"It's not all about the weight"
She’s lost one-and-a-half stone and still she’s telling me that “It’s not all about the weight”... music to my ears! She’s right, it’s not! My clients are all different and we work on many different things, but this is a profile of KJ and what she meant by that.
KJ came to me because she was overweight and wanted to:
feel and look more like her old self
get back into her size 12 clothes
do more exercise
be healthier (less achy and injury-prone) and reduce the risk of future illness
eat more veg and less red meat
cut back on wine and alcohol as she feels better without it
incorporate healthier choices into her lifestyle rather than go on a diet
This was a dream brief: here was someone who was taking a holistic approach and looking beyond the numbers on the scales.
What we did
Having looked at the initial paperwork, I made some suggestions:
LCHF: the low carb high fat diet is causing quite a stir at the moment, not least because it is a far cry from the UK government’s (somewhat outdated) guidelines. It is also helping people to reverse their diabetes, lose weight and get well. I suggested it to KJ as her food diary revealed a way of eating that could easily be adapted to follow this approach. She was game and the rest, as they say, is history.
Step counting: I am a huge fan of pedometers as they give instant feedback as to how active clients are and encourage them to find ways of upping their daily total. They are also backed by solid research as to what constitutes an active person (10,000 steps a day), a sedentary person (<5,000 steps) and everything in between. KJ bought one straight away and was surprised by how few steps she did, always having thought she was quite active walking the dog and gardening.
Alcohol monitoring: we used the drinkaware website (https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/) to calculate how many units KJ was drinking a week and to set some goals. We also decided to set targets for alcohol-free days each week.
Self-tracking: I encourage all clients to self-track one way or another and KJ took to it like a duck to water. She set up a fantastic spreadsheet that included what she ate and drank, what exercise she was doing and how many steps she clocked up each day. This evolved as she progressed and these days doesn’t include food at all as she has totally nailed that side of things.
Intermittent fasting: IF is a very powerful weight-loss tool and has huge benefits in terms of helping the body to repair and renew itself. KJ had tried fasting before on the 5:2 Diet but hadn’t stuck with it because she was so hungry. I suggested the 16:8 approach which involves an 8-hour feeding window. We started slowly and built up to the point where KJ now fasts two or three times each week.
What it involved
KJ and I started with Skype calls every week, which gradually went down to every other week and then to more spaced-out calls. We also changed the format of our sessions: initially we spoke for an hour, after which I would send out the session notes (including jointly agreed goals); once she had got to grips with her new approach we went down to half an hour and KJ would send me a list of goals that she had decided on and wanted to discuss during the next session.
What she achieved, besides losing the weight
So what was it that prompted KJ to comment that it’s not all about the weight? It was her waist circumference: initially deep into the at-risk zone (for diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some forms of cancer), it had gone down to 79 cm, ie the right side of the 80 cm threshold. But wait, there was more! We then got to discussing all that she’d achieved since we started out together, and it was pretty impressive stuff:
She’d got her BMI out of the “overweight” and into the “healthy weight” category
She’d found a way of eating, rather than a short-term diet, that really works for her
She’d included more veg in her diet (one of her stated aims) PLUS a daily salad
She’d increased the amount of fish she was eating
She’d found a way of fasting that works for her
She’d introduced some alcohol-free days into her week
She’d cut her alcohol consumption
She’d gone down at least one dress size, often two
She’d become more active, gradually increasing her step-count so that she’d moved out of the “sedentary” category and into “fairly active”, sometimes “active”
She’d changed her mind-set and now seeks out ways of adding extra steps into her day
She’d gone back to the exercise bike
She’d started Pilates to complement her yoga practice
She’d started a gratitude diary as part of a holistic approach to her wellbeing
She’d gone back to meditating
She’d found a regular slot in her life for reading (an all-time favourite client goal of mine!)
She’d started talking about finding more voluntary work
Turns out KJ was right, it really was about more than just the weight!