November Fitspo @almawhite_coach
To me, fitness is a way of honoring and loving my body. It’s an essential part of my life that keeps me both physically and mentally healthy. Fitness is a way to experience your body and to be present in it; something that for me feels crucial in busy London life. Fitness is also how I make a living as a women’s health coach & I feel extremely privileged to serve others in such a rewarding and fulfilling way.
What made you start your fitness journey and what were your starting tools?
At my heaviest weight, I was in an abusive relationship. I was depressed, scared & incredibly lonely. I had hit an all-time low and I was desperate to change. I had my partner at the time take some before photos for me and I was horrified. I honestly hadn’t realised just how much weight I had put on at that point. It was a real turning point for me. I started changing my food and my habits around food. I would plan meals a week in advance and I meal prepped everything including my snacks ahead of time. This level of planning and organisation made a massive contribution to my successful weight loss. I started off small, making swaps to less processed food & filling myself up on vegetables. Structure was an integral part of the process as I would often go long hours without eating and then end up binging. I made sure I structured 3 main meals and a few snacks so that I didn’t ever feel restricted or hungry. As I was so overweight, I lost 20kg in a few months without any exercise. After a few months of regular weight loss from my nutrition, I decided I was ready to brave the gym! I started with a personal trainer in my local leisure centre and first discovered weight training. Looking back, I wish I could tell that girl how much her life was going to change. I fell in love with weight training and feeling strong. .After years of thinking my body was broken & wasn’t good enough; that I was too overweight to exercise, I finally found something that made me feel confident & empowered.
What made you decide to go ahead with skin removal surgery?
I decided to have the skin removed because I felt my lose skin was actually hiding my progress. I knew I had lost a lot of weight but I couldn’t get past the skin. It added width as well as making me feel incredibly uncomfortable. Being a young woman it was important for me to be able to celebrate my progress and feel confident and sexy with the body I had worked so hard for!
How do you cope with people who may not agree that you opted for surgery?
Honestly, their opinion is irrelevant to me. Of course, I respect it but being affected by the opinions of others on your body and your choices for your body is a losing battle. I lost the weight naturally without any surgery, I couldn’t have done anything differently to avoid the skin other than not being overweight in the first place so for me, having it removed just made sense. I never planned to have surgery, I thought my skin would snap back!
What advice would you give someone who was considering getting the same procedure done?
Make sure your surgeon is appropriately registered and find out what aftercare is given and included in your payment. Ensure you have a support system and that you have access to healthy food to nourish your body in recovery. I wish I had prepped some meals for when I returned home, so Id make sure to do this! Be mentally prepared to have a big break from the gym, and acknowledging that you will be considerably weaker when you do return. I really struggled with this.
Ask to see previous images of their work and to speak to one of their past patients. Hearing personal experience is always good. I chose a doctor who had been personally recommended to me by various women and I now recommend him to my clients who have opted for skin removal surgery after their weight loss. He’s incredibly talented and the work he does is beautiful. Minimal, clean scars!
What is your go-to meal, and can you give us a 15 min meal?
My go-to meals are usually some variation of a fun, colourful salad with tuna or chicken and then peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, olives and lots of greens. I’m a big rice lover too & always make mine with shredded carrot (cooked in with the rice) as it adds so much flavor and of course some extra nutrients! I’ll usually have rice with some sort of grilled veg and some form of protein. For the most part, I structure my meals around some form of protein and some form of carbs. I try to have veggies or salad with all my meals and then add in healthy fats here and there.
My go-to 15 min meal would be protein pasta, homemade tomato sauce (just blitz some tomatoes, garlic, oregano and chili in the blender) and a can of tuna. Topped with my favorite eat lean cheese. High protein, quick & so super filling!
When you fall off track how do you motivate yourself to get back on?
I remind myself of how far I’ve come. Not just physically, but mentally. The amazing opportunities I now have to support other women as it truly brings me so much joy.
I think remembering how your journey makes you feel when you are doing what you’ve set out to do is helpful as you bring yourself back into a space of positivity and purpose.
Taking the time to reflect has been an invaluable tool I’ve learned in my journey as it helps me to stay in a positive headspace. I’ll try to identify why I’m feeling unmotivated and where possible make the relevant changes. When we understand why we are feeling low or unmotivated we often aren’t so hard on ourselves. Perspective is really important. Its easy to get caught up if you’ve had a bad day, so stepping out of that and seeing the bigger picture is important.
