13th May 2019 was the first week I got to work with now long term client Tracey. I believe that Tracey truly has found equilibrium or balance if you will, with her health and performance results. Going from the inability to complete 1 push up to now crushing numerous weekly strength workouts, enduring a 50km Hike in one day, and smashing every obstacle at the Spartan Australia Obstacle Course just last weekend.
Who say’s “You can’t have it all”?
Before Tracey and I commenced working together, I was coaching her son who was a fast upcoming swimmer looking to improve his strength for the pool. As time progressed with her son’s training, I had thrown a few fishing lines to Tracey to “entice” her to start training haha. I am very happy to say Tracey took the bait and has dramatically changed her lifestyle over the past 2 years.
You know those people who can eat whatever they want and don’t typically see signs of ill health or weight gain? As much as I am sure it annoys Tracey, she would be pooled into this category by many. The initial reason for Tracey to start training was about the performance, and not necessarily the health component. The idea of becoming fitter and particularly stronger was the causal factor for Tracey kicking off.
What I found inspiring from the beginning is that majority of people have something negative occur to them like ill health or weight gain to do something about it. However Tracey took it upon herself to do better for herself, just because. The training commenced at a very basic level, with one resistance training session per week and 3-4 walks for her aerobic conditioning. Prior to starting I knew that Tracey had previously done a “12 week program” of some kind which clearly couldn’t be maintained, so making sure that Tracey could complete each weeks training initially with ease was a large focus of mine. Creating confidence in her ability and allowing her to be truly recovered before attempting another session was a key factor in her programming and positive physical adaptations.
As the months progressed, her lifting went from one session per week to averaging 3-4, showing significant improvements in both aerobic fitness and overall body strength was visually very noticeable. As the training progressed and Tracey could see her results physically in the mirror and noticing the dramatic change in weights lifted, her initial interest sparked from performance to know a little more about health. By health, I am referring to nutritional intake. With such dramatic progression in her physical ability, Tracey had become curious to see what adjusting her nutrition would do to her training and general lifestyle results. Along side the coaching provided on nutrition and Tracey being eager to learn more about nutrition, she took it upon herself to research, read and practice on herself with even more improvements to both performance, visual physical statue and daily energy.
Tracey soon went down the rabbit hole of nutrition (it’s very deep lol) and found herself truly nourishing the body through real food. A lift in protein, reduction if not removal of refined lipids (seed oils) and refined carbohydrates (junk food) was a few of the key factors ,that Tracey changed and adjusted to better her health, daily energy and training performance.
Fast forward 6-12 months with such consistent training Tracey was looking for the next challenge. Besides completing one of my team hikes (see photo’s and video below) that had Tracey hiking 50km’s in one day, her sights set on combining her training with an event timeline.
What better way to test your strength and fitness than a Spartan Australia Obstacle Course.
We began the training towards the Spartan event roughly 10-12 months ago. Cycling through mesocycle after mesocycle of periodised training, I can confirm Tracey smashed her Spartan event leaving no obstacle incomplete. Her running fitness (which was previously non-existed) has improved ten fold and now Tracey has a sport to compliment all her strength training.
There was one hurdle that I wish to go over with you all that Tracey learnt, which for her health and performance is a life long lesson that I believe she will come back to for many years to come.
Health and performance. Combining these two variables can be a hard thing to achieve.
Just because you are fit does not mean you are healthy, and just because you are healthy does not always mean you are always fit.
Getting the two (health and performance) in synchrony is something I truly love helping people do. As I say to many of our clients, “you are not going to get paid at the finish line, so why lose your health for the pursuit of better performance?, let’s have both”.
With the adjustment to Tracey’s nutrition to better her health with the removal of unhealthy foods actually left a large gap in her total energy consumption. With the satiety so high from the real food consumed after about 6 months of the diet changes, Tracey was finding herself unable to recover appropriately from her training sessions. Tired throughout the day, lingering soreness and overall irritability. With a few weeks of food reviewing we soon came to realise that while the the food quality was superb, consumption of total food was chronically low, not low enough to see mass fat drop, but low enough to impact the training, recovery and daily energy. The coaching took a turn and we focused on building up the total energy consumption (slowly) so that Tracey could fuel the body necessary but also avoid any unnecessary fat gain. Within a very short few weeks Tracey had quickly noticed training recovery was back to normal and daily energy and mood was significantly improved.
This is something I see very regularly when working with clients as we can get stuck in “diet” mindset. Thinking that to be fitter, leaner and healthier that we should all “eat less and move more”. This approach can be a major contributing factor as to why so many fail to progress their fitness. It’s not about training harder and more all the time, it simply comes down to what you can recover from.
If you are reading this far, little tip for you. Training is a stress, you immediately lose performance once in an exercising/training state. The adaptations that you are after aren’t within the session, it is when you are finished and the body has a chance to heal, recover and actually adapt. If you flood the body with mismanaged stress and rest protocols you will just see a plateau in performance, or worse burnout (even weight gain for some).
Tracey I am so excited for your future, as I truly believe you have found an amazing lifestyle balance. Between looking good, feeling good, improved fitness and massive strength improvements, your consistency is one to be followed by many. You get the work done to produce the stimulus, but you also know to rest hard and let the body do its thing when it’s required. I am so lucky to have the chance to coach you as now a long term client, because truly the sky is the limit for you and your improved abilities. Thank you so much for becoming a shining example for those around you.
Bring on OXFAM lol :):)
Bring on Spartan Ultra 2022??