Guest Blogger: I heart muscle

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Megan and I became friends on facebook, and when I heard a little about her story, I KNEW you would love to hear her story too! Having dealt with many of the issues women deal with, she responded in a way that is making her body healthy and building muscle. I hope everything you read hits home like it did for me, and you are encouraged that you are a beautiful woman, no matter your fitness level!
Please leave Megan comments and check out her facebook page 🙂

Megan Trafton’s Life Story – Fact and Fiction’s on Women and “Bulking Up”

Everyone has an idea in their head when it comes to looking their fittest and healthiest. For some, it’s fitting perfectly into a certain outfit, or walking on the beach in a bikini with total confidence. For others, it may mean seeing a defined midsection reflected in the mirror, or having strong, toned shoulders or legs. We all have our own goals for how we want to look and feel. Although your specific goals may be different from those of others, almost everyone wants to look and feel toned and fit.

In this blog I’m going to explain the “facts” and “fictions” about “bulking up.” These facts and fictions are explained all over the place from fitness magazines to other fitness blogs, but it’s also from my own personal experience. Let’s start with a background history on myself…

Who is Megan Trafton?

I’m sharp; witty; comical; almost never serious, have a sassy mouth, but always go for what I want. I started working out 4 years ago after I had my daughter. (Let’s just say my daughter took my beauty during pregnancy and left me with a very wide and rounded body afterwards; and I’m not talking for a short period of time, I was large for a long time. I joined a gym and started going to every fitness class they offered. (I enjoyed boot camp, step, bodyworks, etc) – I still love these classes today and I am great friends with many of the instructors. My main problem was I never felt “comfortable” in my body. My confidence was so low I constantly beat myself up over everything. This is where it all began…

1.)   I was working out 6 days a week (sometimes twice a day) taking the fitness classes

2.)   I wasn’t eating. I maybe ate something small for breakfast and lunch. That’s it. I always told people I “just wasn’t hungry” or “I ate earlier.” I trained my body to think it wasn’t hungry – long story short, and this took a long time for me to admit, but I was anorexic. My skin was breaking out, you could see every bone in my body and my hair was thin and dead. I was dead. I still wasn’t happy; no matter what I did.

I remember standing in front of the mirror and if my thighs touched together, I would starve myself for days. After only a few months of this routine, I lost over 65 pounds and weighed in at a whopping 103 pounds. I would brag to people that I wore a size 0 or 00. I felt comfort knowing I was in control over what I ate and what I didn’t.

My friends and family would always comment on how I was a “floating head” or how I looked “thin” – I took these as compliments and thought “heck yes, I’m FINALLY thin and people are noticing!” I don’t think people realized what I was really looking for was attention on my body. Positive or negative, it didn’t matter to me; I was getting attention!

After two and a half years of this, my husband and I decided we wanted to have another baby. We were so excited! We tried for almost a year and it just wasn’t happening. To this day I look back and know it was because I wasn’t healthy. Why would God allow me to bring another child into this world when I was slowly killing myself? I was ready to just give, up when it happened; I knew something was different with my body. For me to see those two pink lines on the test was a huge knock on the head for me. I’m pregnant! I knew from this day forward I had to make changes; I couldn’t continue on starving myself like I was. I was growing a child. I started eating and limiting my workouts; I started taking care of myself. I was still self conscious about gaining the weight back with pregnancy and it was always in my head “what if I gain as much weight as I did with my daughter?” What will I do? That’s when I started making plans. I ate better, studied nutrition labels, followed fitness posts and started watching personal trainers around my gym.

8 months later we had a healthy baby boy. He weighed 7 pounds 16 ounces.

3 months later, I decided to start going back to the gym. I started slow but started finding myself going back to the “I’m not thin, I’m fat, and my thighs touch.” Once I fount myself getting back into that mind set, I started trying to find other ways to workout without going back to “my old ways.” I was following a personal trainer on FaceBook and sent him a message saying I was interested in working with him. He replied back right away and made plans to meet at a coffee shop to talk. When we did meet, he and I clicked right away. He understood my goals and understood me. I felt good after speaking with him and knew I was starting to head down the right path.

Ever since that day in the coffee shop, my life changed. I still workout 6 days a week, but eat 5-6 small meals a day and only do 2-3 days a week with light cardio. (Walking; running; biking or swimming) and the other 3 days are heavy lifting.

My mind never goes back to the “I’m not thin enough.” I don’t care if my thighs touch. Actually, since I’ve started lifting, they have increased in size but have better definition than ever before. My whole body has never looked this good since I’ve started eating clean and lifting.

