What was your life like before you started with SF?
My life was quite different to how it is now. I had huge issues with confidence and how I looked.
I hated everything about myself, had no energy and would spend the majority of my time, apart from work and some time with close friends, lying in bed watching tv feeling sorry for myself.
Feeling miserable and wondering why I can’t lose weight.
I would then feel so crappy and think what’s the point and end up binge eating whatever I fancied at that point in time. I would make excuses about nights out and gatherings with people be it work or friends I wouldn’t be so comfortable with.
Main reasons were I hated how I looked and even more, I hated how I felt when I was out. Constantly comparing myself to everybody around me and also worrying about what they were thinking of me.
What had you tried to do to change this?
I had tried a lot – Weight Watchers, Shakes, Juices, Cabbage Soup (ugh), Diet pills such as Raspberry Ketones amongst others and finally slimming world.
If someone told me it would help me lose weight (and fast) I would try it.
While some of them like weight watchers and Slimming world did work for longer periods of time and I would see weight come off it never lasted and then I would end up putting even more back on!
I would re-join again lose maybe 1-2 stone fall off the wagon and join again – each time heavier and heavier and a bigger battle to fight.
My struggles with all of these were the ‘I can’t have this’ or ‘can’t have that’
Everything I wanted or liked was bad or bold food and that just made me want it even more. Then I would reward myself with food if I had a good week. And once I had a taste for it again I would binge like crazy and feel guilty.
It really was a vicious circle.
As well as the diets I have tried exercising, joined gyms, running clubs, swimming but I could never stick to any of them – I always came up with some sort of excuse to stop or give up or just not go.
Tell everyone about your results?
The physical results are great and I love them, but now it’s not just about the weight or the number on the scales. I have lost up to 50lbs at points and put some back on. But even with putting some back on I am physically smaller in size.
My whole body shape has changed and it is so different to when I lost weight before.
I am also so much stronger and this can be seen from my progress in every session at SF. There are also other physical benefits apart from weight and size, I have so much more energy – I spend very little time in the bed these days apart from my 7-8 hours sleep at night. My skin and hair is so much healthier and I now have long nails which I never had before!
As much as I love the physical results the mental results are even more amazing –
I have a completely different attitude
I am a much more positive confident and happy person. I deal with stressful situations much differently and don’t let things get me down the way I would have previously.
How do you feel now after coming so far?
I feel great – there is a great sense of achievement but also gives me more motivation to keep going.
Am I finished and where I want to be? NO
But I know I will get there.
Would I have allowed John to use this info for a blog for everyone to see a few years back? NO WAY.
I have grown into a completely different person. And that is because of seeing what I could achieve in this area of my life it has pushed me on to try and achieve in other areas also.
What is it about SF that changed everything for you?
SF Fitness is just a completely different to any other gym or slimming group I have ever been a part of.
You get both your exercise and nutrition and motivation in the one place but there is so much more that I get from SF Fitness.
The people are the biggest thing for me. The coaches understand you, your struggles and they listened to me.
I wasn’t just given your bog standard diet or program. It was tailored to me, my goals, my health, my capabilities.
They help you when you’re feeling like its too tough or too hard and teach you how to be accountable. I wasn’t overwhelmed by what was expected of me and from the beginning I never felt like I couldn’t do anything I was given.
The encouragement and belief in me that I didn’t have was inspiring. Also inspiring are the amazing group of people/friends you get to train with.
I cannot speak more highly about the benefits of working out with others.
Jackie with one of her workout buddies, John
For me I think this was the biggest thing that helped me realise I love training along with the achievement of doing something you thought you could never do.
Always having a friendly face or someone to chat and giggle with throughout your session makes my sessions in SF Fitness almost part of my social life! The friendly atmosphere and feeling around the place is not something you come across in your normal gyms which I have joined and left on several occasions.
What is your outlook on life, fitness and health like now?
I never thought I would say it but I love fitness now. I still have so much I want to achieve.
I have belief in myself and what I can achieve now that I never had before. I would always put myself down and think I couldn’t do something but now I know if I put my mind to something I can do it. I am the healthiest I have ever been and look forward to improving that as the years go by and achieving even more.
I would go as far as to say I am the happiest I have ever been
John O'Connell is the owner of SF Fitness & Health Centre. He started working in the fitness industry in 2002 after suffering a back injury. He has worked with many professional organisations including Leinster Rugby, An Garda Siochana, New Zealand Rugby, Dublin GAA, Spar and CBRE. He has also appeared muliple times on both RTE & TV3 as a health & fitness expert. John is the co-author of 2 international best selling books - Total Body Breakthroughs and The Fit Formula.