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Gaining muscle is a great thing. Just ask Samantha - PumpUp Success Stories

Gaining muscle is a great thing. Just ask Samantha - PumpUp Success Stories

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If Netflix's deadly auto-play feature ever spawned far too many television-marathons for your liking, you're not alone. Samantha has been down that road before and emerged triumphant in the best possible way after joining the PumpUp community. "I was super lazy, always watching Netflix right after work," she recounted. "I would eat whatever I felt like eating and paid no attention to how much I was eating. I was extremely unhealthy and I wasn't confident with my body." Samantha has come a very long way from the "old" her. In fact, she constantly reflects upon her past as extra motivation to maintain an active lifestyle. "I don't want to be the old me or feel like the old me," she insisted. "I felt insecure all the time and I don't ever want to go back to that." There was also a time when Samantha abided by a diet that was far too restrictive. "I only allowed myself 900 calories a day and performed intense cardio," she recalled. "I was just under 120 lbs: that's very tiny for a 5'11" girl." Others began to comment on her weight— even strangers took notice. "It got to the point where my body became fragile and if somebody even so much as touched my shoulder, it would hurt because I had no meat on me," Samantha lamented. "I still wanted to lose weight because I felt like it was the only thing that I could control." It's important for Samantha to focus on non-scale victories and she keeps tabs on how she's gaining muscle in particular. "I'm at 164 lbs now and I could never imagine saying that I'd be happy with how little I weighed back then," she affirmed. "I'm so much thicker but in a positive and healthy way." 

gaining muscle transformation

Since Samantha made the transition to a healthy lifestyle with the help of PumpUp, she's been maintaining a rigorous schedule of regular workouts and balanced eating habits. She began to weight train and gained more muscle mass than she's ever had before.  "After day one of using PumpUp I was hooked," she insisted. "To me, PumpUp is a way to share my passion for fitness with others who share the same interests. It's really motivating." Now, you'll be hard-pressed to find a moment when Samantha isn't active. In addition to the fair amount of physical activity that she performs at her warehouse job, Samantha exercises 5-6 days a week, alternating between weightlifting, blogilates videos, or HIIT workouts. She also gleans PumpUp for healthy eating ideas.   "I love to look at other peoples' posts about healthy meals and I get excited to share mine as well," she enthused.  Beyond the digital sphere, Samantha benefits from the support of her friend Patty, who also strives to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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Best advice

Take it one day at a time, and don't beat yourself up over one bad day or one bad meal. Just remember your goals and start over the next day.  Focus on how you feel/look rather than the number on the scale!! I cannot exaggerate this enough.

Samantha's Meals

"My food usually consists of eggs and avocado on toast for breakfast, chicken and veggies for lunch, and a standard dinner. When I want a snack I'll have a protein bar, smoothie, fruit, etc. On weekends I tend to be more lenient and treat myself!"

Motivational Mantra

"Laziness fuels more laziness. Activity fuels more activity' and 'A year ago you will wish you had started today."

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Cheer Samantha on as she strives to reach her goals with the help of the PumpUp community @samanthagonsalves3.

Is a bikini fitness competition for you? Here's what to expect

This is part of a series of posts by Jennifer (@liftingfairy on PumpUp), a bikini competitor. Check out her blog here and vote for “Jennifer Reis” so that she can achieve her dream of attending the Miss FIBO power beauty competition.  Everyone has to start somewhere… For some athletes, their first round of competition preparation launches their journey into “Fitness Land.”  Starting can be intimidating. Some people are unsure of what to expect. I faced the same hesitancies last year.

The pros and cons of preparing for a bikini fitness competition

  • In my first ‘post-competition’ post, I wrote how taxing contest-preparation is. It will challenge you not only physically, but also mentally. Don’t expect it to be easy. Your first time preparing for a competition will be the hardest thing you have ever done in your life. If you consider it easy, go harder because that’s what makes the difference on stage.

  • Once you start your prep, you will see your body change from one day to another. The last two weeks for your prep will be mind-blowing. Prior to my first competition (and still today) I took pictures at least once a week to remind myself about how much I already achieved. Don’t only look back on your progress. You also have to look forward and focus on your goals and what you want to accomplish.

 

  • There will be A LOT of sacrifices. You don’t see me in a restaurant during my prep, rarely in the cinema and even less in a bar. When I decide to go to the movies, I always have my Renee Tote at hand with the meals I need, because planning meals is the key and it will keep you from getting anything at the candy shop. I never stay out too long in the evenings during that time, because I have to get up early the day after to hit the gym, or simply because my body has adapted to a regular rhythm (more about this soon). I left a lot of people behind, because negative words aren’t what you need during a contest-prep, especially from people who won’t even attempt to understand your lifestyle or those who eat pizza, pasta and burgers all day long and want you to do the same. They don’t have the slightest idea of what you are going through. (If you need some positivity, have a look HERE).
  • You will be amazed by your own results. Even if you have never been a very sporty person before, contest preparation will allow you to be in the best shape of your life because you pay much more attention to your eating habits and training routine. You have to put everything in your preparation and knowing that you will look the best you could possibly look is just an amazing achievement.

 

  • Sometimes you will be hungry and want to do a table-flip with your whole diet, which is totally understandable because you are slowly cutting carbs and at the same time training even harder. YES, you will be hungry and damn tired, but in the end it will be totally worth it.

 

  • The mirror is going to be your best friend and greatest enemy. It shows you how far you’ve come, but at the same time it plays very dirty mind-games with you… You will NEVER see yourself like others do. If someone else tells you ‘oh, you look great!’ you will be like ‘naahh… still not satisfied yet…’ The further you get in your prep and the closer the D-day comes, the more you will start to freak out and worry that you are not lean enough already and that you won’t be dropping fat fast enough etc. But let me tell you one thing, there will ALWAYS be one thing that is 100% honest with you. It’s the process.
  • People will tell you that ‘you are going too far’ or ’ you are too skinny and muscular, eeerrww…’. BUT there will also be positive people who support you with simple words or tiny actions like ‘wow, you are really inspiring’ or ‘because of you I started to hit the gym and watch over my eating habits more’. You are going to experience great support from people you never ever expected.