Now that you know my story, let’s finish off with the facts and fictions of heavy lifting and I’ll give you an inside scoop on my workout routines and secret tips for eating….

Fiction: Women who weight train will get bulky and muscular.

Women naturally do not produce as much of the muscle producing hormone testosterone as men, so it is impossible for a woman to gain a huge amount of muscle mass. Women often picture professional female bodybuilders when thinking of weight lifting. However, many of these women use anabolic steroids and other drugs in addition to working out for countless hours at the gym in order to achieve those results.

Fact:

Women who lift weights 2-4 times a week can get a toned, fit, and cellulite – free body. Yay! Don’t we all want that? While there is some truth to the idea that lifting lighter weights for more reps does a better job of increasing the muscular endurance, lighter weights will not help you “tone” better than heavy weights. In fact, because heavier weights build the strength of your muscles (and the size to a small degree – no Hulk action here.), thereby helping to increase your metabolism and burn fat, lighting heavier weights with fewer reps (6-12 on average) and working until you’re fatigued is more effective at helping you reach your toning goals than lifting lighter weights. Not to mention that it’s more time efficient, too!

Fiction:  Women and men should lift weights differently.

NO! Read the fact(s) below…

 

Fact:

I see this one all the time at the gym. It’s pretty common to see women lift 3- to 5-pound dumbbells to do biceps curls while men pick up the 20-pounders to do the same exercise. Although men are genetically stronger than women, they aren’t that much stronger. Second, most women tend to stick to the weight machines or basic leg-work that target the rear end and abs (women’s “vanity” muscles), while the guys at the gym are more likely to be seen working out with free weights or using barbells and—most often—focusing on their vanity muscles: the biceps and chest.

If you really want to lose weight and get lean—no matter if you call that toning or bulking—people of both genders should have a strength-training plan in place that works every major muscle in the body at least 6 to 12 times, using a weight that is heavy enough that the last two repetitions are darn hard to lift. Only then is the body challenged enough to change, grow and adapt, making you stronger and leaner no matter if you’re male or female. Lifting this way is also a great way to lose weight.

 

Megan’s workout routine:

Monday: Upper body

Tuesday: Lower body

Wednesday: Light cardio

Thursday: Upper body

Friday: Lower body

Saturday: Light cardio

 

Megan’s lifting hints:

  • LIFT HEAVY! The rule I follow (also taught to me by my awesome personal trainer) is you should be able to lift between 6-12 reps / 3 sets. If you can lift more than 12 reps with the weight you are using, go heavier. If you can’t get to 6 reps with the weight you’re using, go lighter. Don’t short yourself! Complete those 6-12 reps / 3 sets.
  • Never do the same lifting routine; always change your lifting regimens. Why you may ask? If you do the same lifting techniques, just like any other fitness, your body will grow accustom and it will not allow you to see the best definition possible.
  • Take rest days. They are important. If you don’t allow your body to rest, your body will never repair and it will not allow maximum muscle definition and power during your workouts.
  • Supplements: take them. I take protein and creatine and a Woman’s once a day mult-vitamin. As long as the protein you are taking is Whey and has (at least) 20g of protein, whatever you take is fine. Don’t buy into the hype on “this one is better than that one.” I’ve taken 100 different kinds and have never noticed a difference.
  • Drink 8-12 oz of protein and eat carbs pre workout and post workout
  • Stick with fruit in the morning / afternoon, vegetables in the evening
  • DRINK WATER! LOT’S OF WATER!
  • Eat clean and often. I’ve been following LL CoolJ’s Platinum 360 Diet and Lifestyle. (it’s a book you can find and purchase on Amazon) It works for me, but you’ll need to find what works for you. There are so many different eating options out there (paleo, gluten free, vegetarian, only eat meat) – don’t let people tell you what’s right and wrong. Try out different clean eating styles and find what works for you.

 

Megan’s favorite lifting techniques:

Lower body:

  • Alpine Squats (sumo, close, V)
  • Barbell Goblet Squats (one 45 pound weight+)
  • Smith Squats
  • Barbell bench side step ups
  • 1 leg frog jumps
  • Wall sits with free weights
  • Leg extensions
  • Prone leg curls
  • Barbell squats
  • Seated leg press
  • Bulgarian Split Squats
  • Smith glute press

 

Upper body:

  • Chest Press
  • Seated Row
  • Smith incline press
  • Cable row
  • Barbell bicep curls (change the direction of the weights to work different muscle groups)
  • Rear fly’s
  • Bench dips with feet up
  • Barbell shoulder press
  • Barbell front shoulder raises
  • Barbell preacher curls
  • Rope tri pull down
  • Double cable curl
  • Pull ups! (We’re working on these; I want to be able to do them without the assist!)

