Fit Tips

Could IF (Intermittent Fasting) Be Right For You?

November 23rd, 2020 by Debbie Martilotta

I follow a very clean diet, strength train regularly, and avoid toxins in my environment to the best of my ability – so why might I be interested in Intermittent Fasting?

Evidence is accumulating that eating in a 6-hour period and fasting for 18 hours can trigger a metabolic switch from glucose-based to ketone-based energy, with increased stress resistance, increased longevity, and a decreased incidence of diseases, including cancer and obesity.

Until recently, studies of caloric restriction and intermittent fasting focused on aging and the life span. After nearly a century of research on caloric restriction, the overall conclusion was that reduced food intake robustly increases the life span.

Intermittent fasting elicits evolutionarily conserved, adaptive cellular responses that are integrated between and within organs in a manner that improves glucose regulation, increases stress resistance and suppresses inflammation.

Cells respond to intermittent fasting by engaging in a coordinated adaptive stress response that leads to increased expression of antioxidant defenses, DNA repair, protein quality control, mitochondrial biogenesis and autophagy, and down-regulation of inflammation.

How much of the benefit of intermittent fasting is due to metabolic switching and how much is due to weight loss? Many studies have indicated that several of the benefits of intermittent fasting are dissociated from its effects on weight loss. These benefits include improvements in glucose regulation, blood pressure, and heart rate, and abdominal fat loss.

Despite the evidence for the health benefits of intermittent fasting and its applicability to many diseases, today’s diet of three meals with snacks every day is so ingrained in our culture that a change in this eating pattern can be difficult. The abundance of food and extensive marketing in our culture are also major hurdles to be overcome.

I’ve found a community focused on IF that I follow for both inspiration and guidance, Gin Stephens, author of  Fast. Feast. Repeat & Delay, Don’t Deny. Her blog, books, and Facebook page are full of support!

Intermittent fasting diets fall generally into two categories: daily time-restricted feeding, which narrows eating times to 6–8 hours per day, and so-called 5:2 intermittent fasting, in which people limit themselves to one moderate-sized meal (500 calories) two days each week. With guidance and patience, most people can incorporate IF into their lives.


Fight Inflammation With Food And Exercise

November 2nd, 2020 by Debbie Martilotta

One of the most powerful tools to combat inflammation comes from the grocery store. Choose the right anti-inflammatory foods, and you may be able to reduce your risk of illness. Consistently pick the wrong ones, and you could accelerate the inflammatory disease process.

What does an anti-inflammatory diet do? Your immune system becomes activated when your body recognizes anything that is foreign—such as an invading microbe, plant pollen, or chemical. This often triggers a process called inflammation. Intermittent bouts of inflammation directed at truly threatening invaders protect your health.

However, sometimes inflammation persists, day in and day out, even when you are not threatened by a foreign invader. That’s when inflammation can become your enemy. Many major diseases that plague us—including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s—have been linked to chronic inflammation.

Anti-inflammatory diet

To reduce levels of inflammation, aim for an overall healthy diet. If you’re looking for an eating plan that closely follows the tenets of anti-inflammatory eating, consider the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils.

Anti-inflammatory foods

An anti-inflammatory diet should include these foods:

  • tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards
  • nuts like almonds and walnuts
  • fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
  • fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges
  • spices, especially ginger, turmeric, and cayenne
  • green tea contains antioxidant compounds known as catechins, which reduce inflammation

The health risks of inflammatory foods

Not surprisingly, the same foods on an inflammation diet are generally considered bad for our health, including sodas and refined carbohydrates, as well as red meat and processed meats.

Unhealthy foods also contribute to weight gain, which is itself a risk factor for inflammation. Yet in several studies, even after researchers took obesity into account, the link between foods and inflammation remained, which suggests weight gain isn’t the sole driver.

Foods that cause inflammation

Try to avoid or limit these foods as much as possible:

  • refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
  • French fries and other fried foods
  • soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
  • red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
  • margarine, shortening, and lard

In addition to lowering inflammation, a more natural, less processed diet can have noticeable effects on your physical and emotional health.

The impact of strength training

Strength training also improves chronic inflammation. Strength training’s positive effects on chronic inflammation are probably part of why it is shown to decrease the risk of heart disease and diabetes. To maximize your health gains, train with challenging weights and get adequate rest between your workouts.

Exercise regularly and recover completely. Exercise decreases levels of TNF (tumor necrosis factor) and CRP (C-reactive protein), both of which are involved in systemic inflammation. The key to reaping the benefits of exercise and avoiding chronic inflammation is making sure that you allow enough time for the body to recover after every strenuous session.


