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Nina Morton from Manchester decided to shape up and turned to Ultimate Performance for help. The 20-year-old signed up to a 12 week programme in a bid to tone up her body, and educate herself when it came to diet and nutrition. She spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk about her quick 1.5 stone weight loss and gave her tips for anyone else looking to do the same.
Before Nina started the programme she weighed 13.3 stone (84.6kg), after the programme, Nina’s weight was 11.7 stone (74.6kg).
Speaking about her size before weight loss, Nina said: “Generally, I was wearing a UK 12-14 and I’m now mostly a UK 10. Saying this, I often have to size up to get things to fit my legs and bum and then have the waist taken in as so many items of clothing just aren’t made with real women in mind.
“I just want to be so clear that I was never chasing a dress size as it is literally just a random number that changes so much from brand to brand.
“More importantly for me, I went down from 22 percent body fat to 14 percent body fat in the space of 12 weeks.”
As for what her life was like before weight loss, Nina added: “Before my weight loss journey, I was a pandemic university student, taking a music industry practice degree on zoom in my very high-rent bedroom.
“So, as you can imagine things weren’t great.
“I was struggling a lot with my mental health as well as trying to write a dissertation.
“I did absolutely no exercise other than making my bed and was eating whatever I could to make me feel better which included a lot of chocolate and a lot of mac and cheese.”
So why did she want to lose weight? Nina explained: “I hate saying this as life is absolutely not about the way you look, however when I got home from uni, I couldn’t stand what I saw in the mirror. I refused to wear anything that wasn’t big and baggy and hated being in my own skin.
“Losing weight doesn’t solve this though, I’m still working on making peace with myself regardless of what I’ve eaten or the way I look.
“I also had realised that I wasn’t remotely taking care of myself and I felt like I needed to start looking after my body in a way that it deserved.”
Nina revealed what the programme involved: “At first, the diet was quite strict, made up of the same three meals and snacks per day every day with two weeks of low carbs.
“David Cogley, my personal trainer at Ultimate Performance Manchester, provided me with a meal plan that recommended servings of lean meat and fish, and lots of vegetables.
“A special emphasis was placed on consuming adequate protein to help me recover from the resistance training sessions that I was doing.
“David then brought carbohydrates into my plan in the form of complex carbohydrates such as rice and sweet potato whilst keeping things very simple.
“For a long time, I had no chocolate and no treats of any kind, which looking back I’ve no idea how I did it but I’m still impressed with myself to this day,” she remarked.
“Over time more variety and flexibility were included in my nutrition plan, and I worked to hit certain protein, carbohydrate and fat targets instead of following the same meals every day.
“I was also weight-training with David three times a week as well as doing three cardio sessions a week on the peloton at home.
“David and I performed total-body training sessions with lots of compound exercises and heavy weights. We performed two exercises back-to-back in a superset structure, and each workout contained three or more of these supersets.
“One example of a superset we performed was a Barbell Romanian Deadlift and a Dumbbell Shoulder Press.
“We finished each session with a metabolic conditioning exercise such as a sled push, or ski ergometer sprint also.”
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Nina mentioned she used to “binge-eat” and explained this in a little more detail.
Trigger Warning: Eating Disorders
Nina said: “Before I get into this I want to say that this is very much an ongoing battle for me. There is no overnight cure to disordered eating and difficult relationships with food. It has become a case of managing it as much as I can, whilst being very forgiving to myself.
“The fact that I struggle with my relationship with food is honestly something I’ve only really acknowledged in the past couple of months and am still trying to figure out.
“Food has always been my coping mechanism, particularly from a mental health point of view. I remember in high school, having no breakfast, then telling the dinner ladies I had a packed lunch when I didn’t and then stopping off at the shop on the way home and buying bags and bags of chocolate, crisps and everything in between. I’d eat it all before dinner.
“I never realised how serious that was until recently and If you’d told me back then that I had an eating disorder, I would have laughed in your face as there was just not enough education around it at all.
“The other side of binge-eating is the sheer guilt that comes afterwards. I have definitely felt this more in the early stages of my transformation as I felt more pressure than ever to follow my diet and beat myself up if I ever fell off track.
“I think the more flexible approach to eating adopted by myself and my personal trainer after a few weeks and working to hit specific protein, carb and fat targets worked well for me as it allowed me to make progress and get myself into photoshoot shape while still enjoying the occasional treat, guilt free.
“I am working on being kinder to myself when I do eat more than I’d like, as I am human and it doesn’t make me a bad person! I am also trying to allow myself small amounts of the things I enjoy as a treat in order to prevent a ‘binge.’”
Nina also gave some advice for anyone who thinks they might be in a similar situation: “I think the worst thing you can do is be so restrictive to the point you cut foods you love out entirely, as it only leads to binging, which I definitely experienced.
“If you resonate with this, the only advice I would give is to be kind to yourself. You haven’t done anything wrong by eating certain amounts of food. Just pick up from where you left off and keep moving forward.
“Please reach out for help if you are feeling these things, there are some amazing people out there who can offer some much-needed support.”
As for what Nina’s life is like now? She said: “Don’t be fooled, losing weight has not cured my mental health or stopped me from, being sad, that’s not how it works. But it has allowed me to treat myself the way I deserve.
“Having an active lifestyle has made me feel so much better on a day to day basis. I sleep a lot better than I used to, getting at least eight hours a night compared to complete insomnia I experienced before I started my transformation.
“Losing weight has also made me feel a lot more confident in myself and I feel better in day to day conversations and activities. I also feel a lot better in my clothes, but weight loss should not equal confidence, you deserve to feel confident no matter your size.”
She continued: “However, for me personally, I feel so much better having lost the weight I have lost and therefore want to stay in the shape I am. I am still weight training and doing cardio sessions whilst following a similar diet to the one during my transformation.
“I now allow myself treats, particularly on the weekends as this makes the regime so much more sustainable in the long run. Plus, life is for living!”
Looking back, Nina is “proudest of feeling physically stronger”.
“I find it so empowering to be able to walk into the gym and pick up heavier weights each week, feeling stronger and more powerful than ever before,” she added. “For me, that is a bigger transformation than anything. I can now deadlift over 80kg, shoulder press 13kg and can do lunges with 15kg dumbbells.”
In terms of her future goals, she revealed: “My goals for the future are to firstly, start to build muscle and gain even more physical strength, which I will start doing once I feel lean enough to do so.
“I want to start sharing my fitness journey with people, so I will be posting a lot more on my social media and hope to start a Youtube Channel documenting my life very soon.
“My biggest long-term fitness goal right now is to become sponsored by Gymshark or become a Gymshark athlete – so maybe one day.”
As for how Ultimate Performance helped Nina, she said: “Ultimate Performance Personal Training has helped me build my confidence so much over my transformation. Having David as not only my trainer, but my friend has given me the support I needed to achieve what I have achieved. He was the one who was there to say ‘yes, you can’ when I felt like I couldn’t’ do anything.
“One day I was about to deadlift and just burst into tears, so David took me straight out of the gym for a coffee and we just didn’t train that day, which is okay.
The whole of Ultimate Performance Manchester is so uplifting, with every single trainer and person rooting for you the second you walk through the doors.
“I have also learned so much from my experience at U.P which I can take forward in my own fitness journey in the future, it is honestly a lifetime investment. David and the other trainers have become true friends over my time at UP. Sometimes you just need people to push you and believe in you even when you don’t believe in yourself.”
Beat is the UK’s eating disorder charity. You can contact them via their website on the one-to-one web chat or give them a call on 08088010677 for England.
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