Friday 13 December 2019

Shape Up: Here comes the incredible shrinking woman

Yvonne has shed 13lbs of fat and gone down in dress sizes, so it's been a very busy four weeks. But how is she coping with it all?

Yvonne and Damien at the gym
Yvonne and Damien at the gym

Damien Maher

It's now four weeks since Yvonne made a decision to implement lifestyle changes and improve her fitness, so how is she getting on?

In her teens she had the luxury of eating whatever she wanted but now, like a lot of people in their 30s, frequent indiscretions come with a price to be paid.

Her initial weight was 81.3kg, of which 56.4kg was muscle and the remaining 24.9kg was fat. This gave her a body-fat percentage of 30.4pc, or 55lbs of fat. The initial target was to aim for 0.6pc of body-fat loss per week.

Fat loss and the taking of body-fat percentage, as I said last week, is a much better indicator of health than simple weight loss.

Fat in your body stores toxins and it can increase the risk of different forms of diseases. The promotion of weight-loss TV programmes allows many people to merely become skinnier fatter versions of themselves.


Part of the deal when Yvonne started was that she would be measured at the same time and day each week -- on Monday evenings. Her weight after four weeks was 78.6kg, of which 59.6kg was muscle and the remaining 19kg was fat. This gives her a body-fat percentage of 24.2pc or 41.8lbs. This also means that Yvonne has lost 13.2lbs of fat.

Muscle does not weigh more than fat but it is more dense and so it takes up less space for the same weight.

The long-term goal and gold standard for females at our centre is 16pc.

Yvonne has achieved this through disciplined nutrition and training hard. She has been excellent in continuously completing her food diary, which gives a great deal of information about what is working and what may need to be changed. It also increases accountability.

She brings a packed lunch to work so she has more control over what she eats. Her diet is based on fresh food with a mixture of lean proteins, fats such as fish oil supplements, nuts and avocados and carbohydrates like vegetables and salads. We have removed processed foods such as white flour in cereals and breads and pastas.

Her initial workouts involved two weight-training sessions in the gym and two interval-style sprinting sessions. Each week the exercise variables, such as repetitions, sets, rest periods, change. This stops the body and Yvonne from getting stuck in a rut.

The weights get heavier as she becomes accustomed to the technique, the rest intervals get shorter and her body and her mind is continuously challenged.

The mind will always get tired before the body. When you think you cannot complete one more sprint or squat, you can. Do as many as you can do, and then add on at least two.

It is quite common for females to place limitations on themselves on what they can accomplish. Initially Yvonne felt she could only do the sprint-interval program I gave her at 12km. After a review, she agreed to increase it above 15km. She managed to complete it at this speed and agreed that it was a different workout.

There are many people who train but there are not so many who challenge themselves every day. Arnold Schwarzenegger said that "resistance you fight physically in the gym and resistance that you fight in life can only build a strong character". This willingness to challenge what you can become will be influenced by the coaches you have and your training partners.

On different occasions Yvonne has taken part in team workouts with other clients.

The team performs their workout for a set period of time but if one member stops before the allotted time is completed, the other team members are punished.

Clients look for a good coach, while we look for clients who are willing to pay the price of time, hard work and commitment to make fitness a part of their life.

If Yvonne sticks to the plan, she will continue to make progress, and although she is out of the blocks pretty quickly, we will stick to the step-by-step plan of increasing the intensity and nutritional changes gradually.

Don't forget, the hare may have started out strong but the tortoise won the race.

Irish Independent

Editors Choice

Also in Life