Category Archives: Health and Beauty

Something I’ve had a passion for for years is nutrition. Why? Because I want to look good and feel good. I like things that have quick results, so I’m sharing the supplements I take every day. These products have a pretty instantaneous impact which as a true millennial I love, but it also helps me stay on track with remembering to take them because I like the way I feel more when I do than when I don’t.

I’m going to list them in order of how I take them throughout the day. Also, these products are clean and easily absorbable, so even if you don’t use these brands, make sure you use a brand that is not synthetic, easily absorbed by your body, etc.

1. George’s Aloe Vera Juice
Please note: Some of these brands could be subbed for others, but please don’t drink any aloe juice but George’s. The impact of aloe juice could be either very positive or very negative – depending on what part of the aloe is harvested, etc. George’s is very pure and uses the correct part of the plant.

I take 2 ounces of this every morning first thing on an empty stomach. (It looks and tastes just like water) It is incredibly anti-inflammatory and is amazing for your digestive system. If you suffer from any type of inflammation (or even if you don’t appear to, everyone has it. Did you know that inflammation and toxicity are the root of almost every disease?) This is a great way to treat what you might already have or reduce the inflammation in your body. Easy.

2. Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
I put 2 scoops of this in my coffee every morning and it gives me 18 grams of protein to start my day with 0 carbs and 0 fat. This is a dream product as I don’t always feel like drinking a protein shake and eating tons of meat. I noticed changes in my body pretty quickly – probably because I always drink my coffee on my way to work out and having some protein within an hour of your workout really helps with muscle building. This particular supplement is also amazing for your hair, skin, nails, joints, bones, and digestive health. It is basically tasteless and then I do my regular coffee routine, which for me is a stevia and a tablespoon of So Delicious French Vanilla Coconut Milk Creamer.

“Our modern diets lack the collagen that was once abundant in foods. Without dietary collagen, our body can’t replenish what’s missing. This can have an effect on our hair, skin and nails, and joints, ligaments and tendons as we age. Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides are collagen molecules that are small enough to get quickly absorbed and used by our body. This bioavailability is the reason people see improvements in how they look, feel and move after using Vital Proteins Collagen consistently.”

3. Core Health Pack
I’ve been taking these digestive enzyme, probiotic, antioxidant herb packs for probably 5 years now. Conviniently individually packaged, they’re so easy to just toss in your pocket or bag. (Read my post about them here.) Take a pack of them any time you eat food that’s cooked, they help you break down and absorb the nutrients in your food and keep your gut and overall body in good health. In fact, the night I met my husband I told him about them, and he took them for 3 years (incorrectly, lol) before we reconnected and I helped steer him in the direction of correctly taking them. hahaha He even came up to me at our wedding reception and handed me a pack of them. It was partially to be funny and partially because he knows I don’t like to have a meal and not have them. My version of romance?? YAS.

4. Omega 3/Vitamin D Blend
Did you know almost every man and woman in the US is deficient in Omega 3s and Vitamin D? In fact, Vitamin D deficiency is actually being linked to several types of cancer now. It also plays a large part in our overall feelings of happiness. Omega 3s help our brains and joints. I had taken various versions of these on and off over the years, but I don’t eat fish and in fact am really grossed out by it, so taking omega 3s has always been gag-worthy. However, this gem of a supplement doesn’t give you any gross fish taste, ever. I also love how pure and absorbable these are. I take two of them after a meal.

5. Thyroid Support Complex with Iodine
I started taking this supplement most recently because I developed a non cancerous cyst. My chiropractor (who I love and am obsessed with by the way – he’s literally changed my life but maybe that’s another post) told me if I took an iodine supplement my cyst would go away. I started researching and found this supplement which has many other great nutrients that support mental clarity, metabolism, and giving me extra energy. The energy is the benefit I’m loving the most. Not feeling like I need a nap every afternoon is a great feeling! Start by taking 1 per day with a meal and then build up to 2.

6. Mag07
Most adults in the US are also deficient in magnesium. I take two of these before bed every night. (You can take up to 5.) This will definitely keep you regular. Awkward to talk about, but you should be going to the bathroom every single day. If you’re not, you  are setting yourself up for health problems down the road. (Because remember, a huge part of your overall health is directly related to the health of your gut.)

All of these can be purchased on amazon which is super easy and some of the bottles will last you for at least a couple of months.  Shop below:

ICYMI: I got married on March 25th.
(Is everyone done with it yet?)

