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People want to lose weight for several reasons; Ali Atherton had “always been on the larger side compared to friends” and upon reflection, can’t remember a time when she was “not disappointed” with what she saw in the mirror. Express.co.uk spoke to Alex about her weight loss journey and what she did to go from being a UK size 14 to 4, dropping 4.4 stone in total.
Speaking about her body before dropping four dress sizes, Ali said: “There hasn’t been a time in my life when I haven’t wanted to get ‘in shape’. I had always been on the larger side compared to my friends.
“I remember my mum being called into primary school because the teacher overheard me being picked on by some girls in the class for being ‘fat’.
“As I got older, I got began to make excuses for my shape. Always blaming something other than myself: a busy schedule, another exam, another stressful week.
“There was always something ‘preventing’ me from being able to dedicate time to myself.
“On reflection, I can’t ever remember a shopping trip, a holiday or a social occasion when I didn’t look in the mirror and wish I could just be two stone lighter, look better in an outfit, and not be disappointed with what I saw in a mirror.”
Ali explained she was most self-conscious about her stomach: “My midsection was what affected me the most. I have dreamt about having a ‘flat stomach’ forever.
“I see girls and young women around me wearing cropped tops and sports bras showing their midsection and I have never ever been able to get my stomach out in a gym class or on a night out.
“I have always made sure my stomach was covered for the fear of the dreaded roll sitting above my pants.”
In a bid to get in shape, Alex turned to Ulitmate Performance for help.
“My initial weight loss of 1.2 stone (eight kilograms) took me three years and included a mixture of fad diets and an increase in weekly activity,” she said.
“I started practising yoga because I felt too embarrassed to join other cardio-based gym classes.
“After this, I signed up for personal training with Ultimate Performance Manchester and lost a total of 3.1 stone (20 kilograms) over the course of 25 weeks.
“My diet was a calorie-controlled plan provided by my trainer David Cogley, and involved servings of lean meat, fish, and lots of vegetables.
“Emphasis was placed on consuming adequate protein to help me recover from my resistance training sessions, and over time more flexibility was included in my nutrition plan.
“I worked to hit certain protein, carbohydrate, and fat targets instead of eating the same meals every day.”
Ali added: “I performed personal training sessions three times per week with David, along with cardio by myself, or else a classed based cardio class up to five times per week on top of this.
“I also performed yoga or hot yoga sessions two to three times per week, as I found this an excellent way to relax.
“Weight training consisted of total-body training sessions with lots of compound exercises and heavy weights.
“We performed two to three exercises back-to-back in a superset structure, and I worked at getting stronger at the exercises over the course of my transformation.”
Wanting to lose so much weight came with its challenges as Alex explained: “My biggest challenge is the battles I have every day with myself in my head. I am my biggest critic.
“Many times in life I’ve been hurt by what others think of me, and the way I look.
“To overcome this, I became my own worst critic as a defence method, always thinking the worst of myself. I think my rationale was always to think the worst things possible so the thoughts of others couldn’t affect me.
“On reflection, I do find it sad as a young woman I’ve gone, and still, go through my own internal battles with the way I’m viewed by the world, and how much this impacts the way I dress, and what I do.”
As for what’s she’s proudest of? “My proudest achievement was the day I got my midsection out for the first time in yoga class,” Ali said.
“I remember going to class forgetting to pack a gym top. I only had some high waisted leggings and a sports bra. I sat in the changing room contemplating if I should even go into the class.
“I was with a friend who was super encouraging, telling me not to worry, that most other girls were showing their stomachs too and that I looked incredible. But in my head, it was just a barrier I’d never crossed.
“I did the class that day, looking at my body in the mirror for every second of it and pulling my leggings as high as they would go.
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“But I lay at the end of the class with tears in my eyes that I had been able to do it and felt proud of myself for once.”
Yoga was a “game-changer” for Ali who said she could “feel good” about herself when she attended a class.
“As my body transformation progressed it gave me the confidence to try different styles and classes which opened my eyes to a world of yoga that I didn’t know existed beyond the classes offered in a standard gym,” she added.
As for Ali’s future plans, she intends to “maintain the weight loss” and “build up strength”.
“I am learning new exercises such as barbell squats which keeps my training interesting and gives me new things to focus on,” she said.
“Naturally, I’m anxious about returning to the place I was both physically and mentally before my body changed, and that circles constantly in my head.
“However, I have now learned the skills to maintain my weight loss successfully and I hope with time this anxiety and worry will settle as I start to accept I have changed for good.”
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