Fit Tips

I Don’t Want to Look “Bulky”

April 17th, 2018 by Debbie Martilotta

Don’t be afraid to strength train. Strength exercises and the muscles that come with them are a good thing! By “strength training,” I mean exercises like squats, lunges, dead-lifts, push-ups etc.

Some women are afraid to lift weights because they are afraid of looking bulky. The argument here is always that “women don’t have the same hormone profile as men, and therefore cannot gain enough lean mass to look bulky” – it is almost impossible for women to “get big” unless they really try – it is just not in our genetics.

Another important factor that is often ignored in the “bulky” discussion, is body fat.

Some of my clients reported that the number on the scale was going up instead of down. When I asked about their nutrition, they would admit that it hadn’t been great and that they’d actually been eating more, because the training had increased their appetite. When this is the case, of course, clients are going to gain size. They were eating more calories, and gaining something without losing anything else. This is why the DBM Clean Eating plan is so important.

Unless an individual is predisposed to gain muscle, bulking up takes dedication, and a concentrated effort to consume enough calories. You need to eat enough food to build muscle.

“Bulky” is completely subjective. When it comes to our bodies, it’s up to us to decide what level of muscularity we desire for ourselves.

What is wrong with being strong and having muscles? Strength is good! Strength will help you have better posture, protect your back, walk with confidence, perform everyday activities with ease, improve bone strength and improve your athletic achievements. 

Weight lifting will result in an overall, sculpted muscle definition. Challenging yourself with the weight and lowering the reps is what will create the muscle definition you’re looking for when combined with a proper diet for fat loss.

The main takeaway is that working out is not just about how you look, it is about how you feel and your quality of life. Regardless of how you aesthetically react to exercise, moving will make you feel better. “Don’t put it off any longer. Get to the gym!”


April 17th, 2018 by Debbie Martilotta

You cut calories, fit in time at the gym, and never eat after 8 p.m. So why is it that you still can’t deflate that spare tire hanging around your tummy? Consider this: your body might be fighting against your weight loss efforts.

The culprit? Chronic, low-grade inflammation.

As we gain weight, some fat cells expand beyond their capacity while trying to do their job storing our extra calories as fat. When this happens, they turn on and add to the inflammation already present in our bodies. At this point, these cells aren’t just fat storage warehouses—they’re like little inflammation factories, sending out signals to activate the immune system. Losing weight allows the fat cells to shrink back to a more normal size and turns off the signals that trigger chronic inflammation.

The sugar you eat, high doses of the wrong oils and fats in your diet, hidden food allergens, lack of exercise, chronic stress, and hidden infections all trigger a raging, unseen inflammation deep in your cells and tissues. And this inflammation leads to every one of the major chronic diseases of aging — heart disease, cancer, diabetes, dementia, and more. It’s also by far the major contributor to obesity. Being fat is being inflamed — period!

While everyone is different, there are some foods that irritate the immune system more than others. They are gluten (wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt, Kamut), dairy (milk, cheese, butter, yogurt), corn, eggs, soy, nuts, nightshades (tomatoes, bell peppers1, potatoes, eggplant), citrus, and yeast (baker’s yeast, brewer’s yeast, and fermented products). This article from “Eat this, Not that identifies 14 Inflammatory Foods Making You Fat.

How do you know a food isn’t working for you?
Well, aside from weight gain there are simple signs that your body is saying “Please don’t feed this food to me!”

• bloating after a meal
• constipation
• 3:00 p.m. energy dip
• body aches and pains
• irritability
• depression
• hormonal issues

Changing your diet and losing weight are two of the best ways to lower inflammation. 
Here are some tips:

1. Eating antioxidant- and polyphenol-rich foods can cut down on inflammation by reducing “free-radical damage.” To get them, try drinking green tea and eating a rainbow of fruits and veggies; here are some examples of what to reach for, broccoli, kale, collards, rutabaga, turnips, berries.

2. Getting a good ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in your diet is important for reducing inflammation. Most of us consume too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3, so the key to balancing things is to increase omega-3 rich foods like salmon, flax and chia seeds, avocado and walnuts.

3. Turmeric, garlic, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and ginger have all been shown in studies to have anti-inflammatory properties. Sprinkle them liberally onto your food.

