Brooke Merritt once believed that the fit physiques that filled fitness magazines were all women without children, but after some research she realized many were moms-just like her. This information changed her life and set her on a new journey. Passionate about her new-found goals, Brooke turned to the weight room to transform her body. Following a very practical and realistic plan, Brooke has exceeded her goals and found the fit mom lifestyle right where she belongs. Join me in celebrating Brooke, and if you’re an Inspirational Mom, please submit your story here.
Kim: Share a little about you.
Brooke: My name is Brooke Merritt and I am a 26-year-old mother of Noah (age 4) and Isabelle (age 2). I am originally from California, but live in Georgia where my husband and I settled down after getting out of the military.
Kim: Have you gone through a transformation?
Brooke: I have gone through a transformation in the last year that has really changed my life, and in turn changed my family’s life for the better. After my daughter’s 1st birthday last fall I decided I needed a change. I was so unhappy with where I was physically and mentally. I had been a distance runner for about 3 years, and had completed a number of races including full and half marathons. Still I couldn’t get my body the way I had wanted after having 2 kids. I had always been interested in competing after reading Muscle Fitness Hers and Oxygen for years, but thought that was something only women with no kids did. I thought it would require unheard of sacrifices, and how could a mother balance something like that. After stumbling upon several women who were mothers (including you Kim) I was so inspired and encouraged. On December 1, 2011 I said that was it, and decided to change my life. I stopped running and instead starting lifting weights and slowly cleaning up my diet. I measured my progress by taking pictures every 4 weeks, and 12 weeks in I was so shocked by the difference, I decided to take the next step and hire a coach to compete in a figure competition. My competition was set for August 25, 2012, but first I would have to get through my final semester of college in the spring of 2012. I completed my student teaching, earned my Special Education degree, balanced motherhood, and pushed through my diet and training. I eventually went on to win my height class and overall in the Jr. division of my first figure competition.
Kim: How did you get your body back post-baby?
Brooke: After I had my daughter I dropped most my weight by running. I ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon when she was only 4 months old, and ran the Athen’s, GA Half Marathon when she turned 1. After my daughter turned 1 and I decided I wanted to transform my body, I started lifting heavy 5 days a week with no cardio. After 3 months I put back in 30 min of cardio everyday. I ate clean, with no processed food or sugar.
Kim: Anything you’ve accomplished you would like to share?
Brooke: I have not only ran 2 full marathons and 2 half marathons, I also won 1st place in the Jr. Division at my first figure competition.
Kim: What is your favorite fit-mom, fit-family meal? Snack? Any go to items?
Brooke: My favorite fit-mom snack would have to be rice cakes and almond butter. My kids go crazy over rice cakes and almond butter. it’s something they can eat in the morning on the way to the school, or for a late afternoon snack. I also love greek yogurt because it’s something they can eat any time of the day as well. Both are easy to grab and go for busy moms.
Kim: Favorite Fit-Family activity?
Brooke: My favorite fit-family activity would be walking or jogging with my kids. I have a double jogger that my kids love to ride in. They will grab snacks and we will head out the door. If I don’t feel like running, I sometimes do walk/run intervals which keeps my heart rate up while I’m pushing them in the stroller.
Kim: How do you stay fit amidst a hectic schedule and manage to do it all?
Brooke: I stay fit by planning ahead. I pack snacks and meals the night before. I lay out my gym clothes, and my kids outfits for school the night before. I’ve even gotten our water bottles ready and in the fridge for the next day. I believe the more prepared you are, the smoother the day goes. I keep my gym bag and my kids bags in the car and hardly ever get them out. So wherever we go, they have a change of clothes, wipes, pull-ups, and all I have to do is throw their snack and water bottle in, in the morning. I cook large quantities of meat, and either sweet potatoes or quinoa once a week and keep it stored in the fridge. I take a day out of the week to cut and wash all my veggies and fruit and keep them in the fridge for easy grabbing. All these things end up saving me time throughout the week when we are in a hurry, and allows me to make time to workout. I workout every day at the same time, and make it an appointment with myself that I refuse to miss. When you schedule your workouts at a certain time of the day, instead of going when you can, you rarely have an excuse not to go.
Kim: Words of motivation and inspiration for other moms?
Brooke: Advice I would give to other moms who are wanting to transform themselves would be, take baby steps. You can’t change your whole life over night. Start small, and write down and organize your thoughts on what you want to change in your life. Challenge yourself to change one thing a week, whether it be cutting out a certain type of food, or scheduling in a workout and sticking to it. The 2nd piece of advice would be: patience. You are not going to see or feel brand new over night. Or even in a few weeks. Give yourself some time, maybe a few months, for all the handwork to catch up to you.
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