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!}

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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

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! =)

let’s play catch[up]

Holy cow! This has been an exciting month of March, and it’s not even half way! Well, let me back up a couple weeks… My hosts and I completed the #ShowMeYourAxio February Challenge, and it was a blast! Besides the exercises and yoga posture being challenging, themselves, the REAL challenge was creating the TIME in our busy schedules to video/photo ourselves and remember to post! Huge shout out to Joel Leos and Jesse Zastrow for sticking to it! You guys rock!

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Update #2- For those of you that already follow me on Instagram (@mbrooksfit), you probably know about my annoying, little injury: my “broken” second toe on my right foot. Kids, do not wear too small snowboarding boots for 3 days straight. Just don’t do it. Since this silly mistake, resulting in a swollen and unhappy toe… I have had to cut down on the cardio (jumping, plyometrics, etc) to protect my sad toe, and I have focused more on lifting and proper form. I pick up heavy objects, and I put them back down {safely]. This change-up in my workout routine has really gotten me PUMPED (literally!) about full-body strength-training. I hear it is ideal for women to build muscle mass and bone density in their late-twenties to early-thirties… I read that somewhere, a few times. I found an interesting article about women and bone density, enjoy!  http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/bone/osteoporosis/bone_mass.asp

Update #3- my ever-changing “diet”: the hubby and I have been on a VEGAN, no processed carbohydrate, no added sugar “diet” for the past 25 days! It is a 28-day plan, and I am super proud of us! Ben (hubby) has lost 12 lbs! Though, this is not the diet we plan on maintaining after the 28 days, it has taught us valuable lessons about healthy habits, reading labels and menus a little closer, and opened our eyes about the amount HIDDEN sugar we consume every day! It is in EVERYTHING, it seems. After these 28 days are over (Friday), I have a plan to continue avoiding processed carbohydrates, avoiding foods with added sugars, avoiding all dairy products, and then adding-in organic eggs and wild-caught salmon. I’ve been dying for those two things! My goal is to de-bloat, feed my body what feels good, and to keep up the healthy habits I have been developing over the past 25 days (more like 10 years!). Anyone and everyone is welcome to join me on this healthful journey to discovering the magical foods that empower YOUR body! If you want to share your goals with me, feel free to email me at mbrooksfit@gmail.com

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Well that is all for now! Stay tuned for another exciting post!

2015 = Best Year Ever!

2015 Will be my best year ever… well, my best year since I was born… THAT was an AWESOME year =)

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Why I think 2015 will be so great?

1. I started teaching yoga at Foundry Fitness in The Kentlands (Gaithersburg, MD)! This has been an amazing experience! Even though I am still working on building my community of yogis, I have already discovered my passion for teaching. I love connecting with my students, helping them discover the yogi within, and giving my students a full-body workout that improves flexibility, strength and balance.

2. I’m in a fantastic continuing education yoga training program at Corepower Yoga in Bethesda, MD. Their Extensions Program has already blown me away! (it has only been a week!) Learning to manage the environment, build a playlist, find my yogi voice, and practice assists/adjusts… the yogi teacher knowledge!!! NAMASTE!!!

3. I have fully committed myself to building my current business. I have partnered with the best company in the world… the mission statement is “We make people better, and in doing so we make the world a better place.” I told myself that I deserve ABUNDANCE, FREEDOM, and the chance for ultimate PERSONAL GROWTH. I am passionate in finding business partners who are motivated, fun, natural-leaders, caring, grateful, creative, coachable, healthy, powerful, strong, and have the burning desire for change in their lives!!! We were put on this Earth to be more than an employee, to be worth more than an hourly wage, and to do more than live for the weekend. INSPIRE CHANGE TODAY.

4. I will be a model 27-28 year-old. This will be my healthiest year: nutrition, strength, mobility, flexibility, balance, confidence, spirituality, love, honesty, gratitude, community… continuing 2014’s theme of #rad2014 … Cheers to a #rad2015 !!!

What will YOU do in 2015? SHARE in the comments section!

Ready to Lose Weight and Become the “Healthy Friend”?

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Sick and tired of being sick and tired? It’s time to join the wellness revolution and take part in my 28-Day Total Transformation Bootcamp!

You will learn how to set goals, figure out your diet blueprint, take time to de-stress and relax, and discover different ways to exercise and get moving! AND THERE’S MORE: you will receive 3 one-on-one sessions* with ME to personalize your program experience!

Ready to go?!? Register today!

*via Skype, phone, or in-person (local)