Hollyoaks actress Sarah Jayne Dunn is aiming to get in the best shape of her life ready for her wedding – so she is taking on a 12-week body transformation with Ultimate Performance’s Online Personal Training programme.
The 36-year-old star, who plays Mandy Richardson in the Channel 4 soap, will be blogging every step of the way to her wedding day with UP.
Career woman and new mum Sarah will be sharing her best tips on training, nutrition and lifestyle through all the ups and downs of her wedding body transformation journey.
When your training and diet are on point, it’s amazing how quickly things can change.
I’m literally one week into my body transformation with Ultimate Performance and already I can feel the difference.
I think the reason is because you’re doing everything at once – making the changes to your diet, your training and your lifestyle that you need.
Doing this programme with UP, makes you go ‘right, I’m going to get right back on it. I’m going to be being amazing with food, perfect with training and stick to everything’.
And when you see results, that really motivates you to carry on.
It just gets you excited – this is week 1 of 12 and if I’m feeling the benefits already and seeing the difference, I can’t wait for week 12!
My body transformation motivations…
I posted a comment on Instagram about my pre-wedding transformation with UP and a lot of people commented saying I didn’t ‘need’ it.
As lovely as that is, I wanted to explain why I’m embarking on this journey.
I feel more energetic when I train regularly and eat good, nutritious food.
My energy levels soar and I sleep deeply and for longer. My skin improves. I drink more water which I struggle with when I’m not exercising regularly.
I feel physically and mentally stronger, I get such a buzz from feeling my body strength improving.
I like seeing my body physically change and feeling more confident in my clothes. I want to be strong, healthy and a good example to my little boy.
I love the feeling I get post workout, like I could do anything and how proud I am with myself for smashing a good workout.
These are just a few of the reasons, not to mention all the health benefits, why I’m training with UP; I might not ‘need’ to train hard but I absolutely ‘WANT’ to!
What happened at my first ‘weigh in’…
Before my first training session, I had the dreaded ‘weigh-in’ during my consultation with my trainer Mark.
I had my body fat and all my measurements done. It was pretty extensive – they measured everything.
My body fat is around 23.6%, which isn’t as bad as I first thought.
Being post-natal, the last time I did a body fat reading I was about 26%, so just from my own training and being mindful of what I was eating, I managed to lose some fat.
My goal is to get down to 20% by the end of this month. Now I’ve got that goal in mind, I know where we’re headed and I want to get there.
Just working with a trainer, I love that motivation you get. You use weights that you would never use on your own
My initial measurements were a pleasant surprise – it was much better than expected. But this means in 12 weeks we can do even more than I expected to get me wedding-ready.
It wasn’t just body fat – we chatted through my nutrition too. The guys at UP are so thorough – I was super-impressed.
They really do leave no stone unturned to ensure you’re getting a full picture of yourself as a unique individual with lifestyle, diet and exercise habits all taken into account.
You don’t have to think about anything, which is brilliant being a working mum.
The less thinking you have to do, the more you can get done because it takes away the guesswork and you no longer have to think ‘I want to train today, but what should I do?I need to think what I have to do today’.
My first training session at Ultimate Performance…
My first session was tough, as expected.
We did a full body workout with one exercise for each major muscle group and finished with some conditioning using the prowler.
The prowler feels like the worst thing in the world; you think you’re going to die. But then you feel like you could rule the world after you have done it.
I really enjoyed it.
Sometimes when you don’t feel great, it’s actually really good to go to the gym and sweat it out.
I love the motivation you get from working with a trainer. You use weights that you would never use on your own and you’re challenged to up your resistance.
I would normally do split squats myself with 8kg, but already on session one, my trainer Mark was like ‘right, do 13kg!’
My initial reaction was, ‘no, that’s way too much for me’.
But you do it and you go ‘actually I did that!’ Straight away it’s week 1 and I’ve already hit a personal best.
I thought it was great and I felt like I was pushed, but it wasn’t horrendous either. I wasn’t thinking ‘oh my god this is going to be the worst day of my life’, I actually really, really enjoyed it.
The big difference in training…
Even though I’ve done my PT training qualification, I found I’ve learnt a lot – especially on technique.You’re always learning something new – different techniques and different ways of doing things.
My trainer, Mark, places a big emphasis on muscle activation and really focussing on what muscles you’re working.
There are also things you might not see on your own, so it’s great having someone there who can step away, observe everything, and check that you’re using the right muscles, lifting at the right tempo and not giving up too easily.
I’ve been feeling the benefits of that energy throughout the day.
This really helped when doing the same session training by myself in my own gym later in the week.
Mark’s voice was definitely in my head on the exercises and I made sure to use the same weights and keep on top of my technique. I definitely pushed myself a lot harder than I previously would have done when training by myself.
After learning the exercises in person with Mark, it really helped to go away and practice doing them on my own.
I can see the benefits already after one week…
It’s been a funny week because I’ve not been 100% myself; I’ve had a general cold and sore throat and been under the weather.
But despite this, I’ve still felt the benefits of training. Sometimes when you don’t feel great, it’s actually good to go to the gym and sweat it out.
Sometimes you think ‘am I just going to be better crawling into bed and sleeping it off’, but actually I’m glad I’ve made my sessions.
I’ve done two sessions at UP with Mark, a solo weight training session and a cardio interval training session by myself too.
I’ve been sleeping better; that’s the biggest thing I’ve noticed. Obviously having a baby, you get into a pattern of disrupted sleep, and sleeping a bit lighter because you’ve constantly got one ear open for them crying or needing you.
Cutting down my caffeine has helped too. I usually drink quite a lot of coffee during the day and I’ve cut down to two; one in the morning and another in the early afternoon. Cutting out all the rubbish food has also made a big difference.
I literally will just grab my meals out of the fridge in the morning and just go, and I’m ready for the day.
But the biggest thing I’ve noticed is that every night I feel like I’ve had a quality sleep; I’ve not woken up in the night. I’ve woken up early for work, but I’ve woken up refreshed and feeling like I’ve had a sleep rather than thinking ‘oh god, I feel like staying in bed’.
Bad sleep affects your mood and even your eating.
If you’re tired, hungry and angry you just think ‘I’m going to eat what I want, and I’m going to drink even more coffee because I need to feel more awake because I’ve not slept well.’ It has a knock-on effect on everything and everyone.
I’ve been bragging all week at work that I’ve had loads of energy; even though I’ve not been 100%. But I’ve been feeling the benefits of that energy throughout the day.
Food prep and diet…
During my first week of training, I got all my meals prepared for me by EatUP – it has been brilliant.
If you’ve got a long day it’s difficult to make sure you’re eating the right food and not snacking on the bad stuff.
When you’re working and on your feet all day and get hungry you can easily end up making bad food choices.
I’d tried food prep companies before, but none of them have been this tasty or enjoyable, or they get a bit boring.
I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed every single EatUP meal this week. I tried to have a mixture of everything.
Breakfast has been Eggs Royale and the Salmon, which have been delicious.
The Chicken and Bacon Frittata, is also delicious. It sets you up for the day so well.
I literally just grab my meals out of the fridge in the morning and I’m ready for the day.
Coming in late from work, if I don’t get in until 7:30 pm or 8 pm, it’s late to be eating – so it’s great to not have to think ‘what do I want to eat?’ and then have to prep it and make it.
It’s been a big help. Next week it will be interesting to see what will happen when I start prepping my meals.
I’m alright at cooking. I’m good with following recipes and my other half John is good too.
It’s just pinning down time to get it done – getting your ingredients in and finding time to do your batch cooking and then not having to think about it for the week.
That will be my next challenge.