As Brenda Herrod neared her fortieth birthday nine years ago, she was deeply entrenched in the darkness of grief after losing her mother, her brother, and father—all to cancer and within an eighteen-year timeframe. While standing at a crossroads and uncertain where to go next, Brenda began relying on exercise as a natural antidepressant. A wife, mother of two, nurse for fifteen years, and in graduate school to attain her nurse practitioner in women’s health care and Master of Science in Nursing, Brenda was certainly busy but determined to do whatever it took to decrease her risks of dying of the same horrible disease.
Although she lifted some weights, Brenda mostly focused on cardio, until a friend told her about Buffmother, an online group of women focused on healthier lifestyles. After joining and losing thirty-five pounds in a “Superstar Success” contest through Buffmother, Brenda became intrigued by the weight training transformation process. “I realized life was short and decided I wanted to get healthier and in better shape,” says Brenda. “My passion and love for bodybuilding, competing, health, and fitness has only grown stronger since.”
Brenda started competing in 2009 and won second place in Master’s Figure for ages 40 and up in her first natural figure competition. Since then, she has competed in six additional contests and won several awards (including first place wins in several categories). Still, Brenda wasn’t satisfied and set a goal for herself to earn her Pro Card in the International Professional Elite for the NANBF Federation. On October 21, 2017, she competed in her seventh natural figure competition and won first place in the GONC Figure Masters class. Even better yet, she finally attained IPE Figure PRO status. A thrilled and proud Brenda says, “Age is just a number, just like the number on the scale.” She feels blessed beyond belief to be healthy, fit, and able to pursue her passion.
Fitness, weight training, and healthy eating has become her way of life and has even influenced her career. Brenda is a nurse practitioner practicing as the coordinator of the Better Living Program (a weight management program) for the employees of the Nebraska Methodist Health System. “Bodybuilding has become my way of life. I live it, breathe it, and love it!” she adds. “It gives me such a sense of pride to know that I have sculpted my body into an entirely different look. Weight training, cardio, and keeping a positive mindset combined with good nutrition is the greatest thing we all can do to stay young and healthy.”
A typical workout includes a warm-up on the stepmill or elliptical followed by free weights. Brenda always switches up the exercises to keep variety in her routine, work different muscle groups, and prevent injury. She occasionally uses machines, but also enjoys kettlebells, box jumps, band workouts, sliders, pushing the sled, and jump roping to achieve high intensity interval training. Brenda loyally follows a precise diet, especially prior to a competition, which helps her lose fat and build and retain muscle.
Her support group is large, and Brenda swears by the positive influence they all have on her, in one way or another. She is overwhelmed with support from her competition team under the direction of Matt Jackson, as well as from her husband, two adult children, other family members, fellow co-workers, Better Living clients, friends, and trainers at two gyms.
Brenda is passionate about sharing her healthy lifestyle with others. In her full-time role as nurse practitioner/wellness coach at Nebraska Methodist Health Systems, she encourages employees to believe in themselves, keep a positive mindset, and change habits to keep weight off for good. Brenda says it is very rewarding for her to see the progressive changes in her clients. “By losing weight and changing their body composition, every single part of their life and health is improved,” she proudly states.
It is obvious when talking to Brenda that she is most happy when making a difference, not just in her own life, but in the lives of everyone she meets. “It is the best thing in the world when someone tells you that you inspire them,” she adds, “and even better to see them get off their medications and become healthier and more confident.”
She advises anyone who wants to pursue their passion in life to go for their dreams. “You only live once and you never know how much longer you have. Don’t put it off. Your passion will show if you do what you love. You will make a difference.”
Laurence Shahlaei once said, "Your love for what you do and willingness to push yourself where others aren't prepared to go is what will make you great." Brenda is a living example of what it means to emerge from the darkness of heartbreak and transform into a positive influencer who passionately encourages others to achieve their greatest potential through healthy eating, consistent exercise, and, most importantly, by believing they can do it too.
Yes, Brenda Herrod is strong. But the difference is that she is strong not just on the outside, but on the inside as well.
Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.