Growing up LDS Mormon, Feeling like an outcast, Don’t wait to do what you want, Learning to be your true self, and more.
Guest: Brooke Ence
Fast-forward to 2015, Brooke placed 1st in the CrossFit California Regionals, and went on to place 14th at the 2015 CrossFit Games in her rookie year. Since then, Brooke’s built a following for her reputation as an elite competitor and her passion for inspiring others to achieve their goals.
No stranger to adversity, Brooke’s returned to elite competition this year after undergoing spinal surgery in March 2017. Beyond the box, 2018 is set to be a big year for Brooke.
Building on her breakout appearances as an Amazon woman in the blockbuster Wonder Woman and Justice League films, she’s already been nominated for a Shorty Award, launched her own apparel brand, ENCEwear, that nearly sold out its launch collection in 24 hours, and is partnering with Paleoethics to debut her own protein line.
In this episode, Brooke opens up about her childhood and overcoming insecurities. She takes us through her experience growing up LDS Mormon, how she got teased as a child for having bigger biceps than boys, how she overcame an injury both physically and mentally, and much more.
Who is Brooke Ence?
Brooke Ence is an elite CrossFit athlete, a movie star, a social media star, and owner of recently launched apparel brand, ENCEwear.
Brooke is a lover, not a fighter, and since she never wants to make people feel less than her, or make anyone feel like she has more than them, she neglected herself at times.
Although she has already accomplished a lot in the fields that she’s in, it’s hard for Brooke to acknowledge an take pride of her success. She sees herself as a wannabe actress in Hollywood, even though she already starred in Wonder Woman and Justice League. She also didn’t celebrate much after winning the 2015 CrossFit California Regionals or taking 14th in the 2015 CrossGit Games.
Over time though, Brooke learned to give herself more credit. She takes pride in being an entrepreneur, and for being someone who constantly enjoys life, promotes self-love, self-growth, and getting rid of shame. People are drawn to Brooke because she helps people feel capable, realize their potential, and see the positive side of things.
“It’s important if you want to grow, for you to develop the ability to look at yourself without judgement, to not have shame in the shittyness you might be exuding. Or if you’ve done some things, you need to be able to look at them and say: ‘that was kinda shitty, I’m not gonna do that anymore’, and you just move on. Without shame. We don’t need to feel bad about things or who we were, cause every moment we have a chance to be better. Who we wanna be.” — Brooke Ence
Growing up LDS Mormon
Brooke grew up LDS Mormon, being a part of Latter Day Saints church. Her dad was a pretty strict mormon, which means he never drank coffee, but he also rarely went to church. Her mom’s was not as strict, and she went to church a lot.
Growing up, she felt like her dad’s side of the family was more judgy in terms of character, what one should wear, who one should marry, how they should speak, what they should drink, etc.
Brooke grew up going to church quite often, mostly for the social aspect. She loved the feeling she had when she was there. She had a great ward, comprised of young family, tons of activities, and it felt young, fun and healthy.
Brooke liked going to church and was always very inquisitive. One day, around 12 years old, she got really mad when one of her teachers told her: ‘When your parents go to heaven your mom will just get a new husband.’ as Brooke’s mom went to church often and her dad didn’t. Brooke replied: ‘I thought my family will be together forever!’ After she kept questioning this idea, Brooke talked to her bishop, who told her: ‘The truth is, none of knows what happens when we die.” To which, Brooke replied: ‘Thank you.”
From that moment, Brooke decided to ignore the things she didn’t like, and pay attention to things she did like. In her life right now, she’s a spiritual person rather than a religious one. Brooke is grateful for what she has learned growing up going to church, and the values and characteristics it has given her. She enjoyed the people in her ward, who were good people, but once college came around, she stopped caring about going to church.
In college, Brooke started meeting a lot of people that weren’t mormon, and started looking at religion differently. She came to a realization that we are not all meant to be the same, because we all are different.
“There’s so much good that comes out of Mormon church. Amazing people.” — Brooke Ence
Feeling like an outcast
Brooke was teased from a young age about how muscular she was, as she had bigger biceps than the boys as a child. She was also a dancer, and some places and people wouldn’t accept her because of her looks, which made her feel more like she didn’t belong.
