So are you ready to transform your body?
Get that six pack you have always wanted?
Look like the girls in the magazines so you can finally feel incredible and confident?
Well sign up now tooooooo.....
WAIT!!!! Whoa! Wait just a minute and think 'Does this sound like a typical post from Nicky?'
In fact, why does Nicky rarely share many 'before and after' photos?
This is a transformation of my coaching client and now friend, Rachel.
Now before we start let me clarify that there is nothing wrong with before and after photos, nor is it a problem for other businesses to use them to promote their services, this is just simply a blog post to share my reasons as to why I don't typically share these types of transformations to promote my own business and a few reasons as to why you can of course use them for inspiration, but never for comparison. It is important to understand things may not always be what they seem. This is not to discredit anyone efforts, and I honestly cheer all women on whatever path they choose to take that makes them happy. This type of blog is just to shine a little light on the topic to hopefully help women understand that there is a lot more to many of these images that they are constantly being exposed to.
Rachel came to me mid 2014 in the hopes of competing in her first fitness competition. Now 10 weeks out is typically regarded as too late to start a comp prep as many coaches promote to 'prep' for a show they only offer long term sign ups. Now many do this for the right reasons to ensure their client has a good amount of time to properly prepare, but there are those who do unfortunately just to make more money of young girls. I personally do not believe in ‘dieting’ girls or asking them to follow strict meal plans for any more than absolutely necessary in order to get ready for the show. I mean why would you want to be restricted to prepare for a show, and be consumed by nutrition for any longer than was required to sensibly prepare for a show? I have seen many girls who by the time they have got to a 6-8 weeks out from their show they are so ‘over it’ and are struggling big time because they have been following a strict meal plan for 6-12 months.
During Rachel's first consultation I measured her body fat levels via 12 skinfolds sites, looked at her current eating habits, her training schedule and also chatted with her to access as to whether I believed she could cope mentally with a 10 week coaching prep. Through my calculations which were based on her body composition, shape, and with a loss of 0.5% of body fat a week for the time frame we had, I agreed to take Rachel on for a prep but for bikini division. She was happy to go ahead with that, My advice was because a bikini competitor doesn’t require the amount of muscularity and low levels of body fat that the fitness model division does.
With YEARS of experience in lifestyle coaching and competition coaching I still to this day cannot 100% determine how a client is going to respond to my training and nutrition. Of course there is the 'typical' bell curve distribution in regards to the results I get, so I have an estimation of what I can achieve for someone in a set amount of time. There are no guarantees though!!! I always explain this to any client I work with, and a good reason as to why I don't heavily promote my 'super' successful client results. With the bell curve distribution this means I also get clients who work just as hard, and in some cases harder than most my clients, who get very minimal results in the same amount of time. In general their bodies take a lot longer to respond regardless of their efforts. Then I get the 'Rachels' who are the 'exception to the rule'. They are the top end of that bell curve. Now when before and after photos are shared, especially the AMAZING transformations, in many cases these girls are the 'exceptions', but the problem occurs when other girls build their hopes that if they follow the same programs in regards to nutrition and training they will get similar results. Women these days seem to be so concerned more than anything with wanting the dream body due to so much promotion of the 'ideal body' flooding the fitness world via social media. Unfortunately for so many they are the 'rule', NOT the ‘exception’, as much as we all want to believe we will be the 'Rachel'.
I have had so many incredible results with clients over the years, but what I want people to understand is that results are so individual and you can be the hardest working person in the room when it comes to your physique and still only see slow and gradual changes, not like what you see advertised! In fact I have met people in my life that do very little exercise, don't overly monitor their nutrition but are in amazing shape. I have met girls with six-packs that don't even train them, and girls who work extremely hard on their mid-section and make very little progress. This is why it is so important to only use these types of photos for inspiration and a little motivation where needed, but NEVER for comparison.
Now in Rachel's case she was doing a competition coaching plan. This was completely customised nutrition and training that she adhered to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. She restricted calories and macros to put her body into a deficit in order to stimulate fat loss, even though she NEVER at any point eliminated fruits, carbs, fats or any other food group. Regardless though, she was still DIETING!!! For a specific goal of course, which is fine. It is NOT fine however for women to believe that this is a sustainable result, nor should this be a goal for the average women looking to get FIT, HEALTHY and live a HAPPIER life.
Not only that but this particular image although 'not edited' like most of the photos we see, yes 'selfies' included, shows Rachel standing in a specific pose to show off her physique in the best possible way, on a stage under correct lighting to highlight her condition, covered in tan about 10 shades to dark (LOL) to enhance her definition, as well as hair and make-up! Women need to realise that nobody ever looks like these photos day to day. The same goes for your typical transformation pics, they stand differently, in different outfits, angling their bodies, in different light, with tans etc
Rachel would be the first to tell you that she does NOT maintain these levels of low body fat. She will also tell you that her life was most certainly impacted as her life became consumed at that time with her goal to reach the stage. The rate she responded at and the result she achieved allowed us to enter her in the fitness model division, and during the entire prep we never needed to adjust her calories lower, nor increase cardio. She trained 4 days a week with weights. Again, I cannot stress enough that her results were 'not typical', especially in the time frame she achieved them. Now although I am confident in myself as a coach and fitness professional, Rachel is really a client who makes you look exceptional as a trainer, and honestly no matter who she had worked with, and regardless of what methods she was given (even extreme crazy stuff), with her body type and genetics she would have still achieved amazing results. I am just thankful she chose to work with me and was able to achieve her goal in the healthiest (not healthy) possible way.
