This article is a guest post written by Ksenia who was one of my clients over the Summer. Ksenia was already fairly lean and exercising regularly when she came to me, but had struggled to lose that last couple of Kg’s and wanted help. She had tried low calorie, restrictive diets in the past and while they had helped her lose some short-term weight, they hadn’t been sustainable for her. As she was already lean and doing lots of things well when it came to her diet and exercise I had Ksenia tracking what she ate and drank each week so we could see what impact it had and then make adjustments as needed. Below is Ksenia’s experience, in her own words:
Before working with Stephen I would have lost weight by being really restrictive on my calories, sometimes going as low as 1,200 calories a day. But I wanted to lose body fat while maintaining muscle so I would look and feel leaner. In the past when I’d lost weight, I had never managed to reduce the size of my waist. I also found that after coming off calorie restriction, I inevitably gained the weight back over time.
I took part in Stephen’s 12-week summer shred programme from Feb - May 2020 and five months later I’m still in the same shape! Getting lean in lockdown proved easier than I thought and, come second lockdown, I knew exactly what to do thanks to lessons learned from Stephen. I should mention that I managed all of this with a toddler in tow.
When lockdown 1.0 started, I had only been working with Stephen for two weeks. I thought “how are we going to do this?!” It turned out that lockdown had some massive benefits in that I had to prepare my own lunches and no colleagues were bringing in cakes to my home. This gave me more control over my meal choices. It also turned out that you don’t necessarily need a gym subscription or expensive equipment to work your muscles hard enough. In summary, my two key lessons are: (1) salads at lunchtime are delicious and filling, and (2) in every exercise, the focus should be on working the muscle(s) to exhaustion, slowly and steadily.
With regards to salad, I learned that I didn’t need to eat carbs at lunchtime (which was previously unthinkable). I make two portions of tuna salad so I always have one ready ahead of time, in case of a busy day. Usually this happens during conference calls, as I still don’t have time to do meal prep in the evenings when I’m playing with / putting the toddler to bed. I also started having protein shakes with added berries or fruit as a snack (which helped sneak in some fruit that I otherwise never eat). The other benefit of all this was that I still felt like I was eating plenty, and it didn’t feel overly restrictive like the approaches I had tried in the past.
With regards to exercise, during lockdown 2.0, I now do it in 30 minute bursts during lunch breaks. This way, my child is out of the way and I can concentrate on form and tempo. With Stephen’s help, I found fun and challenging body weight exercises that I still use, like one legged squats and feet elevated push ups. I think an element of fun and ability to track progress really helps with looking forward to exercise. Most importantly, as long as the intensity is right, 3 half an hour sessions are enough!
After I finished the programme in May, I spent over 6 weeks visiting family, without regular exercising and with plenty of eating out. Just trying to make up for lost time... I gained some weight, but as soon as I returned home, I went back to the habits I learned with Stephen and the shape just came back. I remember at the end of the programme saying to Stephen “what is this magic?” as I watched centimetres come off my waist. He says it’s good principles and consistency. I’m still convinced it’s magic, because it’s November, I’ve tried nearly every variety of seasonal hot chocolate Costa coffee has to offer, and my waistline is none the wiser!
Over the 12 weeks we worked together Ksenia lost 2.8kg in total, almost all of which was body fat while we maintained most of Ksenia’s muscle. She lost 2cm around the waist and just over 3cm around the hips. More importantly she has kept the weight off, and learned new habits and practices that she can stick to over the long term without any fad diets or calorie restriction.
Feb 2020 May 2020 Nov 2020 (6 months after finishing)