Sam’s 11-week transformation at Ultimate Performance has helped her rediscover the body confidence and self-esteem that she had long since lost.
The 24-year-old struggled with an eating disorder and was crippled by a bad relationship with food and exercise.
She would spend upwards of three hours a day in the gym trying to burn off calories and followed unrealistic programmes pushed by Instagram bikini models.
Training and food had taken over her whole life, and she wanted it to stop.
Coming to UP was her chance to make a series of fundamental changes to her lifestyle, training and nutrition. Most importantly, to start feeling good about healthy exercise again.
“Now that I’m at the end of my 12 weeks I feel amazing.
“I feel stronger, happier, healthier and full of energy all the time in my mind and my body. I feel like a new person.”
This was a far cry from the way she was feeling just three months before.
“Twelve weeks ago I was a mess. My relationship with food was a bad one.”
“Exercise, I was doing it as a punishment, whereas now I’m doing it for the love of it.
“I was always really, really tired because I’d be in the gym until stupid-o-clock at night and get up the next morning and have to do my first session of three of the day.
Sam had started out running to try and lose weight – but wasn’t getting the results she wanted.
“I thought that was the only training you could do.
“I didn’t really know how to walk into a weights area, so all I used to do was run and run and run.”
It was then that she started following bikini models on Instagram and emulating their extreme diets and training plans.
“I was reading so many Instagram accounts that were telling me all these different things to do with my training. I didn’t know which was right, so I just did them all.
“I was following bikini girls who were doing the absolute extreme, so that’s what I did.”
Training began to take over her life as she looked to achieve the ‘ideal’ body that so many of these Instagram training plans promised.
“I was doing so much and just developed a really obsessive personality towards training.
“I couldn’t go anywhere without working it around where I was going to train and what I was going to eat.
“My whole life just revolved around getting these training sessions in. But it wasn’t actually doing anything positive.”
It got to the point where Sam couldn’t even enjoy a meal out with family or friends without the fear of gaining weight.
“I couldn’t go out for dinner without earning it, in my opinion. I had to train in the day, and then I would leave the restaurant, and go to the gym, and I’d burn off whatever I’d eaten.
“It took over my life. I was working all day, and then I’d get back from work at 9 pm and go straight back out to the gym until 12 or 1 am.
“So I never saw my friends or never saw my boyfriend, I just had no time for myself, and everything did revolve around when I was going to train.”
Food had become a major source of anxiety for Sam.
“My relationship with food was terrible. I was bulimic for quite a while. I would eat and find out how many calories were in there and I wouldn’t leave the gym until I’d burned off more than that.
“I didn’t see food as something I enjoyed I saw it as I had to just eat to live.
“Me and food just weren’t working very well.”
Sam was following the diets she saw on Instagram eating chicken and vegetables five times a day.
“Foods that I ate were foods that people on Instagram told me to eat.
“I was eating oats for breakfast, then chicken and veg or whatever, then some carb source for lunch and the same again for dinner.
“Because I was following these bikini girls, I was thinking I had to eat that five times a day.
“But then I’d get to the end of the day and see a box of Weetos, eat that and then bring it all back up.”
Sam says this cycle was having a negative effect on her health and well-being, as well as her confidence and self-esteem.
“I never felt happy with my body. My training didn’t make me look good at all.”
The more she did in the gym and the more she restricted her food, the more her body reacted.
“I was doing too much; I wasn’t eating the right things, my body was stressed and fighting against everything that I was doing and clinging on to everything it could.
“If you’re throwing food up, your body is going to cling on to anything it can.
“I was doing all sorts – dehydrating myself, taking dehydration tablets, fat burners, so my body and my hormones were just a mess. It just had the complete opposite effect to what I thought it was going to have.”
Sam was determined to make a big change to her lifestyle and get some balance back in her life.
“I was really, really scared of living the rest of my life in the mindset I was in.
“It got to the point where I thought how can I carry on being so concerned with my body and so worried about my body?
“So for me, my motivation was just to change my life and change my mindset towards the way that I look and gain some sort of self-esteem and confidence and I thought UP was the best option.”
Seeing former Emmerdale star Gemma Atkinson’s 12-week body transformation at Ultimate Performance had caught her attention.
The Strictly Come Dancing finalist had got into the best shape of her life with UP, and her story had struck a chord with Sam.
“I had seen Gemma Atkinson’s transformation. That was the major one that drew my attention to UP.
“She just looked incredible, but she seemed so happy as well – and healthy and strong.
“But she looked womanly, in my opinion, and all the years I had spent wanting to look like a bikini fitness girl, and I saw her, and she just looked healthy and strong, and that was what I wanted to achieve.
“I looked through all the transformations and saw how happy everyone looked, and I’d read their testimonials, and I thought that would just be amazing to feel that way.”
Sam says she wasn’t in great shape when she first came through the doors at UP.
But starting a transformation journey kickstarted the change she wanted.
“The main thing that changed for me was my mind. Before anything, I needed to change my mind and the way I saw myself and the way I saw exercise and food and that was the first thing that changed for me.
“I needed to look at exercise in a way that I wanted to do it and not to punish myself and to earn my food.
