Whenever you I work with a client who’s made significant changes in her life, I want to just blast the airwaves and share it with the world. Even though it may seem simple to living a healthier, happier, and more vibrant life, it is not always EASY. Sure, eat real food, move your body and get rest, sounds simple enough, but the actual implementation of it can be a struggle.
However, like most things in life, anything worth having is worth working for. And I strongly believe that the amount of dedication and commitment that you invest in your own goals, whether is it is fitness, personal, or professional, is directly related to the level of success you will achieve. As a nutrition coach, I always wonder why do some of my clients succeed and can make permanent changes in their lives, while others, just can’t seem to get a hold of it.
One of the conclusions I’ve come to, among many, includes the amount of active participation a client makes in themselves.Meaning, how much time, and effort a client puts into their own healing process, rather than just following along and doing everything their told, the clients who take an active role in their own program (meaning, their doing their own research, asking questions, trying new things, and experimenting on their own) seem to succeed far greater than clients who just expect to eat exactly what their told without any real engagement on their end.
And one of these clients, is a distant client that participated in our March Lean Body Challenge, Alisha S. from St. Paul, Minnesota. Since our original challenge in March, Alisha made the choice to continue working together on a Maintenance Plan to make sure she could sustain this for life. After almost 4 months of working privately with Alisha, and seeing the life changing results she’s made, I wanted to share her story to inspire and motivate other people who are looking to make positive changes in their life, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
So, I emailed Alisha and she agreed to do a little interview about her journey and her success. Thank you again Alisha for your time, energy, and inspiration. We are all rooting for you!
SIRENA: Hey guys, what’s going on? This is Sirena here. And I have a really special person on the line that I wanted to introduce you to. I am actually on the phone with one of my distance clients, Alisha Simon, who lives in St Paul Minnesota. Alisha was one of our Lean Body Participants back in March. Is that right? Did we do it in March?
SIRENA: Okay, in March. And after the challenge, Alisha decided to continue with Private Coaching and she’s been doing awesome and just really kicking butt. I wanted to share her story and her journey with you and just kind of give you some insight as to what the program is, but then also what it’s meant for her and hopefully you can get some inspiration/motivation out of heating her success story So we’re just going to ask her some questions and then go from there. But first of all, How are you, Alisha?
ALISHA: I am doing pretty well.
SIRENA: Excellent, good to hear! It’s actually kind of funny but this is actually the first time we’ve ever spoken on the phone together.
ALISHA: I know I was thinking the same thing too. I was like, I’m actually going to get to talk to Sirena today!
SIRENA: I know! It’s so weird. Because we’ve been doing most of our, communication through email and Facebook and texting, so… So it’s kind of cool to actually talk to you in person. So, I just have a few questions that I thought our audiences and our readers might be interested in learning, but can you just tell us a little bit about yourself, your age, what you do, where you live, you know – that sort of thing?
ALISHA: Sure. Well, I’m 33 almost 34, and I live in St. Paul, Minnesota. I work for the state of MN, the Department of Human Services, and I do work with mostly data and people who are Medicare/Medicaid dual eligible. So, that’s kind of what I do.
ALISHA: So, I work in an office building in downtown St. Paul, so kind of a pretty straightforward. I have a 2.5 year old son and a husband and 2 dogs and 4 cats and a lizard.
SIRENA: Oh wow. And a what?
ALISHA: A lizard.
SIRENA: And a lizard! Oh! *laughs* That’s pretty cool. Okay, awesome. So, it sounds you just have a typical, 9-5 kind of desk job sort of thing, so..
SIRENA: Yep, okay so in terms of y’know, kind of silly question to ask, but when you got started, how exactly, because I personally didn’t know you before you got started with the challenge. How did you find out about the program?
ALISHA: Okay, so the story of how I found out about it is actually kind of funny. My sister is friends with Hannah Husband who is one of the original lean body challenge participants in January.
