An Australian mom has revealed how she first went on a diet at the age of 10 before deciding to embrace strength over scales.
Brooke Nelli, 34, told news.com.au that growing up she had always had a toxic relationship with food that came with a larger body.
The combination of the two led the Western Australian woman to restrict her food intake when she was just 10 years old.
“You look around at other people and say ‘why don’t I look like this’ and you feel like the answer is just to limit,” Brooke said.
“That’s what I carried with me until a few years ago.”
Brooke gave birth to her son in 2020, but it took her a decade to welcome him into the world because of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which is associated with irregular periods, excessive hair growth, acne, obesity, reduced fertility and increased risk of diabetes.
After her pregnancy, she reached 90 kilograms.
Until then, she spent most evenings watching Married at first sight with some chocolate, but she wanted to show her son there was more to life than nights on the couch.
“I had to improve my relationship with food so that I can be a better role model for my son, because I don’t want him to grow up thinking that [constantly restricting is] just a normal way of looking at food,” she said.
“But at the same time, I also didn’t want him to grow up and thought fueling his body in a healthy way was bad too.”
Brooke downloaded My Fitness Pal, which she had previously used to track calories.
“But then I found a coach and a gym that really helped me understand what I had to put in my body to feel like my strength training, something I really enjoyed,” she said.
“Eating was more about fueling my workout rather than looking a certain way. But My Fitness Pal – I don’t think I could have done it and made the same progress I did without using it.
Brooke said she used features like the recipes and appreciated having tips and tricks sent straight to her email inbox.
She said she loved features like the ability to add recipes instead of individual ingredients, and announcements about meeting protein or vitamin goals.
Brooke, who says she has a sweet tooth, said she also liked that the app alerted her when she was approaching her sugar ceiling — which she said was easy to do since she increased her carbs for longer strength sessions.
She added that it was about so much more than just tracking her calories, and credited her progress to the app and her coach.
Brooke also said her mindset had changed a lot from other times she’d tried to regain her health, and she had a good reason for that.
Now Brooke isn’t concerned about hitting the scales, she’s focusing on building her strength, lifting heavy weights and being a positive role model for her son.