When life played hard-ball - this mum found inner strength and stood strong
I still remember when Sanjeeta first reached out to us. She wrote an email titled ‘help’, and after learning about where she was in her journey, I knew she’d come to the right place.
When you’re at rock bottom, one of the best ways to climb out is to focus relentlessly on yourself, and use the physical as an outlet to pour your energy into.
Since working with us over the past 5 months, she’s completely transformed both her body and mind. She’s down 11kg, regained control of her day, and found purpose in her life again.
In this candid account written entirely by her, Sanj doesn’t hold back, and talks about all the struggles she’s been through with her relationship with food, her pregnancies and her body image, and how the physical has proven to be a real vehicle to spark a change in all areas of her life.
It’s raw and straight from her heart, and it’s an inspiring story of a woman who found her lost spirit, and is becoming better everyday.
You can also listen to her podcast on RNT Fitness Radio here:
A Reason to Change
Everyone has a reason for change. Something that jolts you upright, into a decision to say enough is enough. The ‘why’ is so important and everyone will have their own ‘whys’ or reasons, it doesn’t actually matter what the reason is as long as that reason is big enough for you. The journey is yours and yours alone. The thing is, a problem is as big as it feels to the person who it affects and what is a small problem to one person is a huge burden on someone else’s shoulders.
There is nothing special about me. I’m just a regular 37 year old full time working mum of two beautiful girls with the normal stresses and strains that most people face. I work in the city as a financial analyst which comes with its own stresses. I had two C-sections, and a surgery one and a half years ago which resulted in the surgeons having to cut the same stomach muscles as when I had the girls. So three operations to my stomach muscles! Left with the classic kangaroo pouch, having a flat stomach was near impossible.
My whole life I’ve been a problem solver. If there’s an issue I will try use all the tools in my toolbox to try and find a solution but at the end of last year I ran out of tools…I found myself in a downward spiral and I was at the bottom of this rabbit hole desperately trying to crawl myself out and I just kept on falling back to the bottom. Life felt unmanageable and I was stuck in an absolute rut.
A few days before Christmas I went to see my GP and told her I just can’t cope with life…one thing that resonated with me is something she said. “You can’t control what other people say to you or how they treat you but you do have control on how that impacts you and makes you feel.”
The key word: control. I felt I had no control of my life.
That same day I went home and I was sitting listening to sad FM on repeat when all of a sudden RNT came across on one of my social media feeds and I went and clicked on one of the articles. It was Arwinder’s case study. Although I was in awe of her amazing transformation results, I was more in awe of the comments on how the physical was a vehicle for her well-being. I went onto the website and ended up reading every case study and most of the articles. The one that stuck out was actually titled It’s Never About The Physical. Every bit of that article seemed to relate to me and the bit that hit the nail on the head were the following lines:
“It’s about fighting the inner demons. Creating an outlet. Being stronger. More resilient. Getting out of the dark. Gaining new perspective. Aiming to be a better person every day.”
Biting the Bullet with RNT
I contacted RNT that very day and I laid it all out. I wrote, “I need control back in my life”, I still sat on it for a week making 101 excuses as to why I shouldn’t sign up and how it wouldn’t work for me and I couldn’t do it. I didn’t know anyone who had used RNT at the time and I went on my gut instinct, which was an incredibly hard thing to do as although in the past this is what I relied on, it had let me down big time recently, and I no longer trusted it. I messaged again to make my excuses but also to reason with myself before finally biting the bullet, and I signed up on New Year’s Eve sending an email saying, ‘instead of starting the year right I’m going to end the year right!’ This was the turning point that meant instead of trying to crawl out of that hole, I decided to leap out of it. You are one decision away from a different life. At that point in life, this was my one decision. Failure was not an option for me, I needed this win.
A few days later I was contacted by the RNT team and I began my journey. I use the word journey a lot as this is exactly what it is. It has ups and downs, but if you embrace the process there are so many rewards to be had. The RNT team was so supportive, explaining things and helping me calm down every time I had a wobble. From talking through the nutritional aspect, critiquing my training techniques, to just providing a listening ear and strategies to deal with life. I know I couldn’t have done it without all of the encouragement and guidance.
A Difficult Background
When I started I didn’t really have a body image in mind, I was just focused on getting my state of mind right. It was never about the physical for me, it was all about mental strength. I am not an athletic person or sporty at all. I was the chubby kid growing up and used to rely on my ‘bubbly personality’ to compensate. In fact, I was the kid that at school during cross country sessions who used to start off running, and then when the teachers weren’t looking, make a dash for the woods on the school grounds and wait for half an hour before popping out at the end so it looked like I had run the whole course! I eventually got into running in my 20’s and ran a few 5k runs and a 10k run but I have always yo-yoed in weight.