This is the big problem with before and after photos, they only show a 'physical change'. They don't show what was done to achieve a particular result, how much was sacrificed, how relationships/jobs/careers were impacted, the actual impact on a person after the transformation period concluded, or how/if they maintained it. So while Rachel is now a happy, healthy, super fit girl who is studying personal training, it did take some time for her to transition back to normal eating and understanding again what 'in shape' meant for her body.
I am all for clients taking photos to track progress and results as it can keep them motivated and help them learn what works for their body, however they should only be used as a guide and NOT a representation of their health, fitness and their happiness. Health and wellness is about so much more than physical. It incorporates your mental, social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, and even things like your financial health.
When you are looking for a lifestyle change, to improve your health, fitness, have more energy and feel more confident, you need to focus more on every other area than just your 'body goals'. When I work with clients who have struggled their whole life with their weight or body image, the most important focus has to be the results they get from how they 'feel' when they improve their daily nutrition choices and workout.
EVERY time you workout you get instant results, if you shift your mindset to focus on what is most important. Frustration often comes in lifestyle changes due to the obsession with 'body goals' and lack of immediate results, and that is because changing your body shape TAKES TIME!!!! Having more energy, feeling accomplished, stronger, fitter, more positive, and happier comes IMMEDIATELY with every workout. If we can shift our mindset from being consumed by just physical progress, we can see success every single day which can make the process of a healthy lifestyle fun! Of course I am totally cool with wanting to build your physique and improve your body shape, but if it's your intention to maintain your results, you must do it slowly, be sensible with your expectations, and ENJOY the process along the way. If you kill yourself trying to get there as quick as possible I can almost guarantee that you will never achieve your goal, or if you actually do, you will not be able to maintain it. The same goes if you set crazy goals that don't suit your body type, yeah you may get there doing 'whatever it takes', but you will likely be miserable if you try forcing your body to be somewhere that it doesn't want to be.
Sadly for most girls, their body 'ideal' is the extreme like what Rachel's was for comp (or another version of a different body type), and so far from what it should be, which is their 'healthiest, natural leanest weight'! This is where your weight, or body shape lies when you are eating well the majority of times through balanced nutrition, doing regular physical activity, and the point where you manage your commitment to your healthy lifestyle WITHOUT sacrificing your social life, restricting your food and having to completely avoid the 'occasional' foods you enjoy while exhausting yourself with hours of exercise a day. It is the place where you can actually say you are living your life in a way that makes you happy overall. The human body is different from most other life goals. It is not simply about you no being 'hardcore' enough, or 'not wanting it bad enough'. Pushing yourself to the absolute limit and destroying yourself because you have been lead to believe it is just about being 'driven' and 'working hard' is just simply NOT COOL.
Results when it comes to your body will be different for EVERYONE!!! Women need to stop comparing what you think they should be against others who have different body types, lifestyles, personality types, genetics etc. There are only a very small amount of the female population who can thrive on high levels of structure required to maintain very low body fat levels and extremely disciplined routines without it negatively impacting their lives. There are also some who do have great metabolisms where their bodies are very efficient at utilising calories. The point is that for most women the majority of these images are just not a realistic goal (unless they are doing a body shaping competition or their lifestyle requires them to be 100% committed to ‘looking’ a particular way, eg models).
So next time you are looking at a 'before and after' transformation, your 'fitspo' selfie, photo shoot or competition photos, appreciate that so much of it is not real, and that many of those are women blessed with great shape and the 'ideal' body type (again, not saying many of these girls don't work hard). We are all UNIQUE and need to accept our bodies in whatever best form they take when we know we are not just taking care of our nutrition and fitness, but most importantly living a fun, happy and fulfilled life. I am not saying to not sets goals and strive for your greatest self, but just be patient and ensure that goal is all about being your best YOU. It worries me to think that for so many young women in this generation the most important focus in their life, and so much of their self worth and value in the world, is how they look in a bikini. Don't look to just transform your body, but look to transform yourself into the total rockstar you were born to be on this planet.
In closing, will Rachel ever compete again? I don't know. I don't think so, but only she can answer that in time. What I do know for sure is that Rachel was an amazing client who listened to everything I said, trusted me and invested time into learning as much as she could along the way to ensure she understood the entire process and all the outcomes to manage her long term health in the best possible way. I can also say for sure is that she is one fit, happy lady, who has an amazing relationship, great friends and is working hard to complete her studies and become a personal trainer who is especially committed to women's health.
Peace and love to all xx
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