“Blaze your own trail! You can accomplish anything you want with a strong mind, strong goals, and hard work. So if you want something, go get it.”
Brandan and Amber Fokken are both fitness models and IFBB/NPC competitors with a baby on the way. As an avid follower and fan of both of them via Instagram, I was so thrilled to land this interview, chat with them, and share it with you! In this article, Amber and Brandan share their unique story and how they met, some of their own fitness struggles, macro dieting tips, and how to stay fit (and sane) through a pregnancy.
FitRX: Hi Amber and Brandan! Thanks so much for taking the time to do this. I really enjoy following both of you on Instagram – Amber your feed is so inspiring and Brandan’s inspires many laughs & food cravings! Can you start off by telling us a little about both of you?
Thank you! We appreciate that and glad to know you enjoy our content and posts!
Amber Dawn Orton/Fokken: I fell in love with fitness in 2010 after I won the overall in bikini at my very first NPC show. I had a background in pageants and modeling, yet never realized my love for lifting weights and living a truly “clean” lifestyle until I began competing. Previous to competing, I received conjoining degrees at the University of Oregon in Economics and Business Administration with a focus in finance and was a first time home owner at the age of 19.
My career direction drastically changed when I realized my passion was in fitness and health and helping others reach their goals. I have made the health industry my focus in my everyday life as a business owner of ADOFitness – full time online personal trainer, nutrition/prep coach, posing instructor, competitor, endorsed athlete, NPC judge and fitness model.
IFBB Pro, Nike Model
Super Powers: Able to stop at a *legit* tablespoon of peanut butter. Ok thats a lie- but lets pretend
Contest Weight: 190
Occupation: Wellness Coordinator for the world largest ethanol bio-refiner POET. Also own Fokken Strong Training- training and prep business.
FitRX: Amazing credentials by both of you! How did you meet each other? What is it like being married to another fitness competitor?
Amber: Brandan and I started speaking on Facebook a few weeks before Jr.Nationals in 2013. We met for the first time in person at Jr.Nationals in Chicago that year and have been inseparable ever since.
Being married to someone else in the industry definitely has its perks. Brandan and I get to travel everywhere together which is super convenient and fun. We also have most of the same common interests and that obviously helps with the way we live our lifestyle. We are understanding of one another when it comes to the time commitment or prep and never give each other a hard time for spending too much time at the gym or having to be on a diet so that’s really helpful as well in terms of creating a healthy dynamic between us. It’s definitely nice to have someone always on the same page to go to the gym on a weekend morning and eat clean when everyone else is out drinking and partying on the weekends. We get each other and it works well.
FitRX: That is such a cute story! How cool! Amber, you share a lot on your IG page about how you have battled back from some unhealthy show preps and now live – and coach – a flexible dieting (IIFYM) lifestyle. Can you share a little about your passion behind flexible dieting?
Amber: Yes! I went through some pretty devastating preps to my body back in 2011-2013. I was put on a very restrictive meal plan by a former coach which completely changed my relationship with food. I started binge eating and felt completely trapped as I would consistently rebound post show and my mind was a complete mess with the way I viewed food for years. Flexible dieting helped me restore a healthy balance with food and not see different foods as “good” and “bad” but rather look at them for the macro and micro makeup of what they were. I knew I couldn’t be the only one who struggled with this and so I started opening up about it back in 2013 and found so many others in the same exact space mentally with their relationship with food and how it felt so ruined after being involved in a sport that was supposed to be “healthy”. That’s when I started to educate myself on different methods and ways to diet and became enthralled with flexible dieting. I learned all I could by practicing tracking macros and seeing how my own body responded. I then passed this information to clients and saw great success with myself and with others dieting with a more flexible and sustainable approach.
FitRX: It is amazing to see your results, Amber, as well as your clients’. Your style definitely works! What are some of the biggest results you have seen in yourself and clients?
Amber: With my clients, I personally love reverse diet results, when people are able to eat more and lose weight and body fat! This typically happens when the client is very diligent with a reverse diet plan. It just makes me so happy when I see someone thriving on more food and not killing themselves ruining their metabolism to get lean!
With myself, I think the biggest transformation came from when I was on fertility meds last Spring (2015) and when we were unable to get pregnant after our third round of IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) I had gained a lot of weight from the hormones and procedures but decided to start a prep again for summer. I believe that was the fastest and biggest transformation I had seen in my physique.
FitRX: Thanks for sharing! I really enjoy following your “Meal Ideas” Instagram – @adofitnessmealprep – there are some great ideas that I share with my own clients and friends! Do you and Brandan have a favorite recipe you like to make?
