Trying to get significant results when you live an incredibly busy life can seem virtually impossible sometimes. So, we caught up with Jo, who took on a 12-week fitness challenge to find out exactly how it’s done. Juggling an incredibly demanding job, toddler, and a house renovation — she’s living proof that you can get results around the busiest of schedules.
It’s time to ditch the “I don’t have time” attitude and read on to see how you can get the results you want, even if you’re on that 9-5 life.
What was your life like before the fitness challenge?
The best way to describe my lifestyle before starting this journey is time poor. I work in a busy role as Partnerships Manager at Myprotein. I also have a 3-year-old boy who has endless amounts of energy and was mid-way through renovating my home.
My diet suffered on a daily basis — I would make bad decisions based on convenience, skip meals, or even end up eating cereal for dinner on more than one occasion each week. Training was non-existent as I just couldn’t find the time, but having always led an active lifestyle before becoming a parent, it was something I missed and felt like it would improve my overall wellbeing if I could start again.
Tell us about your journey through the 12 weeks
In the first few weeks I found both the diet and PT sessions very tough going, it was difficult to break habits and cut out the little luxuries you tend to reward yourself with each day – like a latte. I think I missed sugar the most, I was craving it all the time!
All I could think about was chocolate. The food was delicious, but it was hard to adjust to not having the choice of what to eat anymore. I can’t even describe the pain felt after the first PT session, it took nearly a week to recover. Everyone was struggling and the realisation of what we’d signed up to hit us. I also found that getting 10,000 steps in a day was harder than it sounds!
The next few weeks were good and it was nice not to have to worry about cooking or grocery shopping. The PT sessions intensified, but there was very little pain following sessions and I started to feel stronger.
At the mid-way point things got tough again. The end felt so far away, but we started to worry if I’d start to see results in time. Physiologically this was the toughest stage for me. When carbs were cut from our diets, that was a sad time for us all.
The last few weeks were incredibly tough, we hadn’t had carbs — apart from those in vegetables — for weeks and my immune system was low. However, the results were really starting to show and this spurred me on to the end.
These last few weeks I found I was the fittest I’d been my whole life, I felt toned and was really enjoying the gym sessions by this point. I felt incredibly happy, despite undergoing a gruelling workout and nutrition regime, I was also renovating my house, but I felt energised and in a good place mentally.
Was there anything you were surprised by?
I was surprised at how much it impacted on my social life. Staying on plan was easy at home, but the temptation was difficult out in the real world.
What was your hardest moment and your biggest temptation? How did you overcome them?
The hardest moment for me was week 7-8 when I’d had no carbs and energy levels were really low. I was in a PT session and out of nowhere I found myself on the verge of tears feeling like I couldn’t finish. I was wondering why on earth I’d decided to put myself through this. What got me through it was that I knew everyone else was going through the same, and if they could do it, then so could I.
My biggest temptation was alcohol, especially at the end of a long day or week (which is most weeks), I find a glass of red wine my way to relax and unwind. This was definitely a no-no on the plan. Chocolate was a close second. My PT was my biggest support in avoiding temptation — he was pretty strict, but that’s what I needed.
What kept you motivated?
I’d say the biggest motivation was being part of this journey as a team. We had each other to lean on and complain to, but also celebrate the successes with. Having a PT who was passionate about our health and wellbeing and was investing everything into us made you want to give it 100% back too. It really has been the opportunity of a lifetime and one I wanted to make the very most of.
What did you learn from this fitness journey?
I’ve learnt that I can feel satisfied from healthy food in the right proportions, and that I also tend to use food to manage my emotions. Most of all, I’ve learnt that I have to make time to keep a healthy diet and workout plan.
What are the most notable changes you’ve experienced?
I felt the most notable changes in the last few weeks when my body shape changed more dramatically. I felt toned and muscle definition became more visible. As well as the physical benefits, I noticed an improvement in my general wellbeing. Mentally I felt stronger and happier. It felt good to be investing time in myself which is something I rarely had time to do before taking on this challenge. I felt less stressed overall and found I was sleeping much better.
What one thing are you most proud of?
I am most proud of sticking to the plan and seeing the challenge through to the end. With a busy job, long commute, renovations, and a toddler running around, it was tough to take this on as well. To be honest, I enjoyed every moment.
Will you build any of these changes into your lifestyle?
I really want to maintain some form of fitness level, so I will be joining a gym close to work and trying to work out as often as possible — even if it’s only a quick session. I have definitely learnt the most about nutrition and will be much more mindful about the food I consume. I hope to make better decisions about food and will continue with Myprotein supplements.
What one piece of advice would you give others starting out on this journey?
Choose the timing wisely — try not to plan any big social events or holidays as it will make it very tough to stick to the diet and fitness. Get as much support from your friends and family as possible, it will make it even harder if they are continually trying to tempt you! Ask them in advance to take this into account at social gatherings and help you through. Often I found they would also choose the healthy option as well.
Take Home Message
Joanne’s hard work and dedication to her fitness journey definitely paid off. Her recommendation of having a strong support network of either people doing the challenge with you, or family and friends is definitely a great way to make sure that you stick to your goals. This busy working mum has proven that anything’s possible if you want it enough.