Tag Archives: muscle

What is HIIT you ask?!

17 Sep

High-intensity Interval Training! Oh how wonderful it is! So many people make comments to me such as “you must spend HOURS doing cardio” or “how much cardio do you do a week?!” Well the truth is….hardly any! Once I became aware of HIIT, I was hooked! I never liked cardio. I would get extremely bored and just completely give up. Once my brother told me I should try HIIT…I was a little confused. He told me to only do it for 12 minutes! I was used to trying to get 45 minutes of cardio in and now he is telling me only 12 minutes?! Sure I was excited about the short period of time..but I was also skeptical. So, I did some research on my own and wanted to share it with you guys!

High-intensity interval training consists of short bursts of going as fast and as hard as you can followed by a short recovery time. Then you just continue to repeat that process. HIIT has been shown to reduce body fat while making sure you don’t lose any muscle! It also greatly increases your cardiovascular capacity and keeps your metabolic rate increased for hours…and sometimes even days! The coolest part about it….you should not do HIIT for more than 20 minutes!!! (bodybuilding.com “3 ways to boost cardio intensity).

So..what are some examples of HIIT you ask? You can literally do it with anything! If you have access to a track…try sprinting the curves and jogging or walking the straights! If you are just starting out I would recommend walking the straights. If you want a challenge try jogging! Or, if you are on a treadmill…sprint for 30 seconds and then job/walk for 1 minute (or longer if you need to). I personally like doing HIIT on the stairclimber! I will do a moderate pace for a minute…then go as fast as I possibly can for 30 seconds..then back to a moderate minute..then 30 seconds as fast as I can…all the way up to 12-15 minutes! Don’t try to kill yourself starting out! Pick a pace and speeds that seem reasonable to you…my sprint might be a lot slower/faster compared to yours…THATS OK! Everyone’s body is different! The important thing is that you are doing it!

HIIT is especially important when you are lifting weights and trying to gain muscle. Steady-state cardio…such as running for an hour or doing 45 minutes on the elliptical is not going to improve your level of fitness. That kind of cardio breaks down your muscles. It burns fat with burning the muscle as well..which is NOT what you want! The more muscle you have on your body, the more fat you burn, and the faster your metabolism works! “The American Journal of Physiology found that steady-state cardio decreases the ability of muscles to absorb glucose after training” (bodybuilding.com “HIIT Can Get You Huge, Especially If You Are A Meathead”). Steady state cardio limits hypertrophy which is the primary regulator of muscle growth!! (bodybuilding.com).

So…I challenge you to try HIIT this week! It is a GREAT burn and it will really make you sweat!! It also is quick and fast and it doesn’t get boring!! I really think you all will like it…and see amazing changes in your body!! Also, try picking up the weights this week! Weight lifting does WONDERFUL things for your body! Girls..DO NOT BE AFRAID OF DUMBBELLS!! THEY ARE YOUR FRIENDS!! 🙂

-Live healthy and God bless xoxo M

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About This Blog & How I Lost The Weight

13 Sep

Since I have a lot of new followers…I thought it would be a good idea to share what this blog is about and how I lost the weight again!

Hi all! My name is Maria and I am 22 years old. I am a social worker and dedicate my life to healthy living!
After my weight loss story was featured on the cover of PEOPLE magazine in August of 2013, I decided I needed to share my success with others in a different kind of way….so here’s my blog!

This blog is for all those who are trying to make
their lives healthier and who need some tips, motivation, and support!

I post things such as workouts, recipes, and weight
loss tips! I believe in healthy living and making it fun! Everyone needs a little inspiration in their life!

Here’s to making our lives happier and
healthier!

When I lost 105 pounds 6 years ago, I NEVER thought I would get my story out. I had always dreamed of it happening, but I never thought it would. There were many times I would send my story to magazines, websites, etc. and always get turned down. It got to the point where I finally gave up. I trusted that God had a plan for me, and getting my story out was not in his plan. In February, I decided that I needed to go to counseling to heal some past hurts and issues. I will post more about that soon! I needed to heal myself emotionally. When I lost the weight, I only healed myself physically. The same month I first started counseling, my mom sent my story into PEOPLE magazine. Well, the rest is history! I landed on the COVER of PEOPLE magazine! God DID have a plan! It was when I finally fixed my emotional problems and past hurts, he allowed me to share my story with the world. My story is raw. It is true. It is real.