 

  • Most of your thoughts will be dedicated to FOOD. Because the only thing that matters during your prep is the right food. I am convinced that you will find yourself looking at other competitor’s food-posts to see what they are eating. And you will be spying ‘food-porn’-pictures because you have enough of chicken, broccoli, tomatoes and turkey-steaks.

 

  • Try not to follow your opponents on social media, it will drive you crazy. You can’t control what other athletes are doing or how they are training to get their physique. Focus on yourself and on your own preparation to achieve your personal goals. If it motivates you to get it on, go ahead. And while following those athletes you can also leave a positive comment to cheer them up, because it will cheer you up as well.

 

  • The week prior your competition-day will be the most exciting week of your entire preparation because you are doing something different every single day. You will have to decrease your water intake because you start the water-depletion, as you want to get REALLY lean and then load up on carbs during the last few days. Your final preparations are going on, like showering, shaving, scrubbing, and putting on a tan (HERE some tips for your first tanning). Depending on your own preparation plans, you should be allowed to go grocery-shopping and get yummy food like gums, sweets, chocolate or whatsoever to get a little pump before the show or simply to devour post-contest. Believe me or not, you will look like a little child on Christmas when you are buying delicious treats.
  • The big day will be so much fun and thrilling. The time has finally come to be paid for your hard work. You can put on as much make-up as you want. You can style your hair as fancy as you’d like it to be. The best is yet to come… the moment you line up backstage. You will be so hyped up but still, you won’t be thinking about anything else than stepping out on that stage and rocking your banging body. That moment on stage is the best and most thrilling feeling ever, and you will always remember it. Even if you didn’t get the ranking you wished for, you can be damn proud of yourself that you didn’t give up and that you stayed strong.

 I wish every new athlete best of luck over the course of their first preparation and competition(s), may the chicken be with you. Enjoy your season!

Louise is training for her first bikini competition using her own research. Learn how - PumpUp Success Stories

When Louise began her journey on PumpUp, became inspired to tackle one of the biggest challenges she’s ever faced: to enter in her very first bikini competition using her own methods and research. Her truly admirable story and the dedication that she devotes to her craft never fails to inspire PumpUp’s million-member community on a very regular basis. 

Never one to be sedentary, Louise described herself as an intermittently active person throughout her whole life. One crucial obstacle was holding her back. “I had very little knowledge of nutrition and no goal in mind other than to stay healthy,” she mentioned. In an average day prior to PumpUp, she would eat very little and rarely breakfast—just cereal and the dinners that were available to her at home. Hydration was also the last thing on Louise’s busy mind. “I rarely drank enough…maybe a glass a day,” she admitted. “If I would have continued on that road there would have been major negative health repercussions in my later life.”  As a university student, Louise would practice cheerleading and dance once a week. Excessive drinking would, however, negate those workouts.

Since Louise was introduced to PumpUp in February 2014, she leveraged the community as a knowledge hub for health and fitness. “Everyone on PumpUp is very positive—there is a surge of energy that is very motivating,” she insisted. “I like that people ask questions and give support. I began my journey by answering peoples’ questions and adding photos with small facts. I like to spread knowledge.” The more engagement she received from the community, the more her thirst for knowledge about health and fitness intensified. “I found that many have been misled by fad diets from magazines and the media,” she continued. “I wanted to know facts.” 

Louise amassed an extensive collection of science-based books and  effectively placed herself at the center of her own ‘human trial’, experimenting with exercises, nutrition, and supplementation and using PumpUp to document everything. “Immediately I discovered that the body is a machine and if you fuel it efficiently, you will reap the benefits,” she concluded. “My energy levels were improving, I slept better, and my memory was almost at 90 percent—that’s not like me at all. I loved the feeling and that’s when wellness became a lifestyle choice.”

Over this period of time, Louise gathered a wealth of support from the PumpUp community and embraced the encouragement she received from her followers. Eventually, Louise became inspired to enter in her very first bikini fitness competition. “I came across a few people on PumpUp who competed in body building and fitness shows. I began researching and I knew straight away that it was what I wanted to do,” she recounted. “I picked the competition I wanted to enter and began to search for methods to achieve my goal.  Now I’m working backwards from my competition date.” Louise is completing the entire process without a coach, learning as she progresses. “It’s been physically, socially, and mentally challenging but my PumpUp followers have always been there to encourage me when I am feeling unmotivated or alone,” she said earnestly. “It might sound cliché, but they have pumped me up when I felt deflated (pun intended).”

A journey isn’t really a journey without obstacles or speed bumps. Louise is only human. “I have had times when I wanted to eat every sugar-contained item in my house,” she professed. “When I do, I raid the cupboard—and of course I feel guilty. I confessed about it on PumpUp and everyone was very supportive. My journey has not been straightforward; but rather like hiking up a mountain. I know that when I get to the top, I did everything I could to be my best. That will be my reward.” Her dedication to her goal is admirable in every way, and she keeps sane by calculating a healthy balance that works for her—even if it means waking up at the crack of dawn to exercise, or turning down a social event every now and then to make sure that she sticks to her training schedule.

She has succinct and wise words for others who are just beginning their fitness journey or learning to love themselves. “Everyone is different and different things work for different people: there are so many individual factors that can impact a ‘healthy lifestyle’,” she advised. “Big changes take time. Start small and then develop.”

After her competition, Louise hopes to communicate with others more on PumpUp and aspires to assist them on their journey. “I already obtain all of the support and encouragement I need from PumpUp,” she affirmed. “Whether it is prep for a competition or even just to improve their healthy lifestyles, I want to help others by spreading the knowledge that I obtained.  One day I may even become a sponsored athlete.”  

