Still stuck for motivation to lose weight? Maybe following in someone else’s footsteps might help

In THIS column, I share my experience on ways to obtain optimal health and — most importantly — how to change your body shape. But sometimes the penny will only drop when you see it in practice. So, starting today, you can follow Yvonne’s progress as she attempts to shape up.

One of the most important things when starting out is to have the courage to want to be fit, to make changes and to step outside your comfort zone. This is important as one problem that I see all the time is people in a gym doing the wrong things.

They end up frustrated and run the risk of throwing in the towel.


Yvonne’s current weight is 81.3kg, of which 56.4kg is muscle and the remainder is fat. This gives her a current body-fat percentage of 30.4pc. If she sticks to this regime she can expect to lose at least 0.6pc body fat per week over the coming weeks.

To get things started, we agreed to follow a step-by-step approach to training and nutrition. After reviewing her food diary, we decided our initial change will be to look at altering her breakfast.

The hardest change for people is to include some unprocessed protein for breakfast, as well as fats, nuts, avocados and berries.

The feeling of fullness that comes from protein and fats will help keep her blood-sugar level balanced and so prevent overeating at later meals.

By contrast, a breakfast that is high in carbohydrates will increase serotonin, which will lead to tiredness and eventually low blood sugar and more food cravings.

Protein increases dopamine and drive. This and exercise were the only changes to Yvonne’s lifestyle for a period of 21 days. That’s how long it takes for a habit to work.

I’ve introduced Yvonne to weight training and she’s also performing sprint intervals. She has given a commitment to exercise four times per week.

Anyone embarking on an exercise programme can feel intimidated at first. Confidence builds with the familiarity of an exercise programme as the body adapts. It becomes more efficient at recruiting the muscles needed to perform the exercises and the weights will increase.

After each 21 days, a new lifestyle change will be introduced and the exercises will also change.

I am a huge fan of people implementing gradual changes, not quick fixes. On the TV show Operation Transformation, the main focus is on weight loss, as opposed to fat loss. It does not say whether the contestants are losing fat-burning muscle in their weight loss.

Losing muscle is not a good result. The less muscle you have, the less fat you will burn. The smaller the engine, the greater the likelihood of gaining the weight back, with some interest, as the metabolism will be decreased.

Yvonne will be taught lifestyle changes that, if implemented, will lead to fat loss that stays lost. It will require discipline in the preparation of meals and consistency in training.

In the coming months she has the opportunity to become a role model for others. However it’s one thing to read a story — the next step is to act on it. Take responsibility for the way you find yourself today and say to yourself: “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.”

Yvonne’s Take

‘What bothers me is that i’m out of shape’

I was a teenager who never had to worry about weight. I was thinner than most of my friends and so exercise and watching what I ate was not on my radar.

It wasn’t until I was about 26 that I noticed I was a bit of a tubster. I had just finished my masters after two sedentary years and I was shopping for a dress for my graduation. I grabbed the dresses I liked in a 10, my size, and a 12, just in case, and went to try them on. I left with a size 14 and thoughts about how that shop’s sizes were weird.

They weren’t, and I started going to the gym and did cardio and lost weight. I continued, however, to eat and drink as before — pasta and bread, and plenty of alcohol at the weekend. I went to the gym regularly and didn’t get any fatter. But as I also smoked, I never got any fitter.

And at 35, this is what bothers me. I don’t care what size clothes I wear — I have stayed around 12/14 for about 10 years — but I do care that I am out of shape.

So I decided that this was my year. After Christmas, I cut out alcohol and cigarettes and resolved to eat healthy foods. I then decided to go the whole hog and go to a personal trainer with the money I was saving.

Before my first visit to Damien, I had to keep a food diary. No problem. He will be delighted. I eat quinoa, hemp and flaxseed porridge for breakfast, and salads for lunch. He wasn’t.

On my first visit he weighted me and measured my body fat. He then calculated my body fat percentage — 30.4pc. For a female, the ideal is 16pc.

Instead of praising my breakfast, he said I had to cut out all grains until I got lean. My lunches were OK but I needed more protein — at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I had never done weights, so I was quite nervous. Though it really hurt at the time, and about 48 hours later, it felt great. When I returned four days later it hurt even more, but it wasn’t difficult.

One week in I am doing OK — I am sticking to the food rules and doing the prescribed cardio between sessions. I ache, but I have never felt better.

Updates on Yvonne’s journey will appear every month. Catch the next one on Mar 22!

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