Client Success Story – Feeling good is looking good

For the first time, I’d like to share with you a story about one of my clients, Lee-Ann – in my own words and in hers. To say that I am extremely proud of her and that she is a very hard worker, is an understatement. I call her my star because that’s exactly what she is. Watching her transformation since we first began her journey has been amazing. Actually, I rarely forget what someone looks like after the initial consultation because even by the second visit I see more of a glow, a more confident posture and a smiley face. It’s one of the best parts of my job to see these often subtle changes that my clients may not notice themselves.

While I love that I look different – losing 25 lbs will do that – what I really love is how different I feel – Lee-Ann on her transformation and eating real food

It can be incredibly daunting to make that first initial appointment – “oh great, I get to pay to go see someone who’s going to send me home with homework – why can’t I just go get a massage?”.

Well, to feel great, you have to be an active participant in your life.

Success comes from working hard, and those who don’t want to work hard will never see success. The excuse makers versus the excuse breakers. Who do you want to be? Scrap that “oh woe is me” attitude and gain that “I deserve to feel great” attitude!

Anyways, back to Lee-ann. I literally have a huge file folder of months and months of food journalling from her. The fact that some of my clients can’t even be bothered to do 3 days of food recording over their lifespan, really showed me her commitment to health and gathering data for us to discuss.

Our first visit was August 2010. I remember this day very well because I was consulting from a different room than I normally did. She came in, we did the assessment, and I noticed her shyness and perhaps sense of defeat. She didn’t want to see the number on the scale, which immediately told me that this was new weight gain, and one that stemmed from emotions. Over the course of time, she stood taller, walked more confidently into appointments (although I could tell when a bad week occurred because the confident walk would disappear slightly), suddenly her glasses disappeared and she got bangs, a new hair do, and some colourful highlights around her face. Gorgeous to begin with – she was now allowing the world to see it through her new confidence and showed it off proudly!

Over the course of 2 years, she lost 25lbs – which may make you say “that’s all?”. The thing is, no one can control outcomes, they can only control behaviours. We took no short cuts, we dealt with life challenges as they came, and we worked together to lose the right kind of weight (ie. from fat, and not losing muscle – as measured through the Bod Pod) And the most important part is that we changed habits. This type of weight loss takes time. We took everything at her own pace and incorporated a lot of education, building those social “tools”, and understanding the link between food and physical health. The important part of a lifestyle is understanding WHY you’re doing it – not just doing what you’re told.

I should mention that Lee-Ann also worked with an amazing Personal Trainer at Totum Life Science named Aida Estacio who was responsible for the fitness side of her transformation as well as emotional support. We all made a great team and nothing makes me happier than to see a client reach their goals and feel great from the inside out.

Lee-Ann Siu’s Story

“In my early twenties, I didn’t look unhealthy.  I could get away with exercising sporadically and not paying too much attention to what I ate without dramatic weight gain.  It didn’t mean that I was healthy, but because I was wearing a size 6/8, my lack of consistent exercise and healthy eating didn’t seem to be too much of a problem.  But after three years of working intensely to get my law degree, and then another three years of working as a legal clinic litigator, I started to look unhealthy on the outside too.  Despite being unhappy with how I looked and some half-hearted attempts to stop gaining weight, constantly carrying stress associated with work and eating compulsively to suppress my unhappiness led to a thirty pound weight gain.  I also got married in the middle of this.  When I saw the wedding pictures of myself, instead of thinking about how beautiful my wedding day was, I cried—not because I didn’t look like the airbrushed thin women in wedding magazines (although trust me, I didn’t look like them!) but because I almost didn’t recognize my physical self, and I was disappointed in myself. My reaction to those pictures was proof that the years of not taking care of myself were taking their toll, inside and out.

Before deciding to change my health, I had frequently walked by a gym called Totum and thought, “This looks like a gym for beautiful people who are serious about their health!” Once I decided that I wanted to be healthy and happy too I booked a nutrition appointment at Totum (literally within a week of seeing those photos).  At my very first appointment, a very pretty woman walked out and introduced herself as Sarah.  Immediately I thought, “I’m so fat, I don’t belong here, she’s going to judge me!” But that was absolutely not the case.  Over many months she instilled several common sense principles that really work when applied.  Eat whole, unprocessed foods.  Eat more lean protein and leafy greens.  Eat smaller, more frequent meals.  Be active.  Fuel your workouts.  Feed your muscles after your workouts.  Enjoy your food.

I also meticulously wrote down everything (well, mostly everything) I ate, and realized how direct the link was between consuming sugary/simple carbs and having crappy moods and energy levels.  Seeing how food and my mental health were so closely connected made me even more committed to make changes.  Instead of eating almond croissants to start the day, I learned to love protein smoothies so full of leafy vegetables that they smelled like a freshly mowed lawn. I also made the choice to deal with setbacks with more equanimity too.  Life happens.  Some days/weeks I have more time and energy to be disciplined than others.  If a day was turning into what Sarah affectionately calls a “carb party”, I didn’t descend too far into self-loathing.  I woke up the next morning, drank a protein smoothie and got on with being healthy.

Through this process, the biggest truth that emerged for me is this: if I want to drastically change my body, I must drastically change my mindset first. It starts with radical self-acceptance.  I had to ignore the destructive inner voice that told me things like, “You can never be slim without starving yourself”, “You will never be able to run [insert respectable distance here]”, and most of all, “You’re not worth the work it would take to become healthy”. Instead, I told myself, “It’s not going to be easy.  It will take time to undo the years of bad eating habits and not developing your lungs, heart and muscles.  But you can do it, and you are worth it”.  After you change your mind, your body will follow.  Now, almost two years after deciding to invest the trifecta of time, energy and financial resources into my health, my investment is performing well.  While I love that I look different – losing 25 lbs (now 30lbs) will do that – what I really love is how different I feel. I love feeling the strength in my legs and my lungs as I crank it at the end of a long run.  I feel proud as I pick up 25 lb weights in each hand.  And most of all, I love that while it isn’t easy, and I still have a ways to go, I can say I’m doing it, and I’m worth it.”

You most certainly are worth it Lee-Ann and you will have long lasting success with the changes in mentality and confidence in yourself. I’m proud of you.

Most people don’t realize that eating healthy for “cleanses” or when they’re “on a kick” is great, but making it last a lifetime by turning into into a lifestyle involves a lot of education, motivation, mentality, commitment, understanding, and of course enjoyment. The better you feel, the more likely you’ll stick to a lifestyle. If you’re eating what you think is healthy or dieting and still feeling like crap – then that lifestyle won’t sustain no matter how much weight you’ve lost. Get on the feel good train!

About Sarah Maughan

Sarah Maughan is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist based in Toronto, ON and has been consulting since 2009. Her website aims to educate you, make you laugh, help you live and inspire you to eat whole food! To stay up to date sign up for free blog and recipe updates! In the meantime, empower your body with food!


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