I had really troublesome pregnancies which meant I was in and out of hospital throughout. With my first pregnancy, now nearly 8 years ago, my weight wasn’t too bad, I didn’t massively gain weight until my daughter was born prematurely when I was 34 weeks pregnant, 6 weeks early. It was an incredibly stressful time. I had literally said goodbye to my work colleagues to start my maternity leave and went for my usual check-up. My consultant pushed my appointment to his last one for the day and when we went in he told us that my daughter was in distress and we needed to deliver today. We literally looked at him in disbelief as he walked us to the delivery suite. Paediatricians came in to explain that I may not be able to hold her when she was born and she may not be breathing. It was a scary time. She was delivered via C-section and taken straight to intensive care weighing 1.5kg. She was tiny, and we both ended up in hospital for nearly a month.
My weight issues which led to me being at my heaviest (30kg heavier than I am now!) started soon after. She wouldn’t feed properly as she had got used to having been fed via a tube that led directly to her stomach. When they removed this, she just wouldn’t feed unless it was a syringe or a bottle. I knew how important it was for her to have the nutrients so I decided to express. I did that every 3 hours for 6 months, day and night. It took me 45 minutes to express, 45 minutes to then feed her, 30 minutes to change her and put her to sleep, then sterilise everything which left 30-45 minutes to sleep if everything went to plan. The schedule was crazy and I was shattered. This meant I ate and snacked in between. My food of choice was biscuits and I gained a massive amount of weight due to stress, lack of sleep and really poor eating habits. I didn’t even realise as I was still wearing my maternity clothes so they expanded with me! I only realised when I saw a picture around 10 months later of me at my cousin’s wedding. I said to people at the time that I didn’t recognise myself. It was like the fat girl had eaten the real me.
Struggling with Yo-Yo Dieting
It was around that time I joined Slimming World online. I mean it worked and I got great results. I lost around 20kg in about 6 months but what it didn’t teach me was anything around calories, portion control or macros. It also didn’t incorporate any type of exercise although they do suggest you do some. I got to a certain weight and just plateaued at that point at around 57kg. I managed to stay around that mark but used to yo-yo 3-5kg up or down and actually convinced myself that 57kg is my bounce back weight. The equilibrium where my body is happy. I used to weigh daily but it led to bad behaviours. I used it to control food. Also, my girls started using them and commenting on their weight. I didn’t want that for them. I didn’t want them to have the same negative issues so I put them away and lost all concept of my own weight in the process and only controlled food when the clothes got really tight.
For those who know me, they would know one thing. I love food. If I’m not eating it, I will certainly be thinking about it or watching a programme about it or baking or doing something that centred around food. Food was my comfort and a complete emotional experience. I love food like most people and my life completely revolved around it. But I can go from not eating to completely losing it and going on a binge fest and eating everything in sight. Chocolate is my major weak spot and I have a mad sweet tooth. Most people have their wallet, keys and phone in their bag. Mine also includes a Lindt Nocciolate bar which I ate at 10.30am every day without fail. I used food as both punishment and reward which obviously meant my relationship with food became very negative. Prior to RNT, most of my meals were super carb heavy with very little protein. I never paid any attention to macros although, aside from the chocolate, I thought I had a balanced diet.
Being Vegetarian & Meal Prepping
If anyone is worried about the nutritional aspect of the plans, don’t be. I’m a vegetarian and once I got used to eating more nutritional food and took on the tips on meal prepping, it just became second nature. In fact, I probably eat more food now than I did before and saw the weight dropping off. Initially I told the RNT team that I just don’t want to think about food, just tell me what to eat and I’ll eat it. When I first got the plan, I tried to get fancy and jazz up the meals but some didn’t reheat well and some just became too taxing so I ended up keeping meal prep simple. Something that I enjoyed eating and was relatively easy to prepare. I realised that there were sources of protein out there for us vegetarians that were both filling and quite tasty if prepped right and to be honest, I kept it mostly the same throughout and still do. I know what I like and what works best for me and that has just taken all the mundane decision making out of the equation. I’m a creature of habit so this worked well for me. Now when I think of a plate, I think protein, veg, carbs and fats, and actually visualise if I have all these things on my plate and in what proportion.
What is so different about RNT? They have a wealth of information freely available on the website and it’s all there, all the science, all the real-life experiences and I used that to continually learn and grow. I have come to understand that carbs are not the enemy. Although when you are restricting calories, protein becomes king, followed by carbs and fats. I finally learnt about food and nutrition and how it impacts me on a day to day basis, and learnt to manage it without it managing me. It’s been the continual learning and understanding that got me through these 16 weeks.
