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5 Months Working With Nicolle Smartt - Health Update

I've written a couple of times about working with my coach/personal trainer, Nicolle at NX Coaching, I have shared lots of new yummy, healthy recipes and posted some updates on social media but I have been asked a few questions and thought it might be helpful to write a little summary of my plan here along with my latest results.


It's very thorough and honest. Probably boring if you're not interested but many people have been so I wanted to get it all down here.




Why Did I Choose Nicolle as my PT?

I'll start at the beginning. Well, not the very beginning, I started that in a separate post, explaining why I think my weight got out of control and over 17 stone but it quickly got long and I really want to share my current update now as it's exactly 5 months since I started.


Let's start with finding Nicolle and why I chose to work with her.


A woman in a mustard jumper against a red brick backdrop
She even joined in my charity headshot project when we met up in London!

She followed me on Instagram. I followed her back. I knew I needed to make changes but I was struggling to get started. I'd done it before, about 6 years ago, following the Body Coach plan but had struggled to stick with that for various reasons (explained in the looooooong blog post to follow soon), so I knew I could stick to something, at least for a few months, once I felt ready. But the getting going was the hard part. Making that commitment to myself.


Anyway, a lot of what Nicolle was posting resonated with me, one post in particular while we were in Malaga on a weekend getaway for our 12th anniversary last July. I messaged her then and there, as I knew I'd never get on with it otherwise. I explained I was away but was keen to chat and sort myself out. She followed up when I was home and we chatted.


I liked her and her approach, the personal aspect to it. How she would support me and make me accountable but also be there to tweak my plan if things cropped up. I explained how I wanted to be able to eat plenty, going hungry was never going to work for me. I was willing to change my diet but needed to know I wouldn't be on measly rations. I also mentioned how I needed home workouts, getting to the gym would be a struggle as I am the one who has to do the school run, swimming lessons, clubs, etc. during the week, plus working 2 days as a dentist and running my business and by the evenings I'm shattered.


It wasn't an insignificant investment to work with Nicolle and I had to make a 3 month minimum commitment to ensure we could make a difference. I needed time to think about it and had also been recommended another online PT by a friend. I chatted with him also, he was quite a bit cheaper (almost half) and offered a similar personalised service BUT the meal plan immediately put me off. I understood it would be easy to prep and follow but eating the same 3 meals all week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with the same snacks each day too, not for me.


I just knew I'd get fed up and it wasn't appealing at all. He offered to let me know how many calories to eat instead and I could work to that but I wanted the help with macros, especially in the beginning, I wanted some structure in a meal plan but with variety to keep things interesting. I'm not averse to eating the same meal all week for lunch and often eat similar breakfasts but not the same dinners every day as well. Boring and not really the healthy lifestyle change I was looking for. I want to eat a range of nutrients and enjoy all sorts of different foods and flavours, not eat the same things every day. I'm a massive foodie and this just wasn't making me feel excited, I'd dread it. He understood and that was that.


Procrastination Is An Art

So I procrastinated. I didn't really look at any other options other than thinking about the Body Coach again and maybe trying the app but this time I really felt I would do better with more connection, more accountability to really inspire me and help me to make permanent changes.


Luckily Nic followed up with me ("How's the training going?" Ha, it wasn't!) and we messaged a few more times and I spoke to a friend about it all before I plucked up the courage to go for it! I'm always telling my clients to invest in themselves after all! It's only right that I should too, not just for my business but for me. Health is so important and I had been ignoring mine for far too long. Recent events had certainly driven home how at risk I am from heart disease.


So I went for it and boy am I glad!



My Results

I have mixed feelings about side by side comparison photos but this does demonstrate how far I've come and how hard I've worked! It's about so much more than how I look BUT I do love my body transformation! I feel much more like my old self again.


Body transformation comparison photos of a woman in her 40s
Me at 110kg in Kenya in August Vs Me at 90kg in the gym today!

The most important thing is that I have more energy, more confidence and I even feel more sociable! I'm no longer hiding (yes, covering myself in rainbows can still be hiding 😉) and it feels great!


This has become another long piece of writing but if you're reading this at all you're probably interested in all the details so I will continue...


A few stats...

Weight loss so far: 20kg (3 stone)

Inches lost: 8" off my waist (more if I suck it in which I can do now!)

6.5" off my shoulders

4.5" off my hips

5" off each thigh

2" off each arm

Current daily steps: 11,000 except on Tues/Wed (my dentist days) it's 7000

I'm averaging over 11,000 per day throughout the month though

Workouts: 3 x weights

1 x Swimming 30-45 mins (50-70 lengths - it's only a 15m pool but it's nice and warm!)

Currently lifting: 30-40kgs on barbell (deadlifts, barbell rows)

6-10kg dumbbells (all sorts of exercises)

12-16kg on kettlebells (love a kettlebell swing!)

25-40kgs on various machines

60kg glute drive

102kg on leg press (probably my favourite machine!)

Current water intake: 2.5 litres (this is HARD!)

