Hi, I'm Brook - a (sort of) urbanized country girl ...
… who grew up eating like I was working in the field all day, even though I wasn’t. My childhood home was full of delicious, home-cooked food. Aside from ubiquitous use of ketchup and my mom trying the “cabbage soup diet”, there weren’t any rules or restrictions around food. The evening bowls of ice cream (and lack of field work) did catch up to me in junior high, and, although there was no outside pressure to do so, I decided to experiment with healthy foods and exercise. My first workouts were jogs on dirt roads and doing the “Buns of Steel” VHS tapes. Did I just date myself?! This started a lifelong passion – sometimes obsession – for nutrition and fitness.
Fast forward 30 years (yikes) … I’m a wife and mother to two tweens, I’ve had three distinct careers, and have lived in at least six states (fun fact – I’ve lived in all the “C” states). Our family now lives in Central Oregon, a mecca for outdoor recreation and craft beer. When I’m not working or going to school, I still love to run, have fun in the kitchen with food, and explore the amazing state of Oregon with my husband and kids.
Relevant personal and professional background
My first structured exercise – other than Buns of Steel – was running track as a sophomore in high school. I was horrible. I ran the 800M and 1600M, somehow managing to finish last in every race. After that trauma, I took a year off before joining the cross country team as a senior. I loved running cross country with an amazing group of girls, and although I didn’t win any races, I thoroughly enjoyed being part of that team and finished not last in the 3-mile races.
During high school, I tried various sorts of nutritional interventions (ie, diets) on myself, mostly horribly misguided attempts at restriction/not eating. Luckily, my growing body’s need for food and my love of Frosted Mini Wheats usually won out. What did prevail was a desire to learn all I could about human nutrition.
Although I seriously considered becoming an artist after high school, I instead earned a BS degree in Dietetics and an MS in Human Nutrition. I became disenchanted with the process to become a Registered Dietitian (RD), so I opted not to complete the RD internship. Instead, I started a career in pharmaceutical research.
While finishing up my MS at Colorado State University, I met and married my awesome husband Chris (2003). He introduced me to long distance (ie, marathon) running, and before we had kids, I ran three marathons in three years, qualifying for the Boston Marathon in 2006.
I ended up not running the Boston Marathon because I was pregnant in 2007, which is how life works sometimes. For the following few years, I was really into having and taking care of babies, giving birth to a son in 2007 and a daughter in 2009. Until my kids started preschool, I was a full-time mom and husband supporter with an awesome community of mom friends. As a SAHM during this time, I and our family thrived. Oh yeah, and I went vegan for a couple of years, much to my meat- and dairy-loving family’s dismay. Hey, I didn’t make them go vegan – but they did have to suffer through some dinner fails.
Soon after our young family moved to the gorgeous state of Oregon in 2012, I had the opportunity to work in marketing for startup company that was created to commercialize technology invented by my husband Chris. Through this perfectly-suited part-time work, I became well-versed in the economics of natural gas and transportation fuels. During this time, I ran my first ultramarathon (50k) and started getting into crossfit for easy cross-training (mostly at home). On the nutrition front, I was introduced to the Whole30, did that a couple of times, followed by a “flex-paleo” diet (ie, paleo plus dairy – I love dairy).
After the marketing work ended in 2015, I found myself restless and eager for a challenge, so I earned a BS in Computer Science while the kids were at school. It was indeed a challenge, and there were days when I questioned my sanity! That degree led me to an exceptional opportunity to work in energy optimization software, with the most talented and generous group of people. Somehow – truly, in hindsight I don’t know how I found the time and energy – I managed to run and finish first (women under 40 years old – I was 39, ha!) in a 50k and run a personal record in the 10k distance. I also kept up with crossfit and began to do yoga on a regular basis – had to balance out all that running! My eating was mostly paleo plus dairy, except on long run days, when I ate whatever I wanted.
In late 2019 and with mixed feelings, I left my computer science role. My health and family relationships had suffered, not because of the job, which I loved – I simply realized I could not sustain being an awesome mom, wife, athlete, and employee all a the same time. As our kids enter adolescence (yikes), I realize they need me to be present more than ever.
Now, I’m focusing more on my first professional love – nutrition science – which I have studied and practiced for decades.
My goal with Diligent Spoon is to take misinformation and ambiguity out of eating and exercise by sharing simple strategies that focus on inclusive (meaning anyone, any budget) food and fitness habits. I feel that eating has been made overly-complicated in popular culture and media – to the point where this once pleasurable activity can feel burdensome and overwhelming. Each of us can achieve healthy living goals – whatever those look like for you – with small, stepwise changes that preserve (rather than detract from) quality of life.
If you want straightforward, effective ways to enjoy food and exercise without wasting a lot of time and effort - you’ve come to the right place.
I’m obsessed with finding science and research-based nutrition and fitness principles, and then figuring out how to incorporate those into busy lives. I write about these strategies – for fitting healthy eating and exercise into anyone’s schedule – including how to get started, simple ways to improve current habits, and setting/achieving your personal health and fitness goals. This includes meal planning and recipes, honest assessment of fad diets, and how-tos to boost your health and body confidence.
Why should you listen to me?
I have a Master’s Degree in Human Nutrition and over 20 years of practicing and researching optimal nutrition. I’ve been a long-distance runner since 1993 and have finished multiple half, full, and ultramarathons. To complement running, I have been practicing weight training, functional fitness, and yoga for nearly as long.
Like many women, I’ve had my fair share of food and body image issues. As a girl, I was “chunky” and affectionately (?) called “big-boned”. This resulted in negative self-image and disordered eating habits in high school and college. To this day, there are times when I’m still figuring out how to make peace with food and diet culture! I have had two babies and know what it’s like to wrestle with a changing body while caring for one or more little ones. Now approaching mid-life, I’m finding ways to reduce injuries (or recover from them) and be more proactive in caring for this amazing body that has served me so well.