Biggest Motivation

“Michelle Lewin. She was the first bikini competitor I discovered. Her physique inspired my journey.”

Favourite eats

“ I adore banana and peanut butter protein pancakes.

  • 1 banana
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 scoop of your favourite flavoured protein powder (I use peanut butter Quest powder)

Use a non-stick pan on a low heat. Mix all the ingredients together, don’t mash the banana too much (because it’s nice when you taste a piece in the pancake). Then pan fry like a normal pancake, when the base is solid and moves around the pan it is ready to flip over.”

Motivational Mantra

“Every champion was once a contender that refused to give up”—Rocky Balboa

Favourite Exercise

I love to train my legs, the strength has developed so quickly. I strength-train four times a week. I love compound exercises, my favorites are Squats and Renegade rows. However, I do like to experiment with new exercises. Every session I try at least one new exercise, usually I feel it the next day. My last session I tried curtsy lunges with a barbell…great for the glutes.”

Fun Fact About Louise

“Although I do not use my qualification, I am actually a qualified fitness instructor.”

Follow Louise on PumpUp @louiseusa101 and keep her pumped as she strives to reach her goal!

How do you value yourself?

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Love yourself by valuing yourself just as pumpupapp member mandynom did throughout her transformation.

“I’ve lost 20+ lbs and learned to value myself more. The number is not the point. The amazing thing was that I learned how to love myself, which made me strive to be the best that I can be. Do what makes you happy and you’ll be amazed by the reward.”

When was the moment that you learned to value yourself?

How trauma from Yanê's past paved the path for a healthier future - PumpUp Success Stories

#LoveYourself and embrace your past, just as pumpupapp member @yalua did! Tired of having her weight fluctuate, Yanê began her journey with PumpUp to find a consistent source of motivation. She is a beacon of light who inspires thousands of people with her demeanour, her dedication, and her determination.

By learning from her past, she has made leaps and bounds towards a healthier future. A brutal accident galvanized Yanê to truly focus on her wellbeing.  “After my accident, my vertebrae shifted and my ribs were blocked—I couldn’t breathe for at least 40 seconds,” she recounted. “I had a lot of therapy with a chiropractor, but working out and building muscle helped me to recover the most. From time to time, the back pain returns but PumpUp helped me to push through the pain and overcome this.” As a victim of violence during her adolescence, Yanê also revealed that she struggled to find motivation due to the mental trauma of her past. “I often felt like I wasn’t good enough—like I would never look the way I wanted,” she lamented. “Once again, PumpUp helped me immensely when people started commenting, ‘We miss you!’ or ‘You are my inspiration!’”

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Yane’s weight fluctuated before she began to embrace a healthy lifestyle

Prior to PumpUp, Yanê also had a different perspective towards healthy food and moderation. “I didn’t eat much—I was really thin,” she admitted. “I ate a lot of take-out food as well. PumpUp became my favourite app ever!  I now make sure that I always eat as healthy as possible, and a big healthy breakfast became very important to me because it gives me the energy I need to have a great and active day.” Good nutrition and balance are essential components of Yanê ‘s current lifestyle. “It’s more important than exercise—but don’t beat yourself up if you skip a healthy meal or eat something sweet,” she advised. “I don’t ever restrict myself, because I’d end up craving for unhealthy food that much more. I allow myself to eat a little bit of chocolate once in awhile.”

The PumpUp community encouraged Yanê to incorporate a lot more activity into her routine. The frequency of her workouts increased from 1-3 times a week to 4-6 times a week. This particularly helped her cope with academic stress. “Working out was like therapy: I could release all of my stress after sitting around studying all day,” she explained. “Now, I go to salsa 2 times every week—sometimes more—and either work out at the gym or do exercises at home. I do up to 30 minutes of cardio and up to 2 hours of heavy weightlifting at the gym, mostly focusing on my legs, back and abs.”

Motivation from PumpUp helped Yanê to change her mentality about her fitness. “Everything starts in your mind, so if you want to lead a more active lifestyle you should find motivation – like people on the PumpUp community or pants that you want to fit into again,” she counselled. ”Consistency, dedication, and the courage to step out of your comfort zone are very important. Just don’t be too hard on yourself: workouts should be fun!”

Owing to the overwhelming support and encouragement from the PumpUp community, Yanê began her studies to become a fitness instructor. “On PumpUp, positivity is everywhere—it’s what I love the most!” she gushed. “I want to motivate others to be healthy and to help them see that a healthy lifestyle can also be a positive and fun one. This is why PumpUp motivated me to become a personal fitness instructor and to spread positivity—nowadays it’s rare to find.” As Yanê strives for her absolute dream body, she’ll be turning to PumpUp as a constant source of motivation and inspiration.

Yanês Motivators

Lots of fit women motivate me, especially Michelle Lewin. I absolutely love her and her precious behind. My family members are also a source of motivation for me. My dad is a drug addict—that’s how I know what unhealthy living can lead to.  I also want to be a role model for my little cousin, to teach her how to lead a healthy lifestyle. I most of all aspire to make my mother proud! She’s motivated by my new lifestyle (I even got her to do an activity with me and shared about it on PumpUp!) Finally, my followers on PumpUp keep me motivated with all the love and support that they give me. I want to make sure that I stay healthy for them, so that they aren’t disappointed.”

Yanê’s Eats

“My favourite snacks are fruits and veggies—especially tropic fruits and carrots with mustard. It doesn’t sound so yummy—but I love it. I absolutely adore eating peanut butter with bananas! I love to drink self-made lemon ginger juice as well! Find the recipe here. My favourite meal is traditional Brazilian chicken with rice and manioc. My favourite breakfast is cooked oats with warm raspberries!”