ALISHA: And so my sister is friends with her, and that’s how my sister heard about it and so then my sister sent it to me, and she was sending it in an email to my mom and I just as sort of a “so, what do you think about this?” But I thought she was sending it to us as “do you want to do this with me?’ so I was like well, this sounds kind of cool, so then I said “I think I’m going to do it” and then my sister wasn’t so sure and it turns out, my sister did it too, so I had that level of support too, which has been nice, to have like a person and we could talk about stuff that’s going on, also.. And our different experiences, so it was kind of a friend of a friend kind of way is how I heard about it.
SIRENA: That’s awesome. I know Hannah is a very good friend of mine, so… That’s pretty cool how when I started this program online how most of the clients I don’t even know, and most of it has been through referrals, so it’s been really, really cool. So, we’ll talk a little bit about where you were before you started, and why you wanted to join. What was it exactly that you wanted to accomplish, and what did you want to change in your body, what did you want to change about your life… That sort of thing.
ALISHA: Well, a couple things. I have a lot of weight to lose when I started the program.. probably a minimum of 100 pounds that I wanted to lose. And I tried lots of different things, and nothing seemed to be working. I ended up having my gall bladder out last October, and before that I was struggling with heartburn and it turns out that was almost more related to my gall bladder. So I had heartburn, I have lots of like, other digestive issues, gassy, burpy, those kinds of things that I just kind of was living with..
ALISHA: And I think what interested me about the Lean Body Challenge was actually the neural wake up, the kind of, the set of exercises you do every morning, because I like the idea of being active every morning when I wake up, and I like the idea of not having to pay attention to how much I was eating, It was just pay attention to what I was eating. And I was certainly addicted to sugar. There was no doubt about it, I would hit like 2 o’clock every day, I would basically be falling asleep.
ALISHA: And have to go get some.. like, a candy bar, or some other form of chocolate, or a soda, or something like that, which is just not which of course wakes you up enough to get you home from work.. And then I was taking naps literally whenever my son was napping on the weekend, I was napping with him. And be would sometimes sleep 2 or 3 hours and I was do that. I was waking up in the middle of the night, with the heartburn and some of those other things, so I wasn’t getting quality sleep.
ALISHA: That’s kind of what, that’s kind of where I was when I started.
SIRENA: Right, right, right. So I mean, for you, it wasn’t just about the weight loss, it was other things in your life as well that you wanted to change, like you had mentioned about your digestion and your energy and all those sorts of things. Did you find, how did you find those things change… What was the experience the first 28 days that you went through the program?
ALISHA: Well, probably the two kind of biggest things were first as soon as I started the program, and I mean like – first DAY.. I did not have that 2 p.m. falling asleep at my desk.
SIRENA: Yeah. *laughs*
ALISHA: I think since I started the program, back in mid-March, I’ve had that maybe once or twice, and I can usually tie that to oh- well, I ate X and I didn’t have enough protein, and that’s why..
ALISHA: … You know, my lunch didn’t have.. I can usually tie it to something. And then the other big thing is I don’t need to take naps all the time!
ALISHA: Which, I mean.. I love naps, and I still do occasionally take them, but it’s more an Oh, I think I’d like to take a nap now, rather than before where it was like if I don’t get at least an hour of sleep this Saturday afternoon, I’m not going to be able to function.
SIRENA: Right, right.
ALISHA: And I think those are probably the two biggest changes.
ALISHA: And to the point where my husband even said to me at one point he’s like maybe there’s something to this eating thing, because you don’t take naps anymore!
ALISHA: And I mean, and he still does, so some of it is just wanting a nap, or if you have, y’know, a night where your kid wakes you up, or in my case, the dogs wake us up more.. Sometimes you just want to get that little extra sleep, but those have been probably the two biggest changes. And then the other thing is that I r4eally wasn’t that hungry..
ALISHA: Which seems weird, because I know quantity-wise and calorie-wise I was eating less than I used to.
SIRENA: You’re eating more..
ALISHA: I know I’m eating less than I used to, calorie wise… But I’m not hungry.
ALISHA: So, I’m eating things that my body likes eating, and it doesn’t.. it’s not still telling me.. I think with your body, you think I’m hungry, I’m hungry… It’s truly saying you’re not giving me the right thing.
