Twenty-four-year-old Chelsea Martin of Colorado Springs, CO, had dreams of getting in figure-competitor shape, but "life got in the way," and she fell off the wagon.
Fortunately, she had the drive to pick herself back up and equip herself with the necessary tools to get strong and follow her dreams. Her secrets to success? Weightlifting, MyFitnessPal for macro tracking, and a fantastic coach at Gold's Gym. Chelsea treated finding the perfect gym like finding the perfect college, and she found the right fit with a personal trainer who she meshed with immediately. Here's more on Chelsea's amazing story of hard work and determination, with incredibly simple tips you can apply to your own healthy journey.
POPSUGAR: What made you decide to start your weight-loss journey?
Chelsea Martin: I have always been intrigued by fitness and the human body — the limits it can both withstand and break through. My fascination with exercise began in high school. I was never the skinniest or most athletic (although Lord knows I tried!). I would watch figure competitions on TV or on the internet and wonder what it must be like to look like those women on stage. Not only did I envy their physical beauty, but the confidence that these women portrayed. It was a delicate finesse between total badass and radiant beauty.
Self-confidence is something I feel everyone struggles with at some point or another, and I had been struggling for years. I was investing my time in the perceptions of others and their approval of my actions. When I took a job across country, where I had no family or friends, I realized that I could be anyone I wanted to be. I got to choose how I wanted to start my new life, and that's when I put my focus on what my heart desired for myself. Being a figure competitor was always a dream, but I decided I was going to make it a reality. I wanted to be someone for girls to look up to. I wanted people to see me and see that same strong, confident beauty that I had so badly wanted for so many years.
I hate to say that "life happened," but essentially that's what it came down to. Going through college, I was so wrapped up in school, work, family, and trying to balance a social life that I let exercise and diet fall off the grid. I aimlessly fueled my body with whatever I could find. I also sought food for comfort; I'm very much a stress eater. Working 12-hour night shifts, going through nursing school, and many, many late nights with very few hours of sleep certainly didn't help that.
PS: What drew you to Gold's Gym, specifically?
CM: Picking a gym is like picking a college. A lot of people will tell you "it just felt right" or "it just feels like home." Initially, I thought to myself, "Where can I go that will provide me the greatest opportunity at being successful in my journey to competing?" There are many commercial gyms near my neighborhood, but Gold's was the only gym that made me FEEL like I was in the right place. As I surveyed all the different barbell and dumbbell options, cable machines, cardio equipment, and other amenities, I was impressed.
However, it wasn't WHAT Gold's Gym offered, it was WHO . . . from the front-desk workers to my coach to the other members working out every day, bettering themselves. Gold's offers an environment that makes me want to come back every day so I can share my journey with others and they can continue to motivate me with theirs. Gold's has honestly become my family out here, and going to work out is the best part of my day because I get to spend time with people who genuinely invest in helping others better themselves and reach goals that may have seemed unattainable.
"Lifting weights consistently and being mindful of my diet by tracking macros has been the most effective for my body."
Before Gold's, I feel like I had tried just about everything! I have tried DVDs, YouTube exercise videos, different diet fads, detoxes and cleanses, diet pills, hours of cardio . . . you name it. Lifting weights consistently and being mindful of my diet by tracking macros has been the most effective for my body. Everyone's body reacts differently to different methods, but this has been the longest-lasting and most rewarding. I have energy, and it has given me a healthier relationship with nutrition and how I am fueling my body.
PS: What's your favorite way to work out?
CM: Weightlifting, hands down. Dumbbells, barbells . . . get me to a rack, and I'm one happy girl.
PS: What's your weekly exercise schedule?
CM: I usually train my big muscle groups (back, shoulders, and legs) twice a week. I will sometimes supplement those muscle groups with more targeted accessory muscles. For example, since I lift shoulders twice a week, one day may be shoulders and chest, and the other day may be shoulders and arms. I will typically do cardio three to four times a week, either fasted in the morning or post-workout to keep my metabolism revved after I leave the gym. I try to mix it up between HIIT and steady-state to help keep my workouts fresh.
PS: How do you keep workouts exciting?
CM: When it comes to weights, I like to vary the volume and intensity. For example, one of my leg days during the week may focus more on heavier weight with less reps, and then my second day will focus on a higher volume of reps with lighter weight to help burn that muscle that has already been fatigued earlier in the week. I also don't just lift. I like to add in resistance bands, plyometric exercises, and various bodyweight exercises to help keep my muscles confused. Each of these methods helps target different muscle fibers, again keeping my body confused and helping to burn fat.
PS: How much weight have you lost?
CM: Since I started exercising regularly (October 2016 to June 2017), I've lost 26 pounds.
PS: What was the first big difference, other than the number on the scale, that really made you feel proud and excited?
CM: When people I looked up to in the gym approached me and told me that I was motivation for them. Talk about a totally surreal feeling!
PS: How do you track your weight loss?
CM: I don't like to rely on the scale to measure my weight loss. I take a lot of progress pictures. Although it feels awkward, it is super validating to look back after a month, or even a week or two, and watch how your body is changing and adapting to your lifestyle choices. I also feel it is the healthiest way to track progress because you see YOU, not a number. I love when people guess my weight now, because nine times out of 10, they are way under.
PS: Do you count calories? What's the range of calories you eat per day?
CM: I don't count calories, but I do count macros. This has helped me identify what my body responds to the best as a fuel source and has taught me to be extremely mindful of what is in the food that I'm putting into my body.
"Taking progress pictures is the healthiest way to track progress because you see YOU, not a number."
I like to use the MyFitnessPal app on my iPhone. It's totally free, and it's super easy to use. It even has restaurant menus programmed so I can plan my meals ahead of time if I know where my friends and I are going for dinner. It was kind of tedious at first to track everything, but it helps give you an idea of where you're starting at and how you can manipulate your total carbs and fats and proteins for the day to make sure the food you are putting in your body is both delicious and beneficial for your fitness journey.
Chelsea: Before and After
PS: What are the healthy staples that are always in your fridge?
CM: Oikos Triple Zero yogurt, Quest or Oh Yeah! ONE protein bars, Kodiak Cakes (protein flapjacks), salted-caramel rice cakes with honey, peanut butter with apples, SmartPop! popcorn, and pickles.
PS: How do you strategize for meals out?
CM: MyFitnessPal app. Love it!! I seriously use it every time I must go out with family or friends to dinner. It is a lifeline for staying on track with my fitness journey.
PS: What role did Gold's Gym play in your journey? Would you recommend it?
CM: Gold's played a HUGE part in where I'm at today. Without Gold's, I would have never been connected with my amazing coach, Max, who has been my compass through this crazy fitness journey, helping me navigate macros and workouts. He's also been a huge support system, both in and out of the gym. I can honestly say that without Max's help and genuine passion to help me crush this seemingly impossible fitness goal, I would not have been successful. I would highly recommend personal training and classes at Gold's. The staff are encouraging, upbeat, and real. They invest in you and want to see you succeed. As a client, that makes me want to work harder because I don't want to let them down. It's a healthy motivator.
PS: What advice do you have for anyone starting out on a weight-loss journey?
CM: The hardest part is starting. Make a goal. Write it down. And when you wake up every morning, remind yourself of that goal and envision it happening. I'm a firm believer that we are magnets: what we put into the universe, we attract to ourselves. Put out positive energy and good vibes; you will get it right back. Be encouraging and motivating to others, and they will encourage and motivate you. Envision your dreams as a reality, and if you work hard enough, they soon will be.