The final week of my diet was actually the easiest. I had really got into an eating pattern that worked for me and that I could stick to. The odd craving for certain foods (nachos) was there, but I could work through it knowing that I was so close to the end.
An unexpected feeling however was the sudden lack in motivation. I found myself unwilling to go and do some cardio at lunchtime on the Thursday because I knew it wouldn’t make a visual difference for my photoshoot. Likewise, I reckoned I could get away with eating a few biscuits without it making a difference either. I skipped the biscuits and did the cardio but it definitely felt like the hard work was over, and the main challenge was just to make it to the weekend. I hadn’t been expecting that.
The day of the photoshoot was one of the scariest ever. I was so nervous I just wanted to stay in bed and avoid the situation all together! But when I got there I had an amazing time. I don’t usually wear any make-up - a quick lick of mascara and I’m out the door, so I felt like a Princess when I was all dolled up. I hardly recognised myself! Looking a bit like a satsuma due to my excessive spray tan probably didn’t help on that front…
Having one person (the photographer) focus completely on me was unnerving to begin with, and I felt really self-conscious, but eventually I managed to relax into it a bit and we managed to get some photos that I am really proud of. The definition in my abs was better in the shameless selfies I took in the mirror in the morning, but the overall change from Week 0 to Week 12 is evident and I look like a totally different version of me.
I have been trying to think of a few lessons I’ve learned during this process in case they are helpful for anyone else. And in summary, I think these are the most important:
1. Be ready – if it’s not the right time for you to take on something like this, then don’t. You will probably end up messing it up and then feeling even worse. Yes to a certain extent, you just have to pick a date and stick to it, but it’d be better to pick a time when your calendar is clear of any major upheavals or huge social events, and a time when you’re not likely to be hugely stressed by anything else.
2. Get your head straight – This transformation ruled my life for twelve weeks, and at times it was really difficult mentally. You need to be prepared to put the gym and your nutrition first for the period you choose to work over, and I mean really put it first. That means getting up at 5:30 to defrost your freezing car and go to the gym session you really don’t want to go to, when every muscle in your body aches and you are beyond exhausted, only to miss lunch with your friends to do cardio on your lunchbreak, and then probably head back to the gym again that evening. It definitely means avoiding or adapting the majority of social occasions. If you’re not ready for that level of commitment, then this is definitely not for you.
3. Get a support network ready – I could not have done this without the amazing Hall Personal Training team, and I really mean that! Knowing that the team, especially Michael, would be there when I turned up in the morning forced me out of bed. After all, he had to defrost his car to make it in for me too! They were there to answer any questions, cheer me on when I made good progress, and constantly help me improve my training technique. Without them I am quite sure I’d have caved after the breakdown in Week 5. Make sure everyone in your life is ready to come second and eat around your weird eating habits, and make sure they are ready to offer the support you’ll need on the way. You cannot do this on your own. Chris needs a shout out for picking me up from my heap on the floor on several occasions and encouraging me to carry on – the patience!
4. Don’t do too much too soon – This is especially true when it comes to your nutrition. Make sure somebody who knows what they are doing writes you a guide, and make sure it’s adapted every two weeks depending on your progress. I could not have survived all twelve weeks on the crazy calorie deficit I was in at the end, but because I was guided through the process I didn’t have to. Instead I made small, steady cuts every two weeks, and this made my diet feel normal and manageable towards the end. Don’t burn out with your training either. De-load weeks are the best, even if they throw you out of your routine a bit.
5. Take pride in the results you’re seeing - Don’t be miserable about every cake you are missing out on, or for me, every glass of wine and bowl of nachos. Instead, look at the changes you can see and be excited about the end result. Staying positive about the process and trying to see the best in it even at the worst times is essential. If I managed to convince myself I like staring out of the window doing endless cardio with achy feet, you can too.
6. Don’t do exercises that crush your soul – You will work out what they are for you, and that may seem like an exaggeration, but at the very end reverse lunches and Bulgarian Split Squats bought me to tears, broke my spirit and ruined the rest of my session. It’s not worth it. Find a substitute and make sure you’re enjoying your training. Michael, if you’re reading this and give me another split squat, we won’t be friends for much longer. It’s going to take me at least six months to recover mentally.
We are just waiting for the final photos to come back now, but I can share my final results. Over the period I lost 3.2 kg (not very much), but that meant putting on 2.5kg of muscle and dropping 6.4kg of fat. I lost just shy of 10% body fat, and had one breakdown. I think I did several million squats, several thousand deadlifts and had just one major breakdown. I lost count of the minor ones, but I can’t remember them. That’s the main thing – it passes, you forget the bad and are left feeling 1000% better.
So, what’s next? Well, I should really write you a Week 13-14 blog post, detailing my excessive post-diet food consumption (whoops), and then probably one the week after about how I (hopefully) manage to start reverse dieting rather than inhaling everything I see – wish me luck. But what’s next for me is carrying on with this journey. I wanted to achieve more than I did, and I am going to keep going. Just because the twelve weeks is over doesn’t mean my fitness journey is, but whatever your goals are, I wish you all the best on your own journey.
Michael will also being writing a blog post about how he structured my training, and Chris will write one about how he looked after my nutrition, so there are some more technical takeaways on their way.
I am more than happy to answer any questions if anyone has any, just drop me a line: Georgey
Until next time,