Motivational Mantras

A winner is a dreamer who never gives up – Nelson Mandela

Whenever I feel bad, I use the feeling to motivate me to work harder. I only allow myself one day to feel sorry for myself—Beyoncé

Favourite Exercises

“I generally love all the exercises PumpUp creates! They are so much fun! My daily routine is: 100 squats, 10 pushups, 50 sit-ups, and self-invented pilates inspired exercises to tone my core and train my balance. I do intensive salsa lessons because I want to make it into the salsa show group!”

More about Yanê

My name is Yanê Ferreira de Souza. I am half Brazilian and half Swiss. I live in Switzerland. I am studying pop music. My biggest dream is to become a professional pop singer! I am the absolute BIGGEST BEYONCÉ FAN EVER you’ll ever meet! She is also one of my biggest inspiration/motivation.

I grew up in a artistic family, which explains why I also love to draw and play the piano.

My friends call me the crazy Brazilian. I had to go through a lot, but I learned to deal with all of it (the Beyoncé quote I mentioned helps me a LOT). I smile all the time and I am a very lively and happy person.

Probably because I went through so much I want people to be happy, I want people to move on with the negative thoughts and try their best to make themselves happy. And if I can help them with my posts, thoughts, and this blog, I’d be the happiest person in this world!”

Keep Yanê pumped on the pumpupapp @yalua and on Instagram @yaneluar!

How healthier eating habits changed Belinda's life - PumpUp Success Stories

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Healthier eating habits made a world of difference for Belinda (@beldots). She’s a beloved pumpupapp member who inspires others endlessly with her dedication to a holistically healthy lifestyle. “I grew up as a chubby kid with low self esteem—but when I found my passion for GOOD food, I found myself shedding the kilos quicker than I could realize,” she admitted. Now, almost every facet of Belinda’s life revolves around health and fitness. “It has spiralled out of control (in a good way!)” she laughed. “I go to the gym 7 days a week, eat as much healthy food as I can, and talk about health and wellness in most of my conversation topics!”

WhenBelinda joined the PumpUp community in June 2014, she was looking for a way to stay true to her health and fitness goals. “I had my hesitations because I wasn’t so sure whether the outside world would be accepting or receptive about little old me and my goals,” she confessed. “After a few posts on PumpUp, I was hooked! I wanted to try PumpUp because I needed motivation and didn’t like the idea of a workout buddy. I still needed to be held accountable for my workouts and eating choices and PumpUp fit the mould perfectly.”

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She lived a moderately healthy lifestyle prior to PumpUp, performing cardio-intensive workouts twice a week and making good eating choices from time to time. “I tried to cook my own meals, but studying full-time made it difficult. There is a lot of comfort food and take-out readily available around campus, and that let me down a fair bit,” she explained. As a self-professed stress-eater, Belinda recounted how she would consume chocolate and energy drinks endlessly whenever she was tasked with a big assignment. “It was terrible,” she lamented. 

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Bolstered by motivation from the PumpUp community, Belinda now epitomizes health and wellness. She exercises an impressive 6-7 times a week, incorporating both weightlifting and cardio into her routine. She has begun to count her macronutrients as well. It’s something that, in her opinion, sheds a new light on what kinds of food she consumes every day. Above all, health and wellness has made a huge impact on Belinda’s mentality. “When I was younger I’d never let anyone around me take photos of myself—I was so embarrassed and ashamed!” she professed. “I don’t have any real ‘before’ photos but I do know that fitness has improved my quality of life drastically. I find myself healthier, happier, and surrounded by likeminded people on PumpUp and in my daily life—this pushes me harder to pursue my personal aspirations.” 

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Belinda strongly advocates for a holistic approach towards health and wellness. “I’d love to emphasize just how important a well-rounded and healthy lifestyle is for your wellbeing and appearance,” she stressed. “I see so many girls—who are around my age or younger—believing that eating less is good. That isn’t always the case. Sometimes—maybe even most of the time—you need to eat more of the right food to lose body fat (not to be confused with ‘weight’!).” Belinda hopes that her PumpUp page demonstrates that any normal person can lead a healthy and active lifestyle at any point in their lives—it isn’t unrealistic. “I started on a similar (if not worse) state as many others who typically begin their journeys on an app like PumpUp,” she mused. “A healthy and active lifestyle can be done and it is worth it. As soon as I got my health in order, everything fell into place: university grades, relationships, overall happiness, a cleaner room—you name it!”

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Biggest Motivation

“I know it sounds strange, but truly, myself! I believe you have the power to be exactly who you want to be each and every day and if you know you’re not the absolute best you can be the only person that can really change that is yourself.” 

Motivational Mantra
“’What is stopping you being your absolute best you can be today?’ 99% of the time there is none, so it works a charm!!”

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Favourite snack: “Recently I’ve just discovered how amazing cottage cheese is (especially for macro counting) so that on some crackers with some fresh tomato, avocado, pepper and chives is my favourite!!”

Favourite meal:My kangaroo chili con carne recipe would have to take the cake… It’s so nutritionally good for you and chilli itself being somewhat addictive means you just want to keep eating and eating!”

Favourite Exercise

“Oh my goodness that’s a tough one! Ummmm… Everything?! I love bike riding for cardio and an added lower body workout, or ergo meter for upper body, but mainly anything with weights! I love planks! (But strange I know) but I’ve built up to doing 5kg placed on my back while planking and that really gets the heart going and core burning! Apart from that, barbell squats, deadlifts or anything with weights really!”

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Fun fact about Belinda

“My overall goal in life is to live like my grandparents have. They’re from a little place just south of Rome in Italy and they came to Australia in 1955. They’re the most humble but most remarkable people you’ll ever meet and they’re my overall inspiration. My Nonno is 88 and my Nonna is 86 and they’ve never taken medication in their life, they’re still so incredible active, grow, make, and eat all their own food themselves and blow all our modern doctors away by just how healthy they are.

