Jessicahb-20s-40wk-pt-mcr-front-900 Ultimate Performance

Years of pretty horrific eating habits led me to believe that I didn’t have it within me to make lasting changes to my diet…


I’ve just finished my first four weeks at U.P. Manchester and it was an experience to say the least.

There have been a few highs, lots of lows and even some tears along the way (losing weight is emotional stuff.)

I’ll be completely honest – there have been a few wobbly moments. With my confidence at rock-bottom, I’d already convinced myself that I couldn’t do it.

I think anyone with weight to lose can understand that familiar feeling of dread when you start a new diet. The moment that I found out I’d lost 6.3kg (13 pounds) in my first month was when I realised that this might be different, and I thought ‘yeah, maybe I can smash this out of the park’.

Luckily for you, I’ve documented it all – every single gory detail.

Why a U.P. transformation?

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I thought I’d start by giving you a bit of background about the girl behind the transformation.

For full transparency, I’m lucky enough to work for U.P. as their Social Media Manager. Nick Mitchell, our CEO and Founder, gave me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to undergo a transformation alongside my day-to-day job.

Having started at U.P. the month before I was still apprehensive of the timescales in which our clients could transform their bodies – I still couldn’t believe it was possible. So, when I was given the chance to see first-hand I obviously snapped it up.

As for my weight – I’d left college at 18 and got a job then started working in the city centre almost immediately. Suddenly, I had money. I could use that cash however I pleased – usually, this went on food. My poison, you ask? Cheese, and lots of it. In addition to this, I had just discovered alcohol and spent every spare minute I had with a bottle of wine in my grasp. This didn’t help with the weight gain.

I thought I was living the dream, but instead I was piling on the pounds.

By the time I started at U.P., I felt so unfit that I got Ubers to and from work — a 15-minute walk. Yikes.


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So, you might be reading this thinking ‘why didn’t I do anything pre-U.P.?’. Well, I’d convinced myself that I was OK with how I looked. Seriously though, when you’re stuck in that cycle, it’s really hard to get out of it. I’d suffered from anxiety for a few years and the thought of going to the gym was terrifying, let alone the thought of getting a personal trainer.

I had tried (and failed) to lose weight in the past and ended up in some pretty bad habits. At one point I would eat one meal and drink one can of diet coke a day.

Let’s be honest we’ve all been there — doing the diets in the back of magazines and eating grapefruits because they’re meant to help you ‘burn fat’. To be fair, I did lose about a stone on my made up ‘one meal a day diet’ and by taking a lot of spin classes (when I’d finally plucked up the courage to head to the gym). But, it will surprise nobody when I say I was miserable eating one meal a day and as soon as I started eating more, I put the weight back on.

So, there it is, the real reason why I’m doing a transformation but let’s get one thing clear — just because I work for U.P doesn’t mean that I’m getting any special treatment.

The training will be just as tough, the nutrition plan will be the same and my trainer will be monitoring my every move just like any other client. In fact, maybe even more so because I’ve seen the work Christmas party seating plan and Nick Mitchell has put me on his table. I mean, it could be because of my charming personality, but it’s more than likely that it’s so he can keep an eye on me.


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Week 1: Get me a drink, or two…

When I found out I’d be doing a U.P. transformation, I was buzzing!

It was such a great opportunity to train with and be coached by the best in the fitness industry. But as the date got closer, the anxiety kicked in. I was panicking. What if I was ‘too big’ to exercise? What if I had gone past the point of change? Then I realised that I would have to get my kit off in front of a stranger and step on a scale. Can you think of anything more gross? I’d avoided the scales for years and as for stripping off for my before photos, well, frankly I’d rather have died.

Judgement day arrived. It was a Wednesday and I had to go get my pictures taken and my measurements done. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, I nearly handed my notice in. My anxiety was through the roof and I got myself so worked up I was on the verge of a panic attack.

I managed to pull myself together BUT, I had to get a colleague to come with me. It sounds completely ridiculous now but I just couldn’t go alone. The thought of having to walk down the infamous steps leading into the gym and meet the trainers made me feel nauseous – I know now that it was the fear of being judged.

Between you and me, It wasn’t all that bad. Yep, you have to take your top off and yes, you are a sweaty mess in that measurement room… But in the grand scheme of things, it’s nothing.


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Jess’s ‘before’ photo when her measurements were first taken


Your trainer will have dealt with the same situation hundreds of times, and they’re definitely supportive. Everyone has to start somewhere, ‘before’ photos are just the beginning. After I met my trainer, Joe, and had my pictures taken, I felt like a cloud had been lifted. I was ready to begin.

Joe was ace and made me feel really comfortable. As a typically overweight and unconfident person, I’d created this image in my head of what it might be like and it was a completely different atmosphere to the one I had fabricated. Thankfully, every trainer in that gym is rooting for you – that’s something I’d never experienced having been part of a commercial gym in the past.

Something to note, I didn’t look at my pictures or find out my weight and I probably won’t for a while. I don’t want to look at the pictures or see the number on the scale and think, ‘why didn’t I do something sooner?’