SIRENA: Yes! Yeah..
ALISHA: Give me something that I want, what you’re putting into me is not working.
SIRENA: Right, right.
ALISHA: I think that’s kind of, I mean I think that’s kind of been the other big thing. I’ve never felt like I’m depriving myself.
SIRENA: That’s good.
ALISHA: .. Or that I’m not getting enough food. Even though I know quantity-wise, I’m eating less.
SIRENA: Right. And it has a lot to do with just regulating your blood sugar levels because as you mentioned earlier, you know, you were getting t hose crashes in the afternoon and of course, when that happens, you want to go for those sugary foods, and those things don’t sustain us long0term, so I think you said it perfectly how if you’re constantly hungry like that it’s your body telling you that you obviously didn’t give it something it really needed, you know?
SIRENA: Yeah. So that’s great, so we’ll just kind of like go into a little more detail too, so… You wanted a program for 28 days and you had a lot of great success, and you actually were one of our winners, which congratulations again! Which is very cool.
ALISHA: Thank you, I was absolutely shocked. I talked to my sister and I think we had similar number of inches lost..
ALISHA: And she is smaller than me, so I was like oh, there’s no way possible I can win, because we have the same inches, so there’s just no way. So, I was completely shocked. It was a pretty exciting thing.
SIRENA: Yeah, no… that was great and you’ve been a great support system to all of the new people that we have on our Facebook page, so thank you for that. So, after the 28 days, you decided to continue which I was really happy that you decided to do. Can you kind of explain how after going through the original program, what you’ve been… what WE’VE been doing together and how we’ve been able to incorporate more foods that are “enjoyable” or foods that you like.. into your life and how it’s been just incorporating this into your day to day routine.
ALISHA: Well, I think probably the decision to do the maintenance plan wasn’t actually very difficult for me. I could just… I mean, 28 days is a really good way to get a start to kind of reset, but I knew it would be really easy for me .. I could almost see myself in my mind, oh once I’m all done then I can get all my dairy back, and I can have cottage cheese for breakfast, and then the week after that, I’m going to start eating sandwiches again. I mean, I could see my brain starting to do that..
ALISHA: .. and I knew that if I didn’t do the maintenance it would be a disaster that I would just be adding everything back in that wasn’t good for me, and just trying to rush to get everything added back in and I probably wouldn’t be able to maintain anything.
ALISHA: From the Lean Body Challenge experience. So I think that was, for me, it wasn’t that difficult a decision. And I also liked the fact that it incorporated work outs into it.
ALISHA: Because my work outs basically including while I was on the Lean Body Challenge, my work outs were essentially, what I did in the morning.
ALISHA: .. And that was all. And before, and I have a short walk from where I park to my office, but that was about it. While I was on the actual Lean Body Challenge. So I liked the idea that the maintenance kind of added in.. I had a sense of what to do with the food already, but I hadn’t been able to incorporate any kind of physical activity.. So, that was kind of what I was going for when I decided to do maintenance program.
ALISHA: And what’s been really good about it is I do feel like I have a really good back and forth with you, Sirena. Like, I’ll say I really want dessert. I want to be able to have dessert and I enjoy baking. And so I kind of figured out a way to find.. you know, I have my treat day, and we go back and forth a lot about the treat day, because Sirena said you can only have one every other week, and that made me angry..
ALISHA: But at the same time, kind of going back and forth.. I want my treat day every week! And the first time that I actually had a treat day, I went like.. way overboard, and I had a mojito, which I probably should’ve just had a glass of wine, but I really like mojitos, and it was a berry one, and I was like.. oh that sounds good!
ALISHA: And then I ate ummm.. challah, which is a bread that Jewish people eat on Friday night, and I had it with some like, kind of a margarine stuff, which had lots of gross chemicals in it, and I did not sleep very well at all that night, and I felt horrible. And then I realized, probably about 2 weeks into the maintenance, I realized I used to do this every DAY.
