When Erin Brown found out she was pregnant, she knew she had to change.
Overweight her entire life, Brown knew the last thing she wanted was to be a bad example for her child. So, while pregnant, she started cleaning up the eating habits that had put her 5-foot-7 frame firmly into the obese category.
She gained less than 10 pounds during her pregnancy and after she had her daughter, Lola, in August 2008, she continued to eat right and began to add workouts into the mix.
“I started out just taking walks a couple days a week with her and our dog and then I started gradually doing hills on the walks and I did workout videos while she was taking naps,” Brown says. “And when they’re little babies, they can just sit in the bouncer and be happy, and so you might as well be doing squats.”
By Lola’s first birthday, she had lost almost 100 pounds and, in her words, become a completely different person.
“That’s the whole reason why I started working out, it’s the whole reason I do everything that I do — because I wanted her to just have a role model for healthy things and not have me preach something I didn’t do,” Brown says. “After she was born, my focus just really shifted on being really healthy. I struggled because of my weight, but also just because of the pressures on women, with my self-worth my whole life, and so I wanted to give her the best possible scenario for having good self-esteem.”
Last summer, after becoming a certified personal trainer through the National Exercise Trainers Association, she launched her own personal training business, Fit Mama Training. Working out of her Lawrence home, she advises clients through her website, fitmamatraining.com, and works in person with clients around town.
The business provides her the opportunity to spend lots of quality time at home with Lola, now 2 1/2, and help clients work on their bodies as well as their body image. She says it’s often helpful for clients to know that she’s been in their shoes, and getting fit is possible without starvation, fad dieting or any other quick fixes.
“I do think, though, that whether it’s me or somebody else that, there need to be more women in fitness and women in the public eye that dispel fitness myths for women and focus on health and trusting your body,” Brown says. “I, mean, I don’t hear anybody in fitness say it’s OK that you have a gut today, you should just love it. And then work on ways to feel healthier. And I realize that probably wouldn’t sell as well, but I think that message is missing.”