Kim Kardashian has been posting a lot of pictures from a recent trip to the Caribbean. One photo in particular, a bikini pic, included a caption that caught a lot of people’s attention and gave a nod to the woman who has helped Kardashian get into the best shape of her life. “Shout out to my trainer @fitgurlmel who really changed my body. When I wasn’t happy with what I saw back in the mirror I spent a whole year training so hard 5 or 6 days a week putting in a lot of work and changed the way that I eat and there’s such a noticeable difference. I am firm and less cellulite and so much more confident. SO THANK YOU for waking up at 5am to do crazy body building workouts & sprints that I hate & putting me on to this lifestyle.”
Of course the natural question is, who is this incredible trainer and where did she come from? Well, her name is Melissa Alcantara, and while, yes, she trains stars like Kim Kardashian, it’s far more than her Hollywood connections that makes this fitness phenom such a success and inspiration.
Who is Melissa Alcantara?
FitGurlMel is no stranger to dedication, determination, and grit. Growing up in the Bronx, Alcantara had anything but an easy life. Her dad, a drug addict and alcoholic, was absent, and her mom worked two jobs to support Mel and two siblings. The eating habits that Alcantara adopted as a kid — which were not healthy — carried into her adult life.
It wasn’t until Alcantara got pregnant that she realized she needed to make a change. “[The experience] seriously poured painful truths over my mind and my body,” Alcantara tells Yahoo Lifestyle. She gained 70 pounds during her pregnancy, and while she loved her new baby, all of her bad eating habits caught up with her and she felt depressed and unhealthy, and didn’t know how to start changing her body or her life. But that confusion didn’t last long.
“One thing that growing up in chaos taught me was that no matter what happens in your life, you’ve got to fight,” she says. That’s why giving up and “accepting” her reality never crossed Alcantara’s mind. Over time, she started to educate herself on fitness and nutrition, and she slowly changed her body and her lifestyle. Yahoo Lifestyle spoke to Alcantara to glean a few insights into how exactly she did that and what tips she has for others who want to change their bodies and mindsets too.
In order to achieve it, you have to really want it.
“Motivation is just like a muscle,” Alcantara says. It grows and gets stronger with every passing day you put in the work. This type of growth mindset is everything when it comes to health and fitness. You can attempt to exercise and eat right, but if your head is not in the game, the results will be short-lived.
Alcantara says the hard work she puts in is for her. She wants to be the best version of herself, regardless of her past and present — and now, she gets to work with people who want it just as badly as she does. “In order to do this, you have to want it for yourself and do it whether you’re motivated or not,” she says.
How important is nutrition?
Like many others in the fitness world, Alcantara does not like the word “diet,” saying that people have perverted “diet” to mean “starving yourself and eating salad.” Instead, Alcantara advocates for sound nutritional choices as part of a fitness and health journey.
She advises taking a hard look at your food to see how much nutritional value it has versus being “zero calories” or sugar-free. “Humans need food, real unprocessed food, such as vegetables, grains, some eggs, potatoes and fruits rather than fat-free cheese and protein bars.” And don’t forget about water — Alcantara recommends drinking about one ounce of water per pound of body weight daily.
Let’s talk about Kim Kardashian’s workout.
“Kim and I train pretty much the same exact way; the only difference is the weight we move, since my goals are slightly different,” explains Alcantara.
“Kim does squats, dead lifts, lunges, barbell curls, reverse pull-ups, plyometrics, HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), steady-state cardio, and every type of grueling workout.”
There’s no doubt that Kardashian is in amazing physical shape, but Alcantara says it’s her mindset that makes her so inspiring. “Everything that Kim has in terms of her fitness level or her business, she has worked really hard for and has earned every bit of it through her efforts. Kim is my woman spirit — I fuel her fire and she fuels mine.”
The core is key.
“Bodybuilding is the base, but I bring a ton of experience with body weight movements and functional training to help people become structurally sound and correct their imbalances,” she explains.
“The core is in charge of connecting, balancing, and powering upper-body and lower-body movement and forms the foundation for being strong, explosive, flexible, and being able to breathe,” explains Alcantara. “I make sure that we use breath in order to control the power of the core and do things that are impossible otherwise.”
What is the ideal number of days to train in a week?
News flash: You do need to train more than one or two days per week if you want to see real changes. Alcantara recommends training at least four to five days per week — and five to six days if you want to get the best results. But it’s not just the amount of days you put in, it’s also the intensity at which you train. That’s why Alcantara says to treat every single rep as if it were the only thing you did in the workout.
Meal prepping makes the difference.
The basic skill that anyone who wants to be healthy and strong should have, says Alcantara, is meal prepping. “You need to eat in order to lose excess fat and build healthy muscles — and not fall into the trap of buying food that is just a bunch of empty calories,” explains Alcantara.
One easy way to get into the habit of prepping your meals is to shop and prep on a certain day. A lot of people will pick Sunday as their day to find recipes, make a grocery list, shop, prep, cook, and pack.
Some good staples include casseroles, slow-cooker meals, grilled chicken breasts (chopped up and whole), cooked ground beef and turkey, rice, chopped veggies and fruit stored in individual plastic zipped bags, salad fixings, cooked sweet potatoes/yams, quinoa, burrito bowls, chicken-lettuce wraps, pasta salad, beans, overnight oats, ingredients for smoothies, and yogurt-granola parfaits.
Meal prepping will ensure that you eat what you’re supposed to. If you don’t know what to eat, you can search online or check out Alcantara’s program from Fitgurlmel and start there.
Being fit and eating right is hard work.
Get it out of your head that being fit is quick and easy. If you want to make permanent changes that last a lifetime, fitness and good nutrition must become a way of life. In fact, Alcantara says that Kardashian contacted her because she realized that she needed a change — a real change — and one that would become a lifestyle.
Stick to a plan.
Falling off the fitness wagon happens to the best of us, right? You can (and will) get back on track as long as you don’t waste time focusing on the negative. That’s why Alcantara says to choose a plan and commit to it. “This is not unique to me. Anybody can do all these things simply by being dedicated to their pursuit and doing it for themselves, and because they want to be the best human they can,” she says.
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