The circumstances for me deciding to work with Phil are probably as unoriginal as they come: I was carrying a few extra stone, I looked unhealthy and I was severely unfit. But there were also deeper issues at play.
Health and fitness shouldn’t be difficult: exercise more and eat right, I imagine everyone in the world knows that. But the problem is recognising what’s stopping you from making the right choices. I was aware what I needed to do, but I still wasn’t doing it, and that was making me unhappy and a pretty miserable person to be around.
I made the decision to invest in myself, and, upon a recommendation from a friend, that meant taking the decision to pay for a trainer. Before I actually worked with Phil, my impression of a personal trainer was more like a drill sergeant – certainly not someone who cared just as much about what you did outside of the gym as he did what you did inside.
Phil had every reason to be sceptical about me: I started in the new year, had to have a lie down during our first session and knew absolutely nothing about how best to exercise. But I don’t think he ever doubted that I could achieve the change I wanted. Looking back – some 18 months later – I think that’s for a couple of reasons: firstly, Phil has absolute confidence in his methods because he knows they work (if the client is willing to do the work) and secondly, because of his own experiences, he knows how addictive it is once you start seeing results.
I quickly realised that getting fitter isn’t about punishing yourself in the gym or going on diets, but making lifestyle changes, creating healthy habits and learning how to make smart choices. At no point did I ever feel like I was having to miss out of anything fun, I just was better equipped to make the right choice for my goals on a day to day basis.
Key to this was the support I received in Phil’s ‘inner circle’ – a private Facebook group full of Phil’s other clients. That group has been a place to share successes and receive support when things aren’t going as well as I’d hoped. There’s nothing more motivating than seeing others achieve their goals and it’s a great educational resource.
I had two sessions a week with Phil for over a year, during that time I went from only going to the gym when I had a session with Phil, to having the confidence to create a routine that worked with the goals I’d set with Phil and work on that on my own.
In 2016 I made the decision to stop having sessions with Phil, but I began to feel like I was treading water in the gym, keeping things consistent but not making huge process. Phil was kind enough to let me try his new Healthformation Project, a 12-week programme that included plenty of working on creating the right mindset for a healthy life.
Now, if you’d have asked me 18 months ago what I would struggle with, I’d have said the mindset work. I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to stuff like this and, to be honest, I thought some of it might be tosh. But, oddly, I feel like I’ve really responded to it. Just the act of writing things down and taking time to actually think about, put it into words and then review my thoughts has really clarified my thinking. I’m motivated and excited to go the gym, but I’m also seeing my fitness as more than just that.
My nutritional habits are better than they’ve ever been. I still make some bad choices, but I’m aware of it and sometimes I need to factor in a treat/cheat/reward. Previously I’d been pretty against doing that in any form and any slip up was a grievous error. But now I see that part of the reason I’m doing this is to be a more well-rounded (not round) person – and that includes being sociable, being more energetic and enjoying my life more, all of which I feel I’ve achieved. So sometimes I say yes to things I shouldn’t. Or have had a pint when I know I’ve got to get to the gym the next morning. But knowing that I’ve had fun and I’m feeling more balanced makes that worth it for me.
I’d always said that I struggled at setting goals, but I think what I struggled with was knowing that the journey to those goals would be arduous and punishing. Now, I’m pretty confident I can reach those goals and enjoy the path to getting there, even if it takes a little longer than I initially thought.
I’m fitting into T-shirts I haven’t been able to since I was a teenager (and the arms feel quite snug too, which is a good feeling). I’m wearing jeans that are 4-5″ smaller than they were 18 months ago. I look and feel healthier. I wake up in the morning and I actually want to go and be active.
All that because 18 months ago I made a decision to invest some time and money into myself. It’s certainly paying dividends now, and I rank the decision to get in touch with Phil as one of the best I’ve made in my life.