ALISHA: Every, like I literally would wake up at 3 a.m. every morning with some kind of like, intestinal, like, I would go right back to sleep, but I had to wake up to burp or something. I mean, it’s kind of like.. gross, but that’s what I was doing! No wonder I was tired, I wasn’t sleeping. And it just.. that was a horrible night, and I was like.. this is what I used to do all the time and this is horrible.
SIRENA: Right, right.
ALISHA: And it shouldn’t be horrible. I mean, I don’t have to be like that.
SIRENA: Right! So, do you feel..
ALISHA: I think that was actually a big wake up call for me, and I’m glad that it happened, even though it was really unpleasant and uncomfortable.
ALISHA: I mean, I’m glad that I really realized that it was used to be my normal and I didn’t … And that’s not a good normal.
SIRENA: Right, Exactly. So it was kind of like a contrast for you to see, you kind of got yourself to a point where you felt really good and you’re seeing results, and then to go back to kind of your previous habits, it was almost like a contrast like.. Oh my god, it’s a wakeup call, like you said.
ALISHA: Yeah, and it was really helpful.
SIRENA: Yeah. Yeah.
ALISHA: And for my need of desserts, I mean.. there’s tons out there that have lots of different desserts on them that are gluten free, that are sugar free, that are dairy free. Now, getting all three is a little tough, like usually you can hit 2 of the 3, but I’ve tried doing that as well, where I kind of make sure I incorporate, when I have dessert, when I want to cook a dessert, I do try.. not always successfully, to find a dessert that is other than the sugar part, pretty much gluten free, dairy free, and then the sugar is honey, maple syrup, agave, stevia, one of those sugars. So I really try to kind of do that so I get my dessert, but not feel horrible about eating it. And that was really the first month, month and a half; I was like so focused on that. And I’m sure Sirena was getting emails from me like can I use this recipe? Can I have this?
ALISHA: .. For your treat day, do it for your treat day… And since then, I haven’t been as obsessed? With that. Like for me, also seasons helps. Like we have fresh strawberries right now in Minnesota, so I get strawberries and have that for dessert. The plums are good. So that’s obviously helpful too. But you can, I think the no-sugar for the first 28 days is really important. Just to get your body off of it.
SIRENA: And by sugar, we mean like.. candies and stuff, but fruit sugar is obviously okay.
ALISHA: Are okay, yes. Even I found I had a vacation to New York City and I didn’t realize how badly I react to sugar. We had ice cream one night, and about an hour later, I was like.. exhausted, I wanted to go to bed. And then the next night, we had another dessert, and the same thing happened. That sugar!
SIRENA: Yeah! Yeah! And it’s a matter of getting your body to a point where, and you know, it’s a process for your body and as your body heals, you will be able to say handle that, and not feel it so dramatically, you know?
ALISHA: Yeah, and it’s definitely, I mean.. I don’t eat, when I do have a treat day, and we’re at a birthday party or something and I have cake, or something like that.. I don’t eat as much of it because I know exactly how it’s going to make me feel, and I know I can just have a little bit of this, and that’s okay and I get my treat in, but I don’t need it.
SIRENA: Right, right. You don’t have to rely on it as maybe where you were previously. Yeah, so that’s great. So, looking forward, what are your goals for yourself in the next 3 months? 6 months? A year? What would you like to accomplish?
ALISHA: Well, I would like to obviously continue to lose more weigh and inches. And make more of the clothes in my closet too big on me, which is always really fun. That’s probably one of the fun things, like.. these pants are almost too big now! That’s kind of a fun thing.
SIRENA: Yeah! *laughs*
ALISHA: But I’d like to kind of continue on that journey. But I think the other thing I’d like to do is kind of continue to step up my exercise and try to do that within the confines of obviously being somebody who works 40 hours a week and has a kid to take care of when I get home, and I mean I know I’m going to need to kind of moderate that. 6 years ago, I did triathlons. And I’d love to go back to doing triathlons. I know that the training regimen is going to be really different now than it was 6 years ago, before I had a kid.