NO WORRIES TONS MORE POSTS TO COME! haha

I wanted to share what I wore to several of my most important wedding events. I agonized over these wardrobe choices, sent an annoying number of snapchats to my close friends, and spent way too much time shopping for these looks. If you have something important coming up, maybe this will help you narrow down your search.

Engagement Photos:
I put a lot of pressure on myself with what I was wearing in these photos. These pics last forever and I wanted to represent myself accurately. Luckily, my photographers (Love Is A Big Deal) are amazing and let me do a wardrobe change so I could have two completely different looks. Meg and Josh are a husband wife photo/video duo and are also the perfect mix of calming and hysterical. Any photo you see us dying laughing in is a genuine reaction to something they said and I have very few photos that have captured mine or Tim’s genuine smile. They killed it, I love these images so much!BrennaTimEngaged124My friend Chelsea found this whole look for me and it’s everything I love – green, off the shoulder, cool earrings. Loved it! BrennaTimEngaged125Awkward and uncoordinated much!? lol Photos by Love Is A Big Deal

Photo by Love Is A Big Deal
I wasn’t even looking for something else to wear, but came across this dress in a surprising location aka a store I never shop in when I was picking something up for Tim. You’ll probably see a million more pictures of me in this dress over time because I love it so much.BrennaTimEngaged094

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Bridal Shower:
I shared this look in a prior post about my shower, but I wanted to share it again here as well.

With my mom and sister at my bridal shower. Shop: | Dress | Earrings | Shoes | Photo by Kara McLeland

With my mom and sister at my bridal shower. I loved the fabric and it’s subtle metallic sheen and the scalloped hem. Shop: | Dress and here | Earrings | Shoes | Photo by Kara McLeland

Welcome Brunch:
I already had an outfit locked down for this brunch when I came across this fab skirt at UAL for $32. Bridal, beachy, chic, done. I couldn’t have been more excited to wear this. I’ve had the top forever from Muse. (Two of my favorite Nashville spots for my locals or those visiting)

With my bestie for the restie (who also does my hair and picked out my wedding gowns and veil #multitalented) Steven Fields

With my bestie for the restie (who also does my hair and picked out my wedding gowns and veil #multitalented) Steven Fields

Beauty:
I kept my makeup pretty much the same all wedding weekend. I did a similar look the weekend I won the Miss Tennessee USA pageant and so I felt like it was good luck. haha It must have worked because the whole wedding weekend went off without a hitch! SELFIE TIP: always take your selfie with natural light coming at you and a darker background – it hides a myriad of imperfections. This selfie was taken before I put on mascara, so don’t forget to do that!IMG_0564| Eyeshadows: pink, brown, dark brown, highlight | Eyeliner | Lipliner in “Posy Perfect” | Lipstick in “Medium Rare” | Blush | Foundation (It’s technically a concealer, but it’s thin and build able and I love it as a a foundation) | Powder | Brow Powder | Primer | Setting Spray | Contour Powder |

Rehearsal Dinner:
My friend Chelsea also scouted this dress for me. I usually have a really hard time wearing strapless because I have a more full bust, but this dress offers plenty of room and stretch. I thought this dress had a really flattering fit and was comfortable too. I like the flare it has but I also think I won’t hate it when I look at photos a few years down the road. I don’t think photos fully do it justice, but I got tons of compliments on it, I don’t think you’ll go wrong having this beauty in your closet. (I’m in between a 4 and 6 and a M fit me perfectly.)

Photo by Kara McLeland

Shop: Dress | Shoes (I’ve officially worn these about 100 times in the past month) | Photo by Kara McLeland 

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As you may know, fitness is at the forefront of my mind more than usual right now with my upcoming wedding in March. (!!!) I’ve loved working remotely with Scott Keppel who is an expert in both fitness and nutrition and is slowly changing my way of thinking from “eat way less to get skinny” to eat more to nourish your body and replace fat with muscle. He’s helped me find the right program that works with my lifestyle and so far I’ve lost 2 inches off my waist, whoop! I thought it would be helpful for him to answer some questions that had been plaguing me that I thought would resonate with most people. I’ve also sprinkled some awkward pictures of myself working out throughout this article for color and to break up the massive blob of text – enjoy! haha

