Lifestyle Prior To Change
For years, I was always bullied for my weight. I had no friends, no confidence, and I became more and more depressed as my weight increased. I tried numerous times to diet and increase my exercise but was faced with challenges such as uncontrollable binge eating due to stress.
What was your low point or turning point?
My decision to change did not happen over night. It took several steps to slowly increase the amount of times I worked out a week and the intensity of my workouts. As I started working out more and more, I began to watch what I ate, but nothing drastic like a diet. I simply stopped eating desserts with every meal and cut down on portion size. I like food too much to go on a strict diet.
Were there any unique challenges or circumstances that made your transformation particularly difficult?
It’s never easy to stick to a workout regime or a specific diet, especially when you can’t see daily changes in your body. It was hard for me to keep working when results don’t happen over night. During the beginning of my transformation, I was still being ridiculed about my weight. This did not give me any hope for success, but it did serve as a portion of my motivation.
- Transformation Start: Age 13, 175lbs.
- Milestone: Age 18, 150 lbs (Start of College).
- Milestone: Age 21, 140 lbs (Pre-competition weight).
- Transformation End: Age 21, 125 lbs (Weight at competition).
Melanie's Training And Cardio Approach
What was your weight training approach and split during your transformation?
For weight training, I focused on splitting up the muscle groups by day and really hitting them hard. I did high weight and low repetition for each exercise. I found that 3-4 sets for each exercise with 6-8 repetitions worked well with a 30 second rest interval between each. By the 8th repetition, I usually was unable to do a 9th repetition if I tried. This is how I knew the exercise was difficult enough. I didn’t increase the resistance of an exercise unless I could do 10 repetitions.
- Monday - Legs.
- Tuesday - Chest and Back.
- Wednesday - Cardio. 45 minutes. Set incline to 15% and speed to 3.0 mph. Don’t hold on to the handles! Keep those arms swinging.
- Thursday - Arms.
- Friday - Legs. (Same as Monday).
- Saturday - Shoulders and Abs.
- Sunday - Cardio. 45 minutes. Set incline to 15% and speed to 3.0 mph. Don’t hold on to the handles! Keep those arms swinging.
|Monday and Friday - Legs|
|Hack Squat||3-4 x 6-8||It is important to keep your lower back pressed firmly against the machine so the form is correct and the strain isn’t on your lower back. Like every type of squat, knees should never go over your toes and your legs should bend to a 90 degree angle.|
|Power Squat||3-4 x 6-8||Face the machine and keep your chest up. Remember to go slow on the way down in a squat so that your muscles really get a hard workout.|
|Single Leg Press||3-4 x 6-8||Keep your lower back against the machine in this exercise and have your toes pointed forward. Angling your foot out or in may seem easier but it can cause serious damage to your knee.|
|Leg Curl||3-4 x 6-8||Make sure you bend your knee as far as the machine will allow. Going half way is only half the exercise and will produce half the results.|
|Romanian Deadlift||3-4 x 6-8||This is my favorite exercise. I stand on a platform with knees loose and back straight. It helps to stand in front of a mirror to help keep good form. You’ll be able to see when your back starts to curl and you will recognize this as poor form.|
|Seated Calf Raise||3-4 x 6-8||Push yourself with this one. Drop sets work wonders in an exercise like this.|
|Tuesday - Chest and Back|
|Bench Press||3-4 x 6-8||Keep your lower back pressed against the bench. For an awesome abdomen workout, try this motion in a crunched position.|
|Dumbbell Bench Press on Stability Ball||3-4 x 6-8||Stability balls are great for a challenge. The weight you use may need to be reduced to allow you to stabilize yourself on the ball.|
|Cable Crossover||3-4 x 6-8||Grab the single grip handles on two cable machine towers and walk forward to a lunge. Lean into the exercise for an extra abdomen and lower back workout.|
