So if you read the last fitness blog you will see that I was talking about fitness challenges, goals, aspirations and what it takes to really induce change in your body when you have a short term time frame but big time fitness goals. I previously explained that personal trainers are not magicians and that making big changes to your body requires big time commitment on your behalf. Put very simply, it is not just a case of hiring the personal trainer. You have to put the ground work in.
Before Christmas I had been training really hard and began to see the difference in my body, especially across my back, shoulders, arms and abs. I was leaner and my cardio training was going really well. Then the Christmas season came and I, like many, over indulged in pretty much everything. Ok, I’m a personal trainer but let’s not forget I am human. So I came back to Dubai after 3 weeks of very little training and a few too many (aka a lot of) calories consumed and I honestly hated what I saw in the mirror. So I figured this was the perfect opportunity to make myself a test subject.
The test? What does it really take to change your body?
My time frame? 3 months
My plan? CHANGE EVERYTHING!!!
As someone who suffers from irritable bowel syndrome I decided that this challenge was the perfect opportunity for me to really clean my diet out. Also, if you read my blogs then you will know that I am waging war against added sugar in the diet. So as I sat at home and put together a vigorous training programme, I also constructed a meal plan. I opened my cupboards and realised that I would have no need to open them again for the next 3 months as my diet literally consisted of chicken, salmon, beef tenderloin, cod, turkey, approximately 12 different vegetables, water and green tea. Following my time on the Poliquin Biosignature course, I decided I would add the foundation 5 to my daily ritual which meant adding fish oil, magnesium, zinc, a multivitamin and probiotic supplements to my daily intake. I then structured my diet to consist of 5 meals per day with the largest of these being at lunch and my daily diet ranged from low carb days to high (natural) carb days.
What does all of this mean? It meant that I had to be super organised. I kept repeating the mantra “fail to prepare – prepare to fail”. I went to the supermarket and I bought my food for the next 3 days and that night I prepared my first 2 meals for the next day. THAT WAS IT. My mind was set and I was going to do this. No matter how demanding it was and no matter how easy it would be to just pop in to the supermarket and buy a pre made salad, I was going to do this.
Now I am a realist; I know it takes a hell of a lot of willpower to do a total 180 on your current diet and exercise plan, to spend so much time and money on fresh food and actually preparing it. But one could argue, if you want big results then you have to make big changes. You frequently see the expression “go hard or go home” in the fitness industry, well it kind of applies to this situation if I am honest.
I won’t sit here and tell you that the last 3.5 weeks has been plain sailing; it hasn’t! The first week was really difficult. I found that my life revolved around pre-preparing food portions, cooking, washing, eating, training and doing all of that around my clients. It is certainly a challenge. Also, I found my training super difficult. I changed the structure of my training and really increased the volume so that I was doing high sets and high reps (guided by the principles of German Volume Training and then super sizing it). My goal was to shred, not bulk, not gain masses of muscle but shred and shape. In the first week I literally broke down in my head and for the first time ever I told myself that what I had planned was impossible. I found that when I was in the gym I needed me, stood next to me, pushing me. My muscles were shaking, I felt week from the significant reduction in my carbohydrates and my energy levels just took a complete dive. I thought “this is an absolute FAIL”. But deep down I knew it wasn’t a fail, i was just asking a lot of myself and knew I had to break the first week barrier; I knew it was going to be rough.
I think that this is key take home note for me. It is really easy to get out of shape fast but it is flipping difficult to get into great shape fast. I had a 12 week task and there was absolutely no danger that I was about to bail in week one. But I am going to be honest with you, there was a part of me that wanted to change my plan and to make my life easier but then I kept reminding myself that if it is easy then nothing is going to change. Certainly not in the time frame I had set myself.
So week 2 rolled around and I psyched myself up by telling myself everything I tell my clients. The biggest motivational tool I had for myself was “go hard or go home”. It’s like a challenge and I am innately competitive; so what did I do? I went hard. I trained like a machine and I stuck to my meal plan. By week 3, ok there were a few deviations (such as 10grams of extra potato, one home made protein pancake, and a mini (and I mean mini) cupcake thing that a client gave to me to try) but by and large my indulgences have been very small and very infrequent. I have for the most part stuck to this plan like white sticks to rice. I am also not a sadist and I realise that it is almost impossible to give up everything in one week or one month. The key is to not seek those little additions every day and when you do slip then for Pete’s sake don’t tell yourself you are a failure and spiral out of control in to dietary oblivion.
So 3.5 weeks in and what do I see and how do I feel? My body is reshaping and I am finding the training progressively easier which means I am increasing my weights and/or reducing my rest in order to keep the demand high. I love seeing the notes on my iPad and seeing how I am progressing in the workouts. My stomach is flatter and those problem “love handles, which FYI are a marker of insulin/elevated blood glucose, are reducing which is noticeable not just by me but even my clients are commenting. I feel slimmer, lighter and yet stronger. But it is so much MORE than just the differences in aesthetics. I have so much more energy, I sleep better and night and when I wake up in the morning I am genuinely ready to get up and go instead of feeling like I am dragging myself in to the day because I have to. I genuinely feel amazing and I think that this is obvious to those people who see me day in and day out. So yes the first week felt a little like hell on earth but now I know it was totally worth it.
With just over 8 weeks to go I am pretty convinced I will continue to eat this way. Ok I will probably add a select few antioxidant fruits back in to my diet and will maybe add all natural home made peanut butter instead of just almond butter, but the principles that I am currently following will continue to guide my dietary habits long after this 12 week program is over. My diet and my meals will be dominated by protein, healthy fats and natural carbs. The only contents in my cupboard that will remain essential is her herbs and spices. The rest can go.
In my last blog I asked the question what does it take to see big changes in your body in a small time frame? The answer is a lot!! It takes a hell of a lot of willpower, a massive amount of desire to see and really want the changes in your body. A commitment to your training plan (which for our clients will mean a commitment to the sessions that they do with us and the training that we give to them outside of those sessions), and a massive commitment to not quitting and taking the easy excuses. We can all come up with an excuse as to why something is too difficult or why we should stop this crazy fitness plan but the people who really want it will put those excuses to bed early, they will fight for their right to look amazing. You have to want it and you have to work for it. Changes don’t happen because you try your “best” for a few weeks. Changes happen because you realise that this is not a phase, this is not a short term fix, this is your life. You are committing to being better every day, to eating better, training smarter, training harder, sleeping at night and not worrying about business that you can’t resolve until the next day anyway.
Any personal trainer that tells you different to this is straight up LYING to your face. You can’t achieve the body of your dreams in 3 months if you are not willing to work at it all day every day. As Dan, our new trainer would say, “it’s not what you do for the 60 minutes a day that you work out for that makes a difference, it is what you do of the other 23 hours a day that makes the difference”. What you eat and drink, your stress levels, how much you sleep and the quality of that sleep; it all makes the difference between being average or looking and feeling great.
For me, there is no debating it any more; I am tired of having excuses. There really is no need in today’s society to believe that we can’t be healthy. You just have to stop kidding yourself that those treats (everyday) don’t hurt your progress. So as far as I am concerned, when it comes to my body and my ambitions let me tell you that #IAMBORN2PERFORM and in 2015 I have #NOEXCUSES
Stay tuned as I continue to journey through my 12 week challenge and what waits ahead after the 3 months is over. You can check out photos and links to my workouts and diet via our twitter page www.twitter.com/born2performfit and our instagram account; born2performfit
Until next time, I wish you a fun filled, healthy and exciting week!