SIRENA: Right right
ALISHA: But I think that probably that’s one of the big things is you really kind of continue increasing my strength and then also my aerobic ability. And then I think the other thing is really just continue to kind of maintain this diet to be primarily dairy and gluten free. While I’ve found that gluten doesn’t really seem to bother me THAT much… and the dairy does bother me more than I would like to admit because I love cheese. But the other reality is I just feel better without the dairy. So, primarily stick to that and really avoid those refined sugars. And I think I really just kind of want to keep on that path.
SIRENA: That’s great!
ALISHA: And it’s been an easy thing to incorporate into my family diet. I mean, there are certain things.. We really haven’t had pasta since I started. There have been a few nights where I basically said to my husband “I will get something for myself, you make something for the two of you.. You could make pasta, you can have macaroni and cheese, like.. whatever you want..” Or if we do burgers on the grill, they’ll have a bun, and I won’t.
SIRENA: Right, right.
ALISHA: That’s not a problem, for me. So I think I just kind of want to kind of continue on that path with the diet, and I also kind of want to continue to tweak it as I go.
SIRENA: What are some things you’d like to tweak?
ALISHA: I think I probably want to really.. I do want to have a little more dairy. I know it’s not great for me, but I want to say like.. Okay, I can have a little cheese, but I don’t think I’m quite there yet. I mean I have had cheese on treat days, but I’m thinking I probably need to kind of hold off, you know, there are certain things that once a week I can have, I think that kind of long term, I want to know that once a week, I can have those things, but I am not at the point where I should be doing that every week yet. And I think that also goes with like making sure I have a couple of grain-free days every week. That’s another thing I kind of want to make sure I maintain.
SIRENA: Right, right. That’s good, that’s good. And part of the process with going through maintenance is slowing incorporating those things back in, and especially dairy, because if dairy doesn’t bother you, then there is a great source of calcium and vitamin D, so it’s good to try to incorporate those things, but it’s all person dependent and your body will tell you when you’re ready for those things, you know?
SIRENA: Yeah, Cool. So, things have been going well. Since you started back in March, do you mind sharing with us some maybe results? In terms of how much weight you’ve lost? How many inches you’ve lost? What parts of your body just feel better to you? That sort of thing?
ALISHA: Sure. I’ve lost 20.5 pounds at my last official weigh in, which was pretty exciting to me.
SIRENA: That’s awesome!
ALISHA: And I’m quickly going back to my wedding weight. My goal is.. our fifth anniversary is in October and I told my husband I’m going to weigh less on our fifth anniversary than when we got married.
SIRENA: That’s awesome!
ALISHA: So I’m very excited. I mean, you have the.. There’s the .. “Okay, I’m at my pre-pregnancy weight, okay, I’m at …” You know, you have all of those. So, that’s pretty exciting and I’m about 5 pounds away from that, which is awesome. Um, I’ve lost over 13 inches, and it’s really been.. Probably the biggest place I haven’t lost a lot is my arms. But I’ve lost in my chest, my waist, my hips and thighs.. I’m just kind of all over.
ALISHA: And that’s really helped. I mean, pants that I probably was at the point when I started that I was going to have to go up another size in pants.. Now all those pants are loose on me.
SIRENA: That’s awesome!
ALISHA: And that’s awesome. And I have this pair of pants I bought last summer and I bought them and didn’t return them in time, and I couldn’t even zip them.. and now I can wear them.
SIRENA: Right, right.
ALISHA: And so it’s just that kind of stuff. That’s been great. And I feel better in my clothes. Just in general.
ALISHA: Being able to go into a store and try things on.. I feel better and friends and family notice that there’s a difference. And I think it’s almost the inches more than the pounds. I’m really excited about the pounds, but the reality is even if I hadn’t lost the pounds, I think the inches that I lost are as important, if not more important.
SIRENA: Right, right. That’s awesome! Looking at your before and after photos, you can see a clear difference, and I can’t wait to see what they look like in another few months, you know?
ALISHA: Yeah! Me too! It’s really hard in the beginning when you’re doing them like every two weeks, but when I recently did my.. it’s been 3 months since I started, and putting those photos together, that was pretty awesome, to be able to see that.
