We first came across Brittany Dawn on Instagram with the knee-jerk, dropped-jaw reaction of "WHOA, look at those killer legs!" Needless to say, we were captivated and wanted to learn more about this young woman's journey.
Brittany told POPSUGAR that she broke into the fitness world at the age of 21 after feeling frustrated with a lack of self-confidence. "I realized how truly uncomfortable I was in my own skin," she said. "It can be difficult being a woman in today's world, much less when you have no self-confidence. . . . That's all I wanted."
Starting out at about 180 pounds, Brittany realized that her "poor nutrition" was catching up with her. "That carried on through my first two years of college before I realized something had to change. Brittany now weighs in at 132 pounds (much of which looks like muscle!), saying "I lost 50 pounds on this crazy, beautiful journey."
Let's look at how she got there, what it took, and how she's doing now. The gist of it? Lifting weights, being consistent, flexible dieting, and a focus on feeling good. And before you get started on your own journey, Brittany wants you to know: "If there's one thing that I learned, it's that you never give up. You keep fighting, and you keep pushing. Hard times are inevitable, but if you let them, they will mold you."
Setting Healthy Goals
When Brittany first set out on her journey, it was "solely based on numbers." While having a quantifiable goal helped her get started, she also mentioned the danger of being entirely numbers-focused.
"It can be difficult being a woman in today's world, much less when you have no self-confidence. . . . That's all I wanted."
"I got dangerously obsessed with what the weight scale reflected," Brittany told us. That's why she has an "antiscale" stance now for herself and with her clients. At this point in her journey, she's focused on feeling good — and that's what fuels her now. "I believe you should focus on how you're feeling rather than what a number tries to tell you that you are — or aren't."
She's serious when she says dangerous. Because of her scale focus, "I fell into anorexia athletica, and I hit my lowest weight of 112 pounds" — Brittany is 5'9". Fortunately, her mother intervened and helped her recover and get back on track.
Brittany also mentioned that her motivation was all internal. "Yes, there were pictures here or there of inspiring women that popped up . . . but at the end of the day, all I wanted was to be happy. That alone was all the drive that I needed to fuel my fire." She mentioned that if you're incessantly trying to look like someone else, "you'll lose yourself along the way."
She noted that having a healthy goal was paramount to her success. "Have a plan and set goals," she said, offering advice to those beginning their own healthy journey. "Whether that means losing five pounds this month or being able to rock a dress at your best friend's wedding. We all start somewhere!"
Committing to Fitness
"Things clicked for me when I got into weightlifting," she said. Although Brittany had been active before starting this fully committed journey, she lost her way a bit in college and fell off the wagon.
"It was the best decision I ever made. The saying 'get comfortable with being uncomfortable' slowly became my motto, and now I can hang with the guys on the weight floor. Best. Feeling. Ever."
Today, Brittany's schedule is consistent and powerful. She trains five to six days per week with a "mandatory rest day." She totally takes care of herself! She said that if her body feels like it's been hit by a train at the end of the week, she'll take an extra rest day.
"I can hang with the guys on the weight floor. Best. Feeling. Ever."
When she's in the gym, she loves deadlifts, high bar squats, barbell hip thrusts, overhead presses, and lateral raises.
Eating Clean . . . Most of the Time
When she started out, Brittany was fearful when it came to dieting. "I was very strict," she told us. That all changed when she was introduced to flexible dieting — "and the beauty and science behind it."
After recovering from anorexia athletica, she started binge eating. "It's something I think many women deal with but are scared to admit," she said. "Flexible dieting was really the light at the end of the tunnel for me. It allowed me to incorporate foods that I enjoy eating without ever feeling restricted. Today, I'm binge-eating-free . . . almost two years . . . and I love the freedom of the dieting approach I take."
She told us that extremes "work," but they aren't maintainable. "I now incorporate healthy foods but fun foods, too . . . in moderation. It's all about balance."
Some of her favorite "fun foods" are Oreos, ice cream, and, as you can see, pizza.
We asked Brittany what she eats in a typical day, and she shared her pantry staples. Ready to go shopping? Here's what's in Brit's kitchen: whole eggs, a variety of fruits, vegetables ("squash, spinach, cauliflower, zucchini, asparagus are my favorites"), Ezekiel bread, rice cakes, peanut butter, almond butter, olive oil, oatmeal, cream of rice, cream of wheat, "protein ice cream [made with] 1st Phorm Protein," jasmine rice, chicken, turkey, and whipped cream cheese.
Brittany married her high school sweetheart this year and noted him as one of her key supporters on this journey. "Surround yourself with people who believe in you, and make it known that you're doing this for your own happiness," she said.
"I think women often feel guilty for pursuing such personal fitness goals. I always tell my clients that at the end of the day, they are responsible for their own happiness." Speaking of clients, she also has become a trainer, sharing what she's learned and her positive, healthy message with women in her area.
Now that Brittany is confident and comfortable with her body, her goals have changed, too — and they've become more focused on the athletic aspect of fitness! "My main focus has been compound movements . . . and I'm loving it." The best part? "Seeing your body get stronger every week is an incredible feeling."