Friday Roundup: A Client’s Journey to Muscle Definition

This week I received an insightful, honest account from one of my online training clients about how she’s changed her mindset to start losing body fat. Shauna wants to lose 3.5 percent body fat and be in the best shape of her life by next spring. She’s already lost over one percent body fat in the last few weeks! As you can see from her progress pictures, Shauna can now see muscle definition in her abs and is looking hot!

Shauna's attaining muscle definition with diet and a Workout Nirvana training program

Shauna’s Goals

How does Shauna push herself to do the day-to-day work needed to reach her goal? She has a laser-like vision of how she wants to look and a specific timeframe. She wants to be in the best shape of her life for a photo shoot, with a lean physique and crazy muscle definition (she’s going to rock it). Since she’s determined to reach this goal and has a date in mind, she’s super motivated and consistent with her workouts.

Following a Training Program

Shauna had already been strength training when she signed on with me so she had a solid foundation of fitness. I started her out on a 3x/week full-body strength-training split to build overall conditioning and stabilizer strength.

For her second phase I set her up on a 4x/week upper-lower training split so she could continuing gaining strength and muscle in a more targeted way. When it gets closer to her shoot we’ll put her on a body-part split to bring out the muscle definition even more. She explains how she shifted her mindset for success:

“Making the mental shift from wanting to simply lose weight to wanting to be stronger, leaner, and more fit was a big help for me. Just saying I want to lose weight sets me up for potential set back when I get on the scale and it doesn’t move. By wanting to be stronger, leaner, more fit, I know that’s happening even if the scale says differently on any given day.”

Shauna schedules every workout into her calendar and always knows the night before that she’ll have a workout the next day.

Her training consistency and diet have been stellar, so she’s already seen increased muscle in her shoulders, arms, chest, back and increased strength in her legs and arms. She also reports better energy, flexibility, and motivation on her program.

Adjusting Dietary Habits

To see muscle definition, Shauna knows she needs to reduce her body fat. She started her program knowing her body fat percentage, which I strongly recommend as opposed to focusing on your weight. Having that percentage in mind helps you set a goal and measure how you’re progressing.

Shauna’s been tracking her calories to gain an awareness of what she’s eating. When she was having trouble with late-night snacking but entered all the calories under “7 p.m.,” I suggested she enter them at the actual time. In this way she was able to see what time she hit the “danger zones” of boredom, stress, or feeling down. Like so many, Shauna has struggled with emotional eating and cravings.

“I craved foods that made me feel good (toast and peanut butter or jam, chocolate, chips) whenever I’m overwhelmed, stressed, or bored. Now when I’m feeling the craving start to happen, I stop what I’m doing and address it.

The craving voice is much like the self-sabotaging voice – the one that puts doubts into your head, tells you that you can’t do something, makes you afraid. I know the craving is just a voice – so I tell it to go away, that it is not welcomed in my life. Then I will make some green tea and try to address whatever is causing the craving (maybe take a break, list out my tasks, change gears). Ninety-percent of the time this happens after 9 p.m. Sometimes I will just go to bed.”

Prepping for Success

Shauna’s positive attitude has helped her adopt new habits. Instead of thinking, “What a drag to prep food – I don’t have time!” Shauna simply stepped up the task. She’s motivated by her vision and knows it will take work to get to her ultimate goal.

“I take one day a week and prep most meals. This means grilling  eight chicken breasts then putting four ounces in a storage container. I bought a whole bunch of small containers at the dollar store. I do this for all my proteins. I prep my salads, too. A huge game changer for me was when I stopped thinking that I had to have all this variety. It was just too much work. Now, I basically eat the same meals Monday to Friday and switch them up every week. Keep it simple.”

It’s almost impossible to eat clean when you have to eat on the fly or stop at restaurants. While prepping ahead might seem cumbersome to you at first, as you can see, it’s simply a matter of getting into a routine.

Learning Healthy Food Variations

Adjusting recipes for clean eating doesn’t mean sacrificing flavor, either, as Shauna discovered:

“There are healthy variations to so many foods and many are now my favourites. Lasagna without pasta noodles – butternut squash lasagna – yes, please! Cauliflower rice. Cauliflower pizza crust – no, it’s not the same if you’re a bread lover like me, but I love that I can eat pizza without killing all the hard work that I’m doing in this weight-loss phase.”

Habits for Success

Shauna also identified attitudes and habits that were sabotaging her and took action to change them:

  • “I didn’t step on the scale for the first six weeks. An uptick would have sent me to the kitchen for toast and jam.
  • I used to struggle with throwing food away. Even junk food! Or I’d finish my kid’s half eaten waffle. Now I chuck it. My stomach is not a garbage can.
  • I can’t watch TV without wanting to eat, so I have severely limited my TV time, trading it in for reading, which I prefer anyway!”

What’s Next for Shauna

Shauna has a positive attitude and she’s changed her diet mindset. She’s got her nose to the grindstone and knows this a long-term process. I have every confidence that she’ll reach her goal by spring, if not well before.

“Now that my diet seems to be under control, I’m going to focus on improving my cardio in this next phase. One step at a time. It’s a long process, but I’m not quitting until I reach my goals!”

If you’re curious about how a Workout Nirvana training program could help you get to your goals, let’s chat!

Winner of Free RumbleRoller

Thanks to everyone who entered the Workout Nirvana giveaway for a full-size, original-density RumbleRoller. I loved hearing how readers could benefit from the “big daddy” of foam rollers! I let my daughter pick the winner (she was thrilled). It’s Elle Erixon! Thanks, Elle – I hope you enjoy the benefits of this amazing self-myofascial release tool.

23 thoughts on “Friday Roundup: A Client’s Journey to Muscle Definition

  1. I think it is really helpful to see what a difference your client has already made in her body and personal happiness through the photos and her comments. While many things are out of our control, we can also pick our attitude as Shauna clearly did in breaking the emotional eating habits, prepping food ahead and following your fitness advice. Can’t wait to see her progress over the next few months!


  2. Thanks so much for the foam roller… really looking forward to that!

    This article was a real eye opener for me. I am going to keep it to refer to… love her attitude and keeping track of the TIME she eats is a great idea. I do it occasionally but never really go back and look at it. I will now.


  3. Thank you all for your wonderful comments – and great post, Suzanne! You are instrumental in my journey and your relentless support and guidance helps me stay focused and motivated. I wouldn’t have come this far without you!! xo
    I’m so excited to start phase 2 – can’t wait to CRUSH IT!


  4. Great article, Suzanne. I like the way you laid out the challenge faced by your client, the obstacles in her way and how she found the way to overcome them.
    The idea of preparing an entire week’s worth of dinners in advance and eating the same thing almost every day is exactly how I eat. My reasoning it different – I’m out of the house 13 hours a day for work and the last thing I want to do when I get home at 8 pm is START cooking – but it also does help me to eat cleaner, healthier and with plenty of nutrition. And the food is tasty.
    And Shauna, I’m 100% down with your realization that television is detrimental to people who want to affect positive changes in their lives. Keep it up!


    • Great comments Mike! Fantastic job keeping it clean. That’s killer that you prep a whole week of dinners. If someone didn’t want to go that far, just prepping once every three days would might be less overwhelming. (And agree that TV is such a time suck and calorie magnet.)


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