Brianna Bernard was a new mother who had lost her sense of self until she hired a personal trainer and made some major changes. This is how she lost weight and gained a new career and outlook on life.
In October of 2012, I became a mom to a sweet little boy named Tye. After gaining 70 pounds during my pregnancy, my weight escalated to 245lb. At the time, I wasn’t overly concerned. Fast-forward a year and I hadn’t exercised or watched what I ate the entire year. My knees and feet hurt from carrying around extra weight. I was always tired, and felt embarrassed when I would see a picture of myself. Unconsciously, I gave up on myself. I stopped taking care of my needs. I thought I was going to be this size for the rest of my life. The bottom line was that I didn’t feel like me anymore. My life was all about Tye and that was OK because I loved motherhood.
A TURNING POINT
In August 2013, I picked up a copy of People magazine’s, “How They Lost 100lbs” issue. Inside, I found the story a woman who lost 130-pounds, who was also from Minneapolis. She had hired a local personal trainer and I thought – if this gym and this man could have such a profound impact on this woman’s life and health, maybe he can help me, too. I scheduled three personal training sessions per week, altered my eating habits – and one year later, I had lost 100 pounds. And it changed my life in every way.
It changed my relationship with food and exercise. It changed the way I feel about myself. It changed the way I parent my child. It gave me the courage to leave a marriage that was no longer serving me and become a single, working mom. It introduced me to competitive powerlifting and the physical strength I found in that sport spilled over into every other area of my life. And it inspired me to become a Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach and help others define what strong means to them.
LEVEL UP WITH A COACH
When I started my weight-loss journey, I hired a personal trainer to hold me accountable and trained with up to three other clients per session, who were at similar fitness levels with comparable goals. We bonded over challenging workouts and those people became like family. I looked forward to my workouts because I got to spend time with some of my favorite people. We laughed. We had fun. We pushed each other – and we worked really hard.
I went from eating sugary cereal, fettuccine Alfredo, pizza and ice cream every day to oatmeal with protein powder, grilled chicken breasts and asparagus, and salmon with roasted Brussels sprouts. I started drinking one gallon of water every day, logged my food in MyFitnessPal – and the weight started coming off. Now that I am maintaining my weight instead of losing, my diet really hasn’t changed much. I simply get to eat a few hundred more calories each day because I am no longer trying to create a deficit.
PLAN FOR DIETARY SUCCESS
The reason people are not successful is because the diet isn’t sustainable long term for their lifestyle. I believe that is why I have been able to maintain my weight loss for the past four years. I don’t follow any one diet specifically, I just do what works for my life. Everyone is different and you have to do what works best for you. I come across many people who are looking for the magic pill or powder or a quick and easy fix to help them reach their goals. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that! You have to put in the work – eat well, drink water, train mindfully, get plenty of rest, and find healthy ways to manage stress. Supplements are meant to support these healthy habits – they are not a makeshift solution to a bigger problem.
EXERCISE FOR PLEASURE
I only do things I love to do. I think the most important question you need to ask yourself when starting a training regimen is, “What do I like?” That is the right workout program for you because that is the one you will follow! When I started on my weight loss journey, the majority of my workouts were total body focused and included elements of cardio and strength training. I’m not a runner and the thought of walking or running on a treadmill has always been daunting! So I have found other forms of cardio I enjoy – like boxing, wall balls, med ball slams, running stairs, battle ropes, plyometric movements, and indoor cycling. After I lost 107 pounds, I became a competitive powerlifter and am a state record holder in the bench press and deadlift for my weight class. When I’m preparing for a powerlifting competition, my training is broken into three-day splits – a bench press day, a deadlift day and a squat day.
MY TYPICAL DAY
Meal 1: 1 cup Quaker Old Fashioned Oatmeal with 1 scoop Isopure Dutch Chocolate protein powder and 2 tbsp Honeyville Organic powdered peanut butter; 1 cup black coffee
Meal 2: 1 cup raw almonds, 1 cup blueberries
Meal 3: 6 scrambled egg whites, 1 cup spinach, ½ avocado, 2 tsp, hot sauce
Meal 4: 4oz grilled filet mignon or top sirloin, 1 cup roasted asparagus
Meal 5: 4oz grilled cod, 1 cup steamed green beans, Isopure Anytime Energy
Meal 6: 4oz oven-roasted chicken breast, 1 cup steamed broccoli
Meal 7: 4oz broiled salmon, 1 cup roasted Brussels sprouts
Meal 8: 6 hard-boiled egg whites, 1 cup sugar snap peas
Step 1: Find a supportive community of like-minded people to help hold you accountable
Step 2: Focus on implementing one or two new healthy habits into your routine each week.
Step 3: Stay hydrated. Drink 100 to 128 ounces of water every day.
Step 4: Download the free MyFitnessPal app on your phone and log your food and beverages.
Step 5: Be mindful of your portion sizes – you can measure one serving using the size of your hand:
1 serving of protein = your palm
1 serving of veg = fist
1 serving of carbohydrates = cupped hand
1 serving of healthy fats = thumb
Step 6: Eat small meals every 2-4 hours and stop eating when you are 80% full.
Step 7: We do not need more willpower to eat well. We just need to make it more inconvenient to eat unhealthy. Replace unhealthy foods in your home with healthy food.
Step 8: Prepare all of your food in advance and portion it out in containers in your refrigerator.
Monday: chest & triceps
Supersets: 3 sets of 10
1-Barbell chest press
2-Narrow grip barbell chest press
1-Incline dumbbell chest press
2-Dumbbell skull crushers
2-Cable rope tricep pulldown
Tuesday: indoor cycling & abs
45-minutes of indoor cycling
Abs: 3 sets
Ab dolly/ab roller: 15 reps
V-ups: 15 reps or v-sit: (30 seconds)
Hand plank w/ knee to elbow (20 reps, 10 per side)
Wednesday: back & biceps
Pull-ups or cable lat pull downs (3 sets of 10)
Barbell deadlifts (3 sets of 10)
Single-arm high cable row (3 sets of 15 per arm)
1-Standing barbell bicep curls (3 sets of 10)
2-Seated cable rows (3 sets of 20)
1-Incline bench dumbbell bicep curls (8 together seated/8 alternating seated/8 alternating standing – 3 sets)
2-single arm dumbbell bent over row (3 sets of 15 per arm)
1-Cable pullovers (3 sets of 15
2-Cable rope hammer bicep curls (3 sets of 20 – rapid pace)
Thursday: kickboxing & abs
45-minutes of kickboxing
Abs: 3 sets
Forearm plank (60 seconds)
Leg raises (20 reps)
Side plank (30 seconds per side)
Friday: legs & glutes
Barbell back squats (3 sets of 15)
Dumbbell high hip deadlifts (3 sets of 15)
dumbbell lunges (3 sets of 20, 10 per leg)
Pause squats (hold at 90 degrees for three seconds – 3 sets of 8)
Standing hamstring curl machine (3 sets of 15 per leg)
Bulgarian split squats
(3 sets of 12 per leg)
Barbell hip thrusters
(3 sets of 12)
Resistance band side steps
(3 sets of 30 per leg)
Barbell front squats (3 sets of 12)
Supersets: 3 sets of 12
Standing barbell shoulder press
Plate front raises
Seated dumbbell shoulder press
Standing dumbbell lateral raises
Barbell upright rows
Cable rear delt flys
Cable face pulls
Resistance band wall crawl (up and down 3-4x)