I got so many amazing texts, emails, calls, and messages from people who saw the magazine cover and the news stories. Everyone wanted to know how I did it! What my secrets were! Everything I ate! Well, now everyone can! From a little push by a good friend, I decided it was a great idea to start a blog! I am new at this….so bare with me! I plan to post pictures, recipes, what I do in the gym, random ideas and motivational tips, and a look into my personal life of living a healthy lifestyle!

SO….HERE GOES NOTHING!

So, the question of the day….HOW DID YOU LOSE SO MUCH WEIGHT AT 15?!?! Simple answer…WEIGHT WATCHERS! Growing up, I was always overweight. I didn’t play any sports, I wasn’t active, and I LOVED to eat! I especially loved to snack. There was always a snack after school…and usually two before bed! I had a good group of friends growing up and was never bullied, which was a huge blessing. I have two older brothers who were both football players…they needed to eat a lot! So, I just fell into their eating patters. I was always the “clothes holder” going shopping with friends because I couldn’t fit into the clothes in the stores they loved. It was miserable, embarrassing, and downright AWFUL!

At 15, I was 240 pounds. Size 28. And a freshman in high-school. The best friends that I had all through growing up were involved in sports once we got into high-school…I wasn’t. Therefore…they made new friends and I was left out. It happens. Being left out is a part of life. However, being so overweight, I had no self confidence to stand up for myself and try to become involved in their lives again. I simply put up a GIANT wall and ate my pain away. The hurt was terrible. I cried everyday after school. There were moments when my mom and I had to plan out who I was going to talk to in school and where I would sit in the mornings before I needed to be in homeroom. Most times, I would just sit alone.

One night, I was sitting at my kitchen table. My mom came in the front door, walked into the kitchen, and set books on the table in front of me, and walked away. I picked up the books because I was curious where she was for an hour and I saw that they were Weight Watcher books. Now, I know my mom wasn’t pressuring me to lose weight, because she did my entire life, and eventually gave up. I didn’t like knowing that people wanted me to lose weight…it actually made me eat more! So anyway, I picked up the books, and started to look through them. That’s when I saw that Weight Watchers was based on a points system. Everything you eat has a points value and you have a daily target. You use a tracker to track your points each day. When I saw that PIZZA and FRENCH FRIES had points values…and I could still eat them if I tracked my points…I knew I needed to do it! I think my mom had a heart attack when I told her I wanted to join!

That Saturday morning, my mom and I got into the car and headed to weight watchers! We got myself all signed up (with a doctors note of course) and then it was time to face the scale! I didn’t know how much I weighed. I never weighed myself and I wouldn’t even let the doctors tell me. So, I stepped onto the scale. The receptionist was so sweet and so supportive. She made the process a lot easier. They keep the scale very private so I didn’t see what I weighed until I went into the meeting room. When I saw 240…I was shocked! I knew I was heavy, but I didn’t know I was that heavy.

That was the first day of the rest of my life! I was completely changed that morning. Something just came over me and I knew good things were going to happen! My leader was incredible. My mom was by my side. I knew it would work. There were weeks of gains and weeks of binging like I used to. But I took it step by step and day by day. I never said I need to lose exactly 105 pounds. I took it 5 pounds at a time! Thinking of the end result was just too overwhelming!

SO…my advice to you…If you are ready for a change. Do it. Walk into Weight Watchers. Throw out the bad food. Start to research healthy eating. I promise it will become second nature to you and worth it! Its going to be hard. Its going to take a lot out of you. There will be tears. And there will be haters. But the end result will be wonderful. Your life will be changed.

If a normal girl like me can do it…ANYONE CAN! Feel free to ask questions in the comment box!

Forget The Scale!

2 Sep


So…I have been going back and forth with posting about the dreaded scale. This is a very personal and touchy subject for me and it is hard to talk about. However, I know A LOT of people who struggle with the same feelings I do towards the scale.

When I started my Weight Watchers journey…I didn’t understand the impact that stepping on the scale once a week would have on my emotional health. When I joined Weight Watchers, I honestly felt like my life was falling apart. I had nothing to look forward to. I dreaded basically everything. I would cry before and after school everyday. Come home from school and literally eat an entire bag of potato chips and French onion dip.