4. Moving around releases a burst of anti-inflammatory proteins from the cells to the rest of the body. Blending strength training with moderate exercise is key. An example of moderate exercise is 45–60 minutes of cardio, such as walking or jogging, about three times a week.

5. Reducing stress helps to keep hormones like cortisol under control and that, in turn, helps lower inflammation.

6. Lack of sleep makes the body ripe for infection, while more sleep has the opposite effect. A review of several studies published in 2008 found that sleeping less than eight hours a night was linked to weight gain. 

Why Protein is so Important to Your Strength Training Regime

April 3rd, 2018 by Debbie Martilotta

Debbie standing in our gymDid you know that your organs, tissues, muscles, and hormones are all made from proteins? The protein found in foods is used by every part of the body to develop, grow and function properly. It can be argued that nothing is more important than consuming protein foods, and because proteins are involved in just about every body function, it’s important that you consume foods high in protein every day, during every meal to prevent protein deficiency, which can wreak havoc on the body.

Eating enough protein is necessary to build and maintain healthy muscle mass, while also supporting tendon, ligaments, and other body tissue. So, protein is important for bodybuilding, but it’s also necessary for developing leaner muscles as well. When your diet is lacking in amino acids, “muscle wasting” (or muscle atrophy) can take place when your muscle fibers are broken down to support your body’s energy needs.

Protein is especially important after exercise since physical activity like strength training purposefully damages muscle tissues so they can repair and grow back stronger. For the process to happen effectively, you need some extra protein to help repair the damage. While protein alone won’t enhance athletic performance, research shows that eating protein before and after exercise helps increase muscle recovery, promotes muscle synthesis and serves as effective muscle ache treatment.

We need to eat plenty of protein foods every day to keep our metabolisms running, our energy up and our blood sugar levels stable. You might eat enough protein overall, but do you eat the right kinds?

Here are some of the best protein foods for your health.

1. Grass-Fed Beef: 3 ounces: 22 grams

2. Organic Chicken: 3 ounces: 21 grams

3. Bone Broth: 1 serving (¼ cup): 20 grams

4. Lentils: 1 cup: 18 grams

5. Wild-Caught Salmon (and other wild fish): 3 ounces: 17 grams

6. Eggs: 1 large free-range egg: 7 grams

7. Almonds (and other nuts): ¼ cup/23 almonds: 5 grams

Studies show that eating a high-protein diet has a number of health benefits. Not only does it help you maintain and lose weight, but it also works to stabilize your blood sugar levels, improve your ability to learn and concentrate, reduce brain fog, boost your energy levels, support your muscles and bones and support the absorption of important nutrients.

Many people make the mistake of trying diets that involve calorie counting and deprivation. On a high-protein diet, you will feel completely satiated after eating, and you won’t have to deal with the blood sugar highs and lows that lead to cravings and moodiness. You’ll be surprised to see how many foods you can eat on a high-protein diet. Even people on a vegetarian or vegan diet, who sometimes turn to processed foods for energy, have enough high-protein foods to choose from.

My Final Thoughts on High-Protein Foods

  • The protein found in foods is used by every part of the body to develop, grow and function properly.
  • Proteins are long chains of amino acids, which are essential molecules for all metabolic processes.
  • When you don’t eat a range of foods high in protein, you become at risk of deficiencies in certain amino acids, which can result in many health issues, including low energy, mood swings, difficulty losing weight, poor sleep, low immunity and unstable blood sugar levels.
  • Some of the top foods high in protein include grass-fed beef, organic chicken, lentils, wild-caught salmon, black beans, natto, eggs, yogurt, goat cheese, almonds and protein powder made from bone broth.
  • For people who don’t eat animal products, there are plenty of plant-based protein options, including nuts, seeds, beans, leafy greens and grains like quinoa.

partly sourced from

The 40- and 50-something wide and wide-eyed 

March 27th, 2018 by Debbie Martilotta

Kids are grown and almost out of the house, God bless ’em. Both spouses work and love Monday Night Football. He likes a few beers now and then and the love of his life prefers wine at dinner. Where does time go and where do the pounds come from? They used to run and could go for miles; tried to jog last Friday, and were on the couch for the rest of the weekend. The muscle they thought was lost attacked without mercy from every direction…simultaneously. Scary. Life’s a grand struggle and they love it…worth the fight and they want to start living again… renew, rebuild, strengthen and fortify. Exercise, eat right; it’s time.

