With Challenge Comes Change!

CHALLENGE AND CHANGESometimes it feels like the closer I get, the slower and more challenging everything about my fitness & nutrition coaching programme feels.  And I forget how far I have come!  And I have a lot to be grateful for.  I got into my first pair of size 12 jeans in almost ten years this last weekend, my weight is in the healthy range, I am in pretty much the best shape of my adult life, and I am feeling great about the relationship with myself, and starting to really make headway on developing a healthy, nurturing relationship with food.  And when I put it down here it all sounds blissful and easy, but then there’s the more challenging reality of the last 12 months.

I have learned about flexible dieting, and learning to eat in a sustainable way that works for me!  And that has been great, but there have been days when my dinner feels like a science calculation made up of numbers, calories & macros, and I have had to work hard sometimes to enjoy my food.  But although it feels pervasive at the time, it is never permanent,  and I go back to enjoying the incredible food I have been eating…and have still lost 25kgs!

There’s been hunger…deep, emotionally-upsetting hunger, that makes me want to run screaming to the nearest shop and stock up on my trigger foods, particularly party packs of Doritos & tubs of ice cream!  I’ve had to develop new coping techniques and not jump into a food binge!  Because when I go there, I come out the other side remorseful, guilty and ashamed.  And I am learning through honesty, authenticity, openness, humility and courage that I am not the only person in the world who deals with my emotions through the misuse of food.  Working with Alex has helped me to improve that reactionary action, and tap into my healthy responses and resources when faced with stressful life events!  So, the hunger, like the eat-by-numbers, doesn’t stick around forever, but is just a passing feeling that needs to be confronted and understood, rather than trying to hide from it (in a BIIIIIG bag of spicy snacks).

So even in the fear and frustration, there has been immense learning.  Lessons that will stick with me long after the hunger and the irritation have faded.  I am learning to love and understand my body and appreciate what it can accomplish.  That’s never more satisfying then after an amazing workout at the gym.  Where I am focused, and feel strong and motivated.  When the sets simply peel off one after the other with seemingly little effort, and I am proud of the changing shape I see in the mirrors (which I have actually learned not to hide from).  And then there are those days when I want to stick  my finer in my coach’s eye and tell him that it’s too difficult, and I am too weak and that he doesn’t understand what it’s like to be me.

But those days too pass, and are neither pervasive or permanent, and the feedback I am getting from Alex is not personal.  One of  my biggest challenges through all of this has been learning to listen to feedback, rather than seeing it as criticism and becoming defensive.  It’s become evident that this has not only been something I needed to work on in the gym and as with other elements of my journey of the last 12 months’ have taught me so many things about myself and how I show up in my life.

I have had to really dig deep, adapt the way I see and feel about myself,  the way I perceive my life and my mindset, thought patterns, my emotions and environment.  I am able to look in a mirror and admire the consistency, practice and effort I have put in.   And the challenges I have faced have taught me an enormous amount about myself and how I see the world.  And with a coach like Alex in my corner, I have pushed forward rather than simply giving up when things got difficult.

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I’m a loser baby! And I love it!

I started my journey with Alex Campbell Transformation at the beginning of 2017…and it’s not over yet.  But I did want to take a moment to just share my experience, learning & results.

As mentioned in a previous post, I was 101 kilograms in August 2016, desperate for change, and just not getting what I looking for through unsustainable eating plans, expensive crash diets, disheartening & very expensive cleanses, ineffective exercise programmes and just feeling beaten and incapable.

Everything changed when I started working with Alex and to date my biggest learnings have been:

  1. There is no such thing as good or bad food – foods simply vary in the amount of nutrients and calories they contain.
  2. I do NOT need to restrict certain foods or food groups – I can eat the food I love, in a healthy, sustainable way.
  3. I am not a failure or a loser because I couldn’t lose weight – I needed an eating plan that I could stick to which takes my preferences, goals and choices into account.
  4. My body is not my enemy – I am learning to love, understand & care for my body rather than punish it!
  5. Exercise must not be punishment – I work out with a set of fitness goals to achieve results that make me feel amazing!
  6. Lifting weights won’t make me look like a man – I am starting to love the body that I see in the mirror as it changes, tones and builds muscle.
  7. I could not do it alone – working with a coach and an accountability partner has been what was missing all along!

