What I Learned During 13 Years Of Strength Training

February 5th, 2019 by Debbie Martilotta

It all started when I was 18. At the time, I was slowly recovering from an eating disorder known as anorexia nervosa, and my dad was trying to help me get healthy again.

“You know, there’s a way you can eat a lot more and still be skinny!” he said. “Come to the gym and workout with me.”

It’s funny how different my ideal body was back then, 13 years ago. I was judging myself by what I saw online and in magazines. I wanted to be emaciated-looking. I wanted to be small and petite. I wanted to be “less.”

My first trip to the gym was immensely unproductive. My “hardcore workout” consisted of some abdominal machine work, some crunches, and…wait for it…sleeping on the mat. Yup, I fell asleep on a mat about 15 minutes after walking into a gym for the first time in my life.

Despite what happened during that first visit, I’ve been steadily going to the gym for more than 13 years now. In that time, I’ve completed countless numbers of lifting sessions. But it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the process of strength training and how it made me feel. I soon became passionate, determined, and dedicated to making gains, both physically and mentally.

Today, I’d like to share with you 13 lessons I’ve learned along the road to becoming a stronger, more fit, and more confident me.

Lesson 1: Women, You Will Not Look Like Men
No matter how hard you work out at the gym, you will not—I repeat—not look like a man. Women simply do not have enough testosterone in their bodies to increase their muscle mass to the point where they look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. The women you see pictured online with huge muscles use steroids.

Without these dangerous drugs, you can still see amazing changes in your body shape and tone. You get there by following a healthy diet and by lifting weights—real weights. Don’t be afraid to go beyond the colored-plastic 5-pounders and grab some iron. It won’t make you bulky, but it will make you strong and lean.

Lesson 2: Strength Training Shapes Your Body Much More Than Cardio Does
There are two components to physique: muscle and the visibility of that muscle. We increase muscle mass when we strength train. We increase muscle visibility when we lower our body fat percentage. To increase muscle visibility, you must strength train. In other words, in order to display your muscles, you have to have them! In contrast, cardio is great for heart and overall health, but won’t do anything for your muscle tone.

Lesson 3: Strength Train The Major Muscle Groups
When most people decide they want to change their physique and improve their health, they tend to focus on the body parts that bother them the most. For women, often this means lower body and stomach. For their part, men often focus on biceps and chest. To improve muscular balance, prevent injuries, improve overall appearance and strength, and increase caloric burn, you must train all the major muscle groups—the ones you see in the mirror and the ones you don’t.

Focus on compound exercises that use large muscle groups—exercises such as squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, and rows. Then add accessory, or isolation, exercises that target smaller muscle groups. Such exercises include leg curls, triceps extensions, and rear-delt raises.

Lesson 4: Going For Spot Reduction? If Only!
Newsflash: There is no such thing as spot reduction, meaning no exercise can burn fat in a specific area. Your genetics, not your workouts, determine the areas where you can gain and lose fat. A good diet combined with intensive strength training is what creates an aesthetically pleasing physique.

Lesson 5: Continuous Progress Requires Progressive Overload
The SAID principle (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands) is simple: Your body adapts to stress (in the form of exercise) by gaining muscle mass and strength. To continue building your physique, you must constantly increase what you demand of your body through a concept called progressive overload. One way to achieve this is by adding more weight to the bar. But you can also do it through any combination of increasing your reps per set, increasing your range of motion for a certain exercise, improving your technique, or reducing the rest time between sets. All these techniques give you the freedom to change, monitor, and adjust your program so you can keep challenging yourself.

Lesson 6: Diet Schmiet—Mind Your Calories!
I’ve attempted all kinds of diets—low fat, high fat, zero sugar, only “specific foods” diet, and on and on. None of them worked. About three years into my weight-lifting career, I decided to dive deeper into the science behind body composition changes. I hoped to answer several questions: Why do we get fat? How do we lose fat? Are certain foods fattening? Do some foods burn calories just by digesting them?

