Before going through the first case study, I want to make something clear. Although I have few “before and after” photos on my testimonials page, I am actually not a big fan of them. These photos don’t tell what actually happened between before and after. Even worse, they imply that there is such a thing as after. I am a firm believer in a continuous improvement. Not a one-off transformation.
I want to highlight some of my current clients and ask them questions about their progress etc. Here’s one of my long-term clients, Louise, answering few of my questions and to help all of you who are currently struggling with your health and fitness.
Why did you initially sign up for the coaching?
I like to have structure, and needed a plan and routine to stick to. Life throws you many hurdles and obstacles, but if this was the one thing I could somewhat control then I was in. Having the accountability gave me the motivation and determination to change my habits and learn how to include the changes in my everyday life.
How has your mindset changed since you started the coaching? How about your goals?
To start with my goals were just about losing weight, and then when I started to see changes in my body my goals also changed. They become more about how to maintain and incorporate what I had learnt into my everyday life on a regular basis. I don’t just go to the gym because I ‘have’ to now, but because I ‘want’ to. It’s a part of my weekly routine, so it just feels natural to go to the gym everyday weekday and think about my food choices.
What have been the three best things you’ve learned these past years?
You can say no – Whether it be food selection at a party or saying no to working out for one day as you’re sick, I’ve learnt that it’s ok to say no and take a break. If I don’t have the cake on offer at work today, it’s ok I will survive and can have some of the next one if I really want to.
Learning to take a break from the gym when I am sick is something I am still trying to learn! As I like my structure and getting up at the same time every weekday etc, I find it hard to break this pattern even when I am tired or sick.
Awareness – Being self-aware. Thinking about portion control and how much I snack has been helpful. Really thinking ‘Am I hungry, or am I just eating because…’.
I am stronger than I think – I never thought I could do nearly 10 chin ups! I’ve learnt a lot about myself along the way, my determination and commitment.
What challenges do you continue to face?
Getting back into the swing of things – Getting back after being on holiday can be a bit of a challenge. I lose a bit of my routine and structure while away, so getting back into the gym and owning my food choices is a little bit of a struggle to get back into. Especially when you come back to a busy work environment from being away. It can be exhausting throwing yourself back into everything the first week back.
My body – I have hips and they don’t lie. I like my body shape, but I feel I definitely can’t switch off from the gym and healthy eating for even a month. Hence why I have experienced the yo-yo dieting affect in the past. It definitely needs to be part of a regular routine for me, even if some weeks are better than others. This is why coming back from holidays is a challenge as well!
How do you continue to work on the challenges?
I just need to remember each day is a new day. If my food plan blows out completely, at least I know it resets the next day and I can start again. I need to not be so hard on myself sometimes. I can always forgive myself and no one else needs to know I didn’t stick to my exact plan that day. Just start fresh and make a promise to myself to make small changes.
Except your physical appearance, what other areas have changed? If any.
My health/food knowledge – I find people at work and my family ask me for tips now! Losing weight and getting fit is probably a goal for nearly everyone, and it’s a nice feeling to be asked how I did it! It gives me move motivation as well.
My Mindset – I’m not forced to work out, it’s not a chore anymore. I actually want to! I find going to the gym or for a run on the weekend is more of a hobby as well, and especially because I am competitive I need to beat my best time, and of course Chris (husband)!
What advice would you have for other people that relate, and are inspired by your story?
A large percentage is your mindset. You need to be mentally in it to win it.
I found that I was more likely to eat chocolate, over snack and not give my all at workouts if my mind wasn’t in it. Reassess your goals, and commit to them. You need to want it and be open to trying and changing your habits. Change what you feel you need to, to help achieve your goals.
For example, I found going to the gym in the morning was a more valuable use of my time and I could be more dedicated. I liked being able to go straight home after work in the afternoons, and I could spend more time per session in the morning as I wasn’t just dreaming of being at home in my pjs and slippers!
I find being on point and close to near 100% with my food habits during the week allows me to be more flexible on the weekends and not feel guilty, especially with more social events on. No one likes to miss out at parties! I’ve also learnt that it’s not actually ‘missing out’. You can still go and enjoy yourself, you might just have 3 snacks rather than 10. Or 5 cocktails instead of 10!
Here’s what a typical training week looks for Louise
45-55 minute resistance training three days a week, usually Monday, Tuesday and Friday, including warm up. Usually full body sessions, the load is reduced if training on back-to-back days, so that one of the days becomes more of a “movement day”. Alternatively she does an upper/lower split if training back -to-back days.
Recent program was a daily undulating periodization, which is a fancy way of saying that some days were high intensity/low volume, some low intensity/high volume, and some sessions were in between.
30-40 minute conditioning twice a week before work. Mixing interval training and steady paced cardio.
When I asked her to be specific with her eating habits, here’s what she wrote down
Breakfast: Protein shake with banana
Lunch: Salad with tuna. Salad of choice at the moment is baby spinach, cucumber, capsicum, tomato and sweet potato.
Afternoon snack if needed: Dates, Cashews or Apple
Dinner: Protein and vegetables. E.g. chicken, broccolini and mushrooms
Night time snack if needed: Orange, Peppermint tea
Varies depending on what plans we have, most of the time we are with family. Out or at home.
Breakfast: Yoghurt and muesli or Eggs on toast
Lunch: Rice, Chicken (most likely with family, sometimes the meal is worse than what this sounds)
Dinner: Eat Out
Snacks: May involve some treats!
Few things about eating habits
One thing that is common with busy people who get, and most importantly maintain results is that they all have the ability to keep meals quite simple and monotonous throughout the weekdays.
The reason why this brings results is not because you have to stick with a certain eating pattern or meal plan (which I don’t provide anyways), but that eating healthier is easier when things are simple. They expel less energy trying to figure out what to eat and meals are quicker to prepare.
Obviously this is not an issue if the person loves cooking, is a wizard in the kitchen and has plenty of time for cooking. However, for most of us this is not the case. I know I rather do a lot of other thing during weeknight than stand in front of the stove.
The big takeaway
If you are just starting out, remember that Louise didn’t just wake up one morning and master all of this. No, it’s a result of diligent practice, failures and experiments to get to know thyself. In Louise’s case, she is four years into figuring this all out and to make it work, for her.
Don’t get disheartened by comparing your beginning to someone who’s deep into the practice. Learn from them and you can achieve the same.