I’m Not a Quitter… I’m Awesome.

BIKINI 2015 UPDATE TIME!

I am so proud of my bikini body transformation thus far. My six-pack (abs, not Coronas) is coming in, my small & large muscle groups are becoming more defined, and my waist is shrinking. I am getting much stronger in all major lifts, and my muscle endurance is improving. I am maintaining flexibility and mobility with yoga, and have added running in 2-3 times per week for fat-burning cardio. Want to see the progress? Here are photos of my physical changes:

Two Weeks In …#TransformationTuesday                   One Week Later… #GettingLean

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Getting My Gains… #GirlsWithMuscles

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So what’s next? Well…..I have been reflecting on how I feel about the whole COMPETITION part, or the crazy EATING plan, or the COST$ for competition prep (meals, supplements, etc) and competition day (bikini, heels, hair, nails, spray tans, etc). I know this seems like some sort of cop-out for not having to put in the work, but I am finding it hard to really connect with the whole bikini competition idea. I love clean eating. I LOVE lifting weights, HIIT training, yoga, and pretty much all forms of exercise. I just don’t love the idea of fake tanning and becoming someone I’m not. For those of you that don’t know me so well, I am NOT a girly girl. I don’t use makeup daily. I barely remember to brush my hair! #GirlProblems

Want to learn more about bikini competition costs, training, and diet?

cost: http://www.fitwithzara.com/2014/08/07/what-it-costs-to-compete-in-npc-bikini/

cost:  http://www.livelifeactive.com/2013/01/08/the-cost-of-competing-in-a-bikini-competition/

diet: http://www.muscleandfitnesshers.com/nutrition/dieting/12-weeks-competition-body-diet-plan?page=2

mid-atlantic competitions: https://garyudit.com/new/npc-pa-mid-atlantic-zone/

diet/training: https://www.figureandbikini.org/a/134/My-Competition-Meal-Plan

saving money: https://www.figureandbikini.org/a/49/Save-Your-Pennies-The-Cost-of-Competing

Random Selfie time… #IWokeUpLikeThis

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For me quitting is NEVER an option…

I have a passion for nutrition and exercise, but more along the lines of teaching the skills and creating the habits for successful weight loss, weight maintenance, holistic wellness, mobility training, strength training, yoga and mindfulness, endurance training, high-intensity interval training, clean eating, bioindividuality, etc. I want to be able to help others and pull from my experience. Competing will not give me the experience I find necessary for everyday health and wellness.

Remember, I have NOT quit the idea of creating my “bikini-body.” I still want to make-over my diet to remove added sugars, refined carbohydrates, DAIRY, and other highly inflammatory foods. I still want to transform my body to be the leanest, strongest, and healthiest it’s EVER been!

I am SUPER excited for my body transformation!!! I will continue as if I am still competing this August (well, I AM going to the beach), and I will use myself as a guinea pig to discover the BEST diet for melting fat, building muscle, and reducing inflammation. Follow my journey on Instagram @mbrooksfit and look out for my NEW 14-day clean-eating Summer program! Makeover your diet, makeover your body. Email me at mbrooksfit@gmail.com to get updates on upcoming clean-eating and detox programs!

FITspirations: My Female Fitness Idols… #LiftLikeAGirl {Check these women out! They rock!}

christmas abbott pic          ashley horner pic

Christmas Abbott– Crossfit strong                               Ashley Horner– Super Athlete!

Instagram @christmasabbott                                             Instagram @ashley.horner

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Kayla Itsines– Lean HIIT coach                                     Dana Linn Bailey– Beast competitor

Instagram @kayla_itsines                                                    Instagram @danalinnbailey

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Re-Cover Your Body’s Ability

Weekly Wellness Series: Blog Post 3 of 12

This week’s topic is RECOVERY [from workouts], and tips to increase rate of recovery. You’ll find an underlying focus on reducing inflammation, reducing stress, improving nutrition, and enhancing you body’s own protective and recuperative abilities.

