Belinda (nor her real name, of course) was a housewife who became a mother later in life, in her late thirties. Like the majority of my clients, she came from a privileged background: living in a luxurious country home with her family and with plenty of time and resources to pursue her interests.
When I met her she was in her early forties and was starting to feel the effects of the peri-menopause. She was in a fairly good shape, her body type was mostly ectomorph and therefore she was naturally lean. However she felt that she was starting to accumulate fat around her lower body and on her belly and was finding it very hard to shift it.
She dedicated the previous few years to raising her young children and so she didn’t have the opportunity to do any of the physical activities that she used to enjoy pre-motherhood. That’s when she sought my help.
She recently discovered that she was suffering from an autoimmune disorder that affected her digestive tract. She was under the care of a (private) medical specialist who was carrying out tests to establish the exact nature and severity of her problem. Whilst doing various blood tests it also transpired that she was deficient in a number of vitamins hence she was feeling lethargic most of the time.
Her initial goals were to build up her strength and fitness levels so that she could join the fitness classes at her favourite gym and perhaps even the local bootcamp once both of her children started school. She was also planning to go on a beach holiday the following year but didn’t have anything booked yet. With almost 12 months ahead of us to the time of her holiday we started to reverse engineer her fitness goals and set an initial target for a few weeks ahead. (You can learn how to do this with the SMART Fitness Planner)
How she got into her best shape ever
The first step to get her into the best shape of her life was to create a bespoke fitness program that would seamlessly integrate multiple exercise sessions each week into her existing schedule. We also looked at her nutritional habits and where she could make changes to both support her weight loss goals and help her manage her autoimmune disorder. We devised an initial protocol and we set to work.
It soon became apparent that although she said she wanted to change she wasn’t willing to actually make the changes that we discussed.
For some reason, despite the fact that we established a pattern of tummy aches after eating certain types of foods, she resisted the idea of cutting back on them. She seemed to be able to come up with the most creative “reasons” as to why she couldn’t possibly do it.
Keeping up with the exercise regime was easy because I was personally there to make it happen, but the nutrition side of our plan was a bit tricky to manage. Although her body was becoming stronger and more shapely as the weeks went by she wasn’t quite achieving the “best shape ever” that she was hoping for.
After many tests her consultant concluded that she was suffering from coeliac disease and backed up my nutritional suggestions to avoid gluten rich foods and try the gluten free versions instead. She was also prescribed vitamin supplements and injections to help with her energy levels.
Unfortunately people affected by a gluten intolerance can suffer a fair amount of damages to their intestinal tract. This makes the absorption of nutrients difficult and even when eating all the “right foods” you can still end up suffering from malnutrition and a lot of inflammation. Taking digestive enzymes can be of help as they break down the food in such a way that makes absorption of nutrients easy. They are not a cure but they can be extremely useful in these circumstances.
As soon as she incorporated these simple changes into her diet her body also started to change. The bloating was gradually disappearing and so was the slight water retention. As the vitamins were starting to take effect her energy levels started to increase. We were on a winning streak and heading towards that best shape ever but then… she started slacking with the exercise and now the “reasons” were being used to justify why she could no longer find 10 minutes to do a round of Tabata intervals once or twice per week in between our metabolic boosting workouts.
The truth is that while her holiday was still at the planning stage she didn’t really have a true deadline to meet and so she was floundering a bit. I think the fitness coaching sessions were starting to become a social event rather than a project, not to blow my own trumpet too much but I am good fun to be around! 😉
Anyway, back to Belinda who was working towards her goal but a little bit halfheartedly…
The turning point
The big turnaround came when the holiday was booked and at that point she suddenly transformed into Mrs Motivator. She never skipped a workout with or without me there. She discovered that she had the determination of the Terminatrix within her and she wasn’t going to stop until she got into her “best shape ever”. In fact, I had to start reminding her of the importance of rest periods and letting go from time to time!
Rest and relaxation are always important aspects of any fitness makeover but they are super important once you get past 40 and start the journey through peri-menopause and menopause.
Belinda’s turning point was the prospect of feeling insecure whilst wearing a bikini, that perceived pain became stronger than the pain of having to sweat her heart out doing intervals on her exercise bike or lifting heavy dumbbells. This is a common issue with women over 35.
We all age at different rates but we all age. And as we slowly turn into our grandmothers we feel that our sexiness is vanishing and we become invisible and unattractive to our partners. Of course, we know very well that there are more important qualities than beauty that bond us to our mates but we are also instinctively aware that we cannot escape our true nature as visual creatures.
The results were stunning
after a few weeks of doing everything I told her to do Belinda looked absolutely amazing. She had curves in all the right places and every inch of her body was screaming “fit!”. Her lower body fat was barely there, her tummy was flat and all her clothes started to fit more comfortably.
She regained the body shape and freshness of her younger self and was looking radiant. It was as if she turned the clock back ten years or so. Needless to say she was ecstatic and her husband very appreciative too!
Oh… and her life started to blossom in other ways. As she reconnected with her youthful self her confidence returned and she started to pursue artistic endeavours that she always dreamed of but never actually had the courage to take up.
Her kids responded incredibly well to the transformation too as they suddenly had a happy and fit mum keeping up with them all day long instead of a grumpy parent desperate for some peace and quiet.
The moral of the story is that unless you set yourself a real deadline for your fitness makeover efforts you are likely to be going at it halfheartedly and therefore not see the stellar results you wish for.
In fact, when you compare your lack of amazing results with what you heard other people achieve will further dampen your enthusiasm. You might even convince yourself that it’s not worth continuing and that it’s much easier to buy a bigger t-shirt.
Although that’s true, it’s not entirely true.
It’s all down to you. A coach can only give you guidance and iron out the kinks for you but unless you really want to change not much is ever going to happen. It’s all about taking action.