How Pro Chef Jenny’s Food Helped Transform Her Body
by UP Fitness May 4, 2017
Who said you can't diet and train your way to an incredible new body while still enjoying amazing food?
This was the challenge UP professional chef Jenny set herself when she started her 12-week transformation programme.
Her culinary skills were put to the test to be able to create delicious meals from Day 1 to Day 84 of her transformation using simple and healthy ingredients to help her achieve her athletic new physique.
"It's been a real learning curve for me to have to learn to play with simple ingredients and make them taste good for 84 days," she says.
"I feel a lot more in control of my diet now. Now I have that knowledge, coming out of that transformation, it's going to be really easy to make good choices.
She added: "It's so nice to feel confident and know exactly what to do. I know exactly how I should be eating now, I can meal prep with my eyes closed, I can eat out easily and know exactly what things to choose."
The recipes Jenny created on her body transformation journey helped her achieve the outstanding results that saw her lose 5kg and shed body fat down from 19% to 11.5%.
But nutrition was just one aspect of her transformation. Jenny trained harder than she's ever trained in her life and achieved results she never thought possible.
Thai boxer Jenny had previously trained several hours a night up to six times a week at her martial arts gym – but says her hard work hadn't reflected in her physique.
But after just 12 weeks with UP doing three hourly sessions a week she is now in stunning shape.
However, it's not just a physical transformation – Jenny explains that it has completely changed her body confidence and how she feels about herself.
"The main thing I feel is confidence – that's the key for me. But also I feel very in control in all aspects of my life.
"I feel like I have discipline and I feel like I can take on anything now and I will nail it. It has given me such a great feeling."
Jenny explains here how she made such a jaw-dropping transformation, tricks she picked up and the best lessons she learned…
What's the difference between what you did before and what you have been doing now? What's really helped you?
The biggest difference is having a personal trainer that cares about you enough to hold you accountable for your actions.
I'm quite motivated by wanting to please other people or wanting to impress other people whether it's in my job, education or whatever. With training, it's the same thing.
So to have a trainer that I know really cares about my results, I don't want to let them down. So every day I've had that feeling of accountability to someone else, not just myself. I think it's very easy to set yourself a goal and sort of half go for it or talk yourself out of it.
I think accountability is a big one; to a trainer or having some kind of goal at the end.
But really the personal training with UP…you think you train hard and then you train with UP and it's not even next level, it's next, next level.
How profound a difference did it make having a personal trainer? Many people just see them as a hired gym buddy or someone who just counts your reps or sticks you on a treadmill.
If I'm honest, at the start of this process, I wasn't entirely sure how much difference it was going to make having a personal trainer. I've had trainers before that have been brilliant, but ultimately my knowledge of personal trainers is someone who gets you from the start of your workout to the end of your workout. They will push you potentially past your 100% output and put a routine in place to push you.
That was the extent of what having a trainer with UP was going to be like.
What it actually was, was a million times more than that. It wasn't just a case of getting me from the start to the finish of the workout. Every minute of that workout I felt watched, studied and it was a case of 'that's not working for you, we will try something else'.
Or one day I turned up and I didn't feel well or I had an injury 'ok no worries, I will write you a new session'. It was so personalised and it was almost like it is custom-made for you; everything that is done here.
Tell us about your transformation diet with your background as a professional chef?
My background as a chef and someone that is completely obsessed with food, I knew that the nutrition part was probably the hardest part.
It was and it wasn't. The knowledge I have around food, based on my profession, has actually made it quite easy in terms of I'll get my meal plan from my personal trainer and I can think 'okay' – whereas someone would see just salmon and vegetables as that; as the bare basics and simple, I would start thinking how can I make my salmon taste good; 'Can I make it into a one-pot meal? Can I batch-cook this? Can I slow cook this?' It's been a real learning curve for me to have to learn to play with simple ingredients and make them taste good for 84 days.
It's been interesting to play around with that. The most challenging part was losing that freedom to be able to go to a restaurant or shop and eat what I fancy.
But I think it's taught me a lot that I've got more discipline that I originally thought. When you have a good enough reason to say 'no' to stuff it's really quite easy. If you have that end goal – there's no reason why you should have to fall off the wagon at any point.
Do you feel different now with your relationship to food and how it makes you feel?
I feel a lot more in control of my diet now. So in the past, because I love food, it's almost ruled my life a little, the decisions I make are often around food and often my choices aren't the best for me.
It's not that I make unhealthy choices – perhaps that I eat too much or things at the wrong time. So my education with those things is much better. I've learned a lot at UP about when to eat certain foods, what my body does and doesn't tolerate well. There's so much to it I didn't realise.
Week 1 was the hardest with adjusting; I hadn't realised how much food I was actually eating compared to what I actually needed. The first week I thought the world was ending and I was starving and I couldn't do it.
By week 2, my appetite had regulated and I was fine. I'm a small person anyway – it's not like I need thousands and thousands of calories anyway.
I've never been one to count calories or macros or anything like that – but realising and learning more about what my body actually wants and needs, they are two different things. What you want and what you need are often completely on a separate scale.
Now I have that knowledge, coming out of that transformation, it's going to be really easy to make good choices.
I've had a few days where I've had some treats and said 'yes' to things, because I can, but it's so nice to feel confident and know exactly what to do. I know exactly how I should be eating now, I can meal prep with my eyes closed, I can eat out easily and know exactly what things to choose, I know when I look at a plate of food if it's the right portion size for me – it's all stuff I've learned along the way.
