I’ve seen an amazing turnaround with my January 2021 Client of the Month, Melanie. Since autumn, Melanie has lost two stone (15kgs) through exercise and eating healthily. Not only is she well on-track to achieve her total weight loss goal of four stone (30kgs), but she looks fantastic, earning her the well-deserved title of January 2021 Client of the Month.
Melanie and I were first introduced to each other in early 2017 at the Fitness First gym in Bath.
When we began working together, Melanie set out her key goals, which revolved around health, movement and feeling good about herself. Our first session was a consultation and fitness assessment to determine Melanie’s current fitness levels. The answer was immediately apparent. Melanie struggled to perform a half squat, due to issues with her knees that had built up from a lack of movement, past injuries and the extra weight that had crept up over the years.
We both agreed a plan to increase Melanie’s fitness, mobility and strength. We also tackled the bad eating habits that are so easy for many of us to succumb to – after all, a little treat here and there can very easily become a naughty habit.
Melanie enjoyed the training process and quickly began to lose weight. Her knees improved, her mobility increased and her fitness and strength came on in leaps and bounds. Better health comes from developing good habits throughout our lives. It can be easy to start something, hit a plateau, become discouraged and stop, which will undo all of the good work previously done.
After a few months of improvements, Melanie hit that plateau. However, rather than stopping and giving in, Melanie challenged herself to continue her journey towards a healthier life. We agreed that her partner Rob would join us in the gym. Not only was this a great way to motivate Melanie, but it also helped Rob get into shape as well.
Everything was going swimmingly. Melanie and Rob both lost weight and improved their fitness levels. However, things came to an abrupt halt in autumn 2019. Melanie’s job became very busy, leading to her body eventually breaking down and demanding rest. Melanie unfortunately became unwell, being diagnosed with glandular fever.
If the symptoms of glandular fever are ignored, the infection can potentially lead to complications such as hepatitis, Guillain-Barré syndrome or Bell’s palsy. Thankfully, Melanie listened to her body, rested and was able to avoid any further developments from the virus. However, the recovery time for glandular fever can be anywhere between two weeks to several months. Plus, as the infection can cause the spleen to swell, all exercise needs to be avoided to prevent potential damage to the organ. This meant that there was no training for Melanie during this time.
Rob continued to work hard in the gym, but Melanie was out of action throughout most of the autumn and winter period during 2019. Then, just as Melanie had recovered, COVID-19 hit and gyms across the UK were forced to close.
We decided to take our training online and get creative with exercises. We worked out online twice a week throughout the first lockdown, using plenty of bodyweight exercises – including a few hundred planks and side planks! To help maintain their fitness levels, Rob and Melanie also went on a daily walk, which is a great way to improve your immune system.
However, like many of us during lockdown, Melanie’s weight unsurprisingly increased. However, she had recovered from her bout of glandular fever, felt healthy and was ready to make a plan for her diet.
In June 2020, Melanie joined Slimming World, a friendly community of like-minded people that gave Melanie the extra support she needed to achieve her goals. The great thing about Slimming World is that the eating plan is healthy and flexible. There’s no calorie counting or tiny portion sizes – just healthy, natural foods (which is something I always advocate to all of my clients).
Around this time, after months of lockdown, the restrictions eased and we were finally able to meet and train in person. We used the sunny parks of Bath, training outside and enjoying our new-found freedom.
If you’re curious about how Slimming World works, it uses the ‘Food Optimising‘ healthy eating plan, which is designed for longevity. This plan is based on nutrition science that shows that foods higher in proteins and carbohydrates are more satiating than foods that are high in fat. This Food Optimising plan is designed to combine energy density (which is the calories per gram in food) and satiety (which is how filling the food is) to help users feel full and lose weight.
Some of the foods including in the Food Optimising plan are five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, lean protein-rich foods, carbohydrates, measured portions of fibre and calcium-rich foods. There’s also a focus on reducing overall fat, with a particular emphasis on saturated fat and artificial sugar.
While I do agree that consuming lean protein and wholegrain, high fibre carbohydrates is a great way to keep healthy, I am wary of cutting out too much fat from the diet. A small amount of fat is essential for our bodies to work properly. Not only do dietary fats give the body energy and support cell growth, but they also help our bodies protect our organs, keep our body warm, absorb nutrients and produce important hormones.
One of Slimming World’s methods to help keep people on track is the ‘Syn’ system. Syns help people limit their intake of more energy-dense foods, such as fats, alcohol and sugar. This system does work and can be sustainable – just as long as you don’t eliminate all natural sources of saturated fats from your diet. One of the main habits that Syns promote is eating plenty of fruits and vegetables – just make sure you don’t overindulge on fruit smoothies. Our bodies aren’t designed to deal with so much sugar from fruit in one hit, and this can add bodyweight.
However, I digress – back to Melanie and her amazing journey. After losing weight, Melanie felt empowered and her confidence and self-esteem were given a great boost. Melanie’s success was driven by the understanding, warmth, empathy and respect from her family – plus the outside professional support she received as well.
The beginning of a new dawn
With a weight loss of two stone already achieved, Melanie will continue towards her goal of losing four stone. With a nutritional programme and a balanced exercise plan in place – plus the support of her family – Melanie is determined to change her unhealthy eating patterns of the past and continue to build positive eating habits for the future. Soon, she will no longer depend on the support of Slimming World and will instead inspire others to eat healthily and exercise regularly.
Melanie already feels healthier. Her knees no longer hurt and she can exercise continuously without having to stop for rest. Plus, the intensity of her training has increased and she can now sustain a higher level of exercise. Her old exercise programme is actually more of a warm-up for Melanie now!
Not only has Melanie’s lifestyle change increased her self confidence, but the weight loss around her hips has enabled her to stand in a better postural position. This allows her spine to stack correctly, which means that her back pain is disappearing and issues with her shoulders and neck have been reduced. Plus, she looks ten years younger!
When I asked Melanie how this feels in comparison to previous attempts to lose weight, she simply replied: “It’s sustainable”.
And, to add another silver lining to this wonderful story, Melanie and Rob have recently gained another grandchild!
What a fantastic story from our January 2021 Client of the Month that serves to remind us all that we can’t outrun a bad diet. Eat healthily, train more, sleep better, smile often and live long. Well done Melanie on all of your hard work.