How To Build Muscle Fast

October 26th, 2020 by Debbie Martilotta

Strength training is a great way to build muscle and see results more quickly than with other types of workouts. If you’re looking to jump-start muscle growth, beginning a new routine that challenges your muscles is key. You’ll probably feel shaky during those first few sets, but as the brain and body begin to adapt to your new exercise routine, you’ll gain strength as long as your training is consistent.

The most conventional exercise to induce muscle growth is resistance (strength) training.

Building muscle won’t happen overnight, but with the right fitness and nutrition regimen, you can start to see results in just a few months.

Muscles are made up of two different types of individual muscle fibers: type one and type two.

  • Type one muscle fibers, also known as slow-twitch muscle fibers, are aerobic. They’re resistant to fatigue and focused on smaller movements that can be sustained for long periods.
  • Type two muscle fibers, also known as fast-twitch muscle fibers, get tired more easily but allow for more powerful movements. Type two muscle fibers contain more blood supply than type one fibers.

Endurance and aerobic exercise build more type one muscle fibers, while strength training builds more type two muscle fibers. That means you’ll likely see results with muscle growth faster with strength training than other types of exercise.

Exercises for building muscle
Focus on functional strength and mobility with a whole-body approach to strength training. Here are some of those exercises and the muscle groups they work:

  • Glute bridges: abs, hamstrings, and lower back
  • Squats: glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, and abs
  • Push-ups: chest, shoulders, abs, and triceps
  • Lateral lunges: glutes, hamstrings, and quads
  • Planks: whole body
  • Reverse lunge with rotation: whole body
  • Bent over row: back, shoulders, and arms
  • Single leg Romanian deadlift: whole body

When these exercises become easy, you can increase your reps or increase the weights. If you want to build your muscles faster, go with the increase in weights.

A 30-minute workout is enough to build muscle and maintain functional strength. However, the duration of the workout doesn’t matter as much as the number of sets per week and the mechanical stress that occurs in a given session. To induce muscle growth, aim for 10 to 20 sets per week, per body part. Cardio can help build muscle, too, but it will be slower than strength training.

Don’t forget about progressive overload. Gradually add sets, weight, or reps to increase stress on the body and to keep building muscle. For example, if you’re lifting 10-pound dumbbells, you might find it difficult at first. After a time, lifting those dumbbells will start to get easier because you’re building muscle and getting stronger. If you continue to lift those 10-pound dumbbells you’re not going to build muscle. You’ll stay the same. You have to make your regimen more strenuous again.

Make sure you’re getting enough protein to fuel the muscle growth, getting enough sleep every night, and resting your muscle groups in between workouts. This is everything we do at DBM Strength Training and I love this article, read it directly from the Insider here.


Full-Body Vs. Split Workouts

October 26th, 2020 by Debbie Martilotta

There’s no skirting the fact that functional, full-body movements provide the most value for time and effort. Exercises like lunges and push-ups will always be more effective than exercises that isolate a single muscle — and for those of us with limited time, we owe it to ourselves to get the most out of each and every workout.

Quadricep extensions, calf raises, tricep push-downs, and other isolation exercises won’t do much for you if you don’t have time to dedicate to functional movements like squats, deadlifts, push-ups, and shoulder presses.

For busy people, full-body workouts are key to getting fit.

A full-body workout engages all of your muscle groups during one session and takes many forms — HIIT, high-intensity resistance training (HIRT), bodyweight workouts, or conventional weightlifting.

The problem is, split plans lose effectiveness if you don’t have five or six days to work out each week. This simply doesn’t work for people who can’t exercise six days a week. If you miss one workout on this plan, you neglect an entire muscle group that week. Split workouts plans also work best if you can dedicate at least 45 minutes each day to your workout — working your arms for 20 minutes won’t benefit you nearly as much as working your whole body for 20 minutes.

Full-body workouts maximize your time and give you real gains like whole-body strength, core stabilization, functional mobility, and endurance.

Other reasons for choosing full-body workouts instead of split workouts include: 

  • Full-body workouts generally yield a higher total energy expenditure per session (i.e., you burn more calories).
  • Full-body workouts force you to focus on functional movements, which you need for longevity and high quality of life. 
  • Full-body workouts tend to include more movements that improve core stabilization and posture. 

Still, wondering about shifting from split workouts to full body HIIT sessions? Read the balance of this article from c|net and give me a call to train in the greater Grand Rapids area.


Take Control Of Your Metabolism!

