After my promise in the Cyclebox post to get fitter, I kind of went off track. I mean I joined a gym, I went to yoga twice and I managed to resist a Percy Pig that one time, but overall I wasn’t exactly fitness fanatic of the year.
I’ve never really had to worry about my weight, in fact I would shy away from exercise as I would worry people would think I was being ridiculous. Many would tell me I didn’t need to lose weight and that actually I’d look ill if I did lose weight so I was scared to try anything. With clothes on, I looked tall and thin – usually a 6/8, but I never felt toned and I was so exhausted all the time that I knew something had to change to get me feeling healthier inside and out.
Leanne Conroy: Female Fitness Programme
With my mini muffin addiction hitting its peak, I spoke to one of my friends who was working with Leanne Conroy, a female fitness coach who had just launched a 10-week exercise and food plan, the Female Fitness Programme (#FFP from here on in). She showed me her progress pictures and I couldn’t believe the difference in her body’s shape and toning – I had to get involved!
I messaged Leanne and was immediately taken with her positive vibes and motivation – just what I needed to get me started. My diet was never really that bad before; I ate good meals, but I loved to snack and often didn’t know what to eat to keep me going longer. I’m also allergic to nuts and all pulses (lentils, green beans, peas…you get the picture) so a lot of the health food bars and recommended snacks are a no-no for me. Leanne first asked me to fill in a survey where I could tell her all of these concerns plus my goals of why I wanted to join the programme as well as all the normal details (height, health concerns, weight). This allowed her to put together a food and exercise plan for me which is totally flexible, as long as I was aiming to hit my protein and calories goals. Before the plan, I also did little to no exercise so it really has been a massive learning curve.
I was all ready to get started on the Monday morning, if a little scared about my complete lack of fitness knowledge, but I wanted to take up the challenge. Unfortunately, this coincided with the week everything came to a head for me with my mental health and migraines and I took the migraine that resulted in me being signed off work on the Tuesday of the programme starting. I panicked and wanted to run away from everything. I sent a very rambled message to Leanne who luckily encouraged me not to give up – even if I couldn’t do the meal plans or every work out, she sent me an amazing email suggesting I even try some of the walks and eating healthier and I honestly cannot explain how glad I am that she did this. I think this bad time in my life would have been a lost worse being off without her and the plan. Here’s the 15 things the #FFP taught me in 10 weeks…
1. Tracking your food isn’t totally scary
The night before the programme started, Leanne emailed me lots of info including the download to the app that would become my bestie: My Fitness Pal (MFP). To start with, I found it totally overwhelming – how the hell was I going to remember to track every bit of food and would it not take over my life?! In reality though, after I got to grips with the app’s set up, it made choosing my meals so much easier and is a great motivator in choosing the better, more wholesome option food wise. I actually love seeing how well I’m doing at the end of the week and has really helped a complete novice like me understand nutrition a lot better.
2. Team work makes the dream work
As part of the programme, you are put in a private Facebook group with the other #FFP ladies meaning you have a fabulous support network of like-minded people going through the exact same journey. I was a little apprehensive as I was a complete newbie to fitness some of the girls had much more experience with the gym and tracking food, but it was great that all of us had difference experience as it helped everyone understand and support each other. It became a lovely little community full of tips – and plenty of memes!
3. Protein is your friend
I cannot stress enough how little I knew about the importance of protein and exercise together and I felt a bit overwhelmed at the start. Luckily, Leanne helped understand everything and gave so many alternatives to getting protein without having a protein shake. She is a massive advocate of getting your protein through a food source to have you feeling fuller. I actually really enjoy knowing when I’ve hit my protein goal each day and it certainly makes me choose smarter food options.
4. It’s not about your weight
I’ve never been one to weigh myself anyway, but Leanne is not about the number on the scales, it’s about how you feel instead. She encouraged us to look at our progress pictures and measurements instead of weight, which I think is a great message as it shouldn’t be your focus and can cause so much pressure on everyone. I loved Leanne’s way of doing things and so did the rest of the girls.
5. Exercise makes everything better
Even during my most horrible days of being off work, I would do all I could to drag myself to do the three home work outs each week. I won’t say I was ever excitedly counting down the seconds to start the work out (who knew home work outs could be so tough?!), but I always felt much better for it afterwards. Each work out is also tracked in the My PT Hub app which Leanne sets up at the start so you can really track all your activity which keeps you motivated to do more . Leanne posts a new home work out every week too which keeps things fresh and interesting.
