One Choice at a Time By Demi Brown


Demi Brown has served as the Executive Director of Housing and Residential Education at the University of Denver since June of 2012. Previously Demi worked professionally at UNC- Chapel Hill, Florida International University and Florida State University. Demi is originally from Greenwood, Mississippi and has a BA in History and MS Counselor Education from Mississippi State University ( Go Bulldogs!). He enjoys playing tennis and watching football. Demi can be found on twitter @iDBrown 


Three years ago I went in for my annual physical at a hospital at the university where I was working. I knew I was overweight and out of shape, but I was not really concerned about that. I had established a new motto for that year. Instead of focusing on getting in better shape, I decided to focus on mental well-being. I was going to focus on being “Fat and Happy.” Now, cognitively, I knew I was not making good choices in regards to my health. My motto should have been “Avoidance.”

When the doctor brought my test results back he had a few pamphlets in his hand. He sat them down to where I could not see them, and looked at me directly and sternly. I remember the speech.

He began, “Mr. Brown. Doctors are some of the most arrogant people there are in the world. I think it goes back and forth between doctors and professional athletes. You have to be arrogant enough in this line of work to think that you can do the impossible sometimes on a daily basis. I freely admit that I am an arrogant son of a gun. I think that I can work miracles sometimes, but even for me, there are limits.”

He then reached behind them and pulled out the pamphlets. He laid them in front of me, and continued, “Here’s some information on diabetes, hypertension, and several types of cancer. What I need for you to do is pick one of these to die from. My arrogance will make me work hard to head off the other two.”

Certainly I was stunned by that. I did not know what to say, and for me that is saying something. I knew then that I had to at least make some changes in what I was doing. My life had caught up to me. I had to stop swinging by McDonald’s on the way home after a long meeting with a student organization. I knew I had to stop hopping in my car to drive to a meeting across campus because I was scheduled too tightly on a given day. I knew I had to stop loading up my bladder buster cup with sweet tea three times a day. I knew I had to stop these working lunches at my favorite Chinese super buffet. Change had to come.

When I last looked at my medical charts, I calculated that since age 25, I have lost and gained and lost and gained about 600 lbs. That is a 600 pound Yo-Yo that I have put my body through.  When I feel like I am “too fat,” that is when I hit the gym and start bringing Lean Cuisines and fresh fruit to the office.  At my previous institution, I had lost so much weight that the staff in student recreation gave me a free membership. A move across the country later, and much of it was back.

Last week, I went in for my annual physical and my doctor told me that I needed to lose some weight. I have now recommitted myself again to this process. I just reactivated my MyFitnessPal account. I went grocery shopping and bought all healthy items. I have signed up for some local kickboxing classes. I know what I need to do, but I am not very excited about doing this – again.

Staying healthy is a commitment, and it is a very difficult commitment. There is nothing easy about this. On a personal level, I know I need to do this. On a professional level, I know I need to role model the holistic wellness we profess. That does not make it easy. So, what am I going to do this time? I am taking it one day at a time, once choice at a time. I know I can do it, because I have done it before. I just hope not to have to do it again.




2 comments to One Choice at a Time By Demi Brown

  • Monica Rochon  says:

    Hi Demi, thank you for sharing this part of your journey. I too believe that you can do it!

  • Kathy Hobgood  says:

    Hi friend! Thanks for sharing — I think we’ve been on the same fitness (and lack thereof) journey! The up and down and how to start a “can i get in shape and finally stay in shape” motivation has been much on my mind lately!

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