October 20th, 2020 by Debbie Martilotta

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO keep the lights on in the human body? How does the body power everything from blinking and cell repair to washing dishes and running a marathon?

In the simplest terms, all of these activities are powered by calories, which come from the food we eat. This is your metabolism at work.

To support a healthy metabolism, consider making the following eight dietary and activity changes:

  • Take control
  • Eat enough
  • Boost protein intake
  • Eat breakfast
  • Limit sweets and processed foods
  • Stay hydrated
  • Increase or maintain muscle mass
  • Get enough rest

Moving more and eating well can help ensure your metabolism is running as best it can. Your resting metabolic rate is largely determined by three factors:

  • Body size and composition. People who are larger and have more muscle mass tend to have a higher metabolism.
  • Sex. Males tend to have less body fat and ore muscle mass, leading to a higher metabolism.
  • Age. As you age, you lose muscle mass and your metabolism slows.

For example, a sedentary 55-year-old woman who’s 5′ 4″ tall and weighs 175 pounds only needs about 1,400 calories per day to keep the body going. By contrast, a 55-year-old male who’s 6′ tall and weighs 200 pounds needs nearly 1,800 calories a day to service the basic needs of maintaining the body at rest. When you add in exercise or physical activity, those needs increase no matter who you are.

Weight gain is more likely a product of a calorie surplus from eating and a decline in activity as we get older. That said, you do have control over what and how much you eat and how much you move.

Make a plan and keep track of how much you’re eating, how much you’re moving, and get a sense of how many calories your body needs and burns each day. I advise my clients to keep a food journal if necessary and to eat a “clean” diet. I also schedule 2 30-minute personal training sessions with them weekly and encourage them to enjoy their new strength by staying active between sessions.

Move more, eat often, hydrate, and sleep. Great advice for all of us! Read the entire article from US News here.


Gyms Are Back In Business – But We Are Not All The Same

September 21st, 2020 by Debbie Martilotta

Like me, you might be soooo happy that your gym has reopened with COVID precautions in place – or maybe not. Not all gyms are the same and if you had been a member of a large gym, maybe you are not ready to return.

We are all unique individuals and have our own comfort levels with handling this pandemic. If you are looking for a great, guided workout without the masses, maybe DBM Strength Training is right for you.

My training model has always been based on very personal training. My semi-private sessions consist of 2-3 clients at a time, for 30 minutes of intensely focused training. I direct the exercise plan, the weight used, form, and progress of each of my clients, typically twice per week. It is rare that there is ever more than 6 people in my studio at any given time, and typically fewer.

I do offer group classes twice per week for those clients that like to mix a class with a session weekly, but again and by design, those classes consist of less than 10 students in the studio (I do offer a Zoom link for clients who prefer to be at home).

If you are ready for a different training program and really miss working out, maybe not yet ready to re-enter your larger gym, let’s connect. I’d be happy to show you my studio and discuss your personal training plan!


Does Our Skincare Matter? You Bet It Does!

September 21st, 2020 by Debbie Martilotta

If you know me, you know that I have been strength training since 2010. I made the decision to change my life, to feel better in my skin and in my clothes.

I hired a personal trainer and decided not only to train with him twice per week for two 30-minute sessions, but also to follow his diet & nutrition guidelines of eating lean meat, fish, and plants. Because I have always been passionate about health and fitness, I also became a CPT and opened my own studio.

       Now, I make many different choices when it comes to the foods I eat, the way I train, and even the chemicals I use, and I feel better in my 50’s than I did at 30.

I make more natural choices when it comes to cleaning products, deodorant, skincare, and makeup. While we often think of exposure to toxins as coming from our food or cleaning products we might ignore that our skin is one of the biggest sources of toxic exposure daily. Since we know without debate that some chemicals can and do enter your bloodstream through your skin, you’re better off avoiding all known harmful chemicals (often in skincare products) on the chance they will enter your bloodstream after application.

This is why I am so passionate about Beautycounter.  This article from The Huffington Post might scare you as it did me, but not to worry, clean them out of your home, and let me help you replace them with safe and effective products!

Did you know there is essentially no government regulation in place for skincare products? While Europe has banned over 1000 chemicals from skincare, the US has banned fewer than 10! These compounds have been linked to hormonal issues, metabolic problems, microbiome imbalances, and even cancers. Would you put any of that in your food by choice? I wouldn’t, so why would we put it into our bodies through our skin?

If you want to try Beautycounter (and once you visit their website, you know you will!), I highly suggest you become a Band of Beauty Member. It’s sort of like Amazon Prime for skincare. Go to the menu and select “become a member”.