6. Checking in is so underrated
One part of the programme I was properly freaking out over was the weekly check in with Leanne. The check in involves filling in a form of how you’re feeling and sharing your new goals for the week ahead along with your updated measurements and screenshots of your weekly nutrition via the MFP app. This is also when you save your latest progress pictures too. I really thought I’d hate the check ins – what if I did really bad? By the end however, I loved it! There’s no better motivator than someone helping you do better each week and I really wanted to achieve something. The progress pictures said it all.
7. Balance is key
As someone who has never dieted before, I didn’t want to become consumed by the calorie content in everything – I still wanted to enjoy going out for food and indulging in my favourites (hello, Dairy Milk). I soon found out Leanne is all about balance and you can still enjoy your treats. Plus, you get to choose a higher calorie day once a week (I opted for a Saturday) meaning you can really enjoy your weekend, completely guilt free.
8. It’s a lifestyle change
This isn’t a quick fix detox or a life existing on weight loss shakes – far from it. Leanne aims to teach you how to change your lifestyle as a whole. It’s not just about fitness either; Leanne’s weekly videos also focus on your positive mental health, from social media detoxing to the importance of sleep and de-stressing. It gives such a better understanding to a happy body and mind and the full programme of what you can expect each week is sent via email before you start so you know what to expect.
9. Seeing how far you’ve come is the best feeling ever
Progress pictures were super scary at first (sorry mum for you having to take pictures of me in my pants in the living room), but honestly I could not believe my eyes as the weeks went on. I felt proud of myself, more confident and I could actually see and feel the changes happening, from my stomach becoming more defined and toned to my bum feeling fuller (in a good way!)
10. Nothing is as scary as it first seems
With the way I was feeling mentally at the beginning, I just could not face the gym and the home work outs were perfect for me, slowly building up my fitness level and, in turn, my confidence. I finally braved the gym last week for the first time and felt so proud. The gym work outs are three full body work outs which change in week 6 and Leanne posts videos of how to carry out the work outs plus a full breakdown of each work out is available to use even after the programme finishes. Turns out, the machines in the gym I would never have touched are actually not completely terrifying. Who knew?!
11. You need to step it up
Sitting at a desk for most of the week meant I never really did much walking, but being off work has made me appreciate the power of a walk so much more. Leanne tracks your step count at the weekly check in too meaning you want to do better and better. Originally I just used the iPhone health app, but I got a cheap fitness tracker from Amazon for under £20 and it’s really made a difference. I have made small changes like parking my car further away from my destination to increase those steps and I love seeing the difference it makes. When I’m back at work, I’m going to do all I can to get a lunchtime walk in or, failing that, hit the treadmill.
12. 10 weeks goes seriously fast
It may seem like a lifetime, but the weeks fly in and before you know if you’re sitting feeling a bit emosh that the final week is coming to a close. Thankfully, Leanne has now launched the graduate programme for those ladies who want to continue their #FFP journey with more advanced work outs, check ins and a more in-depth look at fitness and nutrition. The graduate programme is only £30 per month and you can join at any time, meaning you can see how you get on after the #FFP then join the graduate group if you feel like you need more help and support.
13. Home cooking is actually fun
As someone who never exactly spent much time in the kitchen, the #FFP actually gave me the confidence to try my hand at more cooking from scratch. Leanne’s food plan sets out basic meal ideas to get your calories and protein daily, but she also adds lots of yummy recipe ideas to try on the Facebook page. I’ve got more kitchen savvy and have been making some really delicious meals, from chicken and chorizo melts to chilli con carne and it’s something I’m going to keep continuing with.
14. Eat your vegetables, drink water and don’t worry
Another part of the check in is your daily water consumption (all logged really easily on MFP) so it really makes sure you’re keeping hydrated. The plan also lets you eat as many veggies as you want and they don’t count towards your calories meaning you really make the effort to add lots more vegetables to your meals to keep you fuller for longer without any need to track them. I also loved that, as much as Leanne is constantly encouraging you to do your best, there’s no guilt or disappointment from her if you have a bad day or only manage one work out – it really is onwards and upwards with her.
15. It’s a commitment
The #FFP will be a success from the work you put in. Leanne gives you the resources and support to achieve your fitness goals, but at the end of the day it is you who puts that hours in and you really get out what you give. The first week or two might seem super scary and overwhelming, but if you keep going, do your best and make even small changes and work your way up, I seriously don’t think you will ever regret it.
The next Leanne Conroy Female Fitness Programme launches on 8th October and consists of 10 weeks of fitness and nutrition for £99. For more information, or to sign up for the next programme, visit Leanne Conroy’s Facebook page or leanneconroy.co.uk.
With thanks to Leanne Conroy, Female Fitness Coach for her support over the past months. This is not a sponsored post, but I was kindly gifted 10 weeks on the #FFP complimentary.