It is time, indeed. And there’s nothing like a healthy and challenging diversion to revive our vitality and renew interest as the valley of life spreads out before us. And what is more complete, inexpensive and available than the challenge of musclebuilding fitness? Pole vaulting is unlikely, you’re probably too old for the Marines and ski jumping has its limiting factors.

The secret’s out; it’s on TV, it’s become an industry. Every day, everywhere we look, we witness the grave physical condition of our neighbors — overweight and undermuscled, un-energized and dispirited. Few, upon identifying the disadvantages in themselves, do anything about them: too late, too much trouble, too lazy, too ignorant, too careless, too cowardly, too apathetic, too busy, too preoccupied.

Oh, well, what the heck. Maybe tomorrow.

Tomorrow comes in some distant future and some actually give the growing dilemma their best shot: walk, skip meals, join a gym on a two-for-one special for a 30-day-trial. Tomorrow goes and, just as they expected, nothing happens. “I told ya.”

Ah, but there are the exceptions to the rule, and, well, they rule. The original Mr. and Mrs. Wide-eyed see the light and grasp the iron with all their might. They hire Debbie Martilotta, a personal trainer who’s been through the mill — all good personal trainers go through the mill — and she introduces them to the inner workings of the metal shop. How’s it go again? Lift, push, pull, hoist, order, intensity, feel, live and lift, learn and grow… smile, be happy.

Oh, yeah. Though reminded to be positive and never look back, they say, “What have we been waiting for? If only we knew the musclebuilding lifestyle was so fulfilling, rewarding, beneficial, interesting, challenging and fun, we’d have become muscleheads ages ago.”


Got wings, will fly… Draper, courtesy of 

The Key to Weight Loss Is Diet Quality, Not Quantity

March 27th, 2018 by Debbie Martilotta

This should not be news to my clients!

Anyone who has ever been on a diet knows that the standard prescription for weight loss is to reduce the number of calories you consume.

But a new study, published in JAMA, may turn that advice on its head. It found that people who cut back on added sugar, refined grains, and highly processed foods while concentrating on eating plenty of vegetables and whole foods — without worrying about counting calories or limiting portion sizes — lost significant amounts of weight over the course of a year.

The strategy worked for people whether they followed diets that were mostly low in fat or mostly low in carbohydrates. And their success did not appear to be influenced by their genetics or their insulin-response to carbohydrates, a finding that casts doubt on the increasingly popular idea that different diets should be recommended to people based on their DNA makeup or on their tolerance for carbs or fat.

The research lends strong support to the notion that diet quality, not quantity, is what helps people lose and manage their weight most easily in the long run. It also suggests that health authorities should shift away from telling the public to obsess over calories and instead encourage Americans to avoid processed foods that are made with refined starches and added sugar, like bagels, white bread, refined flour and sugary snacks and beverages.

“This is the roadmap to reducing the obesity epidemic in the United States,” said Dr. Mozaffarian, cardiologist, and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, who was not involved in the new study. “It’s time for the U.S. and other national policies to stop focusing on calories and calorie counting.”

Dr. Gardner,  director of nutrition studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, and his colleagues designed the study to compare how overweight and obese people would fare on low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets. But they also wanted to test the hypothesis — suggested by previous studies — that some people are predisposed to do better on one diet over the other depending on their genetics and their ability to metabolize carbs and fat. A growing number of services have capitalized on this idea by offering people personalized nutrition advice tailored to their genotypes.

The researchers recruited adults from the Bay Area and split them into two diet groups, which were called “healthy” low carb and “healthy” low fat. Members of both groups attended classes with dietitians where they were trained to eat nutrient-dense, minimally processed whole foods, cooked at home whenever possible.

Soft drinks, fruit juice, muffins, white rice and white bread are technically low in fat, for example, but the low-fat group was told to avoid those things and eat foods like brown rice, barley, steel-cut oats, lentils, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, quinoa, fresh fruit, and legumes. The low-carb group was trained to choose nutritious foods like olive oil, salmon, avocados, hard cheeses, vegetables, nut butters, nuts and seeds, and grass-fed and pasture-raised animal foods.