And as I have learned I have also been consistently moving in the direction I want to be moving in…  Okay there have been some very frustrating plateaus and the feeling that I am stuck, but then I look at my charts and see that all in all over the last nine months I have made steady, consistent progress!

Aug2017

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I have lost over 18 kilos since I started in January (I am currently 76.9 kilos), as well as 73cms (hips, waist & thigh), and I am getting stronger, leaner & healthier.  Of course there are challenges, bad days, periods of self-doubt and feeling overwhelmed, but I am undoing entrenched behaviours and attitudes towards nutrition and fitness that have been in place most of my adult life…  I am learning new behaviours and habits that are supportive of total health & wellness, not simply changes reflected on the scale or tape  measure.

12 months_Fotor.jpgI am stronger, more confident and far more self-assured than I  have been in many years, and I know that for the first time I have found an approach that works for me!  I am learning to believe in  myself again, and have changed my core beliefs about food, exercise and self-worth in a way that will support me in the long-run, rather than simply losing the weight (which I inevitably find again!).

And I could not have done it without Alex and his amazing style of coaching & training.  A coach that values each and every client, and does not use a one-size-fits-all approach, but tailors programmes to fit individual needs, wants, goals and preferences.  Thank you Alex…I am truly grateful.

 

Learning to Colour Outside the (Dieting) Lines…

It’s been a while since my last blog post in April, but life gets pretty hectic at times, and I became spread a little thin and all over the place.  But even these challenging times have a lesson or two in them and I have taken some time out from work to consolidate, refocus and move forward in some of the more important areas of my life.  And my health and wellness has become an extremely important value to me over the last six months.

That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s all been easy sailing.  There have been some stormy waters to navigate both personally and professionally, and this makes living in a calorie deficit, still adapting to strength training and trying to develop strong, life-changing habits around nutrition and fitness, really trying and frustrating on some days.

Since my last post, I have continued to work with Alex on flexible dieting and strength training, and I have made more progress…I’m almost 21 kilograms down (fifteen of them since starting with Alex in January) and have lost 73 centimetres (in my waist, thigh and hips).  Alex keeps assuring me that the results are what he’s looking for even though I would like things to be happening a bit quicker!  I guess that’s the kind of unhealthy pressure I tend to put on myself.

And this is something I am also focusing on at the moment, my mindset, which I am trying to change from outcomes- to process-driven.  So this week, following Alex’s advice, I have decided to take a diet break for seven days (my daily calories will increase from 1,600 to 2,000) and I have agreed NOT to weigh myself the entire week.  I am also trying to understand and action the idea of moderating my gym workouts…not trying to always push myself to my personal limits…  And that’s a tricky one. My black- and white-thinking (which I am constantly trying to break) makes it difficult to dance in the grey areas of sometimes it’s okay to not be able to give it 110%.

And these are my new lessons as I head to the six-month mark.  When I look at the progress photos which visually remind me that I am moving forward, I see a HUGE CHANGE from where I started at 101kgs in September last year.  I need to be more self-loving, kinder and gentler with myself, because this is not the end and there is a way to go to get to where I want to be.  I need to stay focused, but be prepared to consider the ideas of moderation and long-term outcomes a little more, while truly embodying the learning, knowledge and principles that I have been introduced to over the past 180 days.

This week’s plan is to take a deep breath, give myself the love and credit I deserve, and let myself explore and experiment a little more with uncertainty around my thoughts, ideas and behaviours that are being (emotionally) pushed at the moment. I am going to see it as adventure into unknown territory, without a scale, but a lot of trust and openness to how this might be good for me in the long-run.  After all, maybe it is time for me to colour outside the “dieting” lines a bit more…

Written by: Leigh-Anne Brierley

Not Getting the Results You Want!?

davFrom spending hours in the gym every day, I am able to observe many people training either by themselves or with a personal trainer.  There are definitely some proficient trainers, but there are also many that appear clueless and outdated in their training approaches.  Almost just making it up as they go along!?

