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HELEN'S STORY (The picture that changed everything)

After seeing a picture of myself with my sister and not recognising myself, I knew that I needed to change, but I wasn’t ready to face that reality, so when I first met Anthony at a business coaching day it really made me think. But whilst I agreed with everything he said, I felt intimated by him, and despite knowing I needed to improve my health, I thought he was scary at the time and instead of using that as a time to take control, it took for me to hit rock bottom to act.

The image that made me act...

Throughout my life I have always exercised, and my weight fluctuated by a stone or two. In my early thirties I used a personal trainer and became very fit and stayed fit and slim for years, but when I hit my forties I started to put on excessive weight due to a combination of a car accident that prevented me exercising for six months, a busy work-life, hormonal issues, bad eating habits and meeting my husband (my mum always used to say I was skinny when I was single!)

I really was sick of being overweight and kept putting things off, but last Summer was my rock bottom with my health as I injured my ankle and in the same week got Covid and then post-viral fatigue. For over three months I sat at home feeling sorry for myself and gained even more weight. It was at that moment I concluded that if I feel this bad now, I will be in terrible shape when I hit old age, so I needed to act now. I came to the realisation I wasn’t scared of Anthony but scared of my own failure. I didn’t believe that I had the discipline to make it happen.

I bit the bullet and called him; we had an initial online session and then when we met the following week. When we met, he wasn’t scary at all, he was calm and patient and took his time to fully understand my situation and assess my needs. I told him that I used to be fit in 40’s and that I missed that and didn’t even believe I could get that back. After the comprehensive assessment he devised an eating plan for me to follow, specific exercises to enhance some weaknesses in my joints, and set guidelines for daily exercise, stretching, and breathing techniques to help create a healthier body again via sensible and realistic routines.

He guided me into self-mitigation via logging my calories, steps, water intake and exercise regularly to help me set goals and track my progress via a habit tracker (and I like keeping records so this worked well for me).

We decided to set a target for me to lose 2lbs per week and although Christmas did slow things down a little, I was pleased that in one of those weeks I went out for seven meals and didn’t put on weight! That gave me confidence to realise I could still go out and socialise with friends but also keep focused on becoming healthier.

As I lost weight consistently, Anthony continuously reviewed my exercises, diet, sleep routine and made things more challenging or adapted them as my fitness improved, so I have become so much stronger and fitter. With his help and support, I lost weight every single week for seven months until I hit my goal and I have now stayed there for over two months.

I can honestly say I feel I am fitter now than I was 25 years ago! Despite being a similar weight now, due to the compound exercises (and a lot of side-planks!) I am slimmer than I have ever been, I have had to replace all my clothes as I have gone from wearing size 18-20 tops to a size 10.

Since starting with Anthony, I have my exercise flow back, hell, I even started running again and am faster too than I have ever been. It really proves to me you can rewind your biological age.

It has been challenging and there were a few tears along the way, sleepless nights, and challenging life hurdles but I am so much happier than I have been for years. I feel like the old me has returned and I recognise myself in the mirror again.

Before and after

A word from Anthony

During my first call with Helen, I asked her to do the stand-up test (also done sitting on your bottom). This is a timed test to see how fast you can go from lying on your back to standing up on your feet. This is seen as the number one indicator of longevity (especially related to physical health). Her timing fell into the very poor range for her age. Not just that but when she was standing up, she relied on her left leg almost exclusively, indicating some noticeable physical weaknesses in the right leg and asymmetrical imbalances that may cause bigger problems in the way of injuries moving forwards.

When we decided to meet for a consultation I wanted to fully understand her wants, needs and motivations. She told me she struggled to lose weight and that she doesn’t sleep well or stays awake for hours on end (especially in the middle of the night). She also told me that she would love to feel how she did when she was 40. Back then she was training 7 times per week, had boundless energy, she was at her ideal body weight and felt positive and happy every day. Currently at 57, she was 6 stone heavier and felt like her fitter self (although her true self) was a distant memory and unrealistic goal today. She didn’t think that was possible to be the same weight, to feel the same energy to have that level of fitness she had when she was a single woman and had time and youth on her hands. Now, life was different; marriage, self-employment, hobbies, weight, and age would stop her achieving her dream of ideal weight and vitality. Needless to say; my thoughts did not align with hers. I have personally seen people walk who were told they wouldn’t properly walk again. I have seen people lose over 200lb in body weight, run marathons after hip and knee operations, turn their bodies from overweight to looking like they belong on Calvin Klein ad or a superhero movie, and from care home at 85 back to independent living when no one thought it was possible. Bottom line is, you can achieve much more than you may think.

Though, creating a plan for someone is way more than some random recipes and exercises to me. That’s way too simplistic and that’s why most random diets and exercise routines don’t create lasting change for people.

There are many influencing factors to success; first is the plan. If that doesn’t consider the individual and their life, it’s not going to be maintainable. Second, is the key areas of improvement, for example, if we didn’t address rest and injury prevention then fatigue and injuries would sabotage our progress along the way.

Once you have overcome those hurdles it’s about consistency in the face of life’s hurdles. The harsh truth is the universe, your boss, and probably even some members of your family don’t really care that you are trying to lose weight or get in shape, so when life throws you its predictable curve balls how will you respond?

For Helen, she had a knee injury, a back injury, shoulder impingement, work life stresses, relationship stresses, insomnia periods, and even the return of her periods. All these things can stop people in their tracks: "well I can’t exercise now, I have an injury, I’ll get back to it next week/ month etc"… That’s not what inevitably happens though is it. They don’t get back to it in most cases.

The stumble turns into a fall and the fall turns into an exercise coma.

What she did well was attempt to keep consistent in the face of it all. When we faced hard weeks, I would make the decision on how to pivot, like addressing the injuries and creating a corrective/recovery protocol. She would apply herself to it and soon enough we would be back on course and moving forwards again. Due to her ability to remain consistent, she built consistency as a habit, she measured everything, she kept to the plan (mostly, though a few corrective exercise routines were skipped here and there), she tracked and became so effective at it, she won my Discipline challenge and a big cash prize!

Helen now stands up like a 20-year-old, not a 60 year old! She is slimmer than she was at 40 and fitter than she was pre-marriage (arguably ever). She is consistent, has a relaxed social life, and remains in control. She is balanced, healthy, and happy and she didn’t just create short term change for short term weight loss, she learnt and developed the right behaviours to create permanent shift in her eating and exercising habits.

There’s always work to be done but for me, seeing people shift in health and fitness is the biggest possible shift they can make in life; they become the best version of themselves. It’s helping people like Helen that gets me out of bed every day, the transformation that is possible when you truly decide to take control of your health and fitness. Getting started is a scary concept, but like many things that are scary, it is one of the best things you can do to improve your life for the better. I certainly know Helen is not the person I met and is perhaps healthier now than she has ever been. Thank you for trusting me to help you get back to your 40’s, people like you are why I love my job!

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