My first workout was on Friday and I really surprised myself. I’d originally thought that maybe I wouldn’t physically be able to finish the session, or I’d be sick or I’d sweat too much and get sweat patches and that I’d be a laughing stock.

Obviously, none of these things happened.


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Yes, I did sweat but I also quickly realised that everyone does in the gym and no one really cares. The hour session flew by and it was one of the hardest things I’ve done, but I did it! I actually did it. Words can’t describe the high you have at the end of a session, you walk out of the gym and just feel on top of the world.


Weeks 2 and 3: Undoing the bad habits and smashing PBs

I’ve combined weeks two and three together because, to be honest nothing monumental has happened in them.

My nerves have gone and I’m starting to be my usual chatty self at the gym. I even talked to some other women in the changing rooms and said ‘hi’ to familiar faces on the gym floor. This may not seem like a big deal, but in my first week, I was in and out of my session as quickly as I could, I just wanted to get it done and get out of there. The thought of sticking around and making conversation still felt monumental.

But, I learned so much in these two weeks – I’ve been asking loads of questions and I’m starting to understand why I was doing things rather than just following what Joe says. I’ve gone from being completely clueless to knowing a bit about training and hitting personal bests. No, I’m not going to be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger any time soon, but I’m actually lifting weights and it feels like change.


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I had my first meal out during week 3. I had been a bit worried about going out and figuring out what to have on menus without being the difficult person who substitutes everything. I worried about what my friends would think too. I was always the first to suggest going to Five Guys for a burger and the last one standing at the bar on a night out, so to now not be drinking and making sensible food choices, I didn’t want them to think I’d changed? You see, when you become passionate about something – in this case, weight-loss, those around you sometimes mistake it for obsession. This can cause problems and I truly didn’t want anyone to think I was taking my transformation, or my appearance, too seriously.

In the end, we just went to Nandos, and it was easy to choose something that fitted in with my nutritional plan. As usual, I had totally over thought it. I had chicken with a side salad and with my fat allowance for the day I had halloumi, so I really didn’t feel I was missing out. I had proven to myself and my friends that I could do the transformation, and still be the same old Jess with the cheese obsession.


Week 4: Tears, Topshop and two sizes down

This week, I hit a wall. A really big one.

It’s like the four-week itch and every session has felt like a struggle. For the first few weeks, I’ll be the first to admit I had no idea what I was doing but in some ways that was OK. I had no idea if I was improving in my sessions or not, aside from praise off Joe. I wasn’t really taking note of the weights I was lifting, I was simply doing it, completing the sessions and that was enough. I was just happy I’d got through.


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But, now four weeks in, I understand what I am doing a bit more. I know what weight I was lifting the last session and every session I want to lift the same or more. I had got the bug, that burning desire to chase numbers and always be improving — who would have thought it? Four weeks ago if you’d told me I’d care so much about what I was lifting that it would actually reduce me to tears, I would have laughed at you.

That’s what U.P. does to you, it sparks this fire in your stomach which drives you forward and when I couldn’t deadlift 70kg like I had the week before, I cried in the changing room after my session.

I felt like a bit of a failure having to decrease my weight – truthfully, I cried after every session this week. I didn’t feel strong enough. There were no personal bests, so in my head that meant I wasn’t improving.

Maybe I’m not cut out for a full body transformation at U.P. and maybe the lifting life isn’t for me…

What’s the best way to cheer a girl up? Retail therapy. I headed to Topshop as even though I couldn’t deadlift 70kg, I could still shop.

I tried on a coat and it was too big, so I tried on the size down and it was still too big. What the fudge? I reached for the smaller size and it fit! I was buying a coat two sizes smaller than my current one. I repeat, TWO SIZES SMALLER! I texted everyone I knew and I even put it on Instagram! I’m not actually usually someone who puts their entire life on social media (ironic for someone who is a social media manager, I know) but I was so happy I wanted to tell anyone that would listen! All week I was questioning whether I could even carry on, whether I was cut out for weight training and this was the confidence boost I needed.


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The four-week roundup: No tears left to cry

The first four weeks were bloody tough, but SO worth it.

To see the changes to my body happening so quickly whilst eating more than I was before has been really motivating. It’s certainly better than the crazy one meal a day diet.

Training hasn’t cured my anxiety, but it has definitely helped clear my head.

Against all odds, I’ve managed to become a bit of a gym addict. That feeling of committing to doing something and giving it my all has made me more confident.

It feels weird to read this and think how far I’ve come in four weeks. I’ve still got a long way to go and although this week has been the toughest yet, I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved.

I can confidently walk in the gym with my head held high and although I still fear the pendulum squat, I no longer feel anxious about going into the gym. The best thing about it is that this is just the beginning — if this is what I can do in four weeks, imagine what I could do in twelve, fifteen or even twenty weeks?

I have no idea how the next few weeks will play out, but I’m excited. I have no doubt that there will be a few challenges — I have my first night out this week which will be hard to do sober, but I’ll be sure to keep you updated on my escapades.




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