I think it’s something that’s lost in our society yet so so important. I want to eventually bring my kids up the way they’ve brought my whole family up!”

Keep Belinda pumped on the pumpupapp by following her @beldots! Find her Instagram page too @bel_health! 

Toning doesn't exist

This is a post by Rachel Carpenter (@bothgirl). Check out her blog for her daily workouts!

So your fitness goal is to “tone up”.

I think what you meant to say is that you want to increase your muscle size and lower your body-fat percentage so that you appear to have more muscle definition. 

Cameron Diaz isn’t “toned”. She has developed her muscles and eats a clean diet for a low body-fat percentage so that those muscles can actually be seen.

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You see - there is no such thing as toning, and I’m going to explain to you why.

I hear from one girl after another, telling me that they “don’t want to get big”that they “just wants to tone”.

This has always frustrated me, because I know that a musclecan only get bigger or smaller. It’s not a shape shifter. Unfortunately, the media has marketed the toning myth to us for quite some time – but it’s not too late to get educated on the facts. 

Shall we have a short lesson in anatomy?

  • Our muscles are anatomically confined to the space between our joints and our bones.
  • They cannot get longer; they have a starting point and an ending point.
  • Between those two points the muscle can only grow bigger or smaller. It can’t change its shape.

The “toned” look that most people are hoping for is actually a result of an increase in muscle size paired with a lowering of body fat percentage so that you can more easily see the muscles. In order to get that look you need to:

  1. Build up muscle (through strength training)
  2. Lose the fat around the muscle (through a clean diet) 

The misconception surrounding toning beings with the myth that doing light weight and high reps will result in lower body fat and increased muscle. This is essentially cardio, and all this really means is that it’s going to take you a heck of a lot longer to grow that muscle that you want to see. This is also why so many people struggle to see progress. 

The biggest offenders of this “toning” fad are the barre or ballet type classes, as well as Pilates. Don’t get me wrong, there are benefits to both of these types of exercises, but they claim to give you “long, lean muscles”, which is anatomically impossible.

By participating in these types of exercises, with the hope of “toning”, you’re just building your muscles more slowly than you would if you were strength training with heavier weights. You might achieve other benefits, but this is the hard way to get a lower body fat percentage.

I’d love to stop hearing the word “toned” – and I’d love to see a lot more women in the weight room. Don’t take my word for it. Find someone, like Cameron Diaz, who you want to look like and find out what they are doing. Chances are, they aren’t “toning” or practicing magical spells to get those results.  Remember to avoid the fads and stick to the facts…and don’t be afraid of heavy weights.

You up for a squat challenge?

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This is a post by PumpUp member @cicilovinthis

Social media is an incredibly powerful medium for motivation. I sat down one day and thought to myself, “How can I help motivate people like me? People who want to become healthier versions of themselves?”

This is how I came up with my social media challenge: one where everyone can help you reach your goal. It all starts with this picture. You post it to any social media site. Wait a couple days to ensure you get as much likes as possible.

Then you post a video to YouTube doing the amount of squats challenged. Also tag others in the video to do this challenge. This is a great way to test yourself and others. Make a community of support and motivation just like the pumpupapp community! 

I hope that this challenge is fulfilling for you, both physically and mentally.

Transformation Tuesday: Desiree

Progress: it’s more about the journey than the end result, and PumpUp member @dezireeryonna can confirm!

"I was always overweight. I wanted to be ‘skinny’ so bad that I lived a very unhealthy lifestyle to do so. Don’t ever sacrifice your health. I’m doing it right this time, and so can you."

She lost over 60 lbs of her pregnancy weight, going from 189 lbs to 128 lbs by eating lots of protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, as well as fruits and vegetables. She works out from home with 45-60 mins of high intensity interval training.

Cheer her on! She wins some #MyResolution #PumpUpSwag

Check out our full photo challenge.

Nobody kicks more butt than April and we mean it. Learn all the reasons why- PumpUp Success Stories

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PumpUp has its very own #liftqueen and her name is April (@uneekapril is her PumpUp superhero alias, of course). She’s happy, healthy, extremely body positive, and lifts heavy. “I do cardio because I have to, but I lift because I love to,” she confessed. Learn about her incredible journey to recovery from an extreme leg injury and her perfect advice for those looking to lead healthier lifestyles in 2015.

When April broke her tibia, fractured her fibula, and dislocated her ankle in 2009, this event proved to be one the most challenging mental tests of her entire life. “I was completely dependent on others for many months,” she lamented. “I was incapable of doing things on my own, going places, and needed help out of the bathtub every morning.” The feeling of hopelessness consumed her, as acute pain accompanied her every action during the healing process (both during and after physical therapy). “I could feel depression overcoming me,” she recounted. “I wanted to walk again. Be strong again, Hike again. After a year of wearing a cast, then a boot, on crutches, physical therapy, then home exercises, I started to improve.” After the pain began to subside, April was determined to get her lost muscle, flexibility, balance, and mobility back. In the process, she became better and stronger than ever before, both mentally and physically. “I’m stronger than I’ve been my whole life,” she admitted. “Me and my titanium-filled transformer leg.”

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Although high school represented a turbulent point in April’s life, she managed to move above and beyond her personal obstacles through the help of exercise and tons of encouragement. “I used to be a size 12,” she further explained. “I felt fat and depressed and wore baggy clothes to cover up myself.” These insecurities slowly melted away when April made the decision to be healthy in college, regardless of her size. She slowly began to incorporate more physical activity into her schedule by lifting weights and hiking. “I LOVED the feeling that lifting gave me, not to mention the tight muscles that I developed,” she stressed. When April began to lift weights with her friend Jeremy in 2002, he taught her everything she needed to know about proper technique and form. This elevated her passion for healthy active living to the next level. “I’m very fortunate to have had some wonderfully knowledgeable people to grace my life…they helped change my life,” she admitted.