 

That’s my story and lessons learned. I’ve found myself; my happiness and my life. If you’re interested in learning more about me; following my “bulking up” progression or just want to learn more lifting in general, feel free to follow me on my fitness page – www.facebook.com/IHeartMuscle – Megan Trafton ~ I Heart Muscle

 

Ta Ta for now!

XOXO

 

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Starving yourself.

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As I spent my whole weekend in the freezer of Starbucks studying, I overheard a lady talking about her little tummy and how she “starves herself and it still won’t go away”. I wanted to hug her and tell her that she needs to eat regularly, a good breakfast, and run (or she can walk. We won’t judge), and she would be a lot more likely to lose the couple pounds she was wishing away.

So why is it bad to starve yourself to lose weight? Let me count the ways:

  • Lower metabolism level (which means your body will just hold onto the fat for dear life, scared you’ll never eat again!)
  • Loss of energy
  • Loss of appetite through to De-hydration

Instead of skipping meals, it’s recommended that you eat 5 small meals throughout the day. Or grazing all day on apples, carrots and healthy snacks. Always have a filled water bottle within reach to continue to flush out toxins. You might feel bloated initially, but eventually the water will run through your system, and you’ll feel so much more energized!

If you do starve yourself to lose weight, when you finally do start eating again, that weight will pile back on.
I’ve included a good list of metabolism boosting foods so you are able to eat and lose weight at the same time!

  • Blueberries- High in antioxidant
  • Almonds- healthy macronutrients and calories
  • Salmon- high in protein, and a unique type of health-promoting fat, the omega-3 essential fatty acid.
  • Spinach- provide more nutrients than any other food
  • Turkey- provides almost half of the recommended daily allowance of folic acid, good source of vitamins B, B1, B6, zinc and potassium.
  • Oatmeal- boring plain old oatmeal, high in fiber
  • Green Tea- also high in antioxidant
  • Water- Keeps our body functioning well.

If we’re eating good, balanced meals, we’re more likely to kick that run in the butt! What’s your tips for getting the nutrients you need?

Ask a Runner: Dealing with Injury

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Question from one of my readers, Jessica:

I began training for my first full marathon in June and have been experience knee pain on runs longer than 3 or 4 miles…a shooting pain behind my knee cap and outside of my knee. If I stop and stretch my knee area, it goes away for about 3/4 of a mile but returns. I’ve tried taping, which helped some but will still only allow me to run about 7 or 8 miles. And braces have proven far more uncomfortable than they’re worth. I have been a pretty consistent runner since 2009 and run about 3 half marathons per year. I have never had knee pain before and don’t want to stop running, but I also don’t want to hurt myself and interfere with my marathon training. What can I do?

My Perspective:
I haven’t really had to deal with a lot of injury during my short running career, and I think most of that is because I’ve always been too busy to log a lot of miles. For the first couple years though, I was using cheap running shoes from TJ Maxx and this began to give me excruciating pain behind my knees earlier this year! After a run cut short, I was mad and threw them in the garbage, and my husband and I marched over to a running store and I was fitted for shoes that I needed. I was lucky because this was all I needed to get back on track. Get your shoes fitted at a store that has you walk on a treadmill and monitors your gait.

It sounds like you’re an experienced runner, and the pain shouldn’t be from adding distance. If you already have shoes prescribed by a specialist, I’d recommend visiting an orthopedist who runs and/or who treats runner. I’m a firm believer in not running through injury’s, you must let the injury heal or you’ll be stuck in a cycle, and an orthopedist may help you run pain free.

Because I’m not a doctor, I’ve included a few links to check out based on your issue:

Jessica, I wish you a speedy recovery. There’s nothing worse than not being able to get out there and run, for whatever reason! Listen to your body and never, ever run through pain.

If any of my other readers have an opinion, please weigh in!

Persistence, not Luck.

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My hubby and I were just talking today about how talent can be your enemy because success is comes from hard work. Every time I see someone that’s better than me at something, I’m grateful because that means I will have to work hard to be as good as them, and my work ethic will make me succeed.
This long weekend has been mostly spent doing homework (I’m ALMOST done!), and my courses are hard for me. But if they were easy, I wouldn’t be building the discipline to pursue my masters degree… see what I mean?
This principle directly applies to working out. I know girls who never cared about their weight because they could eat ice cream for every meal and not gain an ounce… but will they have abs of steel? No. But we will, because we’ve had to fight for losing every pound, and built that discipline in the gym. Our hard work is going to get us where we need to do.

It’s about persistence, not luck.