Happy and Healthy Are Not Bullshit – Marisa Brooks

It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I came to fully accept and appreciate exercise. Here’s the story of my dance with fitness.

Image from @viking_waffles via Pinterest


As a wee child, exercise was something I didn’t think about doing as much as it just happened. I was adventurous and loved being outdoors playing hide ’n’ seek, running around, biking with my brother, using our imaginations to create our own games. We grew up in a time, where running through the sprinkler on a summer night was a magical treat and when you got tired of the sprinkler you unscrewed it from the garden hose and drank. Physically exerting myself was fun and rewarding. I didn’t have anything impeding me or slowing me down.


When my teen years hit, it wasn’t as easy or fun to run around with wild abandon. We had moved to the country and were further removed from the conveniences of neighbors, grocery stores, parks, etc… It took more effort to see people, do things, and entertain myself. My body was changing and it weighed me down physically, mentally, and emotionally. I had big boobs for my age and they were heavy and uncomfortable for my small body. My period had started and I was flooded with emotions, hormones, and cramps that wracked my body from the groins up. Life had started to suck and with it my mood. If all this wasn’t awkward and painful enough, I also had a creepy male P. E. teacher that in swimming class would perch himself over any of the girls coming up out of the pool and take a long deep diving look down our suits. Being in softball and P. E. met my newly formed quota for physical exertion. I became complacent and lazy outside of those activities.

Young adult

Then, my twenties arrived and a couple years in I was pregnant and married. It wasn’t until my son was born that I felt a mix of shame and excitement about needing/wanting to exercise. I wanted to be healthy to take care of him, but I also wanted to show him how to do all the things — play baseball, ride a bike, learn kickball, throw a football, run with him on the playground. He was a source of inspiration, but I still lacked motivation and a true desire to exercise for myself. I had two more babies in this decade that I was also excited to teach all the same things and more to, but my body was a wreck. In this time, I had struggled with IBS, hypothyroidism, and depressive behavior. I loved sleeping. There were some days, if I could manage it, I would stay lying down for as long as possible (all day was what I truly desired). I would have unexplained stomach pains. My quality of life in my body was at an all time low. I did a lot of things with my kids for them to keep them happy, but I wasn’t really doing anything about me.


With my thirties, I began suffering increasing trouble and pain with my neck, shoulders, wrists, elbows, and hands. It wasn’t until the kids and me were sitting down one night to watch a movie and snuggle that I realized there was a problem. My girls were around three and four at the time and wanted to cuddle with me in a big chair we had. I told them, “no.” It wasn’t that I didn’t want to cuddle — I was in pain and cuddling them would have made it worse, and picking them up was painful. It was then that I realized I needed help. I didn’t want to lose function of my arms any more than I wanted to lose snugly moments with my kids.

Time for a change

My boss at the time told me (nearly demanded) that I go to a chiropractor. I ignored my previous fears of having my bones pop and crack from an adjustment and scheduled a consultation. From the consultation, I began seeing a couple chiropractors and as my adjustments started to make a difference, my fears dissipated. It was about 1 1/2 months into these visits that I realized how amazing I was feeling and I wanted to continue feeling amazing. I chose to reach out to a personal trainer that I had met and talk to them about their gym and training program. I found that I could afford it and signed up for a membership and group training. I wanted to be held accountable and have someone around pushing me to feel better and look better. I was there for about 18 months when I realized I wanted more.

I had heard about another personal trainer and their success with helping their clients achieve visual results. I always walked away feeling great from my workouts, but I never saw any improvement. I signed up with a different gym that was personal trainer only based. I had one-on-one training and within six weeks I saw something different. Pains I’d been harboring dissipated and the scale showed that I had increased by six pounds. If it were the old me, she would have been livid in interpreting that six pounds as fat gain, but the new me took it as it could be fat, muscle, or water but either way it meant something had happened in that short amount of time. Nothing had happened to me in the 18 months on a scale. It wasn’t long after that I decided that I would no longer care about the scale. I would focus on how my clothes fit and how I felt. I worked with this personal trainer for 3 1/2 years until I realized I had learned all I was going to learn from them and I was capable of going to a gym on my own.

My first solo workout with my notebook of activities was nerve wracking. I was a member at a new gym and felt those first day jitters that you get with new anything (job, school, date, etc…). I subdued that energy with wireless headphones and some dope playlists and got to work. Within a month of doing my own workouts which combined all the lifting, stretching, prostrating activities from the previous gym with cardio I started to slim. I went from a beefy or what I charmingly dubbed “burvy” (beefy + curvy) figure to a more smoothed curvaceous figure with some muscle ripples. Hell yeah! I was on my way. After nine months of this, new and improved me I broke my foot. The same foot that I was scheduled to go in for surgery in seven weeks.