Nobody ever messes around with April’s body-positive image. “I got down to a size 8 and I decided that I was healthy and therefore happy,” she affirmed. “I didn’t care what people thought about my big legs or my big butt. If they didn’t like my shape, they could eff-off. I’m proud of my shape and my strength…not to mention my overall health.” She pays attention to the queues that her body gives her and strives to eat healthy, whole foods. This helps her to keep everything in moderation: April knows when to load up on carbs and when to increase her protein intake. For this reason, she encourages others to do intensive research about what is best for their own bodies. “Everyone is different, so find what works for you,” she counselled.

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April is a strong advocate of immersing oneself in a community of healthy and like-minded individuals (like PumpUp!). “Find a mentor that you trust and stay away from unhealthy people,” she emphasized. “I have found that they can be like cancer—they seem to poison people around them. Find someone you want to ‘be’ and emulate them.” She also encourages others to hold themselves accountable and to eliminate excuses—patience is the greatest virtue for April. “Change takes time, so try hard to stay dedicated,” she explained. “Your body is capable of amazing things: push it! Training is all mental—push yourself through those mental walls and you will surprise yourself!”

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With each and every post, April strives to motivate at least one person on PumpUp to stay on track. She’s been a member of the app since July 2014, after @winnoble convinced her that PumpUp would be a great community for her. His intuition was right in every single way. “I hoped to meet some neat people with similar goals and looked for a community where motivation and encouragement flowed effortlessly in both directions,” she elaborated. “I can say that I’ve definitely found that..and more! I’ve met the most amazing people on here who have truly become my friends: @bellsetters, @mattgmi, @humbleman, and @jerrydonwheeler, just to name a few.” April actually met up with @jerrydonwheeler and trained with him on her birthday! “It was an honour,” she professed. “I hope there are many more PumpUp members who happen to pass by Little Rock, AR and want to lift with me!”

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Biggest Motivation

“My PumpUp family definitely motives me.  I absolutely motivate myself!  My ultimate goal (although not sure it’s attainable) is to have a body like P!NK.  Saw her in concert, saw how strong she was, and decided I wanted that.”

Favourite eats

“I drink water with lemon, lime or both everyday throughout my workday.  My favorite treat is pomegranates, which I have to make myself earn. “

Motivational Mantra

“Just because I’m a girl, doesn’t mean I have to act like one” – Me

 “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” - Emerson

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Fun Fact About April

“I am a tomboy completely.  I’m tough, I hate shopping, I don’t paint my nails, I won’t wear a dress, and I’d rather be cutting wood with my dad than being pampered at a spa.”

This awesome ab workout will help you get sweaty

Try this #SweatySunday awesome ab workout! You'll be feeling it tomorrow.

  • V-crunches for your upper abs
  • Bicycle crunches for your obliques
  • Pulse ups for your lower abs

It's basically a complete workout that will help you get fit no matter what. Take five minutes today and complete at least one circuit during a commercial break or in between the chapters of your book.  You won't even need any equipment! You won't even need to leave the floor! Thank the heavens.

Do you have awesome ab workout videos that you wanna show us? Tag them on Instagram with #TeamPumpUp so we can see!

[video width="640" height="640" mp4="http://blog.pumpup.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/ab-workout.mp4"][/video]

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Exciting PumpUp milestone: Double tap to say congrats! @jatie is our first PumpUp member to reach 100,000 followers! We’re head over heels for all that she has achieved!

“The roots of true achievement lie in the will to become the best that you can become.”- Harold Taylor

Check out http://blog.pumpup.co/tagged/jatie for some of her workout challenges and fitness tips!

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#MyResolution #Day7: Lunge it out! Add a little jump when you switch between legs to make this a killer plyometric move! We’d love you to share a photo of awesome lunge variations. Here’s PumpUp member @akvile’s beautiful picture: she usually does 3 sets of 15 lunges on each leg. Find the full #MyResolutionJanuary photo challenge at http://blog.pumpup.co/tagged/challenge!

Ivy lost 25 lbs, escaped two near-death experiences, and is more motivated than ever - PumpUp Spotlight

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Ivy (@hotchilipepper) is officially one of the most inspiring, dedicated, and motivational members to spread positivity around the PumpUp community. Her story is incredible. Not only does Ivy’s transformation set a precedent for healthy resolution-making, she’s also overcome hardships that are worth learning from. 

At the very beginning of her wellness journey, Ivy described herself as being 25 lbs. heavier, lethargic, and a victim to constant migraines.  She didn’t wait for a magical moment to catalyze her transformation; she simply made a decision to live healthier and made gradual changes to adapt to her new lifestyle.  “I dropped processed junk food and soda. Then I started eating lots of vegetables, lean meats, and fruits and drank lots of water and tea,” Ivy elaborated. “I began by walking every day. When I dropped some weight and had more energy, I started running.”

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As a result of her shift toward more wholesome food, smaller portions, and more cardio, Ivy lost 20 lbs in two months.  “I became just skinny. I had no muscle tone,” she recounts. “When I realized this, I took a weightlifting class and became hooked. I learned a lot about how to perform different exercises with weights, gained more lean muscle mass, became stronger, and I have a more toned physique.”

A great deal of turbulence has marked notches in Ivy’s pathway to health and wellness. Two near-death incidents from her childhood taught her to truly value each moment.  These events impacted her decision to lead a much healthier lifestyle. “I became paralyzed when I was about 5 years old and all of the doctors gave up on me,” she elaborated. “My dad was a doctor and he did not give up on my treatment. It was a miracle that I lived and re-learned how to walk and talk.” When Ivy was younger, she was bullied because she was a much smaller child than the rest of her peers. “I was always sick and weak. I cried a lot but learned to keep my head up and use hurtful experiences as motivation to get stronger. I now read many articles about self-love and motivation in order to stay strong and positive. I do not compete with other people but myself and work hard to be better every day.”

