It Started With A Dress: Finishing My 12 Week Challenge (After Photo Included) 6 years ago

It Started With A Dress: Finishing My 12 Week Challenge (After Photo Included)

In a weekly feature,'s Liz is going to share her weight loss journey. She’ll be filling you in on fighting temptation, her willpower struggles with the cocktail menu and taking painfully slow steps towards regular exercise. All in the name of a dress.
Hanging on the wall at the end of my bed is the constant reminder I plan on shedding nearly two stone this year. I also plan on marking the trials and tribulations of ‘trying to be good’ – the favourite saying we all tout, and quickly replace when a cake is put in front of us.

Week 70: The moment of truth


If you told me 12 weeks ago that I was going to be a stone lighter and noticeably trimmer, I would have (politely) laughed in your face.

Or thought you were secretly crazy behind your back.

The truth is, I’ve never been the ‘fit’ girl.

I’ve been the talker, the nerdy one, the daydreamer, the foodie… Never the energetic, best head to the gym kind of girl.

For anyone who reads this on a regular basis, you’ll know I’ve tried for some time to maintain a steady weight. But I’ve had some barriers.

Sometimes it was a case of indulging my sweet tooth. Other times it was eating my feelings.

There’s no point in being shy about it - what you eat in private shows in public.


So when I started a 12 week Bootcamp programme with The Shelbourne, I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect.

gym photo1

My before snap...

A little part of me was nervous, because if I failed, I was failing publicly.

And I’m ridiculously competitive. I hate losing. I still can’t play monopoly without my chest tensing.


(Warning: Always give me the boot if you don’t want me moaning about tampering with my luck)

I was also not over dissatisfied with my body. Which I think is important to state as well.

I had put on a bit of weight, but I was an average size for an Irish woman.


I was eating more than I should, probably knocking back a few glasses of wine too many on the weekend and telling myself it was ok. My jeans still fit.

And for most people that’s enough.

That’s a happy goal.

So when I went into the gym, I told myself that anything I gained from this experience was a benefit.


I had my game face on.

Maybe I’d learn what time of the day I was more productive, maybe I’d find some form of exercise I didn’t mind, or that I’d make better meal choices.

I went in with an open mind.

I’d be training with a personal trainer one day a week, be given a set programme and nutrition guide and I could tag along to any classes in the schedule.

It all sounded pretty ideal, and with it being just a short walk from the office, I argued with myself that getting into town an hour before work kicked off shouldn’t be that big of a deal.

When I first walked in, if I’m being 100% honest, I was a little nervous that a male personal trainer was taking me on. What if he was mean? What if I got period cramps? What if I just wasn’t able to keep up with it and embarrassed myself?

I can safely say, none of these concerns ever materialised. And yes, I still had my period – we just did weight training on those days.

Phil was really easy to talk to, he accepted that I was nervous and although he spent 12 weeks pushing me to my limits, he also knew that sometimes I was trying my best but my body just wasn’t there yet.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t secretly wish I was going to have abs by the end of all of this, but I did know it’s all a process.

When I started this programme, my first goal was to start back exercising regularly.

Food alone was never going to be enough.

After my first session, where my fitness levels were tested, it’s safe to say I was starting from scratch. Only 12 weeks later can I admit that after I was let go from the gym floor did I go down and lie across the couch in the dressing room so I wouldn’t get sick.

I’m so glamorous, I know.

It was also a pretty scary realisation. That I could be a little pudgy, not really overweight, and still be so out of shape.

So when I say I was sceptical from the start, I’m not lying.

I’ve also got the most annoying asthma known to mankind. The wheezy, carry my inhaler in my pocket, just missing the braces and uniform geeky kind of asthma that most people don’t have to worry about past puberty.

So we set out three main goals for this project:

  1. That I would attend the gym at least three times a week
  2. That I would increase my fitness levels and tone up
  3. That I would lose a stone in weight

They say it takes 30 days to break a habit and 30 days to form one.