I find that if we continually feel we are ‘falling off track’, then the changes we’ve made often aren’t sustainable for us. Particularly with weight loss goals, it’s very easy to set yourself big targets when you’re unhappy with your appearance & lifestyle because you want to change ‘NOW!’. We often will then overload and give ourselves too many targets; join the gym, plan to do 2-3 short classes a day, download a running app and then change our diets and also try to drink 3 liters of water every day. It’s too much change too soon. This often results in a few weeks of success followed by weeks of feeling guilty when you’re not able to keep up the momentum. This is actually really unhelpful as over time we then develop a negative self-image, believing that we are the problem and that we can’t ‘stick to anything’ when in reality the goal was just too big to start with. I think you have to learn to be honest with yourself and identify the difference between falling off track and setting goals that are too far ahead for where you are right now. Steady always wins!
What has been your best success story
Professionally, I don’t have a single best story. My clients inspire me so much with the daily breakthroughs they experience. My favourite moments are when the ‘penny drops’ and something we’ve been working on clicks & just makes ‘sense’ to them.
Personally, my biggest success story would have to be the journey I went on physically, mentally & emotionally to lose over 11 stones. In that journey, I realised my true potential as I was able to tap into a strength and hunger that I didn’t know I had! Now, 3 years later, I have a wonderful fulfilling career supporting women through that same journey and that’s something really special to me.
What is your favourite workout routines?
I really enjoy strength training, boxing, and circuits. I go through phases but at the moment I’ve been really enjoying training upper body, particularly, shoulders and back. I like mixing it up with fun circuits with tyre flips, burpees, ropes, ball slams & prowler push. Boxing for me is a way of channeling difficult emotions and just releasing it all onto the pads. It’s also a really fun way of conditioning your body effectively without having to do hours of it!
What do you consider workout heaven and work out hell?
Workout heaven would be anything involving heavyweights, hitting or throwing things. That may make me sound really aggressive (I promise I’m a chill bean) but I just really like big movements that require explosive energy, it's so much fun & feels really empowering! Workout hell for me would be long-distance running or planks as I never stop shaking!
What songs/ music are on your workout playlist?
I listen to a lot of Grime when I’m strength training. Mostly UK artists. I like to feel like a gangster when I’m lifting as it gets me into my ‘strong zone’. If I’m doing cardio ill often listen to fast soca mixes on SoundCloud to keep my output & energy high. If I'm feeling practically tired or unmotivated I’ll listen to motivational speeches whilst I train. There’s one on Spotify called ‘Motivational Speeches- The best motivation speech & music mixes. It's really great as they are just short versions of speeches so you get the best bits!
What is your favourite cheat meal?
I don’t really believe in the term cheat meal as I feel they can trigger or even create disordered eating patterns. Cheat meals insinuate that you are cheating on your diet and that the food you are eating is bad. This kind of relationship with food is unhealthy, particularly for me as I have had an ED in the past. When I crave a particular food now, whatever it is, I have it and then I stay mindful of the rest of my choices so that I can maintain my weight.
Do you have any tips to stay motivated?
For me staying motivate Is all about remembering your WHY. Why are you doing this? What is the benefit? How was your life before? How does it make you feel? What’s the bigger picture? If you don’t believe that what you’ve set out to do is actually really valuable to you, then you just won’t do it- that goes for anything in life, not just fitness!
What is your favourite TWO THREE ACTIVE items?
I absolutely love the cargo leggings in both the blue and black. They have a really flattering fit and are made from a thick supportive material so you don’t have to worry about flashing with your squats and deadlifts! The drawstring waistline is also great if you’re smaller on top. I always get compliments when I wear them!
Any tips or advice you could give other women on their fitness journey
Figure Out Your Why
When things get tough you can reflect on this and use it as a reminder as to why you’re doing what you’re doing. You may find over time that your why changes so its good to continually work on it.
Love your body where it’s at right now.
When I first started losing weight, I thought that all my problems would disappear when I was finally slim. The truth is everything you’ve told yourself you’ll do once you’ve lost the weight you can do now and your problems don’t go away. Hating yourself through a journey is exhausting, learn to love every stage and stay curious. Fall in love with your body, not just its aesthetics but the amazing job it does for you every day without you even thinking about it.
Start your personal development journey.
Alongside your fitness journey, you should also think about doing some personal development work. I truly believe that nobody is overweight just because they like food. Most of the women I work with use food as a numbing tool for their emotions. Which makes sense seeing as food is readily available making it reliable and when you eat you actually release endorphins which make you feel happy.
Two books that I highly recommend reading are Breaking Free From Emotional Eating by Geneen Roth & The Chimp Paradox.
Any projects your working on at that the moment
Yes! I have a lot of exciting projects that I’m super pumped about! I’m hoping to have my website up for the new year; it's going to have lots of free resources for people as well as educational blog posts supporting weight loss and a positive mindset. As well as this, I’m starting a podcast which I’m hoping will be ready by the end of the year. The idea behind it is to connect with other inspiring people in the industry and to share our experiences through motivational conversations! I’m also in the planning stage of organising some London based workshops based on weightloss & positive lifestyle & mental health which I'm really excited about!
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