Fitness

What really happens when you do a body transformation

You might immediately dismiss what I’m going to write about here by saying that it’s not feminine for women to have muscles ‘like that’. If you are truly interested to know what it really takes to make a body transformation and why this post’s hero Lisa Siebenmann, a personal trainer and my greatest friend, did it, read on and be surprised.

With a degree in hospitality from a school of management in Sydney, Lisa, a Swedish-Australian Londoner with a dry humour, beautiful smile and London Marathon experience under her belt, has always been active and fit (proof in the picture below). 🙂 A couple of years ago she made a career shift and became a personal trainer. Helping clients to transform their bodies (and minds), Lisa recently set a new big challenge for herself: a body transformation. As someone who envies her results, I asked Lisa all the burning questions about body transformation that I aim one day to do too. 😉

 

Why have you decided to do a body transformation?
Lisa: For a few reasons – the first because I wanted to get lean. I wanted to be more comfortable and felt I was carrying more fat than I needed and wanted to. I also felt it was time in my career as a personal trainer to demonstrate by example and to enhance my credibility. I’ve been lean before and this time I wanted to make the most of it and capture it on camera. Having trained with my first ever personal trainer since September 2015, he also encouraged me to take it to the next level so in February I decided to book it! And finally for the sense of self achievement.

Has the transformation you made met your expectation in terms of the process and results?
Lisa: Yes, I am very happy with my results! In terms of the process, the nutrition part of it was actually easier than I thought. I was under the impression that the dieting would be completely restrictive. How wrong I was. I learned that it’s about consistency and not extremes.

How lean where you before and after the transformation?
Lisa: In terms of body fat percentage I was approximately 21% when I started and 2 weeks before the shoot I was 9%. With the additional 2 weeks of dieting I think I was a bit leaner on the day.

 

How long did it take you to do the transformation?

Lisa: I started slowly. In September of 2015 when I started training with JT (Jonathan Taylor) at Ultimate Performance in Mayfair, he laid out my nutrition plan for me. I started to pay more attention to my diet by capping my calorie intake, hitting my macro-nutrient targets and creating a little deficit. I still enjoyed myself with sweets and restaurant visits. Then earlier this year I reigned it all in and kept it mostly ‘clean’.

How did you achieve such a fantastic result? What was your nutrition and training regime? Did you have to take supplements?
Lisa: I may have missed 1 or possibly 2 cardio sessions since September, so I committed myself to the training which hand in hand with the right nutrition is what I believe will get you your best results. My training including 1 or 2 cardio sessions and with 4 weights sessions totalled about 5 to 6 times a week. It’s the nutrition that really changed my body. I made sure to hit my macro targets – the goal was to eat as much as possible and still drop body fat for each phase. I took a few supplements like vitamins, BCAAs and glutamine. In the last few months my protein was all food, but before that I had a protein shake post training. I don’t think you have to take supplements, but when I train, I put 100% in which makes me tired, so during my prep time I took the help I could afford in the hopes that it would help my gut function/recovery and energy etc.

What was your typical day like in terms of food?
Lisa: I try to spread my food out throughout the day to have a more stable blood sugar level and also so I don’t end up with 60% of my fats and 80% of my carbs for dinner! Before eating I always drink about 500mls of warm lemon water in the morning just to give the gut a bit of a flush through and hydrate after the night’s sleep.

A typical breakfast could be a 5% fat beef patty cooked in butter, spinach leaves, fresh lentil sprouts, some cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs like coriander. I try to make a lot of my meals as interesting as possible so it isn’t just a plate of chicken, rice and broccoli – I try to use fresh herbs and spices and build as much volume as possible. The more calorie dense a food is, the unhappier I tend to be – I like to feel like I have a decent sized plate of food as I like to eat a lot!

How long will you stay this lean? Are you following any exit strategy?
Lisa: Staying photo shoot lean is not a goal of mine. But even with the added kilos post shoot, I am still a lot leaner than I was before. And that I plan on maintaining because I feel better! Ideally you would have an exit strategy, but I went on holidays to Spain and ate tapas. 🙂

Can one stay lean if they really want to?

