Sheila is a 50 year old lady who came to me 6 months ago, looking to ‘lose a bit of weight and tone up’, as she said. She had tried to lose weight and get fit before, but had not got the lasting results she desired. She had been with Slimming World and had lost quite a bit at first, but then seemed to plateau. She had tried running before, but seemed to get injured quite a lot. She had also tried a myriad of different exercise classes, which had made her feel better certainly but not really helped her to lose much weight – ‘maybe it was the lattes and sweet treats afterwards’ she chuckled.
‘What I’m really looking for is a long term solution to this now’, she revealed. ‘I’m getting older and fatter and I’m seeing too many of my friends and their partners contracting serious illnesses like cancer and diabetes, so now I’ve decided I must change my lifestyle completely, not just for me, but for my children too’.
I listened intently, making notes, finding out about her current and past efforts to make change and her injury history. I asked her about her sleep and she revealed the this had become quite a problem – she was lucky to get more than a few hours a night and often woke up early worrying about the day ahead. She also found herself napping a lot in the afternoon, running out of energy.
Then I asked about her diet and she assured me that she and her family ate a ‘healthy balanced diet’. I asked for more detail and discovered that they were understandably following the guidelines of government, dieticians, Slimming World and the like. They were eating plenty of ‘healthy whole grains’, tried to avoid sugar in its obvious forms – few fizzy drinks, no sugar in their hot drinks, but did occasionally indulge in a few sweet treats. ‘My latte is always skinny and we only eat the leanest cuts of meat – mostly chicken – some fish and eggs too’. Plus, I always make sure the family has a good breakfast before they go out – cereals, wholemeal toast and orange juice usually’. I made no comment – just wrote it down.
‘The truth is’, she went on, ‘I don’t really understand it. I know I don’t take nearly enough exercise, but I don’t really eat that much most of the time. Yet I’m still getting fatter and I feel terrible about myself’. I could tell that she had probably been a good looking woman 20 years earlier, but ‘life’ had just worn her down. On the surface, she should be happy – kids nearly grown up and doing well, husband was successful. They regularly holidayed in a variety of locations and had a good social life. But she still felt that something was missing and felt constantly drained – too weary to even go for a walk, like she knew she should.
6 months later and Sheila had lost about a stone and a half in weight, mostly body fat, had much more energy and was thoroughly enjoying her training sessions. This she had not believed she ever would because she had just seen them as a necessary means to an end – a chore that would be better done. In fact, she now not only went for regular long walks with friends and family, but had gone from ‘not being a natural runner’ (her words) to running 5k races. Her confidence had grown, she moved much more naturally and freely.
No brutal training, no calorie restricted or extreme dieting. Her own words were ‘I still can’t believe how easy it has been’. She had been ‘marketed’ into the notion, like so many before her, that losing weight and feeling fit and energetic was incredibly difficult and complicated, involving massive suffering – calorie counting, diet pills, superfoods, the exact right way to train, ‘no pain no gain’, in short.
So what was the magic formula that we used? First I told her to just concentrate only on getting at least 8 hours of good quality sleep each night and advised how to do that. That one step alone kick started everything else into action. Now she had the energy to train and move more voluntarily, not as a weary chore. She began to get back in touch with her body’s needs and started enjoying just moving. Suddenly she was clearing out her cupboards of all the rubbish she used to eat – I didn’t even ask her to do this – she just did it!
As time went by, she had a few questions about why was best to eat, how often etc. Rather than give her a prescription for healthy eating which I knew might cause a backlash, I invited her to join a weight management support group that I run with a friend. Participants worked in groups to create healthy meal ideas, to share experiences and strategies to deal with cravings etc. etc. Informational input was provided where there was doubt, but never with the judgement call that ‘this is good and this is bad’. There was no weighing and shaming, but participants could go on the body composition scales in private when they wished. We questioned all the myths about energy balance theory, ‘you’re fat because you’re greedy and lazy’ theory, eating little and often, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, going without food is dangerous – blah, blah, blah.
And the physical training we did? Surely furious bursts of high intensity fat burning, calorie crunching, brutal gym sessions no? Absolutely not. I’ve see too many middle aged or older people drop out of exercise altogether because of injuries contracted through this kind of work. I assessed her current fitness level, the way she moved, how much mobility she had. First we pinpointed the reason for the back pain she had had in the past and made some adjustments to posture and movement patterns – not hard work but challenging in a different way. As she and I both became more confident in the safety of her movement, there was a gradual increase in intensity in her programme until she could perform a wide variety of exercise with skill.
‘I never thought it would be so easy and I never imagined the personal training would be like this at all’, she laughed.
If you would like to be like Sheila then get in touch with David now and take your first step on the Road to Freedom. Everything else will seem easier after that. Don’t delay – just do it before it’s too late.
Call or text 07504439555 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.