’t work.
Do I have to give up my favorite foods in order to lose weight?
You do not! I like to say that ALL foods can fit, but ALL foods can’t fit ALL of the time—if that makes sense.
Let’s say your favorite foods are chocolate chip cookies and nachos. (Okay, those were easy to come up with because they’re actually my favorite foods!) If you want to lose weight, you’re probably going to have a tough go of it if you’re eating nachos and chocolate chip cookies all day, every day because both are calorie dense and void of nutrients that are nourishing and help you feel full.
But! Can you eat weight-loss-supporting foods MOST of the time and enjoy nachos and chocolate chip cookies on occasion? Absolutely! In fact, I encourage it!!
People who quit their favorite foods cold turkey typically aren’t able to lose weight and keep it off long-term because restricting leads to bingeing, which leads to more restricting, then more bingeing…you see where I’m going with this. That restrict-binge cycle just isn’t helpful or productive!
What do you think of no-carb (aka “Keto”), clean eating, Paleo, and all of the other diets out there? Are any of them valid ways to lose weight?
People lose weight on these diets because every single one requires restricting calories in one way or another. When you’re no-carb/Keto, you’re not eating one of the three macronutrients: carbs! So, maybe without even realizing it, you’re cutting back on calories by not eating carbs. When you’re eating “clean,” you’re probably not eating any ultra-processed foods. Again, possibly without even realizing it, you’re cutting back on calories. When you’re Paleo, you’re avoiding things like dairy, legumes, and grains…and therefore (you guessed it!) cutting back on calories!! So yes, since each of these diets leads to a calorie deficit, you can absolutely lose weight doing these things.
But let’s circle back to the important question I posed earlier: “How can you lose weight and keep it off long-term in a way that won’t compromise your physical + mental well being and will allow you to live life to the fullest?” People come to me because they haven’t been able to sustain diets like Keto or Paleo long-term, so even though they may have lost weight initially, they ended up gaining it all back.
That being said, I’m not here to tell you what’s best for YOU. If you’re able to lose weight and keep it off long-term doing Keto—and you don’t feel like you’re compromising your physical/mental wellbeing or hating your life—then I’m not here to say what you’re doing is wrong! I’m just saying that you don’t have to follow any of the “named” diets if you want to look & feel your best.
I've done a lot of elimination diets to try and heal my body of an autoimmune disease. What do you think about that? Is that different from extreme dieting to lose weight?
Yes, I think that’s totally different. A lot of times, people will ask me something like, “Should I eat gluten?” Everyone wants a black and white, YES or NO answer…but it’s not that simple!
Side note: If you’re following anyone on social media who’s speaking in absolutes and giving black and white answers, I recommend unfollowing that person ASAP! Even scientists don’t use words like “prove”; good researchers always use terms like “suggest,” as in “this study suggests…” We’re always learning more about nutrition, health, and the human body, so anyone speaking in absolutist terms just isn’t reliable. Period. Okay, getting off my soapbox now…
When someone asks a question like, “Should I eat gluten?” my reply is always, “What’s your goal?” If someone’s goal is weight loss, I’d say that research doesn’t suggest that eliminating gluten is necessary, as long as you tolerate it. If someone’s goal is to figure out whether or not gluten is the trigger for their autoimmune symptoms, I’d say that research suggests an elimination diet—under the guidance and supervision of a physician—may be helpful.
Like you said, someone may use an elimination diet as a therapeutic tool, but if that person ends up losing weight in the process, they may start spreading the message that “elimination diets are good for weight loss.” That’s why people end up feeling so confused and frustrated; they get misled and think they need to cut out entire food groups to lose weight or be healthy.
What would you tell someone who's really discouraged with their body image and has "tried it all" without any success?
- I’ve been in your shoes. Hang in there!
- You haven’t failed at diets; the diets have failed YOU.
- It may feel like you’ve “tried it all” and there is NO solution out there, but I promise there’s a path that’ll work for you. It’ll just take time, patience, and probably some guidance to figure it out. (Speaking of guidance…I’d love to connect with you!)
I know you offer one-on-one coaching and also a membership. Can you tell us a little bit about both? What’s the difference between the two?