But don’t worry if you make a mistake. We all make mistakes. I was almost on a linear downward trend with weight loss until I was 3 weeks out from the deadline we had set and I lost control. I let my emotions control me and I went on a massive binge. I ate anything I could get my hands on. I was like a vampire after blood, and to be honest I can’t even remember it. I enjoyed the first bite and then I just ate to the point it hurt, physically hurt. I was in so much pain and it was only at that point I stopped. I had to weigh in the following day and for the first time in my weekly check I had gained weight. When questioned by the RNT team I contemplated telling them what really happened. I was tempted to blame it on some random hormonal fluctuation. But then, I decided to own up. The team were very understanding, we talked it through and I felt better for being transparent. One thing is for sure, after seeing the impact of that one ‘meal’ on the scales and to my mindset, I didn’t make that mistake again. Everyone’s psychology is different, I needed that one mistake to learn. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Every bad day is a lesson learnt. Just try not to let that one bad meal turn into a bad day, a bad week or a bad month. This self-awareness has been incredible for me. I know and recognise my own strengths and weaknesses, where I strive but also my limitations and flaws in both my habits and my personality traits.
Embracing Weight Training
I have been a regular gym goer for the last 2 years, but it never led anywhere really. I also do a class called LaGree (and still do this – it’s a very intensive form of Pilates on a carriage which has pulleys and straps. Absolutely love it!) But at the gym I used to focus on cardio and spin classes as the weights felt far too daunting. Working out for me was my excuse to eat what I wanted, and my weight increased running up to Christmas which impacted my self-confidence. When I submitted my first pictures, I couldn’t believe I looked like that. I hadn’t looked at myself properly in a very long time and I was so unhappy with my body image. The Christmas period meant that I ate and drank in excess and gained some serious weight in a short period of time. It’s strange, the relationship with the mirror. I still look in the mirror and see myself as a size 12. I know I need to work on my self-confidence as that’s always been an issue for me and something I’m working hard at. However, this is where the weekly pictures come into their own. There’s no hiding. My 7 year old takes mine so they are as ‘unedited’ as you are going to get. On the positive side, seeing the weekly progression is great for your head. When you look back you can see how much progress you’ve actually made.
Once I started on the training plan it was still daunting entering the weights area, but the confidence now that I get once you start beating your own personal goals on the plates or bars is incredible. I tried to make progression each week and when I didn’t or was being too slack with my choices, I was called out on it.
People worry that this is an online model and how do you know if you are training correctly as the coaches aren’t actually with you. It was a worry for me too. I was worried about the risk of injury as I was a complete novice in this arena. I looked at all the RNT training videos, took screen shots if I needed and more importantly, once I started, I videoed myself doing key exercises and sent them across to be checked and to get any advice on ways to improve technique.
I have 2 mantras at the gym. Number 1: I am not weak and 2: my journey is my own.
When faced with any negativity (and you can get plenty along the way) I had these on repeat in my head and that got me through any session. No one means to be mean or malicious but I guess it’s difficult to understand what you are doing and why you are doing it but I didn’t take too much notice, I listened and just carried on. I realised that there is no need for us to contend with other people, and things are never as they seem. Whether it’s someone who looks normal and content on the outside or someone who can be mean or unkind, they may be going through struggles of their own so I don’t need to worry about what they say or do. I just need to focus on me and respect the fact that they may be going through their own troubles.
The Big Win
This whole process has been an incredible experience for me both mentally and physically. I have come out a totally different person to when I went in. I finally achieved something, something I had control over, and that was very powerful. I had a win. No one can punish you as much as you punish yourself, and at the start I had no self-confidence. I had lost my spirit. Now I am so much calmer and accepting of life, I stopped overthinking everything so much and put my trust into the process. The biggest learning? The journey, the process and the reward are your own. Only you can control it and not let it control you. You can gain as much or as little as you want from it but there’s no need to compare yourself to anyone else. Everyone has their own reasons for doing something for themselves and it’s ok to be selfish. This was the best ‘selfish’ decision I made as putting my wellbeing first enabled me to be a better mum and a better person. If I am able to help just one person, then in my opinion it’s been absolutely worth it.
I loved the Consolidation Phase. If I was going to fail anywhere it would’ve been here.. I was petrified of this phase. Fat loss is something I’ve done before (not as successfully as this however) but maintaining it? Never. But I was well prepared for this. Luckily for me all the articles that were released came at the right time as did the podcast on the Five Phases of Transformation. I knew that deadline day for me was just another day. There was no special event like a photoshoot so once it came nothing miraculous was going to happen. I just had to knuckle down and eat according to plan as usual and not make it a big deal as such. In my head I had planned my big ‘well done’ meal which was going to be pizza and a dessert of some kind but as it happens that day fell on the same day my family had planned a lunch in honour of my gran who passed away a few months ago. For me it was the perfect way to mark this day, in her honour.