It’s called exercise science for a reason!  There are scientific principles that should be applied to develop a strength-training programme for an individual.  Important considerations include, but are not limited to:

  • Goals,
  • Training history,
  • Genetics,
  • Diet,
  • Lifestyle,
  • Athletic capabilities, and
  • Training preferences.

Exercise technique is important to maximise results and minimise the potential for injury.  However, this seems to be mostly ignored by those in the gyms.  Time and again I see the most odd “exercise” movements being invented and I struggle to fathom how and why this is happening!?  It’s certainly very creative, but much of it is practically useless when trying to achieve strength and physique goals.

And this is what I see from trainers and people considered to be in good condition!  You may assume that someone who is in good shape must know what they are doing…  This is sadly not true!  Some people are simply genetically blessed and were in good shape even before they walked into a gym.  These are the same people who tend to get great results even whilst training “badly”.  And never forget that some use performance-enhancing supplements and/or drugs to get the results that they do.

The Bottom Line is that copying someone who is already in shape is generally a bad idea, because you cannot be sure of how they got there.  If you are not genetically blessed you will need to have an individually-structured and optimised training programme relevant to your goals and abilities.  A training programme that is based on the scientific principles of strength training.  And unfortunately if you don’t approach your training in this way – nothing is going to change!  You’ll simply be “spinning your wheels” and ultimately be getting nowhere, and then it really is only a matter of time until you give up.

It’s important to remember that at the end of the day, the MOST IMPORTANT factor of any training programme is personal preference.  In other words, the optimal programme for you is the one that will actually want to do and be able to stick to in the long run.  If this sounds interesting  let’s get together and have a chat, and together we can develop an individualised training and nutrition programme that works for you.

For more information or to book an introductory session, please complete the form below or contact me directly via email: alexcampbelltransformation@gmail.com or by phone: (061)436-7499.

 

Tips & Suggestions from a Novice Flexible Dieter

HB - FaceBook Post-page0001As I move towards my weight-loss and fitness goals there have been some tricky times, trying to figure out what #FlexibleDieting is all about, how to master using the My Fitness Pal app for calorie- and macro-tracking and just how to keep myself on track…  There are days when 1,600 calories seems like an effortless accomplishment and others when it just isn’t as enthralling to be living in a calorie deficit.  So as I have progressed I have been putting together a list of tips and suggestions that can possibly help other novice Flexible Dieters and make things just a little easier as you become familiar with the approach and things that have made my process far more manageable.

These are not expert tips or advice, simply a few learnings I have developed for myself…

Tips & suggestions from a novice Flexible Dieting…using My Fitness Pal

  • Track and eat, rather than eat and track!
  • Give some thought to your meals for the week, so that you can plan and shop…don’t leave things to chance so that you end up without ingredients to cook or prepare meals.
  • Plan and track your meals for the following day each evening so that you can take lunch to work, and you know what is on the menu for dinner when you get home (and that you have what you need).
    • Keep your essentials in stock such as marinated chicken breasts, lean mince, fruit and veg, protein/whey powder, eggs, popcorn, bread & pita bread (in the freezer), etc.
    • Don’t put temptation in your path…try and keep uncooked, high-calorie foods out your kitchen. If you are planning to include a little chocolate or some other treat in your day plan for it and only buy what you are going to eat.
    • If you are going to have a high-calorie dinner (such as an Andiccio’s pizza) plan for it, as you will probably need to restrict your calories during the day (depending on your calorie target).
  • There are NO SUCH THING as good or bad foods, only nutrient-dense or calorie-dense foods.
    • Nutrient-dense foods will keep you full for longer, so save calorie-dense food for later in the day!
    • Carbs are not bad! Sugar is not evil!  Dairy is not fattening! But always in moderation and within your calorie- and macro-targets.
    • Include some of your favourite foods (in moderation if calorie-dense) everyday…There is NO NEED to deprive yourself which is NOT sustainable over the long-term
    • Focus on mostly nutrient-dense foods and leave a little space for calorie-dense foods on certain days as a treat (e.g a kit kat J)
  • Be flexible with yourself and avoid becoming too rigid within your tracking [calories first, protein next, then be flexible within carbs and fats to make up the balance] and you’ll feel satisfied and healthy at the end of the day!
  • Track accurately:
    • Use a digital kitchen scale for weighing food
    • Use green-tick foods on MFP
    • Use DCSN or USDA entries where possible on MFP
    • Use grams/ounces rather than cups for measurements
    • SCAN foods using MFP app for increased accuracy
    • Most big restaurant franchises (e.g. Spur, Andiccios, Nandos, Starbucks, etc.) have nutrient information on their websites which can be entered into MFP.
    • Save your favourite meals or dishes on MFP for ease of use (e.g. homemade lean mince hamburgers, creamed feta spinach, chicken & salad pita, etc.)
  • Eat your first meal later in the morning [if not training first], and then spread food out during the day. Try and keep some calories for a banana before bed [it helps with hunger and sleep!]
  • Allow calories for a snack, protein shake, or pre-workout drink if you are planning to train after work and before dinner so that you have energy for your workout.
  • Eat protein in the morning [e.g. boiled eggs] rather than carbs as it’ll keep you satiated for longer.
  • Plan and prepare for diet breaks (with your coach) which are incredibly helpful in keeping motivation high, stress low, results on track and enjoyment going…
  • Eat and prepare 90% of your meals at home, and plan for meals that are away from home (or have a non-tracking day which you can discuss with your coach).
  • Develop a growth mindset around nutrition and fitness:
    • A slip is not failure but an opportunity to learn and move forward!
    • Dieting does not need to be black and white.
    • There are NOT good or bad foods, only nutrient- or calorie-dense and nothing is “forbidden”- moderation is the secret!
    • Learn from those that are successful – ask experts, speak to your coach, follow professionals & join groups on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

