Real Life Advice for Making your Transformation Stick: An Interview with my Client Dawn, who Actually Did It

Follow any fitness program long enough and you’re going to see results. That my friends, is a given. The absolute key to a successful transformation, however, is measured by sustainability. How long can you keep whatever is working for you working in the long run? “WHY will it be different this time?”

Fitness fairytales

That’s a question everyone answers when they sign up to work with me. By the time I’ve entered the picture most clients have already tried everything; rigid eating protocols, unused gym memberships and even other trainers. They’ve often enjoyed modest success with some of their past endeavors, and they had a lovely time dancing at the ball. But as with a lot of back stories, whatever magic wand they were waving eventually ran out of sparkles, and they were left standing in rags alongside the pumpkin at midnight. That’s when they seek me out, because word on the street is that I’ve got a closet full of glass slippers.

Because of my reputation many of my clients attribute their achievements to me. And while I’m incredibly grateful to be offered the credit, the biggest secret about transformation success and sustainability is that it’s really all about THEM. THEY have to be in a head space to intrinsically motivate themselves toward their goals. At the end of the day I will be there to tell you what to do and cheer you on. I can yell through the biggest megaphone on the planet, but YOU have to show up with your mind in the game. You have to accept where you are and be ready to make BIG changes to get where you want to be on that field.

I think Wendi said it best when she talked about her transformation: “It hits each of us differently, but we all have those moments in life where we say, this is as far as I want to travel down this road.  That road could be a job, a relationship or like in my case, putting physical fitness behind every other responsibility in life. Then, because I think I was seeking and ready to hear it, truth was spoken into my life.”

Let’s hang on to that for a moment. TRUTH. It’s a profound and oftentimes scary word. It’s a word I avoided for a looooong time because I wasn’t able to face it. BUT, when I finally looked truth straight in the eye I found the real me. I thought I’d lost her, but she was there all along. She just needed me to see her for real. Right there. In HER truth.

I’m planning on getting that inked somewhere on my body because that word has meant so much to me in my life. You have GOT to speak your truth to everyone around you, but most importantly to YOURSELF.

Wow! Just sheer joy looking at this

And that’s where we begin with my ROCKSTAR client, Dawn. Truth.  She knew her past and she knew her present. She was up front and honest about what needed to happen to get her to the future she’d planned out for herself, and I was lucky enough to be invited along on her amazing fitness journey. I waited until now to tell you her transformation story because it’s one thing to hit your goals while working with a trainer, but it’s another thing entirely to sustain those goals autonomously for an entire YEAR.

Dawn has held up her end of the bargain she made with me and with herself. It’s like she shot right out of a canon at such warp speed she couldn’t turn her head to look back. And there’s no need to because she’s not going that way. In a moment I’ll let you go so you can read all about her transformation in her own words, but first I’d like to comment on a few key elements I feel kept and will keep her successful in the end game:

  1. She stays in touch. Even though we aren’t formally working together, Dawn has proactively reached out on multiple occasions to let me know how she’s doing and communicate little triumphs along the way. Having a mentor to check in with is very important at the outset. That is until you become a boss in that space and begin mentoring all those who’ve been admiring your success. Which leads me to #2
  2. She talks about her journey with others and shares her experiences. She’s evolved into a leader who inspires her tribe, and that kind of inspiration is a hard-earned reward that compares to nothing you can achieve on your own.
    Dawn’s log book is pure GOLD
  3. She keeps her food choices moderate. She still eats indulgent food, and enjoys cocktails. The difference now is that she’s navigated how to go about feeling ‘normal’ in social situations without going off the rails. That level of discovery takes time and patience, and in her case a lot of food logging. Logging was instrumental in revealing her big picture for what works and what doesn’t.
  4. Keeping it fresh

    She ensures her exercise is fresh. Yes Dawn lifts heavy, but she also bikes and takes Zumba classes and participates in local runs with friends. She’s up for most new fitness adventures and that keeps her activities trending and fun. Whatever she’s doing, this girl knows how to stick to a workout.

  5. She knows and honors herself. This is THE BIG ONE. She’s done a lot of work to get where she is now, and no longer compares herself to others. She accepts who she is and what she needs without question. For females in our society that’s a tall order.



Congratulations Dawn! It’s been a true joy and a privilege to watch you grow and evolve into the fiercely strong woman that you are today. I couldn’t be more excited, and I’ll always be over here, cheering you on from the sidelines!



Cassye: How did you know you were ready to go out on your own with nutrition and workouts?
Profound milestone

Dawn: I knew it was time to try going on my own when I would go to the gym on my non-training days and I knew how to use everything in the weight room properly, knew what weight and rep levels to do, and how to supplement my diet nutritionally before/during/after workouts. Although I have been a lifelong fitness and sports person, I still was very careful not to rest on that past experience and be overly confident. I tested the waters for three or four workouts before really confirming that I was indeed ready to try going on my own without a trainer. Had I not felt confident or had I found it hard to motivate myself on my own in those test days, I would have returned to training immediately. I think that “deal” I made with myself really helped—I was basically putting myself on probation to prove to myself that I could do it solo.

