I have reached the end of my 12-week online transformation with Ultimate Performance and it’s an amazing feeling.
I feel proud of how far I have come and how much I have achieved in such a short time.
My goal was to get in the best shape of my life for my wedding day. I have achieved that goal and so much more.
I’m at a good body fat percentage and I’ve got definition where I wanted. I feel strong, fit and healthy, and my clothes fit comfortably. I’m happy with my figure. It’s perfect now.
When I first started the online training, I thought it would be tough with my work, caring for the family and having a wedding to plan.
But the results I have achieved have been easy; I haven’t had to kill myself dieting or spend every waking hour in the gym. I have been on two hen parties, had birthday drinks and meals out, and I have still got results and enjoyed the build-up to the wedding.
Just following some simple rules proves that it works. It’s a winning formula and I can’t wait to share my results. Now I want to take everything I’ve learned with U.P. and keep on getting fitter and stronger.
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Here are the 12 biggest lessons I’ve learned on my body transformation.
#1 Keep Your Diet Simple
There are so many new fad diets and crazy eating plans out there that it can feel bewildering. But the biggest thing I’ve learned is to keep it simple and you will get results. I was probably trying too hard before to vary my diet and mix things up.
But what works for me is keeping it really simple. It makes it easy to stick to and it makes it easy to prepare. I still have meals that I really enjoy and are tasty, but simplicity and ease are key.
#2 Fill up on vegetables
When you’re on a body transformation diet or getting in shape for a wedding, vegetables are your best friend. They are low in calories, but high in volume, so you can eat lots of them and they will keep you full.
One of the key things I did on my wedding transformation diet was to increase the volume of vegetables I ate at every meal.
I now always eat plenty of greens like broccoli, spinach and kale. I know I can really fill up on them so I feel full, and I’m not missing carbs in my meals.
Sarah training diverging rows to build the defined back she wanted to show off her backless wedding dress.
#3 Master your meal preparation
The trick is to not over complicate your meal preparation. You could prepare a different dish for every meal and every snack, if you wanted to, but it takes a lot of thought and work. So, I’ve been having a couple of go-to meals.
It might sound really boring, but I’ve actually just mixed up two or three things I’ve been eating. That has made it really simple.
I can cook a load of chicken breast and steam a load of vegetables. I can boil up a load of rice and season them with different flavours and condiments like pesto.
#4 Understand the macronutrient balance your body needs
I had tried working with macronutrients before, but I had never gotten the balance right or coupled it with training, so I never saw the results that I have now achieved. Understanding macronutrients – what proteins, fats and carbs you need, and when – has been integral to my transformation.
I’ve learned what I need at each meal. I know in the morning I need protein and some form of veg. I know that for my morning snack I need some kind of protein and fat. Lunch is all about protein and fats, then I need protein and carbs in the evening.
I have learned the right portion sizes I need at each meal for my body. I know I was overeating before, even on the good stuff.
I’m now actually having more meals than I used to and I’ve gotten leaner and stronger.
#5 Find healthy foods you love
If you’re on a transformation diet, find the foods you love that fit into your diet plan and fit with your macronutrient targets.
I started adding in steak to my weekly meal plan – it’s a great stir-fry ingredient. I’ve been having a little bit of English mustard which just tops it off with that little bit of flavour.
I could also eat sweet potato until it’s coming out of my ears. It’s a good carb for me to consume. I roast them; I cut them into slices or leave them round and just put a little bit of coconut oil with them and they cook deliciously. You can even throw a bit of paprika on them.
Barbecue seasoning is nice on chicken – it makes it really tasty.
You can do so much with eggs too. When I’m on a day when I’m increasing my carbs, I will have banana pancakes in the morning. It’s the easiest thing to make; three eggs, a banana, a scoop of oats and mix it up in a Nutribullet and throw it in a pan with some coconut oil. They are so tasty. It all fits into my plan and is healthy. It’s really filling and it feels a bit naughty too.
#6 You don’t have to fear carbs
You definitely don’t have to be scared of carbs; you just need to learn the best time to eat them. As I’ve gotten leaner and leaner during my 12-week transformation, I have found I react better to carbs.
You get to intuitively understand your body better.
If I have a day where I eat carbs, I will sometimes feel a bit bloated that day – or I feel fuller. Then I have a day without them. Then the following day after that I will feel super lean.
Understanding this, and when I look and feel my best, means I can plan this around a photoshoot, a night out….or a wedding, when I want to feel a little bit more trim.
You can see that on the scales too. It’s interesting because I’d never really weighed myself before, but when I weigh myself every morning to see what’s happening, the day after I’ve had carbs my weight will go up, but then the following day after that my weight suddenly drops. I know that’s just a number which doesn’t really mean very much.
