Nutrition | POSTED September 25, 2023

Real Results, Real Client: Christina’s Incredible Weight Loss Story

Weight loss is a common goal amongst clients. I thought it would be insightful to do a deep-dive into what weight loss can look like in practise, using one of our clients as a case study to demonstrate how it can be achieved and what can be implemented to get the result we’re after.

Christina started training with me (Rachael) in 2019, after not having stepped into a gym before. Christina has trained consistently since her very first session, and has gained a significant amount of strength, muscle and confidence, but like many – struggled with her diet during lockdown. After gaining a few COVID-kilos, Christina decided that she wanted to focus on weight loss. She had three goals relative to her weight loss:

  1. She wanted to be within the healthy BMI range.
  2. She wanted to lose between 8-10kg.
  3. She wanted to lose the weight and keep it off.

These were Christina’s stats in January 2022:

Height: 170cm

Weight: 81.1kg

BMI: 28.1 (overweight range)

Dietary Changes

There are many different approaches that we can implement to achieve weight loss, but the underlying principle remains the same. We must be consuming fewer calories than we’re expending to lose weight. A calorie deficit has been proven to be the most important factor when implementing a weight loss strategy [1]. I discussed appropriate dietary inventions with Christina, and we decided that tracking her intake was a sustainable approach for her. This involved prescribing calorie and macronutrient targets that she would aim to meet. This approach would also allow us to easily monitor and manage her dietary intake to ensure that she was consistent with hitting her targets, and make adjustments to her intake if and when required.

Christina is in her late twenties and lives with her husband Tony and cat Molly. With a small family unit we agreed that this approach wasn’t going to be too overwhelming. Tony was also very supportive and would accommodate by making some slight adjustments to their nightly dinners. An example would be buying leaner cuts of meat and adjusting serving sizes. We are big advocates of setting up your diet for success, and often this involves getting your family and friends onboard with your goals and the changes you’re making.

The initial plan was to have Christina track her intake Monday to Friday through an app called MyFitnessPal, and eat mindfully on the weekends. I did put some soft ground rules in place for the weekends – she would aim to eat three meals each day that would be evenly spread apart. Aside from that, she was encouraged to eat out socially and include foods that she enjoyed.

App for Weight Loss

Training and Physical Activity

Christina was all set with her diet, but what about her training and other physical activity? Generally speaking, I don’t make adjustments to a client’s training program when someone suddenly decides they want to shift a few kilos. Whilst a lot of people tend to think they need to decrease their training load (the actual weight they’re lifting) and increase their training volume (think number of reps) to achieve better weight loss results, current research doesn’t support this. One study suggests that adjustments to training load do not impact reductions in fat mass [2]. Instead, we focus on nutrition but also encourage squeezing in some extra physical activity, especially if they’re not meeting the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines [3]. If you’re unfamiliar with the current guidelines, they include at least two strength training sessions per week in addition to 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity activity.

In addition to continuing with her two strength training sessions, I asked Christina to increase her other physical activity activity throughout the week. This included allocating a weekly step target and participating in cardiovascular exercise of her choice. For the most part, Christina opted for brisk walks or the odd YouTube workout that she could do from her living room.

Here’s an example of Christina logging some extra exercise in our app:

Accountability for Weight Loss

Weekly Accountability

I had Christina complete a weekly nutrition update with me every Friday, mainly to monitor her progress but to also help with accountability. She was very diligent with completing it most weeks, and I looked forward to getting that little ping notification on my dashboard every Friday!

Christina’s nutrition targets varied throughout her weight loss phase, and were adjusted when we saw a plateau in her progress. I won’t specifically refer to her calorie and macronutrient targets here, as the plan with Christina wasn’t to track her intake every day. As previously mentioned, she logged a food diary Monday to Friday, and ate mindfully over the weekends typically with three meals spaced evenly apart. This simply means that I cannot confidently say how many calories she was consuming on average each day, but it was evident that from her progress – she was eating within a calorie deficit.

The questions that I had in her weekly nutrition update included:

  1. Did you meet your nutrition targets?
  2. Did you face any struggles when trying to meet your nutrition targets?
  3. What did you do well?
  4. What do you think you could improve on?
  5. How are your hunger and appetite levels?
  6. How are your energy levels?
  7. How was your training?
  8. What was your weekly step count?
  9. How many hours sleep did you get each night on average?
  10. What do you need help with?

Below is an example of one of Christina’s weekly nutrition updates:

Weekly Nutrition Update for Weight Loss

Diet Breaks

I knew that there would be some “diet breaks” throughout the process, with a number of social events and travelling on the horizon. A diet break is exactly what it sounds like – it’s a planned break from being in a calorie deficit. Typically, a diet break lasts for about a week or two, and sometimes even longer if needed. These can be planned around certain life events, or can be implemented when a person simply needs a psychological break from calorie restriction.

We implemented a few of these diet breaks around birthdays, Christmas and a trip to Vietnam. These planned diet breaks varied in duration (especially when Christina ventured overseas), but she managed to maintain her weight loss throughout each of them.

Christina enjoying a planned diet break in Vietnam

The Outcome

Fast-forward 20 months, and we are at the very end of Christina’s weight loss journey. Christina has successfully dropped over 10kg (11.5kg to be exact) and is within the healthy BMI range, ticking off her goals she originally set. She decided she wants to crack 70kg on the dot and once she’s achieved that we will be focusing on maintaining her weight loss moving forward.

Christina’s current stats are:

Height: 170cm (we’re not magicians – this number did not change)

Weight: 69.6kg

BMI: 24.1 (healthy range)

This is what Christina has to say about the process:

I had been training with Rachael for nearly two years when we seriously broached the fat loss question. After being told by my GP that my BMI was pushing me into the overweight category, and even taken with a grain of salt, it was a bit of a wake up call. There were deeper reasons also for wanting to shift a bit of weight around body confidence and image, energy and nutrition.

Rachael was super supportive of all the reasons why and she came up with a nutrition and training plan that suited me and my lifestyle. It included simple nutrition swaps, increasing my protein, tracking my meals on weekdays and including a home training session, but these were introduced over time, building habits on top of each over. She considered my love of food and eating out on weekends, dislike for most cardio activities and access to simple meals. And because she took these things into consideration into the plan I was able to stick to it and maintain some healthy habits that I now hope to keep for a lifetime. 

A year and a half in and I have lost just over 10kg, an incredibly proud achievement. I’ve maintained my social life, continued my love for strength training and had ‘maintenance periods’ when life got busy. I’ve honestly never felt stronger or healthier, I’m so much more confident in myself and I’ve learnt so much about the food I’m eating and how it makes me feel. 

If you’re looking for a highly experienced trainer that can help not only with your training, but with your nutrition as well – we would love to help. Get in contact to book a no-obligation consultation.

References

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33107442/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35998256/
  3. https://www.health.gov.au/topics/physical-activity-and-exercise/physical-activity-and-exercise-guidelines-for-all-australians/for-adults-18-to-64-years