I was dangerously overweight (85Kgs) back in October 2017.
For my height (1.69 mts) and my age (47 at the time) carrying all that fat around my belly, close to my heart and other vital organs was exacerbating all my symptoms from numerous conditions: high cholesterol, an underactive thyroid, endometriosis, polycystic ovaries and of course the perimenopause. To say I wasn’t happy was a huge understatement.
Searching for solutions, I had been often told that exercise and losing body fat could help me improve my health and lessen the symptoms of many of my illnesses, particularly resistance training had been suggested as a good way to make my endometriosis less painful. My doctors had already booked me in for a hysterectomy (removal of my womb) a few months down the line (the waiting list was long!) so I started researching and interviewing Personal Trainers and coaches that could perhaps help me learn how to train with resistance bands and weights whilst I waited for my hysterectomy.
From all the coaches that I found, I shortlisted three and interviewed them all. I also checked their reviews and call a few of their clients. Livia Francis from Fit Freedom was the undisputed leader in her field in Brighton. Not only she has over 30 of experience as a Personal trainer, but she has competed in more than 21 fitness competitions and keeps on winning medals even though she’s my contemporary (our birthday are only two days apart!).
I saw Livia once a week and also followed a food plan that she designed for me. In addition, I did one hour of Zumba every weekend. Three months later, at Xmas I noticed that 12 Kilos had melted away without much effort at all! I was delighted. It was even more delightful that come January 2018, my doctors told me that since I had lost a serious amount of weight and my symptoms had improved so much, that I was ‘no longer a candidate’ for a hysterectomy. That was the only time in my life I was very pleased not ‘being a good candidate’!
By August 2018 I had lost 20 Kgs in total and I was enjoying training so much that I had increased my weekly visits to the gym to three (never abandoning my Zumba, so that was a fourth visit). Livia had taught me to be independent around any gym and gyms became places where I was feeling more and more at home.
In September 2018 two very important things happened:
a) I did the Cleanse programme (30 days of detox and healthy eating) with Livia in order to clean my system from a hormonal treatment and I recovered my figure and my health;
b) Livia came back with her medals after she absolutely owned that stage at the UFE European Championships (a natural bodybuilding federation) in London. I realised that women my age could still win medals to recognise their dedication and efforts! The seed of a thought was planted then.
And it became more tempting when Livia and Jo Morrison hosted a FB live explaining to their followers what does it entail to compete in an event like UFE’s. I went with my friend M and we were very impressed. A few days later I was signing up for the September 2019 edition of the UFE Championships.
From then on, my life became really organised with regards to food, sleep, training and exercise. I do travel a lot for my work but Livia helped me adapt my food plan to my travels. I worked in gyms in Brazil, Germany and parts of Africa. My body became stronger and leaner. Livia kept changing my food plan and training plans so we could keep my body from becoming too ‘used’ to the training and food. Challenging my metabolism to become more active was achieved by eating small and frequent meals.
Livia taught me how to pose for these competitions, advised me on outfits and kept me motivated when I faced obstacles. Some obstacles included an under active thyroid that was threatening to derail my plans to compete at UFE. The second challenge was a shoulder injury which limited my range of movement and the possibility to build a strong upper body in time for the competition.
I went to a physio, followed his advice but mostly, I felt very supported by Livia with regards to training….There are so many variables in our lives. Some of them are within our control (like me training legs and glutes, forgetting about the back and upper body) and others are not…With Liv we kept working on tweaking my food and exercise to achieve that goal figure for the day of the competition.
Liv supported me through carb-cycling and all the pressures of Peak Week before the UFE competition. That day I became the European Silver medallist of the over 45 Fitness Model category. I received Elite athlete status and will compete in the World Championships in Toronto, Canada in 2020. My stage weight was 56.5 (28 Kgs below my initial weight) and I was feeling so comfortable and toned.
I’m now in the process of ‘reverse dieting’ to a more sustainable food intake and Liv is supporting with me that as well. She gives me food plans and talks to me about this particularly delicate stage in a competitors life! This is the moment (the off season) to build a stronger body with the rights foods. Next summer (2020) I shall be concentrating on losing body fat to show all the hard work with my training and I’m hoping Livia will coach me again but this time towards Toronto 2020.
Thank you Livia for helping me be in the best shape of my life at the tender age of 48!! 😉