What are the most powerful lessons you've learned over the 12 weeks?
The best things I've learned on this transformation is that you're always capable of more than you think – always.
The overall thing I'm taking from this is just to be confident because my body is capable of a lot more than I ever anticipated. Likewise mentally.
Looking at the diet again – it's very simple. People complicate it so much – they want to try this fad diet and take this out of their diet, they want to do liquid diets. But you don't have to do any of that; it's so simple, you just have to speak to someone who knows that they're talking about.
Make it as simple as possible and just stick to it – be consistent and be confident in what you're doing – those are the two things I would take from it.
I have learned this through the 12-week process with my trainer and he has given me the confidence to do these things.
I know it's not as easy as walking into a gym and feeling confident, so get a trainer and sign up with UP.
How has this confidence and mindset change carried over into other aspects of your life?
The confidence I've developed in the gym has carried on outside the gym which it kind of makes me blush a bit just saying it – just being out and about, I hold myself differently and I talk to people with a little bit more about me.
I just finally feel comfortable in my own skin. I was never miserable, but I wasn't particularly happy. I would never train in just a sports bra. I wasn't big on fitted clothes.
Little things like that might not seem much, but looking back I can see how much my confidence has grown.
I feel good. It's that overall feeling of satisfaction and you like what you see in the mirror. When you like what you see in the mirror it just carries through your whole life.
How quickly did you start seeing the results and seeing that what you were doing in the gym and in the kitchen was working?
In the past when I've trained, or said that I'm going to eat really well, then a month later you still look the same, you've maybe lost a pound, your motivation dwindles or falls off and this is something that a lot of people go through where there's no element of change or no visual difference, and it's quite demoralising.
Whereas with my transformation, within the first week, I didn't feel like I looked that different, but we did body fat measurements every week and I'd lost a whole body fat percentage.
I thought I'd trained hard, but I'd only trained three times a week and I've only made a small adjustment to my diet, so I thought 'how have I done this?'
The week after I dropped another percentage and my weight started to change and I was lifting heavier weights.
Then the week after I was noticing small changes in my body. When I would come into the gym people would say 'your shoulders look really lean' or 'you've got great definition on your back'.
It's when people start to notice changes that you start to notice changes. Even from as early as the first week, and that's the biggest difference with the transformation. It does motivate you on.
Every week my body fat consistently dropped and knowing that by Friday my number was going to be a bit lower, was such an exciting feeling.
So what were your actual results at the end of the 12 weeks?
By the end of my 12 weeks, I had gone from 19% body fat to 11.5%; that was a big drop. That was my aim at the start to see how low I could get that and how lean I could get, so I was super-pleased. That was a steady thing through the transformation too consistently every week, so I knew it was working.
Weight-wise I was 58kg to start, which is a reasonable weight for someone my size, but I ended up at 52.9kg.
Women seem to think that you're going to gain weight if you lift weights because you're going to put on loads of muscle mass, you're going to look super stacked – but actually, compared to some of the other people I see training, I do look quite muscular in comparison, but I didn't put any weight on at all.
My muscle mass has definitely gone up, but my body fat in relation to that, my weight just kept coming down in a really heavy, steady way to get to a place where you're happy.
What is it like looking back to that before picture and then seeing how much you've changed?
It's quite a shock to look back at my before picture because, for one, when I started, I didn't really feel like I was in bad shape. But compared to what I look like now, the difference is just ridiculous.
I never really thought I could look the way I do now. And to be able to do it so quickly. When I look back and think that was just 12 weeks ago, that's just insane.
But it's not just what you look like at all, I've learned so much throughout the process about myself, my mindset and all kinds of different things. But the before and after picture really does sum it up.
How has your strength improved and how does that make you feel?
I feel super-strong right now. When I train in the gym all the trainers will come up to me and make a comment about the weight I'm lifting. It's really nice to have professional people like that telling you you're strong, because I always felt relatively strong, but more in an athletic way rather than a physical way.
It's really empowering. I feel even more so as a women to be able to walk to the free-weights section and not think 'oh, where are the small dumbbells' or 'can I sit on a bench here or am I going to get laughed at' – but to just confidently walk over and just pick up big weights, it doesn't even cross my mind now.
That feeling is worth so much, I can't stress it enough.
Had you ever thought about weight lifting training before for fat loss? And what would you say to other women reticent to take on weights?
I knew weightlifting was good for fat loss but I hadn't really seen the evidence before on myself.
To only do weight training and for the target to be fat loss was a little bit weird at first. The numbers then started coming down and I was like 'wow! This is working!'
The results I've experienced from just 12 weeks of lifting weights are just ridiculous. They don't compare to any other training I've done before.
I was training Thai boxing and struggling to cut weight training six nights a week, 1-2 hours minimum; to do all that training and still not be able to reach a certain weight….and when I reached those weights, I didn't necessarily look great. I didn't look strong, I didn't feel strong. I looked quite thin. I didn't feel good about myself and I didn't look good.
I never thought my body was a direct reflection of that. So now for people to actually ask me, it's quite humbling but it also takes me by surprise still.
This was completely different. I would recommend women in particular to consider weight lifting. I see so many women going to the gym and doing spinning or going on the treadmill for an hour, and actually, the science behind it shows weight lifting is actually way more beneficial.
It takes a lot less time to do it too – so go and pick up some weights.
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