Lisa: Yes, you can stay lean! It really depends…and let’s remember that some people are very lean naturally, some need to put lots of effort into staying lean and others less! Also it depends on what you want to look like at the end. I finished with a photo shoot so was keen to be quite lean, but maybe the next person wants to be even leaner or perhaps they think that is too much! Each to their own. My look on shoot day involved a little dehydration and a short period of low fat intake so the moment I finished my shoot and drank like a normal person and ate my Spanish tapas for a week I gained back a few kilos and retained a lot of water weight.

Shifting metabolism is a more complex topic, but the bottom line is that you will be more efficient at burning calories the more muscle mass you have. So just because  you got lean doesn’t mean that it’s smart to go and have a blow-out food-fest for the next 6 months because you have a created some sort of super metabolism for yourself! It hopefully means that you can work from there with a smart diet plan to slowly increase your calories and maintain a level of leanness alongside your training. So you end up with loads of calories and you don’t get as fat as easily as you used to! Exit strategy will be different for everyone, that is something that your trainer should be able to guide you through.

What was most challenging during the transformation? And how did you address it?
Lisa: Even though I was very motivated, when I started out in September it felt so far away that it wasn’t real. So sometimes the idea of smashing my session and lifting my heaviest weights possible when I was exhausted from work, lack of sleep and life in general, the idea of training didn’t fill me with joy, but I ALWAYS feel better after training so I really kept that thought at the forefront of my mind. I also tried to visualise myself on the day of the shoot and how I wanted to look and that helped too.
Fighting my sugar cravings was also hard. I found that this was a problem mostly at the beginning stages, that’s not to say that they disappeared completely, but it did get easier as the shoot day grew closer.

What have you craved most during the transformation?

Lisa: Baking cakes. It’s a big passion of mine.

How did you celebrate your achievement?
Lisa: With 3 doughnuts and some Ben & Jerrys. To start…

What have you learnt about yourself during the process?
Lisa: That with a goal I perform much better and actually I am very capable of dieting strictly once I get into it. Also having a trainer coach me was key. Being accountable to someone and the pressure adds a bit of pressure and that helps!

What are top misconceptions of the body transformation
Lisa: That genes dictate the outcome. That you basically need to kill yourself training. That you have to restrict yourself completely while you’re dieting.

What is your inspiration in fitness and healthy lifestyle?

Lisa: Seeing my body changing was the most inspirational. Also surrounding myself with some people who have the same interests in training and eating healthy like my beautiful fiancée for example. Two years prior he also went through a transformation and I obviously had a first-hand insight into how he went about it. Seeing his pictures and how happy he was with his results was inspirational!

If one wants to do it – what’s your best piece of advice?
Lisa: Get a trainer that specialises in it- not just any trainer. You would ideally see pictures from their own transformation or transformations that they’ve had with previous clients.

What expectations should people have when they are doing body transformation?

Lisa: That perhaps results aren’t so easy to see at first, but commitment and effort to the cause will get you there. So 2 months down the road still might not get you where you want or need to be, but carry on and it will happen. This process usually takes time for those who are not already well built and lean.

Would you advise anyone against the body transformation? Why?

Lisa: I guess I would, yes, if someone has no interest in their physical appearance then this is not for them. If you don’t place value in being lean as well as being physically defined then don’t bother. Because that is partly what this is about – this is how I believe I look my best! For me being thin is not my goal – I want more! If someone has no interest in experiencing what it feels like when your gut and body just feel better, then this is not for them either.

Would you do it again? 

Lisa: I would definitely do it again because I have grown to like the control that my trainer has over my nutrition and dieting- it makes me accountable and puts pressure on me to adhere and produce results. And I love the way I feel! I can’t describe it- my gut and my body just feel so much better. It’s a priceless feeling that a very ‘clean’ diet for a prolonged period results in. And it’s the sense of self achievement- it feels good to go through with something to the end.

 

 

Have you done a body transformation? Do you have any other questions for Lisa? Leave your comments! And if you would like to get in touch with Lisa for an online consultation or training in person (if you are in London), send her a message.