1. What is the biggest misconception about losing weight/getting in
shape? 

“Often times, I get women who feel they need to lose weight, but in reality they want to lose body fat. As a coach, I educate my clients on the importance of not focusing on the scale and being more mindful of the changes that are being made in how they feel, how clothes fit, and overall how they are looking. Keep in mind, a pound of muscle is 3x smaller than the size of one pound of fat! In addition, 1lb of muscle can burn up to 4x’s the amount of calories in a day! A misconception a number of women have is that muscle weighs more than fat – this is not true. Muscle is more dense than fat (but again, 3 times smaller!), but a pound is a pound no matter what it’s made of. If you were to drop a pound of feathers and a pound of coins, they would fall at the same rate. However, you would need a lot less coins.
Getting in shape is relative to many. For women, if you are between 18-24% body fat, that is optimal fitness – so if you are looking to be in shape, this is an ideal place to fall. Women often feel they should cut calories and do a ton of cardio to lose weight. This is another misconception. Most women should not be below 1200 calories in a day and often 1400-1600 calories per day is ideal. When a woman cuts her calories too low, her metabolism will start to slow down in order to preserve energy (fat) and she will hit a plateau. Fueling the muscle so it can burn the fat and fuel you for a calorie burning workout is ideal.”

2. If people were only going to change one habit, what is the most
important one to change?

Nutrition! Nutrition is 70-80% of achieving results. As far as what nutritional habit to change? It’s hard to pick just one, since everyone woman has her own unique set of deficiencies. Overall, I would suggest making sure to get enough water – 3/4-1oz per lb of your body weight. Water will help with certain vitamins, flush out toxins, and keep you from being dehydrated. When someone is dehydrated, performance decreases both mentally and physically. If you’re already drinking enough water, talking a multi vitamin and fish oils is the next habit to start. Take as suggested. Studies have shown that by simply adding these to one’s daily regiment, there is a decrease in anxiety and mood swings! Next, work on limiting your alcohol to 1-2 drinks per sitting. Anything more and your body will not be able to function properly until the alcohol is out of your system. This means whatever food you’re eating at that time will be stored as fat. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

3. In your opinion, what is the most effective workout?
It varies for each person. If you’re a woman that has more body fat than you’d like and you weigh more than you like, I suggest a metabolic style workout. Metabolic = fat burning! These would be workouts that incorporate complex movements (squats, dead lifts, squats and presses, squat jumps, etc.) along with cardio throughout (jump rope, running, squat jumps, burpees, etc.) Rest 30-60 seconds between rounds. Here’s an example: Dead lifts: 3 rounds of 12-15, Close grip push ups: 3 rounds of 12-15, Squat jumps: 3 rounds of 12-15.
If you’re already thin, but want to build a little more lean mass, I suggest you lift a little heavier (8-10 reps) and skip the burpees, jumps, running, etc.

4. How important is getting enough sleep/water when you’re trying to get in shape? 
I can’t emphasize this enough! If you are even slightly dehydrated, you will get headaches, dizziness, weakness, muscle cramps, constipation, and more. Sleep = rest, rest = recovery, recovery = gains. You must sleep to allow your body to recover from the stress of your daily activities and exercise. Keep in mind, when you’re lifting weights, your body is tearing down muscle and the sleep and rest will allow your muscles to recover.

5. When you’re on a weight loss plan, but you feel like you need to cheat what is a healthy snack you like to have that satisfies the craving? 
Fruit is a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth. Try to stick to berries, grapes, apples, and fruits from the northern hemisphere. They are lower in glycemic index (which means they don’t impact your insulin levels as much as bananas, melons, etc.) You can mix protein powder with unsweetened almond or coconut milk, freeze it in a cupcake papers, or make popsicles with the mixture. You can mix in peanut butter, almond butter, berries, etc. If you’re more of a salty fan, air popped pop corn is a great treat that is low in carbs, calories, and you can get more volume than turning to chips or fries. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

So… I’m starting the year with a double whammy. Being engaged, having a wedding in 3 months (we only just booked the date), aaaand the New Year aka that goal body is at the forefront of my mind. But how am I going to get there?

As luck should have it, I was asked to judge the Miss Minnesota USA pageant at the end of November and sat on the judging panel with Scott Keppel – personal trainer and nutritional consultant who’s resume is impressive to say the least. Some of his clients include: 9 plus different Miss USA and Miss Teen USA states meaning that each year he prepares about 18 different contestants to be on HDTV in their bikinis. He is also certified in Pre and Post Natal, Breast Cancer Recovery, Power Plate, MovNat, Spitfire Sled training master programmer and NASM sled training. (His wife is a 2-time breast cancer survivor, so this topic is extra close to his heart.)

