LiveWell Louisiana

Retrain your Brain

For native New Orleanian Karol Brandt-Gilmartin, weight was never really an issue growing up. However, Brandt-Gilmartin started struggling with her weight in her late 20s.

For native New Orleanian Karol Brandt-Gilmartin, weight was never really an issue growing up. She was a cheerleader at De La Salle High School; she was on the dance team for Mount Carmel Academy; and she was a gymnast and a gymnastics coach at the YMCA. “I have the most loving, amazing parents, Dr. Lloyd Brandt and Marilyn Brandt, who both grew up in New Orleans,” she says. “My mother was a nurse and did an excellent job in feeding us healthy, balanced meals."

However, Brandt-Gilmartin started struggling with her weight in her late 20s. “I started an event production company, and we worked very long hours,” she says. “There was no time to cook or exercise. Coupled with the emotional eating from being worried about the business, and not exercising and eating a lot of prepared foods — I did this for years, and packed it on — and when Hurricane Katrina hit and we lost our business, I just emotionally ate my way through the pain and devastation.”

In 2008, she finally had a wake-up call. She was working at Harrah’s New Orleans Hotel and Casino, and she had her annual checkup with her doctor. “I knew I was overweight — I would actually get on the scale backwards or close my eyes so I wouldn’t see my weight,” she says. “The doctor walked in with all of these pamphlets and started telling me that these were the health risks I was staring down: pre-diabetes; high blood pressure; high cholesterol. I knew I had to address the stinking thinking that got me here, get rid of the negativity and self-image issues, and fill my plate with positive thoughts. 

That was 2008, and I have never looked back.”Today, Brandt-Gilmartin stays busy as marketing director for IDIYA (a new makers space in New Orleans), and she also recently started a new company called Horns Up Productions. Through her new venture, she hopes to produce the largest Wellness and Fitness Expo in the South. She also recently co-authored a book with friend Robby D’Angelo titled The Struggle Is Real ($15, Lifestyle Entrepreneurs Press). In it, Brandt-Gilmartin and D’Angelo share their stories of losing more than 100 pounds each and how they have both kept it off for more than five years. Also included in the book is an invitation to join The 30-Day E.V.O.L.V.E. Challenge, which is a probing look into the thought process it takes to retrain the mind and conquer struggles.

“I keep my why in front of me every day, meaning I set goals and create vision boards to keep me on track,” Brandt-Gilmartin says. “I set goals; I write them down; put a date on it; sign it; and read it every day, as often as I can. I track my progress and adjust where needed to reach my goals. I also stay motivated by inspiring others.”

"My meal plan is very clean with lots of lean meats, fish (thanks to my dad), fresh greens, fresh fruit, egg whites and oatmeal — a well-balanced diet,” Brandt-Gilmartin says. “My fuel is eating several times a day to stay full and keep my metabolism up and revved. It’s a combination of the right foods at the right times and lots of foods that fuel me — protein and vegetables. My guilty pleasure is dessert, in moderation, but I do enjoy Doberge cake and Gentilly lace cake, and, of course, king cake.”

“My biggest success along the way was setting a goal of running The New Orleans Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in 2010,” Brandt-Gilmartin says. “I wanted to push myself, like the Saints were doing in 2009 and 2010, with their push to win the Superbowl. I would listen to Drew’s huddle chant; I even downloaded it to fuel me. The city at the time was electric — you could feel the uprising of enthusiasm from the Saints fans. I latched on to that, and it carried me through 13.1 miles.”

“Put your why in front of you; take a step for you; set a goal; sign a card; put it up on a vision board; have a good support system; and most importantly, hold yourself accountable in every way,” Brandt-Gilmartin says. “Use our book, the knowledge we share, to fuel you and reach your goals. Find Inspiration and motivation in our stories, knowing we too, are normal people, to help you change to become the healthy, fit person you have always wanted to be!”