Before joining Ultimate Performance, Marie-Claire had tried everything to lose weight, but nothing had worked.
Despite trying multiple exercise plans and diets, she couldn’t lose fat, and her body was not changing.
Her monthly cycles were problematic because of her polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and she was suffering repeated eczema flare-ups.
Struggling to make the changes she wanted left her unmotivated, unhappy and feeling like she was stuck for life.
Her milestone 30th birthday was looming, and she had reached breaking point. She didn’t want to feel this way anymore – something big had to change.
Marie-Claire came to Ultimate Performance with low expectations, but left with the body she’d always wanted; healthier, happier, 10kg lighter, and with her PCOS and eczema firmly under control.
“I dropped a dress and bra size and felt so much more comfortable in my body. I was actually shocked when I saw the before and after pictures. I had no idea the before was what I looked like.
“It has changed me, I have regular monthly cycles, and I am very aware that I can change my body with commitment and hard work. What seemed impossible is actually excitingly possible now.
“I am less reliant on the doctors and their constant prescriptions for antihistamines or antibiotics. If I eat well and exercise, I can take control of my body myself.”
Turning 30 shocked Marie-Claire into action
With her 30th birthday fast approaching, Marie-Claire knew that it was a case of ‘now or never’ to finally change her body and start to feel better.
“I needed to make a change and had reached a sort of breaking point, and nothing seemed to be working.
“I was turning 30 in the early Autumn, and I probably could not have felt worse about myself – physically, mentally – the lot.
“I had a stressful job, many times working late into the night, and I really wasn’t taking care of myself.
“The idea of turning 30, being the way I was, was a huge motivator. I needed to start looking after myself.”
Up until the point she came to Ultimate Performance, she’d tried everything.
“Somehow nothing I was doing was working for me. The body I had – the body I thought I had for life.”
But no diet or exercise plan she tried made the dramatic and lasting changes she was looking for.
“I attempted many different diets including the very famous Body Coach 90-day plan. I followed the Body Coach’s plan to the letter and sadly came back with hardly any results – it was really demotivating.”
Marie-Claire explains there were a few main factors that meant she was not happy in her own skin.
“I had too much excess fat, especially around my stomach, and my monthly cycles were irregular due to PCOS.
“I also had consistent and continuous skin flare-ups; I suffer from eczema all over, and it can get very troublesome.”
Diet and food was always the hardest part
Diet was one thing Marie-Claire struggled with because of her job working long and stressful hours.
She would regularly skip breakfast, miss lunch and then get home starving hungry and eat carb-heavy and calorie-laden meals like lasagna.
“My regular excuse was ‘I forgot to eat or drink – I was too busy’. I never realised how much of a mistake this was.
“I was bloated, very up and down with emotions, and very stressed.
“This played all types of havoc with my body, my blood sugar levels must have been on a rollercoaster every day, and my skin conditions were at an all-time high.
“I also never realised how large my portions were until this programme. You really do not need as much as you think!”
Thinking that change was impossible
It got to the point where Marie-Claire felt like change was impossible.
Despite years of going to the gym, trying new diets and exercising, she says it never amounted to anything.
It had really started to affect her life.
“I was embarrassed with the way I looked. It took me a while before I finally had the ‘before’ photos taken. I cried. I guess I was finally owning how I felt about myself.”
“Somehow nothing I was doing was working for me. The body I had – the body I thought I had for life – was never going to change. I had become used to the way I looked and the way I felt about it.
“I had grown to accept it, and this is where UP changed everything.”
“That thought process got turned on its head – I could have a totally different body to the one I have had the last 10 years!
“My stomach was not stuck with me for life, it might be the hardest place for me to shift fat from, but it finally started to go.”
How Marie-Claire changed her diet
One big thing that changed was her diet.
“I was finally making time to eat at regular intervals. Being too busy to eat and drink wasn’t an excuse anymore.
“Instead of a random bit of toast in the morning, I was having fish or steak and some veg. I was eating the portions assigned to me and was drinking all the water. I was choosing food with a more mindful approach and thinking about how it would affect my progress.”