“Once my mind had changed, and it is still changing, I started to see results because I wasn’t picking at all the things I hated about myself, I was thinking ‘oh I look quite good there, or this is changing.’”
It’s amazing how quickly things can change when you have a bespoke training and nutrition plan in place tailored to your body and your goals, with an expert personal trainer to guide you through the process and build in healthy habits to your lifestyle.
One of the biggest things that Sam says changed was her attitudes to food and dieting.
Learning and understanding what works for her body has been a game-changer.
“I feel so much more at ease with food. That was my main concern, obviously. I needed to change my relationship with food.
“I’ve gained so much more control, and I enjoy eating now.
“It’s a social thing too – you have to eat to be social, and I lost that. But I’ve got that back.”
Sam has found that healthy balance again and it has made a massive difference.
“It’s a huge game-changer being able to eat and not panic about it.
“I know I can eat something and it’s not going to stick to me and make me 10 stones heavier. That is such a good feeling. It’s how I’ve always wanted to be.”
There have been no drastic diet changes – just simple, realistic methods that work.
Sam explains the biggest changes she made to her diet which helped her sculpt her lean and healthy new figure.
“The biggest change to my diet was to stop eating carbs in the morning.
“I’d always read that you always eat oats for your breakfast and that was the best thing to build your bum, so that’s what I was doing.
“But now I’m eating fats and veg and protein sources, and I feel so good. I’ve never had more energy than I do now!
“The diet has been really easy. I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve found things that work for me and the foods that work for my body.
“I know what my body can do and has done in such a short amount of time.”
Sam’s training has been revolutionized too.
Whereas she was training three hours every day, Sam has now got the results she wanted at UP doing just three hours a week.
“I couldn’t believe how little I had to train when I first started training here.
“Before UP, I was training seven days a week, multiple hours a day. When I started training here, it went down to three times a week.
“On my first session, I asked if I could train more and he was like ‘not really. I want you to do what you can with me.’
“Then he spoke to me about over-training and under-recovering, and that’s what I was doing – I was overtraining, I was doing too much, and in fact just doing three times per week has worked so much better than anything I’ve ever done before.
“The difference that I’ve seen doing that little training has been crazy.”
Comparing how she used to train, to the way she is training at UP is worlds apart.
“I had lifted weights before, but never properly; never the right weights. My training was a state.
“Obviously I had been learning from Instagram. I would screenshot every workout and put it into my own workout, and it would be all sorts.
“I’d be doing a three-hour workout of every single body part I could.”
Sam explains that focusing on the quality of work in the gym and getting the maximum out of every rep was key in helping her make her transformation.
“I think the method of training at UP is really effective because it’s quality and not quantity.
“You’re not doing eight hours a day, but what you are doing is intense, it’s hard. But it’s so beneficial. It’s perfect for your body, and it’s exactly what your body needs to do.”
This was reflected in how quickly her body changed. Sam saw results almost immediately from what she was doing in the gym and in the kitchen.
“I started seeing results within a week. I was so excited. I had never seen results like it before, and that was within a week.
“I was less bloated, I had more energy, my skin was better, I was happier, I was less tired, I had more time, and all those results I started seeing gave me the motivation to carry on and push through.”
When you know what you’re doing is working, it’s incredibly motivating to keep training hard, eating well and getting stronger.
Sam’s dedication helped her achieve a stunning result in just 11 weeks.
While she has lost 5kg in body fat, and got seriously stronger, it’s the changes to her mindset that have been the most profound.
“I’ve never ever looked as good as I do now!
“It’s given me confidence; it’s given me self-esteem. I’m so happy. I never thought I’d be in shape like this.
“I’m more confident in doing things. I’m doing new things that I never thought I would before because I wasn’t confident to do them.
“I can go out to eat, which is amazing! Then not worry for days later about how long it’s going to take to burn that meal off.
“My entire life has changed; I’m a different person!”
One thing that really resonated with Sam throughout her journey is something her trainer James said to her about comparing herself to the masses of bikini competitors on Instagram.
“When I first started training here, my trainer James said ‘who do you most want to look like?’ And it was about four people on Instagram.
“He said ‘which one is your height? Which one is your size? Which one has your lifestyle? Which one trains the way you do?’
“And my answer was obviously ‘none of them’, and that has stuck with me the whole way through.
“It’s now stuck with me whenever I look at anyone on Instagram because they’re not me and I’m not going to be them.”
Sam’s story is a paragon of how you can get the change you want with the right guidance.
Now she wants other women who are in the same position she was 11 weeks ago to know that change is possible.
“When I started training and sharing my journey, the main thing I loved was that girls were messaging me and telling me that they could relate and that they were so glad that there was someone else feeling the way they do.
“I wish I’d had that when I was really struggling. I wish someone had said to me ‘you’re not on your own. It’s really horrible. It’s really hard. But there is a way you can get past it, and it’s not going to be like this forever’.
“So for anyone else who feels the way I did, and I hate to think anyone else would because I know how awful it is, but life is too short.
“You can do something about it. You can change your mind. I thought I would never change and I thought that was me set up for the rest of my life.
“You really can change. You can be happy, and you can be healthy.”
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DISCLAIMER | Results may vary | Results are based on individual circumstances | Timeframes for results are not guaranteed | Willpower is always required!