|Lat Pull Down||3-4 x 6-8||Keep your shoulders relaxed. I see too many people working their deltoids rather than their lats by pushing their shoulders up during the exercise.|
|Seated Cable Row||3-4 x 6-8||Back straight during this one and really squeeze your shoulder blades together behind you.|
|Hammer Strength Pull Down||3-4 x 6-8||This machine is great for hitting your entire back. I would usually do 7-8 repetition alternating then 4-5 using both arms simultaneously as one set.|
|Push Up||3-4 x 6-8||Play around with push ups: triangle, wide, one leg, one arm elevated, walking, diving, handstand. Keep them interesting!|
|Slanted One Arm Row||3-4 x 6-8||I use the cable machine at its tallest setting for this one. I grip the single hand grip and put one leg up on the machine for support.|
|Thursday - Arms|
|Dumbbell Curl||3-4 x 6-8||Back straight the whole time! Don’t let this be a lower back workout.|
|Tricep Kickback||3-4 x 6-8||I use cables for this one. Fight the cable the entire time; don’t let it pull you. Stay in control!|
|Skullcrushers||3-4 x 6-8|
|Barbell Curl||3-4 x 6-8|
|Rope Tricep Extension||3-4 x 6-8||It is important to have correct form on this one so you don’t compensate with your deltoids.|
|Hammer Curl||3-4 x 6-8|
|Tricep Dip||3-4 x 6-8||I put my hands on a bench and elevate my feet. Try putting weight on your stomach for added resistance.|
|Saturday - Shoulders and Abs|
|Upright Row||3-4 x 6-8|
|Machine Press||3-4 x 6-8||Keep your abs tight during this. Don’t let your back curve.|
|Military Press||3-4 x 6-8|
|Lateral Raise||3-4 x 6-8||If your elbows are hurting like mine do during this exercise, try bending them slightly or even to a 90 degree angle. You may need to increase the weight.|
|Dumbbell Front Raise||3-4 x 6-8|
|Crunches||15 Minutes||Several varieties: knees up to 90 degrees, legs straight up in the air in a pike, legs straight up in the air in a straddle, bicycle, V-ups, pulsing in the up position.|
Please detail your cardio approach during your transformation?
I kept my cardio to low resistance so my heart rate never went above 155 bpm and I stayed on the machine for at least 45 minutes. I found that this made my knees feel at their best and I was able to do the entire workout without giving up. It also invigorated me for the rest of my day. I would usually cool down after a lift with a 15 minute walk on the treadmill at a 15% incline at 3.0mph. Occasionally I would swim laps in the pool rather than walking or hop on a bike for 15 miles or so.
Please list 3 things you learned about exercise, weight training and/or cardio during your transformation that helped you succeed:
- Time your rest intervals with a watch so you don’t waste time in the gym.
- Bring people with the gym to keep them and you motivated. It’s always nice to work out with a friend, even if they aren’t with your during every workout.
- Each set and each repetition should have your complete focus. If your head isn’t in the gym, you may as well just do cardio for the day and wait until you can put your complete effort into your lift.
How are you currently training, and has your training changed since the completion of your transformation?
I still lift and do cardio 5-6 times a week. I have been trying out new compound exercises that utilize as many muscle groups as possible. I find myself to be much stronger now in more ways than before. My strength is also much more practical.
Melanie's Diet And Nutrition Approach
What was your diet/nutrition approach during your transformation?
My diet consisted of 5-6 meals a day. My macronutrient break down per day consisted of 30g carbohydrates from non-vegetable sources consumed post-workout, 150g protein, 50 grams fat. I used the Scivation Diet Solution as a guide and then added/altered as needed.
Can you provide us with a sample eating plan (please be specific):
Here is a sample of one day:
- Meal 1: 1 scoop Whey Protein Powder, ½ cup Soy Milk, 1 cup Coffee.
- Meal 2: Sandwich: 1 slice 12 grain Bread, 4 oz seared Tuna, 1 tsp EVOO, 1 oz Avocado, Wasabi and pickled Ginger.
- Meal 3: 4 oz Baked Balsamic Tilapia (see Recipes below).
- Meal 4: 1 scoop Whey Protein Powder, ¼ cup Almonds, ½ cup blanched Brussels Sprouts.
- Meal 5: 1 serving Quiche (see Recipes below)
Baked Balsamic Tilapia recipe.