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Ivy gets her daily dose of motivation from community members on PumpUp who never fail to celebrate her progress. “Ever since I started using PumpUp, I am more motivated than ever before,” she gushed. “I have met many positive and amazing members. On days when I am not as motivated to work out or eat well, I read other members’ posts and they push me to be my best!” Not only is PumpUp a motivator for Ivy, it is also an accountability partner. “I log my workouts on the app so that I am motivated to not slack off,” she explained.

For beginners looking to lead a healthier lifestyle in 2015, Ivy stresses the importance of setting a goal and making a plan to accompany each benchmark. “It’s important to take baby steps and to be consistent,” she emphasized. “Do not expect big changes overnight and be patient—it takes time to form good habits. It’s not always easy, but being healthy is the best investment you’ll make in your entire life.” She encourages resolution-makers to never give up on themselves, no matter how hard or frustrating their journey may be.

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As Ivy moves forward like a beacon of brightness that showers the PumpUp universe with vibrant and unmistakable rays of positivity, she aspires to motivate others to live healthily with the posts that she shares on PumpUp. “I am happy to receive feedback from people who told me that they did not give up—all because of me!” she exclaimed. “It is an amazing and proud feeling to have. In return, this motivates me to do even better. Working out keeps me strong, both physically and mentally. However when I see somebody else going through a similar problem, but they keep fighting through it, I can relate to it and I am absolutely motivated.”

Favourite snack

“Quest bars and nuts!”

Motivational Mantra

It does not easier, but you will get stronger.”

Favourite Workout

I love to lift heavy weights—it makes me feel invincible! My favourite moves are squats and deadlifts.”

Fun fact about Ivy

“I am a science nerd. I love watching sci-fi and action movies—just like a guy!”

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Pump Ivy up on the PumpUp app at @hotchilipepper and on Instagram @pursuitofhappiness13. 

Learn how Alexa bravely overcame doubt and insecurity during her fitness journey - Spotlight Series

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After losing more than 30 lbs over the course of her fitness journey, Alexa (@alexawinter) transcended her own personal insecurities, proved her naysayers wrong, and is consistently one of the most positive and supportive members of the PumpUp community. Learn about Alexa’s inspiring story as she spreads positivity in every aspect of her life. 

Alexa’s health and wellness journey has been punctuated by hardship and doubt, but she managed to overcome her personal obstacles with perseverance and fierce determination. “When I started to lose the weight and count my calories, it was really hard for me to stay on track,” she admitted. “I was so used to eating junk food constantly. There were days I felt worn down and I felt like I was not going to lose any weight—but after the first month of being strict about my portions and mindful of my calories, I lost my first 12 lbs. I knew I wasn’t going to stop there.” Running on a regular basis and eating healthily were both hard adjustments for Alexa at first, but the judgments passed onto her after she lost weight were much more difficult for her to grapple with. “When everyone saw that I had lost 30 pounds in 3 months, I started to hear gossip and rumours from others who called me ‘anorexic’ and ‘unhealthy’,” she divulged. “The comments did not really bother me because I knew I lost the weight the right way, and I knew that I worked so hard for those three months: I did not drink, I did not eat any junk food (minus my one cheat day), and I would run for an hour at least every single day. I worked hard to see my results, and for some people, that was hard to grasp.”                                                                                                               

When she joined PumpUp in the summer of 2014, Alexa felt like she was coming home to a community of likeminded individuals who shared her passion for health and fitness. “I think that is why I love the PumpUp community so much. I have come across a lot of positive users, and very few negative ones,” she insisted. “Every single person on the app is there to better themselves, and to motivate each other. Every day people are supporting me and giving me that extra boost to keep going. If I can help another person push through on their bad days/weeks, then I feel even more accomplished.”

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Much like Ariel from the Little Mermaid, Alexa became exposed to a whole new world full of diverse perspectives and workout regimens when she began her journey with PumpUp. “I used to run a ton, and I did very little weightlifting and core workouts,” she elaborated. “I was all about that cardio! Having the PumpUp app has exposed me to the lifestyles of other fitness enthusiasts. This motivated me to [shift my focus] away from cardio and towards improving the muscle tone of my body.” PumpUp has become a wellspring of inspiration for Alexa, who checks in to motivate other members as often as she can. “Other people’s healthy recipes have given me many new ideas for my own meals,” she affirmed. 

The saying that ‘Insecurity kills all that is beautiful,” resonates deeply with Alexa.  Her body is etched with a tattoo of this very motto. It’s a reminder Alexa’s mental state of being prior the start of her healthy and active lifestyle.  “I was very insecure, sad, and overall unhappy with myself before my weight loss,” she confessed. “I don’t think I was always the best person towards others because I was insecure. A lot of my issues stemmed from my body image. Once I began to change that, I felt much more happiness.” Self-love and body positivity have both changed how Alexa interacts with others. “My insecurities truly took away from my beauty on the inside, because of how I felt about my body on the outside,” she recounts. I am a much happier person today, and I am kinder to those around me.”

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It’s essential for Alexa to track her own personal progress. She urges others not to give up, even if there are days, weeks, or even months when they do not feel that their fitness is up to par. “Being fit and healthy is not an easy task. It is truly a lifestyle that you need to learn to love and always follow,” Alexa advised. “I don’t think there are any quick fixes to having your dream body. You really need to make fitness and health a main part of your life.”

As she continues to be an all-star at spreading positivity throughout the community, Alexa hopes to serve as a source of motivation and inspiration for those pursuing their own fitness journeys. “PumpUp has allowed me to track my workouts, and also track my progress with pictures,” she maintained. “I hope to keep using PumpUp as a source of motivation that will push me towards my dream body.”

Biggest Source of Motivation 

Jen Selter. I mean really, I am sure she is a good chunk of the woman population’s motivation. My goal in my fitness life is a tiny waist and big booty just like her.”

