For so many mums, ‘getting your body back’ after having children can feel like a mountain to climb.
Working mother-of-two Sandra was no different. With two young children to raise, a house to run and a high-pressure job to balance, Sandra’s health and fitness were relegated to the bottom of the list.
Sandra felt like she didn’t have time to get in the shape she wanted – she hadn’t exercised for more than five years, she was getting very little sleep and her diet consisted of grabbing bits of food wherever she found the time.
But busy finance manager Sandra showed just how simple it can be getting back in amazing shape with the right training and nutrition plan.
Training as little as three sessions week and making some intelligent changes to her diet helped her make this incredible transformation in just 12 weeks.
Sandra says that lifting weights for the first time has had an incredible effect on her figure – boosting her fat loss, shaping her body and helping her finally get rid of her ‘mum tum’.
Despite the long hours of work and sleepless nights with the children, she says her bespoke training programme has given her boundless energy in the office and at home with the children.
But it’s the lifelong lessons she has learned about staying fit, training for fat loss and finally being able to control her diet to stay in shape for life that has had the most profound impact.
Here Sandra explains how she achieved her transformation, what she learned and how weightlifting is the key to getting your body back…
How do you feel finishing your 12-week transformation?
I’ve just finished my 12-week transformation and I feel pretty good. It’s been quite tough at times, mainly towards the end.
But the first 10 weeks I found quite easy.
When things got a little bit hard in the gym, I just imagined I was somewhere else. I just carried on with the reps, pushed through it and job done!
I found the diet quite easy. I found some recipes that really worked for me and my family. It’s been quite easy in that respect.
The last couple of weeks I have been doing extra sessions both in and out of the gym. I have been doing extra activities like climbing and horse riding, yoga.
I’ve had the extra energy to be able to do that.
How much has your lifestyle changed over the 12 weeks?
My life has changed dramatically in just 12 weeks. When I started I was eating cereal for breakfast, Greggs for lunch and just whatever I could throw together at night time, whatever time it was that I got home.
The extent of my exercise was walking from the car to the office and that’s pretty much all I’ve done for five years.
I’ve now been training three times a week with my PT these past 12 weeks for an hour a time.
At first, it was hard and painful getting into it. Probably for the first four sessions it was such a shock after doing nothing.
Then after that, it was great.
Thinking back to when you first started and your expectations, were you surprised by your results?
I have exceeded my expectations. I didn’t set the bar very high because I didn’t think I’d even be able to finish it.
From doing nothing and having back injuries and having a busy life I thought I might last six weeks. The fact that I finished it and fit in all these extra sessions and extra activities that I enjoy and that I’ve got more energy for the kids, I’m really surprised.
It’s been a big change in my weight, body fat, strength – so I’m happy with it.
What changes have you noticed in your body and the way you look?
I’ve got rid of the ‘mum tum’ which is always a bonus. It was easy after the first child. But come the second child, that tummy wasn’t going anywhere.
It doesn’t help when you have Greggs for lunch.
It has shifted over these last 12 weeks so I’m very happy with that.
Have you noticed any other changes since Day 1?
Definitely, I’m leaner and stronger. I’m losing my bingo wings, which is a blessing.
People have started to notice things and tell me ‘Oh! You’ve got good arms, you’ve got good this and good that’.
It’s a nice change to hear these things from just being a frumpy middle-aged mum wearing jeans and jumpers all the time to actually being able to wear skimpier clothes without having to hide behind things.
Did you have any obstacles during your transformation?
We’ve had a bit of a stressful few months with deaths, illnesses and selling the house, moving house, a hectic workload and two kids who don’t sleep.
A little trick I’ve learned is to put magnesium on the sole of my little three-year-old’s feet – that works a treat. One of the trainers told me that and now my child is sleeping through.
The youngest is not having it. He’s in the bed every night – and if he’s in the bed, I can’t sleep.
So I’m probably surviving on 3-4 hours broken sleep every night.
At the start of this, I was exhausted come 2 pm. But these days I’m just getting through the day fine. I have more energy.
All the obstacles and the ridiculous amount of sleep I’ve been having, I think I have done pretty well considering.
My body fat is still coming down, despite the lack of sleep which does make a big difference. Even with all these obstacles, I’m so happy with the results.
When did you start seeing results and how did that make you feel?
It was probably around the halfway point. Because each week, your trainer takes photographs and measurements. I could see the weight was coming off and the body fat was going down but it’s not really until you see a photograph of yourself that you notice.
Face on, I couldn’t tell much of a difference, but when you look at your back halfway through and the rolls of fat are fading and it’s like ‘hurrah!’
It’s really good. It’s a really nice feeling.
What surprised you about the journey?
I think I was surprised after the first couple of sessions was how easy I found it.
I thought I would be dying. I thought that would be me screwed for a day. If I’d trained in the morning I thought I would be lying dead at my desk all day.
But you have 20 minutes to recover and you’re ready to face the day. You feel more focussed.
How important is the relationship with your personal trainer?
It’s massively important because my trainer understands that my lifestyle is a little bit hectic. Sometimes things have to happen. If you’re at a funeral, I kind of feel like I have to toast the deceased.
He’s not going to scream at me for having a glass of alcohol or he will help me choose the wisest glass of alcohol.
You’re going to have a meal that’s not on the schedule, but he will help you make the best choices.
He will do it without nagging at me and making me feel guilty for doing it because life goes on.
It’s not ‘you can’t do anything for 12 weeks’ he has been really flexible and I feel like it’s more of a lifestyle change and something that I can continue with rather than ‘it’s just 12 weeks’. It’s easy now for me to continue with this because of all the help I’ve had from my trainer James.