“Rolling with the punches”

The end of the year had arrived and I was scheduled for foot surgery. My break had healed and didn’t keep surgery from happening. I was not allowed to do any weight bearing activities for three months post. Around four months post surgery, I started to pick back up my routine.

About a month after returning to the gym and doing a personal best on leg press, I was taken back out of the gym for an unplanned surgery on my female reproductive system. The recovery for that was two months. It was a couple weeks before summer, which meant no pool time. My favorite summer activity is going to the pool for laying out with a book, doing laps in the pool, and playing made-up games with my kids. That was cancelled. Getting my body back was cancelled. Being happy and healthy seemed less attainable.

My second foot surgery was scheduled for the end of the year for the other foot. It gave me about four and a half months to get back in a routine. It didn’t seem like enough time to learn anything new or establish a schedule. I was determined not to completely let myself go, though.

This time around I found a yoga instructor and studio that hosts a practice called “Restorative Yoga.” I went to those sessions throughout recovery from my second foot surgery. None of the stretches were weight bearing. It was so good for my mind and body. By the time, spring rolled around I felt ready to get back to me.

Asking for help

I consulted with my newly established general practitioner about weight loss supplements and help. I knew that most of the schedule and routine was dependent on me, but I needed a little help in the motivation department. I had gained around 15 pounds. I felt it and was loathsome of myself. My body positivity and my energy had been obliterated. She prescribed me Phentermine for six weeks. I took three weeks worth which felt like enough. The side effects of constipation and vivid dreams made me irritable. I am good at sleeping and three weeks of lackluster, disturbed sleep was all I could tolerate. However, I was able to lose half the extra weight gained according to the scale. I couldn’t feel the loss or see the loss, but it was progress.

Since that time, I have become a member of three different gyms in town and I am not a loyal or regular visitor of any of them. I have been frequently infrequent in my activities. I recently was moved from one floor to another at my job. So now I take the stairs a majority of the time. I am on again off again in my commitment to pull up the Yoga with Adriene channel on YouTube and do 20 minutes before work to start my day. The Phentermine did help me with suppressing appetite and it’s something I have sustained since the spring. I am on a plateau of maintaining a weight that is heavier than I have ever been.

This fall, I had a flare-up in my tendon. I was in a boot for weeks. It was a miserable time. I am even more cautious now to go back to weight lifting. The yoga was supposed to help prime me for it, but life keeps happening.


I have dreams of returning to the gym and a steady activity schedule. This time around I would like to include my kids. We’re all getting to ages where our health and wellness are critical. And as I have seen, I am happier, balanced, and more at ease when I have a regular exercise schedule. I can tackle the world — my world that is, when I am armed with energy stores of good feelings.

In all this I have learned and am still learning to be kind to myself. To love my body, no matter the shape, and to trust I am doing the best I can. I have been thrust into the school of patience. I am currently enrolled as a student in the Patience School in the following areas: on the job, as a mother, and with myself. It’s going ok. I would say I am a “C” mediocre student at best. Slowing down, acceptance of myself and situations, and not trying to achieve all things NOW are methods I am resorting to in learning this thing called, “Patience.”

I met with my OB-GYN this week. Within minutes of leaving for the appointment, I was lambasted with a few communications that had me overwhelmed. I entered her office looking like a cold, weathered, frazzled mess. I had some time to sit and discuss my concerns before and after the physical examination. My physiological reaction to discussing things with my gynecologist is to sweat. Sweating leads to the tissue like paper covering the examination table to stick to my damp body like toilet paper that clings to an anus and speaking of, it and my crack like to swallow that up. So, now I am a hot, sweaty mess with paper stuck up my backside in an elder lady looking poncho and a white canvas sheet on top. She does the examination and afterwards I talk to her about the weight, the Phentermine, my pining for an activity schedule that feels unobtainable. She mentions Belviq. Granted, I did not go into this appointment with designs on scoring some pills or had even been thinking about getting help with diet and exercise. But here I was improvising and getting help with someone who listened.

The “Next Episode”

I am going to try this new prescription and see where it takes me. According to what my gynecologist shared with me, I should see a 5% decrease in body weight in three months. If not, I will discontinue use. There have not been any reported negative side effects with this medicine. People can stay on it indefinitely to help maintain weight loss that occurs. I am excited at the prospect of entering my forties and having a body that feels and looks kick ass, as well as a happy health attitude to go along with it. Cheers to trying new things and learning how to be better along the way!

Weights Lifting Power by skeeze

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Thanks !

Thanks for sharing this, you are awesome !

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