Cassye: Did you have any fears about becoming autonomous and if so how did you deal with them?
Dawn: I did not have fears other than I wondered if I would stay motivated to keep pushing myself as hard as you pushed me. I wondered if I would get lazy and not finish reps, not increase weight, or if I would avoid exercises I don’t like as much. Although I don’t think I will ever push myself quite as hard solo as a trainer would at least not every workout, I will say I am committed to constantly reading articles online and watching videos in order to keep changing up my workouts so I don’t become bored or complacent. And, I think when you are more in the “maintenance” mode of just being fit, active, and healthy every day, you can do some really hard workouts then a few light ones and even skip a few gym days here and there. I’m at the point where I can afford a bit of flexibility and that feels great!
Cassye: What was the toughest part about being independent?
Flying solo

Dawn: I think sometimes it is hard to get up early and go to the gym, not having someone waiting for you. The accountability that a trainer provides is so key to success. In a year and a half with you, I very rarely ever missed a session. When I did, it was because of illness or maybe a looming work deadline. I didn’t allow myself to get lazy or flaky. You budgeted time for me in your schedule and it was my job to show up, on time, and work as hard as possible. I didn’t want to let you (or myself) down. Now, I have to be the one to just push myself to get up, get dressed, and head to the gym and that’s sometimes hard.

Cassye: What was the easiest?
Dawn: I think my knowledge and comfort level in gyms helps me to just feel okay going by myself. I’ve always loved gyms and classes and been very open to trying new things, so that makes it easy for me to keep going.
Cassye: What was the most surprising?
Dawn: I did not realize how much grunt work you did for me! You must have burned 500 calories each session just assembling and disassembling weights for me! It’s a lot of work putting things together on your own.
Cassye: What was the funniest (I know you have some stories)?
Dawn: Now that I am not tucked away in a boutique training gym, I get to be with the public and see some extremely bad form, some crazy gym attire, and some pretty awful gym etiquette! I always think of you when I see people speed lifting—doing reps at warp speed! You would always say, “Take your time…” and I just watch people do things like lift too much weight for their abilities and then do rapid reps that don’t really do anything. There is also a man at my gym who wears denim overalls to work out, an old dirty t-shirt, and work boots. He brings two big two liter bottles of ice water (Mountain Dew bottles) and a big red cooler and he moves all that around each time he does a workout. He’s strange, but hey—he’s there and he’s working out, so kudos to him.
Cassye: How do you stay motivated?
Dawn: I set goals—not on the scale like I used to, but more of how I want to feel at a certain occasion or in a certain outfit. I want to look healthy, younger, strong, and fit and I want to feel good in my clothes. I dress up a lot, so I think about cocktail dresses, slim pants, swimsuits, etc. and I remind myself of how good it feels to just get dressed up and feel wonderful and confident at an event. I have completely removed obsession on numbers from my life, which used to, for many years, be all I thought about. I was an obsessive dieter, I was bulimic for years, I over-exercised, I took diet pills, I drank every diet drink and concoction known to the modern world, and I would be on the scale one, two, even three times a day, carefully monitoring my weight. I was so thin back then, but not healthy. I was just obsessed about a number on the scale, a size of clothes, and I counted calories nonstop. I don’t do any of that now. I am a healthy size 10-12, my weight isn’t super low (currently 185) and I don’t fluctuate at all in size. I eat right, I have cheat meals, I enjoy drinks socially, and I think I have finally just become a “normal” person who is fit and slowing down the aging process naturally through my lifestyle.
Cassye: What advice or tips/tricks would you give to others about taking on a lifestyle transition?

Dawn: First, DO NOT WAIT! There will always be an event, trip, birthday, etc. Don’t wait for these to pass. Just get going now and embrace how you are feeling—-which may be negative at first, but each workout and each dietary change, you just stepped in the right direction. Cut out the obvious problems first—-like drinking soda, drinking sugary coffee drinks, and eating candy regularly. Cut down on cheese and things like bacon, mayo, dressing. These are all just extra high calories and pure fat and if you take these out for the most part, you will see results. These just layer up your diet. The soda one is HUGE and I think if you really calculate the empty calories you consume with drinking it, you will quickly see that it’s just holding you back. If you are dependent on it, then try cutting down gradually like from three Cokes a day to two, then one, then a small glass, to none. Replace it with water and Crystal Light. Also, (cannot stress this enough), get good gym clothes and shoes that you

Great advice here

like and organize your gym wear. Put out your gym outfit, your gym drinks, etc. the night before your workout so you can get up and go QUICKLY in the morning. Keep your gym bag ready to go. This makes a huge difference in going to the gym as it won’t seem like so much work if you can get ready fast. Lastly: Set goals and give yourself rewards. I think little benchmarks are so important! I get really excited if I can go up in weight when I lift or do more reps or I see a new result (like—I didn’t even know I HAD that muscle!!)—Then I treat myself once a month for good work. I get a new gym outfit, I get a facial, I get a pedicure…just something that’s just for me that reminds me that this is all worth the effort.

So there you have it. A fantastic transformation story that goes the distance. You can read more about Dawn’s training in her original testimonial.  If you’d like to follow along on Dawn’s journey, hit her up on Instagram. She is an absolute ray of sunshine glowing within the community she’s fostered. There’s never a dull moment; I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Have you succeeded with a transformation?

What’s your advice to those just starting out, or wanting to go solo?

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