What new habits have you picked up and what have you learned that will really help you to make this sustainable?
The nutrition aspect of it from James has been amazing. Also just food prep and things like that. I used to do a lot of that for my kids, but not for myself.
I would just grab whatever once I’d got in. But it’s just a case of giving yourself half an hour on a Sunday night to prepare your food. It’s not hard.
At the start, I thought ‘I’ll never do it’. But now it’s routine and it makes so much more sense.
He has helped me make wise choices if you’re eating in restaurants. He has helped me learn what is a wise choice. Whereas before I’d be like ‘whatever! Just burger and chips for me.’
Now you can have steak and salad. I think my tastes have changed as well. I don’t really fancy eating a big greasy burger and chips anymore. I’m not obsessed with chocolate anymore.
You do notice as well when you’ve been a little bit stricter with yourself that when you have something sweet it is a massive thing these days.
So it is all positive changes.
Do you think there has been a mindset change with your relationship with food or your ability to control what you eat and what your body looks like rather than the other way around?
I think it actually stems from giving it some thought because I never did before. Who does?
I’ve never been on a diet. I’ve never thought ‘Oh, I can only eat this, I can only eat that.’ I’ve always just ate whatever and if I feel a little bit fat I will go for a jog.
That’s all I’ve ever done.
Now actually thinking about what I’m eating, preparing things and having more energy because of it all, I think it’s definitely a life-changer.
Is that something that’s been hugely surprising in terms of how you were feeling physically and mentally?
Yes. I honestly expected to be just exhausted and fed up with eating what I thought was just a chicken and veg diet. But it’s not.
You can be as experimental as you like – there all kinds of recipes out there.
I honestly thought I would be bored stupid off it. I thought it would be a bit strict ‘this is a diet and this is all you can eat! You must do this every day!’
It’s not been like that at all. It’s been a gradual lifestyle change for me.
What does it feel like now being stronger, fitter leaner and more in control of the way you look?
It’s a good feeling. It’s one I need to keep up and that I want to keep up. I’ve got the knowledge now so I can go off and do it myself. But will life creep up? Will I be saying ‘oh no! I’ve got this to do tonight. I need to go back for the kids’ or whatever.
As during the 12 weeks, I could say ‘these are my three hits and I’m taking them!’
I don’t want to let it slip now.
What would you say to other women in the same position as you with a hectic family life?
Do it! Just think, you’ve got those three hours a week all to yourself!
You don’t even have to think – they do that for you.
I feel sorry for my trainer – every time we went on a piece of equipment he would correct me, make sure I’m doing the right things, positioning correctly, he would choose the weight for me. I literally didn’t have to think – he would choose the weights for me. I would just sit there, pull the weight, mind somewhere else – happy days!
It was an hour of peace. No work, no kids, nothing. Just an hour to myself. I loved it.
What are your thoughts on lifting weights and how effective it is for shaping your body?
I’ve never done weightlifting before. But I was promoting it just this morning saying that it’s the only thing I know that makes you lose fat so quickly.
It gives you a good shape. You don’t have to be all big and bulky, for women anyway.
It’s just been fantastic how quickly the flab has fallen off and I’ve started to develop a shape. It’s definitely something I want to continue with.
What was your husband’s reaction?
My husband has noticed a big change. He seems pretty happy, to be honest. I think it’s going to motivate him to move his butt a little bit more.
We’re all guilty of ‘the kids come along and we’re giving them pudding, so let’s just have some ourselves.’
He’s put on a bit of excess weight in his 40s so he needs to shift it before it gets stuck there forever!
Between us, we’re going to work something out to carry this on and get him motivated and down the gym.
What has this UP transformation given you?
This transformation has given me so much energy. It’s given me massively-needed ‘me time’. I’ve not had any for four years. Any, at all. Literally working from home, with the kids, 24 hours a day. It’s been hell.
A full-time job and two children. I’ve been going insane. So to be able to come here and train and feel better about myself because I can see progress – I feel stronger, I feel fitter, I’ve got more energy.
And I’ve got a great trainer. I can have banter with him. He has all the knowledge – he knows so much. It’s been incredible.
How have you managed to deal with any cravings?
With food cravings, I’ve found substitutions to be a bit of a blessing.
Things like Greek yoghurts with pecans. Chocotrients or a little bit of honey. Whatever you can to sweeten things up when you’re craving something sweet.
Otherwise, I’m going to end up shoving a chocolate biscuit into my mouth, so that’s all Health the Greek yoghurt. Even things like protein shakes as well. You can get all kinds of flavours. That keeps me happy. You do get the odd healthy treat as well – protein bars or Naked bars have been awesome.
My favourite food throughout this whole thing has been chicken with peanut butter, ginger, chilli, vegetables. It’s been a life saver. I just fill up on it all the time. Once you find something you enjoy, then why not? It’s all healthy food and it fits the macros that my trainer set out for me.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?
The biggest thing for me was sticking to the diet. I’ve noticed a difference when I’ve eaten more carbs in the evening than I was probably supposed to, how I don’t feel so great the next day. When I’ve had the odd cheat, when I’ve been at family events or kids parties, you do notice that you feel more bloated or you don’t feel on top form as you usually do and it’s all to do with the diet. You can train all you like but you have to watch your diet.
If you’re inspired by mum Sandra’s incredible 12-week results, and you’re determined to get back in shape, find out about our Personal Training Plans and BOOK A CONSULT NOW!