As a personal trainer at Ultimate Performance, I work with clients every day who have a goal of changing their body for many different reasons. I personally think it’s a privilege to be part of someone’s journey in the pursuit of being more confident and happy within their own skin.
With experience and continuous studying, you can become good at anything…however, I truly believe that in order to be a great coach you have to really understand the process. In this case, so that you can emphasize with the physical and psychological struggles the clients are up against when they sign up to their own body transformation.
This year I decided that it was time for me to get out of my comfort zone and undergo my own transformation.
I learned a tremendous amount about myself, about my own strengths and weaknesses throughout the preparation, but to break it down; here are the 5 biggest lessons I took away from my experience.
1. Having a Goal is Crucial
For the first few weeks, I didn’t have a definite goal, I just thought it was a ‘good idea’. But without a goal, discipline is nothing but self-punishment and you will fall off the wagon sooner rather than later. If you have nothing to focus on, you will lose focus on why you started in the first place.
So after a few weeks of half-hearted motivation I decided to do a photo shoot, and boom, there was a purpose, there was something to focus on.
2. Planning is Everything
I cannot stress the importance of planning ahead.
As I got leaner, the diet got progressively harder to stick to. I realised that there’s no such thing as willpower anymore, at least not in my own case.
The aim was to get the lowest body fat percentage as I possibly could for this photo shoot, just to push myself as hard as possible – something I ask my clients to do if they fully commit to their goals. This meant that towards the end of my prep I had little to no leeway with my diet.
Combine that with diminished willpower, waving hormones and the endless dreams for a greasy burger and sweet potato fries; if you are not prepared, it’s inevitable that you will slip up – unless you are super human and I am not when it comes to food and hunger.
3. Dieting is Hard but it Doesn’t Have to be Boring
When people hear the word “diet”, they will associate this with dry chicken, broccoli and a little sweet potato (if they’re lucky). Now, whilst being on a diet (to an extent) means being restricted and hungry from time to time, it really doesn’t have to be that bad.
It’s a great time to experiment with different seasonings different vegetables to spice up your protein. If your coach has given you a set ‘nutritional target’, using a tracking device like MyFitnessPal can give you some flexibility. However, I must stress that this is not me saying it’s okay to skip a meal so that you can fit in a pop-tart because “it fits your macros”. You should still aim for 90-95% of your nutritional intake to be from whole foods with a high nutritional value.
4. Be Honest, Be Accountable
At the end of the day, everything you do is going to have an impact on your body, your mind and ultimately your progress.
In all honesty, I was far from perfect throughout my prep. I do not deny having a couple of “slip-ups” with my diet, but instead of denying it I kept myself accountable and put it into my tracker and I found that, by acknowledging these slip-ups I could refocus and get on with it.
Dieting is not easy, but only you are accountable for reaching your goals. No one else can do it for you, so what you want you to have to work for. However, having a support system in place will help you massively. You can keep accountability towards them and they will give you positive reinforcement when things get hard.
“The more support you have behind you the better.”
But you cannot expect support from everyone, and unfortunately, you might have to limit the time you spend with these people. Sometimes this also means saying no to certain events knowing that temptation will be extremely hard to resist. The last thing you need is someone saying “it’s okay, one piece won’t hurt”.
One piece probably won’t hurt in the bigger picture, but as I said earlier, everything you do will have an impact – good or bad – and if we start putting guilt into the picture, it gets increasingly easier to just go “fuck it” and eat your weight in things that aren’t in your plan.
5. Everybody Needs a Coach
No matter who you are and the amount of knowledge you have on the subject, being objective towards your own progress is hard, especially towards the end of your transformation. If you know nothing about dieting and training, a coach is really the ultimate way if you want to achieve your results.
But even if you are someone that knows quite a bit about training and nutrition you are still more likely to stay within your comfort zone and therefore not progress as quickly as you could.
There’s a saying:
“Your comfort zone is a beautiful place where nothing grows”
If you want to maximize your results, get help from a coach you trust and do just that; trust in the process.
Emily, Personal Trainer at Ultimate Performance London City