Sure! I currently offer a 3-month one-on-one coaching program that’s the VIP, “high touch” option. Clients book calls with me every 7-10 days; during the calls, we celebrate what's going well, troubleshoot current challenges, and co-create long- and short-term goals that work for their unique likes, dislikes, time constraints, and lifestyle. One-on-one clients also get access to my cell, so they can text me with questions or thoughts anytime between our calls—and they also get 12 months FREE access to The Health Investment membership for extra support and guidance. Speaking of the membership…
Inside The Health Investment membership, everyone starts with a 12-week weight loss challenge, which is a self-guided course that helps you implement habits that actually work + adopt the right mindset for lasting success. There’s some form of accountability 4x/month (either a group coaching call or Q&A in our Facebook group), and members also get 24/7 support in a private Facebook community. I’m constantly adding NEW content to the membership—like lessons, cheat sheets, and printable templates—that make members' weight loss journeys as simple, straightforward, and seamless as possible!
I know that in your one-on-one coaching program and membership, you focus on a “3A Approach.” Can you tell us a little bit about what that means?
Of course! It took me 10+ years of trial, error, research, and coursework to figure out that healthy, sustainable, diet-FREE weight loss/maintenance boils down to three “critical A’s”: Awareness, Attitude, and Accountability. Most diets and programs are missing one, two, or ALL THREE of the A’s, which is why most people aren’t able to attain and maintain their goal weight. When you work with me, you get exclusive access to my 3A Approach, which makes losing weight (and keeping it off!) as simple and enjoyable as possible. A bit more about each of the A’s…
When you try to figure out what actually works for weight loss/maintenance on your own, you come across a lot of time- and-money-wasting B.S.—like restrictive food rules, 10-day sugar "detoxes," and juice cleanses, but when you work with me, I teach you everything you need to know (and nothing you don’t!) so you can ignore all of the fads and nonsense and stick to habits that've been proven to work.
When it comes to sustaining your goal weight, sky-high energy, and rockstar confidence long-term, what you DO is certainly important, but it’s actually not as important as how you THINK. Your mindset matters most! When you work with me, I help you adopt the right attitude so you can ditch all-or-nothing thinking, stop "diet starts Monday"-ing, and feel completely in control around ALL foods—like cookies, pasta, and bread!
When it comes to nutrition + weight loss advice, most people turn to Google, Instagram, or Pinterest. Big mistake! If you continue to take shots in the dark, you may never find the expert guidance + support you need to expedite your goals. When you work with me in any capacity, I’m here for ya 24/7 so that you’re able to stick with new habits and troubleshoot challenges when they arise.
In your opinion, how important is accountability when you're trying to lose weight?
It’s. Absolutely. Critical! Some people are really great at self-accountability, but most people thrive when they also have some form of external accountability, like a coach checking in or a community to turn to. Research suggests that accountability can boost your odds of success by 95%, so I’ll say it again: Accountability is absolutely critical!
When can we sign up for your membership? And how do we sign up?
Currently, I’m only opening doors to the membership every couple of months so that I'm able to spend the majority of my time giving members the support and guidance they need. If you're interested in joining, visit this website and sign up today!
Psst - Megan here - As of 9/22/21, the membership is currently OPEN only for the next few days! Sign up here!
How much does the membership cost?
The mistake lots of people make is thinking the DIY route is cheaper, but what they don’t take into account is how slow and ineffective that can be! When it comes down to it, most people struggle to lose weight for good cause they’re missing just ONE of the critical A’s in my 3A Approach: awareness of what actually works, the right attitude, and/or accountability.
I don’t even wanna think about how many dollars and hours I wasted in the 10+ years I spent trying to piece together a nutrition + weight loss strategy on my own. If I could go back in time and join a community like this to see fantastic results in just months—and get 24/7 guidance + accountability every step of the way!— I’d do it in a heartbeat!!
One-on-one coaching programs typically cost thousands of dollars, but when you join The Health Investment membership, you can get the same results for a small fraction of what you spend each month on Amazon and coffee!
Do you provide recipes for us inside the membership?
Yes! Inside the Nutrition Library, there are 400+ suuuuuper simple, tasty recipes, as well as sample meal plans and printable templates (like one that teaches you how to build a healthy, filling smoothie).
The membership also includes a Resource Library that’s jam-packed with guides and cheat sheets that save you time, money, and energy—like a spreadsheet to build-your-own strength training circuit, which allows you to create an individualized, effective workout in just seconds!
Do you have any success stories you can share with us?
Yes, I have tons of testimonials! Rather than describing them, I'll share a few screenshots of messages that members of The Health Investment have sent me...
Brooke, thank you SO much. How can someone get ahold of you with more questions?
Well, that concludes the interview with Brooke, and I don't know about you, but I really loved hearing her take on weight loss (including the importance of accountability and mindset).
If you've been trying to lose weight but just haven't been able to make it happen (or maybe you have but haven't been able to keep it off) I highly recommend getting inside The Health Investment membership.
Also, don't hesitate to email me or Brooke if you have any more questions about anything we talked about today.
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