- 1 Onion
- 1 Bell Pepper
- 1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Directions: In a pan, saute onions and bell peppers on medium heat with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Once soft, add 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar and reduce slightly. Season tilapia and place in a deep dish. Pour the balsamic vegetables on top and throw in some raw cauliflower and a small amount of feta. Cover the dish and cook at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. The fish and cauliflower get steamed by the balsamic vinegar and the liquid from the fish and everything stays so moist! Definitely a recipe to come back to and play around with.
- 1 cup Egg Whites
- ½ cup Soy Milk
- 1/2 medium Onion
- 1/4 large Orange Peppers
- 1/2 cup Broccoli
- 1 oz Feta Cheese
- Chili Powder, Salt, and Pepper to taste
Directions: This quiche is REALLY good and extremely filling. I used egg whites and whisked them until they started getting frothy. Then I added the soy milk (unsweetened) and continued to whisk. In a pan, I sauted some onions, orange bell peppers, and broccoli with minimal EVOO and a dash of salt, pepper, and chili powder. (I'm sure other vegetables can be added/substituted!) Once the vegetables were nice and soft, I mixed the egg mixture and the vegetables in a glass casserole dish and sprinkled some feta cheese on top. The feta cheese dropped into the mixture rather than remaining on top. I baked uncovered for about 35 minutes in a 350 degree oven. I stuck a spoon in the middle and once the dish was completely cooked, I removed and let cool. This dish was fantastic! The egg/soymilk mixture formed a crispy bubbly edge along the entire dish that was such a treat.
Were there any diet/nutrition mistakes you made that you learned from?
I found that on days where I was doing a hard workout such as legs, I needed more carbohydrates than my diet suggested. I was very weak and out of focus unless I had a burst of energy from a good source such as a banana. It is important to listen to your body, especially concerning your energy levels.
Please list 3 things you learned about diet & nutrition during your transformation that helped you succeed:
- Nibbling is a form of cheating. If you put it in your mouth, it counts. Stick to your diet and avoid keeping food in your pantry that you consider to be "cheat snacks".
- Water is your friend. Drink at least ten 8 oz. glasses a day. Most of the time, your fatigue is caused by dehydration, so drink up! If you are craving a sweet drink, try Market Farms Cherry Limeade or another sugar free drink!
- 5-6 meals a day will keep you satisfied without needing to eat big meals. Keep the meals light, high protein, and delicious!
Did you allow yourself cheat meals?
Every Saturday, I ate 200g of carbohydrates (rather than my usual 30g). This not only gave me energy for an amazing couple days of working out, but it also did not allow my body to adjust to the small amount of carbohydrates I was feeding it during the week. Carb-cycling is an art!
What supplements did you use during your transformation?
- Vitamins and Minerals: 2 caps.
- Natrol Alpha Lipoic Acid: 100mg.
- Flax Seed Oil: 1000mg.
- Vitamin C with Rose Hips: 1000mg.
- Whey Protein Powder: 1 scoop.
- Vitamins and Minerals: 2 caps.
- Flax Seed Oil: 1000mg.
Advice For Others
What are your best tips for someone looking to make their own transformation?
- Never give an excuse for working out. Make it your priority. You don't go a day without brushing your teeth, so don't go a day without paying attention to your diet and exercise.
- Add steps to your day: park in the back of the parking lot, always take the stairs, walk to the store instead of driving, etc.
- You are your own worst critic. Look in the mirror every day and tell yourself what you like about your body. Focus on what you think are your good attributes and ignore the bad ones. Over time, you won't even notice your flaws!
How do you stay motivated? What advice would you give to someone who’s having trouble staying on track?
Be patient! Results don't happen overnight. Realistically, it takes about a week to lose up to 2 pounds and water/sodium can hide your weight loss. Stick with it and you will see results over time.
More From Melanie Blatt
What is your life like now that you’ve made a transformation?
I feel much healthier now that I have made the transformation. I have much more confidence and I am all together a much happier person. I also enjoy teaching and sharing with others. I am now a personal trainer and working with clients is my favorite part of the day.
What motivates you currently to keep improving yourself?
I like to set short term goals as well as long term goals. This makes me feel great when I accomplish them. Right now, I am working on strengthening my core and improving balance.
Anything else you would like to share?
Anyone can make a transformation. It’s all about the effort you put in.
How can people contact you?
I would love to hear from you via email. My address is firstname.lastname@example.org.