Get Ripped

On November 9th, 2012 I convinced three of my male and five of my female personal training clients to join me in forgoing the pleasures of the Christmas season and try to get as lean as possible over the most difficult time of the year. Over a 65 day term the group followed my “Get Ripped Eating Plan” and exercised diligently. While the average person gains 5-8lbs during this time of year, members of the group lost between 8-22 lbs.


To keep everyone motivated to stay on course a professional photographer was hired to take nude pictures to capture the beauty of the new fit bodies. Everyone had their reasons for participation. There were many obstacles and emotions that had to be overcome to achieve success. It was interesting from my point of view to listen to the hardships people had to face to stay on course. I heard stories of Christmas parties and how some of my clients were pressured by their peers to drink. I gave everyone strong instructions that no alcohol was to pass their lips during this lean down period. Your friends and family can be an obstacle to your success. People seeing you strong willed feel jealousy and try to bring you to the dark side.


It was also cool to see the competition among the women. No one wanted to be the “BIG” girl in the group photo so they had even more motivation to keep making the smart food choices. I find it easier to lose body fat with other people for a variety of reasons. Doing it solo is very difficult.


I want to say I am very proud of how everyone did. Losing body fat at this time of year is crazy. It is one of the reasons I chose to do it. If presented always take the hard, uphill, rough path. The easy, downhill road just takes you back to where you started from.


My personal reason to get leaner was to compare my body, now in my mid 40s to nude pictures I had taken in my 30s and 20s. I also want to do more bike racing in the new year. Starting at a lower weight is going to give me an advantage to racing at a lighter weight in relation to previous years plus the smaller riders I compete against. I went from a weight of 209lbs to 197lbs on picture day.



Please enjoy the before and after pictures plus the answers to the questions I asked them. The “after” pictures were taken on January 11th, 2013. The “before” pictures were taken at various times in each person’s life when they were at or near their most out of shape period.





Shara—33 year old mother of three, went from 158 lbs to 128 lbs at 5' 7".



What was the light bulb moment that caused you to want to change?


I went swimming with a friend and her 4 year old daughter and the daughter asked me when my baby was coming. I realized at that point that I had to do something about the baby tummy as my baby was now 18 months old and I could no longer blame it on baby weight. Shortly after that incident, Paul came to talk to a women's group I belong to and I realized after I walked out of his presentation that I had to do something.


How did you get started? What was the first thing you did?


The next day I emailed Paul saying I wanted the "full meal deal". Eating plan and exercise plan!! I started training with Paul twice a week and following Paul's eating plan. I became aware of what I was putting into my mouth...no more useless calories!


What were some of the obstacles you had to face that you overcame?


My biggest obstacle was my eating out and my love of wine. It seemed that every weekend I was eating out and with that came a bottle or two of wine. When I would go out for dinner, I would still enjoy my meal but skipped the free bread, never ordered an appetizer and occasionally had a bite of someone else's dessert. I also quickly became a fan of Perrier.


What did you miss most giving up in food or drink?


Wine, wine, wine. For five months I did not have one glass of wine. Once I reached my goal weight after five months a glass of wine never tasted good!


How did your exercise habits change?


I actually started exercising! I had never done weight training before so that was the biggest change, and the change that had the most impact. Two hours a week with Paul was way more effective than me wandering the gym attempting a machine or two and then ending up on a elliptical for half an hour. I also started exercising a couple times a week on my own either running or climbing the gruelling Glenora stairs.


What advice would you give to someone who is interested in improving their fitness, body composition and health?


It is possible!! I had a pair of pants that I wore before my first son was born and those pants became my motivation—I was determined to fit into them again! And because I am a very competitive person, I told everyone I was going to fit into these pants at the end of my five months. It was hard work in the beginning but became easier as time went on. It was also nice having Paul to work with because he kept me accountable. And I am happy to say that at the end of five months the pants were too big!





Laura—A career women, 44 years of age, that went from 175 lbs to 125 lbs at a height of 5' 3".



What was the light bulb moment that caused you to want to change?


The dry-cleaner was 'shrinking' my clothes (I was changing that quickly). Was facing having to purchase plus-sizes. When I looked in the mirror, I hardly recognized myself.


How did you get started? What was the first thing you did?


I talked about making changes for a long time, but always in the future tense. "One day I'm going to..." A friend asked me what I was waiting for, why not start now? I didn't really have an answer to that. And that's the first thing I did—I stopped letting myself off the hook. I did not allow myself any more excuses (not even good ones), and acknowledged my accountability and responsibility to make this happen.


What were some of the obstacles you had to face that you overcame?


There were the usual things (work, home issues, graduate work, etc.), but mostly I was so deconditioned (and middle aged) I didn't know where to start, how to get going without hurting myself. So I consulted professionals. I met with a personal trainer. During the initial fitness assessment (after walking at high elevation on the treadmill), I passed out in the (crowded) studio—so humiliating! I'd only been eating about 800 calories a day, trying to lose weight. However, NO EXCUSES, so I swallowed my pride, and somehow found the courage to go back. I'm so thankful I did. Slowly, slowly, it started to come together. Now I hardly recognize myself again—but in a good way!


