I have transformed my body in 18 months; 10 things I have learnt
18 months ago I signed up for the Body Coach App. In that time I lost two stone, lost 35cm from my body and dropped two dress sizes. You can read more about my journey in my article How to be fit, healthy and body confident at 50.
This is a lifestyle change for me and I wanted to share 10 key things I have learnt about food and exercise in those 18 months.
1. You can’t lose weight with exercise alone
10 years ago I signed up with a personal trainer to do resistance training. I got stronger, and changed shape a little around my waist and chest but didn’t lose any weight or inches. I was still the same dress size after three years and I had no idea why. Fast forward to having used the Body Coach app for 18 months and I am now back to the size and weight I was before I had my first child 25 years ago and I am stronger and fitter than I’ve ever been.
Why? The food.
The change in my diet has been incredible. I am now eating a high-protein diet with smaller portions of carbs. I have reduced my refined sugar intake and introduced a whole lot of seeds, nuts and berries. My fridge is full of Greek yoghurt, feta, and halloumi, and I use between 12-18 eggs per week.
Do I feel starved? No.
Do I feel restricted? Definitely not, my range of food has increased.
Do I feel I am on a diet? Errr….. a huge no. This is a change in what I eat, not a restrictive diet.
Do I still eat cake and chocolate? Yes, I do.
2. Consistency is key
Results come with consistency. I work out five times a week 95% of the time – no excuses. I may change the time of day I train on occasion but it’s always consistently five days a week. I do drop to four sometimes if I can’t fit in the fifth but it’s rare. If I do drop a workout, I don’t beat myself up about it because I know that 95% of the time, I’m at five. I find now after 18 months that my body needs the workouts, it complains through aches in my legs and hips if I don’t.
3. You don’t have to work out for hours
In my previous lives, I had always exercised for an hour, whether that was a spinning class, body pump, aerobics or Pilates. I have learnt (and got the results to prove it) that your body does not need more than 30 minutes if you do HIIT workouts. There are other forms of workouts available of course and sometimes I substitute a HIIT for a bike ride with plenty of hills or a 5K run. It’s whatever works for you.
Equally, you do not need to do two workouts a day, you are not helping your body if you push it too hard. You need rest days, and you need to give your body time after a workout to replenish and repair. I find if I push my body too hard, it pays me back with stiff muscles, aches and pains and general all-round energy loss!
4. Motivation comes as you see results
There is always a lot of talk about “How do I get motivated to work out?”, “I want to get fitter, but I can’t get motivated”.
Well, I’ve got news for you, you won’t get the motivation until you start.
When you see your before and after photos, or you suddenly notice that your legs look shapely, or you pick your usual size top off the shelf to try on and realise it’s too big. That’s when your motivation comes.
I am constantly looking for any changes or NSVs (non-scale victories) as these keep me motivated. These can be anything from physical changes in my body to lifting new weights or doing more reps than before. Look for the wins, no matter how big or small that’s what keeps you going and motivated.
5. Keep learning and being curious
When I started this journey, I thought I knew how to eat well. Turns out I was wrong. I have learnt about how to balance protein, carbs and fats in a good way that feeds my body what it needs to work out but also to function properly. But because I am also seeing results, I am more interested in learning about other ways of being healthy and looking after myself.
I started to read up on how to help my body’s immunity and now take Vitamin C, D and Collagen. The results I have seen have been amazing; thicker hair (it had started to thin a lot in the last year), better nails and skin. I haven’t had a cough, cold or anything else since I started taking them in January this year. Coincidence or the placebo effect? Who knows, all I know is it’s working for me.
Photo credit: Joanna Stokes
6. Decide what’s important in your lifestyle
I drink at least three cups of coffee with milk a day. I do have chocolate and I do have cake. I make my cakes rather than buy them as this way I control what goes in. I often reduce the fat and sugar by a third or half without any detriment to the taste.
However, I have a sweet tooth so I know that if I completely deny myself anything sweet (and no, berries and fruit don’t count) I will end up eating more of them. So, I decided that those things are in my diet, it may mean I don’t lose as much weight or lose it slower but if it means I stay on track for longer then so be it.
7. My view of food
I can no longer eat cheese on toast and think that’s a healthy lunch. I can’t have toast and jam for breakfast and feel set up for my day. My view of what I am putting into my body has changed. I now look at a meal and think “will that give my body the fuel it needs?”
8. Don’t skip the stretching
Diligently doing the warmups and cooldowns is key to your physical ability. If I don’t do both of these without fail every time I work out I pay for it. I have learnt that my body needs both and sometimes yoga and mobility sessions in between. I am pretty sure this is why I have avoided injury so far and whilst I would not call myself flexible at all I know I am better than I was 18 months ago.
9. You don’t need loads of equipment to get fit and strong
I started with nothing, not even a pair of trainers. I worked out in bare feet for the first six months in my living room on the carpet. It didn’t seem to do me any harm, I only got trainers as I started to lift heavier weights and worried about dropping them on my toes! I have three sets of dumbbells, a kettlebell and a yoga block. I can do every workout with these.
10. Be patient and consistent and you will see the results
Don’t expect instant results. Everyone is different and therefore the time it takes for your body to change will be different to everyone else. I put on weight over several years so I knew it was not going to all disappear in a few weeks. I noticed significant differences at the end of the first 90 days, and then at month seven, I noticed a big change again in my measurements.
I then remained fairly static until about two months ago (so 16 months in) when I started to wear some smaller sized tops. You must be patient and be in it for the long term because only then will you see consistent results.
The most important thing is to take action because if you don’t, nothing will change.
If you want to make a transformational change to your lifestyle, then investing in yourself by engaging a coach will help you get from A to B quicker than on your own. I offer a free 60-minute discovery call – contact me to find out how I can help you.