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Alexa’s eats 

“Hummus and veggies are my favorite snack. I also love any kind of fruit. I wish I had a healthy recipe to pass on, however I admit I am not the greatest cook! I’m hoping to pick up on more recipes/meal ideas from my PumpUp family.”

Alexa’s favourite workout 

I LOVE THE STAIRMASTER. I have to do it every time I workout. Even if I incorporate some other cardio, it must be done. I think I sweat more doing stairs than anything else, and I love to sweat makes me feel like I am pushing myself. And I really just love working on my booty.”

Fun fact about Alexa

When I was younger, I broke my right upper arm about 10+ times, and had 5-7 surgeries on it. The oddest way I broke my arm was when I was reaching out for my scooter and my arm immediately cracked. This was after I had a few surgeries to transplant bone marrow from my hip to my arm because the doctor believed it was a bone marrow deficiency. The medicenter found out that my bone was about the size of a toothpick (explains the easy break), because there was a tumor eating away at my bone (not cancerous though). However it was later removed, and pins were put in place to help strengthen my arm as the bone grew back. My arm has not broken since, it has had some weakness and pain at times, however; it does not slow me down or change my workouts. No excuses!”

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Follow @alexawinter on the PumpUp app, and keep her pumped as she posts updates of her healthy and active lifestyle! Also find her on her fitness Instagram (@littlefitlex) and on her personal (@lilmunchielex).

How Ron nestled himself at the heart of the PumpUp community - Spotlight Series

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As a performer and fight choreographer known among PumpUp members for his incredible physique and his motivational posts, Ron danced his way into the PumpUp community’s heart and shines bright like a diamond in the spotlight. Ron’s advice is wise, his training schedule is magnificent, and his presence in the PumpUp community is unmistakeable.

At the beginning of his journey, Ron kept himself busy with plenty of cardio due to the nature of his occupation but he hadn’t begun to truly focus on building muscle prior to joining PumpUp. “I hit the weights maybe once a week and ate indiscriminately,” Ron admitted. “I certainly knew nothing about nutrition, or eating to achieve certain goals. Though I got plenty of exercise as a dancer/theatre performer, I really wasn’t making any lean muscle gains!”

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After becoming a member of the PumpUp family 8 months ago, Ron made dramatic changes to his lifestyle and it absolutely reflects in his incredible progress. He frequents the gym at least 4 to 5 times a week for 2 hours at a time. “My splits focus on free weights and I’m training for strength and size so I mix hypertrophy (4 sets for 8-12 reps) with basic strength (5x5 or 5 sets for 5 reps). I also hit a lot of calisthenics, bar brothers or street workout style exercises,” he explained. “I monitor my calories (3200 a day) and eat 70% clean. With nutrition it’s all about balance!”

Certain obstacles have marked notches in Ron’s pathway toward a more healthy and active lifestyle. “I’ve found that life always intervenes during your fitness journey,” he admitted. “Heartbreak, death in the family, illness or injury: I’ve had all of these things happen this year. It’s tough to stay motivated—and to be honest, there were times when I wasn’t motivated at all. I had to take a few days to regroup, but the gym was a place of stability for me.”

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Ron aspires to inspire others on PumpUp for change. “I’m currently studying a diploma of fitness and using PumpUp has been really great for me to share my own personal fitness experiences and the knowledge that I’ve gained,” he elaborated. “The community is top notch—basically one big family!” It seems surreal for him to have garnered such a critical mass of followers who are motivated by his posts, but Ron affirmed that he hopes that he can do his best to help them in any way. “I’m really just a regular guy who likes the gym,” shrugged Ron. “It’s crazy to see how many people are following me (and I thank them immensely) and I hope that I can inspire them.”

His affirmation for those looking to lead a more active lifestyle is sage and succinct. “The best way to get started is to get started,” he counseled. “If you’ve made the start you’re already halfway there! Make activity and exercise a routine or habit and motivation becomes unnecessary. You don’t question whether or not you brush your teeth in the morning, so why question exercise?”

Ultimately, Ron aims to be the best version of himself that he can be, in and out of the gym. “I’m most motivated by myself—it may sound weird but I’m motivated to be better, bigger, stronger, and more awesome than who I was yesterday,” he professed. “There are people that I admire but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I wanted to be the best at whatever I do. I think that drive is natural and even healthy. Just don’t let it turn negative. I’m always hungry for progress.”

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Ron’s Meals
“Without a doubt, [I can’t resist] buffalo wings. No matter what diet plan I’m on, if there is a chance of wings, I’m down like a clown. I’m actually not a great cook though! That’s why there are so many selfies on my profile. None of my meal preps look amazing. Nutritionally, they are great. Aesthetically—how great can brown rice and tuna look? (I do love brown rice and tuna).”

Motivational Mantra

“I don’t really get motivated by sayings, sure some of them are 100% true but I think I can find them a bit cliche. I’ve always found a connection with Dylan Thomas’s poem, ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’. It’s got a fierce, desperate quality that fires me to no end.” 

"Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Ron’s favourite exercise

“In terms of weights, I love my compound exercises (squats, deadlifts and bench press). I [also] love working on bars because you can be flashy!”

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Fun fact about Ron

“Two things: I used to be in the Australian army (the infantry). I’ve also nearly traveled around the whole world through various theatre opportunities.

Find Ron on the app @rseet and check out his Instagram @ron_seeto!

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PumpUp member mrshaldane went through an incredible transformation and is starting a 40 days of fitness and no sweets challenge! Reblog to keep her pumped, or if you feel like trying this with her! “Whenever I feel too tired and worn out, I remind myself that you can do anything for 30 minutes! Something is better than nothing.”

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Did PumpUp help you reach your goals in 2014? Even a little bit (or a lot!)? We’re looking to feature amazing stories next month and we’d love to hear from you! Email alessandra@pumpup.co