What did you miss most giving up in food or drink?


There was really not one thing in particular. I cook, so I can usually manage to adopt low fat/carb/calorie options to achieve most dishes. I have lost 50 pounds over the last 3 years (from a healthy size 12 down to a size 2-4). At certain times, I was nearly obsessive about counting every calorie that went into my body. And I kind of had to be, I had a fair amount of weight to lose. I wore an arm band for nearly a year that recorded my calorie usage, and at the end of the day could then calculate whether I was in a calorie surplus or deficit. That helped a lot. More than once I had to go for a brisk walk to achieve that deficit! Weight loss is a slow process, it doesn't happen overnight and you can't expect it to—despite what the TV ads say! With persistence, it will eventually trend in the right direction. I think my body needed to figure out how to let go of the weight. I'm working on leaning out now, so about 6 months ago adopted a low carb diet (not a no carb diet—there is a significant difference). And now, the only thing I might crave on rare occasion is pasta. Don't miss anything else. I still have certain things that I enjoy that might be considered a bit of a cheat or splurge (i.e. glass of wine, some chocolate), but I just don't have too much, nor too often. I don't feel I'm giving anything up at all really.


How did your exercise habits change?


From zero (desk jockey) to working out at least 5 days each week—sometimes more. I'm strong, I love my muscles. I run, don't love it, but was never able to do it before. I enjoy the challenge of an activity that makes me reach—I'm often surprised by what I can do. And I feel good after a good training session, or a challenging yoga class.


What advice would you give to someone who is interested in improving their fitness, body composition and health?


Get help—the personal trainers I've worked with made all the difference. I would have gotten frustrated and given up without them. That's an absolute certainty. Learn—understand the different yet complimentary roles of diet and physical training. They do different things, but one contributes to the other, and both ultimately contribute to your success. And, most importantly—NO EXCUSES—because you can!





Anne—36 year old mom of three, went from 145 lbs at 5'5" to 115 lbs (113 lbs on day of the shoot).



What was the light bulb moment that caused you to want to change?


My lightbulb moment was when I couldn't play and keep up with my children. They would run to the park far ahead of me and I couldn't see them and everything in my body would hurt! Keeping the extra "baby" weight even if it's just 15 or 10 lbs was not an option for me and should not be an excuse or a reason for women to keep it. With time and age it can hurt us badly. That's what started to happen to me. My knees were killing me, my back was out of wack and I didn't want my age and my metabolism to slow things down even more so I decided to do something about it.

How did you get started? What was the first thing you did?


The first thing I did was talk to my friend who is a client at Custom Fit, she gave me Jeff's phone number and I hesitated to call because I was intimidated by the "male dominated" environment and how to get started, but I did. I quickly realized how wrong I was, and I saw many women of all shapes and sizes and ages at Custom Fit. It made me feel better about myself being there for myself.


What were some of the obstacles you had to face that you overcame?


I have to overcome changing the way I saw food, the way I ate and still eat food. Getting meals ready for a family of five was not easy. My kids are very picky eaters so I had to make a separate side dish for myself to make sure it was a healthy choice. So I would make regular rice for the family, and then I would make a small portion of brown rice for me, same with pasta, I cut out bread, sugar which was my hardest! Switch milk, for almond milk, no more soda pop, juice, alcohol, and so on I really cared about what food went in—lots of raw veggies, fruit, protein, lots of beans, lots of quinoa, homemade soup...


What did you miss most giving up in food or drink?


What I missed the most in food was french fries and poutines but I had a really hard time giving up coffee cream, good old 18%...yes! I know that's bad and sugar in my coffees, lattes and cappuccinos but I did it and I haven't gone back at all to this day. The coffee cream and sugar I had to do gradually to make it work, but that's what I'm most proud of because my brain knows how bad it was but my taste buds didn't want to hear it!


How did your exercise habits change?


I started working out with a trainer 3 times a week because I needed someone to guide and push me and tell me that I need to do 2 more push ups instead of giving up... Someone telling telling you "good job today!" can really boost you into doing it again and again! But also at one point I needed to push myself into doing more on my own, therefor I started running—more bang for your buck! I really hated it at first but now I truly enjoy it and I can play with my kids forever! I'm so happy and proud of that. I didn't want to lose that feeling!


What advice would you give to someone who is interested in improving their fitness, body composition and health?


The advice I have to give for someone who is interested in improving their fitness, body composition and health is to go for it because it's a win, win situation. Yes, you work hard at it but the results are going to be amazing, the long term effects are going to beneficial for a life time. Your body that you walk around in day in and day out will thank you for it by functioning better, by lasting longer, by being healthier—in the end you will feel it, and that's the best feeling of all!