Along the way, I realized there are three possible scenarios for an individual’s body weight and caloric intake:

  • The number of calories you consume each day is equivalent to the number of calories your body burns per day. In this scenario, you maintain your weight.
  • The number of calories you consume per day is greater than the number of calories your body burns. In this scenario, you gain weight.
  • The number of calories you consume daily is less than the number of calories your body burns per day. In this scenario, you lose weight.

Simply put, we gain fat when we eat too many damn calories, not because we eat or avoid specific foods. I’m a big proponent of the 80/20 rule, whereby 80 percent of your diet consists of highly nutritious, minimally processed foods, and 20 percent consists of low-nutrient, processed foods. The good news is you can still eat those foods you love. Just eat less of them. Maybe a lot less.

Lesson 7: Food Has No Moral Code
Have these thoughts ever crossed your mind?

A cookie is bad for you, while a salad is good for you.
I was bad because I had a piece of chocolate cake. I’d be good if I had broccoli and chicken.
Thinking of foods as “good” and “bad” is called orthorexia, “an obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy.” Orthorexia sounds great but, in reality, it undermines your long-term success, both physically and emotionally.

Labeling foods as good or bad only encourage a negative relationship with them. In reality, food is neutral; it’s meant to be used as fuel for the body—and to be enjoyed! A healthy diet isn’t all black or all white—it comes in shades of grey. Yes, it’s rich in nutrients, but if you want your diet to last the long haul, it also needs to include foods that give you pleasure.

Lesson 8: Be Realistic About Your Expectations
You’ve finally decided to start your fitness journey. You’re excited. You’re motivated. You think to yourself, “I’m going to have my dream body in 3-6 months!”

Good for you—but not so fast. For most mortals, it takes way more than three months to achieve that dream body, whatever it may be. With consistency in your exercise and diet program, you will see measurable and noticeable changes in three months—just maybe not the kind of before/after transformation you see so often on social media.

Getting a fit body and adding quality muscle can take years. Get into it for the long term.

Lesson 9: Consistency And Patience Are Keys
Motivation can get you started, but habits keep you going. It won’t always be sunshine and rainbows, but putting in a not-so-great workout beats no workout at all every time. Keep at it and don’t give up. Being consistent will bring you closer to your goals while also helping you develop the grit and work ethic needed to continue despite obstacles. Treat every day as an opportunity to grow and improve, and rely on your discipline—not your motivation—to get you to the gym. If you miss a workout, don’t get down on yourself. Just get right back into it!

Lesson 10: Don’t Be Obsessed With Scale Weight
For years I’ve been attached to a magical number on the scale, a number that would make my life so much easier, fuller, and happier. In reality, there is no such number. Your weight comprises fat mass and fat-free mass (bones, muscles, connective tissue, organs, and water), and it’s a dynamic measurement, one that fluctuates in response to stress, hydration, carb intake, fiber intake, types of foods, time of the day, and sleep.

Lesson 11: Mental And Emotional Strength Gains Are Coming Your Way
Just as muscles grow by repeatedly overcoming resistance, we grow as people the same way. Sometimes life can seem like a daily resistance workout you never signed up for. If you’re lucky, strength training can help you learn how to show up and do the work.

I fell in love with strength training because it has better prepared me for life. Strength training tests your will power. It challenges your patience and dedication as you progress, regress, plateau, and progress again. There’s something empowering about that, especially for us women.

Lesson 12: You Won’t Always Have The Support Of Others
Some people—even those closest to you—may not understand your new fit lifestyle. That’s OK. Not everyone has to agree with you, because the most important person in your life, you, will understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. Take care of your own health and well-being first. Focus on getting stronger, healthier, and fitter. The rest will follow.

Lesson 13: Remember, You’re Much More Than Your Body
Strength training doesn’t guarantee you’ll find happiness once you’re lean. Or that your life will be any more meaningful than it was before. Or that your friends and family will love you more. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll get wiser or become a better person. All your troubles and hardships may not vanish into thin air, but you will feel healthier, stronger, and, hopefully, more confident. And that is huge!