Amber: Thank you! Brandan is very set in his staples with meals for the most part. I on the other hand have to have variety in my diet! I cannot eat the same bland food every day. I do make a low carb spaghetti with spaghetti squash and lean ground turkey and organic tomato sauce that is one of Brandan’s favorite meals to eat. I also am obsessed with my low carb pumpkin protein waffles along with large taco salads. Most of these recipes are also on my blog ( www.adofitness.net ) under recipes.
— Macros for Low Carb Spaghetti serving ( using one cup of baked spaghetti squash, bell pepper, onion, tomato sauce and 4oz. extra lean ground turkey): 234 calories – 29G Protein/23G Carbs with 5G fiber/3G Fat
FitRX: You are about 18 weeks pregnant! Congrats! Has your diet changed much during pregnancy?
Amber: Ha, the first trimester was rough so I definitely had some dietary changes as I was just trying to eat anything that didn’t make me feel absolutely horrible. I probably ate more pizza then I ever had in my life in those first 12 weeks but it was healthy pizza! I never had the real high calorie stuff so I guess that’s good. I did have a lot of carbs that trimester too as I was so sick and nothing ever sounded appealing. Since then I have cleaned up my diet a lot and it’s pretty much back to my old staples. I love fruits and veggies and healthy lean proteins again. I actually think I am eating healthier now for the most part then I was prior to getting pregnant! So not much has changed since I have felt back to my old self.
FitRX: That’s great. Your baby is really lucky! What about your training? How much did you workout before as a fitness model compared to now?
Amber: I was working out on average 6 days a week prior to getting pregnant. I had to discontinue all exercise when we went through the IVF process and that was REALLY tough. So for about 4 weeks before I even got pregnant I was unable to exercise. When I finally got clearance again to workout we had a scare a few weeks later that landed me on medical bed rest for 8 weeks. I wasn’t even allowed to walk! So that again was very hard. The last 4 weeks though I have gotten back into a routine and have averaged about 4 days a week for the most part. So my exercise has reduced significantly but I just feel good to do anything these days and give myself credit when I do!
FitRX: Do you have any plans for getting back into shape after your baby?
Amber: Yes most definitely! I am actually really excited for that! My goal is to be back in shape to do some photoshoots by Olympia 2017 which will be 9 months postpartum!
FitRX: Awesome! I can’t wait to follow your progress! What is the best advice you have for women who want to stay in shape and be healthy throughout their pregnancy?
Amber: I think the best advice is to always think about the baby first. If you put the baby first it’s easier to not give into cravings and know you are eating to be healthy for your baby and yourself. It’s also easier to want to exercise when you remind yourself of the benefits of it for both you and baby! I always say “anything is better than nothing” so even if that’s just a walk outside for some fresh air – you will feel so much better if you just do something! Plus it makes labor so much smoother and your recovery and down time post baby so much more manageable.
FitRX: Brandan – what is your best advice to their husbands/significant others?
Brandan: Be patient. Don’t try and take over and control your significant others fitness lifestyle. Be encouraging, offer advice when appropriate and take interest in what they do. Don’t assume you know it all and ask for feedback both in what you recommend and in what you are doing on your own fitness journey. Make them a part of your path and make time to exercise together even if it is only a walk outdoors.
My wife and I work out differently, but we do go to the gym periodically together, we eat healthy together, and we also get outdoors almost daily. We found ways to make our fitness lifestyles coexist without causing conflict or belittling one another. It’s not always the easiest thing to do, but as long as you are open-minded, respectful and have fun with it…you can.
FitRX: For both of you, what is the best piece of advice/wisdom you’ve ever received and can pass on to our FitnessRXwomen readers?
Amber: I think the best piece of wisdom I have received is just to not ever let anything stand in between what you want. I never saw my life being in the place it is today – I always wanted and dreamt of a life like I have now but never saw that as a reality. When I started to accept I could have what I wanted as long as I didn’t give up on my goals things started to change. I am now a business owner of a very lucrative business, a home owner, I have amazing friends and colleagues, have accomplished my biggest dreams, am married to the man of my dreams and am about to have my first baby. I am in the exact place I wanted to be in at this age and am so grateful and blessed I never lost hope in my struggles to getting here.
Brandan: You need to first of all be ok with yourself at whatever you are involved in or what level you are at in anything you are doing “workout routine, diet, etc.” When you are ok with yourself and love yourself, you will make more of a commitment to the betterment of you. You also won’t get discouraged when things don’t go exactly how you want them to. You will have the strength to carry on and continue to try to achieve the results you are striving for.
Everything takes time; it took time to put on the weight so it will take time to take it off. Set some realistic goals and then set a big goal at the end. Enjoy each incremental goal that you have achieved on the way to your big goal and celebrate those victories on the way to a better you.