The participants were encouraged to meet the federal guidelines for physical activity but did not generally increase their exercise levels, Dr. Gardner said. In classes with the dietitians, most of the time was spent discussing food and behavioral strategies to support their dietary changes.

The new study stands apart from many previous weight-loss trials because it did not set extremely restrictive carbohydrate, fat or caloric limits on people and emphasized that they focus on eating whole or “real” foods — as much as they needed to avoid feeling hungry.

Of course, many dieters regain what they lose, and this study cannot establish whether participants will be able to sustain their new habits. While people on average lost a significant amount of weight in the study, there was also wide variability in both groups. Some people gained weight, and some lost as much as 50 to 60 pounds. Dr. Gardner said that the people who lost the most weight reported that the study had “changed their relationship with food.” They no longer ate in their cars or in front of their television screens, and they were cooking more at home and sitting down to eat dinner with their families, for example.

“We really stressed to both groups again and again that we wanted them to eat high-quality foods,” Dr. Gardner said. “We told them all that we wanted them to minimize added sugar and refined grains and eat more vegetables and whole foods. We said, ‘Don’t go out and buy a low-fat brownie just because it says low fat. And those low-carb chips — don’t buy them, because they’re still chips and that’s gaming the system.’”

Dr. Gardner said many of the people in the study were surprised — and relieved — that they did not have to restrict or even think about calories.

“A couple weeks into the study people were asking when we were going to tell them how many calories to cut back on,” he said. “And months into the study they said, ‘Thank you! We’ve had to do that so many times in the past.’”

Yet the new study found that after one year of focusing on food quality, not calories, the two groups lost substantial amounts of weight. On average, the members of the low-carb group lost just over 13 pounds, while those in the low-fat group lost about 11.7 pounds. Both groups also saw improvements in other health markers, like reductions in their waist sizes, body fat, and blood sugar and blood pressure levels.

Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the nutrition department at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, said the study did not support a “precision medicine” approach to nutrition, but that future studies would be likely to look at many other genetic factors that could be significant. He said the most important message of the study was that a “high-quality diet” produced substantial weight loss and that the percentage of calories from fat or carbs did not matter, which is consistent with other studies, including many that show that eating healthy fats and carbs can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases.

The bottom line: Diet quality is important for both weight control and long-term well-being,” he said.

Read the complete article by Anahad O’Connor here

8 Health Benefits of Lifting Weights

March 12th, 2018 by Debbie Martilotta

Lifting lighter weights for more reps is great for building muscle endurance, but if you want to increase your strength, increasing your weight load is key.

Add compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and rows to your heavy weights and you’ll be amazed at how fast you’ll build strength.

Love the lean, defined muscles on super-fit ladies? “If women want more definition, they should lift heavier since they cannot get bigger muscles because of low testosterone levels,” says Dr. Jason Karp, an exercise physiologist, and author. “So, lifting heavier has the potential to make women more defined.”

The key to this one is consistency, as research has shown that lifting heavy weights over time not only maintains bone mass but can even build new bone, especially in the high-risk group of post-menopausal women (Women and Weight Training for Osteoporosis).

You may burn more calories during your 1-hour cardio class than you would lifting weights for an hour, but a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that women who did weight training burned an average of 100 more calories during the 24 hours after their training session ended.

The effect is magnified when you increase the weight, as explained in a study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Women who lifted more weight for fewer reps (85 percent of their max load for 8 reps) burned nearly twice as many calories during the two hours after their workout than when they did more reps with a lighter weight (45 percent of their max load for 15 reps).


Article courtesy of Shape Magazine

6 Things That Will Happen to Your Body When You Eat Eggs

March 12th, 2018 by Debbie Martilotta

Eating eggs is a fantastic way to give you a health boost. According to WebMD, each egg only contains 75 calories and is packed with 7 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat and 1.6 grams of saturated fat. Not to mention it contains iron and other essential vitamins and minerals. If you’re not eating eggs on a regular basis, here are 6 things that will happen to your body when you do.