Sarah says lifting heavy sculpted a feminine and athletic figure – the opposite of the ‘big and bulky’ myth most women fear.
#7 Don’t panic if your weight fluctuates
The scales can be a really useful tool to track your progress, and understand your body better. It can give you insight into how your body reacts to different things, like carbs, training and alcohol, from day to day.
But don’t be fixated or panicked if that number changes. Your weight can fluctuate for a myriad of different reasons, especially if you’re a woman.
I can read my body better now after my 12-week transformation. I know when it’s a certain point in my cycle. I can anticipate what will happen after going out on a Friday night, so I don’t need to panic.
When I went out on my first hen party earlier in my transformation and the scales had gone up I thought I’d undone my good work. But now after my second hen party and having a few drinks and some stodgy food, I knew that my weight would increase, which it did. Then the following day and the day after, it dropped again.
So knowing that that would happen, means I didn’t panic or think I’d ruined my good work because I knew how my body would react. I feel more in control.
#8 Choose healthy ‘cheats’
If you’re not one of these people who can live like a monk for 12 weeks and never let anything vaguely indulgent pass your lips, find healthier ‘cheats’ that give your tastebuds a little bit of what you want. It will help make things more sustainable and it doesn’t have to knock your diet off track.
What I’ve learned as I’ve got further through the transformation, and progressed more, is that actually if I have a cup of tea and a bit of dark chocolate on an evening, it’s not going to ruin anything. You can still make progress. A few squares of dark chocolate was a little treat for me, when I had a craving.
Having U.P.’s Chocotrients drink on hand has been a lifesaver, and it’s low in calories.
Another thing I’ve loved is oatcakes and almond butter. It’s so nice, and it’s not even ‘off plan’ for me.
I’ve sometimes had an emergency protein bar too if I’m caught short without meal prep. It’s like a nice treat every now and again, but it still gives me the protein I need.
You learn that those things aren’t going to make a difference if you’re sticking to your food over the week and you’re training hard.
#9 A calorie deficit is vital for fat loss
If you’re eating too many calories, you won’t lose fat. You need to be in a calorie deficit. Reducing my calorie intake and training harder has just made such a huge difference.
You need to reduce the amount of calories you’re having and get your macronutrient balance right. That’s a personal thing; each person will have a different requirements.
But for fat loss, in essence, it’s reducing your calories, eating the right foods, and increasing the training you’re doing.
#10 Steps count
The daily activity you do outside the gym is an important part of a body transformation. Walking is a great fat loss tool!
People think if they’ve been to the gym they can just go home and sit down. But you still need to keep active and keep moving all day to keep burning calories.
I bought a step counter to track my steps. I wear it at home, when I train, and even sometimes sneak it on when I’m at work. I often think I haven’t done much, but there are days at work when I’ve done 25,000 steps. That’s literally from walking around on set, then getting a session in, then running around after Stanley at home.
Tracking your steps with a step counter is a really useful thing to do; you just see how much you’re really doing.
It’s nice to have it as a little goal. People can set a basic goal of 5,000 steps a day if they’re not very active, and then increase that as they go along. We set a target of at least 10,000 steps a day on top of my training. It really helps with fat loss.
You can’t just go to the gym for an hour and then do nothing else for the day. What’s actually important is the other 23 hours in that day and what you do with that time and how much you’re moving.
Sarah got the abs and the feminine figure she wanted for her wedding day.
#11 Track your progress as many ways as possible
If you don’t measure and track your progress, you won’t know whether you’re going in the right direction. I have tracked my weight and body fat every week – it gave me the confidence to know that the program was working and has helped me stay disciplined and focused over the 12 weeks.
There are lots of other simple things you can track too – like your daily step count, which I mentioned earlier.
I track my heart rate on my fitness watch, which shows me how hard I’m pushing myself, especially if I’m doing cardio.
I monitor my food intake so I know that I’m on track with my diet.
Another great way of measuring progress is taking weekly pictures. Pictures don’t lie. You can see your progress. Take one at the beginning of the week. Then take another one in another couple of weeks and you will be able to see the physical changes.
Keeping track of your workouts and your reps is important too to be able to progress in the gym too. When you’re not following a training program, you can get so lost with it.
#12 Don’t be scared to lift heavy weights
Lifting heavy weights is super effective. But women are always scared of it. It’s so good for you in getting muscle definition, helping change your body composition, and it’s even good for your bone strength.
It’s such a good feeling to be strong, especially as a girl. To be able to stack some weights on a bar and just squat with them is really good, and know that you can do it, you feel mentally strong too. You feel like She-Ra!
You shouldn’t be scared of weight training. I can vouch that it doesn’t make you look big and manly.
It gives you nice strong muscles and really nice definition and great core strength which is integral to how your body moves and works.