Don’t try to be just like someone else – that’s a recipe for failure. It’s ok to look up to, learn from, and be inspired by others, but don’t put yourself below them and assume they are better than you, be you. Blaze your own trail! You can accomplish anything you want with a strong mind, strong goals, and hard work. So if you want something, go get it.
If you are having a hard time with the plan you are on, take a step back and reevaluate what you are doing and make sure the plan is right for you. Make sure your diet and workout routine fits in accordance with your goals, diet being the most important. If you’re not eating for results you will never have the success you want.
Surround yourself with positive people and people that help you along the way. Negative people will just bring you down and make it that much harder for you to achieve your goals. The people that bring you down are afraid of change, and feel that you’re positive attitude and hard work somehow makes them have to make those changes too, which scares people, so they will become your worst critics.
Rise above that and work on you, you are the best investment you can make. Use the resources you have and educate yourself. Make sure you are doing a routine that is right for you and you have a good diet plan in place too, nutrition is 80% of the equation. If that doesn’t work, consider hiring a trainer.
FitRX: Thanks for sharing! One last important question! I know you have an Instagram for your pets: Alpha & Gotham (@fokkenanimals)… Will there be one for Baby Fokken?
Amber: Yes we have an IG account for our current babies Alpha & Gotham! When we went through IVF I started a page for the TTC (Trying to Conceive) community ( @FokkenIVF ) to gain the support of those also struggling with infertility. Most likely I will make that Baby Eastan’s page as we have a very loyal following already through our pregnancy journey!
FitRX: Thank you both so much for taking the time to do this!!
For more on Amber and Brandan:
Website: www.amberdawnorton.com or www.brandanfokken.com
Amber IG: @Mishkadawn
Brandan IG: @BrandanFokken
AdoFitness IG: @ado_fitness
Facebook: @Amber Dawn Orton – Fitness Model
Brandans Facebook: @BrandanFokkenFitness
Other Sites: Blog – www.ADOFItness.Net
Amber’s Show Credentials:
2010 NPC Seven Feathers Classic- 1st Place & Overall
2011 NPC Emerald Cup- 3rd Place2012 NPC Emerald Cup-2nd Place
2012 Bodybuilding.com FitBody Contestant- Top 10 Finalist
2012 NPC Jr.Nationals – 4th Place
2013 NPC Emerald Cup- 1st Place
2013 NPC Jr.Nationals- 2nd Place
Royal Sport Ltd, NutraSumma Vitamins, All In Nutriton, SmartShake, BuffBake, Quest, ProTan, 2Chicks&ACause, Walden Farms International, IconMeals, Grind Athletic, MyOatmeal, RavishSands Swimwear, American Ethanol, Year Round Brown Tanning and AmiLean
Brandan’s Contest History:
2010 Fargo Upper Midwest light heavy 3rd place
2010 Minneapolis Gopher State Classic 2010 light heavy 1st place
2011 Fargo Upper Midwest heavy weight 1st place
2011 Minneapolis Gopher State Classic Physique 2nd place
2011 NPC USA’s Physique tall class 16th out of 32
2011 Muscle and Fitness Gaspari Super Pump Challenge Online Winner
2011 Muscle and Fitness model contest “Olympia expo ” 4th out of 53
2011 Minnesota State North Star Physique mixed class 3rd overall
2011 Photo Vision model
2011 World Physique magazine competitor of the month and “promoting greatness” winner
2012 Bodybuilding.com Body Space Spokes model finalist
2012 Bodybuilding.com Body Space spokes model contest LA expo 5th place
2012 Muscle and Fitness Online Winner *First two time winner*
2012 Bodybuilding.com “Amateur of the Week July 2012”
2012 Bodybuilding.com 2012 “Top 20 Extreme Physiques”
2012 Bodybuilding.com 2012 “Top 20 Extreme Physiques Part Two”
2012 Muscle and Fitness model contest “Olympia expo” 6th out of 64
2013 Muscle and Fitness Online Winner *First three time winner*
2013 Muscle and Fitness model contest “Olympia expo” 2nd out of 70
2013 Minnesota State North Star 2nd
2013 Oregon Seven Feathers 2nd
2013 NIKE promo model/athlete
2015 North Americans 1st place “Obtained IFBB Pro Card”
Brandan’s Social links:
Brandan’s Major Sponsors:
American Ethanol, Bodybuilding.com, Dymatize Nutriton, ICON Meals, MyOatmeal.com, Fitmark Bags, Quest Nutrtion, Smartshake, Tainted Industries, MuscleEgg and P28 Foods