The more I use these little practices, the more habitual they become and the less thought and effort goes towards making decisions, and staying motivated and focused on my eating-plan and weight-loss goals.  The benefits of not restricting myself, allowing myself some wiggle wrong and being gentler on myself as I go through the process have been so different and more sustainable than ALL THE OTHER diets I have ever been on!  And as I mentioned in my first post, Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes, there have been a lot of those.

And of course the more weight-loss and muscle-gain I achieve the more my self-confidence improves and the more committed I become to my desired outcomes.  Though to be honest, the ideas I had have changed somewhat over the last few months.  I have learned to accept what I can and can’t achieve, given my body type, age, genetics, etc. but having a coach has been the one thing that stands out as being the biggest difference this time around.  Although, being able to eat the occasional pizza, Kit Kat and post-workout chocolate muffin cannot be ignored!

Written by Leigh-Anne Brierley

Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes

change1Since the age of 14 I  have been subjecting myself to a series of diet plans, eating regimes and weight-loss interventions.  These include Weigh-Less, Atkins, Low-Fat, Low-Carb, medically-assisted programmes, Slender Wonder, Herbalife, Dieticians’ programmes and all sorts of combinations thereof.  And yes I’ve lost weight and inevitably gained it back (with a little extra for prosperity) to the tune of probably 100kgs, until the point of desperate hopelessness where I was ready to push through to a size 20 and be done with it…  The prescriptive nature of the programmes and a real lack of understanding about how the process actually works has been a constant stumbling block for me.

My unhealthy relationship with food over the years, periods of binge eating and complete starvation have led to awful guilt and shame around my eating habits, body image and self-esteem.   I felt defeat and self-loathing every time I was unable to stick to the plan, beating myself up emotionally and mentally at my inability to be able to “get it right”.  And inevitably this would lead to me seeking comfort in the fridge or the chip bag!  And then the cycle would repeat itself.  A “slip” would more often than not lead to a full-blown “relapse” and the weight-gain journey would begin once again.

For anyone who has not battled with food issues and weight challenges, this might be difficult to comprehend.  It’s got nothing to do with willpower, eating less and exercising more.  There have been diets when I was eating 650 calories a day and staying committed to the process until it became completely unsustainable due to emotional, physical and mental fatigue, lack of financial resources (eating that little costs a lot of money for supplements and appetite control) and feeling miserable about not being able to eat.  For me it has been about not understanding what I am doing, not being given the right kind of support and feeling like the dieticians, doctors, programme leaders and experts are not really that invested in me achieving the required outcomes.