Train Like an Elite: Quality Workouts AND Quality Recovery

-Who wants to spend more than 90 minutes at the gym? Not me! Even elite-level endurance athletes train for only 8-10 hours per week because they understand that to get the most out of their training, they have to push themselves hard for a shorter period of time with a specific goal in mind (speed, strength, endurance, or flexibility).

-Rest days are JUST as important are workdays. Dedicate at least one-day each week to rest your body, and allow muscles to repair and rebuild.

Pair Macronutrients Like a Pro

-After intense workouts you need to replenish your glycogen stores with quality carbohydrates. Don’t go reaching for the cookie jar! That will just set you in a sugar high, followed by a blood sugar crash. Avoid refined carbohydrates (baked goods, white pastas, white breads), and instead choose whole grains (quinoa, barley, amaranth) and whole grain products (quinoa pasta, sprouted breads).

-Consume your carbohydrates with lean protein sources and healthy fats. This slows the absorption of the sugars in the carbs, and reduces the inflammatory response and blood sugar spikes that carbohydrates cause when eaten alone.

Consume Healthy Fats: Eat more omega-3 fatty acids and less omega-6 fatty acids.

-High concentrations of omega-6 fatty acids are highly inflammatory. You can find omega-6 in vegetable oils, such as canola, soybean or corn.

-Eating more sources of omega-3 has shown to improve circulation, reduce inflammation, and decrease risk of heart disease. Quality sources of omega-3 include: mackerel, wild salmon, tuna, shrimp, flaxseeds, walnuts, and Brussels sprouts.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

-Muscles are 80% water, and even a 1% change in body water can impair athletic performance AND recovery.

– Aim to consume 125-150% of estimated fluid loss during the 4-6 hours following your workout session.

– Add electrolytes to your regular beverages, or consume all-natural electrolyte drinks to promote efficient water absorption. Coconut water and NUUN are two electrolyte drink options I use for myself. If I am hydrating throughout the day I dilute the coconut water with 1-part plain water, but if I am using after a workout then I drink at full concentration.

Supplement Wisely: More Is NOT Always Better!

– Remember when I mentioned, “enhancing your body’s own protective and recuperative abilities?” This means assuring a high intake of nutrients and herbal extracts that activate natural survival and performance pathways in the body- including turmeric, milk thistle, green tea, ashwagandha, bacopa, New Zealand pine bark, quercetin, and theanine.

– Activating the Nrf2 pathway (with Protandim) is a built-in way to turn on your body’s own production of antioxidant enzymes and anti-inflammatory proteins. These enzymes are 1 million times more effective than Vitamin C at neutralizing free radicals and reducing cellular stress. A 2014 study shows that Vitamin C and E supplementation hampers cellular adaptation to endurance training in humans, while NRF2 activation through Protandim supplementation promotes cellular adaptation.

-Maintaining mental and physical performance during exercise (with Axio) is my secret weapon to getting into that feel-good “flow” state where energy, mood, and focus are at peak levels. This way I can get the most out of the 60-90 minutes I spend at the gym, and still have enough mental and physical energy to get all things done during the day.

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Resources:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=84

http://bestfutureyou.com/2015/03/28/12-fitness-tips-from-the-worlds-fittest-ceo/

http://breakingmuscle.com/mobility-recovery/eating-to-recover-how-and-what-to-eat-post-workout

http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/foods_that_build_muscle/Water_The_Muscle_Bath.php

http://nrf2science.com/studies.php

Say “Farewell” to Fatigue

Week 1 of my 12-week wellness series… Today’s Topic: ENERGY

Before we get into how we boost our day-to-day energy, let’s first talk about the symptoms and causes of fatigue.

How does fatigue show up in daily life?

Fatigue can be categorize in numerous ways. Most fatigue is only temporary and can be easily treated, but fatigue can also be chronic and rather challenging to treat [naturally]. In addition to temporary and chronic, fatigue can also be categorized into physical and metal types.

Firstly, fatigue can be mainly physical. For example, someone who does a one-mile swim for Ironman training program will be physically fatigue after the swim due to the lactic acid build-up in his/her muscles and the high physical exertion needed to complete the swim.