Current daily calories: 1600

Body fat: 36.6% (was 39.6% on 19th October when I bought my new scales which tell me this)

Visceral fat (the most dangerous kind, around my organs): 12 (was 15 on 19th Oct)

BMI: 29.4 (was 35.9 in August 2023)

Heart Age: 48 (real age 42, more on this and other health stats in my post about my recent NHS Health Check, coming soon!)

Dress size: 14-16 (previously 18-20)


Many of my stats have gone from the red zone to the yellow zone! Woohoo!




Apps I use:

MyFitnessPal

Easy food & water tracking, even our Hello Fresh meals are in there so I can tap and add them in seconds. I've really gotten into the swing of this now and track everything every day (which is not a requirement, it just works well for me).


Fitbit

I have an old Fitbit Blaze to track my steps and heart rate. When it gives up the ghost I plan to get an Apple watch as I want something waterproof to track my swims too.


Renpho Health

My fancy new scales, I bought these in October for £20 and love them! They tell me so many more stats than just my weight, including my body fat percentage, split into sub-cutaneous (sitting under the skin) and visceral (which is the more dangerous kind that gathers around your organs), both of which I'm happy to say are coming down nicely. It also gives you a guide as to what levels are ideal/acceptable.


Trainerise

Nicolle's app where she can see at a glance if I've ticked all my boxes for the day, loads my workouts and can keep track of what I'm lifting. All of the apps above are linked to this which is how she can see everything else too.


Whatsapp

We have a community chat with all of Nic's clients with Wednesday share your dinner night, giving each other tips, sharing recipes and healthy treats, etc. and celebrating each others' wins!)


Hello Fresh

We started this just over a year ago and have found it really helps us to save money, eat more veg and waste a lot less food. I wanted to continue ordering as it also saves us so much time and it has thankfully worked well with my plan. I just choose differently now, checking the calories of each meal before I add them to each week. We usually get 3-4 dinners a week but have had 5-6 when I just can't choose and they have plenty of low calorie choices.



The Meal Plan

So you know this was a very important part for me and Nicolle sent me a simple meal plan with 5 different ideas each for breakfast, lunch and dinners (with simple recipes) as well as snacks tailored to whichever macros I might need more of. She also sent her digital recipe book, filled with yummy recipes, all pretty easy to make and so much variety. And yet, I haven't used it all that much. I made a few at the start but quickly adapted to utilising MyFitnessPal and Hello Fresh and started batch cooking on a Sunday for work lunches. I filled up my freezer slowly with different meals and now I have a huge stack of a variety of meals in there ready to grab and microwave on the days when I'm just shattered, not organised or we don't have Hello Fresh for dinner.


I don't get hungry which is the most important thing for me. If I get hungry, I get hangry! I know I would be miserable and fail if I felt deprived at all when it comes to eating. I also love that there are no restrictions on when to eat. Trying to manage my workouts around eating carbs when I did the Body Coach plan was tricky. I'm not leaving out any food groups and I am making healthy choices which enable me to eat more, e.g. more fruit & veg - low calorie so I get bigger portions! I use turkey mince instead of beef so I can have more bolognaise with my spaghetti (been doing this to reduce our carbon footprint for at least a year anyway). I can have a huge mound of mushrooms with breakfast for hardly any calories alongside my beloved eggs (fried or scrambled usually) and a slice of toast. I'm happy to share more of my favourite meals if anyone's interested, just DM me!


Update: You can read more about my nutrition here.



The Movement

I mostly get my steps done on the school run now, instead of driving so we're saving the environment too. We walk for about 15 minutes (so that's an hour for me going there and back twice). The kids are old enough to be safe near the road (there is a path which has a grass verge between them and any traffic) and have mostly taken to it well but with a fairly regular whinge when they realise it's staying this way! Buying them MP3 players for Christmas has worked a treat though (thanks for that idea Annabelle!), they love listening to their new playlists en-route and I get to listen to mine too and no whinging!


I started off doing all my workouts at home but as I mentioned, when I started swimming once a week, I had to join a gym (I can't stand the local freezing cold council pool with it's trickle showers and very loud changing rooms - far too much sensory overload for me, it's a struggle even taking the twins to their lessons where I don't even have to get in!) A friend signed me in to a guest session at her gym and I really enjoyed it, Nicolle set me a gym workout and I found I could use heavier weights when they're steady on machines and I don't have to balance as much. She still mixes it up though so I do still do some balance work and free weights as well as one home workout a week as I find that easier to fit in.


Being in the gym does definitely take away more time from my week and I have let a few things slide as a result, mainly my business marketing! You may have noticed if you follow me on social media, it wasn't always my strong point anyway but I just haven't had the time nor inclination to work on it whilst being so focussed on my health. Plus I'm enjoying this process and feeling more in control again so my business is less of a crutch to keep me busy all the time and a much more manageable joy. And thankfully the enquiries and jobs are still coming regardless, thanks to SEO and recommendations!




What My Results Mean To Me

I already mentioned that I'm happier, healthier and have more energy. Others have even commented on my confidence and I think have noticed that I'm more sociable and up for chatting, rather than hiding away, averting my gaze to avoid eye contact on the school run.


