I was very skeptical about online training. Through the phone, I was like, ‘How does this work? How can this even remotely be successful?’ But the way you support people, you don’t make their schedules and say, ‘See you later.’ You make it so that it’s customizable for them, and you support them so that you’re constantly checking in and making sure that the workouts are making us feel good and having an effect. The support is just insane.”
When Kelly, an IT manager, started working with me during the pandemic, she had just started her incredible weight loss journey. All in all, she is 164 pounds down, and the middle 80 were with me from July 2020 to January 2021.
Although Kelly had already started to exercise and eat differently, she was not experienced with strength training, and – like many women – she knew that it might have magical powers for transformation, but she had no idea what to do.
“I just kept doing the same exercises. I was very new to my journey, so I wasn’t sure what exercises would work, or how to change it up (your body can get used to exercises very easily). I had no idea how to even remotely get into strength training or what would work for a weight loss strategy.”
I’m so glad she reached out to me, because I love working on resistance training with absolute beginners!
Also, Kelly had signed up for a half marathon, and was determined to complete it. I love training runners as well, so she was definitely in my sweet spot! I was so excited to help her out.
We started with a very basic strength training program – I had Kelly buy two 5-lb dumbbells and two 10-lb dumbbells, as well as bands and sliders. We focused on full-body training that encouraged both weight loss and running strength/speed.
Part of Kelly’s success is that she made some really wise mindset decisions early on.
For example, she always broke her goals into smaller goals so that she could achieve them quickly and maintain momentum and excitement.
“Choosing small goals made it easier to get to the long-term goal, because it’s like a victory, each one. It keeps you going.”
For example, she ran a 5K and a 10K before she ran her half marathon in October.
Also, she got clear on her why.
“I tell this to everyone: you have to do it for yourself. There were so many years that I tried to lose weight and I would lose 20-40 pounds, but it was all for acceptance or to feel something from other people. But it never worked. This time, I actually did it for myself and it has worked and it’s still going.”
Meanwhile, in terms of nutrition, I supported her in her dietary changes, and although we didn’t track calories or macros, I helped her continue to make healthy switches that accomplished her weight loss goals month by month.
Here’s what Kelly had to say about nutrition:
“Listen to your gut, because it will tell you the foods it does not want. You can eat certain foods and your energy levels are down and you don’t want to work out. Eating whole foods is such a big difference. You’re not cutting anything out – you’re just changing what you eat. I’m big with balance. I think people need to learn balance – you’re not cutting everything out. And you can still enjoy things.”
Here are some of the specific food changes that Kelly made into habits, which she passes on as tips for others:
- Buying pre-chopped vegetables
- Choosing lean meats over fattier meats
- Meal prepping, especially soups and baked dishes (“Changing my nutrition made me like to cook”)
- Replacing sugar with stevia
- Replacing sodas with Zevia
- Replacing regular flour with almond flour
- “I’m a big pasta girl, so the edamame pasta as well as the Shiratake noodles are amazing. I can have pasta every day and still be successful.”
- Carbquik baking mix
The Workouts: Consistency Over Intensity
Kelly’s superpower from the very beginning was incredible consistency. This screenshot, for example, was from November 2020. Look at how many activities she logs – she does all her workouts, but also adds in walks and runs. And she did all this with a full-time job!
And her weight loss results validated her hard work.
Like so many women, prior to working with me, Kelly had focused too much on cardio and not enough on strength training. The reason this can be problematic (and can stall out your results) is that your body will start eating away at your muscles for fuel if you are dieting and over-doing cardio. By focusing on strength training, eating enough protein, and keeping cardio within reason, Kelly built muscle and lost fat extremely efficiently.
Despite her success with weight loss, though, Kelly’s mindset about weight loss changed as she went.
“The scale doesn’t define everything – you definitely taught me that. Even if the number isn’t going down the way I want it to, I’m still doing what I need to do. And inches – I never even thought about inches. I’ve lost like, ten inches or twelve inches, I think. It may not all be all on the scale. I was a big, big, big scale person – it was my main focus. So, I definitely like that I’m no longer like that, which I attribute to you.”
Where She Is Now
Kelly and I took a break from online training, because she was so successful with her weight loss that she scheduled skin surgery for April 2021 and is now recovering.
When I chatted with Kelly right before her surgery, she had some thoughts on how her healthy lifestyle had changed her.
- “I like that I don’t hate exercise. In the beginning, I hated it. It was not fun to do. But now, especially after working with you, it became such a routine and I look forward to it. If I didn’t do it, I would feel ‘off’ for the day. It’s a passion and I love it.”
- “I’m proud of myself for putting myself first – especially in a time when it was easy to go in the opposite way. It was a very dark time in COVID and I decided to make it better.”
- “People say the ‘diet’ word, and I tell them, ‘That’s not a word in my vocabulary.’”
- “On the days I don’t feel like moving, I do the exercise that makes me feel the happiest, like walking. On the days I have to do the exercise I don’t feel thrilled about, like strength training (I’m still not a strength training girl), I’ve made myself go through it and I reward myself with something.”
Kelly’s incredible success, however, really comes down to this last gem she shared with me:
“I realized it was more of a lifestyle. It’s not like once I hit my goal weight, I’ll be done. It’s definitely a long lifestyle. Choosing the right foods and exercises isn’t a chore or something negative – it’s something you can look forward to and feel genuinely better after doing them.”