Her mom has also been insecure for the majority of her life, which didn’t help. She felt shame being who she was. She felt like she couldn’t express her real self, which happens to a lot of kids. A lot of times kids are trying to express themselves, but parents shush them. Similarly, parents also say: ‘ I love you, but I want you to act this way…’
“Nothing in life is guaranteed. The people in your life aren’t guaranteed. You don’t know how long you are going to be where you are… If you continue to live your life doing things to make everyone else happy. What happens if all of a sudden you only have you? Then you have regret. You have lost time. Time just keeps going and it would be such a shitty feeling. Do more things that make you happy. If you’re happy, more than likely the people around you will be happy. Along the way, things you do, might make people unhappy, but it’s your life.” — Brooke Ence
Don’t wait to do what you want
A lot of people are stuck in life, waiting for something to happen for them, so they take action on something they actually want to do. People often say: ‘I will do X, if Y happens.’ For instance: ‘I will ask this girl out when I have a job’, or ‘if she leaves me I can’t be happy.’ or ‘If I grind and bust my ass now, I’ll be able to retire at this age and then I can do what I wanna do in life.’
The thing is, when you find happiness within yourself, you’re going to stop settling. You’re going to live in a way that makes you happy all the time, and yes, some of your friends will suddenly disappear, but that’s OK, the real ones will stay, and new ones will show up.
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Learning to be your true self
Brooke used to try to please everybody in the past, which ended up with her hurting her family. She hurt her mom and sisters specifically, when they wanted to be, and celebrate with her, more intimately after she won the 2015 CrossFit California Regionals.
In the beginning of her career, things were moving really fast. She started out ignoring the things she didn’t like, but also was also battling her insecurities. Brooke used to think people liked her only for her looks and for being a CrossFit Games athlete. She had issues with why people were following her, and tried to keep up with a certain image to ‘satisfy’ her audience.
Over time, she has learned to be herself without caring what people really think. Once her perspective changed, she also got much better at handling online trolls. Annoying trolls write hurtful things to Brooke, that she looks too muscular, too strong, or too whatever. Today, she doesn’t let them get to her that much, as she has learned to engage with them in a much healthier way.
Battling failure and insecutiries
In 2016, Brooke missed going to the CrossFit Games by mere 4 points. She had a tough, hectic year, filled with a lot of travel, filming movies, and more. When Brooke didn’t make it to the games, only a few people trolled her, but they went hard.
Those trolls got to her by leaving degrading comments, such as telling her she only went to the Games the year before because of a fluke, that she never should have went, that she is washed up and will never come back.
Brooke was already somewhat broken going into the 2016 California Regionals, and those comments were unbelievably hurtful. All of the insecurities she could handle before were suddenly up at the surface. She felt so bad, all of these thoughts she had about herself, but never told anyone, were now public for everyone to see.
Brooke felt like an imposter, like she didn’t deserve her past success. Her identity was shaken. It was so painful, and so hard, and even her family couldn’t do anything about it. It was up to Brooke to face her fears and overcome the challenges. Her only option was to open up and talk about her insecurities.
“Start saying those things out loud. Say it to people, who you trust. You can get rid of those words. Some people will tell you to write things down and throw it away. Say it out loud, it’s out of your mind. Write it down put in a paper and throw it away.” — Brooke Ence
The imposter syndrome didn’t only happen to Brooke, it happens to a lot of successful people. It’s something that never goes away, which you need to keep fighting. Feeling confident in your own skin is a constant practice, and the fears never go completely away, but you learn to live in peace with them.
“Share the things that you are terrified of saying out loud to another person. I find the more people I can tell, the more free I become of that thing.” — Mike Bledsoe
Overcoming an injury, physically and emotionally
After a tough 2016, Brooke faced a serious injury in 2017. She had to undergo a severe surgery in March 2017 — A cervical spine fusion in her c6-c7. Overcoming from the surgery and getting back to competing in CrossFit was the culmination of her physical and emotional recovery.
In 2018, this year, Brooke ended up qualifying for the California Regionals again, finishing 16th in the west coast open. She is super excited to go to regionals this year, and is planning to attack every workout with a plan, execute it to her best abilities, and have a good time while she’s competing. She knows she will also have a different type of joy of being a part of the regionals this year, because it was taken away from her.
Post surgery and recovery, Brooke feels more relatable to people. She feels more vulnerable, and that she can relate to more people on a deeper level. She is focused on promoting health, positivity and happiness.
“It was very sad for me in the beginning, but I really focused on making it a positive, and enjoying the ride back, and enjoying the before and after. It’s not often that we get before and after. With that just by me doin my best in this competition season. I’m speaking louder than me going and winning, than any place could ever do.” — Brooke Ence