Q & A with Brianna Bernard

Today we are starting a new Q & A series of posts to share personal truths and tips from individuals in our community here at Bodies by Burgoon. Every single person who walks in this gym has a story that lead them to this place and a story that isn't over. Brianna Bernard | Bodies by Burgoon

It takes less than a minute of talking to Brianna to notice how kind she is and to yes, observe how stinking strong she is. In her own words below, she is stronger physically, emotionally, and mentally and now knows she can do hard things. Read on for more on what a day in her life looks like, what she eats, and where she's going from here. Thanks, Brianna!

Brianna Bernard

Describe your morning routine, what does it look like, and what is the first thing you eat?

My son is my alarm clock, and every morning we wake up at about 5:45 am. The first thing I do is drink about 16 ounces of water and a cup of black coffee. We eat breakfast right away, and every morning I eat the same thing. I eat Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal (recipe below). This is my first breakfast. By lunch I will have eaten 2-3 more times and drank about a ½ gallon of water.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal
Author: Dawn Bryant
Serves: 1
  • 1/2 cup quick 1-minute oats
  • 1 scoop of Isopure Dutch Chocolate Protein Powder
  • 2 tablespoons PB2
  1. Cook ½ cup of quick oats in microwave according to packaged directions.
  2. Add Isopure and PB2.
  3. Mix together and add water, as needed, for desired consistency.
Makes 1 serving.


What’s your favorite way to get cardio into your week?

I love boxing, cycling, and circuit training, but my true passion is weight lifting. If I have a limited amount of time to get my workout completed, I will always opt for lifting - but to increase the intensity of my workout, I reduce rest intervals and use supersets to burn-out muscle groups. And I love that cycling has not only improved my cardiovascular health, but has exponentially increased strength in my quads, hamstrings, and glutes over the past nine months.  

What's your favorite exercise to do downstairs?

Dumbbell lateral raises are one of my favorites - I love doing drop-sets to failure with these to really fatigue my delts.

Brianna Bernard doing Lateral Arm Raises

What’s your food strategy and prepping style?

I eat the same things almost every day because I like what I eat, it keeps things simple, and it makes me feel strong. I typically food prep twice a week and keep containers of portioned-out food in my fridge so I can just grab them and go on my way out the door every morning.

Brianna's Lunchbox  But that doesn’t mean I never deviate!  I eat clean 95-99% of the time so that I can indulge in a piece of cake on my little boy’s birthday and enjoy a slice of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. In order for your food to work for you, it has to work with your life. There is always going to be life stress, a holiday or party, so you have to plan ahead!  

Brianna's Food Log

For the first 6 months at BBB, I trained 3 times a week, nothing more. I ate between 1200-1300 calories per day. Every night when I would hit “Complete Entry” on the MyFitnessPal app, it would tell me what I would weigh in 5 weeks if every day were similar to that day, and it became my race. I track my food because it makes me feel strong and in control. These things are just mine. Now that my focus has shifted from losing to maintaining my weight and building lean muscle, I eat somewhere between 1500-1800 calories per day and train 6-7 days per week.

Give us a picture of your life before 2014?

Looking back, it’s hard to remember who I was then because literally everything about my life today is different. I was sedentary. I ate everything and anything I wanted. I was highly food driven, emotionally. I felt very unlike myself and had lost ME somewhere in the process of becoming a mom. After reading Dawn’s weight loss journey in People magazine and watching several video clips online about Bodies by Burgoon, I knew I had to be here. This was going to be my year to get back to myself.

Brianna having a shake

In order to take on getting fit and taking care of yourself, what is something you had to leave behind in order to move forward?

In the past, I struggled with the “all or nothing” approach. I would decide that I was going to go on a “diet” and within 24 hours of starting, my cravings would usually get the best of me, or I would “cheat” or skip the gym, THROW IN THE TOWEL, and tell myself "I failed" or “I can’t do it”. Which I now look back on and think, “How RIDICULOUS!" Just because one of the tires on your car goes flat doesn’t mean you slit the other three! But I think so many of us (especially women) struggle with this idea that if it isn’t “perfect” then it’s not enough, and why even bother?

The first time I sat down with Jason he said something very powerful that has stuck with me and changed EVERYTHING. He said, “Just like eating one healthy meal doesn’t make you skinny, having one unhealthy meal isn’t going to make you fat.” Life is going to happen. There will be holidays, happy hours, birthdays, busy work schedules, sick kids, and life stress. There is never going to be a “perfect” time to start, and it is not realistic to think that you will never eat another slice of pizza or piece of cake. I learned a lot about BALANCE. That I could eat a piece of birthday cake and start over at the next meal with my grilled chicken, sweet potatoes, and spinach salad.  

I had to change my mindset. I have been asked over and over, “Was it hard to change your diet? How did you motivate yourself to go to the gym? How did you know you were “ready” to make this huge lifestyle change? What made it different this time than all of the other times you tried to lose weight? And the only concrete answer I have been able to come up with that made this work for me is: I stopped “trying”.  

You either “do” or you “do not”. I made a choice. I decided that I was going to eat clean, so I did. I decided that I was going to train three days per week, so I did. End of story. There was no, “Maybe I will start exercising on Monday” or “I’m gonna try not to eat processed sugar this week”. I made a choice and I just did it. And it changed everything. It changed how I moved my body and what I ate - and it spilled over into every area of my life. It made me stronger physically, mentally, and emotionally. It made me believe in myself - that I could do hard things. And it has helped me to dare greatly and be more courageous in every area of my life.  

Can you tell us one thing you are currently working on and learning about as it relates to fitness and/or food?

In April, I’m competing in my first powerlifting competition. About a year and a half ago, I pinched my sciatic nerve while deadlifting, and I was afraid to do it for a really long time. I have spent the last year rebuilding my back and because it has scared me, I’m doing it!  

“We must travel in the direction of our fear.” - John Berryman

Thank you for sharing, Brianna! You inspire us and make us proud. Stay tuned for more!