BUT, the majority of the time, fatigue in more mental. Mental, you say? Like in the brain?

YES! Mental fatigue is much more common in day-to-day life, and can show up in many different ways: lack of focus or mental clarity, lack of motivation, depression, irritability, stress and tension, inability to multi-task, and especially heavy BRAIN FOG.

Why, oh why, the fatigue?

I could go on and on about why people feel fatigued… but i won’t. INSTEAD, I will give you a few reasons why people feel fatigued [despite a clean diet and consistent exercise].

Reasons why fatigue hits:

– Less than 7 hours of sleep each night (this is the recommended amount for an average adults)

– Poor nutrition; consuming low-energy, low-nutrient, quick-burning foods.

– Consuming sleep aids and not allowing enough time for it to flush out of the system, or consuming high caffeine and high sugar foods that could give you an initial boost of energy… but who actually wants the jitters or difficulty falling asleep that follows?

– Dehydration: lack of fluid intake, especially water.

– Sedentary lifestyle, this effects everything! Work at a desk? Being hunched over a desk compresses the diaphragm muscles and reduces the volume of oxygen that one is able to breath in. The lack of oxygen contributes greatly to fatigue.

– Brian fog; that haziness that can show up in the afternoon… or really anytime in the day.

– Focusing in on one thing for too long may create mental fatigue, as well.

What can I do about it?

– Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night, especially the days following a night of sleep deprivation (i.e. work deadlines). Pay attention to how your body feels after 5-6 hours of sleep versus 7-8 hours of sleep, your body will tell you what it needs.

– Drink more water to hydrate your brain cells. Water can help with short-term and long-term memory, mathematics, and overall focus. The average adult loses about 80 ounces of water each day by sweating, breathing, and eliminating wastes. If you are not getting close to an intake of 80 ounces of water (in food and drink) each day, then don’t expect to be at tip-top performance.

– Get moving! Exercise increases oxygen intake, and reduces tension and stress. Aim for 30-60 minutes of moderately strenuous exercise most days of the week to keep your energy levels in check.

– Take breaks. For every hour of work, take a 10-minute break to get up and move, read a blog or book, stretch, hydrate. That way, when you return back to your work, you will be able to refocus.

– Breathing exercises; these help to increase oxygen flow to the brain, reduce stress and create mindfulness.

– Eat for energy. Consume high-energy, slow-burning foods full of nutrients and variety. Stay away from white breads, pastas, and sugars. These all lead to a blood sugar spike, followed by a blood sugar (and energy) CRASH. Healthier options are sprouted breads, whole grain pastas, natural sugar substitutes (i.e. Stevia), high-fiber veggies, healthy fats and higher-protein foods to slow digestion down.

What about energy drinks/supplements?

Things to avoid when choosing an energy drink/supplement:

– SUGAR! Talk about sugar-high… A 16 ounce can of RockStar Punched Guava has 78 grams of sugar, that’s more than 15 spoonfuls of sugar. Companies use glucose, sucrose, fructose, and high-fructose corn syrup on the ingredients label to make it harder to figure out how much total sugar you’re actually drinking. Too much sugar send your body into shock, stressing-out your pancreas and jacking up your insulin production.

– The potential for a terrible crash. Stay away from stimulant-based energy drinks, these give you a quick burst of energy until you fell like you are falling off the energy cliff (CRASH!). These products typically leave you feeling worse than before you consumed them.

– Artificial ingredients, such as colors, sweeteners and flavors. Why stuff your body full of chemical dyes, artificial sweeteners, and lab-created flavorings? Artificial colors have lead to adverse reactions, including migraines. Artificial sweeteners are [on average] 1,000 times more sweet than sugar and leave you with an aggressive sweet tooth. And, fake raspberry will never taste better than real raspberry. Period.

– Too much caffeine, leading you to jitter territory. Even natural caffeine sources, such as guarana, can over-stress the body with jitters.

