We all have that thought at some point that if we’re skinnier, we will be happier, right?
After an incredibly indulgent Christmas leaving my self esteem at an all time low, I signed up for The Body Coach 90 days Shift, Shape and Sustain plan in a bid for my dream body. I thought if I completed the 3 months, my saddle bags would disappear, I would have a perfect bum, and I’d finally be happy. With this in mind, I put my absolute all into it.
The plan is structured into three sets of four weeks: the first four weeks is all about shifting fat; this month was just HIIT cardio. The second four weeks is when you shape your body by building muscle, so lots of weight lifting and lots of carbs (yay). The third month is learning how to sustain your new shape consisting of a combination of HIIT cardio and weights. Easy… right?
I honestly hadn’t realised how much of a commitment it was. I had to completely change my lifestyle, get organised and commit an untold amount of time to it: every Sunday I would spend about 4-6 hours prepping all of my meals for the week. Where as usually I would eat a huge roast at lunch time then chocolate all night in front of the TV. That was the first lifestyle change that I made. And the brilliant part? The rest of the week you barely have to cook!
This really helped me in other aspects of my life; I was in the last few months of university with my dissertation to write and several deadlines looming. It would have been very easy for me to justify eating badly, but as healthy food was prepared in the fridge in front of me, I didn’t have an excuse! I would go to the gym in the morning so this would force me to get up early, and I was eating nutritious food which made my brain sharper than ever; the focus and drive I felt was actually surprising to me.
I stuck to the training 100% and the diet 90% with a couple of wobbles on the way; I would tend to treat myself to a ‘cheat meal’ at the end of each cycle which would inevitably turn into a cheat day, then a cheat weekend. I’d then beat myself about about it for days afterwards and feel a tremendous amount of guilt. This is probably the first time I realised that my relationship with food wasn’t healthy: I wouldn’t just have one cookie, I’d have to have 5 (sometimes the whole pack). Then I’d think “I’ve ruined it anyway so what’s the point in stopping now?” then stuff my face for the rest of the day. I was a binge eater.
Luckily, I discovered a Facebook group that a lovely lady called Angela Cox had created called ‘A Big Girls Journey To Lean’. It’s a fantastic community full of women (and some men!) all on their own fitness journey, many of them also doing The Body Coach program. So when I was having these off/down days, there were lots of people I could talk to at my finger tips, going through the same thing I was. This was a really good support system and helped me keep motivated and accountable.
Below I have posted my results. Initially, I felt disappointment. I had only lost a couple of inches and had actually put on weight. I didn’t have this ‘new’ body; it still looked like mine. I could see some changes but none as dramatic as I thought. And the most disappointing part? My bum and thighs were the same.
I posted the front photo on ‘A Big Girls Journey To Lean’ Facebook group to express my disappointment and asking if anyone else had felt this way too. The response I got was astonishing; people congratulating me, pointing out the differences, giving me compliments: it’s safe to say I was overwhelmed by the response. It left me feeling slightly guilty about saying I was ‘disappointed’. I realised, I had achieved a lot in 3 months.
The scales were showing I’d put on weight because I’d turned fat into muscle and muscle weighs more than fat – this is why The Body Coach calls them the sad step! They are not a good form of measurement for progress. That’s why progress pictures are the best way to track your journey.
By the end of it all, the only thing I felt disappointed about was the fact it took other people to tell me that I had achieved great things for me to see it myself. Why couldn’t I see that without the validation of other people?
I was just focused on my insecurities; all I thought about was my bum and thighs and hadn’t even noticed the way my upper body had changed and my abs had started to show. I now have this new found love for my shoulders and back which has opened up lots of backless clothes opportunities which I had never felt confident enough to wear.
When it comes to my insecurities, I am going to keep working on them. My thighs and bum are the meatiest part of my body; of course it’s going to take longer to see a difference there than it is on my arms.
This experience was my first big step towards confidence. I am no longer full of self loathing when I eat a pizza, or have one too many cocktails. I just get up the next day and carry on my healthy lifestyle. I still have that urge to binge sometimes but I say to myself “having one bad thing then justifying that as a reason to each rubbish for the rest of the day is like having one punctured tire then slashing the rest of them”. I’m human, of course I’m going to give in to the brownie sometimes, but that’s okay.
I always thought that the only changes I would see from eating healthily and exercising were physical, but the mental changes were probably the biggest transformation of this experience.
Is fitness the key to confidence? I think it plays a big part: I don’t think I would have had the confidence to start this blog and post lots of photos of myself 6 months ago. But I still have those self doubting demons in my head; I have the same insecurities as I did when I started but maybe I just understand them a bit more.
Update: these photos are the first time I’ve just worn a sports bra with no top… a mini goal of mine is to feel comfortable to wear this is the gym!
“The focus and drive I felt was actually surprising”