This Miss Minnesota USA and Miss Minnesota Teen USA judging panel. Loved this whole crew!

This Miss Minnesota USA and Miss Minnesota Teen USA judging panel. Loved this whole crew! Also, can we talk about how big of a contradiction my outfit is? haha High leg slit, but yet, fur coat.  Because Minneapolis in late November. You can take the girl out of the pageant, but you can’t take the pageant out of the girl… 

I was so impressed over the course of the weekend in talking to him by how much he individualizes his programs for each specific person. He resides in Arizona. but trains most of his clients from a distance by having them track their workouts, nutrition, and measurements and having them check in once a week via text and phone calls. I offhandedly made the comment, “maybe I should have you train me for my wedding…!” and he was all over it. In my mind I was going to start my training AFTER the holidays, but he reached out shortly after the pageant and I’ve been working with him since the first week in December. I’m happy to report that I made it thought Christmas and New Years and lost some inches on my measurements while still being able to enjoy myself! (As I type this, I just ate 3 mini Reeses cups… which is fine as long as they fit within my daily intake goal.) 

Scott has me tracking my macros which means I eat a specific gram amount of protein, fat, and carbs. My typical diet pre-Scott was drinking green juice and eating salads mostly during the week and then eating and/or drinking whatever I wanted on the weekend. In case you couldn’t have guessed, that wasn’t working. I was actually not eating enough the majority of the time, but then on the weekends I was taking in too much. He has actually increased my calorie count for the time being from what I was taking in before – and somehow it’s still working. #nocomplaintsthere

The thing that’s been the biggest adjustment for me has been how much protein I’m consuming. He has me taking in 100-110 grams per day which is much more than I would usually consume.

I have a little tip out there for people who don’t necessarily want to consume meat at every meal or protein powder. Introducing, your new best friend: fage nonfat greek yogurt which has 23 grams of protein, no fat (obvi) and 7 grams of carbs. I stir in a teaspoon of honey and voila! The easiest breakfast ever that also tastes really really good. Sometimes I’ll throw in some sliced almonds and raspberries too if I’m feeling extra fancy.

A typical day in the life - tracked using the "My Plate" app which makes it really easy to keep track of what you've consumed.

A typical day in the life – tracked using the “My Plate” app which makes it really easy to keep track of what you’ve consumed.

More recipes, workouts, and a q&a with Scott to come soon. If you guys have any questions you’ve been wanting to ask a trainer – comment below and I’ll pass them on to him! Also, if you’re looking for personalized accountability to reach a weight loss or fitness goal, I couldn’t recommend Scott more highly.

When this photo was taken I had no idea how much my life was going to change within the 365 days that made up 2016.

When this photo was taken I had no idea how much my life was going to change within the 365 days that made up 2016.

As 2016 comes to a close, as I often do, I’ve been thinking back on this year – all that has changed, all that has remained the same, where I’ve been, where I want to go, etc. This year though, has been more life altering than most and as I think back I get a little teary because 2016 has been a fairytale year for me that can never be duplicated.

2016 wasn’t messing around – it showed me its colors right off the bat on day 1.

Literally starting on January 1st. I was on a New Year’s trip to Seaside, Florida with two of my best girlfriends, Marcia and Taryn. It was rainy almost the entire trip which was fine with us because we hardly left our respective perches in front of the fireplace at the cozy cottage we were staying in. We relaxed, read, slept, journaled, made vision boards, ate our weight in guacamole, and talked about all of our goals for 2016. (I know, I know, very Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.)

When your NYE vacay house looks like this, you know you're setting yourself up for a good year!

When your NYE vacay house looks like this, you know you’re setting yourself up for a good year!

I can take you to the exact page in my journal where I wrote that I wanted to: a.) go on a mission trip this year and b.) spend a month living abroad which Taryn ingeniously titled an “adult internship.” All 3 of us were single at the time (FYI two of us are engaged now… there might be something to those vision boards!) so we also spent some time talking about the types of qualities we would be looking for if we were going to date someone. One of my must-haves was someone I could adventure with. Both Marcia and Taryn made a point of telling me that the next guy I dated needed to be a “grown ass man” aka mature and able to take care of himself – and maybe even take care of me sometimes. Fast forward to that very night at dinner at The Pearl in Rosemary Beach when a handsome acquaintance I hadn’t seen in 3 years called the restaurant from 600 miles away to pay for our dinner. Continue reading