Client Success Story: Less Running, More Strength, More Food

Today’s client feature is all about Bailey! A 30-year-old in the Pacific Northwest, Bailey has been working with me for about four months now, and I’m so absolutely pleased with her progress. She came to me as someone who was already extremely health-conscious and active, and our main focus has been incorporating more strength training and tuning up her nutrition to fuel fat loss and muscle gain – rather than using cardio to burn calories. She came to me for a little weight loss, but we’ve worked on so much more!

Bailey and her husband Max

Here’s a snapshot of her results…

  • lost 7 pounds
  • down 2 inches in waist
  • down 3 inches at hips

… and this is eating bigger meals and running 10-15 miles a week less than she was before. Yes, you read that right – running less.

But her progress goes beyond what we see on the scale or in a measurement. She has more energy, she’s performing better with exercise, she’s more excited about physical activity, and her food cravings (which were high) have all but disappeared.

Bailey lifts weights at home, and is an avid outdoor athlete (she clocks in about 8 running miles on weekends when she’s not skiing or hiking). She’s also working on her first chin-ups and pistol squats in her home gym, which are so fun for women to master.

I hope you’ll enjoy this post, where Bailey shares her story of transforming her approach to fat loss, falling in love with weightlifting, and building a physique that will last.

Now let’s hear from Bailey!

Less Running, More Strength, More Food

“I have always considered myself an active person…”

While I have had a yo-yo type of experience with dieting and weight loss for most of my life, I have always considered myself an active person. I’ve been running quite a bit for 5-10 years, everything from trail ruins to half marathons to full marathons and everything in between.

Bailey and her mom post-marathon

Prior to working with Rachel, I often had the mentality of ‘I can run [insert food here] off later.’ I would go through phases where I would completely cut out sugar for a month and eat double the sugar the following month. In general, I’d say my diet lacked consistency across the board, resulting in major dips in energy levels, irritability, and a continuous level of stress. I recently heard and strongly related to the term ‘food noise’, which describes someone who spends a lot of mental energy thinking/stressing about food. This was definitely me.

I first reached out to Rachel when I was coming off of running a marathon and feeling pretty burnt out. Towards the end of my marathon training, life happened and I fell off my training plan and my diet went right along with it. By the time my marathon came, I was feeling sluggish and fatigued. After finishing the marathon, I decided that while I loved running, I was at a time in my life where I wanted to prioritize gaining muscle and building sustainable habits.

As mentioned above, I am an active person who is typically on the go. Whether it’s going for hikes with my husband and dog, going skiing, working in the garden, etc., time gets away from me and I have a tendency to not nourish my body properly, resulting in fatigue and eventual overeating. This was something I didn’t realize and Rachel caught onto QUICK and helped me implement strategies to give me more energy during activities and not overeat after.

Additionally, I am very blessed to live close to my entire family. This means lots of baked goods and family meals (of special note is the incredible pizza my partner makes on a weekly basis). Rachel has helped me find ways to enjoy these moments with family, have the pizza, and not feel derailed or stressed about it later.

the famed husband pizza

Rethinking Nutrition and Training

The biggest changes we made were eating at consistent times each day, planning ahead for when I would be doing 2-3 hours of activity (like skiing) to ensure I had enough fuel, and prioritizing strength training.

It was really surprising to me how much eating large meals (450-500 cal) at constant times improved my energy and reduced my snack cravings. Additionally, I still remember telling Rachel after my first few weeks of workouts that I was so surprised, but I was LOVING the strength workouts so much that I wanted to up from 3 days to 4 days a week.

The main thing that has changed about my relationship with food is that I have an entirely different perspective on how to properly fuel my body. I was eating about half the protein I should’ve been eating, leaving me feeling hungry and craving sugar for energy. These cravings often left me upset with myself or not feeling well. Since upping my protein and eating larger meals, my general ‘food noise’ has almost completely dissipated, providing me with a clearer, happier and more carefree mind.

I went from lifting no weights and running ~30-40 miles a week to lifting weights 4 times a week and running about 20-25 miles a week. One of my biggest fears at the start of working with Rachel was that in order to get stronger, I needed to stop doing the exercises I enjoyed most, like running and skiing, in order to make time for strength training. Rachel assured me this wasn’t the case and there was a way to structure things so I could in fact have it all – she was right! 

