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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Hey Sleepy-head! I’m talking to you!

Wellness series blog post 2 of 12, and we are discussing one of my favorite topics: SLEEP!

An adequate amount of quality shut eye is crucial for optimal health and wellbeing. Lacking in zzz’s can lead to negative side effects, such as decreased mental alertness and concentration, increased risk of accidents and injuries, weight gain, decreased mood, suppressed immune function, and increased risk of chronic disease.

Let’s take a look at the less visible consequences of sleep deprivation:

1. Increased Cellular Stress

– In everyday activities, you are exposed to various internal (by-products from cellular processes) and external (toxins, pollutants, and chemicals) stressors. These stressors create tiny free radicals, which sole purpose is to wreck havoc, resulting in cellular damage. While you sleep, your body works to repair this free radical damage throughout the body. Without sleep, the build up of free radicals leads to damage within your cells, and though the effects may go unnoticed for some time… the long-term effects could lead to permanent damage to your health.

2. Decreased Brain Function

– Contrary to popular belief, your brain is in super active mode while you sleep. One vital role of sleep is allowing the brain to create, solidify and consolidate memories from events that day. These bits and pieces of info are processed and transferred from short-term to long-term memory in our sleep (consolidation). In addition to making memories, the brain is also working to clear out dangerous toxins that have accumulated through everyday life. Therefore, without proper sleep, you are preventing your brain from performing important housekeeping tasks that are necessary for optional functioning.

3. Hormonal Imbalances

During waking hours your body releases hormones (cortisol, adrenaline, and glucagon) essential for maintaining homeostasis. When you sleep, levels of these hormones drop and your body starts releasing a set of hormones that are involved in growth and repair processes. Without adequate sleep, we are exposed to higher and prolonged levels of daytime hormones which have been shown to have widespread negative effects on the body, including: blood sugar imbalances, increased muscle protein breakdown, elevated blood pressure, lowered immune function, and increased inflammation.

Struggling to maintain a healthy weight? Hormones regulating appetite are profoundly influenced by sleep duration. Surprise surprise! Inadequate sleep is associated with reductions in leptin (hormone for appetite suppressant) and elevations in ghrelin (hormone for appetite stimulation). This imbalance results in increased feelings of hunger, and likely overeating.


How can you improve your snooze?

  1. Try catching a few more hours of sleep each night. (Obviously!) Get ready for bed (and ready to sleep!) 15 minutes earlier every couple days to move your bedtime up.
  2. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends and on vacation. This helps to regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
  3. Monitor your intake before bedtime. Avoid eating too much or too little, try to reduce the amount you drink before bed, and limit your intake of caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol right before you go to sleep. Both caffeine and nicotine have stimulatory effects and though alcohol may make you sleepy initially, it can disrupt your sleep later in the night.
  4. Make your bedroom more sleep friendly. Reduce noise or create background noise with a fan, and keep your room cool and dark. Turn off your electronics (including your smart phone!). The blue light from electronics stimulates your mind and can suppress melatonin production, a hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle.
  5. Increase your physical activity. Exercise is associated with better quality sleep., but avoid exercising too close to bedtime as it may leave you too energized to fall asleep.

But let’s get real, making time for eight hours in your day for uninterrupted shut-eye isn’t always possible. So, let’s discuss what you CAN do to reduce the less visible side effects of sleep loss, and keep your body working at an optimal level.

1. Try taking an NRF2-activating supplement, like Protandim, that is formulated to combat cellular stress.

– Protandim repairs damaged cells by activating cellular anti-stress genes and increasing production of internal protective enzymes and proteins.

-Protandim helps the brain recharge. Those powerful protective enzymes and proteins (i.e., SOD, catalase, & glutathione peroxidase) work to clear out toxins in the brain, which may reduce wear and tear on the brain that is linked to impaired learning and memory.

-Protandim supports the adrenal and thyroid glands, two key players in regulating hormonal balance, and helps regulate hormones involved in many functions including: the stress response, energy metabolism, immune function, and blood pressure.

Experience and learn more about Protandim HERE.

2. Try taking an all-natural, multi-dimensional energy product, like Axio, that not only provides a physical boost of energy, but also improves mental clarity.

-Axio is an anti-fatigue, non-stimulant energy drink. Axio works by blocking the activity of a neuromodulator (i.e., adenosine) that makes you feel tired, and stimulating the release of hormones (i.e., adrenaline) that enhance mental alertness and increase energy levels.

-Axio increases the transmission of neurotransmitters (e.g., dopamine, acetylcholine, & serotonin) involved in the regulation of mood and emotional stability.

-Axio helps boost cellular protection, promotes normal brain and nervous system function, and helps improve learning performance, focus, and mental acuity.

Experience and learn more about Axio HERE.

Thank you for reading! Please email me with specific questions at mbrooksfit@gmail.com

Stay tuned for next week’s Wellness Series Blog Post… Recovery =)


References:

Cauter, E.V., Knutson, K., Leproult, R., and Spiegel, K. (2005). The impact of sleep deprivation on hormones and metabolism. Retrieved from http://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/502825.

Talbott, S. (2014). Deadly antioxidants.

Lisk, C. et al. (2013). Nrf2 activation: a potential strategy for the prevention of acute mountain sickness. Free Radic Biol Med 63: 264-273.

McEwen, B.S. (2006). Sleep deprivation as a neurobiologic and physiologic stressor. Metabolism Clinical and Experimental 55(2): S20-S23.

http://sleepfoundation.org/excessivesleepiness/content/why-do-we-need-sleep

http://www.lifevantage.com/blog/sleep-deprivation/

Merck Manuals. (2013). Endocrine function. Retrieved fromhttp://www.merckmanuals.com/home/hormonal_and_metabolic_disorders

NIH. (2014). Brain basics: understanding sleep. Retrieved fromhttp://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brain_basics/understanding_sleep.htm.

Randall, M. (2011). The physiology of stress: cortisol and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Retrieved fromhttp://dujs.dartmouth.edu/fall-2010/the-physiology-of-stress-cortisol-and-the-hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-axis#.VPfypS5iu28.

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!

Detox Just to Retox

Screw that “I’m going to wait until after the New Year to get healthy” mentality! Start NOW!

The hubby and I decided to start out health goals early with a beginner juice cleanse; preparing for the New Year’s Eve celebration and balancing the Christmas cookie overhaul.

We chose to try the Puree Juice Bar Reception Cleanse: 4 raw vegan juices during the day, then vegetarian/vegan dinner of your choice in the evening. It also allows the occasional adult beverage =)

Here is the flyer:

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Just finished Day 1, and it wasn’t too bad! Woke up SUPER hungry because we went out salsa dancing last night and had a few adult drinks, so the Pomegranate Lemon-Aid was not the most satisfying. Fortunately my body adapts well to these cleanses so I wasn’t starving when I drank the Daily Green after a quick yoga practice teaching session at the gym. Around 2:00 PM, my tummy started rumbling so I mixed up the cleanse order and had the Cashew Mylk, next, to get some protein and fat into my digestive system. I felt so much better after that! AND it tastes like a melted vanilla milkshake! Of course Ben and I saved the “best” drink for last: Green Goddess, which is like a juiced salad. Tastes like liquid celery, very “clean.” I definitely missed the sweetness that pineapple and apple gave to the Daily Green, but got through it so I could enjoy our delicious vegan dinner. We celebrated day 1 with homemade vegan summer rolls with a soy-honey-peanut sauce. DELICIOUS! CRUNCHY! I definitely appreciated being able to chew my food!

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Two more days to go! Cheers to health!