The twins have noticed the difference too, not only do they get excited that their arms fit around my waist now, they can even overlap them, but also they love to join in with my workouts. K even complained recently that I hadn't done any - he's always getting my 2kg weights out now and having a go himself! They definitely enjoy having a Mum with more energy, they even negotiate getting extra park time because I can get more steps done, lol.



My clothes fit better, some even fit again after many years of languishing in my wardrobe, too loved to be sent to the charity shop! I've enjoyed buying some new outfits too, like this GORGEOUS sparkly number which I can't wait to wear on a night out this month, not just in my living room!



It certainly hasn't been easy, a lot of hard work and perseverance has gone into these results but Nicolle has been there every step of the way helping me, along with my awesome family and Nik's support, to enable me to stick at it and achieve all that I have!


Oh and I've even signed up for a Mud Run! You can find out more and sponsor me here if you'd like to help me raise funds for Rainbow Trust Children's Charity.



Why Nicolle Is Awesome

Would I have got here without Nicolle, absolutely not!


She eased me in slowly, I'd explained how I often feel overwhelmed and worried about time, I initially said I could only do home workouts as I couldn't get to the gym (turns out, I made the time when I wanted to start swimming again - can't do that at home - and I actually really like using the machines and being at the gym now).


I started off on just 6500 steps a day, 1 litre of water, 3 x weights/week (using my 2, 3 and 5kg dumbbells at home, well just the 2 and 3kg to begin with!) She slowly increased them all and added in the cardio aspect, suggesting swimming as she knew I used to like it, pre-kids.


We have a check-in every week, which reminds me, I've yet to do my questionnaire this week, she'll be chasing me tomorrow! She sends me a video talking through my answers and my stats for the week as well as helping me plan ahead for anything which might set me off course (e.g. holidays, meals out, a particularly busy week, etc.). She is ALWAYS encouraging and positive.


She's also a really good laugh!

She's edited my workouts to fit around my lifestyle, for example last week Nik had to unexpectedly go away so I knew I'd struggle to get to the gym and possibly do all my steps, I had less time for me and so she tweaked my workouts to be a little quicker, added an extra home one for the week so I could fit it in easier and was geeing me up with messages to keep me motivated to reach my targets.


When I have a night out, she will advise on the best options to choose, I can even send her the menu if I'm stuck. She advises me on how to balance out the rest of my day to keep extra calories available for the evening and also makes sure I don't ever feel guilty for it! She knows how much I love eating and I still do. I am not deprived at all.


She can see everything because I have set it up that way. Everything I eat (and I track everything, why not, she won't know where I'm going wrong if I don't get results and I haven't been honest), every time I weigh myself, every time I walk and workout... She sees it all. And therefore knows if I'm not doing it! I've had a message on a Wednesday asking my how steps are going this week, when she knows full well they are not going well! Lol.


And that's what I love, she's there nudging not judging, she NEVER makes me feel bad or guilty if I go off track, she holds me accountable and adapts my plan to whatever's going on in my life if I'm struggling, like giving me a split steps target. I was starting to feel like a failure not getting 10k steps on my dental days - even with a lunchtime walk and fetching my own patients up and down the stairs all day, I wasn't hitting it. The school run had to be in the car due to timings and once I was home, fed & settled the kids, done bedtime and eaten my own dinner, the last thing I wanted to do is go for a walk in the dark. I started this plan in September so might find that easier in summer, we shall see!


I also love that she's constantly coming up with new ideas, challenges and ways to keep us motivated. She's created cheat sheets for busy days with quick & easy meals without thinking/measuring so we can stay on plan when it's more difficult to keep up with it all. And her meetups in London are awesome! We all get together for a workout and then hit a bar for drinks and nibbles! I love the community she has fostered :)


She doesn't know I'm writing all this by the way, it's not an ad, I'm just a very appreciative client whose life and health has changed for the better. Although, if you do sign up thanks to a referral from me, I get a free month so make sure you mention me ;) I do genuinely recommend Nicolle, I thought I'd just pay for the first 3 months but I'm still going and still loving it so I'm not ready to stop yet.



My Ongoing Goals

I don't necessarily have a weight goal, Nicolle keeps setting me mini goals (and then I get to enjoy whatever I might have been missing, e.g. a 3 course meal or a Pizza Express - basically all my daily calories in one go!) but I'd like to lose a bit more fat to get down to 32% and into the green zone. I don't stress about my BMI, I know it's flawed, it just gives a very rough idea of overall health, especially when thinking about heart disease so I know I can get this lower too. Maybe one more stone would be a good goal. There are also some old favourite trousers which are still a bit snug so I'm aiming for those next ;)


Ultimately I want to keep up the walking and workouts but relax a bit when it comes to tracking food (although I'm so in the habit now, it's not difficult at all). I'd like to tone up a bit more and then learn to maintain it with the reverse dieting Nicolle will guide me through when I'm ready.


As you can see, I'm a pretty open book and happy to share all the details so if you have any questions, please feel free to message me! I'd love to know if I've inspired you, one of the local mums told me recently that I had inspired her and she's started walking more which is awesome!

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