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

Kayla-Itsines-pic           dana linn bailey pic

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/

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

Yoga Posture A Day Keeps the Doctor Away?

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I keep falling behind on my many yoga challenges: #beSTRONGin2015 and #rebelresolutions Oops! I’ll catch up soon!

NEWSFLASH! I’m creating my own daily fitness challenge for February. Each day will feature a specific exercise or yoga posture, both because I believe in cross-training for a complete balance of strength, flexibility and cardio. The tag for the challenge will be #ShowMeYourAXIO with each day themed for AXIO Energy Volt  or AXIO Endure Charged, the 2 “energy” drinks I use for interval & strength training, yoga practices, mental clarity and overall wellness. Get ready for 28 days of fun!!!

Follow me on INSTAGRAM as @mbrooksfit to join the challenge (I will post information on how to join the challenge, and each daily challenge the evening before it’s featured). Follow me on my adventure to become the best version of myself!

It’s coming! HFIC Conference 2014!

Calling all health and fitness pros! (or want-to-be pros!) This is a conference you won’t want to miss!

2014 Health and Fitness Influencers Conference

Hosted by Well LLC

October 26-28, 2014

Harbourtowne Golf & Conference Center

St. Michaels, MD

Registration is open!

(save $20 with my personal code “MelissaB”)

Sponsored by Lululemon Athletica and Complete Nutrition

Come check out all the great speakers, an outdoor yoga class sponsored by lululemon athletica, a run by the water and endless nuggets of information on how to become a health and fitness professional. I am so excited to learn from my fellow professionals! Here are some of the cool lecture & workshop topics:

  • Learn about industry trends
  • Explore new marketing strategies
  • Develop personal branding
  • Explore career options
  • Explore niche marketing
  • Expanding your reach
  • Starting your blogging career

I will be leading a workshop on how to start a health and fitness blog if you’re a newbie. It’ll be the first time I teach at a conference, so come out and support me!!!

Register today at eventsbywell.com!!!! See you there!

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New Shoe Sunday… on Monday!

I wanted to get a second run in with this week’s shoe before my review, hence why New Shoe Sunday is yet again featured on Monday =) That my story, and I’m sticking to it!

This week’s new shoe:

Hoka One One Conquest $170

Featured in Competitor Magazine

Spring 2014 Fit, Feel, Ride Awards: Best Innovation

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1) Let’s Be Objective: (adapted from HokaOneOne.com)

MIDSOLE-

  • Full-length Rmat (R) midsole for maximal cushioning and suspension
  • Lightweight Hoka Cmeva Top midsole
  • Water Drainage System (WDS)
  • Early-stage Meta-Rocker
  • Lightweight External Heel Counter
  • 4mm Heel-to-Toe Offset (Heel 29mm : Forefoot 25mm)
  • Fluid Ground Contact Design

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UPPER-

  • Super Thin No-Sew Construction (reduce hotspots!)
  • Hoka Race-Lace System (RLS)
  • Gusseted Tongue and Comfort Collar
  • Weight 9.6 oz (women’s)
  • Comes with standard laces too!

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My Review:

FIT-

  • True-to-size. It will feel a little big at first, but when you hit the road with them you’ll appreciate the space. I like the fit best with a cushy sock, i.e. Balega’s Hidden Comfort Running Socks or Nike’s Elite Cushioned Running Socks.
  • A little more snug through the toe box than other Hoka One One models, but still have enough room to wiggle my toes and accommodate an orthotic.
  • Race Laces tighten easily and stay tight. If you have problems with heel slippage… you’ll have to cut them out and use standard laces.

FEEL-

  • Super lightweight! (despite the chunky look)
  • Extra ground contact and Meta-Rocker really helped me to attack hills.
  • Maximal cushioning under the forefoot and heel. Not squishy like the Bondi B, but responsive with an effective suspension system. My knees were happy, especially on the downhills.
  • Bucket seat feel around the heel gives lateral stability, so all you Brooks Adrenaline and New Balance 860 wearers: this one is for you too!

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Conclusion: I like them! The cushioning will be great for my future long runs, and the tread is deep enough to take them on the trails. With the 4 mm offset, these shoes are fast and functional for training runs and racing. Great all-around shoe! If you’re interested in trying them out, call your local Fleet Feet Sports to see if they’re in-stock. 

Local? Fleet Feet Sports Gaithersburg is hosting a Hoka One One Fun Run this Thursday, April 17th at 6:30 PM. Come by to try out the Conquest or other Hoka One One models! Love them? They will be 10% off that day only!

Thanks Hoka One One!

New Shoe Sunday… On Monday!

New Shoe Sunday... On Monday!

No New Shoe Review today, but I DO have goods news:
I bought my own pair of Adidas Energy Boost II’s!!!!!! They’re MINE!

Stay tuned for my shoe review of the New Balance Fresh (frickin’) Foam lightweight trainers. They’re brand-spankin’-new this season, and I’m test running those babies this Thursday! =)