The day I joined, stepping on the scale, and seeing it say 240 pounds killed me. It was embarrassing. I felt SO angry at myself and others. How did I let myself get that way?! It was a slap in the face. I was defeated. But, I knew that it was the start of my new life. I needed to lose the weight.

The first week of Weight Watchers was challenging, but fun! My mom and I discovered new recipes and yummy things to eat! The entire week I anticipated going back and stepping on the scale! I ended up losing 4 pounds my first week…Needless to say, I was thrilled! Little did I know that that scale would come to haunt me in the future.

Because I had no other joys in my life at the time, the scale became the only positive thing that I had. Every week I thought about how much I was going to lose. What I would weigh. What would happen if I gained. At the time though, I didn’t think anything of it. I looked forward to that weigh in and it kept me going and motivated. But, there were no other rewards. The scale was the only reward I had.

When I didn’t lose….it honestly felt like the end of the world. I would have good weeks and gain weight! It shocked me and really killed me inside. I managed to make sure I stayed on track…because I wanted to see that minus sign SO badly. I was determined and it paid off….I lost 105 pounds and changed my life…But, once I lost the weight…that’s when things began to get complicated.

It took me a year to lose the weight. I never missed a weigh in. So, I stepped on the scale once a week for a year. Then, I became a lifetime member. You are only required to weigh in once a month as a lifetime member, but I of course told myself I NEEDED to weigh in once a week. For 6 years… I was a prisoner of the scale. No one knew, except me, the impact of weighing in had on my mood, personality, and what I would do in my spare time. If I would have another loss, I would be SO HAPPY! Go out to eat, go shopping, call people to hang out. If I had a gain….No eating out. No shopping. I would be MISERABLE. Seeing that minus sign was honestly like a drug to me. I needed to get my fix once a week…and if I didn’t see a minus sign…I would punish myself and not enjoy my life.

It wasn’t until this January that I realized how bad it had gotten. I had started lifting weights. I used to only do cardio and light lifting. I really loved the weight lifting and I could see my body changing before my eyes! I felt great! But then, the scale wasn’t cooperating. I was slowly starting to see gains….Every week. Therefore, I made my diet stricter and lifted heavier. But..the scale kept going up and up. Finally, when I reached gaining 10 pounds…I had a nervous breakdown. My relationship with Robby was terrible. I never wanted to go out to dinner or get happy hour. Or, if we did go out to dinner, I would run to the bathroom after and check to see if my stomach was still flat and if I could see my abs. I was miserable at family functions because I wasn’t allowing myself the treats. I would spend HOURS looking at fitness girls on instagram wishing I looked like them and telling myself that they probably don’t gain weight or get bloated when they eat out. I was OBSESSING. I just wanted to keep losing weight. I was trapped. Through many fights and tears, Robby mentioned I should go talk to a counselor. At first I was embarrassed that he would mention something like that! I was fine! I didn’t need to talk to someone! But, the more I thought about it…I knew I needed to get help.

A good family friend of mine gave me the name of a women who she said was amazing and could really help me….. I finished up counseling in July…and I honestly felt free! From going and talking with her, I realized how much the scale ruined me. I learned that when I was losing weight, there should have been other rewards besides just seeing the minus sign on the scale. We should have had other weekly plans to look forward to so I wasn’t so focused on the scale. I also learned the importance of muscle. Little did I know that I was just gaining 10 pounds of muscle! I wasn’t gaining fat. A lot of fitness people look for weight gains as a sign of progress! (because they eat all of the correct food).

So…. The scale is important to track weight loss or even muscle gain. However, it CANNOT be the ONLY thing that you look at. Take measurements! You will see them shrinking even if the scale isn’t moving! Tell yourself it is just a number…because it is!! It doesn’t define you! It doesn’t make you who you are! DONT BECOME TRAPPED LIKE I DID! Your body fluctuates ALL day long! Girls…you will most likely gain on that dreaded week! Also, DO NOT KEEP A SCALE IN YOUR HOUSE! That is the worst thing you can do! If you have a week where you gain weight…accept it…move on…and realize that your body is just sometimes stubborn. It doesn’t want you to lose weight. Just keep eating healthy and working out and you WILL see the results! Also, make sure you have a hobby that you like to do while losing weight. I ONLY had weight watchers. I didn’t do ANYTHING else! I should have rode horses, scrapbooked, or went fishing to keep my mind off of it and to realize that THERE IS MORE TO LIFE THAN THE SCALE!