– Avoid pre-mixed energy drinks. Choose all-natural energy drinks that come in a powdered form. This allows you to control the type of water you are consuming, and helps reduce waste in landfills.

Here are a few natural options to add to your nutrition toolbox for a healthy buzz:

– Find your feel-good flow with Axio all-natural energy drinks, formulated by elite athlete and nutritional biochemist Shawn Talbott, PhD. Some of the key ingredients include green tea, New Zealand pine bark, L-theanine and quercetin. They are naturally flavored, naturally colored, and naturally sweetened with Stevia (low calorie). I personally drink 2 of these daily for a dose of brain food, steady energy during my workouts, and crystal clear focus throughout the day.

– Get your morning buzz with the South American tea called Yerba Mate. This tea has a higher caffeine content than other teas, enough to replace your morning cup of coffee. This tea can be brewed or even found in many meal replacement options. I like starting my morning with the RAW Yerba Mate Meal Replacement, especially as a healthy breakfast option when I travel.

– If you feel like you cannot make it to lunchtime without taking a nap, try a rhodiola supplement. This natural plant extract helps to multiply energy molecules. Choose a supplement that has rhodiola as the main ingredient, start with a 100 mg per day (can increase to 200 mg), and keep an eye out for artificial ingredients or fillers. Make sure your supplements are certified by the NSF to know that what you are taking is safe.


Resources:

http://www.ehow.com/how_4495093_maintain-mental-focus.html

http://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/you-illuminated/201010/why-your-brain-needs-water

http://www.waterbenefitshealth.com/water-and-brain.html

http://www.lifevantage.com/blog/the-9-biggest-mistakes-inside-most-energy-drinks/

http://bestfutureyou.com/2015/03/28/12-fitness-tips-from-the-worlds-fittest-ceo/

http://www.doctoroz.com/slideshow/energy-boosters?gallery=true&page=1

http://www.diet-blog.com/07/the_7_most_sugar_filled_drinks.php

http://www.forbes.com/sites/rachelhennessey/2012/08/27/living-in-color-the-potential-dangers-of-artificial-dyes/

New Beginnings on mbrooksfit!

Hello fabulous mbrooksfit followers! Thank you all for your unwavering support with my blog! I am so grateful and know that I couldn’t do it without all of you!

As for new beginnings, I will be amping things up on mbrooksfit over the next few months! Beginning this week I will releasing a 12-week series of blog posts featuring popular (and not-so-popular) nutrition, wellness and fitness topics. Example topics include: sleep, recovery, longevity, hydration, energy, and many more! If you have a specific topic you would like to read about, email me at mbrooksfit@gmail.com. Unfortunately I cannot address every topic if more than 12 come in, but I will do my best to honor you requests!!!

Each Monday I will release a new post, so subscribe to my blog now so you do not miss out on any helpful information! Share my blog with your friends so they can join in on all the goodness, too!

Week 1 Topic: Energy (Monday 4/6/15)

-How fatigue shows up throughout the day.

-Reasons why we feel fatigued.

-Safe ways to increase our energy.

I am super excited to start this 12-week series! Please feel free to reach out with questions, comments or feedback!

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I wish you all a Happy Easter and a Happy Passover weekend! Enjoy this special time with your family and friends, and try not to overdo it with the chocolate bunnies! =)

We made it!

Day 3 of the Reception Cleanse completed and we (the hubby and I) feel like champs! The last day was somehow a million times easier than the second day, maybe because the end was near, so we powered through our 4 drinks and around 6:30 PM we celebrated with some delicious Chipotle (vegetarian for me of course!).

So what did I learn from this experience? Good question!

I learned that definitely need to be better hydrated, I felt so clean (for lack of a better word) and full of energy on this 3-day cleanse since I was drinking 64 ounces each day before eating anything. Well at least on days 1 & 3 I felt energetic.

I learned that I let food control my emotions, HANGRY anyone? On day 2 my hunger definitely got the best of me and vegan drama queen broke loose!