So after years of failed attempts and a plummeting self-belief that I was ever going to be able to have a half-decent chance, I started working with Alex, of Alex Campbell Transformation.  He introduced me to the concept of flexible dieting and habits-based nutrition.  And even though it is about calorie-counting, using the My Fitness Pal App makes that easier than paging through my most recent diet-plan manual and trying to figure out what I am “allowed” to eat.  Instead of feeling deprived and constricted, I get to eat delicious food within the calorie limits, while ensuring that I get enough of the right nutrients.  There’s even room for the occasional, guilt-free chocolate, pizza or homemade burger and chips.  And I am only eating 1,500 calories a day!

Over the past two months I have lost over 6kgs,  but even better than that is that I have lost more than 50cm around my waist, hips and thigh.  I have been spending time at the gym, but rather than slogging it out on the treadmill for hours, I am doing short strength-training sessions and am noticing enormous changes in my body.  Not only that, I am feeling an incredible sense of wellness and in the way I showing up in my life on a daily basis.  Normally when I am on a “diet” I am grouchy, miserable and feel very deprived; the focus of my day on the things that I can’t eat and dreading another boring, tasteless meal.  So I am feeling grounded and motivated, and the nutrition coaching and support I am receiving is making me extremely accountable and in control of my programme (and progress).  Although when I am unsure I have the support of a coach to keep me on track and dispel my fears around whether I am doing it “right”.

There’s space for conversations about food, mood, stress, sleep and exercise.  I am not simply being TOLD what to do, which has given me the chance to own this programme and allow my ideas, experiences, and challenges to be part of the process.  Alex is always available to offer input and support, as well as introducing me to great education and information sources, as well as blogs and FaceBook pages that are in-line with what the programme approach entails.

After more than two months of eating a fairly low amount of calories, attending the gym regularly and getting back into the kitchen (which I am loving), I feel more motivated than ever to push towards my health and wellness goals, that are not simply physical, but also mental, emotional, spiritual and social. This approach feels sustainable and individualised, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach which has never been sustainable for me in the past.  I feel hope and positivity where just a few months ago there was one of defeat and futility.  And for this I am extremely grateful and thankful to Alex Campbell Transformation for the knowledge, expertise, support and no-BS approach.

I will continue to write about my personal health, wellness and body transformation as the weeks and months unfold.  I know there are no magic potions and quick fixes, but with support and accountability it feels like I am on the right path to exactly where I want to be.

Leigh-Anne Brierley

How to Love Eating and Still Lose Weight!

Food - chicken burgerFlexible dieting can transform your life.

Flexible Dieting is about how being less rigid with your diet can give you a greater chance of sustainable,  long-term success.  It is the modification and customisation of a personalised eating plan based on individual goals, as well as the food you like to eat.  There are no forbidden foods to be avoided!  In the same way that you don’t have to eat the foods you hate!

Flexible dieting is a skill which is about learning to eat mostly (so-called) healthy foods, and still being able to incorporate your favorite foods and treats.  All while still making progress with your weight-loss efforts, free of guilt and shame!

The term “healthy foods” is used here to help explain the concept of flexible dieting, which for the most past avoids discriminating against foods as “good” or “bad”.  It is more realistic to view foods as varying in nutrient- or calorie-density.

Always remember that it is not a particular food that makes us lose or gain fat.  So with flexible dieting you get to eat the foods you enjoy.  Because regardless of the food source, food is energy.  So if you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight!    And if you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight!

The evidence of The Energy-Balance Equation is overwhelming and that’s why it’s accepted by the large majority of the science-based nutrition community.  For further evidence of this just look to the tens of thousands of athletes, body builders and physique competitors who practice this principle to achieve peak physical condition time and again.

Still not convinced?  There have been many studies conducted to prove that it’s not about the type of food that is consumed that leads to weight loss, but rather the caloric intake that is important.  These include the Twinkie Diet and the Ice-Cream Diet which were conducted to prove this point.

However, this is not to say that flexible dieting is focused on eating junk food.  It’s about learning how to eat an overall healthy diet based on satiating, nutrient-dense foods and learning how to incorporate your favourite foods and treats, while still progressing towards your weight-loss goals.

In my next article I will look at “Flexible Dieting & How it Works” in more detail.