For $29 a year, Band of Beauty members receive:

  • Free Shipping on Qualifying Orders of $100+
  • 10% Product Credit on Applicable Orders
  • A welcome gift when you spend $50+ on products when enrolling
  • Member-exclusive offers

Becoming a Band of Beauty member will pay for itself with your first order. I’m so excited to introduce you to this amazing company. Let me know what products you love on my Facebook page!


How To Get Back On The Wagon After COVID

June 4th, 2020 by Debbie Martilotta

So the COVID wagon has taken us on a bumpy ride over the last few months!

Some of us have even fallen off the stay strong/clean eating wagon🤷‍♀️. But….no one says we can’t get back on. Is it going to be a smooth ride? That will be up to you.  We know we will be back in business soon, so how do you get back into shape?

You start with two 30-minute training sessions/week. Add in a healthy diet and some fun physical activity throughout the week that brings you joy.

I will assist you with:

  • Gaining lean muscle and losing fat
  • Assessing your physical condition and tracking changes
  • Setting and reaching your goals
  • Learning proper strength training techniques
  • Nutrition counseling

I’ll even sweeten the pot for a short time* and offer returning clients 2 FREE personal training sessions for each new client you refer (train for 2 months, 2x a week). It’s time to take control of your health and get back on track if you’ve slipped a bit. And if you haven’t slipped, I’m sure you are eager to resume your training regimen.

Here is an interesting article about how quickly you can regain muscle strength after an extended break.

*Now through July 4th


How Exercise Supports Your Mental Fitness

May 18th, 2020 by Debbie Martilotta

A healthy body is home to a healthy mind. However, there are numerous different types of sports and a wide range of exercise and training. Which type and how much exercise will keep your mind in top shape?

This is the question that has been explored by researchers at the University of Basel and their colleagues at the University of Tsukuba in Japan through large-scale analysis of the scientific literature. They have used this analysis to derive recommendations that they recently published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour.

Coordinated sports are particularly effective

The research group evaluated 80 individual studies to identify a few key characteristics. Endurance training, strength training, or a mix of these components seem to improve cognitive performance.

Heavy lifting during strength training also strengthens bone density, which can reduce the risk of breaks and fractures as you age. If you lift heavy, you test your mental strength as well.

Lifting heavy increases production of a brain-derived neurotrophic factor, the neurotransmitter related to producing new brain cells and improves cognitive function.

However, coordinated and challenging sports that require complex movement patterns and interaction with fellow players are significantly more effective. “To coordinate during a sport seems to be even more important than the total volume of sporting activity,” explains Ludyga.

A higher total extent of activity does not necessarily lead to a correspondingly higher level of effectiveness for mental fitness. Longer duration per exercise unit promises a greater improvement in cognitive performance only over a longer period of time.

All age groups benefit

Just like our physical condition, cognitive performance changes over the course of our lives. It is great for the potential for improvement during childhood (cognitive development phase) and during old age (cognitive degradation phase). However, the research group of the Department of Sport, Exercise, and Health (DSBG) at the University of Basel was unable to find an indicator of different levels of effectiveness of sporting activities within the varying age groups.

Furthermore, sporting activities from primary school age to later age do not have to be fundamentally different in order to improve cognitive performance. Different age groups can thus be combined for a common goal during sports. “This is already being implemented selectively with joint exercise programs for children and their grandparents,” says Pühse. Such programs could thus be further expanded.

Intense sports sessions for boys and men

The same volume of sports activity has a different effect on physical fitness for men and women, as we are already aware. However, the research group has now been able to verify this for mental fitness. Men accordingly benefit more from sporting activity.

Differences between the sexes are particularly evident in the intensity of movement, but not in the type of sport. A hard workout seems to be particularly worthwhile for boys and men. Paired with a gradual increase in intensity, this leads to a significantly greater improvement in cognitive performance over a longer period of time.

In contrast, the positive effect on women and girls disappears if the intensity is increased too quickly. The results of the research suggest that they should choose low to medium intensity sporting activities if they want to increase their cognitive fitness.

Science Daily


Food Logging For Real

April 15th, 2020 by Debbie Martilotta

When it comes to healthy eating for a fit and active lifestyle, certain facts are undeniable: Water is crucial, you can eat as many veggies as you want, and weight loss/maintenance is more a result of diet than exercise. Having said that, I recommend my clients log their food, especially when they are not seeing the results they are training for.

Does keeping a food journal help you lose weight?
Yes. Tracking what you eat at each meal or snack can help you improve your health and lose weight for two major reasons.