I learned that the detoxes/cleanses are WAY more tolerable if you do them with a friend because when you complain, there’s someone who understands, and who just doesn’t think you’re crazy for not quitting and tells you to “just eat a burger.” So partner up!

I learned to really appreciate food, and chewing. As my co-cleanser said, “I would’ve killed for a cucumber.”

Lastly, after an inspiring phone call with another health coach and wellness professional, I learned that you CAN consume other things while doing a juice cleanse, for example: non-caffeinated herbal teas. That would’ve been a game-changer since I constantly felt cold from drinking raw juices.

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In conclusion: I recommend trying a juice cleanse. Do it in a way that works for YOU! Whether thats starting each day with 1 raw juice or “lemon-aid” or going full-fledged juice detox for a couple days, do what your body wants! Good luck!

Happy 2015!! #rad2014

**BIG SHOUT OUT to my buddy Dan “Gumbi” Cumberland for completing the cleanse with us! YOU ROCK!

‘Tis the Season to Cleanse

Day 2 of the Reception Cleanse completed!

Today was 300% more challenging than yesterday. I guess i was all excited about getting cleansed from inside out that I didn’t think about being hungry yesterday. Today, not so much. I had my Pomegranate Lemon-Aid around 10:00 AM, half of a raw-vegan egg nog around 11:00 AM (bonus drink!), and my Green Goddess around 1:00 PM. Then I became so hungry I thought I was going to do something terrible… like, eat bacon-wrapped liver or something. I survived the next couple hours by downing the Cashew Mylk, which was way less milkshake-tasting than yesterday. I suppose I had an aggressive case of HANGRINESS, you can ask my hubby (but he was also struggling). Somehow I made it to 5:00 PM when I drank my last juice of the day, Daily Green, which got me through hot yoga at Corepower. And SOMEHOW I was still thirsty after consuming only beverages all day. Weird.

Dinner was glorious tonight: Jasmine rice, roasted veggies (butternut squash, broccoli, and portabella), and an Asian vermicelli-cabbage stir-fry. All topped with Sriracha! Food! Chewing! Saltiness!

Only one more day to go! We will survive!

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Some of the Reception Cleanse carnage.

P.S. The [seasonal] Raw Vegan Egg Nog from Puree Juice Bar in Bethesda, MD, is CRAZY DELICIOUS! Get it while they’re still making it! It will change your life!

Goals will be Smashed!

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We are 2/3 of the way through 2014, so it is time to look at my 2014 goals, and where I stand (yikes!):

1. #rad2014- I definitely attempt to sweat every damn day, but I will admit that working out at Foundry Fitness pushes me very close to the max… so I do try to take a rest day here and there. Need to add in more yoga (hopefully I will be teaching soon!)

2. Eating clean–> I have been 95% vegan the past few months (eating an egg here and there… oh, and the bday crab feast. LOL, I am a true Marylander!), but I could always improve. I do have a big interest in raw foods and juicing, and definitely try to avoid processed foods when possible. Food preparation is the biggest part of eating healthy, so I need to make the commitment to myself to focus on what I put in my body.

3. My sanity- I need to meditate more. I have not worked on this goal very much, but I did purchase a book called The Power of the Subconscious Mind. I will tell you how that goes =) I try to enjoy life everyday, see the silver lining of every experience, and keep myself in a constant state of learning.

4. I have re-immersed myself back in social media. Facebook has caused me a bit of trouble but creating a better filter on who I connect with will help prevent further “issues.” I will get more pictures out through Instagram (@mbrooksfit), promise! As for the YouTube Channel, please be patient because I am getting some good ideas together for when I get re-certified as a trainer. And on THAT note…

5. I have officially committed to getting my ACSM Personal Training Certification. I have one month to study, and already informed my accountability partner. I WILL sit for the exam the week of September 8th. And I WILL pass it on the first try 😉 I already have a potential gig set up with a really awesome gym, so stay tuned!

6. My goal is to inspire others to live their dreams, whatever they are. I would love to inspire everyone I meet, but if I could help just one person make the decision to change their life and create the life they always wanted… then I have succeeded.

change life