If you are into lifting weights, which I highly recommend, learn the difference between muscle and fat. It is a MYTH that muscle weighs more than fat. They weigh the SAME! One pound of muscle is the same as one pound of fat. HOWEVER, muscle is much more dense than fat! Meaning that it takes up less space! Also, muscle helps to burn fat, so the more muscle you have on you, the less fat you will have! SO, when I was gaining those 10 pounds, it was all muscle! I was still lean and I wasn’t going up in pant sizes. I was just toning up and getting rid of the excess fat I had! I know it was pure muscle gain because my diet was very good. All healthy foods and within my weight watcher points. Don’t assume that if you are lifting weights…but your diet is way off track that you are gaining muscle!!

So, what happened after counseling? I haven’t stepped on a scale since FEBRUARY!!! And I have never felt better! I keep track of my weight by how my clothes feel! If my jeans feel a little snug… I know I should probably tone it down on the treats for the weekend. If they feel a little loose…Well I know I can have an extra cookie! Once you are at a weight that is good with you, stay there. There is no need to experiment to try to be “smaller.” I know that my body is comfortable around 135-140 pounds. I am a size 6-8 depending on the store. I have big hips and a big butt and I don’t want to be any smaller now. I used to think…well, a lot of my friends are a size 4, so I want to be a size 4! Well guess what, when I got there….I couldn’t even eat one cookie! That is NO WAY to live. What are your priorities?? Mine isn’t to be a size 4. It was. And when it was I didn’t enjoy my life. I couldn’t have a piece of my moms famous pies. I couldn’t have a few beers with my boyfriend during Penguin games. Now, my priority is to ENJOY life. To be the healthiest and happiest version of myself. To have a great career. To get married and raise a family….and guess what….I am going to do all of those things WITHOUT a scale.

-PLEASE comment or reach out to me if you are struggling with this same problem!
-Live healthy and many blessings!
– XOXO M

Instagram Photo – Workout of the day!

14 Aug

So….if you follow me on instagram, I told you to come to my blog to see what the heck I was doing in the picture! If you just follow my blog, you may have seen the picture on the right hand side of my blog. Well….that exercise is called I-w-I. This exercise is great for developing the lower traps and scapula. It helps to pull your shoulders back….which is so important! My mom always yells at me and tells me to pull my shoulders back! It definitely makes you look taller! This exercise also promotes flexibility and range of motion for shoulders. All of this is so important! My shoulders were so weak when I first started lifting heavy and because of that, I injured my rotator cuff. I was completely cut off from lifting and had to go to physical therapy for 3 months! It was awful! I don’t want that to happen to any of you…so I thought I would share this exercise with you!

First, you want to lay flat on your stomach. Grab 2 pound dumbbells – keep your thumbs up – and arms straight out in front of you. Keep your head down.

Lift your arms up…they wont go up very high…just enough to give you range of motion. Pull them back in a W like position. You are going to have to engage your core and use those back muscles.

Then bring your arms back to the original position

Do this for two sets of 10 reps! You will feel the burn big time! Also, I have noticed that this helps with the back fat right behind my armpit! A lot of women complain about some fat hanging out over their bra or shirt…this is really going to help tone that area of skin! Also, it will make your back and shoulders look super good!

-This exercise and information was given to me by a certified personal trainer..aka the boyfriend! 🙂
-Enjoy! Let me know if there are any questions!
-Live Healthy and God bless! M xoxo

Today’s Back Workout

12 Aug

As promised on Instagram…I’m going to tell you about my back workout today! I love to work out with my boyfriend, Robby, because he is a personal trainer! Now you all must be thinking…well that’s how she lost weight… she had a trainer! Well actually, I didn’t meet him until after I lost weight. So no I didn’t have a trainer while losing weight.

Anyway, last week was so busy with all of the film crews here, that I wasn’t able to workout! So today I was back at it! Todays back workout was quick and a pretty easy one for me! Here it is:

Bent over rows 4×6 (Heavy)
Wide grip pull ups 4×6
Seated low row 4×8 with a quarter at the back – this is what I showed on instagram!
Lat pull-downs 4×10
Barbell shrugs 4×10

I also did 50 jumping jacks in between each set! Again, things have been crazy lately so I have just been doing random things at the gym. Once I get back into a routine (once school starts) I will be back on a 4 week cycle lifting program!

-God Bless & Live healthy!