Boost Your Weight Loss:
Did you know that eating eggs can actually boost your weight loss? Many people are surprised when they hear this because they’ve been told that eggs are unhealthy and fattening.

Help Your Body Prevent Breast Cancer:
Research that was conducted by Harvard University found that eating eggs as an adolescent could help prevent breast cancer.

Reduce Stress and Anxiety:
A study was published in 2004 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and researchers found that when people had sufficient lysine sources in their diet, their stress and anxiety levels were reduced.

Protect Your Eyes:
There are two types of antioxidants in eggs – lutein and zeaxanthin – they both have protective effects on your eyes. Both these antioxidants are found in the yolk. What these antioxidants do is reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.

Lower Inflammation:
Eggs contain dietary phospholipids – compounds which have huge effects on inflammation according to studies. In fact, a recent study published in the journal Nutrients found that there was a connection between dietary intake of egg phospholipids and choline and the reduction on inflammation.

Protects Your Liver:
As mentioned already, eggs have high levels of choline. A review was published in journal Advances In Nutrition, and it explained that choline deficiency is linked to the build-up of hepatic lipids, which have the ability to cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Click to read complete article.


March 6th, 2018 by Debbie Martilotta

Every moment is an opportunity to be mindful and carry yourself with good posture. Don’t be a slouch and allow stress, gravity, or your job to pull you down. Be more aware of how you carry yourself and fight to keep yourself in proper alignment.

Slouching can make you look older and FATTER. Don’t hide your gains beneath bad posture!

  • Have constant body awareness and stop rounding your shoulders
  • Keep your midsection tight
  • Pull your shoulders back
  • Keep your ribcage high, with belly button pulled to spine

Be proud of your temple…you’ve worked hard to sculpt it, now display it proudly!

Not all Calories are Created Equal

March 6th, 2018 by Debbie Martilotta

Calories are not the issue…where those calories come from IS!

For years we’ve been told that “a calorie is a calorie”. NOT SO! Eat lean protein (grass-fed, free-range, organic, wild-caught), good fat and complex carbs (from veggies) and you won’t have to worry about calories!

People who ate plenty of vegetables and whole foods lost significant amounts of weight over the course of the year without restricting the quantity of food that they consumed, according to a new study published in JAMA on Tuesday.

The study, led by Christopher D. Gardner, the director of nutrition studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, looked at 600 people who were split into two diet groups. One group ate low-carb food and the other followed a low-fat diet, The New York Times reports.

The original goal of the study was to compare how overweight and obese people handled each diet, but both groups were encouraged to choose better quality food over processed options. At the end of the year, both groups had lost a good deal of weight. The low-carb participants lost an average of 13 pounds, while the low-fat group lost an average of 11.7 pounds. Both groups also saw improvement in other health factors such as blood pressure and body fat.

The study suggests that health professionals should encourage people to avoid processed foods that have refined starches and added sugars such as white bread, bagels, and sugary snacks and instead focus on eating more high-quality food.

Researchers say that it’s not that calories don’t matter. Participants in both groups were eating less by the end of the study, but that calories shouldn’t be the main focus when it comes to weight loss.

Newsflash: Spot Training Does NOT Work

February 28th, 2018 by Debbie Martilotta

Image of woman lifting weight.

One of the most common misconceptions in the gym is that one can spot train.

Spot training is the (false) idea that you can cause weight loss or muscle definition in one area without affecting other parts of the body. There are no reliable studies that support the idea of spot training. There are, however, several that discredit it.

For example, eleven men and women did more than 1,000 repetitions of leg press with their non-dominant leg, three times a week, for 12 weeks, and made no dietary changes. At the end of the training program, the participants boasted a 10% drop in fat mass—in their arms. Participants in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study also whittled their core area, losing an average of 7% of the fat mass in that spot. Remember: they did 1,000 repetitions with only ONE leg.

Although it’s not possible to tone just one specific area or muscle group, it is very possible to increase your overall muscle definition.

Doing so is simply a matter of decreasing the amount of fat on your body while increasing the amount of muscle. One extremely effective method for accomplishing this balance is a strength-training workout that incorporates all muscle groups, with little rest between exercises, along with a clean eating program consisting of lean protein, good carbs, and good fat.