SIRENA: Yeah, that was pretty cool!
ALISHA: Because normally I can see it, but when I look at the photos, I don’t notice the difference, there’s no difference! But then you look at them, 3 months apart and you think Oh! There’s a big difference!
SIRENA: Yeah, there is a big difference! That’s awesome. So, aside from the physical changes, a lot of what I try to incorporate in my programs is really.. it’s not just about food, it’s not just about exercise, but it’s about a lifestyle and how you feel about yourself, mentally and emotionally. Can you talk a little bit about some of the changes that you might have experienced in that regard?
ALISHA: Sure. One thing is I just, I think generally I am happier. I mean, I’m usually an optimistic person, but I think generally speaking, I’ve been over-all, happier. And my moods are just more even.
ALISHA: Which, I mean, this is some of the funniest posts on the Facebook are people saying “I had my period. I didn’t have PMS. It was the most amazing thing!”
ALISHA: You see those kinds of things. I just feel like every kind of thing about me is just more regulated now, more calm.
ALISHA: I think that’s probably the biggest thing. And another thing is just really spending, I spend time now just sort of thinking about how .. I just think about how everything I do in my life impacts me, and you know, when I’m stressed out, I say Okay, I’m stressed out, why am I stressed out? Are there some things you can change? Like, if you have a deadline at work, you have a deadline at work, you can’t change that. But there are other things you can change to make it not as bad.
ALISHA: And just really I just feel like I’ve had a whole mind-body connection is much closer which kind of lets me see how my moods are really affected by what I eat, and what I eat affects my moods and then just saying where is this mood coming from?
ALISHA: And I think that’s, for me, it’s really that mind-body connection.
ALISHA: And as I’m getting further on in the process, I think I’m really starting to kind of think about just more about my emotions and where they are coming from and I’m just starting to do the journaling thing. That hasn’t been a big thing for me, but I’m sort of just starting to get into that.
SIRENA: That’s awesome!
ALISHA: But it’s taking a while. So it’s something, I mean I know that some kinds of people are totally gung-ho on the journaling and some people aren’t.
ALISHA: And I think for some people it just takes time!
ALISHA: So, I mean that’s one that I’ve sort of, it’s just very recent. In the last week or two, it’s been okay I probably need to add in to my grand scheme of things.
SIRENA: Yeah. That’s awesome. That’s really good. The journaling is a big part and I think it’s a great way like you said to kind of connect how you’re feeling and what your emotions are and how they play into not only your food choices but your life choices and that’s something that I think we tend to overlook and maybe take for granted – how impactful those feelings and emotions can be. So I’m glad to hear that the journaling is something that you’re starting to do for yourself. Well, I don’t want to keep you too long, Alisha, because I know you’re at work, but.. I want to just thank you again for participating in the program and for continuing and really for being an inspiration for … I don’t know if you realize it but for all the other participants, because it really does help to have other people obviously aside from myself give ideas and give advice and recommendations. So, I wanted to really share your story to really give someone who might be on the fence or who might just need a little inspiration to show that they can do it, too. I want to thank you for opening up yourself to that and for being a mentor to all the girls in our group.
ALISHA: Oh! Well, you’re welcome. I really enjoy the group, too. I think that’s one of my favorite things. Never take away my access to the Facebook group!
SIRENA: *laughs* Oh, no no! Everyone will be on there still.
ALISHA: It’s just fun to see how people change through the months. Even that’s parts been interesting when you’re one of the people who has already been through it, to kind of watch the other people go oh no! no grains! I’m going to die! By the end of the week, there’s always people who say oh, I don’t need grains. It’s fine.
ALISHA: It’s always kind of fun to see that, and you’re like yep, I remember being there.
SIRENA: That’s awesome. Well, thank you so much Alisha. I really appreciate it. And I look forward to putting this interview together and putting it on the site. And thank you again and if there’s anything that you need, just let me know, okay?
ALISHA: Alright. Absolutely.
SIRENA: Alright. Take it easy.
ALISHA: Okay, you too.