Watch Your Words
Posted by: DVULI | April 12, 2022
by Kimberlee Mitchell, Staff Writer
Pagent competitor turned youth worker believes every message to young women is a matter of life and death.
As a 15-year-old girl, Brook Marie Eneas (Miami 2009) will never forget the day her aunt told her, "I used to look like you." Staring back at her, Brook saw an older woman who struggled with health and weight issues for as long as she could remember. She wondered how her aunt, and many of the women in her family, transformed from young and healthy to worn and sickly. Brook asked, "Lord, what do I need to do to change this?" The experience planted a seed that became a 25-year journey and Brook's call to coach young women about establishing and sustaining healthy habits for life.
In college, when Brook gained the freshman 15, she was "frustrated with the lack of quality foods available to students." With no guidance to help her navigate the food desert, Brook became that person for herself. Her study of chemistry and molecular biology, combined with being a fitness instructor, uniquely paved the way for a career as a fitness/nutrition/mental wellness coach. After receiving a master's degree in public administration from Florida State University, Brook went on to compete in beauty pageants with the "pure motivation of establishing a platform to influence young women and girls." Winning Miss Florida Panhandle USA and running a Miss USA franchise did just that, and she launched Rockthestagefitness.com, a pageant fitness consulting business. She prepares her young women for competition while also addressing the whole person—this is her ministry.
Brook's ultimate goal is to help young women reach their calling. "I want you to fulfill whatever purpose you feel like God has called you to," Brook tells them. "So what is going to help us do that? It starts with eating well."
"When kids are eating a whole bunch of junk, artificial flavoring, sugars, salts, and preservatives, it causes them mentally to change—a chemical rewiring occurs," explains Brook. "I have them link their mood with the food they eat using a food log at times throughout the program, so they see the parallelism." Youth can then spot trends behind bad habits like overeating, skipping meals, and binging.
"What I've learned is that the relationship with food matters," observes Brook. "So sometimes youth have unhealthy relationships because there's another part of their life that is out of order. Food becomes the source for them versus God."
Brook believes that today's young women are growing up in a hostile and artificial environment that falsely tells them who they are and what society demands of them. "There's no escaping the pressures of social media and its false depiction of what is real versus what is photoshopped. It's a major issue," explains Brook. "Add to that bullying, word curses, and lack of affirmation in the home. It's all compounded."
Brook's first step in disarming the pressure is with dialogue that probes the mindset with the following inquiries:
- Can you show me a picture of someone you admire and want to look like?
- Why do you admire this person?
- Why is it that you think this way?
- Why is it that you see yourself this way?
- Who has framed this level of thought in your life?
- Who has been your biggest influence?
- What caused you to get here?
- What do you expect to get out of this program?
She walks young women through concepts of love, self-love, and understanding the beauty of discipline in a positive way. "The idea is to move past the cosmetic outward appearance to what lies beneath," she shares. "We spend a lot of time unpacking these questions."
This DVULI grad introduces them to the value of embracing their own genetics and celebrating the blessing of being healthy. "This doesn't always click right away," Brook notes. "Because many young women suffer from unhealthy association with food causing a host of undiagnosed eating disorders. Many don't want to admit they have a problem."
Brook goes on to explain that the cause of this issue ranges from trauma to a seemingly benign comment from a family member. "Sometimes parents don't recognize the weight of their words," asserts Brook. "It's surprising because family—even in their good intentions—can cause significant hurt. It's dismantling what the enemy has said through man. So, watch your words! You can change an entire child's or teenager's perspective based on words. It's critical to think before you speak as the words you choose may be a matter of life and death."
In terms of body image, Brook says, "Young women need help to see a better depiction of themselves. Youth workers can be a powerful voice of influence, especially with the young women who don't have a father at home. I'm intentional about my salutation in every conversation, text, voice message, Instagram comment," explains Brook, whose go-to phrases are, "Hey, beautiful. Hey, love. Hey, gorgeous. I'm proud of you. You are loved!" She further encourages youth workers to "take it beyond 'you're pretty' and beyond what the youth are doing to 'you matter' and 'you have a purpose.'"
Brook finds the act of pausing and reflecting has been erased in our culture. "We're constantly going, accelerating," says this wife and mother of two sons. "The practice of Sabbath, sitting, thinking, and reflecting is out the door, especially for this generation." A low-cost way to kick-start this healthy habit is journaling, and Brook recommends this as a daily practice, including food logs, followed by a time of reflection every Friday. She consistently checks in, asking, "Hey, can we celebrate something this week? What was a win for you? What were you proud of?"
Brook advises youth workers to pay attention to the unspoken. "If you see a young lady who's always covering herself and in baggy clothes all the time, she's saying something without saying something," she advises. "If you see a young lady dressed provocatively, she's saying something without saying something. Speak to the deeper need."
To promote healthy eating and clear-headed thinking, Brook suggests providing healthier options at hangouts to set an example of "kingdom health." Brooks says, "This could be the only healthy food some children have access to."
Brook's message to today's young women and for the female youth worker is one in the same: "Take back your sense of natural dominion over your life and your health so you can achieve your dreams, live your purpose, and conquer emotions that cause procrastination, emotional eating, and self-sabotage," she exhorts. "Don't wait until later on in life to recognize the fault in this. Working on one habit can drastically change your life, even if it just begins with the truth we believe and the words we use."