The one thing that Marie-Claire found beneficial was the simplicity of the diet.
“Instead of coming into work and making a beeline for the coffee machine, I was coming in feeling refreshed and ready to work.”
There was nothing fancy, no gimmicks or fads, just a nutrition philosophy proven to work for anyone.
“The nutrition was simple; simple to follow and simple to cook. I didn’t want to spend hours in the kitchen preparing food. Twenty minutes was all I needed. When you are eating well, it also doesn’t mean your food bill needs to go up.
“I was buying my meat in bulk from Costco and was averaging about £15-£20 a week on vegetables and the rest from Aldi or Lidl.”
The small changes that made a big difference
Her exercise, activity levels and lifestyle habits were transformed too.
“I was getting up early to fit my workouts in before work. I was walking to and from work every day and was taking a lunchtime walk.
“I previously only averaged 2,000 to 3,000 steps per day, and now I’m hitting the 12,000 to 15,000 mark. Walking to work or the gym saved me the tube fare too. I was losing weight and saving money!
“You hardly walk much in a desk job, so a lunchtime walk can make such a difference, and the fresh air was a great break.”
How she stayed healthy and on her diet in the office
The office environment can be tough if you’re trying to stay healthy – especially when biscuits and chocolates are being passed around.
But having the accountability provided by the UP programme empowered her to finally take control of her diet and be able to say ‘no’ to the office treats.
“I am not going to lie, this is hard in an office environment, but I would always remember the bigger picture.
“Did I want to weigh more tomorrow because I had treated myself today? The answer was always no. It was not worth the hard work and effort I was putting into exercise and eating properly every day.”
One thing that kept her on track was accountability…and a little help from US pop star Britney Spears.
“I made myself accountable. I used an app on my phone to track my weight daily; I tracked my steps, my cycle, everything was tracked. My phone screensaver was changed to a picture of Britney Spears showing her stomach.
“Her transformation was impressive, and this kept me motivated. I also stuck a note on the fridge ‘You are either feeding disease or fighting it’ – this made me think twice about opening that fridge door.”
The amazing effect of her new diet
Marie-Claire says the effect that changing her diet had on her energy levels and performance at work was remarkable.
“I had more energy; I was more on-point with work and my days started earlier with a morning session in the gym, so I was more satisfied that I had spent every day to its fullest.
“Instead of coming into work and making a beeline for the coffee machine, I was coming in feeling refreshed and ready to work.
“Having that time to myself in the morning to just concentrate on myself in the gym was great. You don’t think about anything else going on in your life, just the here and now.”
Learning to push past her limits to get results in the gym
Marie-Claire found the training challenging – but as she started getting leaner and stronger and more comfortable with weights, her confidence grew.
“Every training session with my trainer, Matt, I was pushed to the limit – further than I thought I could go, and further than my excuses would take me.
“I was put through exercises which I would never have attempted by myself. Matt showed me how to do each move properly, with correct posture and the correct tempo for maximum results.
“I am now confident to go into my gym and lift weights amongst the men. I am no longer intimidated by the weights area.”
The big turning point that helped achieve her body transformation
The results Marie-Claire achieved after her 36 weeks with Ultimate Performance were worth every bit of sweat in the gym.
“Through regular clean eating and exercise, my weight crept down, and my monthly cycles actually started to regulate.
“I have PCOS, so this was really a big deal for me. This is not something I had even factored in that could be changed. Doctors don’t advise you of this either!
“My skin conditions also massively improved, my itchy legs and back calmed down, and my face became less spotty and clearer. This made putting makeup on much quicker in the mornings!”
Marie-Claire says a big turning point in achieving her fitness goals was when she stopped making excuses.
“Change is up to you. If you want to do it, you can do it. Also, my excuses do not wash. I can no longer “forget” to eat, drink or exercise. You are not ‘too busy’, and you can always make time.
“Matt, my trainer, has a very no-nonsense approach and makes you believe in yourself and what you can achieve. When you think you are done, he will push you just that little bit further to make you see you can do it and the limits you are feeling are just in your head.”