First, you’re accountable to an observant yet nonjudgmental party (the trusty food log). Consistently logging your food helps you consider why and when you’re eating and how hungry or satisfied you feel. This record-keeping can help you have a more positive relationship with food in general. It draws your attention to food-related pitfalls that may have previously thrown you off-track and gives you the information you need to move forward from a place of honesty.

The second reason why it works is that it provides you with a wealth of information. You’ll learn more about both the foods you enjoy and the places and situations that you find yourself eating. It can help you notice any negative feelings related to food and identify why you might be eating for reasons that have nothing to do with how hungry you actually felt. Part of being specific is being emotional. You don’t want to simply write about what you ate, you want to write about how it made you feel.

The power of the food journal is that it keeps you accountable and makes you more aware. You are less likely to grab that piece of chocolate cake if you know you have to write down later and face the ultimate critic (AKA you). Plus, you become more aware of the emotions tied to your food or the habits you’ve fallen into. Perhaps you find that you crave fatty snacks around 4 p.m. When you sit down and ask yourself the simple question “why” in your journal, you realize that 4 p.m. is peak stress time at work. The following day, you come prepared with a healthy snack to munch on at 4 p.m.; maybe you even excercise before work to prevent your stress.

How do you write a food journal?

Try to stay as consistent as possible and be patient with yourself while you adjust. If you miss a day, don’t sweat it. Just pick it back up the next. And keep in mind that it’s not foreverFood logs can tell you a lot whether you do it for a week or a month.

Pen and paper are a tried and trusty way to do it, but it may not be realistic for you. Try writing in a note on your phone, taking pictures, or using an app. MyFitnessPal and LoseIt — both free — are two of the most popular ones. Fitbit also has a food tracker built into its app.

To start:

You should include several pieces of information in your daily food diary. These are:

  • How much: List the amount of the food/drink item. This might be measured in volume (1/2 cup), weight (2 ounces), or the number of items (12 chips).
  • What kind: Write down the type of food/drink. Be as specific as you can. Don’t forget to write down extras, such as toppings, sauces, or condiments. For example, butter, ketchup, or sugar.
  • When: Keep track of the time of day you eat.
  • Where: Make note of where you eat. Keeping a physical or electronic record of where you eat will help you become aware of your current habits and the scenarios that impact them. If you are at home, write down the room. If you are out, write down the name of the restaurant or if you are in the car.
  • Who with: If you eat by yourself, write “alone.” If you are with friends or family members, list them.
  • Activity: List any activities you do while eating, such as working, watching TV, or playing a game.
  • Mood: You also should include how you feel when you eat. Are you happy, sad, or bored? Your mood can relate to your eating habits and help you change them.

Log foods as soon as you can. The key to nailing the whole food journaling thing is to actually record what you’re having at the exact moment you’re having it. But since that’s not always realistic, don’t fret. You can take a quick pic of your meal before you eat it and fill in the details after-the-fact, that’s okay too.

Note what you may have “missed” at any meal. Did you order a bunless burger at lunch today and ultimately down the contents of a cereal box while watching TV after dinner? Could you try adding extra protein to your lunch and see how you feel tomorrow? If you skip meals or skip satisfying components at a meal, you’re likely to overeat later on.

Use your food log as a library. It’s a go-to list of your favorite items to order, the restaurants where you picked salad when what you really wanted was a pizza, great recipes you enjoyed, and which options or modifications left you feeling satisfied, not deprived.

Be honest. If you’re using a food log but not being totally truthful in your entries, then it’s no longer working as a tool for you. The only person who has to see it is you. Start from a realistic place and make gradual changes. Habits are a result of the choices you make consistently.

You’ve kept a food diary. Now what?
After completing a week’s worth of food journaling, step back and look at what you’ve recorded. Search for any trends, patterns, or habits. For example, you might consider:

  • How healthy is my diet?
  • Am I eating vegetables and fruit every day? If so, how many servings?
  • Am I eating enough protein each day?
  • Am I eating foods or beverages with added sugar? If so, how frequently?
  • Do my moods affect my eating habits? Do I reach for unhealthy snacks when I’m tired or stressed?
  • How often do I eat on the run?

Are food diaries effective?
A food journal holds you accountable and creates a personal reference guide that can inform your future choices and, ultimately, your habits. However, it’s not for everyone. Keeping track of what you eat is supposed to help you stay mindful and accountable — not bad about yourself.

If a food log helps you make positive lifestyle changes, then that’s 15 minutes of your day well-spent!