A Plant Based News staffer has revealed how she lost weight, improved her asthma, and reduced old injury pain working with a plant-based personal trainer.
PBN editor Maria Chiorando was overweight, overwhelmed by where to start when it came to diet and exercise, and struggling with some health niggles.
When she heard about personal trainer and nutritionist the Plant-Based Coach* - aka Aaron Cattell - around six months ago, she decided to book in a training session.
"I was really nervous about that first session, going to a new gym, and meeting someone new," she said. "But I felt like I had to work with someone who had expertise in fitness and nutrition, and who would also give me some accountability.
"I had been told not to gain any more weight by my asthma nurse - who suggested that losing some would be a good idea. But I was getting overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information available when it comes to diet and exercise.
"On top of this, I sustained a painful injury in a car crash about five years ago. While I'd been told to do yoga by a physio, this had made it worse. During the first session with Aaron, we did some basic exercises so he could see my strengths and weaknesses. He instantly spotted that I had a hip injury, and was able to build a program that took that into account."
Chiorando's initial goal was to lose some weight, taking her BMI closer to the lower end of normal. A key part of this was changing her diet, using the whole food plant-based meal plans provided by Cattell.
According to Cattell, diet change is key when it comes to losing weight. "The main difference in people meeting or not meeting their goals is changing their diet," he said. "I had a client back in New Zealand who saw me five times a week. He would train really hard but he wouldn't change his food. But as soon as he did, that's when he got the results.
"Exercise alone is a very ineffective way to change your body composition. If you want to get strong, it will be great, but for body composition change you really need to look at diet."
He added that weight loss is a common goal among his clients, saying: "Most people's goals are focused on body composition changing. So weight loss is a common one, but the reason people want the weight loss is more important - which can be confidence, health, and happiness."
As well as working out with Cattell once or twice a week, Chiorando followed his recommendations and started forming new active habits - including walking 10,000 steps a day, and planning meals in advance.
As a result, over around six months, she lost around 34lb (15kg). This had a major impact on her asthma, massively reducing her use of her reliever inhaler. In addition, despite significantly increasing the frequency and intensity of her workouts, her hip injury has been largely dormant.
'Just get started'
When it comes to embarking on a fitness program, Cattell has one piece of advice. "Just get started," he said. "Imperfect action is better than no action. I think a lot of people get paralyzed by overanalyzing things. Just doing something will help - moving, doing 10,000 steps a day, running a food diary is a good starting point."
That doesn't have to involve working with a trainer - which will be something many people are not able to do for various reasons. "I do encourage some people to try and do it by themselves first, because why not," he said.
But having a coach can make progress easier. "If you do have a coach who knows what they are doing, they are going to give you a structure that's individual which will make it easier. They will hold you accountable, which is massive. You will go to a session you have booked in, even if you don't think you feel like it.
"And I think it's important to have a coach who understands the nutrition side of things because when it comes to body composition especially it's important to look at both sides."
*This is not sponsored content. Maria paid for her pt sessions and will continue to do so in the future.