The day after my checkpoint I had taken a day off but made sure I wasn’t in the house. I was well aware that my hunger receptors were not working properly and there were too many temptations so I went out for the day, got a massage and got my hair done and then went home and meal prepped for the next day as I would have normally. In the evening I had a meal at one of my favourite restaurants with the person who got me to this point. I happily ate pizza, chocolate fudge cake and had a nice glass of red! I knew I had to plan my next few days beforehand else I would possibly lose control and Tuesday I was straight back on plan. We have been gradually adding back in calories, some of my favourites which had to go as we approached deadline day are back in, and now I’m also eating enough potatoes to spark a potato famine! My focus now will be to really get a good grip on food and maintenance. and making it just a part of life whilst going through a strength building phase. I’m really looking forward to it!
I am definitely not the finished product. I don’t know how my story will end but that’s ok, I just need to accept where it leads but I do know that I will spend every day fighting. I’m a classic over-thinker and I used to spend endless hours worrying about the future, imagining the worst before it’s even happened. Now I like to think I live in the present, enjoy and savour every good moment. No one knows what the future holds.
The RNT network is incredible, and although I’m a silent member of the group I read the posts and tips every day, so this is a special thank you to all those that got me through the process and made an impact without even realising it.
There are not enough words to express my thanks to RNT for what they did and continue to do for me.. If you are considering signing up then absolutely do it. Go all in and I promise you won’t regret it.
I just hope I will continue to be more resilient, fight the inner demons and just become a better person and focus on helping those who need my help. My girls are my life and I was just a shadow of myself. I needed to find myself back for them and slowly but surely I am getting there. I am finally out of the dark and gained a new perspective. It was never about the physical.
Stats & Pictures
Starting Bodyweight: 58kg
Leanest Bodyweight: 47kg
The Physical Is The Vehicle
Sanjeeta’s triumph didn’t stop there. She consolidated really well and then wanted to invest, build muscle and get stronger. In August 2020, she decided to really push herself out of her comfort zone and booked in a photo shoot at the end of November.
“I was going through another tough period in my life. My divorce was finalised and I was now a single parent, which meant so much had to change. One of the anchors that I had developed after starting with RNT was to head to the gym at 4am, and now I couldn’t because I was alone with my daughters. Before, this disruption would have thrown me and made me reach for food, which has always been my crutch. Instead I decided to kit myself out with all the equipment I would need to train in my living room! I was so angry but I decided to fight off the demons and stay strong. I did this by adapting to the change and just training at home instead of going to the gym. I just knew that if I trained in the morning I would have a better day and I didn’t need to eat to feel better. Food is now fuel, nothing more. It used to be my comfort, but now training is my comfort.”
Through this tough time Sanjeeta used the physical as the vehicle to power through her roller-coaster of emotions. She continued to train and invest and her efforts and determination paid off. Her physical strength increased as did her sense of self-worth!
The photoshoot marked Sanjeeta’s second Checkpoint. The hard training required to get to that point boosted her career and enabled her to become a strong, confident single mum. This time was spent to really learn and grow whilst juggling work, homeschooling, isolation, and the changed parenting demands.
“In a way I am now able to put myself in difficult situations without fear as I am comfortable with being uncomfortable as I know that no matter what happens now, I have the ability to fight my way out. One thing this pandemic has taught me is adaptability. I like consistency and routine but with the ever changing restrictions and circumstances, I had to learn to plan but also had to adapt on a daily basis and accept that I couldn’t control everything despite all the careful planning. So, I prioritise what is important to me and everything else fits in. I feel physically, mentally and emotionally stronger than ever before. There are of course good and bad days and there always will be, but the waves don’t feel so overwhelming anymore. I can only thank RNT for this new state of mind!”
Here are some more words written from Sanj:
Sometimes help finds its way to you in the most unexpected ways. It was when I was in desperate need of help that RNT found its way into my life. When I signed up to RNT I did it completely on a whim. I didn’t know anyone who had used them or didn’t even know much about their method or philosophy, but as it turns out signing up to RNT was the best decision I made when I felt I was lost and had no direction in life. Their knowledge of training and nutrition combined with the passion for what they do made it a recipe for success. However it was their focus on caring about their client that made them different. I was a person to them not just a statistic and they were invested in me just as much as I was invested in them. With someone with no real training background and a complete lack of control when it comes to food, RNT was able to change my way of thinking and drove me to change old deeply ingrained habits in a very short space of time. More importantly for me, it gave me control back in my life when I was struggling with my purpose and helped me reconnect with my life. There will never be enough words to thank the guys at RNT for what they did for me when I was at my lowest point but I will be forever grateful. I’m looking forward to continuing working with them to build strength and work on a long term lifestyle solution which will continue to benefit me and my family for many years to come. Thank you team RNT. If you are sitting on the fence, sign up and go all in!