Over the years, I’ve witnessed so many people (mainly women) attaching their self-worth to the number on the scale or the size they wear. Know that you’re so much more than that. No matter what your body is up to on any given day, learn to love it all and treat your body well. After 13 years of strength training, today I am healthy, energized, and strong. I am a capable human being, and I’m much more than just my body. And so are you.

by Sivan Fagan


Is Self-Care Selfish?

November 28th, 2018 by Debbie Martilotta

Self-care is not an indulgence. Self-care is a discipline. It requires tough-mindedness, a deep and personal understanding of your priorities, and a respect for both yourself and the people you choose to spend your life with.

For example, self-care is:

  • Turning off the TV instead of watching another episode of “The Crown” because the alarm is going off at 5 am so you can get to the gym.
  • Declining the second drink at the office holiday party. It might even be declining the first drink.
  • Choosing organic food and cooking for the health of your body.
  • Saying “no” to the thing you don’t want to do even if someone is going to be angry at you.
  • Maintaining financial independence.
  • Doing work that matters.
  • Moving your body and maintaining your physical strength and health.
  • Letting other people take care of themselves.

If we are being honest, self-care is actually kind of boring. This is why self-care is a discipline. It takes discipline to do the things that are good for us instead of what feels good in the moment. It takes even more discipline to refuse to take responsibility for other people’s emotional well-being. And it takes discipline to take full and complete responsibility for our own well-being.

Self-care is also a discipline because it’s not something you do once in a while when the world gets crazy. It’s what you do every day, every week, month in and month out. It’s taking care of yourself in a way that doesn’t require you to “indulge” in order to restore balance.

It’s making the commitment to stay healthy and balanced as a regular practice.


The Hidden Mental and Physical Benefits of Exercise

July 26th, 2018 by Debbie Martilotta

As You Work Out…
Your lungs are getting stronger. When you do cardio, your brain sends signals to them to help you breathe faster and deeper, delivering extra oxygen to your muscles.

Your motivation is at its peak. Thanks to a flood of endorphins, which trigger the classic runner’s high, you feel psyched and energized.

You’re fighting flab. During typical cardio exercise, your body taps mainly fat for fuel.

FIT TIP: Push yourself to go harder. The more intensely you do aerobic activity and the longer you do it, the more efficiently your body uses oxygen, and this boosts its fat-blasting power throughout your workout.

Within One Hour of Exercise…
You’re protecting yourself against colds, flu, you name it. Exercise elevates your level of immunoglobulins, which are proteins that help bolster your immune system and ward off infection. “Every sweat session you do can help strengthen your immune function for about 24 hours,” says Cedric Bryant, PhD, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise.

You’re feeling zen. Mood-enhancing chemicals, like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, flood your brain for a couple of hours post-exercise and for up to a day if you’ve competed in an endurance event, like a marathon. Stress? What stress?

You’re blasting calories, even at rest. For every 100 calories, you burn during your workout, you can expect to burn 15 calories after.

FIT TIP: To turbo-charge your calorie-incinerating quotient, strength-train at least twice a week. It will charge your metabolism so that you’ll continue to burn calories for up to 38 hours, according to a study from Ohio University in Athens.

Post-Workout Benefits

Within One Day of Exercise…
You’re adding lean muscle. If you did a strength-training routine, your muscles are now starting to rebuild themselves and repair the microscopic tears that come with lifting weights. Preliminary research shows that women respond to and recover from resistance training faster than men.

Your heart is healthier. One sweat session lowers your blood pressure for up to 16 hours.

FIT TIP: A vigorous workout is especially heart smart.

You’re a quick study. You’re super alert and focused post-exercise. That’s because a good workout increases the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain.

Within One Week of Regular Exercise…
Your risk of diabetes goes down. The more you work out, the greater your sensitivity to insulin. That, in turn, lowers your blood sugar levels, reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes.