I had three months – so I had no excuses.

It’s safe to say I had my ups and downs.

Like the days I turned up and did exercises and weights I never thought I’d manage personally. When I started cooking great tasting food that kept me full and pulled me away from the chocolate. Or when I bought size 10 jeans and they fit, zipped up – no spanx required. There were also some bad days.

Like when I could feel my chest tightening on the treadmill and I had an asthma attack. When I was hungover and thought I could get away with it but realised every sprint, weight and stretch was making my tummy heave. Or when I was having some personal stuff going on and I was upset. I may have had to battle a few tears.

In fairness I cry at anything, so throw hormones into the mix and I could probably fill their swimming pool two times over.

I had a trainer who actually cared though. If it was just his job, then he’s a fantastic actor and should consider a career change.

I think it’s safe to say, half of my success from the past 3 months was having someone like Phil around who knew when to be tough, but also sensed when I needed some extra support.

There were mornings where I was horrid and just wanted my own space to work around on my own from one exercise to the next, or days where I was full of chatter.

I think finding a trainer who understands your moods is half the battle.

I also found an amazing range of sports bras that took half the stress out of working out how to run with boobs.

Yes, it’s a problem. Don’t even think about judging me until you learn how to run with two bags of sugar strapped to your chest. It makes the process that much more daunting.

Over the three months, I had three programmes designed for me (each one was more difficult than the last), home workout circuits for when I couldn’t make it into the gym (again – no excuses), and a weekly session with Phil where it’s safe to say I approached them with some apprehension.

I also only had to do burpees once in three months. I HATE BURPEES.

They were a punishment for being 10 minutes late for a session, and I couldn’t argue the reasoning behind it.

It also made me a lot more careful about picking a training time.

So three months later, here’s some of the lessons I learned from working out, eating clean and having a dedicated trainer who won’t let you play around with your goals.

  • I learned that no matter how hard you train, you can’t eat ridiculous amounts of food, or drink heavily on the weekends. You may as well not bother with the hard work during the week. You won’t see results and you’ll demotivate yourself. It’s a cycle.
  • You’ll miss cheese and bread for the first week and then you get over it. You won’t miss the hangovers or pulling on your fat pants on a Monday morning.
  • If you learn the time your body exercises best, stick to it. I’m not a morning person, but I know any time I say I’ll go to the gym after work I found myself bypassing the gym on the way home to my bed. I work hard, and I get tired. I need to workout before I spend a day in the office, or it’s just not happening.
  • You’ll sleep so much better for exercising and your skin clears up. That’s probably a mix of the food and cutting back on alcohol. Either way, it works.
  • The scales don’t always reflect the effort you’re putting in. I hit a plateau where I didn’t budge and it drove me crazy. By the Friday of that week I had to go shopping for new jeans. Sometimes you don’t see the results as numbers on the scales, but it doesn’t mean it’s not working.
  • Finally, no matter how hard it is, how many cheat meals you have to overcome or how many times you’d rather hit the snooze button, nothing will beat the feeling of reaching goal.

After three months, I lost two dress sizes, 13.5lbs (I’ve since lost the .5lb to reach a stone), and I’ve gained a wardrobe of size 10 dresses and jeans.

Want to see the before and after snap? Well, here’s something I prepared a little earlier:


My before and after comparison snap...

I’m a lot happier, a lot more confident, feel more toned in myself and the best bit?

At a recent doctor’s appointment I’ve found my asthma and blood pressure have both greatly improved.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say it’s not expensive, but The Health Club at The Shelbourne delivered results. When I didn’t think I had it in me. When I kind of gave up on ever being a size 10.

I’ve never been a ‘fit’ girl, but I’ve been to the gym three times this week, when I didn’t have a trainer to answer to…

I guess it’s true. You can’t put a price on your health.

For more information on a Three-month Bootcamp membership at The Health Club at The Shelbourne, check out the website here.