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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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! =)

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!

February Fitness Challenge

No reason NOT to workout everyday!

Just as I promised, I came up with my own daily fitness challenge for the month of February. Because I have a passion for HIIT workouts AND yoga, I decided to have the challenge focus on BOTH! The theme is #ShowMeYourAxio, and each daily challenge is inspired by #AxioEndure (yoga postures) or #AxioEnergy (HIIT exercises). My co-hosts are Personal Trainer Joel Leos (Washington, DC) and Crossfit Mobility Coach Jesse Zastrow (Charlotte, NC). Take a look at our Instagrams to see videos and pictures of our daily challenges. ALSO, it’s not too late to join the challenge and start posting! Just remember to tag #ShowMeYourAxio, #AxioEndure or #AxioEnergy, and all 3 challenge hosts in your posts!

February Challenge Calendar

February Fitness Challenge FAQs:

Q: What if I am unable to do the daily challenge the same way as the hosts?

A: Complete each daily challenge to the best of your ability. Use modifications for yoga postures, or look up prep poses to post instead. For HIIT exercises, there is always the option to leave out weights, or modify body-weight exercises. Honor where you body is now and practice non-judgement.

Q: What if I don’t remember to post every day?

A: We are only human! Things happen (stuck in the mountains with no phone service, internet connection is down, you’re not feeling well, you just plain forgot, etc), and it’s OKAY! Either post your missed challenges when you remember, or just move on to the next one. No one will punish you for missing a day, or two, or three…

Q: What the *BLEEP* is Axio? It’s in every tag!

A: Axio is the most incredible “energy” drink, EVER! It is made of Green Tea Extract, New Zealand Pine Bark, DMAE, L-Theanine, B Vitamins, …, and QUERCETIN! What do these ingredients do? What DON’T they do?!?! Green Tea provides antioxidants and physical energy; New Zealand Pine Bark promotes mental clarity, focus and positive mood; Quercetin is a powerful flavenoid that boost cellular protection! Best of all: no jitters, no crash, no sugar, no artificial flavors or colorings, and NO CRAP. This is super good for you, and should be marketed as BRAIN FOOD. Love, love, love! You can learn more about it, and purchase it here: https://www.mylifevantage.com/totalfreedom#axio

Green is good.

Have you had your GREEN today?

Leafy greens are some of the easiest and most beneficial vegetables to incorporate into your daily routine. Densely packed with energy and nutrients, they grow upward to the sky, absorbing the sun’s light while producing oxygen. Members of this royal green family include kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, mustard greens, arugula, dandelion greens, broccoli rabe, watercress, beet greens, bok choy, napa cabbage, green cabbage, spinach and broccoli.

How do greens benefit our bodies? They are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous and zinc, and are a powerhouse for vitamins A, C, E and K. They are crammed full of fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals. Their color is associated with spring, which is a time to renew and refresh vital energy. In traditional Asian medicine, the color green is related to the liver, emotional stability and creativity. Greens aid in purifying the blood, strengthening the immune system, improving liver, gall bladder and kidney function, fighting depression, clearing congestion, improving circulation and keeping your skin clear and blemish free.

Leafy greens are the vegetables most missing from the American diet, and many of us never learned how to prepare them. Start with the very simple recipe below. Then each time you go to the market, pick up a new green to try. Soon you’ll find your favorite greens and wonder how you ever lived without them.

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Cook this: Shiitake and Kale

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

 Ingredients:

1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms

1 tablespoon olive oil

1-2 cloves crushed garlic

1 bunch kale, chopped

pinch of salt

Directions:

1. Warm oil in pan on medium heat with minced garlic until aromas of garlic are released, about 2-3 minutes.

2. Add chopped shiitake mushrooms, stir-fry for 5 minutes.

3. Add chopped kale, stir-fry for a couple of minutes.

4. Add a splash of water and pinch of salt to pan, cover and let steam for 4 minutes.

 ** Make it ASIAN STYLE by mixing in minced ginger root, a tsp of sesame oil and 3 Tbsp of low-sodium soy sauce/tamari/shoyu/Bragg’s Liquid Aminos. Top with toasted sesame seeds.

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

28-day flyer pic

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)