Rachel has found a way to plan my workouts in a way that not only allow me to continue running, but has actually improved my running. In the past, I was running a lot of distance runs in a steady state. I’ll be the first to admit that while I love running, some days I would literally dread getting in the miles, and some days I would skip out on them entirely due to fatigue. Rachel now has incorporated some speed workouts after strength workouts and rearranges my strength focus areas and intensities based on my long runs on the weekend. Now that I’ve incorporated a more balanced workout routine, I find myself loving running more and always being excited to lace up my sneakers.

Finding New Value in Fitness

A few months after starting to work with Rachel, my grandpa passed away. While this time was stressful enough, the added pressure of workouts was not in the cards. Rachel was there to remind me that in the grand scheme of things, one week off of working out is ok. And in fact, treating yourself gently during times are grief will have greater benefits than working out.

My grandpa was an incredible man who will always play an important role in my life. He suffered from dementia and while being there through his decline was incredibly hard, it was also incredibly fulfilling and reminded me about the importance of our health. While it’s great to fit into jeans that you couldn’t button before, what’s really important is living a life that gives you the highest likelihood of health over the next 5, 10, or 50 years.

Strength training makes me feel… strong. I know it might sound obvious, but I love the feeling of really feeling my muscles work. It also makes me feel confident and reduces a lot of fears I have around age-related degenerative diseases. While I’m only 30, doing things to keep me strong for the long haul has become a huge priority for me recently, and strength training is one of the most important ways I am able to improve my health now and in the future.

Current Goals

When I started with Rachel, I wanted to lose weight by incorporating strength training. However, through my work with Rachel, my main goal has shifted to building sustainable habits and gaining muscle. Of course, the strength training workouts and diet tweaks have led to weight loss, and I absolutely love being able to button those pair of jeans that didn’t fit three months ago and I’m grateful that I can now zip up a bridesmaid dress I have to wear in a few weeks. But what I’m really excited for is being able to do my first pull up and having habits that I know will continue to benefit me throughout my entire life.

Tips for Others

It’s easy to get swept up with work and have workouts be pushed to the backburner. Tips I have used to stay consistent are literally scheduling my workouts in my work calendar. Just like a meeting, if it’s in my calendar, I’m going to show up. Similarly, I’ve found having someone to talk to about goals, both personal and professional, help keep my accountable and remind me the importance of taking care of myself.

Sometimes I think it’s easy to want to go on these solo fitness journeys. I’m not sure if it’s because we’re embarrassed to talk about it or we’re nervous we won’t be successful. One of the most impactful mindset shifts for me is that it’s ok to ask for help, especially from people like Rachel who has the skill to help you thrive. I’m grateful to have her help now, and excited to see the impact the skills she has helped me build continue to have throughout the next chapters of my life.

Rachel here again! 

Thank you so much to Bailey for sharing her story!

There is a persistent myth in our culture (perpetuated by nutrition and fitness professionals as well, unfortunately) that all people who struggle with their weight are sitting around, coasting through sedentary lifestyles, eating fast food, and are out of shape. But this simply isn’t true.

From a coaching perspective, Bailey is a great example of the fact that under-eating and over-exercising can cause weight issues, too. Especially for active women, under-fueling often sets off a cycle of cravings, compensatory overeating, and diet-and-exercise burnout. And of course, body composition suffers as well. You end up in position where your clothes don’t fit right, your exercise is feeling “meh,” and yet you are doing your level best to eat as healthy as possible. It’s incredibly frustrating.

If you feel that you’re in Bailey’s position – that you eat well and exercise hard but can’t get a handle on food cravings or your nutrition in general, please know that “eat less, move more” doesn’t necessarily apply to you. What can be most helpful is to get the horse in front of the cart (instead of the other way around) and start using calories to build, instead of using exercise to burn.

If you want some personalized attention (including custom workouts, reviewing of food logs, and personal recommendations for nutrition strategies), fill out this form to get in touch!


Rachel Trotta

I am a Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, Physique and Bodybuilding Specialist, and Women's Fitness Specialist. I live in New Jersey in the NYC metro area, and I coach clients online all over the world. As a trainer and health writer, my mission is to make healthy living sustainable for the average person. I’m also a wife, mom, nature lover, runner, avid cook, weightlifting aficionado, history nerd, travel addict, and obsessive podcast listener. Get in touch!

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