So I probably should have written this blog post earlier (when I actually did the personal training.) But one thing lead to another, and excuses aside, I'm trying to get back into getting fit and changing my lifestyle so I thought this would be a good time to write about this experience before I totally forget everything.
WHY DID I START PERSONAL TRAINING?
So earlier this year, in February I think, I started working out with a personal trainer. Funny thing is that it was my dad who told me to go. I don't think I'm obese or anything and neither does my dad, but we both know I'm kinda chubby. Or at least he has seen me get chubbier throughout the years since I started university. I was already trying to kinda diet and exercise, but it wasn't really working. I wasn't super consistent and not sure if I was doing the right things, so my dad thought going to a professional who can tell me exactly what to do would be better. Personal training can be pretty expensive though and there are so many options out there. I went online and through Groupon, I found this small gym that offers just personal training, I went in to talk with the guy and had a consultation and voila, I was on route for my first month.
(From what I can remember now 7 months later)
The trainer started off by taking my initial measurements, body fat percentage, pictures, and a fitness test. We talked about my goals and what I wanted. Which was and still is to get toned, lean, but not super ripped or anything. I just wanted to lean out, have some definition, and lose a lot of fat. He asked me to run him through what I was eating (at the time I was already on a diet that I made myself), and he told me all the things wrong with my diet, what certain foods were doing to my body, and why I wasn't losing weight before, which was really insightful. :)
HOW IT WORKS
Every personal trainer has their own style, and since I only been with one I can't say if his method is wrong or right, but it's not unheard of. This is basically what he explained to me: I would train with him 3 times a week in addition to my diet. Those 3 times of the week are the only times I worked out. My body fat percentage was at around 28% and to actually see my muscles I need to get that down to at least 18% which would mean I would need to lose at the time around 24 pounds of fat.
Step 1 for 12 weeks: lose around 2 pounds per week, get down to body fat of 18%
Step 2 for 10 weeks: build muscle, gain a bit of fat up to 20%
Step 3 for 3 weeks: cut back on the fat, back to 18%
Step 4 for 4 weeks: learn to maintain that body weight and keep body fat at around 20%
This whole process would have lasted 29 weeks in total, and of course, you know that I did not go through this whole process since I only trained for 2 months (I'll explain why later). This at least is the thought behind it all. All the stars are not going to line up perfectly like this, but this is the ideal path.
No Salt, No Oil, No Sugar (at least not added)
This was the initial diet plan that he came up with. Just to point out that this was not supposed to be forever and it would change. I would get cheat days later on in the process, but in the fat loss stage, this was the diet based on my lifestyle at the time.
10AM: Breakfast - 1 egg + 1 whole wheat toast
1PM: Lunch - A sandwich of 2 whole wheat bread, 2 slices of lean deli meat, as much veggies as I want, 1 tbsp of an acceptable condiment (there was a list but basically anything under 15 calories per tbsp and low sodium, I usually choose mustard)
4PM: Snack - 12 almonds or equivalent size nuts, or 1 small container of no fat yogurt
7PM: Dinner - 1 palm sized lean meat or 1 seafood item up to the 3rd finger knuckle, and as much veggies as I want
10PM: Snack - 12 almonds or equivalent size nuts, or 1 small container of no fat yogurt
And throughout the day I could eat as much veggies as I want, whenever I wanted. And when I say as much vegetables as I want I mean as much as certain vegetables, no tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, beans, beets, etc... the list goes on, mostly just green veggies.
So overall this diet is actually pretty filling, but the only thing is the seasoning part. Yes, I could eat as much vegetables as I want, but I either had to eat it like a salad with 1 tbsp of this no fat dressing or cooked somehow by steaming or frying with no oil and seasoning with no salt seasonings. Not the tastiest of meals. This diet also meant that if I were to go out, I was very limited with my options.
3 times a week I would go to the gym and work out for one hour with him + 20 mins of HIIT Cardio. That was all the work out I did and all that he said I needed to do. During that time I would come in 20mins early to do my HIIT Cardio, and for one hour we would do a variety of exercise that was all HIIT style. I did some weights when doing some exercises, but the goal at the time wasn't to build muscle but to get my heart rate up and lose weight. We would do each exercise for about a minute than some rest and just on repeat. The great thing about working out with a personal trainer was that there was someone to tell me what to do, correct my posture, and change up the different exercises. Every day was a bit different and he'd mix up the exercises to what works for me and made sure I worked out every part of my body at least once throughout the week.
MY 2 MONTH EXPERIENCE
So overall I lost around 12 pounds in that 2 months on personal training, and it cost around $2300-ish if I remember correctly.
PROS: I think overall it was worth it. I learned a lot about dieting, different workouts, proper posture, etc... I lost 12 pounds, a lot of people were telling me I looked slimmer. Also because I was paying for this trainer I was more motivated not to cheat on my diet. My taste buds also changed. I don't need to add a lot of salt to something to make it taste salty, and the same thing for sugar.
CONS: During this time I basically had little to no social life, and when I did I was miserable about it. So when I would go out I basically could only go to places that served salad and even then I had to make sure the meat in the salad was not seasoned, was not cooked in oil, and the salad itself had no vegetables that I couldn't eat (refer to list above). I also brought my own dressing to the restaurant, because we all know how high calories some of those dressings can be. When my friends go to bubble tea, I would get brewed tea, etc., etc... My personal trainer did advise me just not to go out at all during this fat loss period, but I can't help it, gotta go out sometimes!
I would do it again if I had the disposable income, but for now, I want to see what I can do on my own. Working out with a trainer definitely works, but a big part of it for me at least is that there is someone holding you accountable, and paying someone so much motivated me to stick to that diet even more.
WHY I STOPPED
So there are a few reasons that I stopped, but the main one was actually because I was job hunting at the time and wasn't sure where I would end up and if I would actually stay in Toronto. For the personal trainer, I would have to make a minimum one-month commitment, and by the third month I was waiting to hear back from a job not in Toronto, so I couldn't decide if I should continue, and thus I decided to stop till I found out. After the job didn't work out I decided not to continue even though I had a job in the city, one because the gym is quite far from my work and house, I use to bus one hour to get to the gym to work out one hour than bus home one hour... Not a very efficient use of time. Second, it's quite expensive, and my dad said if I wanted to continue I would have to pay for it on my own, and I have student loans still. Third, it was a little too much for me the whole diet, I felt like if I didn't stick to it, I was throwing money away, but at the same time, I was miserable. K. Miserable is a strong word. I was just unhappy. I wanted to be still able to go out, enjoy food with my friends, and not always make them go to a salad place just because of me.
So recently I been slowly getting back into working out after reading the power of habit, you can read my blog post on why it motivated me here: The Power of Habit. I already started working out at least 5 times a week for the past 3 weeks, but I'm aiming for every day. Trying to get my diet together is a bit harder though. I'm thinking about going back on this diet, but not having it as strict where I can't eat normally when I got out. The good thing about this diet is that it's easy, doesn't require much prep. I know exactly what to make every day, and it's all pretty simple.
I'll update on my progress in a few month!