With the rise of the strong-not-skinny movement in recent years it is not surprising that our Instagram feeds are filled with pictures of people showing off their toned bodies and sharing fitness and nutrition tips. I’ve always found transformation pictures to be enticing as they represent those of us who were not blessed with genetics that leave us with a toned stomach and big bum regardless of what we eat.. Now I have my very own transformation pictures to share with you as I’ve spent the past eight weeks working with PT and online coach Rebeccah O’Rourke.
Those of you who haven’t read my blog before will not be aware that I lost a huge amount of weight due to a bad reaction to having my appendix removed in December 2016. In the space of 6 weeks I dropped almost 2 stone, lost all of my muscle mass, could no longer stomach a lot of food groups and was left feeling very unwell. I tried everything I could to gain back some weight, but nothing was working and I had very little energy. After seeking professional help, I was told that I would have to follow a plant based diet and cease all exercise (other than walking) in order to regain some strength. After following these orders for 8 months I began to feel well again, could finally eat a normal diet and got the go ahead to start exercising in order to regain muscle.
I knew that I would need some guidance in finding a fitness and nutrition plan to suit me and this is where Rebeccah came in. Rebeccah runs her own PT business called Team ROR whereby she trains clients in person (Clayton Hotel, Co. Cork) or online. I’ve followed Rebeccah on Instagram for quite some time now and have always been blown away by the transformations of her clients in a short amount of time.
I spoke with Rebeccah and after supplying her with pictures of myself as well as my weight we decided I’d follow an 8 week plan to build muscle and tone the excess skin on my stomach that I had as a result of rapid weight loss. Within a few days I received my plan by email which included a strength training guide as well as a nutrition plan which excluded any foods I did not like or was unable to eat such as dairy and pork.
I began the plan on a Monday and took my first trip to the gym in 10 months but this time I’d be venturing into a section I’d never entered before; The weights section. I was a bit intimidated at first but I followed all of the tips that Rebeccah gave me and I got through my first session in an hour.
After just a few sessions I began to see changes on the scales as well as an increase in my strength. I went from not being able to even lift a barbell to adding weights to the bar and squatting it. As my bodyweight increased I saw physical changes such as muscle gain in my legs and a decrease in excess skin.
As someone who has a huge appetite I was delighted that I had to eat a large amount of food every day to gain muscle according to my nutrition plan. I realised how important it is to eat enough to fuel your training after not following my meal plan one day and promptly felt fatigued during my workout. The plan provides a balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates that allow for efficient muscle gain and recovery.
WEEK ONE TO WEEK 8 PROGRESS: FRONT, SIDES, BACK
Sundays are check-in days whereby you take progress pictures and weigh yourself and email these to Rebeccah. She will examine your progress and will make changes to your nutrition or keep it the same depending on how your body has changed during the week. You can request for her to make changes if you feel that something isn’t working for you!
Rebeccah makes herself available to clients during the week via Snapchat and Whatsapp and I found this to be a huge help in terms of staying motivated and not feeling confused with my plan.
I honestly never thought that I would enjoy lifting weights so therefore never tried it. I strictly stuck to cardio such as walking, jogging and sports which can become quite tedious. The amazing thing about lifting weights is that you continuously get stronger. This allows you to set goals such as lifting heavier weights or completing more reps (the number of times you do a movement).
I have made massive progress in my 8 weeks with Team ROR.
There is a significant difference in my strength. As mentioned above, I was unable to lift the barbell on my very first session. I am now able to squat my own weight with the barbell on my shoulders. I have also added 30kg to the weight that I was able to lift with my core strength. Before starting the plan, I found it very difficult to lift my nephew but I can now carry him around without breaking a sweat.
There is a definite difference in my physical appearance although this was not my reason for starting the plan. As you can see in my photos from week one, there is a lot of loose skin around my midsection but I have toned up my stomach significantly and can see definition in my obliques. My arms were extremely thin in week one, so much so that my inner arms looked hollow if I lifted them. I have gained a substantial amount of muscle in my arms and shoulders after just 8 weeks of training. I have lost a few inches around my waist and gained a few around my hips. I am now heavier than I was previous to my appendectomy but my body composition is a lot different.
I think the biggest change I have seen in the 8 weeks is in my mood. As somebody who struggles with anxiety I spend a lot of time searching for ways to manage it and weight lifting is now my #1. I now see the gym as a haven, a place where I can shut off and let out any stress I may be feeling. I usually work out in the morning which leaves me in a great mood for the day ahead due to the release of endorphins from exercising.
I am now a lot more confident in my appearance than I have ever been. After spending many years being self-conscious I realised that our appearance is not the most important thing in life but of course there are always going to be days when we have low self-esteem. I now feel strong and therefore proud of the way I look.
If you are looking to make a transformation I would 100% recommend joining Team ROR. The support that you get from Rebeccah and her community is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced and I never felt like giving up. You can find Rebeccah on Instagram @rebeccahorourke & @teamror_ , on Snapchat (RebeccahFreckle) or if you’d like to make any enquiries email her at teamRORonline@gmail.com !
Until next time,