Your VO2 max, a measure of your endurance and aerobic fitness, has already increased by about 5 percent.  You can go a little harder and longer than you could before.

FIT TIP: Step up your routine and your results will be even better. Plus, you can burn more belly fat by doing intervals rather than keeping a steady pace.

You’re slimmer. Cutting 500 calories a day through exercise and diet will help you drop one pound a week.

Long-Term Benefits of Exercise
You’re getting stronger. Those fifteen-pound weights don’t feel quite as heavy, because your muscular endurance is starting to increase. Ten reps is no longer a struggle.

You’re blasting belly fat. After four weeks of regular workouts, your body is ditching flab and gaining muscle. Overweight people who took part in a four-week program of moderate aerobic exercise in an Australian study reduced ab fat by 12 percent.

FIT TIP: To trim your tummy, do fewer crunches and more planks: Begin on all fours, hands under shoulders, knees under hips, then lower forearms to floor and extend legs straight behind you, balancing on toes. Keeping abs engaged and back flat, butt slightly raised, hold for 30 seconds; do 10 reps three or four times a week.

You’ve got more brainpower. Working out activates growth-stimulating proteins in the brain that may help form new cells there.

FIT TIP: The more challenging your workout, the stronger your mental muscle. Aim for 30 minutes of vigorous cardio at least three days a week.

Within One Year of Regular Exercise…
Working out is way easier. “Your endurance and aerobic fitness can increase by up to 25 percent after eight to 12 weeks of regular training,” Gordon says. “In a year your endurance can more than double.”

Your heart rate is lower. Thanks to regular workouts, your heart is pumping more efficiently. For instance, if your initial resting heart rate was 80 beats a minute, it will have dropped to 70 or lower. The less work your heart has to do, the healthier you’ll be.

You’re a fat-melting machine. Your cells are now superefficient at breaking down fat and using it as fuel. That means you’re zapping more flab 24-7.

You’ve cut your cancer risk. In a study of more than 14,800 women, those who had the highest levels of aerobic fitness were 55 percent less likely to die from breast cancer than those who were sedentary. Women considered moderately fit had about a 33 percent lower risk of developing the disease. Exercise may also help protect against endometrial, lung, and ovarian cancer, researchers say.

You’re adding years to your life.
Fitness buffs have better telomeres, the DNA that bookends our chromosomes and protects them from damage, which can slow the aging process, studies show.

You feel fantastic. Just four months of exercise is as good as prescription meds at boosting mood and reducing depression, according to a study at Duke University. Keep it up and not only will your life be longer, it will be happier, too!

Courtesy of Fitness Magazine


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.


Effects of Obesity

February 9th, 2018 by Debbie Martilotta

Heart Disease, Diabetes, Cancer,  and high blood pressure
are 
just SOME side effects of being overweight!  

If this is a concern for you I strongly suggest that you contact me for assistance in regaining back your health!
YOU are too important to your friends and family!

The U.S. Surgeon General has declared that obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. Approximately:

  • 35 percent of women and 31 percent of men are considered seriously overweight
  • 15 percent of children between the ages of six and 19 are overweight

Public health officials warn that the results of physical inactivity and poor diet are catching up to tobacco as a significant threat to health. We are committed to helping you get healthy and stay that way. Learn about obesity prevention.

  • Couple that with a lack of regular exercise and it becomes very difficult for adults to maintain or lose weight.
  • Diet and exercise are vital strategies for losing and maintaining weight. A study by the National Weight Control Registry found that nearly all of 784 study participants who had lost at least 30 pounds and had maintained that loss for one year or longer, used diet and exercise to not only lose the weight but also to maintain the weight loss.
  • Continuing to use healthy behaviors can help you maintain weight. Be aware if you’re eating as a response to stress, and use exercise, activity or meditation to manage stress instead.
  • You can avoid weight cycling and maintain a healthy weight through physical activity and healthy eating.

Read the complete article by Stanford Health Care here; http://shc.is/1CpIWmL